NCASE M1: a crowdfunded Mini-ITX case (updates in first post)

crABtoad

Limp Gawd
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In it's current state this is a very nice case.

Will a rad fit up front, and do the hard drives fit on the bottom? I like the idea of having at least 2 3.5" HDDs for RAID1, but it would be serving double-duty if it was my case.

One of the previous posts indicate that fitting 3.5" drives on the bottom would require increasing the Y dimension. What prevents you from shifting all of the internals (including the GPU) closer to the top of the case so you have more room on the bottom?

I like the case as-is, but having a front/back push/pull with the radiators would be really clean and functional.
 

Jacob666

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yeah I never really understood why anybody needs so much space. Actually I would say two 2,5" drives would be good. If you need more then get a NAS / external disk drive. Or simply don't go the mini ITX route.
 

Necere

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Necere:

I'm guessing the HDD's are mounted on some form of a HDD cage?
While it would be nice to stuff in all those mechanical disks, there might be some of us happy with just the one or two high capacity SSD's.

That should free up space for a front mounted rad/reservoir.

Would look cleaner I think. Could you maybe provide some renders of such a layout?

Also, this might be asking for a lot, but the interiors will look VERY different once you factor in all the tubing/cabling. Would be nice to see that as well.
Yeah the HDD cage is going to be a bit tricky to design, but it's going to have to be removable.

I may model the tubing at some point.


One of the previous posts indicate that fitting 3.5" drives on the bottom would require increasing the Y dimension. What prevents you from shifting all of the internals (including the GPU) closer to the top of the case so you have more room on the bottom?
I already did that, actually. That's not the problem - the problem is the case isn't deep enough to put two 3.5" drives side-by-side on the bottom:



The drives run afoul of the PSU cables and/or AC plug.

You could orient them lengthwise and double stack them, but then they potentially conflict with the CPU cooler or rear-mounted rad:




Although you could still get a slim rad on the back if you mounted the fan to outside rather than inside.


As for the front-mounted rad, here's what it looks like with three 120mm rads mounted (and a 10" GPU):





As an aside, I won't be working on this for a few days, so don't expect new pics until probably next week.
 

Naed

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Instead of the 3*3½ why not go with 2 but turned on their sides instead ? at that point, you could also mount 1-2 2½ drives on the sides of the mount for the 3½ drives.

I hope that makes sense :)

and yes, i know it kills airflow, but the real question is how much it kills it, and if the tradeoff is worth it.
 

CrimandEvil

Dick with a heart of gold
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As for the front-mounted rad, here's what it looks like with three 120mm rads mounted (and a 10" GPU):

http://i.imgur.com/7zEael.jpg
I guess I'm the only one who would rather get a case like this, mount two 2.5 SSDs (either in the space reserved for the 3.5 drive or, if there's enough space, behind the mobo somehow) and then mount an external dual 120/140 Rad on the top? If it had the top from one of the previous tops.....

http://i.imgur.com/TSVA6l.jpg
 

WiSK

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Probably the most I've seen packed in a small convenient case(miahallen's wasnt all packed in it and extensive mods were done).
What an odd comparison you are trying to make.

Miahallen modded an existing case to fit the latest CPU and GPU (of the time), a full watercooling loop, 2x120 fans and full ATX power supply.

Digital Storm have fabricated an entirely new case (doesn't that count as extensive modification?). It's approximately the same volume as Miahallen used. But they've only managed to do low profile air cooling. They've only managed a Flex PSU (with 3x16A instead of a single rail). And they've used components that many people can easily fit themselves in an SG05. And for this engineering miracle they ask $2000.

Sure it looks nice, but it's hardly groundbreaking :)
 

kennethtk

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True the comparison is odd, and yes theres give and take for both sides.

The only thing I commented on miahallen probably was tt his case req extensive modifications that retail shoppers could not do. This case allows for easy swapping of gpu, cpu, rams, hdds. His mod was nt future looking but no doubt it was the greatest in its time, thats the fun in modding, having it unique to himself.

This however, allows for a small and yet powerful system for everyone since its mass produced with machines( and hence the price tag), simple and easily reproduce-able. You can check hw much miahallen sold that miracle mod of his and see if its under $2000.

Just glad to see small steps into the smaller and yet powerful chassis. :) and also perhaps give an insight to hw small cases look with cables in e way.
 

WiSK

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This case allows for easy swapping of gpu, cpu, rams, hdds...
Sure, but so does the SG06 that Miahallen used as basis. It will fit all those parts that are in the Digital Storm case, without any modding and with a better PSU. And it was designed 2 years ago.

Like I said, nothing innovative here, and since you can't buy the case alone, but must commit to the full $2000 for what is effectively $1400 for the parts and $600 for the box and the overclock.
 

kennethtk

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Hmmm, well to each his own, I like the Digital Storm's slim form factor. And "better PSU" is subjective.
That psu is an 80+ gold rated 500w flex psu.

The SG06 no doubt is of similar volume and can hold all those mentioned, it is a marvellous case to start with. However whats different about the Digital Storm, and Dell's X51, is their new slim factor not often seen for high powered rigs. Look at Lian Li, SST, they have been coming up with box cases. What's innovative to me is probably that design. Maybe someday we can obscure our entire rig behind e monitor or smth, slot it between books in a book shelf, these are ideas you cant do with a box case.

Different people, different tastes. :) but then again, the ultrabooks are catching on too. I love how everything is going smaller, and yes small has a pricetag to it, if you gonna complain abt price then dont even go small. the atx stuffs are decent enough with a tight budget.
 

extide

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I LOVE this 3rd gen case!! I will definitely buy one.

I want to do a mini ITX build with the ASRock Z77 ITX board, 3570k/3770k, a 7970, the SilverStone 450 80+Gold SFX PSU, and 1-3 2.5" drives (1-2 SSD's + 1 storage drive). I will be using an H80 (or Similar) to cool the CPU and the video card will use it's stock air cooler. (So vents by the video card are something I want, plenty of vents if possible)

So far your design seems to cater to this build perfectly, and I think this is a fairly typical build also :) I love the design on the front of this case, and I also like the form factor. (I even like it better than the original vertical case!) Basically I am looking for a case that will house the above build, and be as small as possible. I do not need an optical drive. I will be using one of the 7970's from my SB-E system, so the 7970 choice is set in stone, so I need to make sure the case can accommodate that. The cards I have use reference PCB's, so they are standard length, I can measure them to get an exact length if you'd like. They are pretty big and I am sure most any other card would fit in there as well if these would fit.
 
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ekuest

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couple suggestions about the current design. did you guys think about flipping the whole thing over? that way you can put a ton of vents in the bottom panel for the gpu instead of having unattractive vent holes in the top. with the current design anyone not water cooling the gpu will not have room for air to get to the fan(s). those little holes at front and back will not be enough. also, with the front fan placed an inch or so down from the top like it is now, none of that airflow from the fan is going to get to the gpu. the first option to achieve adequate cooling is to move the fan to the very very top of the front panel and leave at least a half, probably more like 3/4 inch between the fan of a dual-slot gpu and the top case panel for air to flow. the other option is just to flip everything around so the gpu is on the bottom and give it vent holes. the only drawback of this is that it puts the psu on the front top which is a weird spot, but shouldnt be bad for any reason.

then, im thinking if you have plenty of ventilation for the gpu through the bottom panel, you dont need that front fan up top near the gpu at all. if you move it down to directly on top of the psu, (or in this case blow the psu) then you have room for both of them underneath (above) the gpu, and you can ut the I/O ports in line with the gpu, and shorten the case by an inch or two. :) you would lose the radiator/fan on the bottom, but those arent really necessary. you may also lose any room for 3.5" HDDs, but those are really not a priority in a powerful itx rig IMO. anyone who needs more than a 256GB SSD plus a 1TB 2.5" HDD isnt gonna require a tiny ITX box.
 

extide

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That upside-down idea ^^^ seems pretty cool. I would love to see a rendering of it. The face place on the front would have to change, moving the horizontal divider up to the top ~1/3rd instead of the bottom ~1/3rd to accommodate the fan at the bottom. That may or may not look ok, I guess we'll have to see.
 

Necere

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couple suggestions about the current design. did you guys think about flipping the whole thing over? that way you can put a ton of vents in the bottom panel for the gpu instead of having unattractive vent holes in the top.
The PSU intake is on the bottom. It's off center and would (ideally) have a removable filter. Neither of which would be appealing in plain sight on the top.

with the current design anyone not water cooling the gpu will not have room for air to get to the fan(s). those little holes at front and back will not be enough.
"Those little holes" at the front are the intake for the front 120/140mm fan. The GPU doesn't pull through them by itself. The intake area is at least as much as on the SG06.

also, with the front fan placed an inch or so down from the top like it is now, none of that airflow from the fan is going to get to the gpu. the first option to achieve adequate cooling is to move the fan to the very very top of the front panel and leave at least a half, probably more like 3/4 inch between the fan of a dual-slot gpu and the top case panel for air to flow.
It's not an inch. The 140mm fan is 1/4" down; a 120mm is about 5/8". It's a similar setup as in the FT03-mini, but unlike that case, in this design the fan actually substantially overlaps the front of the GPU. The fan doesn't project a perfect cylindrical column of air; particularly with obstacles in the way, it's going to spread around a lot. Air will get to where it needs to go.

There is also more than a quarter inch between the GPU and the top panel, which is a lot more than you'd get between cards in a SLI setup (with the cards right next to eachother), and I believe similar to the clearance in the FT03-mini, which also lacks ventilation on the adjacent panel.


then, im thinking if you have plenty of ventilation for the gpu through the bottom panel, you dont need that front fan up top near the gpu at all. if you move it down to directly on top of the psu, (or in this case blow the psu) then you have room for both of them underneath (above) the gpu, and you can ut the I/O ports in line with the gpu, and shorten the case by an inch or two. :) you would lose the radiator/fan on the bottom, but those arent really necessary. you may also lose any room for 3.5" HDDs
  1. you'd be giving up the 140mm fan for a 120mm
  2. the fan + PSU (63mm) is 183mm; From the video card to the bottom* edge of the motherboard is about 160mm. So you still have more than 20mm of otherwise unused space at the bottom* of the case - no need to get rid of the bottom* fan mount. But more to the point, it wouldn't make the case any less tall.
  3. The PSU cables (particularly with the modular Silverstone) are going to be a lot more cramped, running up against the motherboard components.
  4. As you pointed out, you'd lose the 3.5" drives.
*assume I'm referring to the current orientation here, not flipped

Is all that worth the 25mm of depth you'd save?


The only potential improvement I see right now is to move the motherboard down 20mm and move the bottom fan to the top. This lets more of the front fan overlap the GPU, alleviating any cooling issues in that regard. Moving the motherboard down means any bottom-mounted fan/HDD overlaps the motherboard, and makes fitting a bottom-mounted rad that much more challenging, but that's the trade off. In this setup, you potentially could have a front and top 140mm fan and a bottom and rear 120mm fan.
 

Necere

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Alright, back to working on this. I've been reconsidering ekuest's suggestions, and there are some merits to them:

  • 120mm radiator can be mounted in front without conflicting with long graphics cards
  • Pump/res can be mounted at the front, rather than over the motherboard


Front design had to change accordingly though, and the front I/O moved down. Also, the PSU draws air from inside the case now, which means a front-mounted rad, especially a thicker one, is going to partially obstruct the intake. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to mount more than a slim rad because of that.

The front can take either a 140mm or 120mm fan, the latter allowing for 11"+ GPUs to be mounted.

The vents/openings on the bottom allow plenty of airflow to the GPU.

1x 3.5" and 2x 2.5" drives mount in the top.


Pics of the current WIP, let's call this Concept 3.1:




Aircooled setup with 3.5" cage:



Watercooled with dual rads:










What do you guys think?
 

ekuest

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i love it. i think the ports on the bottom is a good call because people who want a case this small want to put it on a shelf or their desk, so top ports are just awkward and lead to more cable mess. top ports are meant for floorstanding cases. middle is a nice compromise, but for this one i think bottom is best.

i am a little worried about airflow in the front though. it looks like youre aiming for the hot psu exhaust to rise out the back vents, and the front fan to suck air in the side vents. i think that the suction from the fan will more than overcome the force of convection though and will suck in a good deal of easy-to-get hot air from a few inches away along with some outside air. how difficult would it be from a manufacturing standpoint to put a divider in the front space to separate the two air paths? also if you do this then you can just run vents all the way up both sides instead of having vents on top which will give it a much cleaner look.
 

Necere

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i am a little worried about airflow in the front though. it looks like youre aiming for the hot psu exhaust to rise out the back vents, and the front fan to suck air in the side vents. i think that the suction from the fan will more than overcome the force of convection though and will suck in a good deal of easy-to-get hot air from a few inches away along with some outside air. how difficult would it be from a manufacturing standpoint to put a divider in the front space to separate the two air paths? also if you do this then you can just run vents all the way up both sides instead of having vents on top which will give it a much cleaner look.
Yes, a divider behind the front panel is the idea. This is what the airflow looks like:



You'd get more warm air recycling by opening up the sides in the PSU section actually.
 

Kaos_Drem

Gawd
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Yes, a divider behind the front panel is the idea. This is what the airflow looks like:



You'd get more warm air recycling by opening up the sides in the PSU section actually.
My money...shut up and take it...
 

ekuest

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is there room for a 180mm fan in front? looks like it might barely fit unless the case isnt as deep as it looks.
 

Necere

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I'm still open to suggestions. I personally think it's a pretty good balance of capability, size, and looks right now.
 

cowsgomoo

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The AIO protrudes on two ends so I wonder if there's space, since the back fan slot is very close to the pci-e slot. Doesn't look like there's space to mount with the protrusion going horizontal so it has to be vertical. Just wondering if the bottom protrusion will hit the PCI-e slot.
 

Necere

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Just checked, and it turns out AIO rads, at least CoolIT-sourced units, have slightly larger endtanks (at the non-ported end) compared to standalone rads (which are fine). Made for a tight fit, so I moved the mount up a few mm.

Thanks for the heads up.
 

Necere

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Are the bottom holes for Scythe slip stream slim fans?
Not specifically. There's not enough space between the case floor and a dual-slot video card for even a slim fan like the Scythe, but there are a few scenarios where those fan mounts could come in handy:

-Fans for cooling the VRMs/RAM when using a GPU-only block
-Removing the fans/shroud on a non-blower style video card and using larger 120mm fans instead
-Standard 120mm sized fan filters
-Standard 120mm sized vent covers, in case you wanted to seal off the bottom for whatever reason
 

goldy

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I think the front of this case looks far better with the simplistic approach and the placement of the power button. The front of the new one looks like it would need to be made of plastic or some cheaper material other than aluminum.

The old design looks near identical to a Q25, but with a much better top panel -



 

Necere

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The front of the new one looks like it would need to be made of plastic or some cheaper material other than aluminum.
Nah, it can easily be done in aluminum. See e.g. this case.


The old design looks near identical to a Q25
And that's kind of the problem - it doesn't set itself apart enough to justify the effort. Every single one of Lian Li's mini-ITX cases is designed the same way (one piece cut & bent form the front/back/top/bottom); concept 2 didn't deviate from that at all. I'm not making it different just for the sake of being different, either, but genuinely something that I think is better.
 
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