SENTRY: Console-sized gaming PC case project

Aibohphobia

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I did find some specs and left 34mm for it. Theres still some room so its possible to make it more but not 6 or 7 cm which is needed to angle the standard straight plugged cord.

Its not a problem about the space for the angled plug but the space for the connector on the back side. And how to arrange the cord inside the case.

Again it looks like steambox prototype had more space thanks to custom stuff packed inside.

Is the space above the video card being used for something? If not you could shift it up and do the power cord like the Valve design.

Also you stated earlier in this thread you thought the original steambox prototype had a custom rear cutout, its actually standard. The positioning is achieved with 2x risers. a 90 degree one, and a straight extender to move the card 1 slot length away from the motherboard.

Maybe it changed in later models but you can see in iFixit's teardown that it's a custom bracket on the card: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Steam+Machine+Teardown/20473
 

veryrarium

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Are you planning to have a motherboard tray between the motherboard and the bottom panel of the chassis, or are you thinking of installing motherboard standoffs sticking right out of the bottom chassis?

Also, doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere, are you going to be using aluminum or steel for the chassis?
 

Aibohphobia

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With the pressed in standoffs like I linked earlier they would be flush with the panel so no extra space would be needed.
 

veryrarium

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@Aibohphobia
In that case, isn't the power cord too thick in diameter to fit between the motherboard and the bottom panel in the current design?
s97tzHE.jpg
 

SaperPL

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Any chance of raising the graphics card 1 slot, like it is on the Valve prototype steambox?
Again the problem here is the custom stuff on valve prototype - if you want a standard mounting of VGA with standard bracket you need some space around for

it. Also note that steambox prototype has its hard drive mount above the cpu and custom cooling and we don't want that. The drives are above the vga in my configuration.

I could move it 7mm up and you would have like 17mm of space below the card with this., but then i would need to find some magical place for the drives.

Also you stated earlier in this thread you thought the original steambox prototype had a custom rear cutout, its actually standard. The positioning is achieved with 2x risers. a 90 degree one, and a straight extender to move the card 1 slot length away from the motherboard.
You're wrong here - I meant the plate that replaces the standard bracket is custom and thanks to that they could use single hard riser because bracket normally would collide with motherboard IO space. You can see it here from the top
dsc079771.jpg



Is the space above the video card being used for something? If not you could shift it up and do the power cord like the Valve design.
Yes it is - also note that steambox prototype has 74mm in height.

Are you planning to have a motherboard tray between the motherboard and the bottom panel of the chassis, or are you thinking of installing motherboard standoffs sticking right out of the bottom chassis?
Yes, there is an inner plate which will support the motherboard instead of piercing the bottom plate.
Also, doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere, are you going to be using aluminum or steel for the chassis?
Most likely steel for the prototype batch, we'll see how aluminium cost looks like for mass production and check it out.

In that case, isn't the power cord too thick in diameter to fit between the motherboard and the bottom panel in the current design?]
You're right - this is one of the problems and I said this somewhere on the last page that it would go up instead of under the motherboard. Here's how it looks like now:
9lce98f.jpg

And of course it would have some kind of cut out around the cord in the cover's angled surface

At this moment we're thinking of adding 1cm to the width so it would be 340mm and mounting the C14 connector on the back between VGA and motherboard IO - the area of "Flex riser folding space" that would gain this 1cm. The problem is still with arranging the cord to get there and not make too much of a mess.
 
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Aibohphobia

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Also note that steambox prototype has its hard drive mount above the cpu and custom cooling and we don't want that. The drives are above the vga in my configuration.

You have to be very careful with that, without good airflow and a decent sheet of metal separating the drives from the back of the video card, they'll get too hot. I tested this a while ago here and CMadki4 had to deal with it in his Steambox design here.
 

SaperPL

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Yes, I know, they aren't directly above, just partially over the connectors in the center of the case and there 5 mm distance between the card pcb plastic cover and the hdd support
 

niksus

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Would you consider some hdd mounts in the GPU freed space, in case ITX-sized GPU is used (the farthest corner in your renders) ?
 

SaperPL

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Would you consider some hdd mounts in the GPU freed space, in case ITX-sized GPU is used (the farthest corner in your renders) ?
That depends - we can simply add some mounting holes on the bottom of the case for 2.5" drive or try to make some attachable cage for more drives but while there should be enough space for the 3.5" drive its diveded by the vga support.

I'll think about it but thats another and probably quite complex part to add to the case cost.
 
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At this moment we're thinking of adding 1cm to the width so it would be 340mm and mounting the C14 connector on the back between VGA and motherboard IO - the area of "Flex riser folding space" that would gain this 1cm. The problem is still with arranging the cord to get there and not make too much of a mess.
The IEC receptacle needs to happen, but I would put it to the left of the motherboard, rather than next to the GPU. This is much easier from an engineering/manufacturing perspective as you can have the power cord run along the bottom left side, then loop around 180 deg for the plug into the SFX PSU (see N1's IEC cord and PSU bracket design). This PSU mount bracket (which is bolted to the case's floor and front) can also serve as an air isolation chamber for the PSU's exhaust to exit out the side of the case. Added bonus of being able to sneak in mounts for 1-2x 60mm exhaust fans on the side as well.

For the space between the IO cutout and GPU, how about some RM-SMA punch-outs for wifi antennas?

I also think you need a big drop-in backing plate that will serve as a mount for the PCI flex riser and 2x 2.5" HDDs (or even 1x3.5" HDD?). This will help the case structurally, in addition to giving some air chamber isolation. Necere was really onto something with his Steam Machine design on this front. Stealing his basic front-panel aesthetic and front panel button/USB layout would be a good inspiration as well (good artist copy, great artist steal and all that...).
 
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SaperPL

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The IEC receptacle needs to happen, but I would put it to the left of the motherboard, rather than next to the GPU. This is much easier from an engineering/manufacturing perspective as you can have the power cord run along the bottom left side, then loop around 180 deg for the plug into the SFX PSU (see N1's IEC cord and PSU bracket design). This PSU mount bracket (which is bolted to the case's floor and front) can also serve as an air isolation chamber for the PSU's exhaust to exit out the side of the case. Added bonus of being able to sneak in mounts for 1-2x 60mm exhaust fans on the side as well.
The thing is we can fit it there by just increasing the size by 1cm - for placing it left from motherboard we would need an additional inch which makes a difference and it matters I think.

For the space between the IO cutout and GPU, how about some RM-SMA punch-outs for wifi antennas?
I'll think about it but those can be made almost anywhere.


I also think you need a big drop-in backing plate that will serve as a mount for the PCI flex riser and 2x 2.5" HDDs. This will also help the case structurally, in addition to giving some air chamber isolation.
I'm not sure if I understand you correctly but yes - we have inner structure that holds the riser and 2 x 2.5" drives and helps it structurally.

As for the front design - Its not really a problem about how to make it look nice but how to make it cheap with proper look. Note that Necere designs are quite complex and consist of quite a lot of parts which are a lot more difficult to make. Those designs may be good for high end mass produced expensive case but not something cheap with scalable production size.
 
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The thing is we can fit it there by just increasing the size by 1cm - for placing it left from motherboard we would need an additional inch which makes a difference and it matters I think.
Size does indeed matter, but the difference between 1" and 1cm is ~15mm, which I think we can spare here. Added bonus of some 60mm fan mounts and accommodating any possible slightly oversized motherboards is worth the compromise I think. Shorter AC cord inside the case as well.

As for the front design - Its not really a problem about how to make it look nice but how to make it cheap with proper look.
To keep costs down I assume we're thinking of a one-piece snap-in plastic front, possibly with the front panel screwed into the back side of it? Would be cheap to mass-produce, but not sure on low volume plastic mold costs on that one.

No reason for front panel audio at all I'd think, or a reset button, or even a disk IO light for that matter. No ODD goes without saying. Just 2xUSB3 ports and a backlit power button is all you need, which should be cheap.

Just don't do high gloss or fake brushed metal on the front panel, especially with a blue LED. Those all need to die in a painful, slow fire of death. Take a page from the slim Xbox 360 with dim green/red LEDs and a matte textured finish.
 

Aibohphobia

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+1 for no stupidly bright blue LEDs. Drive activity light is unnecessary also since most people will be using SSDs.
 

SaperPL

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Size does indeed matter, but the difference between 1" and 1cm is ~15mm, which I think we can spare here. Added bonus of some 60mm fan mounts and accommodating any possible slightly oversized motherboards is worth the compromise I think. Shorter AC cord inside the case as well.
I believe there's enough space for "slightly oversized" Itx boards because they are standarized and it really won't matter if the power cord is straight and short inside the case.

To keep costs down I assume we're thinking of a one-piece snap-in plastic front, possibly with the front panel screwed into the back side of it? Would be cheap to mass-produce, but not sure on low volume plastic mold costs on that one.
Yep, thats the real problem here and we're thinking on how not make this out of plastic. Plastic mold could cost around $15K for this I think. Don't worry, there are few ideas how to do it :)

No reason for front panel audio at all I'd think, or a reset button, or even a disk IO light for that matter. No ODD goes without saying. Just 2xUSB3 ports and a backlit power button is all you need, which should be cheap.

Just don't do high gloss or fake brushed metal on the front panel, especially with a blue LED. Those all need to die in a painful, slow fire of death. Take a page from the slim Xbox 360 with dim green/red LEDs and a matte textured finish.
I'll take that into consideration.
 

SaperPL

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Current status of the looks and the case porn for you

kn2FhLB.jpg

qOFLDSH.jpg


Whole case grew a little - 340x310x64,5mm to fit the IEC receptacle which additionally enables cards up to 305mm.

Case shape changed a little on the edges to simplify production.
 

Dangman

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Awesome look so far!

If you can release the case at around the same price (or just $10 more) as the Azza CSAZ-103, you might have a home-run.
 

SaperPL

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Azza is 2.5x bigger and is ugly as hell so I wouldn't compare my case to that.

I'd love to for the mass production, but before that each cable cost is pain in the ass like the USB3.0 front connectors that can cost those 10$ and the riser of course. More realistic scenario is that we go for the 99$ price tag If you wan't me to include all the stuff required and there's also need to be a revenue from this.

50$ is possible with self-bought riser, cable passage instead of IEC receptacle and without front USB3.0 connectors. But from all the talks I had with friends and on this forum I realised people want to buy complete thing and something that has everything the standard case would do. So kickstarting something this raw probably would be a failure.
 

Phuncz

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I would recommend on giving people a complete case because not everyone will be satisfied with dealing with one or two external companies for proprietary pieces needed for the case.

I am looking forward to this with heavy anticipation. Maybe try to contact a few smaller OEM companies who might be interested in cooperating with you to supply the case and knowledge of compatible components to offer BTO Steam Machines ?
 

SaperPL

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The plan is to first make something scalable that I can manufacture "myself" and promote this stuff with crowdfunding without "It'll be only possible if we get 1000 preorders". It will sell well when there's no big IF to the production.

Contacts with OEM companies and resellers should start after or during the campaign.
 

SaperPL

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Im thinking of dropping the SFX-L support in order to move the hard drives completely off the space above the VGA. Is SFX-L support crucial? I cant even find any of those locally on the market.
 

Aibohphobia

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What USB cables are you planning on using? The only decent off the shelf one I could find for my design was the Silverstone set but the cables on it are really long for a SFF case.


You'll want to get in touch with manufacturers before running a campaign, so you'll have a better idea of price and leadtimes. There's also horror stories of wildly successful Kickstarters where the manufacturers saw how much money the creators brought in and wanted a bigger slice of that pie and demanded more money to make the product. So you'll want to get a quote in writing before the campaign starts.


I think SFX-L support is pretty important if the complaints about the fan noise on the SX600-G thread are any indication :)

Tony has said they're working hard to make sure the SX500-LG will be quieter than the 600W and if they don't cut corners it should have all Japanese caps and almost Platinum efficiency according to the Chinese review of the High Power unit (if I'm reading the Google translation correctly). So I think it'll be a popular item.

Silverstone's version isn't out yet, High Power and Scythe's units are out in Asia, not sure when they'll release elsewhere.
 

SaperPL

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The thing is - if I want to fit two 2.5" drives and SFX-L with those dimensions at least one of the drives will go somewhere in the VGA area
 
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Phuncz

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Since we need a specific GPU, specific CPU cooling and a specific PSU, I personally wouldn't mind sticking with a single SSD (2,5" or mSATA or M.2). In the end if you have the money for this build and considering it's meant as a Steam Machine (thus not main desktop) I'd guess most people will have their main storage on another machine or if they're smart on a NAS. Otherwise, why have this hyper-efficient case with strict hardware requirements if you are not ready to make the most basic of commitments for SFF by minimizing wasted space.

Crucial M550 is available as a SATA 2,5", mSATA and M.2, just to show a single option. 256GB versions also available, as are faster or cheaper options like from Plextor, Samsung and Transcend.
 

edward78

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I want a case where you don't have to use a riser, no special cards (Low profile or one slots) & room for atleast a SFX PSU. Good airflow ofcarse, like the Element Q, it is almost there add another slot for dual slot GPUs & a bit higher 5.5 in. tall & just slap a slim ODD in. Accept for NAS cases, the no ODD thing is just silly.
 

SaperPL

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Ok, so here's what's possible

No frying options:
- We drop the SFX-L support and there's a rail with two 2.5" drives in the middle of the case.*
- We drop the second hard drive support and leave the space for the SFX-L.*

*Rail might obstruct cpu coolers in some configurations when the cpu socket is close to PCI-e and the chipset is on the far end.

Drive frying options:
-We leave support for everything and the hard drive rail is partially above the VGA almost reaching the center of the chip
-We build a magical hard drive cage around the PSU exhaust space that will somehow support two drives
-We move the motherboard up and slide drives under the motherboard limiting the height of the coolers.
-We move drive rail above VGA and somehow install a fan in the middle blowing air out of the case on the VGA from the top.

VGA frying options:
- We make the hard drive rail with some kind of thermal coating and move it above the VGA
- We mount the hard drives under the VGA

So I think that most of us would like to have two drives configuration SSD+HDD so dropping support for second drive is not an option.
 

SaperPL

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@Phuncz - not every motherboard supports mSATA or M.2, and the target here is to make it cheaper so its targeted and people who would most likely choose those cheaper ITX boards.

@edward78 then this case is not something for you...
 

Stevo_

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I want a case where you don't have to use a riser, no special cards (Low profile or one slots) & room for atleast a SFX PSU. Good airflow ofcarse, like the Element Q, it is almost there add another slot for dual slot GPUs & a bit higher 5.5 in. tall & just slap a slim ODD in. Accept for NAS cases, the no ODD thing is just silly.

Think they already make the one you're looking for;

http://game.msi.com/product/barebone/nightblade
 

SaperPL

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@Phuncz After thinking about what you said - I think you're right. Someone who will build a case with GTX980 will buy best motherboard and will have M.2 support. People with cheaper build will have shorter cards with lower TDP so we can make a mounting holes on the bottom/front of the case in the VGA area.
 

veryrarium

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@SaperPL

- How tall are you thinking of making the case feet be? (Initially I was thinking maybe you could make it an option to have 2.5" drives mounted on the bottom panel from underneath, i.e. exterior mounting with appropriate cable holes on the bottom panel, though you probably abhor this idea from the aesthetic point of view, but nonetheless the feet height is important for the overall case size.)
- What's the absolute max height of the chassis you can go up to? (E.g. you don't want this case to be any taller than the Valve steam machine case)
 

SaperPL

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5 or 6mm maybe.

I don't want different height than the height of SFX + 2x height of the covering sheets because that simplifies the PSU support. If there's space between the PSU and the outer wall I'd have to make a surface different than a cover that would keep it in place and this surface would make additional problems with PSU's installation.

Also gaining in height won't give us much because it would anyway mean we're still closing to hot objects/surfaces like under the CPU or PSU.
 

Phuncz

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@Phuncz - not every motherboard supports mSATA or M.2, and the target here is to make it cheaper so its targeted and people who would most likely choose those cheaper ITX boards.

@Phuncz After thinking about what you said - I think you're right. Someone who will build a case with GTX980 will buy best motherboard and will have M.2 support. People with cheaper build will have shorter cards with lower TDP so we can make a mounting holes on the bottom/front of the case in the VGA area.
Yes indeed, I'm seeying plenty of people in this subforum buying the Asus Impact boards because it's the "best" (I would disagree), and even the ASRock and ASUS boards have mSATA/M.2. With people plonking down a lot of money for a good GPU (GTX 970 and 980, Radeon R9 290 and 290X), one shouldn't be miffed for a slightly more expensive storage requirement.

There are always people that have issues because they could maybe otherwise transfer their hardware from their current build over but let's be honest: SFF isn't the poor man's hobby when taken to the extreme (like <10L cases). How often have we needed to change our expensive cooling or GPU just to fit it in another case ? I personally have a bigger issue with the A4 case that requires an expensive and proprietary power brick + power PCB going for 200-300$. Dondan is also looking into releasing the case with support for SFX luckily.

But I'm also looking at the future: the next Intel chipset (H150, Z170) will support native PCIe storage through Intel's RST, basically allowing every motherboard manufacturer to easily implement M.2 somehow (daughterboard or the back of the board). The future is in PCIe storage.
 
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veryrarium

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5 or 6mm maybe.

I don't want different height than the height of SFX + 2x height of the covering sheets because that simplifies the PSU support. If there's space between the PSU and the outer wall I'd have to make a surface different than a cover that would keep it in place and this surface would make additional problems with PSU's installation.

Also gaining in height won't give us much because it would anyway mean we're still closing to hot objects/surfaces like under the CPU or PSU.
Thanks for the answers. So no "side mounting" of 2.5" drives either.
 

Necere

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No, I want a slitely taller dual slot Element Q.
It's not pretty, but this is pretty close to what you're asking for. But really, start a new thread if you want to talk about it, since it has nothing to do with Saper's project.
 

SaperPL

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If I were to build one now I probably would just go and buy 256GB 2.5" SSD for the OS and software while all documents, movies and installation files for software are already on my external 2.5" drive.

Currently I think I can make it like this - If you've got SFX you can attach second 2.5" to the rail by the side and rail will also support the bottom partially. Its not the nicest thing to do but its something :)
 

SaperPL

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Am I correct that current standard for 2.5" sata hdd's is 9.5mm? SSD's are 7mm, I know that, but how's the hdd standard?
 
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