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

illram

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So if standoffs on mobo are "stamped" does this mean people can't replace them with shorter ones? Replacing the standoffs was the only way a few people here were able to fit in otherwise too-tall coolers.

I think an exhaust fan above the PSU or somewhere on the top panel makes more sense. Intake is not really the issue, getting air out of the case is. Hence people taking the IO panel off. I'm not sure how much a fan intaking air under the PSU would really help, if anything?

Idea for an intake fan, if we're on the "eliminate SSD" bandwagon, could be adding one or two to the front of the case, extending the front cover panel out a little bit, with vents on the side between the front cover panel and the inner panel and fan holes on that interior front panel. Probably too drastic a change though.

Any thoughts on selling a replacement mobo tray maybe as an add on, with a backplate cutout for mounting coolers/m.2 drives? One could run the GPU riser on the other side of the tray if they wanted to use it, since otherwise that would be in the way.
 
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Hi guys, first time poster here, have been lurking for a while, ever since I placed my order on kickstarter.

Thank you Daniel for this amazing case.

I am new to the SFF crowd, coming from the silent PC world (silentpcreview.com), having spent quite some time and energy on minimizing the noise coming from my PC. My whole setup resided in a Fractal Design Define R5 before. All I did, was to get another mobo and PSU and move everything over into the Dan Case. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical, if this would work out for me, as the R5 setup is just quiet. Never heard a thing of it. It did work out in the end, but it took a few measures.

A few words on airflow:
The main idea about airflow in the silent PC world is to create a path for the airflow, which is as unrestricted as possible. No obstacles (HDD cases right behind the intake fans), no corners, which the air has to move around (intake fan blowing into the case horizontally, exhaust fans sitting in the top, blowing out vertically). Air is so light, we do not feel it normally. Nevertheless, every molecole in the air is subject to inertia and thus does not want to change the direction of it's movement. This is not to be underestimated.
So the ideal build from this point of view creates an airflow in one straight line. For example: 1 intake fan in the front panel (with no HDD cage behind), 1 cooling fan sitting on the heat sink, 1 exhaust fan at the back. All three of them in one line. This will create the maximum effect, with the minimum of effort and noise. Quite simple, actually.
If you want to maximize this effect, you will create a duct (tunnel), to avoid air moving astray.

The concept of positive and negative pressure setups:
A regular PC case offers multiple spots to mount a fan. Some of them will act as intake fans, others will operate as exhaust fans. There will also be cooling fans inside the case, sitting on your heatsink and GPU.
If you only mount intake fans and no exhaust fans it is called positive pressure setup. Pressure will build up inside the case and the (hot) air will be forced out of the case. Upside of this setup is, that you will have a nearly dustfree environment inside the case, if you combine this with dustfilters at the intakes. Downside is, at equal temperature levels it will be a bit louder than a negative pressure setup.
If you only mount one or more exhaust fans, without any intake fans, it is called negative pressure setup. There will be a very slight vacuum inside the case, so air will be sucked into the case at every possible gap. Downside of this setup is increased dust buildup inside the case. Upside is, it is mostly a quieter setup.
Most people will build a mix of intake and exhaust fans to create a slightly positive or negative pressure setup, which will work out as the best balance between maximum cooling at minimal noise. If you combine this with a good airflow in mind, you will end up with a pretty silent setup.

Now, to get to the actual point of this post:
What makes the Dan Case so special to me, is that each fan operates at the same time as intake fan, cooling fan and exhaust fan. The suction side of the fan is it's intake function, the pressure side is it's cooling and exhaust function. To make this work, you have to strictly separate the suction side from the pressure side. Otherwise, a certain amount of hot air will be recycled through the heatsink. Again, quite simple.

Here is, what I did: Create a small duct for the CPU fan, which separates the suction side from the pressure side. A cardboard strip (cereal box in my case) of 20mm width, is enough for the NH-L9i.



Here is what I gained:

temps_A4_zpsvi3mbg6w.png

Granted: Delidding the 6700K brought down the temps by 17° (delta from 67° to 50°), but the fan duct reduced it by another 6° (delta from 50° to 44°).
I created my custom fan curve in SpeedFan (I could do the same in BIOS actually), which settles the fan speed @ 1800RPM creating a delta of 51°. Which to me is quite bearable, acousticly as well as thermally. It is not as silent as my R5 of course, but good enough to trade 48 liters of volume (the R5 is lovely, but big).

So there you go: It is probably the cheapest and easiest mod. It is certainly not beautiful, but it brings down your temps by 6° or it relaxes your fan speeds at equal temps.

I did not do this yet to my GPU (MSI GTX Gaming 10709 but I will try it at some point.
 

dondan

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mcheddadi: Your changes require a redesign of the case because its need to be increase in heigth. v2.0 should be the same case with some tiny improvements.
By the way if you want to install fans on top and buttom side this one will fit: https://geizhals.de/akasa-slimfan-8....html?hloc=at&hloc=de&hloc=pl&hloc=uk&hloc=eu


illram: Yes then you can't remove them. Sorry but I don't plan to make a motherboard tray with a cutout because it will not really help, because you have to remove the GPU and plastic shield to get access to the cutout.


@iiram and mcheddadi: In summer 2017 I will start a new case project that I plan to release end of 2018. If you need fans then this is the right case for you ;)
 

illram

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mcheddadi: Your changes require a redesign of the case because its need to be increase in heigth. v2.0 should be the same case with some tiny improvements.
By the way if you want to install fans on top and buttom side this one will fit: https://geizhals.de/akasa-slimfan-8....html?hloc=at&hloc=de&hloc=pl&hloc=uk&hloc=eu


illram: Yes then you can't remove them. Sorry but I don't plan to make a motherboard tray with a cutout because it will not really help, because you have to remove the GPU and plastic shield to get access to the cutout.

Removing the GPU and the plastic cover is trivial compared to taking out the whole motherboard.

Why eliminate the ability for folks to replace the standoffs? I personally did not do it, but I know others did.

Hi guys, first time poster here, have been lurking for a while, ever since I placed my order on kickstarter.

Thank you Daniel for this amazing case.

I am new to the SFF crowd, coming from the silent PC world (silentpcreview.com), having spent quite some time and energy on minimizing the noise coming from my PC. My whole setup resided in a Fractal Design Define R5 before. All I did, was to get another mobo and PSU and move everything over into the Dan Case. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical, if this would work out for me, as the R5 setup is just quiet. Never heard a thing of it. It did work out in the end, but it took a few measures.

A few words on airflow:
The main idea about airflow in the silent PC world is to create a path for the airflow, which is as unrestricted as possible. No obstacles (HDD cases right behind the intake fans), no corners, which the air has to move around (intake fan blowing into the case horizontally, exhaust fans sitting in the top, blowing out vertically). Air is so light, we do not feel it normally. Nevertheless, every molecole in the air is subject to inertia and thus does not want to change the direction of it's movement. This is not to be underestimated.
So the ideal build from this point of view creates an airflow in one straight line. For example: 1 intake fan in the front panel (with no HDD cage behind), 1 cooling fan sitting on the heat sink, 1 exhaust fan at the back. All three of them in one line. This will create the maximum effect, with the minimum of effort and noise. Quite simple, actually.
If you want to maximize this effect, you will create a duct (tunnel), to avoid air moving astray.

The concept of positive and negative pressure setups:
A regular PC case offers multiple spots to mount a fan. Some of them will act as intake fans, others will operate as exhaust fans. There will also be cooling fans inside the case, sitting on your heatsink and GPU.
If you only mount intake fans and no exhaust fans it is called positive pressure setup. Pressure will build up inside the case and the (hot) air will be forced out of the case. Upside of this setup is, that you will have a nearly dustfree environment inside the case, if you combine this with dustfilters at the intakes. Downside is, at equal temperature levels it will be a bit louder than a negative pressure setup.
If you only mount one or more exhaust fans, without any intake fans, it is called negative pressure setup. There will be a very slight vacuum inside the case, so air will be sucked into the case at every possible gap. Downside of this setup is increased dust buildup inside the case. Upside is, it is mostly a quieter setup.
Most people will build a mix of intake and exhaust fans to create a slightly positive or negative pressure setup, which will work out as the best balance between maximum cooling at minimal noise. If you combine this with a good airflow in mind, you will end up with a pretty silent setup.

Now, to get to the actual point of this post:
What makes the Dan Case so special to me, is that each fan operates at the same time as intake fan, cooling fan and exhaust fan. The suction side of the fan is it's intake function, the pressure side is it's cooling and exhaust function. To make this work, you have to strictly separate the suction side from the pressure side. Otherwise, a certain amount of hot air will be recycled through the heatsink. Again, quite simple.

Here is, what I did: Create a small duct for the CPU fan, which separates the suction side from the pressure side. A cardboard strip (cereal box in my case) of 20mm width, is enough for the NH-L9i.

[/URL][/IMG]

Here is what I gained:



Granted: Delidding the 6700K brought down the temps by 17° (delta from 67° to 50°), but the fan duct reduced it by another 6° (delta from 50° to 44°).
I created my custom fan curve in SpeedFan (I could do the same in BIOS actually), which settles the fan speed @ 1800RPM creating a delta of 51°. Which to me is quite bearable, acousticly as well as thermally. It is not as silent as my R5 of course, but good enough to trade 48 liters of volume (the R5 is lovely, but big).

So there you go: It is probably the cheapest and easiest mod. It is certainly not beautiful, but it brings down your temps by 6° or it relaxes your fan speeds at equal temps.

I did not do this yet to my GPU (MSI GTX Gaming 10709 but I will try it at some point.

I was thinking of the same thing! Loving the cardboard box idea.
 
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cowsgomoo2

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For those who want placebo fans, I was able to put a AK-FN076 Akasa fan 80mm x 10.8mm at the PSU area without any modding. It's just resting on top of the Corsair SF600 PSU without any screws. Ultra tall GPU may block the fan, but my rog strix gtx 1060 doesn't cause any problem if I flatten the PCI-e cable. The PSU's power socket location is also important so I don't know if other PSUs will work.
Good thing about the fan is that it's PWM so you can control the loudness with bios/software.
 

illram

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For those who want placebo fans, I was able to put a AK-FN076 Akasa fan 80mm x 10.8mm at the PSU area without any modding. It's just resting on top of the Corsair SF600 PSU without any screws. Ultra tall GPU may block the fan, but my rog strix gtx 1060 doesn't cause any problem if I flatten the PCI-e cable. The PSU's power socket location is also important so I don't know if other PSUs will work.
Good thing about the fan is that it's PWM so you can control the loudness with bios/software.

"Placebo" fans...:D I like it. Placebo products are excellent sellers in this industry, didn't you know?
 

dondan

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illram: Yes I know some modders and enthusiast are switching the 7mm stand offs for 4mm ones to get some milimeters more space. I think the numbers of user who did this is less then 1% of all customers. But the other 99% of my customers will get benifits of the stemp in stand offs because they will never come out while unscrewing the mobo.
 

cowsgomoo2

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Jan 8, 2016
Messages
144
A few words on airflow:
The main idea about airflow in the silent PC world is to create a path for the airflow, which is as unrestricted as possible. No obstacles (HDD cases right behind the intake fans), no corners, which the air has to move around (intake fan blowing into the case horizontally, exhaust fans sitting in the top, blowing out vertically). Air is so light, we do not feel it normally. Nevertheless, every molecole in the air is subject to inertia and thus does not want to change the direction of it's movement. This is not to be underestimated.
So the ideal build from this point of view creates an airflow in one straight line. For example: 1 intake fan in the front panel (with no HDD cage behind), 1 cooling fan sitting on the heat sink, 1 exhaust fan at the back. All three of them in one line. This will create the maximum effect, with the minimum of effort and noise. Quite simple, actually.
If you want to maximize this effect, you will create a duct (tunnel), to avoid air moving astray.
This triggers me so I have to reply.
The idea that air particles in a straight line comes from ignorance of basic theories of gas motion and is very common in the "big cases" arena. People drawing big fat arrows of air moving in the front of their ATX cases and out the back.
Google brownian motion and that's how the air particles are actually behaving. The air in a PC case is a pressure system and air particle are constantly pushed around in random directions by other gas particles slamming into them. Pressure causes the randomly moving particles to move in a net direction. No air particle ever travels in a straight line and they're not beach balls.
The A4 (and the Ncase M1) are not straight line systems, yet function because of pressure systems.
 

dondan

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Update:

I found a solution for mounting a 92mm fan in the A4-SFX v.2.0 if you don't use the HDD-Bay

I made the 4 mountpoins for the hdd-bay symmetric (82x82mm) so it has exactly the same dimensions as for 92mm fan mounting.
The hdd bay will nearly the same, I had to made it 7mm shorter.

How to mount a fan?
1.) remove the HDD-Bay
2.) put the fan on the anti vibration rubber
3.) use 4x 20mm screws and fix it with 4 nuts.


 
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dondan

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This is not as easy as said, but indeed maybe I have a simple idea for that. I will ask Lian LI if my idea is possible. Also on my list ;). But no guarantee that I am able to fix it.
 
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This triggers me so I have to reply.
...
Google brownian motion and that's how the air particles are actually behaving.

Thanks fpr your reply.
I know about brownian movement, I am no expert physician, though. Thus, out of interest: Do you know, how far a typical air molucule will travel, until it crashes into the next one? At what speed? If all molecules move around in a completely fuzzy manner, why can we feel air flow behind a fan and make it visible by means of smoke threads?
 

dondan

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Sorry this isn't possible because the pracket is also screwed to the topside.
 

illram

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dondan, given the case as is is pretty great, and given your desire to maintain the design basically as is, what about just selling some of these things separately as accessories or as options, like the case feet or the GPU cover being sold separately on your website, since those are easy to just replace, or the mobo tray being sold as an option, like how the Ncase comes in an ODD or non ODD version?

You are planning on selling the side window kit separately as well right?
 
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dondan

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illram: Yes this would be possible expect of the GPU cover, because v.1.0 don't have the screwhole for it, but this logistic permanent effort with a own webshop is too much for me. I have next to DAN Cases a normal job, and the development process for new products and email sopport takes a lot of time.

As you maybe know I plan a second KS campaign vor A4-SFX v.2.0 there you will be able to buy the window kit.
 

okwchin

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Aug 29, 2013
Messages
357
Here is, what I did: Create a small duct for the CPU fan, which separates the suction side from the pressure side. A cardboard strip (cereal box in my case) of 20mm width, is enough for the NH-L9i.





So there you go: It is probably the cheapest and easiest mod. It is certainly not beautiful, but it brings down your temps by 6° or it relaxes your fan speeds at equal temps.

I did not do this yet to my GPU (MSI GTX Gaming 10709 but I will try it at some point.

A few days back I have also done a duct for the LP53, using the A9-14 fan, and my results are an improvement of 3 degrees. Good to see the results are both pointing in the same direction! Will put up my results and pictures when i have time later.

My duct was a different shape, with it expanding outwards to maximise the surface area of the side panel it used to reduce the effective restriction of the side panel. This allowed for the use if a larger air intake filter, but amplified the fan noise due to the cone like shape.
 

dopa

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Sorry this isn't possible because the pracket is also screwed to the topside.
Well, of course one would need to add spacers to the top screws but that is much easier for people to do themselves then to start drilling holes. You wouldn't need to provide the spacers, just two small factory drilled holes so people wouldn't have to at it with a hand drill or something.
 

dopa

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I think an exhaust fan above the PSU or somewhere on the top panel makes more sense. Intake is not really the issue, getting air out of the case is. Hence people taking the IO panel off. I'm not sure how much a fan intaking air under the PSU would really help, if anything?
Exactly
 

okwchin

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Sorry this isn't possible because the pracket is also screwed to the topside.
The inclusion of threaded spacers could provide for this. Not sure if there is much cost in sourcing the spacers and having them included, but then how many are actually lowering the psu, and for what reason. Having an upper exhaust fan could be a good reason, but its benefits are only realised if you can fit a sufficiently large enough fan there. A 25mm thick 92mm might be ok, but thats a fair bit of displacement of the psu. A minimum of 20mm spacers would be needed for the top panel. The spacer also would need to be either a tapped M3 with a bolt end (like a long motherboard spacer) or an unthreaded with a long countersunk bolt of 23mm length


Having more space on the bottom for a 92x25mm fan with filtration is a setup that needs testing to demonstrate if it is helpful too.

I think that each build may have benefit from one or the other, but with the design as it is, I would see benefit in designing for both options if it does not compromise the original design goals.

I would personally prefer to have a filtered bottom intake fan as it provides for filtered intakes and less direct noise.


Wishlist
1) Low Restriction bottom mesh design
Another preference is for a very low restriction grill design, like what the ncase has for the rear 92mm fan. In a non structural and low physical contact area, there should be less need for a high strength mesh.

2) Mounting tabs for top fan
Sounds like the bottom fan mount design is mostly sorted. For the top, having little extensions out from top top flange and a round or slotted screw slots would permit the mounting of a fan. The only problem here is the screw holes have to be countersunk and appropriate screws provided, or the tabs bent down to allow for bolt heads. Bends mean cost and manufacturing difficulty and a need to make more clearance to fit the fan.

Flat tabs need to have matching screws to ensure it remains flush for the top panel to fit well. It does give maximum clearance though and would be the easiest to add to the design.

3) Psu spacers as discussed above
 
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Jspr

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UPDATE:

Here are all the changes for A4-SFX v2 that are already done. Only one thing is on my list to be checked:


I am all in for the extra fan support - more air pressure (y)
But how about small places to hold wires? For cable management. I needed maybe a few.. I only used 2 cable ties, and that was in a big stack of cable clutter :oops:
 

dondan

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illram" said:
I think an exhaust fan above the PSU or somewhere on the top panel makes more sense. Intake is not really the issue, getting air out of the case is. Hence people taking the IO panel off. I'm not sure how much a fan intaking air under the PSU would really help, if anything?

If I remember right a user tested this some pages ago and this has no influence on the temps.
 

Mackan

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If I remember right a user tested this some pages ago and this has no influence on the temps.
Update:

I found a solution for mounting a 92mm fan in the A4-SFX v.2.0 if you don't use the HDD-Bay

I made the 4 mountpoins for the hdd-bay symmetric (82x82mm) so it has exactly the same dimensions as for 92mm fan mounting.
The hdd bay will nearly the same, I had to made it 7mm shorter.

How to mount a fan?
1.) remove the HDD-Bay
2.) put the fan on the anti vibration rubber
3.) use 4x 20mm screws and fix it with 4 nuts.




I really vote for adding support for that fan. It must help something. At least it will blow cooler air towards the PSU to make the PSU fan spin slower. the SF450/SF600 are very sensitive of ambient temperature. The fan can of course suck air out through the bottom as well.
 

WarBird25

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Feb 1, 2017
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As said in my last post I did a few tests:

PSU problem:
As my Corsair SF450 is passiv only for a short time, I unscrewed the GPU extender to maximize the distance between back of GPU to back of PSU. At a cold start the PSU was passiv, but after a few minutes the fan started spinning. The same while gaming, the PSU fan ran at 100%. The backplate of the EVGA GTX 1080 FTW gets really hot (couldn't touch it more than half a second), it is not the cause of my PSU fan spinning most of the time. But I think the hot GPU backplate might increase the temperature. Maybe the planned bottom fan will help cooling the GPU and PSU back. If so I guess I need to buy a new A4-SFX V2 :D. Or will it be possible to just buy the bottom part, Dan?

CPU:
I worked on undervolting my CPU and I think I am lucky with my chip. Was able to run my i5-7600 @3910 MHz max at 0.96 VCore. The Noctua fan at 1500 rpm did a near silent job at about 75 °C (50 °C delta) (Prime v26.6, about 15min, case closed, io shield on). Added the result to the sheet.
Does somebody know how to disable the +0.5 MHz per multiplier in the bios of the Asus Z270i?
I might try the fan duct vishcompany suggested, and liquid metal for delid will arrive next week :). I hope I don't damage my CPU at my first delid (going to use a razor blade) :D.
 
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1.) Because you can also use the drive bay to mount single drives.

2.) v1.0 use glued screwed stand offs. If you screw the motherboards screws too hard the stand offs will go out while unscrew the motherboard screws.

I have to use 7mm stand offs to be in ATX specs and left enough space for riser, m.2 ports and big cpu backplates.

I'm also questioning both of these changes. I'd rather have the ability to replace the standoffs, since they're not hard to screw back in if they come out accidentally. And removing the inner HDD mount holes makes it quite a bit harder to mount thick 2.5" drives; you're currently able to remove the HDD mount entirely to help ensure there's enough clearance between the drive and PSU/cabling. I could see value in that if it allows the HDD mount to be used as a fan mount, though.
 

illram

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I will get these glass versions as sample and let you decide:


I prefer B personally.

BTW what happened to the last one in this post? That was my favorite:

Here are the two most vodet as rendering and the DAN logo as third option, because some users asked about it. Don't wonder about the white shine around the corners. This is only a lighting problem in my rendering scene.





And in classical presentation:


 
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okwchin

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Ducting of the LP53 fan yielded a 3 degree improvement in temperatures! The duct was created to cover as much of the side panel as possible to increase the effective available side panel area, reducing the restriction on airflow, especially when I do eventually have demci filters installed.

The only downside here is that there is more noise due to the duct reflecting the noise from the fan back and fourth between the side panel and the duct until the sound escapes, rather than being absorbed within the case.

Testing was done at full RPM for a fair comparison. The increased efficiency should reduce the required RPMs, but my feeling is that it is likely not enough to make it quieter. Making the duct out of a felted material should reduce the effect of sound reflection, but more effective acoustically would be to not have the duct more parallel rather than flared out. So weighing up the benefits of increase side panel utilisation vs acoustic amplification of a flared duct.

Here are some photos of the duct that I put together with cardboard from the box for the SF450 and some masking tape.



 
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cityle

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Feb 20, 2017
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I'm also questioning both of these changes. I'd rather have the ability to replace the standoffs, since they're not hard to screw back in if they come out accidentally. And removing the inner HDD mount holes makes it quite a bit harder to mount thick 2.5" drives; you're currently able to remove the HDD mount entirely to help ensure there's enough clearance between the drive and PSU/cabling. I could see value in that if it allows the HDD mount to be used as a fan mount, though.
But who use HDDs nowadays? Especially if you spend that type of money on a case, you can afford to buy a 1 TB Sata 3 SSD without any problem. And if you absolutely want a thick HDD, you can always use double-sided tape.
 

StrawKite

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Ducting of the LP53 fan yielded a 3 degree improvement in temperatures! The duct was created to cover as much of the side panel as possible to increase the effective available side panel area, reducing the restriction on airflow, especially when I do eventually have demci filters installed.

The only downside here is that there is more noise due to the duct reflecting the noise from the fan back and fourth between the side panel and the duct until the sound escapes, rather than being absorbed within the case.

Testing was done at full RPM for a fair comparison. The increased efficiency should reduce the required RPMs, but my feeling is that it is likely not enough to make it quieter. Making the duct out of a felted material should reduce the effect of sound reflection, but more effective acoustically would be to not have the duct more parallel rather than flared out. So weighing up the benefits of increase side panel utilisation vs acoustic amplification of a flared duct.

Here are some photos of the duct that I put together with cardboard from the box for the SF450 and some masking tape.



I would try ducting using soundproof material, I bet that would yeld less noise.
 

okwchin

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Messages
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I would try ducting using soundproof material, I bet that would yeld less noise.
I agree that this is certainly the next step. The cardboard is a definite proof of concept, and it is promising so far. I might either add felt to this one, or make another with more space for a felt lining. Inclined to add to this one and see how it goes.
 
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