DAN A4-SFX: The smallest gaming case in the world

dondan

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Introduction

The A4-SFX case is a one-man project with the goal of creating the smallest case possible while still using high-end standardized components, such as Core i7 processors and powerful full-length GPUs such as the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

The result is a unique product that is much smaller than all competing cases. This case is perfect for SFF (Small Form Factor) enthusiasts, those who need a highly portable system, developers who require a case with a smaller footprint due to limited desk space, and gamers who want a high-end PC experience in their living room.



How it works

A number of creative ideas were needed to create the case. Using a PCIe extender allowed for the most prominent design feature of this case, which is the location of the GPU behind the motherboard. The A4-SFX will come with the highest quality PCIe extender on the market, made by 3M, which allows for PCIe Gen3 and Gen4 support.

The case allows for easy mounting of either SFX or SFX-L power supplies. The PSU is located in the front of the chassis.

Depending on the size of the PSU, up to two 2.5” HDDs or SSDs can be mounted in the drive bay. This drive bay could potentially be mounted with rubber spacers to reduce vibration. A third drive can be mounted behind the front cover.

Every component is able to cool itself by getting fresh air directly from the outside. Hot air in the case will move to the top and then outside without the need of an extra fan. This principle works perfect and results in an amazing cooling efficiency compare to other cases.



Specification

Case Dimensions (H x W x D): 200 x 112 x 317mm, 7.25L
Overall Dimensions: 205 x 112 x 327mm (including feet and rear protrusions)
Weight: 1,25 Kg

Graphic cards support: Dual-Slot up to 295mm length
Motherboard support: Mini-ITX
Power Supply support: SFX, SFX-L

Drives: 3 x 2.5" HDD/SSD

Front ports: 1 x USB 3.0 (internal 20pin plug)
Power button: Premium-grade button

Material: 1.5mm aluminum, brushed exterior
Sidepanels: Easily clippable with Lian Li Push Pin technology

Colors: Anodized black or silver exterior, matte black painted interior

Risercard: Includes the 3M Twin Axial 300mm riser cable
PCIe Gen3+ support, Link: 3M product page



Gallery

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Download

manual2lcuad.jpg

(click on Image for view)



Example Configurations
 
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CMadki4

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Looks pretty slick!

But holy crap dude, host your pics someplace else. I don't even want to click through the pictures from all the popups and crap that come up. Lame!
 

CHANG3D

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I would love one of these!

My friend and I are building a case very similar to yours, but we're using a regular SFX PSU, which makes makes it wider (positive if someone wants more space for HDD/SSD/ODD). We've never thought about using a dc-dc powerboard.

Holy smokes. That Pico-Box X7-ATX-400 is $999!
 

dondan

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The price is only so high because pico-box-factory has no x7 in stock. The normal price is 80$
 

illli

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Remarkably similar to an idea I got some help with here http://hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1040424470&postcount=41

I knew I couldn't be the only one with this idea

nope, not the only one. I saw something similar in this topic here http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/titan-itx-status-placeholder.156077/page-2#post-2527068

i never thought it would be possible to actually see something a reality though b/c it would be hard to 'fold' the video card underneath w/o some custom parts
 

dondan

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Looks pretty slick!

But holy crap dude, host your pics someplace else. I don't even want to click through the pictures from all the popups and crap that come up. Lame!
At the end of the article i add a spoiler with all pictures in full size.


By the way: You can use google-translate to translate the german review about the dc-dc-powerboards. Maybe i translate and puplish it in this forum. But my english istnt the best.
 

marka211

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I think that $999 is a misprint. The transaction history shows $80 a piece.

US $80.00 x 3 pieces. And the reviews on it, also say $80 a piece. i would say $80 would be about right. The 200W one is $29-31.
 

Alted4

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I think that $999 is a misprint. The transaction history shows $80 a piece.

US $80.00 x 3 pieces. And the reviews on it, also say $80 a piece. i would say $80 would be about right. The 200W one is $29-31.
Dondan is correct about the $999 being there only as an indicator of being out of stock. I came across their page a few months ago and noticed the same price discrepancies. I messaged them and they confirmed that that is what they do.
 

Black5Lion

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pretty slick! :)
I think it would look much better with no front usb ports tho. I mean you could have 6 on the back and if you need more you could always get a hub.
 

dondan

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I thought about this too, because i also like a clean front without any ports, but most of the customers want a usb port.
 

CMadki4

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I thought about this too, because i also like a clean front without any ports, but most of the customers want a usb port.
Agreed. The ports won't actually show up that much on a black case. Besides, depending on your application, a USB dongle for your keyboard/mouse will get better range in the front port than on the rear and will look better than a hub. For example if you're using this case in home theater setting. Based on experimentation, it is best to have the USB dongle in the front than in the back.
 

Black5Lion

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I thought about this too, because i also like a clean front without any ports, but most of the customers want a usb port.
I can't believe you put the power button on the back! :D

I really like everything about your case! I even had the same thinking of power/frontpanel on the back (see here: http://imgur.com/a/V91KY#10) granted that is only a modified sg05, I really believe having the power button on the back is pure genius! :D

It looks much better, no argument there. And it makes better use of space :D

I applaud you kind sir, for you have made THE perfect case! :)

Now we just need more powa! >:)


ps: sorry for (what I'd consider) the wall of text :)


edit: if possible maybe you could make some kind of modular front panel, so you could could swap it around (brushed aluminum solid, brushed aluminum with ports, vented brushed aluminum, solid acrylic, vented acrylic, acrylic with ports, etc...).
It should allow more customization, since one can simply buy a plain front and paint it to their liking. And the option with a solid or vented front ie: no ports, should give you a little more room for the gpu. : <--- never mind that I guess I wasn't looking very well.
 
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Poser001

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I like it, however I would love it if you extended the depth enough to seat an sfx 450 in front of the mb and figured the airflow out. I'd buy a prototype today. I need a gaming case that can fit in a flatter style backpack for when I take the motorcycle to work.

Keep up the good work
 

CMadki4

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I like it, however I would love it if you extended the depth enough to seat an sfx 450 in front of the mb and figured the airflow out. I'd buy a prototype today. I need a gaming case that can fit in a flatter style backpack for when I take the motorcycle to work.

Keep up the good work
I'd actually like to see the project move forward with that 400w picoPSU. Something different. And if works and is stable I could see a lot of great DIY cases and new case designs based around it and the latest short 170mm graphics cards. Ultra compact power!
 

dondan

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edit: if possible maybe you could make some kind of modular front panel, so you could could swap it around (brushed aluminum solid, brushed aluminum with ports, vented brushed aluminum, solid acrylic, vented acrylic, acrylic with ports, etc...).
It should allow more customization, since one can simply buy a plain front and paint it to their liking. And the option with a solid or vented front ie: no ports, should give you a little more room for the gpu. : <--- never mind that I guess I wasn't looking very well.
A good idear. Maybe it would be a option for the kickstarter campaign.

I like it, however I would love it if you extended the depth enough to seat an sfx 450 in front of the mb and figured the airflow out. I'd buy a prototype today. I need a gaming case that can fit in a flatter style backpack for when I take the motorcycle to work.

Keep up the good work
Maybe in a later edition, because i want to revolutionize the psu scene with the dc-boards. They have a higher potentional than sfx because they are much smaller, running cooler and help to reduce the noise level. I think the biggest problem is that only dell have a external psu on the market with over 300W. My dc-board review shows that all dc-board can handle a 2500k clocks to 4x4,4ghz and a overclocked GTX 670 running Prime95 and 3D Mark simultaneous (380W). A combination of a default i7 4770k and default GTX 780 ti need 340W of power. So you can put the maximum of hardware in my case. Sombody can say:" how is that possible the dell can only provide 330W". This is wrong the dell shuts down after pulling more than 420W
 
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vipz

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A 150mm riser cable looks to be just long enough that you can flip the GPU and have it intake from the outside. Have you looked into that?
 

dondan

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Yes i did but the length must be 220mm and with such a length you get problems with the pcie signal only the 3M flex cables can handle this and a 250mm 3M shielded pcie cable cost 70$.
 

Zap

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i want to revolutionize the psu scene with the dc-boards. They have a higher potentional than sfx because they are much smaller
I disagree (my personal opinion). The PSU probably takes up similar volume. You just aren't "counting" it mentally because it is physically (the brick part) not inside the computer case.

Heck, why not take it to extremes and use external optical drives and even external eSATA hard drives, just to knock off some more volume? Also, if someone figures out an easy way to do graphics cards over Thunderbolt, why not put that separate as well? Then the "computer" can be barely larger than the ITX board itself, and just thick enough to hold the CPU cooler.

To me, a big external power brick is like this image.



I would much rather have everything inside the one box.
 

Poser001

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I'm 50/50 with the power brick. I don't mind using one, or transporting it. Until it decides to die like the bricks with my xbox 360 and a dell XPS laptop back in the day. It's your project and if your dreams to revolutionize it then go for it.
 

Machupo

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lol, the first car I bought myself (rather than using the family '72 super beetle when available) was a 1985 volvo turbo wagon (brick) :D
 
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Is it possible to get black USB 3 ports? That would really ensure that they don't stand out.

The only non-blue ones I've seen are the ones on Macs and the black port on the Surface Pro, but I assume those parts aren't sourced through regular channels.

I like the case a lot though. It's an interesting way of addressing two of the main concerns for small form-factor designs: where to put the GPU and how to power it.
 

Topweasel

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I disagree (my personal opinion). The PSU probably takes up similar volume. You just aren't "counting" it mentally because it is physically (the brick part) not inside the computer case.

Heck, why not take it to extremes and use external optical drives and even external eSATA hard drives, just to knock off some more volume? Also, if someone figures out an easy way to do graphics cards over Thunderbolt, why not put that separate as well? Then the "computer" can be barely larger than the ITX board itself, and just thick enough to hold the CPU cooler.

To me, a big external power brick is like this image.

I would much rather have everything inside the one box.
I get what your saying. But he isn't adding an external connection. You are already running a power cord to a PC. Does having a big fat brick in the middle of the cable make that big of a difference?

In the end moving internal components to external devices can help tons in situations where you have a very small area to put the PC. The external devices can be moved into other areas. An example being a power brick sitting on the ground next to the outlet with a small power cable going to the PC.
 
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I'm wondering if it's possible (or desirable) to more completely separate the GPU from the rest of the case. I'm thinking of a thin aluminum (or maybe some other material) sheet with appropriate cutouts.

That would keep air from the two compartments from mixing and maybe help a little with heat coming from the back of the GPU.
 

Phuncz

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I get what your saying. But he isn't adding an external connection. You are already running a power cord to a PC. Does having a big fat brick in the middle of the cable make that big of a difference?
The problem is you're moving an internal component to "save space", by which he points towards other "space saving" solutions. The problem is this:



It's almost as large as a mainstream GPU. And it is expensive, more expensive than going the way of using a SFX or 1U PSU internally. They also don't have the best reputation for lasting long.

In the end moving internal components to external devices can help tons in situations where you have a very small area to put the PC. The external devices can be moved into other areas. An example being a power brick sitting on the ground next to the outlet with a small power cable going to the PC.
That just moving the problem, not solving the problem. If you don't have space to put a small PC, then getting a very small PC with a bunch of add-ons (needing power bricks seperately maybe) each in a different enclosure isn't more efficient. Then get a laptop and stop kidding yourself that shrinking your computer to the point you're throwing out stuff that you need externally is solving a problem, it's just doing something different.

I don't mind this case and it sure has a good reason to exist, but don't consider an external power brick as a positive aspect, it is not.
 
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dondan

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@Zap or Phuncz: I agree with you i don't solve the problem but i hide it. I think the psu under the desk is better than a psu in a big case on the desk. It is a normal thing for small systems like HTPCs, notebooks or flatscreens to use external psu's. Even if i add the volume of the external psu 0,85 liter to the casevolume it has overall 6,25L much more less as any other case on the market. :)

Drown Babies
Is it possible to get black USB 3 ports?
Could be very difficult to find black ones and many people could think the case has only USB 2.0.
 

DG25

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Someone actually did something similar: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=230816 I would have used a SFX psu, though...

The problem with these builds is that risers/extension cables are tricky, some are expensive, some are not, some work, some don't. For example, the modder in my link had some problems with his extension cable.
 

CMadki4

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Very true. Sourcing a good extension cable or riser card is troublesome. I personally had trouble finding a riser/spacer combo that was stable. Finally found some that were good except for a report of errors when used with a Titan (functional but still errors, no further detail provided by end user).
 

dondan

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I use this one:
http://www.ebay.de/itm/PCIe-16X-Raiser-Riser-1x-PCIe-Flex-Kabel-ID9363-PA-CLKF-/360800979245?

This cable hasnt the same quality as the 3M but it provides Pcie3.0 with no problems. I test to flip the card and connect it with this cable but it isnt long enough. You need bend radius for the connection, because of the shield the cable is very inflexible. So it must be longer.
I have no problems with my risercard.

Three rules for choosing the right flexible pcie cable:
- a good shield around the cable
- no small bend radius
- not longer as 180mm or use 3M cables.
 
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