CCD MI-6: Performance in a 6.7L MIcrotower

iFreilicht

[H]ard|Gawd
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I like the milled front plate. Even if it's going to be expensive, it just looks so sturdy and hefty.
 

DarkStar01

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It's all good. I caught your comedy, and you are correct! That post must live on forever! And we're in total agreement on that front plate. That thing is gorgeous.
 

Firewolfy

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Have you considered this layout?
AMD-Radeon-R9-Nano_MakeitNano_20-635x424.jpg


It would be a lot less cost prohibitive. It would still have similar qualities of taking fresh air at all points, however since the riser is not going behind the motherboard, you wouldnt need one with strong EMI shielding. It would also be simpler to build. The case is 7L, but I'm sure if you trim down the space above the motherboard, so that it only accommodates a top down cooler, you can bring it down to 6L easily.

I looked at that kind of layout early on and thought it was a bit too much of a cube, and didn't pack very efficiently so the volume and footprint was too large for me.

As far as cost, well I'm thinking that the costing depends on how the layout is executed. That DGLee custom case is made from 7 machined aluminum plates averaging maybe 5mm thick, so material cost alone has to be at least $60, based on online metal suppliers I checked. If one was to take the layout and design a housing purely for manufacturability, the parts costs could get down to what I'm trying to do (4 main parts on the MI-6).

I'm treating the PCIE riser cable as a separate issue. If it doesn't need a shielded riser, and reliably works with the $15 simple riser shown in the photos, that would be a great thing. I'm not convinced that it can go without shielding though and run gen 3.0. I saw there is some PCIE cable discussion going on over on SFF, so maybe some insight on this will come out.

I don't know that case width on the DGLee case can be reduced from the 166mm number they quoted in the article. Even though there is a lot of space for the cpu cooler, it can't be reduced because the minimum width is defined by the GPU. In Nov. I surveyed 10 mitx-sized gpus that are available (covering 750Ti, R9-285, R9-380, GTX960, GTX970, R9 Nano) and found the tallest GPU is 122mm card edge-to-top. Then the PCIE female connector/card and cable bend radius needs about 25mm more. And a PEG connector and wiring on the top edge of the GPU needs 10mm more.

122+25+10=157mm (6.2")

So adding in side panels of at least 2mm each yields a minimum case width of 161mm (6.3"). That DGLee case is listed at 166mm so it looks like it is at about the minimum already, so no volume can be saved there.

I think I'm thinking this through, but let me know if there are some aspects I'm missing.
 

thehack

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I disagree with your contention on the bend allowance for the GPU. You can use a right angled PCIE slot into flexible riser instead of your regular straight flexible one like so:

900x900px-LL-b6106c2e_pC2YWsE.jpeg


Since this slots right into the recess of the contacts, the width of the case would be limited to how wide a GPU you would like to support, if we assume the standard for edge to edge. Using the DGLee custom case as blueprint, one only need to reduce the width down to 152mm to put it less than 7L.

If we shave the height a few mm, put the max width support at 145mm (125mm GPU width + 15mm for PEG clearance + 5mm for side panels), we have the final dimensions at 145mm x 240mm x 188mm, we get 6.5L.
 
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Firewolfy

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Good point on the angled conn. Maybe add some to account for the conn board thickness and whatever the conn is mounted to, and any case corner radii to clear, and that should still be pretty nice.

I haven't seen the 3M riser with a right angle, but Li Heat has them, so design reqts might tie back into the shielding question.

I like the MI-6 smaller footprint and I have the HDDs somewhat shielded from the GPU hot air, but if a short riser doesn't need shielding, then that cost would be have to taken into acct.

I wonder why Dondan went back to 3M after flirting with lower priced Li Heat.

Either way the design goes, that DGLee case is nice looking. Thanks for bringing it up, as I hadn't seen it before.
 

Firewolfy

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As far as the 3M versus the Li-Heat, I found out that Dondan went back to 3M because it was more flexible, and fit his A4 needs better. The MI-6 has more room for cable bending.

I read discussions on overclock.net and sff about whether shielding is needed for PCIE gen 3.0. Based on their work, I'm convinced it is needed for the lengths they looked at, which were around 200mm and higher. I haven't found any info on riser performance running 3.0 for riser lengths in the 100mm range that the DGLee type layout might use. There was discussion about the effects of mismatched impedances between the cabling and connectors, so there appears to be engineering required to make cables work well at gen 3.0. For me that leaves out the lowest priced unshielded risers.

So, to make a long story short, to keep moving on MI-6 development, I need to make a conservative assumption in light of the unknowns. I think $25 would be the minimum expected cost for a good riser engineered for gen 3.0 (impedance matching, good solder joint quality). I assume shielding is needed for the 250mm length for MI-6 so I'm going to the Li-Heat for around $40.

I am paying $15 for reliability insurance. Not insignificant, but I'm going to go with it.

I don't know if the $15 is needed for the DGLee layout, but my gut says yes, since the riser runs right by the back of the GPU.
 

thehack

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As far as the 3M versus the Li-Heat, I found out that Dondan went back to 3M because it was more flexible, and fit his A4 needs better. The MI-6 has more room for cable bending.

I read discussions on overclock.net and sff about whether shielding is needed for PCIE gen 3.0. Based on their work, I'm convinced it is needed for the lengths they looked at, which were around 200mm and higher. I haven't found any info on riser performance running 3.0 for riser lengths in the 100mm range that the DGLee type layout might use. There was discussion about the effects of mismatched impedances between the cabling and connectors, so there appears to be engineering required to make cables work well at gen 3.0. For me that leaves out the lowest priced unshielded risers.

So, to make a long story short, to keep moving on MI-6 development, I need to make a conservative assumption in light of the unknowns. I think $25 would be the minimum expected cost for a good riser engineered for gen 3.0 (impedance matching, good solder joint quality). I assume shielding is needed for the 250mm length for MI-6 so I'm going to the Li-Heat for around $40.

I am paying $15 for reliability insurance. Not insignificant, but I'm going to go with it.

I don't know if the $15 is needed for the DGLee layout, but my gut says yes, since the riser runs right by the back of the GPU.

If you run with the Dan/Mi6 build, you are running the riser between the GPU AND the CPU, so the need for it to be longer + running through the two chips you will need good shielding. Also, the DGLee layout has more space beneath the GPU, if you run with a right angle riser, you have more space to work with the bends. The Dan layout requires you to make a very tight bend to get right behind the mobo in order to keep the width slim, so it makes sense Dan had to go for the 3M riser.

KUxExXP.png

fRosw7Z.png


Likely if go with the Dan layout, you'd be paying a little bit more for the riser. However, Dan's case is a premium aluminum case, so it makes sense he wouldn't want to cut corners on the riser even if he can.
 

Firewolfy

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Ok,
Well, I've been working on this case some, but of course my job seems to get in the way every once in awhile. I've been trying to figure out the case styling, and getting the mfg costs down. I will give a significant update tomorrow, but here is a quick render. It has a black chrome front (like the Apple pro round pc finish), I/O and power sw on the side.
untitled.189c.jpg
 

iFreilicht

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Looks great! Is there enough space to allow the user to swap the I/O from the right side to the left? That seems like a crucial feature to me with side-I/O
 

Firewolfy

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Looks great! Is there enough space to allow the user to swap the I/O from the right side to the left? That seems like a crucial feature to me with side-I/O

I looked at it, and there is no good way to make the I/o switchable to the other side. It would get in the way of a HDD and reduce the CPU cooler size from120mm to probably 90 or less
 

DaHans

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May 21, 2015
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Great case!
I'm looking exactly for that one.
I already made some prints on my own and part list. But now i changed from a GTX 750 ti to a GTX 960 and now I need more room for the 6 Pin PCIe.

I thought about AlMg3 and thick panels to drill taps in there. How do you fix the panel to the case?
 

Firewolfy

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Ok, I have a bit of an update regarding layout tweaks, style ideas and cost estimates.

Layout tweaks--
I put all 3 hdds in there and found that there isn't room for a spring bracket on the HDD on the floor when there is a HDD on the side wall down there, so it is just mounted with screws through the floor.
3%20hdd%20view.jpg


On the floor, I put in 2 hole patterns for the HDD (3.016"), and 1 pattern for the spring bracket (2.676) for max flexibility.
3%20hdd%20bottom%20hole%20patterns.jpg


This shows the layout with a SFX PSU. A sfx-L takes over an inch of this space so no HDD down there on that case.

Then i looked at the connectors on the 2 side hdds to verify clearances. Looks like about .5 in for the data power cable bend, as long as a right angle data data cable is used. I verified it on the workhorse hardware I have, and it seems to be plenty of room. Here is a model pic:

2%20hdd%20conn%20view.jpg


OK, on some MBs there are 90 degree sata or sata express connectors on the upper edge of the mb. Like this gigabyte z170 gaming board.

IMG_20160315_081313.jpg


So in this case the upper hdd mount can't be used if those conns are used.

Also on the side wall there is the hole pattern for the 2 HDDs and I added 1 more hole in the middle hole to mount a HDD in the middle instead. This should give max flexibility and lots of room for conns and such.

3%20hdd%20hole%20patterns.jpg


I'll try to get more updates later.
 

Firewolfy

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Great case!
I'm looking exactly for that one.
I already made some prints on my own and part list. But now i changed from a GTX 750 ti to a GTX 960 and now I need more room for the 6 Pin PCIe.

I thought about AlMg3 and thick panels to drill taps in there. How do you fix the panel to the case?

Cool, im glad we are thinking alike on case design!
That 750 is a great deal on price, but I'm with you in that I need at least a 960 for gaming and such.

I'm still noodling on the cover attachment. Probably captive screws along the bottom and back.
 

Firewolfy

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Here is what I have on the GPU and CPU layouts

The GPU side has room for the standard double slot 1.7" (43mm) card thickness from the back of the PCB. Plus there is 5mm of clearance behind the GPU PCB for the PCIE cable and any GPU backplate.
The max length is 7.456" (189mm). The following are higher end cards that will fit per pcpartpicker:

PowerColor AXR9 NANO 4GBHBM-DH Radeon R9 Nano
Gigabyte GV-R9NANO-4GD-B Radeon R9 Nano
Sapphire 100400SR Radeon R9 Nano
Sapphire 21249-00-40G Radeon R9 Nano
Asus R9NANO-4GB Radeon R9 Nano
VisionTek 900829 Radeon R9 Nano
Asus R9NANO-4G-WHITE Radeon R9 Nano
XFX R9-NANO-4SF6 Radeon R9 Nano
Asus GTX970-DCMOC-4GD5 GeForce GTX 970
Gigabyte GV-N970IXOC-4GD GeForce GTX 970
MSI N760 2GD5/OC GeForce GTX 760
Gigabyte GV-N960OC-4GD GeForce GTX 960
EVGA 04G-P4-1962-KR GeForce GTX 960
Asus GTX960-MOC-2GD5 GeForce GTX 960
EVGA 04G-P4-3962-KR GeForce GTX 960
Gigabyte GV-N960IXOC-4GD GeForce GTX 960
Gigabyte GV-N960IXOC-2GD GeForce GTX 960
EVGA 02G-P4-2962-KR GeForce GTX 960
Sapphire 100384ITXOCL Radeon R9 380
Gigabyte GV-N960OC-2GD (rev. 1.0) GeForce GTX 960
MSI GTX 950 2GD5 OC GeForce GTX 950
EVGA 02G-P4-2951-KR GeForce GTX 950
Asus GTX950-M-2GD5 GeForce GTX 950
Gigabyte GV-N950OC-2GD GeForce GTX 950
EVGA 02G-P4-1950-KR GeForce GTX 950

GPU%20envelope.jpg


nano%20space.jpg


On the CPU side, the max cooler ht can be 63mm or less, and up to 120x120. The Pcpartpicker lists 49 air coolers between 40-63mm, including the popular Cryorig C7, Skythe Big Shuriken, Thermalright AXP-100. I'll have to compile some cooling performance numbers.

CPU%20cooler%20ht.jpg
 

DaHans

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May 21, 2015
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40
I really appreciate your work.
Can't stop starring at these blueprints.

Is the hight with 244mm incl. feet or without?
 

Firewolfy

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I really appreciate your work.
Can't stop starring at these blueprints.

Is the hight with 244mm incl. feet or without?


Thanks for the feedback bro. That ht is without the feet.

Let me know of any ideas you have for improvement.
 

Firewolfy

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Some general thoughts:

I'm trying to make this case easy to work on (in). So I have no top plate or top frame. The top is wide open, so it's easy to see the MB, and get hands in there to work on fasteners, connections and cable routing.

I'm trying to be space efficient on this thing, but a couple of things are bugging me:
1) That board with the power/audio/usb seems big. But it is nice to have a all-in-one board, as it is cheaper.
2) Plus there is unused space below the GPU and above the PSU I haven't found a use for. -- it is approx. 1.9 high x 1.4 wide x 6" depth, and going to see lots of heat from the GPU. Can't put anything there I guess, and maybe I should leave room for airflow.

PCIE Riser: It's currently configured for the 3M, which runs about $60. I got a quote back on the Li Heat version and it will run about $18-20 in volumes plus shipping. That is a sweet price as it is fully shielded. The Li Heat riser is thicker and less flexible, but I have enough room for the bends. I'll work on a model for that soon.
 

Firewolfy

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Ok, a style/cost update:

The front plate I was going with, turns out to be very expensive, like >$50 each in volume. This plate:

Orig%20front%20plate1.jpg


Now I went ahead and got budgetary quoting on this without the vent holes, but the price didn't drop much, still $40+. I figured out that having the front plate 1/4" thick and as the only front panel wasn't such a good idea. Yes, the front panel was multipurpose and the chassis was only 2 sides of the case (bottom and back), but the front plate now had to mount the hdds, divider attachment and bottom chassis attachment. There were 13 threaded or helicoiled blind holes on the back face of that lovely front plate. Crazy, now that I think about it.

So here are the next ideas. they are all based on having a chassis plate behind the front plate, 1/8" thick Al, no blind holes (well maybe 4 depending on the style), no intricate I/O cutouts. Just a nice silky black chrome front. Here are some ideas based on that:

Idea 1: beveled edges, center groove
bevel.176c.jpg


Idea 2: no groove, square edges
flat%20chrome%20front%20screws%20untitled.183c.jpg


Idea 3: side I/O, groove, rounded edges
rounded%20chrome%20face%20no%20screws%20untitled.191c.jpg


Idea 4: side I/O, no groove, rounded edges
rounded%20chrome%20face%20no%20groove%20no%20screws%20untitled.196c.jpg


Idea 5: side I/O, square edges, screw heads. This one is just anodized grey.
closeup%20flat%20grey%20front%20screws%20untitled.181c.jpg


Let me know which ones are too ugly. I like idea 5 the best, maybe with chrome.
 

DaHans

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May 21, 2015
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I know there were already discussions about that board, but in my opinion there is no need for that.

Anyone who owns a case in that dimenstions (like MS-Tech CI-100 / CI-110) doesnt need front stuff. You can easily reach the whole I/O Panel by grabbing behind it. People cant tell that they are too lazy to grab 200mm behind the case. If you want that case for a HTPC you can easily take a USB cable and put it under the TV for USB sticks. I would also never plug my headphones at front, because there is a chance by bad wiring or fast turning/standing up that you flip the whole case. (seems a little bit freaky, but it happened to me ;))

I own a Chieftec BT-04B and I removed front USB/Audio because it looks much more clear.

I would put the Powerbutton on the back above the PSU. You would make the case more interesting for people when you put some little tricky things on it. :)
 

Firewolfy

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Hmm, interesting points. Would the case be too clean with nothing there? Or maybe the right word is too plain?
 
F

Findecanor

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I use an EeeBox and use the front I/O all the time. USB, headphone jack and the card-reader. When I have to access the ports on the back, I have to move the machine to be able to get my hands back there as it stands right next to the monitor.
However, the front-ports are between 10 and 20 cm above the desk. Having them all below 10 cm would not be as useful.

Anyway, what I came to ask:
The spacing between the top of the internals and the top cover looks like a bit tight. How about if one would want to install a fan-filter there?

No cutout in the motherboard tray for access to bracket for CPU cooler or back-mounted M.2 slot? (Although personally I would try to see if I could mount a heat-conductive pad on the M.2 drive that would touch the partition and use the case as heat sink... as those can get pretty hot)
 
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Firewolfy

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Findecanor,
The vents on the top are all exhausts. The intakes are on the sides. There could be room for a filter on the CPU side if a cooler less than 63mm is used. On the GPU side there is room for a filter if the GPU is less than 43mm thick. The nano is around 36, so there is 7mm if a nano is used.

I tried to do a cutout for access to the back of the mb, but it turns out that the pcie riser runs across there behind the GPU anyway, blocking the area.

Great idea to use the panel as.a heatsink for a m2 card.
 

DaHans

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I use an EeeBox and use the front I/O all the time. USB, headphone jack and the card-reader. When I have to access the ports on the back, I have to move the machine to be able to get my hands back there as it stands right next to the monitor.

Do you use it as a normal PC or HTPC with a TV?
I Have already 2 USB, a Headphone Jack and a Cardreader in my Dell u2711 integrated.
You also can use USB Stick sized Card Reader for plugging in in a USB cable underneath a TV or Monitor.

I like it more when everything is plain. That makes a device more interesting than seeing several holes and buttons to push.

Edit: I like idea 5 too.
 
F

Findecanor

Guest
Do you use it as a normal PC or HTPC with a TV?
Everyday PC, and on a small desk. I love the small desk footprint and convenience of having the ports in front of me, but I would like more power.. which is why I'm here. ;)

Yes, while I do agree that a USB hub is best located on the bezel of monitor screens that is unfortunately not the norm.
 
Joined
Mar 7, 2016
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I agree that the needs of front I/O panel is useless for modern SFF cases. Keep it clean as much as possible. Check the Dan A4 thread and see how people love it. One USB Type C port is more preferable for future proof. The big I/O panel like that brings us back to years of 1990s seriously.
 

Gookitron

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IMHO front io is necessary for even a modern SFF. Last thing I need to get a clean simple setup with my supermini pc is to have a bunch of other devices strewn on my desk because i dont have easy access to the back of the case (the apple mac pro effect?).

yes it is small and anyone can reach behind it, but that also assumes the case is set up in a spot that is easy to reach.

an htpc setup doesn't have easy to reach back, so employ Usb extenders? That's more wires to have to deal with (more time to route it). Yes, i agree it will look cleaner, but I think I'd rather just walk up and plug in the Usb stick directly to the front of the case when needed.


as far as io placement. Some place where the case can be set up on either the right or left. Being on one side forces its placement which some people might not have the luxury of doing(small apartment for example).

great case, this is the a4 is definitely what I would get to reduce my pc footprint. Even the ncase feels too big in my current living situation.

edit: With 4 usb devices already plugged in (mouse, keyboard, oldschool laser, x360 controller receiver), that leaves very little space in the back to deftly maneuver additional connectors for supplemental devices (incremental hdd for backup, sd card, thumb drive). Add to it the case design with the gpu next to the rear io (with hdmi/dvi), wouldn't that get frustratig for the "reach behind to plug in your things" crowd? Honest quesion, the few times I need to swap Usb because I need to do a data move off a dying hdd is quite challenging.
 
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andgo

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May 15, 2014
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1 USB Type C in the front only or nothing, IMO. You could even put the power button on the back. Rebooting every morning belongs to the 1990's.

In a few years every external drive will have 802.11ac or something built in. Cables are dying.

I don't even use external drives when I think about it, really.

If people want spaghetti heaven coming out the front of the case they might as well just stay with E-ATX cases.
 

Gookitron

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Unfortunately if the case gets made, it will be for the "now" timeframe, which means people will be stuck with having to handle all those cables. Can't get around that just yet.

and cabled devices dont require batteries or additional power plugs (yay more cables.. Now with a fat transformer block, at least it is elsewhere).

front Usb c. I like the sound of that. Any mini itx with the support yet? (serious question, not being snarky. I haven't the need to upgrade so I'm not current on the technology).

with idea 3/4: Would the internal cabling hit the lower hdd mount? Edit: Nvm i wasnt reading the drawings correctly.
 

Firewolfy

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Good point on the wifi based hdd backup. I have found tho, that I need the space anyway. The longest itx gpus can be 7.1-7.2", plus a bit of space in front for GPU exhaust, and I get to 7.5. Then add chassis thicknesses and I get the same 7.8. I could put the exhaust vents back on the front that I used to have to save depth.

Tonight ill try the power button on the back, and 1 usb3 and 2 audio on top near front between the 2 vents. I think I could make that fit with off the shelf I/O pcb.
 

Firewolfy

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Ok, a couple rough renders of the power button on the back, and the remaining side I/O but with only 1 USB. I have not yet found a I/O board that will fit in the top of the case.

MI-6%20rear%20power%20button%20untitled.217c.jpg


MI-6%20tiny%20side%20io%20untitled.216c.jpg
 

Firewolfy

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Well, I worked at it some more and got the usb and audio to fit on the top. A little easier to get to since the case is less than 10" tall and probably sitting on a desk.

I had to move the hdd/ssd mounts but it looks like it will work. I still have to finish the cabling cover in front of the PSU, which is also to block the hot air from whipping past the hdd/ssds at the bottom.

untitled.220c.jpg


untitled.221c.jpg


untitled.223c.jpg
 

Carisma

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I really hope you get the funding to make this case...it would make a great mini-desktop computer
 
F

Findecanor

Guest
1 USB Type C in the front only or nothing, [...]
In a few years every external drive will have 802.11ac or something built in. Cables are dying.
A few notes:
* "USB Type C" is not just a new socket. It has more wires than USB 3.1 Type A and is therefore not compatible with a USB 3.1. header on the MB. To get full "Type C" functionality, there needs also be a specific controller on the MB.
* I live in an apartment block where the Wifi spectrum is heavily congested. No way am I going to use Wifi between NAS and PC.
 

iFreilicht

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Also, we're designing cases for current hardware, not for hardware that will exist in a few years.
 

Gookitron

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I'm not totally liking the usb/audio up top. Something about its asymmetry feels off...
Cool idea with the power button on the back. I like it.
 

Firewolfy

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Re USB-C: Yeah it requires an add-on board on the mb right now. Kinda of a messy situation. I imagine cables will be expensive since they will be active with ID and all. I'm just going to stay with usb3.0/3.1 for now on this. Yes it has been out for awhile, but 3.0/3.1 is still kinda new and shiny (and chrome).

Re top usb/audio: LOL, funny you should say that. I just got word back that the single USB3 and 2 audio will be more expensive than 2 USB3's and 2 audio. I am told it is because there are several PCBs already out there for 2 USB3's, but only having 1 (and a 1 line usb cable) is custom and will cost more.

I am working on fitting 2 usbs now! I can't make it symmetric unless I make the case bigger, so it is not centered. One usb is on center and the other lines up with the vent pattern edge.

Here is a pic of the model:
MI-6%20quick%20top%20usb.jpg
 
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