Inverse: A Highly Versatile Steam-Box Design

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
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215
e4ae4Ko.jpg
The !nverse Indiegogo Campaign is LIVE!



My venture into the world of custom-designed cases began when I started building in the tiny Minibox M350 case. Being in a long-distance relationship, I needed something small and powerful so I can take my research with me on a 13-hour train ride every weekend. My pragmatic need for a portable PC soon developed into a full-on obsession as I find myself endlessly tweaking parts and designing mounts to cram as many components as I could into every last bit of space. It is from this obsession that "Inverse" was born.

Shaped by the ethos of fitting the most performance and versatility into the smallest amount of space, Inverse is a sub-10L computer case that can accommodate a full-length graphics card, a 240mm closed-loop liquid cooler, 3.5" and 2.5" hard drives, and a SFX power supply. Its versatile internal layout accommodates hard-core gamers, enthusiasts enamored with water cooling, media hoarders looking to create their own home theater, and anyone in between. Its smooth yet eye-catching exterior will blend into and enhance any desktop or home theater setup.



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No exhaust holes on top for a smooth and unobtrusive look.
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All intake holes on the bottom.
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Patterned exhaust holes on the front and side gives a unique flair.
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Internal components are inverted to allow a smooth top panel.
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Monitors, speakers, and other desktop peripherals may be placed on top to created an integrated entertainment unit with minimal footprint.
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Available in black, white, and possibly other colors. Let me know what you like!
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Specifications:
Dimension: 464mm x 308.5mm x 72mm (10.31L)

Material: 2mm aluminum for the exterior, and 1.5mm steel for the interior skeleton.

Inverse is designed with 4 interior configurations in mind, though other configurations are possible.

1) Gaming with air cooling
i) Accommodates Mini-ITX motherboard.
ii) Accommodates SFX or SFX-L power supply.
iii) Accommodates one graphics card up to 12" (305mm) in length, 5.91" (150mm) in width, and 1.81" (46mm) in thickness.
iv) Accommodate air coolers up to 55mm in height.
v) Accommodate up to 3 x 3.5" drives and 4 x 2.5" drives.
vi) Accommodate up to 2 120mm x 15mm case fans over the graphics card for added cooling.
Interior, angled top view:
OWgDJMf.jpg

Internal components are mounted in an "inverted" fashion to allow for a smooth top.
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Bottom view, with and without cover frame attached:
EWBEG4w.jpg

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All fans intake from the bottom.

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Bottom view, without cover frame and case fans:
7pi4vE2.jpg

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Low-angle side view, without fans:
GVeYYms.jpg

Graphics card is separated from the rest of the components for focused cooling. A stabilizing bracket is provided for the graphics card to reduce sagging.

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Top frame, zoomed-in view:
O6oOW2z.jpg

Cable management loops on the top and bottom frame for ease of building.

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2) Gaming with 120mm closed-loop liquid cooling
i) Accommodates Mini-ITX motherboard.
ii) Accommodates SFX or SFX-L power supply.
iii) Accommodates one graphics card up to 12" (305mm) in length, 5.91" (150mm) in width, and 1.81" (46mm) in thickness.
iv) Accommodate closed-loop liquid coolers with 120mm radiator and total thickness (including fan) of no more than 60mm.
v) Accommodate up to 1-3 x 3.5" drives and 2-4 x 2.5" drives, depending on the height of the water block.
vi) Accommodate up to 2 120mm x 15mm case fans over the graphics card for added cooling.
Bottom view, without cover frame attached:
9VqlDwb.jpg

120mm case fan with a radiator near the top.
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Low-angle side view:
DkCCpJO.jpg

3.5" drives and 2.5" drives mounted beside the 120mm radiator and over the motherboard.

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3) Gaming with 240mm closed-loop liquid cooling
i) Accommodates Mini-ITX motherboard.
ii) Accommodates SFX or SFX-L power supply.
iii) Accommodates one graphics card up to 12" (305mm) in length, 5.91" (150mm) in width, and 1.81" (46mm) in thickness.
iv) Accommodate closed-loop liquid coolers with 240mm radiator and total thickness (including fan) of no more than 60mm.
v) Accommodate up to 0-1 x 3.5" drives and 2-4 x 2.5" drives, depending on the height of the water block.
vi) Accommodate up to 2 120mm x 15mm case fans over the graphics card for added cooling.
Bottom view, without cover frame attached:
PHvXdcj.jpg

Two 120mm case fans with a 240mm radiator near the top.
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Low-angle side view:
ofsEpAk.jpg

One 3.5" drives and up to two 2.5" drives mounted over the motherboard, depending on the height of the water block.

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4) Media Storage
i) Accommodates Mini-ITX motherboard.
ii) Accommodates SFX or SFX-L power supply.
v) Accommodate up to 6 x 3.5" drives and 8 x 2.5" drives.
Bottom view, without cover frame attached:
BrX3cR3.jpg

Four 3.5" drives and four 2.5" drives in the graphics card compartment. Two 3.5" drives and four 2.5" drives around the motherboard. The compartment divider and the graphics card stabilizer is removable.
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Low-angle side view, without fans:
BwaAR6N.jpg

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No ODD supported for any configuration. This is to maintain the smooth look of the exterior, as well as make room to accommodate a 240mm aio cooler.



Project Status:
1) Indiegogo campaign underway.

2) Case stand has been designed. May be included if indiegogo campaign goes well.



FAQ:
1)
Q: There are no exhaust holes on the top, only on the sides. Doesn't that go against "hot air rises"? How would that impact temperatures?

A: The effects of hot air rising are negligible compared to the forces produced by fans. Please read this article for reference.
2)
Q: You are drawing cold air in from the bottom only. How tall does the case feet have to be before heating becomes compromised?

A: I did a study on this, and it suggests that the case feet just has to be above 9 mm in height, which is pretty standard. I own the Silverstone ML07, and its feet measure 10 mm in height. Here is the link to the study I did.


I believe that we are nearly through the design process. As always, any feedback is welcome! It would be greatly helpful if anyone can point out any glaring flaws in the design, or make any suggestions.

Thanks for reading!
 
Last edited:

Bieberfever

Weaksauce
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Aug 1, 2014
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78
Might want to repost these on a contrasting background. Black on black makes it nigh impossible to see detail on over half of your diagrams.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
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Might want to repost these on a contrasting background. Black on black makes it nigh impossible to see detail on over half of your diagrams.

Yeah, I'm working on that. Pretty newb to AutoCAD rendering and couldn't set up the light source properly. Should be updated in a day or so.
 

Cerulean

[H]F Junkie
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Messages
9,475
I think it would be neat if a custom chassis was designed as an alternative for the Gigabyte Brix GB-BXi7G3-760 (i7-4710HQ, "NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760" = GTX 870M) (hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=941966&page=15#588) with its guts in a rectangular layout. This would make one seaworthy Steambox. :D
 

rawrr

Gawd
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Messages
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Knowing me, I'll always prefer the smaller one. However, both of your designs are pretty sweet!
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
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Messages
215
I think it would be neat if a custom chassis was designed as an alternative for the Gigabyte Brix GB-BXi7G3-760 (i7-4710HQ, "NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760" = GTX 870M) (hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=941966&page=15#588) with its guts in a rectangular layout. This would make one seaworthy Steambox. :D

I've heard of the Gigabyte Brix. How is its performance?
 

rawrr

Gawd
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Thanks! Does it bother you that the smaller design requires a Flex ATX PSU?

Nah. In fact, I'm the kind of person that prefers a DC-DC board with external brick power solution, if it makes the case smaller.
 

SaperPL

[H]ard|Gawd
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I won't answer your questions directly but:
- Those images are terrible - dark frame on black background, not enough contrast there :|
- the PSU is too close to the edge unless you wanna pin it directly by wires to the connector or have the plug on the side wall. Otherwise you'll need like 28mm at least from the edge ( the connector goes 3mm outside of the SFX form factor and you need 25mm to angle the plug)
- hard drives on the top of GPU are no go - too hot, will fry them
- the top plate looks not stiff enough
- I didn't notice any pci-e connector support - it's a must for long cards
- The whole construction looks messy if you want to weld/glue side panels to the skeleton. Front's edges will probably look bad and uneven
- from the production point of view those designs are totally bad - you want to weld whole skeleton like this? its totally nontechnological approach
- unless you find some idea of a style for the case, it will look like M600 which basically looks like custom rackmount case for custom redneck aperture. Necere made the brick, but he did it classy with style.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
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Messages
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Can run Skyrim 1920x1200 on Ultra with great and smooth FPS.

I did a basic benchmark with Far Cry 4 -- see at http://hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1041397989&postcount=595

Would be curious to see how it would perform if cooling wasn't the bottleneck. :)

That is actually pretty amazing for such a small PC. I'm not sure if it is easily doable for me to design something like that though. Too much incompatibility with regular motherboards and GPUs.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
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Messages
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Nah. In fact, I'm the kind of person that prefers a DC-DC board with external brick power solution, if it makes the case smaller.

Haha, the external bricks do get pretty big. I own a M350 build, and I got the 192W external brick for it. The thing is half the size of my PC!
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
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Messages
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I won't answer your questions directly but:
- Those images are terrible - dark frame on black background, not enough contrast there :|
- the PSU is too close to the edge unless you wanna pin it directly by wires to the connector or have the plug on the side wall. Otherwise you'll need like 28mm at least from the edge ( the connector goes 3mm outside of the SFX form factor and you need 25mm to angle the plug)
- hard drives on the top of GPU are no go - too hot, will fry them
- the top plate looks not stiff enough
- I didn't notice any pci-e connector support - it's a must for long cards
- The whole construction looks messy if you want to weld/glue side panels to the skeleton. Front's edges will probably look bad and uneven
- from the production point of view those designs are totally bad - you want to weld whole skeleton like this? its totally nontechnological approach
- unless you find some idea of a style for the case, it will look like M600 which basically looks like custom rackmount case for custom redneck aperture. Necere made the brick, but he did it classy with style.

Thanks for your input man! This is a first design iteration, so responses like yours are extremely valuable.

I think most of your concerns are with the Powerful Steam Box.

-I am working on the renderings right now. Still fairly new to rendering in AutoCAD, but should get something better looking by tomorrow.

-I am looking to have the plug on the side wall. Would that bother you?

-You're the second person to have mentioned concerns with the harddrives on the GPU. I think I can remove them and reduce the thickness by like 5mm. Mini ITX motherboards don't support 9 2.5" drives yet anyway (max is 6, I believe).

-I'm hoping to do a rough prototype this weekend. If the top frame is too weak, I will probably have to make them thicker, or go with steel as the material.

-I will put in PCIe connector support in the future upgrades section.

-The panels will be screwed to the frame.

-According to the manufacturers I have contacted, the skeleton design as it is IS running a bit expensive. I am currently working on the next iteration, which should require minimal/no welding.

-I know about the M600, and it is actually one of my favorite cases. My only gripe with it is that it doesn't accommodate at least a SFX power supply, which limits how much power it can draw. I'm hoping to get around that without a drastic increase in size with my designs.
 

lvyelion

Limp Gawd
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why no one uses the Valve SteamBox Prototype design? I think it's by far the best balance
 

Cerulean

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why no one uses the Valve SteamBox Prototype design? I think it's by far the best balance
OK so OP should just give up and quit using AutoCAD/SolidWorks/whatever he is using? These are experience points for him. If everyone followed this way of thinking, the pool of talent out there would be a fraction of the current population of talented individuals.

We do pointless things in our teenage years, but for some of us who do more than just play computer games, even some pointless things are building blocks to greater achievements.
 
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Lakai129

n00b
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why no one uses the Valve SteamBox Prototype design? I think it's by far the best balance

^^ This. Why doesnt anyone just straight up copy the OG Valve Box?? Its what everyone wants anyway, atleast interior wise.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
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^^ This. Why doesnt anyone just straight up copy the OG Valve Box?? Its what everyone wants anyway, atleast interior wise.

If we're not considering copyright laws and stuff, I think most people don't just copy because they want to try and create better stuff. If you copy, you can only be as good as the original, no chance at surpassing it. If you try to go in your own direction, you have a bigger chance of surpassing the current "industry's best". Of course, you're also at risk of coming up with something much worse than the industry standard, but all you'll have to do then is to try again.

I think the Ncase M1 is a prime example of people just trying new stuff, and then ending up with something better than anything the industry has to offer.
 

Necere

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why no one uses the Valve SteamBox Prototype design? I think it's by far the best balance

^^ This. Why doesnt anyone just straight up copy the OG Valve Box?? Its what everyone wants anyway, atleast interior wise.
I disagree:

  • It uses a custom PCI bracket for the GPU, which restricts upgrades to cards with that specific video connector layout
  • Non-reference-height GPUs won't fit
  • It has plastic ducting which is specifically designed for reference nvidia blower cards; any other design will perform non-optimally, or not fit
  • It has plastic ducting which is specifically designed for the AC inlet location on the ST45SF-G and SX600-G power supplies, others won't fit; SFX-L PSUs won't fit
  • It has plastic ducting covering the motherboard, which also holds the drives, and which restricts CPU cooler height and socket location on the motherboard (effectively limiting motherboard choice)
  • It has no provision for dust filters
  • It's not very quiet
  • It's not designed to be able to stand vertically

Basically, it's too proprietary to be any good for DIY builders. It needs to be redesigned to take into account a wider variety of hardware and future upgrades. Which, by the way, is exactly the approach some of us are taking.

You'll note that most of these designs (mine, Saper's, dondan's B3, the RVZ01/RVZ02) are already using essentially the same layout as the Steam Machine prototype: PSU in front of the motherboard, GPU on a riser to the side. There's good reason for it - it's by far the most space-efficient approach for a slim form-factor case. The only significant difference is the location of the drives, which again, isn't really optimal in the Steam Machine. Everything else is just details.
 

SaperPL

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I agree with Necere on this - valve steam machine prototype is a good proof of concept but uses a lot of custom stuff. There's a lot of stuff you can improve as he stated.


The plug on the side wall is a terrible idea. It's something that's going to the living room and all cables should be hidden behind the table/rack.


There's one configuration that might be an interesting idea that still noone touched but its weird.
You could put the power supply next to motherboard facing back and place graphic card bracket internally.

p4Z4SdO.jpg


This way you have to connect the DVI and HDMI to the back of the case.

There are few advantages of this:
1) you don't need to concern yourself about multiple orientations of IEC connector on power supply.
2) PSU doesnt need that additional internal space
3) PSU is well fastened to external wall
4) GPU bracket won't stand out like in my case
5) You can put GPU on the floor of the case without distance which was needed to mount the bracket properly thus giving you some distance from the top letting you place the drives up there.

Problems to be solved:
1) Flex Riser use and its placement - it will take some space and bending it is hard. You could use pci-e X8 riser which has smaller ribbon and it doesn't change the performance much (http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GTX_980_PCI-Express_Scaling/1.html)
2) Connecting VGA signal output to the outer wall limits you to cables you choose. And it looks like you should support 2xDVI, 1xHDMI and 1xDP as its the most common configuration today.

The effect of this might be something like: (WxDxH) 300 x 320 x 65.5 [mm] == 6.3L supporting cards up to 260mm.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
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I agree with Necere on this - valve steam machine prototype is a good proof of concept but uses a lot of custom stuff. There's a lot of stuff you can improve as he stated.


The plug on the side wall is a terrible idea. It's something that's going to the living room and all cables should be hidden behind the table/rack.


There's one configuration that might be an interesting idea that still noone touched but its weird.
You could put the power supply next to motherboard facing back and place graphic card bracket internally.

p4Z4SdO.jpg


This way you have to connect the DVI and HDMI to the back of the case.

There are few advantages of this:
1) you don't need to concern yourself about multiple orientations of IEC connector on power supply.
2) PSU doesnt need that additional internal space
3) PSU is well fastened to external wall
4) GPU bracket won't stand out like in my case
5) You can put GPU on the floor of the case without distance which was needed to mount the bracket properly thus giving you some distance from the top letting you place the drives up there.

Problems to be solved:
1) Flex Riser use and its placement - it will take some space and bending it is hard. You could use pci-e X8 riser which has smaller ribbon and it doesn't change the performance much (http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GTX_980_PCI-Express_Scaling/1.html)
2) Connecting VGA signal output to the outer wall limits you to cables you choose. And it looks like you should support 2xDVI, 1xHDMI and 1xDP as its the most common configuration today.

The effect of this might be something like: (WxDxH) 300 x 320 x 65.5 [mm] == 6.3L supporting cards up to 260mm.

I think the plug on the side can still work if the case is standing on its side. That way, the plug is beneath the case. In this situation, the case should come with a 90 deg power cable adapter, like so:

http://www.amazon.com/AudioQuest-IE...79296&sr=8-1&keywords=right+angle+iec+adapter

I like your proposed design. I think it can work, though it does require a bit of thought to do right.
 

SaperPL

[H]ard|Gawd
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The angled connector is obvious but this way you're just adding to the total height of the case.

Oh, there's one more thing to this idea - if you swap the card direction making fans face top you'll get no vents on bottom, riser should be easier to bend and you'll have the VGA signal output on the right side

Also you could swap the psu with motherboard and put the riser below the raised a little motherboard but that would need the card to lay on the case floor.
 
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esplin2966

Limp Gawd
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The angled connector is obvious but this way you're just adding to the total height of the case.

Oh, there's one more thing to this idea - if you swap the card direction making fans face top you'll get no vents on bottom, riser should be easier to bend and you'll have the VGA signal output on the right side

Also you could swap the psu with motherboard and put the riser below the raised a little motherboard but that would need the card to lay on the case floor.

I think the angled power plug is about the same height as the case "feet" anyway. I guess it depends on how much off the ground you want the case to be.

Wait, now I'm thinking about this idea, a question comes to mind:

If you're mounting the GPU internally, how will you plug in a cable (DVI, HDMI, VGA, etc.) from the monitor? Are you going to route the cables internally so that they come out the back end?
 

SaperPL

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In general yeah - Either by using interior extension cables or just placing multiple cable glands so the user can put the cables through the back wall of the case.

The first lets you connect the cables without opening the case but is more expensive and won't support every card's connector configurations, the second one is cheaper but user will need to open the case to plug/unplug the cables.
 

SaperPL

[H]ard|Gawd
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Considering using only ITX sized cards and low profile cpu coolers you could do this:

tOS4nG3.jpg


6L design, motherboard is rised so the hard drives and the pci-e ribbon fits underneath. Still supporting SFX-L

Card support up to 185mm or 195mm if you move the card 10mm to the right.

There's enough space to fit vga signal connectors inside and angle them. The only question is where to you want to let them outside and how to make with style.
 

Urelure

Limp Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2014
Messages
459
Considering using only ITX sized cards and low profile cpu coolers you could do this:

6L design, motherboard is rised so the hard drives and the pci-e ribbon fits underneath. Still supporting SFX-L

Card support up to 185mm or 195mm if you move the card 10mm to the right.

There's enough space to fit vga signal connectors inside and angle them. The only question is where to you want to let them outside and how to make with style.

I think this is kind of over complicating things just for the sake of being different from yours and Neceres design. As long as this form factor is possible without any internal connectors, it doesn't make sense to do it this way imo.

I'm not sure there is room in this niche market for 3 different but basically similar cases though. Yours and Neceres will probably work well side by side due to differing target prices and material choices, But if a third one starts to get going it is very possible one of the 3 will fail. This new one would probably compete with one of the others regarding price, and either this or the competition would fail due to either design choices or time to market.

Don't get me wrong. I am not in a position to tell anyone here what to do. I'm just saying it's worth considering.
 

SaperPL

[H]ard|Gawd
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I'm not saying it for the sake of not letting him use the same design as we do.

It's just that esplin2966 considers putting the power plug on the side and that's a bit redneck for me, so maybe he could also look for other options here. He's in the early design phase so he could do it differently.

And you're right - esplin2966 should reconsider starting in the race with steam machine like configuration at this point if I and Necere are ready with the designs.
 

Urelure

Limp Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2014
Messages
459
Sorry I wasn't saying you weren't letting him. I'm just saying it seems that we're trying a bit hard to make it different.
And yes i agree that side mounted PSU cable is not a good idea. I think most people interested in these cases will be using them as a "proper console":cool: This means that most of them will probably be used in a horizontal orientation in a living room/home cinema.
I wasn't saying "esplin, don't do it!", but reconsider is a good choice of words. I think, esplin, if you see actual issues and design choices on Saper and Neceres design you disagree with to the point where you are positive it's worth your time to try to compete, go for it. But both of these cases has come very far, and most of the design choices are a direct result of months of discussions and iterations.

Edit: And it seems I'm saying that "I'm saying" or "I'm not saying" a lot. English vocabulary seems to need some freshening up...
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
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Messages
215
I'm not saying it for the sake of not letting him use the same design as we do.

It's just that esplin2966 considers putting the power plug on the side and that's a bit redneck for me, so maybe he could also look for other options here. He's in the early design phase so he could do it differently.

And you're right - esplin2966 should reconsider starting in the race with steam machine like configuration at this point if I and Necere are ready with the designs.

Hmm, I didn't think that the side power plug would be that big of a deal. Putting it there allows me to squeeze in 3 more 2.5" drives, which is a good trade-off to me.

That being said, it all depends on what the people think/want, which is something I'm in the process of figuring out.

Saper, I actually think I am going with a different approach than yours and Necere's. From what I can tell, Necere's is a minimalistic approach. Yours is more feature rich. My design 1 seeks to be as minimalistic as Necere's, with a smaller dimension. My design 2 seeks to be more feature rich than yours, with similar dimension.
 

iFreilicht

[H]ard|Gawd
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Sep 23, 2014
Messages
1,348
I have to agree with SaperPL that the PSU connector on the side is a tough compromise to swallow, except you're designing the case to be only used standing up.

FlexATX is lovely and small, but loud under load. Still, I love the formfactor, so in terms of layout, I think the first design is really good.
I share the concerns about heat for the SSDs above the GPU, and as you said, mITX boards have 6 SATA connectors at maximum, except you look at some of those server-grade boards.

The fact that you can remove nearly all walls is a very nice feature, too, but with the skeleton in its current state, I'm wondering whether it actually benefits anyone having the side and front panels removable, maybe it would be a better idea to make them part of the skeletons to reduce cost.

The cable management idea is brilliant, I really like that! I don't think it is too simplistic, it is way more than we normally have in such small cases and it will really benefit the clean-ness of builds in this case. Will the bridge between every two slots be punched inwards a bit to make space for zip-ties and velcro ties?

I'm not sure whether there is enough space for the PEG connectors with wider-than reference cards. You may want to consider making the case compatible with those, but you would of course sacrifice volume for that.

Also I'm really interested in how the skeleton will be made, the renderings make it hard to see of how many parts it actually consists. Especially the PCIe bracket mount, how is that flange even possible?

As for the design, I like round edges more than sharp ones, but that's just personal preference.
Are the ventilation holes in the front really needed? I think they destroy the clean look of the case.
How will the panels be mounted? From the renderings it looks like you can only use screws, which is an important part of the design. I personally would despise screws on the front panel, but others may really like them for their industrial look.
Some really minor thing: I like that the front panel is centered, but I don't think you'll be able to place the power button so close to the USB ports, except you're going for a custom PCB.

As for the top mount in the second design:
You'll have to unscrew all SSDs and remove all cables from the mount to get it off the case, right?
May the SSD mount for the SSDs in front of the PSU be a bit flimsy? It looks like you would be better off closing the gap between that an the mount for the SSDs over the GPU.

Apart from that, I think it will be interesting to see who of all the steam machine cases that are currently designed will be out the door first (my bet is on SaperPL), and how the competition will be.

We don't really know much about the market, none of us has the funds to do excessive research in that area, but maybe these small cases will open up the DIY PC market for people that previously wouldn't consider building a PC themselves, nobody really knows. I think competition is good, there will be differences in small features, design and build quality, we wouldn't want users to be limited to just two cases, right? Everyone's already complaining about not having a choice when it comes to SFX PSUs, and Silverstone pretty much has monopoly on those.

Go for it! Make your case happen and let's show the big guys how SFF is really done!

Also, shameless plug for my case design that used a FlexATX PSU at first, pictures of that version can be found in the album.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
215
I think this is kind of over complicating things just for the sake of being different from yours and Neceres design. As long as this form factor is possible without any internal connectors, it doesn't make sense to do it this way imo.

I'm not sure there is room in this niche market for 3 different but basically similar cases though. Yours and Neceres will probably work well side by side due to differing target prices and material choices, But if a third one starts to get going it is very possible one of the 3 will fail. This new one would probably compete with one of the others regarding price, and either this or the competition would fail due to either design choices or time to market.

Don't get me wrong. I am not in a position to tell anyone here what to do. I'm just saying it's worth considering.

Sorry I wasn't saying you weren't letting him. I'm just saying it seems that we're trying a bit hard to make it different.
And yes i agree that side mounted PSU cable is not a good idea. I think most people interested in these cases will be using them as a "proper console":cool: This means that most of them will probably be used in a horizontal orientation in a living room/home cinema.
I wasn't saying "esplin, don't do it!", but reconsider is a good choice of words. I think, esplin, if you see actual issues and design choices on Saper and Neceres design you disagree with to the point where you are positive it's worth your time to try to compete, go for it. But both of these cases has come very far, and most of the design choices are a direct result of months of discussions and iterations.

Edit: And it seems I'm saying that "I'm saying" or "I'm not saying" a lot. English vocabulary seems to need some freshening up...

I do think that there are design issues to be worked on. Of course, my design has a bit of a ways to go, but I see a TON more features and combinations that can be added to it. I believe that by the end of the iterating process, I will actually end up with something fairly different internally from Necere's or Saper's designs.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
215
I have to agree with SaperPL that the PSU connector on the side is a tough compromise to swallow, except you're designing the case to be only used standing up.

FlexATX is lovely and small, but loud under load. Still, I love the formfactor, so in terms of layout, I think the first design is really good.
I share the concerns about heat for the SSDs above the GPU, and as you said, mITX boards have 6 SATA connectors at maximum, except you look at some of those server-grade boards.

The fact that you can remove nearly all walls is a very nice feature, too, but with the skeleton in its current state, I'm wondering whether it actually benefits anyone having the side and front panels removable, maybe it would be a better idea to make them part of the skeletons to reduce cost.

The cable management idea is brilliant, I really like that! I don't think it is too simplistic, it is way more than we normally have in such small cases and it will really benefit the clean-ness of builds in this case. Will the bridge between every two slots be punched inwards a bit to make space for zip-ties and velcro ties?

I'm not sure whether there is enough space for the PEG connectors with wider-than reference cards. You may want to consider making the case compatible with those, but you would of course sacrifice volume for that.

Also I'm really interested in how the skeleton will be made, the renderings make it hard to see of how many parts it actually consists. Especially the PCIe bracket mount, how is that flange even possible?

As for the design, I like round edges more than sharp ones, but that's just personal preference.
Are the ventilation holes in the front really needed? I think they destroy the clean look of the case.
How will the panels be mounted? From the renderings it looks like you can only use screws, which is an important part of the design. I personally would despise screws on the front panel, but others may really like them for their industrial look.
Some really minor thing: I like that the front panel is centered, but I don't think you'll be able to place the power button so close to the USB ports, except you're going for a custom PCB.

As for the top mount in the second design:
You'll have to unscrew all SSDs and remove all cables from the mount to get it off the case, right?
May the SSD mount for the SSDs in front of the PSU be a bit flimsy? It looks like you would be better off closing the gap between that an the mount for the SSDs over the GPU.

Apart from that, I think it will be interesting to see who of all the steam machine cases that are currently designed will be out the door first (my bet is on SaperPL), and how the competition will be.

We don't really know much about the market, none of us has the funds to do excessive research in that area, but maybe these small cases will open up the DIY PC market for people that previously wouldn't consider building a PC themselves, nobody really knows. I think competition is good, there will be differences in small features, design and build quality, we wouldn't want users to be limited to just two cases, right? Everyone's already complaining about not having a choice when it comes to SFX PSUs, and Silverstone pretty much has monopoly on those.

Go for it! Make your case happen and let's show the big guys how SFF is really done!

Also, shameless plug for my case design that used a FlexATX PSU at first, pictures of that version can be found in the album.

Thanks for the feedback :)

I'm wondering if I can put a thermally insulating divider between the GPU and the SSDs to prevent overheating of the SSDs. That being said, cooling is already a big enough problem for SFF PCs, I think I will go with having 2 x 140mm case fans below the GPU instead.

At this point, I am looking to only make the top and bottom panels removable. I believe the case is thin enough that doing so won't compromise "ease of building".

I didn't think about having the bridge between every cable management slot punched in slightly, but I think that's a great idea! Thanks!

In both designs, I have left a 15mm area around the GPU for PEG connectors. Do you think that's too little?

I don't think I have a PCIe bracket drawn into the design yet. I'm not sure which part of the design you're talking about. :confused:

You're like the 5th person to have asked me about the front ventilation holes. I guess that means I should take them out haha. Hopefully that doesn't severely impact the cooling.

Right now, the panels are mounted with screws. I think once I make the front and side panels a part of the skeleton, you won't have to worry about having screws on the front panel.

Yeah, I need to look into the price of a custom PCB...

Yes, right now I'll have to remove all cables connected to components on the top mount of the second design before I can remove it.

You're right, the mount for the SSD between the PSU and GPU looks flimsy. I will put that in the change log.

EDIT: I remember seeing your design before I started all this and absolutely loving it!
 

SaperPL

[H]ard|Gawd
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Messages
1,821
The power cord sticking from the side is a serious problem. And I'm not so sure most of end users want this kind of case standing vertically - it's usually a desktop laying in the media rack what they want.

Thermal insulation is bad idea - this way you will fry the GPU instead of SSDs

You need at least 20mm for PEG connector - the plastic itself takes like 10-11mm and you need another 7-10mm to tightly bend the cables.
 

iFreilicht

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
1,348
Thanks for the feedback :)
I'm wondering if I can put a thermally insulating divider between the GPU and the SSDs to prevent overheating of the SSDs. That being said, cooling is already a big enough problem for SFF PCs, I think I will go with having 2 x 140mm case fans below the GPU instead.

At this point, I am looking to only make the top and bottom panels removable. I believe the case is thin enough that doing so won't compromise "ease of building".

The divider may not be a good idea for the GPU, SaperPL might be right there. Changing the panels like that seems sensible. Not sure whether the two 140 mm fans will actually help the cooling, but for people that want to use non-stock coolers, that could be a really cool option.


I didn't think about having the bridge between every cable management slot punched in slightly, but I think that's a great idea! Thanks!

In both designs, I have left a 15mm area around the GPU for PEG connectors. Do you think that's too little?

No problem :)

That's really tight. From my experience 15mm are the absolute minimum, but then the cables will bend very sharply. It will be enough, but you may want to give it just a little more room.


I don't think I have a PCIe bracket drawn into the design yet. I'm not sure which part of the design you're talking about. :confused:

I'm talking about this:

N92cYlb.png


You're like the 5th person to have asked me about the front ventilation holes. I guess that means I should take them out haha. Hopefully that doesn't severely impact the cooling.

Right now, the panels are mounted with screws. I think once I make the front and side panels a part of the skeleton, you won't have to worry about having screws on the front panel.

I think both these changes will significantly improve the looks of the case. Not too worried about heat, though.

Yeah, I need to look into the price of a custom PCB...

The PCB itself won't be too costly, but the components have to be soldered on, and I have no idea about the dimensions of cost that has. You can order custom PCBs quite cheaply (If you live in Europe) on fritzing.org, they even have a very simple piece of software that allows designing your own PCB without a electrical engineering degree.

Yes, right now I'll have to remove all cables connected to components on the top mount of the second design before I can remove it.

I don't think there'll be a way around this, You just have to make some compromises with SFF builds.

You're right, the mount for the SSD between the PSU and GPU looks flimsy. I will put that in the change log.

EDIT: I remember seeing your design before I started all this and absolutely loving it!

Thanks :)
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
215
The power cord sticking from the side is a serious problem. And I'm not so sure most of end users want this kind of case standing vertically - it's usually a desktop laying in the media rack what they want.

Thermal insulation is bad idea - this way you will fry the GPU instead of SSDs

You need at least 20mm for PEG connector - the plastic itself takes like 10-11mm and you need another 7-10mm to tightly bend the cables.

Thanks! I will add another 5mm to the edge surrounding the GPU.

Necere's design has a wall shielding the SSDs from the GPU, isn't that essentially doing thermal insulation? link: http://hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1041054071&postcount=106
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
215
The divider may not be a good idea for the GPU, SaperPL might be right there. Changing the panels like that seems sensible. Not sure whether the two 140 mm fans will actually help the cooling, but for people that want to use non-stock coolers, that could be a really cool option.




No problem :)

That's really tight. From my experience 15mm are the absolute minimum, but then the cables will bend very sharply. It will be enough, but you may want to give it just a little more room.




I'm talking about this:

N92cYlb.png




I think both these changes will significantly improve the looks of the case. Not too worried about heat, though.



The PCB itself won't be too costly, but the components have to be soldered on, and I have no idea about the dimensions of cost that has. You can order custom PCBs quite cheaply (If you live in Europe) on fritzing.org, they even have a very simple piece of software that allows designing your own PCB without a electrical engineering degree.



I don't think there'll be a way around this, You just have to make some compromises with SFF builds.



Thanks :)

Oh yeah, the PCIe bracket mounts. That's my bad, I am already in the process of changing it since it basically makes no sense. However, the manufacturers seem to think it's doable, as they're giving me quotes for the design as is.

Cool, I will look into the costs of custom PCBs. Hopefully they're not too bad!
 

SaperPL

[H]ard|Gawd
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Aug 31, 2014
Messages
1,821
Yeah and I spoke about this(SSD's above VGA in necere's topic as well. I think that was one of the thing necere was stalling the project about rethinking the design.

But if your case is thicker than SFX then maybe you can have some distance between VGA and drives that will be enough
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
215
Yeah and I spoke about this(SSD's above VGA in necere's topic as well. I think that was one of the thing necere was stalling the project about rethinking the design.

But if your case is thicker than SFX then maybe you can have some distance between VGA and drives that will be enough

Hmm, making major design changes during the prototyping phase is not something I want to go through. I will remove the 2.5" drives above the GPU. This makes more space for 140mm case fans below the GPU anyway, which is something that I think will be very helpful (better cooling).

Thanks for the catch!
 

SaperPL

[H]ard|Gawd
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If you followed my topic you know that I didn't want to grow in height above the SFX height and that's why drives above gpu was not an option. Note that steam machine prototype has one drive slot and depending on motherboard/cpu cooler configuration its not possible to place hard drive out there.
 

esplin2966

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
215
If you followed my topic you know that I didn't want to grow in height above the SFX height and that's why drives above gpu was not an option. Note that steam machine prototype has one drive slot and depending on motherboard/cpu cooler configuration its not possible to place hard drive out there.

Hmm, I see! I totally understand where you're coming from because thickness is really important to me too.

I struggled a lot on whether to make the thickness greater than 70mm or not, since 70mm allows me to put 2.5" drives "sideways". Ultimately decided to make 2 different designs.
 
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