M3A2 Beta Project: Discontinued

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CMadki4

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Project Cancelled

I come to you now with a heavy heart. I regret to inform you that M3 Cases and the M3A2 project can be no more. Numerous machine issues and repairs (along with various other large life expenses) have set me way behind schedule and put the project too far into the red to safely continue. The M3 Cases project has been discontinued.
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Those who have purchased an M3A2 Beta through the website or Indiegogo campaign will be contacted in regards to a full refund.
It pains me to cancel the M3 project. I sincerely apologize.

Humbly,
Curt (CMad)

Fail...


In Progress: M3A2 Beta


As a PC gamer and case mod enthusiast, I have always appreciated a compact purpose built computer case. Problem is, very few exist that are exactly what you want. So, I have taken some of my ideas and added feedback from the PC enthusiast community to create the M3A2, a slim mini ITX case designed specifically for powerhouse hardware and those lengthy graphics cards we all love.

The case is machined entirely out of aluminum. The front, rear and sides are a solid 4mm thick extrusion. The top and bottom panels are 3mm plates. The PCI mounting bracket and case stand are machined from 6mm aluminum bar stock. It's a solid beast.

Finished off in a subdued textured black powder coat, the M3A2 has a very understated minimalistic appearance, but still has the mean performance look.

Configure the front panel to your needs. You can opt for a ultra-clean look with nothing but a pin-hole power LED, or go for complete functionality with USB3.0, slot-load optical and Bulgin-style LED ring power button.

M3A2; the only customizable machined aluminum mini ITX enthusiast case...
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M3A2 Technical Specifications:


  • Dimensions: 328mm x 308mm x 90mm, 9.1 Liters
  • Material: 100% aluminum, 6mm stand and PCI bracket, 4mm side panels, 3mm top/bottom panels, 1.6mm drive brackets
  • Finish: Textured black powder coat (Options: Natural brushed aluminum or other)
  • Motherboard: Mini ITX
  • CPU Cooler: 68mm max. height (currently working to increase to 70mm)
  • Graphics: 11.8" graphics cards
  • Power Supply: SFX
  • Storage: 4 x 2.5" mounts or 2 x 2.5" mounts + 1 x 3.5" mounts (depending on your configuration)
  • Optical: 1 x slot-load optical (Options: tray-load optical or no optical)
  • Front Panel: 2 x USB3.0 (Options: USB3.0/HD Audio or no front panel I/O)
  • Other Options:
    • Infrared receiver (internal USB, Intel CIR or AsRock CIR)
    • Rack mount attachments
    • Hidden power button (rear mounted w/ front pane pin-hole LED)
    • Custom engraved graphics (i.e. company logo, artwork, etc.)
  • *Specifications are subject to change as the project progresses.

Original Idea Behind the Project:

I do the CNC machining in my own shop so I can change the design on the fly pretty easily. With this flexibility I want to be able to allow customers to select their options and build their case. Imagine drop down menus like "Optical: slot, tray or none" and "Front I/O: USB3.0, USB3.0/HD Audio, or none" and of course "Finish: black textured powder coat, natural brushed finish or Other".

I also want to offer personal touches like gamertags/screen names, logos or themes that I can mill and/or engrave into the aluminum.

Another unique feature is its ability to set horizontally as a traditional HTPC or up vertically like a console or mini slim tower. When horizontal it will sit on 4 rubber vibration isolating feet. When vertical you'll attach two clean and understated machined aluminum legs, also with vibration isolation feet.

And because of how the case is structured, panels can be swapped out. I'll offer them separately. So for example if you initially order without an optical, but decide later you want to add a slot load Blueray? Just order a new panel.

What say you?

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that looks sweet. I assume that the gpu is on a riser of some sort? Also, what are the cooling capabilities for CPUs. Any idea on cost?
 
D

Deleted member 222586

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Cmon, don't tease us that bad! Show some internals now that you are here!

PS: cost-estimates would be very interesting...
 

updawg

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Ever thought of designing the case with the optical drive below the motherboard and use taller risers? It will allow for more versatile coolers.
 

CMadki4

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that looks sweet. I assume that the gpu is on a riser of some sort? Also, what are the cooling capabilities for CPUs. Any idea on cost?
You are correct sir, the GPU requires a riser, which I will include. The CPU cooling is still a gray area. As you can imagine, with an outer case height of 3.5" you're looking at low profile coolers. An AIO water cooler may be possible with a short graphics card. Radiator placement is tricky in such a small/slim case.
Cmon, don't tease us that bad! Show some internals now that you are here!

PS: cost-estimates would be very interesting...
I'll show the guts in due time. It will be quite simple. It's looking like it will be 8 pieces total: 4 side panels, 2 top/bottom panels, 1 storage bracket and 1 power supply bracket.


As far as the cost, the first few won't be cheap. I figure $180-250. The cost will go down when I move to larger volumes (like the $150-200 range), but I don't plan on mass producing these things 100s at a time.
 

CMadki4

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Ever thought of designing the case with the optical drive below the motherboard and use taller risers? It will allow for more versatile coolers.
I did consider this for another reason, but more versatile coolers? Doesn't that push the motherboard up closer to the top cover of the case? As the layout is now the optical drive won't interfere with the motherboard. It's off to the side over the GPU. But I like your thinking.
 

blackrose

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Great thinking, it's about time for these cases.

I assume the SFX psu would be filling the space near the front and 'right' of the gpu (if looking down at it). What orientation were you going to give it? The only way I figured was to use a flat right angle power cable and have a bit of a duct with the psu venting the hot air out the side of the case and intake is either top or bottom of the case.

Have you considered using a pcie extender and having the video card cooler oriented up like the cpu? Then only one side would need to be cut for cpu/gpu air intake. Maybe I'm dreaming / missing something.

I'm very interested in the case, as I already have parts that will fit this well (mini itx w/ 3570k i5, 10.5" gtx 680, silverstone 450w sfx psu, 1xSSD, 1xHDD, no optical atm). Let me know if you need a guinea pig :)

Any plans to have cutouts for audio/USB up front? Or special order? I'm dying for front USB 3.0 ports.
 

CMadki4

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Great thinking, it's about time for these cases.

I assume the SFX psu would be filling the space near the front and 'right' of the gpu (if looking down at it). What orientation were you going to give it? The only way I figured was to use a flat right angle power cable and have a bit of a duct with the psu venting the hot air out the side of the case and intake is either top or bottom of the case.

Have you considered using a pcie extender and having the video card cooler oriented up like the cpu? Then only one side would need to be cut for cpu/gpu air intake. Maybe I'm dreaming / missing something.

I'm very interested in the case, as I already have parts that will fit this well (mini itx w/ 3570k i5, 10.5" gtx 680, silverstone 450w sfx psu, 1xSSD, 1xHDD, no optical atm). Let me know if you need a guinea pig :)

Any plans to have cutouts for audio/USB up front? Or special order? I'm dying for front USB 3.0 ports.

The power supply is in front of the motherboard with the exhaust facing outboard.

I currently have opted for a solid riser rather than a ribbon cable for reliability. I've researched these and many have issues with the ribbons even when shielded. But I am still open to them.

Front panel configuration will be customizable. USB, audio, optical and even the power button size and location.

And yes, I will need guinea pigs, lol :)
 
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Chime

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That looks awesome, and I'd definitely be up for paying the entry fee for beta testing. What kind of time frame do you foresee on the first prototypes being created?

Edit: Another question... I'm going to building a new ITX gaming rig in the next few weeks, and if this case is gonna happen I'd like to make sure that my components are compatible. What would be the ideal location of the PCIe power connection for the GPU with your case?
 

illli

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I currently have opted for a solid riser rather than a ribbon cable for reliability. I've researched these and many have issues with the ribbons even when shielded. But I am still open to them.
i came to the same conclusion in researching them too.
that is definitely the way to go.
 

CMadki4

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You would be correct :)
That looks awesome, and I'd definitely be up for paying the entry fee for beta testing. What kind of time frame do you foresee on the first prototypes being created?

Edit: Another question... I'm going to building a new ITX gaming rig in the next few weeks, and if this case is gonna happen I'd like to make sure that my components are compatible. What would be the ideal location of the PCIe power connection for the GPU with your case?
Depending on when all materials and parts arrive, I plan to be machining in full swing in 30 days or so. And from there I suspect 10 cases will take 2-3 weeks to complete.

As far as power to the GPU the connector can be anywhere along the length of the card. Or on the end. There is enough distance between the top of the card and the side of the case to accommodate the cable as well as most cooler/heatpipe overhang.
i came to the same conclusion in researching them too.
that is definitely the way to go.
Plus the rigidity of the riser adds some support. However, I'm still planning a means for supporting the hanging end of the graphics card to keep it secure.
 
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ccityinstaller

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Another excellent work of art on your part Cmadki4..This is what Valve's "SteamBox" should look like..Your work is a hell of a lot better then that boring, overpriced little cube that Xi3 tried to pass off as a SteamBox recently..
 

CMadki4

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Another excellent work of art on your part Cmadki4..This is what Valve's "SteamBox" should look like..Your work is a hell of a lot better then that boring, overpriced little cube that Xi3 tried to pass off as a SteamBox recently..
Why thank you :)

Today I'm ordering the rest of the parts to make these cases. And with such low quantities and shooting for the higher quality parts, I can say with confidence these first 10 cases will run in the $180-250 range.

Depending on the outcome of the first 10 I'll do a small crowd funding operation through Kickstarter or Indiegogo to get the tooling needed to bring more of the production into my shop and thus reduce the cost to manufacture. I think a fair reward for certain contributors would be a M3A2 slim case with special customization per customer request.
 

CMadki4

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It's a pretty straight forward layout, nothing really out of the ordinary. The Tiki, Bolt, Revolt and X51 are similar, with subtle differences between each.
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CMadki4

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Kyle, please don't sue me...
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The logos are milled recess and filled with colored epoxy. I could also cut all the way through and backlight them. (should have made the LED ring red rather than blue...)
 
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updawg

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Does the pci-e riser lift the card high enough that the optical drive could be placed underneath? This would give more room for the SSD drives on top.
 

CMadki4

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Does the pci-e riser lift the card high enough that the optical drive could be placed underneath? This would give more room for the SSD drives on top.
Possibly. It'd be a really tight squeeze and potentially block the intake of longer GPUs. I have contemplated flipping the PSU (intake down like the GPU) and placing the optical above that. Keep in mind you'll be able to mount SSD/HDDs on either side of the storage bracket. So in the image above you can technically fit 3 more SSDs (6 SATA devices total), but at that point you've run out of SATA ports on almost any mini ITX motherboard.
 

TheHobbyist

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Why thank you :)

Today I'm ordering the rest of the parts to make these cases. And with such low quantities and shooting for the higher quality parts, I can say with confidence these first 10 cases will run in the $180-250 range.

Depending on the outcome of the first 10 I'll do a small crowd funding operation through Kickstarter or Indiegogo to get the tooling needed to bring more of the production into my shop and thus reduce the cost to manufacture. I think a fair reward for certain contributors would be a M3A2 slim case with special customization per customer request.

Not a bad idea! I had a similar idea recently.
 

CMadki4

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Not a bad idea! I had a similar idea recently.
Seems to be the trend. Same thing the NCase guys (wahaha360 and Necere) have done and NFC guys are planning on doing.

I have used flexible extenders from http://www.adexelec.com/pciexp.htm#PE-FLEX16R for over a year with a pcie 3.0 link on an over clocked gtx 670 without issue. I did the research and ultimately decided on them. I'm glad I did, as it has been nothing but smooth sailing.
Nice. There are success stories out there, for sure. But I for now I'm opting for the rigid riser card. A ribbon may be necessary in the future, I have no idea.
 
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updawg

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I'll support this project and buy one of the pre-production cases. Let me know when you are about to build, I have both Asrock z77 and h77 boards and a 7850 to test with this.
 

illli

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I have used flexible extenders from http://www.adexelec.com/pciexp.htm#PE-FLEX16R for over a year with a pcie 3.0 link on an over clocked gtx 670 without issue. I did the research and ultimately decided on them. I'm glad I did, as it has been nothing but smooth sailing.

the one right above that, the PE-FLEX16KR-3 is supposedly one of the best. but when i was in contact with someone from that company they told me they don't sell them to individuals.
From what i was told (from the same company) there is something called impedance which i dont really understand but basically proper shielding of the ribbon cable is essential. And this is what separates the cheap ones you see just about everywhere. no idea how much the PE-FLEX16R runs, b/c i was only interested in the best (PE-FLEX16KR-3) and didnt want to take chances on anything else.

[*]SFX or smaller power supply (ATX can fit by extending case a little)

do you happen to have some mock-ups of one with atx? also, will there be any prefforations on the top panel? i notice for example the sfx psu fan is facing up.. but will the airflow be blocked? if you're worried about aesthetics, a solution might be to have the psu flipped upside down and have slits on the bottom chasis panel and maybe little riser feet.
 
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CMadki4

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I'll support this project and buy one of the pre-production cases. Let me know when you are about to build, I have both Asrock z77 and h77 boards and a 7850 to test with this.
Sounds good. I need your support as well as others on this endeavor. It would be greatly appreciated.
do you happen to have some mock-ups of one with atx?
I don't have an ATX mock-up currently, but doing a mATX or ATX wouldn't require much more than extending the case width and length accordingly. I'll try to do a mATX and ATX mock-up in the near future, but for now I'll be focusing on the mini ITX.

also, will there be any prefforations on the top panel? i notice for example the sfx psu fan is facing up.. but will the airflow be blocked? if you're worried about aesthetics, a solution might be to have the psu flipped upside down and have slits on the bottom chasis panel and maybe little riser feet.
The top panel will have a vent/intake above the CPU. And the bottom panel will have intake for the graphics card. Both slotted style openings. What's still in question is the air flow for the PSU.
A) have the PSU intake from the top panel (isolated from rest of the case)
B) flip the PSU and have it intake through the bottom panel (isolated from the rest of the case)
C) keep the PSU as is and have it intake from the case (assist case air flow)
 

illli

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i'm no expert but i think the way it currently is, the psu might just circulate dead air. the sfx is 2.5in high, the case is 3.5, the fresh air intake/side vents are right next to the psu exhaust.. so you'd have the warm air pushing out where the cooler is trying to get in.. and the warm air rises so the psu fan would probably just suck up whatever air is closest, which would probably be the warm exhaust. i like the idea of isolating it from the rest of the components though.
 

CMadki4

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i'm no expert but i think the way it currently is, the psu might just circulate dead air. the sfx is 2.5in high, the case is 3.5, the fresh air intake/side vents are right next to the psu exhaust.. so you'd have the warm air pushing out where the cooler is trying to get in.. and the warm air rises so the psu fan would probably just suck up whatever air is closest, which would probably be the warm exhaust. i like the idea of isolating it from the rest of the components though.
The plan is to have a shroud around the power supply exhaust leading to the side vent of the case. Then the power supply will intake air from inside the case and exhaust it out the side. There are no chassis fans so I figured the power supply would help exhaust internal air. What do you think of that? I'll have the complete 3-D model completed soon and it will be more clear what I'm talking about.
 

ekuest

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i read like half this thread before i saw it was you cmadki4. :) you, necere, wahaha, m4rk, machupo... (me?). we have some real cool sff innovators here at [H]. i love seeing what you guys are coming up with all the time.
 

Chime

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I'd love the ability to mount a slim 120mm/92mm fan above the CPU. Using that as an intake and the PSU as an exhaust would be my first choice.

This is awesome btw. I was torn between the GD05 and the SG05 for a while. Loved how small the SG05 was, but I prefer the horizontal orientation of the GD05 for the living room. This is the best of both worlds. My money is as good as yours :D
 

M4rk

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i read like half this thread before i saw it was you cmadki4. :) you, necere, wahaha, m4rk, machupo... (me?). we have some real cool sff innovators here at [H]. i love seeing what you guys are coming up with all the time.
I ain't no innovator (though it's nice you put me in that grouping), I just want to help folks succeed. If anyone needs advice on public relations or crowdfunding, I'll be here. :cool:
 

ekuest

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I ain't no innovator (though it's nice you put me in that grouping), I just want to help folks succeed. If anyone needs advice on public relations or crowdfunding, I'll be here. :cool:

anyone with good ideas and a willingness to share them counts in my book!
 

extide

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Sounds good. I need your support as well as others on this endeavor. It would be greatly appreciated.

I don't have an ATX mock-up currently, but doing a mATX or ATX wouldn't require much more than extending the case width and length accordingly. I'll try to do a mATX and ATX mock-up in the near future, but for now I'll be focusing on the mini ITX.


The top panel will have a vent/intake above the CPU. And the bottom panel will have intake for the graphics card. Both slotted style openings. What's still in question is the air flow for the PSU.
A) have the PSU intake from the top panel (isolated from rest of the case)
B) flip the PSU and have it intake through the bottom panel (isolated from the rest of the case)
C) keep the PSU as is and have it intake from the case (assist case air flow)

I would say go with the PSU fan facing down, aligned with holes on the bottom - exhausting air from inside case. Also get rid of any other holes on the top (even for CPU) and put slots in both side panels, but that's just me.
 

TheHobbyist

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i read like half this thread before i saw it was you cmadki4. :) you, necere, wahaha, m4rk, machupo... (me?). we have some real cool sff innovators here at [H]. i love seeing what you guys are coming up with all the time.

I'll just be over in the corner crying because I didn't make the list and my efforts have gone unnoticed :'(
 

ekuest

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I'll just be over in the corner crying because I didn't make the list and my efforts have gone unnoticed :'(

lol! i actually read your entire thread like 2 or 3 days ago for the first time. i was trying to remember your name, but i didnt want to have to go search for it and then come back to finish my post. those are names i've been familiar with for the last few months (cmadki4 and machupo commented on my build a couple times, and necere, wahaha and m4rk post on the NCASE thread a lot) so i knew their names by memory. next time! ;)
 

geostation

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any chance of short depth version of this case? for folks with shorter card like these and need a smaller footprint?
 
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Chime

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any chance of short depth version of this case? for folks with shorter card these and need a smaller footprint?

I've been messing around trying to design something like this on paper for a while, and the issue I keep running into is the power supply. You can't really shorten the case without putting the PSU over the motherboard or going with something like the PicoPSU, which presents its own problems. So you either end up with a tiny cube style case (which I wouldn't mind) or having to come up with an external power brick + PicoPSU that can supply 300+ watts.
 

geostation

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I've been messing around trying to design something like this on paper for a while, and the issue I keep running into is the power supply. You can't really shorten the case without putting the PSU over the motherboard or going with something like the PicoPSU, which presents its own problems. So you either end up with a tiny cube style case (which I wouldn't mind) or having to come up with an external power brick + PicoPSU that can supply 300+ watts.
you could try using 1u powersupplies. like these
 

updawg

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I wouldn't mind a small case that used a 200W AC-DC PSU with the 192Watt power brick. They make those small PSU boards that are better than the PICO PSUs. Especially with haswell around the corner and the way GPU power reqs are dropping it might be a good time to design a quality low powered case. I mean even right now with such a case you could do a 3750 and a 7770 which is still really powerful.
 

frankhuzzah

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Even though I just bought a Fractal Design Node 304, THIS is the case I've been looking for. Can't wait to see how things progress. Great work!
 

geostation

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I wouldn't mind a small case that used a 200W AC-DC PSU with the 192Watt power brick. They make those small PSU boards that are better than the PICO PSUs. Especially with haswell around the corner and the way GPU power reqs are dropping it might be a good time to design a quality low powered case. I mean even right now with such a case you could do a 3750 and a 7770 which is still really powerful.

NFC case comes with the riser and 200W powerbrick.
 
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