Project: Rogue (NZXT SFF)

craigbru

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Well guys, the dust has barely begun to settle on project L.O.S.I.A.S and I'm at it again. This time around of got a little help from NZXT, and lead designer Johnny Hou. As of three weeks ago, they supplied me with one of only two Rogues in the US, in hopes that I could create something pretty kick-ass. Well, who am I to turn down a challenge? I've got a thing for small form factor cases, and you can guarantee I'll use up every bit of room in this case when given the chance. Although I've got free reign with this project, there were specific goals that I set out to achieve. Let's see... for starters...

Watercooling - Oh, without a doubt. This thing must be watercooled. How does dual loops and dual 240.2 radiators sound? A loop for the CPU, and a loop for the GPU's.

LCD - I don't think I could build a case without one. How does a 10.2" widescreen sound?

ATX motherboard - Been there, done that? Well, there have no doubt been mods before this that incorporated an ATX motherboard in a mATX case. However, due to the size of the Rogue, it's possible to fit one in the case a little easier than in others. The biggest difference here, is that all connections will be routed to the rear of the case. That's one thing most other ATX -> mATX mods haven't been able to achieve.

Everything else - Well, this is a big category. Lots of little things that add up quickly. How about a hard drive rack that's removable without opening that case, integrated fan and lighting controls, custom plexi side panels, automotive digital gauges, and the list goes on.

Other hardware specs are still up in the air, but the design goal will remain, regardless of the components used. That being said, would quad Crossfire be overkill? Nah, didn't think so... I've got big plans here, so I'll do my best not to let all of you down!

Now that I've got the preliminaries out of the way, how about a few pics? Here is the case as it arrived to me.







Like a kid on Christmas morning, let's rip this thing open!





Most of you have probably seen the stock photos, but here are a few shots that you haven't seen before. I've started to disassemble the case. You can see shots with the face removed, followed by the hard drive and CD/DVD trays.
















More coming shortly!
 

craigbru

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Everyone that has seen this case, wants to know about watercooling. Is it possible? Of course! This case does have plenty of room for expansion if you're willing to get a little creative.

My little red beauties...



So, what do they look like in the case? Well, this is where we run into a minor clearance problem. As configured, one of the hard drive racks prevents the radiator from sitting any further forward than pictured. However, you could simply mount the radiator as is, or remove the rack on one side of the case for clearance. You would still have the rack on the other side of the case, and the 3.5" bay to utilize if so desired. Of course, with my plans, I could ditch both drive racks completely.





Oh yeah, now that's a little better!



 

craigbru

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Here comes the fun part... It's also the most work. I mentioned custom plexi side panels earlier. Well, let's get on with it!

The side panels are easily removable with two screws. These things are very solid, and are the perfect foundation for what's coming next.









What would we do without masking tape? I've marked out the pattern and everything looks ready for the dremel.





Time to cut. Man, this stuff is thick!









Okay, what now? The hole is cut, but I'm nowhere near finished. I've got to nix those ribs. The plexi panel will sit in a recess in the side panel. What I wouldn't do for a machine shop and some CAD/CAM equipment. For now it's just a dremel and a file. This might take a while...





Well, it's back to work for me guys. More updates coming soon...
 

avnos

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Oct 27, 2007
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sweet ass, nice dremel work subscribed! i wanna see this thing when its done!
 

'99

Weaksauce
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Oct 19, 2005
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99
Where did you get the case? Looking forward to see more pic's of the build.
Which radiator are you using? they look pretty slim.
Sry. just seen that you been lucky, to have NZXT send you one.
 

response99

Weaksauce
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Oct 22, 2006
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121
Looking good thus far. I will be keeping an eye on this one; can't wait to see some more pictures. I do however have a suggestion in regards to your recess idea. Instead of using the dremel (long ass process) maybe use a 3 1/2'' standard grinder (Dewalt, Black and Decker etc..). This will definatly save you some time with filing and such. Hope that helps.
 

craigbru

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Just a quick update here. The Rogue is now live on NZXT's site. I'll also add a few comments about the case. The build quality is excellent, and the engineering is well thought out. This thing is beyond solid. I feel this thing could survive a trip down a flight of stairs and be no worse for wear. There's no bias here, it's simply a well built case, and I wanted one as soon as I saw it... I've spent a few weeks with the case already, and it was hard not to just throw hardware in here and run with it. It took me a while to actually figure out what I wanted to mod. It was such a good foundation to start with. With L.O.S.I.A.S., there were some very obvious changes I needed to make. With the Rogue, I realized it would be much easier to fit all my hardware in the case. Obviously, that wasn't going to do at all. I needed more of a challenge. Well, with most of the project now planned out, I think I've found it.
 

craigbru

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Looking good thus far. I will be keeping an eye on this one; can't wait to see some more pictures. I do however have a suggestion in regards to your recess idea. Instead of using the dremel (long ass process) maybe use a 3 1/2'' standard grinder (Dewalt, Black and Decker etc..). This will definatly save you some time with filing and such. Hope that helps.

I've actually got a 4" Makita grinder. I need to get a new wheel for the thing, and I'll definitely make use of it. My impatience to move forward has resulted in the dremel doing most of the work for the moment. The catch is that with a grinder that big, one slip on the case could leave a grown man crying... I'll use it to get most of the material out of the way, then get the last little bit with the dremel and file.
 

HaxEJxuK

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Aug 28, 2007
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Where did you get the case? Looking forward to see more pic's of the build.
Which radiator are you using? they look pretty slim.
Sry. just seen that you been lucky, to have NZXT send you one.
Looking at his last work, I wouldn't call him lucky. :D
 

craigbru

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Which radiator are you using? they look pretty slim.
The radiators are Danger Den Black Ice GT Stealth 240 X-Flow's. They are among the thinnest radiators I could find. Believe me, I'll need every bit of room I can spare.
 

Darkstofknightz

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Apr 10, 2007
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Subscribed, Craig do you happen to know the actual release date? All I could get from them is "hopefully by the end of this month"
 

lillimon04

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Oct 24, 2006
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Hurry and finish please! Lol but whats the due date on this thing? I watched your last project from the begining and it was awesome! CAnt wait for this one, and tell me if your selling anything.
 

Blazestorm

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I was like... wait... this case isn't even out yet and you have already raped it with tools :D

Subbed... I plan to get one of these too, I'll probably just use... some fans to cool it... though...
 

Wahoomcdaniel

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May 2, 2005
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Rather than use the end of a dremmel disk to shave down the aluminum ridges, how about using a belt sander? You'd end up with something closer to flat and eliminate or greatly reduce hand filing.
 

'99

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Oct 19, 2005
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Regarding the watercooling... what pump are you ganna use? and will you put in a reservoir instedt of just a fillport?
 

craigbru

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Subscribed, Craig do you happen to know the actual release date? All I could get from them is "hopefully by the end of this month"
No, I don't know the actual release date. Everything I've heard indicates sometime this month as well.

Hurry and finish please! Lol but whats the due date on this thing? I watched your last project from the begining and it was awesome! CAnt wait for this one, and tell me if your selling anything.
No specific due date on this one. Although it should finish much quicker than my last project. I'm gonna have parts I won't need... I'm not 100% certain on my hardware for this case though.

I was like... wait... this case isn't even out yet and you have already raped it with tools :D

Subbed... I plan to get one of these too, I'll probably just use... some fans to cool it... though...
Yeah, it was a little stressful making that first cut. Johnny reminded me that replacement parts didn't exist yet...

Rather than use the end of a dremmel disk to shave down the aluminum ridges, how about using a belt sander? You'd end up with something closer to flat and eliminate or greatly reduce hand filing.
I belt sander may have worked, but as of last night, I put a new wheel on a 4" grinder... Things went pretty well after that. I'll still have to do a little dremeling and filing, but definitely not as much.

Regarding the watercooling... what pump are you ganna use? and will you put in a reservoir instedt of just a fillport?
Not sure on the pump yet. I really like my Alphacool Laing DDC being used in Losias. I'll have to evaluate and make those purchases soon. I'd like to use reservoirs in combination with fillports. Until I start putting some hardware in the case, I won't know exactly which direction I'm going to go. Whatever I do, I'd like to think I'm good at utilizing available space. :D
 

'99

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"Whatever I do, I'd like to think I'm good at utilizing available space" that I'm sure of :p
 

craigbru

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For all of you patiently waiting... I've got another update here.

I never seem to get as much done as I would like, but I'm always making progress. With this update, you can get an idea of how the radiators are going to be placed in the case. It may not be what you were expecting...

Let's start this off with one of my new toys. It's an 18" metal brake! I'll be using this for all of the fabrication work on the case. It's not huge, but then again, it doesn't need to be. The thickest material I need to bend, will be 1mm aluminum.







Here I've got a picture of one side panel almost completed. There's a little filing to do, on a few rough edges, but it is 95% completed. It's enough for me to move on to the next step. I'll come back to the side panels later.





Here are a couple of shots with the side panel placed on the case. You should clearly be able to see the recess in the panel where an acrylic panel will be fitted.







Finally, I've started test fitting cardboard inside the case. These are approximate representations of the aluminum radiator mounts. A hole will be cut in the mount to match the radiator, and the radiator will be mounted on the inside of this panel. Once the case is assembled, there should be about 1cm or so, between the mounts and the side panel. There is a certain look I'm going for here, and when finished, there will be CCFL's located on both the top and the bottom of the panel. This should add a nice glow to the acrylic and radiator, without being over the top.





More coming soon...
 

lillimon04

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Is that a moto q? Would you recommend it? I have been wanting one, but idk if they are good.
 

craigbru

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Is that a moto q? Would you recommend it? I have been wanting one, but idk if they are good.
Yeah, that is a Q. I really like mine, but the biggest caveat, is short battery life. You'll need to charge it every night. It's not a big deal for me, but it may be for others. You can get a replacement battery that doubles it's capacity, but it also increases it's thickness. At that point, it's not much different than a Treo or Blackberry (as far as size is concerned).
 

craigbru

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I should have a decent updated posted by tomorrow. In the meantime, I've been pulling in and finalizing a few more ideas. The more I plan, the more I realize, that I'm gonna have this case packed! It may have twice the volume of the Sugo in my previous project, but it's still a SFF case. The radiators and fans are taking up a fair chunk of space all by themselves. I've already had to do some behind-the-scenes re-envisioning to make sure I have room for all my components. In order to fit a full size ATX motherboard in this case, it's simply not feasible to have the fans mounted directly on the radiators. However, in order to achieve airflow through them, there will be six 120 mm fans exhausting air from the case. The case will be sealed, with the only air inlet being though the radiators. This will ensure that the coolest air possible, finds its way in to the case. In addition, I should now have room for 6 hard drives. As started earlier, these will be on a custom removable rack. The rack will sit forward of where the current rear 120mm fan sits. With the removal of a couple of screws, the entire hard drive assembly should slide right out the back of the case. I hope to give more details when I get a little closer to that part of the mod.

Other notes here...

The case will have a slightly automotive type theme. As such, the case is going to have a pair of these Dakota Digital gauges to measure the water temps for each loop.



I'm also going to incorporate one of these Griffin Powermates...



I've got my LCD choices narrowed down. I'm going to be using one of the following. Which one, will be determined on available space left after gauge placement is decided.

10.2" 4:3 ratio 800x600



10.2" 16:9 ratio 800x480



9" 16:9 ratio 800x480

 

craigbru

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I needed a short break from modding while my drill charges, so I thought I'd upload a few pics of what I've been working on tonight. I decided to get one of the radiator mounts made. In order to do so, I needed a guide to make sure my bends were accurate.



Here is the 1mm brushed black aluminum I'll be using for the mounts. This stuff looks great!



I've started to mark where I need to make the bends. Tape was used to prevent scratching.



All clamped in...



2 bends down, 2 more to go.





Perfect! I couldn't ask for better results. The brake performs as expected, and I couldn't be happier.



Next up, I'll test fit the mount inside the case. Assuming all is well, I'll mark out, and cut the hole for the radiator.
 

lillimon04

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I always wanted one of those powermates. How much is that 9inch lcd? And where can i buy it?
 

lillimon04

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Thanks guys! Sweet site. Man i cant wait for this mod. Did you already post the specs that are going in to it? Are you gonna sell the old one?
 

craigbru

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Thanks guys! Sweet site. Man i cant wait for this mod. Did you already post the specs that are going in to it? Are you gonna sell the old one?
I've not posted specific hardware specs yet. I'm not sure which way to go yet. I've already got two 8800 GTX's, so using them would be the best option. Gotta wait for 790i though. If I don't keep the GTX's, then I could go Phenom with one of the 790FX boards, or X38 with Penryn. Then of course I'd have to used ATI cards... Nothing against ATI, but I'd want to gain big over the video cards I already have, not just break even. Right now there's really too many unknowns. I should have the answers shortly though.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my old one. Hell, it's even hard for me to call it 'old'. I only finished it a few months ago!
 

lillimon04

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Lol thats true, it move on quick, i think she is getting jealous. Lol

There making m atx boards in those chipsets? I cant wait! When the 790i coming out? There is a board that does bith ati and sli, its in the blackbird pc from hp. But thats atx.
 

craigbru

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Lol thats true, it move on quick, i think she is getting jealous. Lol

There making m atx boards in those chipsets? I cant wait! When the 790i coming out? There is a board that does bith ati and sli, its in the blackbird pc from hp. But thats atx.
Actually, I'm going ATX in this thing. I want all the upgrade potential of ATX, with no compromises. However, unlike some other 'ATX in a SFF' mods, there will be no connections hanging out the side of the box. Everything will be connected at the rear of the case.
 

lillimon04

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Wow makes this even more exciting! I guess i didnt read that part. When do the 790i come out?
 
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