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

veryrarium

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None of those Reeven coolers in the article are new. Vanxie has been sold for more than two years, I have owned one and its cooling performance is mediocre. (I attribute that to the poor heatsink design where the majority of fins underneath the fan are tiny vertical fins in the central square region that are isolated from the heatpipes and transfer heat from the CPU only by direct contact with the IHS, and the remaining fins that are connected to the heatpipes have very small surface area.) The only usage of Vanxie that I think is worth considering is for a compact Kabini PC as the mounting clips that are common among the low profile Reeven coolers (Vanxie, Steropes, Brontes, etc) have separate extension pieces and the screw holes that join those extensions to the main clips happen to have AM1-compatible spacing (these mounting clips predate AM1 socket.)

ETA: I remember the pre-COMPUTEX announcement by Cryorig mentioning the height of their new C7 as 53mm, but now I see this:
http://www.techpowerup.com/live/images/Computex_2015/cryorig_013.jpg
I don't know which is correct but if the latter it might be a viable option for A4-SFX.
 
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OverZerg

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If you made an APU build, you could probably mod the case to have the rad sit where the GPU is right now, but even that may be stretching it a bit too far. And you'd of course have to undo the loop on the cooler.
IMO for APU build it's much easier to get retail case, like HDPLEX H1, which can passively cool up to 65W, and that's pretty enough, also it's leaner and sexy too )

The main selling point of A4 is ability to use full size discrete video card in relatively small case while looking cool at same time and provide good temp/noise ratio.
 

iFreilicht

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IMO for APU build it's much easier to get retail case, like HDPLEX H1, which can passively cool up to 65W, and that's pretty enough, also it's leaner and sexy too )

The main selling point of A4 is ability to use full size discrete video card in relatively small case while looking cool at same time and provide good temp/noise ratio.

I never said it would be practical, just that that's the only way I see to actually fit that cooler into the A4. :D And maybe someone would want to do that if they plan to heavily overclock their APU, but I don't see why one would even bother when you can just put a dedicated card into that system.
 

labil

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Hi CAa11dus ,do you mind checking if the cooler interfere with the M.2 slot, I can't tell from your pictures.
 

Ca11idus

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I don't have an m.2 ssd to test but from techspot.com's review and the pics I took it looks like it might be either real close or touching. My cpu should be here sometime next week and I'll be sure to post pics for you guys.
 

Ca11idus

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Be patient, the prototype is made and dondan is performing qa on it. Once he is satisfied with the product the crowdfunding will begin and then production of the cases start.
 

Ribozyme

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Wow, why did I never see this case before? I have bought the Ncase and it is beautiful but this case.. even smaller and more beautiful!! I don't need the extensive options in the Ncase, I just want a beautiful small case that will fit 1 GPU and an ssd, no space wasted. This case seems to do that!

I am a little bit worried about the PCI riser though, there will be now performance loss or longevity issues? Other than that, GREAT WORK! Congratz.
 

Ca11idus

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Performance wise, you will loose a few points in benchmarks with no real world performance loss. Longevity wise, just like any product, depends on how good the materials are. Given that it stays stationary for most of it's life and is treated with care then it should last you a bit. That being said 3M makes great products and their risers are pretty expensive.
 

iFreilicht

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Or at least none that is outside the margin of error. If you run those benchmarks multiple times on the same setup you'll not get the exact same number every single time.
 

dondan

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DAN A4-SFX cooling performance:

img_2553plrt1.jpg

picture48sb2.jpg


Introduction:
Below, I want to inform you about the cooling performance of the DAN A4-SFX, because many potential buyers are sceptical that powerful hardware can be cooled in this case.
Also, the test should determine which CPU coolers with a maximum installation height of 48mm is suitable for this case.

Many readers are also interested in: How a Top-Blow cooler graphics card will perform in this case. This question is intended to clarify as well.


Testsystem:
The following hardware has been used for the results:

  • CPU: Intel Xeon 1230v2 3,5Ghz TPD 69W (Ivy Bridge)
  • GPU1: Nvidia Geforce GTX 780 reference design
  • GPU2: MSI Geforce GTX 970 Gaming 4G

The hardware was tested in an open build (without case) and inside the case at a room temperature of 21-22°C. The fan speed is the same in both setups.
All tests inside the case were made with the sidepanel Version 1, which will be used for the final product.
This Version offers the better look and allows the same cooling performance as Version 2.

sidepanel63j13.jpg



CPU Cooling:
As already mentioned, the maximum installation height incl. fan is only 48mm. This measurement refers from the top of the CPU to the sidepanel.
Therefore the selection of suitable coolers is very limited. For the tests I also used coolers, higher than 48mm, which fit while using a thinner fan.

Now I would like to introduce the test candidates.

coolertest2kopie3op7k.jpg

cooler_4pjq1m.jpg



Intel Boxed cooler:
The Intel Boxed cooler is probably the most famous cooler at all. Every boxed Intel CPU includes this cooler. With an height of 47mm it fits perfectly in the case.
However this coolers is not very popular, because of his bad cooling performance.

Noctua L9i:
The L9i is one of the smallest cooler in this test. With a height of just 37mm incl. fan, it is truly tiny. The cooler includes the Noctua A9x14 fan,
which is also available without the heatsink. But the rotation speed is different for the standalone version. The L9i version offers 2500rpm and the standalone version 2200rpm.
Therefore I use the 2200rpm version in the test. Due to the low height of the cooler, it can also be operated with a 25mm thick fan inside the case.
So the L9i was also tested with the NF A9 PWM.

Silverstone Argon SST-AR05:
The AR05 is the smallest cooler in the test. Directly attached heatpipes to the CPU heatspreader are special for this cooler. This cooler was also tested with the NF A9 PWM.

Cooltek LP53:
With the default height of 53mm the LP53 wouldn't fit inside the case. But if you switch the f an with an thinner version like the A9x14 it fits.
However the mounting of at thin 92mm FAN must be performed with cable ties, because the default 92mm fan has mounting points of an 80mm fan.
As a special highlight I'm going to test this cooler with the Thermalright TR-Y100, which is the default fan of the AXP100 Cooler.
Whats special of this fan are the dimensions of 100x100x15mm and the increased air pressure towards to the A9x14.

Xigmatek Janus:
Even the Janus does not fit without adjustments on it, because with its 60mm it would actually be too high.
If you unscrew the 120mm top fan and change the lower 80mm fan to the Noctua A9x14, Thermalright TR-Y100 or Scythe SY1012SL12M the cooler fits.
The lower fan was mounting in priming position through the upper heatsink. Mounting it the other way results in 10°C higher temperatures.

Phanteks PH-TC12LS:
The last test sample is the PH-TC12LS. With it's 72mm this cooler is too hight as well, but after unscrewing the top fan it fits.
You can mount a Scythe SY1012SL12M (12mm) between the top fins and the lower heatplate.


CPU cooler test scenario:
The following tables are showing the test results in idle and under full load.
The fan speed is fixed to 100% with Speedfan for all tests, to show you the best possible values. Of course, under you can setup the fan speed to 30% for low usageand you will never reach 45°C.

For the idle test, the temperatures of all four cores without load were noted after 20 minutes on the desktop. The average value was insert into the table.
In load mode, the system is operating in Prime95 20min in 8K test. The 8K test produced the highest temperatures on the cores.

ATTENTION: The temperature values in Prime95 8K are not comparable to those in games or processor-intensive applications,
since Prime achieved a 15% higher CPU temperature as other applications.


cpu_idle56q37.jpg


cpu_loadnhrmq.jpg




Overvolting and Undervolting:
The next test should demonstrate what is possible by using the Cooltek LP53.
Therefore, Prime has been tested both in undervolted and in overvolted state. A normal Ivybridge could reach the 4,2-4,5Ghz stable with 1,2V voltage.
As you can see normal overclocking could be possible with the right cooler in this case. Or you can lower the noise level under load y undervolting the CPU.

ocuv2nqib.jpg




Graphics card cooling:
Another important part of this test are the results of cooling graphic cards in this case. Especially the comparison between radial cooler and top blow cards is important.

Info: Radial cooler cards blow the air out through the slot bracket from the housing.
Whereas Top-Blow cards blow the air directly on the heatsink and and the air escapes mostly upper and lower side of the card.
Only a very small part of the air escapes through the slot bracket.

For the test I use a Nvidia GTX 780 in the radial cooler design and a MSI GTX 970 Gaming G4 in top-blow design.

Graphics card test scenario:
Such as the CPU cooler, the graphics cards were tested in idle and load mode. The fan speed was fixed to 30% under idle and 60% under load for both cards.
The speeds was fixed with the tool MSI Afterburner. In the idle mode, both cards was very silent (subjective value).
At a speed of 60%, the GTX970 was still silent, but you are able to hear the GTX780.

For the measurement results, the cards were tested in 3D Mark Test Firestrike demo for 20min and 20min in idle on the desktop.
The 3DMark test ran in continuous loop and the temperatures were recorded with the Tool MSI Afterburner.

gpu_load_idlejoqnx.jpg




Case efficiency:
The final test was to prove the housing efficiency. The efficiency is the overall avarage temperature difference between an open body usage and usage inside the case.

efficiencyt2q03.jpg





Noise level:
Finally, I want to say something about the noise level of the components inside the case. Of course, these results are subjective, so everybody will percipience it different.

In idle and low usage mode (office, browsing or watching movies) each CPU can be cooled very silent. Under load you will hear the CPU cooler while testing with Prime95.
But under normal load usage in games like GTA5 or high load applications like rendering tools you can set the fan speed to 60%.
In this setup the cooler is far from being realy disturbing. By the time the game is starting with a normal volume, you can't hear nearly all coolers in the test.

Under normal usage and with a fan speed of 30% both cards are very silent. Only while playing games or running benchmarks with a fan speed of 60% the MSI card is still quiet,
but the GTX780 is definitely hearable.


Final words:
I hope I was able to convince even the last sceptics with this test, that it is possible to cool hardware from the impact of an NVIDIA Titanium X and an i7 4790K / 5775C in the DAN A4 SFX.
However the remarkable thing about this case is the cooling efficiency. It can accumulate air at any point and every component works cool technically self-sufficient without an the need of case fans.
Hot air rises and can escape directly over the top ventilation holes. All fans of the components blow into the case to provide pressure and promote a faster escape of the heated air over the top.

Thank you for reading my test. I will be back soon with many professional made product pictures.
 
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SaperPL

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Really nice summary, but It would be nicer to have the noise measured with some tool.
 

pgabor

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Great summary! Good to see that the case works as expected :)
Looks like I made the good decision when 2 months ago I bought the LP53!

Now give us that crowdfunding campaign, so we can spend our money :D
 
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CknSalad

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It's interesting how the Noctua NHL-9i did worse with the bigger NF-A9 PWM fan in the Prime95 tests. It would be nice to see CPU and GPU temperatures for PC games.
 

Skelett666

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Could you please put numbers in the picture of the fans/coolers and the list underneath it? I have no idea which is which. Thanks.
 

dondan

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From left to right.

First picture
1.) LP53 with A9x14
2.) Argon
3.) L9i
4.) Intel Boxed

Second Picture
1.) PH-TC12LS
2.) Juno

It's interesting how the Noctua NHL-9i did worse with the bigger NF-A9 PWM fan in the Prime95 tests. It would be nice to see CPU and GPU temperatures for PC games.

I think the A9 PWM has a lower air pressure. Don't mix static air pressure and air throughput. Some coolers need more pressure and others throughput. I think the distance between the heatsink fins and the cooler material is the reason.
 

Aircoookie

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Really great! I think i will go with the Argon cooler... Noise wise, are some coolers very loud or are all subjectively the same loudness? Thanks
Edit: Also, which thermal paste did you use? That one that came with the coolers, respectively, or the same for all?

@OverZerg

I think Idcooling had a problem with the VC45, so they are doing a 2nd revision. Maybe Dan will test it later...
 
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dondan

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Every cooler was tested with the Thernakright Chill Factor 3 paste.

The loudness of the coolers are very close together. The A9x14 and the Scythe are the most silent ones.
 

veryrarium

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Great work, dondan! I really aprreciate the amount of time you must have spent on the tedious cooler installation/uninstallation.

The most surprising thing is PH-TC12LS + a 12mm-thick 100mm fan lost against Janus + a 14mm-thick 100mm fan by 10C and against LP53 + a 14mm-thick 100mm by 14C at load on the open air setting. In general thicker fans have larger blade angle against the face of the fan giving higher static pressure, but here it's only a 2mm difference in thickness, and PH-TC12LS boasts the largest fin area as well the the highest number of heatpipes (tying with Janus) against the competitors. I understand TY100 is rated 2500rpm @max whereas Kaze Jyu Slim M is rated 2000rpm, and also LP53 has copper fins, but still hard to make a convincing sense out of the extremely poor performance shown by PH-TC12LS + Scythe Kaze Jyu Slim M.

(Offtopic but relevant to my thought above: as to the copper (of LP53) vs aluminum (of the rest) fins... I remember some test results (e.g. xbitlabs, hardocp, expreview, Navig@OverclockersForum) showing Thermalright's TRUe Copper not outperforming the aluminum TRUe. by more than 2 or 3 degrees even on high OC settings. Similarly, MSI has released "Golden Edition" versions in the past for some of their GPU cards where the heatsink/fan/shroud designs are exactly the same as the regular versions but the fins are cooper instead of aluminum. This review did a cooling performance test done on the regular and the Golden Edition of MSI GTX 970 GAMING 4G under the same condition and it turned out the the load temps were equal (rounded off to the whole number) between the two.)

@dondan
One question: in your explanation of Xigmatek Janus, you wrote:
The lower fan was mounting in priming position through the upper heatsink. Mounting it the other way results in 10°C higher temperatures.
Could you clarify what you meant here? Did you mean that the TY-100 fan mounted underneath the heatsink was oriented so that the fan pushes air onto the heatsink instead of pulling from through the heatsink?
Now, in that case, could you clarify the orientation of the Scythe slim 100mm fan mounted on PH-TC12LS as well?
 
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Skelett666

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For me as a keep-it-simple person the Silverstone Argon is the winner. CPU temp under load 68° and no fiddling about with cable ties or buying and dismantling two different coolers. The smaller size also guarantees it will be more compatible with different motherboard layouts. 39€ and you're done. It's not worth the hassle and the money to get the benefit of (maximum) 3.75°

Plus the noise level is really good:
http://www.nikktech.com/main/articles/pc-hardware/cpu-cooling/cpu-air-coolers/4705-silverstone-argon-ar05-low-profile-cpu-cooler-review?showall=&start=5
 
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pgabor

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For me as a keep-it-simple person the Silverstone Argon is the winner. CPU temp under load 68° and no fiddling about with cable ties or buying and dismantling two different coolers. The smaller size also guarantees it will be more compatible with different motherboard layouts. 39€ and you're done. It's not worth the hassle and the money to get the benefit of [maximum] 3.75°

You can buy the noctua fan standalone, you don't have to buy two coolers.
 

Mackan

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Some things to look into if possible,

1) Temperature behind motherboard if adding a M.2 SSD there. General motherboard/case temperature?
2) Dust filtering. Material is aluminium, so no magnet dust filters will work. Adhesive Demciflex needed it seems.
3) Panel thickness. If panels are too thin, they will inevitably bend, like on Ncase M1.
4) Panel seating. Current plastic clips can break, or wear with the consequence that they don't hold in the panel perfectly.
5) Stiff USB 3.0 cable. These are often too long, and often too stiff. Not fun.
6) Perforation pattern on the side panels. Some patterns cause more noise than others. Not sure if it matters here or not.

Some of the above things have annoyed me with the Ncase M1 that I own. I don't know if there are better solutions available. Just want to raise the concern again.

Otherwise, great job, and hope to buy this case. :)
 

dondan

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@dondan
One question: in your explanation of Xigmatek Janus, you wrote:

Could you clarify what you meant here? Did you mean that the TY-100 fan mounted underneath the heatsink was oriented so that the fan pushes air onto the heatsink instead of pulling from through the heatsink?
Now, in that case, could you clarify the orientation of the Scythe slim 100mm fan mounted on PH-TC12LS as well?

For the Phanteks and Xigmateks I install the fans under the heatsink pulling air through it. I test the Xigmatek with the fan fliped (pushing through the heatsink) and the temps was 10°C higer, because the fan use the hot air from the inside.

The most surprising thing is PH-TC12LS + a 12mm-thick 100mm fan lost against Janus + a 14mm-thick 100mm fan by 10C

The scythe fan is very bad in pulling air. I test the Phanteks also with the default cooler and the result was arround 6°C worse as the LO53.
 

bAMtan2

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For the Phanteks and Xigmateks I install the fans under the heatsink pulling air through it. I test the Xigmatek with the fan fliped (pushing through the heatsink) and the temps was 10°C higer, because the fan use the hot air from the inside.



The scythe fan is very bad in pulling air. I test the Phanteks also with the default cooler and the result was arround 6°C worse as the LO53.

excellent work dan :)

it looks like intel stock cooler is enough. and people can buy silverstone or noctua if they want better. the only thing I wonder now is how well an expensive server-style vapor chamber will work
 

Ca11idus

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We need X99 tests! :p /s

On a more serious note: Take my money!

I will make your dreams come true, lol. Cpu should be here by this weekend.

Dondan, that was some professional work you did there with the graphs and all. It was well worth the wait. On a side note, the 970 runs cooler than then 780. It would be nice to test the same card with ref and non ref cooler but I'm asking for too much.
 

Barbarian_PT

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I'm confused. You refer to Ximtatek Janus and Xigmatek Juno. I think you refer do Xigmatek janus, but the image you posted dosn'te look like the Xigmatek Janus:

109d.jpg


cooler_4pjq1m.jpg


I seached for a cooler named Juno, and I didn't found anything, not even in the Xigmatek website...

EDIT: After seeing other pictures, I realized I was mistaken because of the photo angle. Can you show us the Janus with de Fan mounted?
 
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Woxys

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Well i think you can do a "OK" OC there with this badboy coming:

900x900px-LL-cdd7730e_cryorig_011.jpeg


900x900px-LL-c974cb07_cryorig_013.jpeg


Glad it's 46mm tall, I want a review of that :D
 

Barbarian_PT

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@Dondan

Let me bother you a little bit:

1) Is there any defect or change you need to see with Lian Li, or it's just business from now on?

2) Would it be other prototype, a complete one, or just one or two case components?

3) Is the riser matter closed? Is the 3M the only viable option?

4) Is the shipping process studied yet?

5) Do you have an idea of how many cases would you ask for/need in the first production request?

6) Do you have a final price?

7) Do you have a date for the start of the crowdfunding campaign?
 

dondan

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1) Temperature behind motherboard if adding a M.2 SSD there. General motherboard/case temperature?
2) Dust filtering. Material is aluminium, so no magnet dust filters will work. Adhesive Demciflex needed it seems.
3) Panel thickness. If panels are too thin, they will inevitably bend, like on Ncase M1.
4) Panel seating. Current plastic clips can break, or wear with the consequence that they don't hold in the panel perfectly.
5) Stiff USB 3.0 cable. These are often too long, and often too stiff. Not fun.
6) Perforation pattern on the side panels. Some patterns cause more noise than others. Not sure if it matters here or not.

1) I made a 20min test Futuremark and Prime95 together. The temperature of the MSATA on the backside of my motherboard is 52°C. I think this value is ok, because the MSATA port of the Asrock Z77E-ITX is next to the CPU area.
2) Aluminium is magnetic but less then other metals. Demiflex should work, but I will not test it.
3) The panel thickness is 1,5mm I opened the case around 50 times and the panel looks ok. Maybe the bottom bend increase the stability.
4) If you screw the sidepanels on the bottom the will perfectly stay in position. Without screwing it they will move 0,5mm down.
5) The USB3.0 cable is 30cm long and the bend ability is ok.
6) Is the default Lian Li perforation layout. If the fan is very close to these holes it is more noisy as having a bit of space between sidepanel and fan.

@Dondan
1) Is there any defect or change you need to see with Lian Li, or it's just business from now on?
2) Would it be other prototype, a complete one, or just one or two case components?
3) Is the riser matter closed? Is the 3M the only viable option?
4) Is the shipping process studied yet?
5) Do you have an idea of how many cases would you ask for/need in the first production request?
6) Do you have a final price?
7) Do you have a date for the start of the crowdfunding campaign?

1) The only thing that I have to change is the length of the powerbutton.I will increase it of arround 1,5mm. So you get a faster feedback by pressing it.
2) I will only reoder the powerswitch for testing.
3) I think of an version with the 3M riser and a case without a riser, so you can choose a risercard by your own.
4) Shipment will be with DHL germany. I think about to get an reseller for europe so I have to ship only outside the EU by myself.
5) 300
6) no around 200€
7) no sorry please give me the time I need. :)

I have a 5820k A4-SFX plan, I just need someone to confirm it would work before jumping in :D

Maybe I will try it too XD
 
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