What are you looking for in a mITX case?

Raphaei

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Sep 10, 2014
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Hey guys, I've been semi-actively working on a mITX case since late summer, from what I gather I'm hardly alone on this forum who like to tinker. There are a lot of discussions that I've been following since August (when I found this forum), but all seem relatively centered around whatever piece of hardware the topic was created for.

I'm now at a stage where I'm ready to start ordering parts from China/Taiwan for prototype measurements, testing, etc, and an integral part of making anything for the market is to make sure it's what people actually want, and need, and not what the designers think people want.

As people will use stuff the way they want it to, regardless of designer intentions, I'm curious to see what people actually want from a SFF computer system. What thoughts did you put into your previous SFF build, or maybe even a future build?

I'm not talking steam box type media centers, but as actual computers, be it to work or game on (or anything in between). Some things I'm looking for in particular is the need for "standard"-sized components (3,5" HDD's, 5,25" ODD's, ATX-PSU's, 12" GPU's, tower type CPU coolers, etc).

Also, if you like to go on LAN's or just crash at a friends house over the weekend (which IMO is one of the great benefits of a mITX build), what is your stance on watercooling? My understanding is that water cooling is for more... stationary builds, but I'm genuinely curious to see what other people have to say about it.

Easy to build in, good cable management, well thought out features, etc, I get those. They're universal, but also subjective. What is your stance on these, what more specifically are you looking for? What about LED's, when to use them and when not to?

Hopefully some big shot computer case manufacturer finds this thread and reads all these amazing and illuminating responses and decides to make a new line based on all the knowledge they gather from this thread.
 

rawrr

Gawd
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Messages
546
Lots of people seem to like their watercooling... I however don't really mind no watercooling support.

But then again I am not representative of the typical SFF enthusiast. I like my cases as small as possible, even if I have to use external AC adapters, PCIe risers, small air coolers, and short GPUs!

Good luck with your project though. Good to see lots of people trying to get their ideas into reality :)
 

WiSK

2[H]4U
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Oct 28, 2011
Messages
2,207
Read through the NCase, A4 and Nova threads, then you'll see how each person wants something just a little different. The requirement for what is SFF and what the ideal case is becomes quite arbitrary :)
 

updawg

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609
My tastes have changed as parts keep shrinking. A specialty case I would like is a case that could only support a dual slot "ITX"style card. The power supply would be that custom 250w HDPLEX. It would be a perfect square in shape and have 2 USB3 ports and power button on the front. The only supported HD would be mSata or M.2 that is built into the motherboard.
 

Screes

Limp Gawd
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
Messages
367
I want the Valve Prototype Steambox enclosure, without the circle of lights on the front.

Hardware i use in my current systems:

ITX motherboard with intel 35w TDP CPU, and 16GB of low profile ram
1x mid range graphics card under 10" long
1x m.2 SSD

cooled with 120x25mm fans, preferably 2 total for the system, or less.
 

illram

[H]ard|Gawd
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Sep 19, 2011
Messages
1,473
Yeah ask ten different people what they want and you'll get 11 different answers. ;)

I like to try and tinker with how much power I can stuff into a tiny enclosure. Personally, I'd look at it as "what is missing right now." I see a lack of cases optimized for the new crop of short GPU's coming out. It's a growing niche but not common enough to justify any sort of large production run I'd guess. If power usage continues to drop for these newer cards maybe we get to the point where you can safely run a short but powerful GPU on a pico-type PSU. Maybe you could do so now with a low power CPU but it'd be cutting it close. This would lead to a truly tiny but powerful little case. To me the PSU is one of the big limitations in ITX "gaming" case designs.
 

Raphaei

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Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
28
Lots of people seem to like their watercooling... I however don't really mind no watercooling support.

But then again I am not representative of the typical SFF enthusiast. I like my cases as small as possible, even if I have to use external AC adapters, PCIe risers, small air coolers, and short GPUs!

Good luck with your project though. Good to see lots of people trying to get their ideas into reality :)
I've personally not been much for watercooling. As I've never had any interest in extreme OC (and if a person does, imo, mITX isn't the platform), Noctua fans and Windforce/Tri-Force/etc has gotten me a long way in the enthusiast gamer department. The hardware enthusiasts want slightly different things though, as I've picked up on from this forum. Watercooling seems to be quite popular, at the very least as a concept/feature.

The question is how much watercooling support a smaller case should supply. N1 does it amicably, but while I get the impression it's a hardware enthusiast case, I'm more oriented towards gaming and air flow enthusiasm. Frankly, both types of enthusiasts should have an active interest in watercooling, but in the SFF department, especially if mobility comes into play, I think gamers get different priorities. I'm probably one of the few gamers who'd love to game on a double sandwiched mITX + <=170mm 900-series replacement of the 750Ti with an external power brick housed in what can only be described as a double IX-01B/M350. If I had a wet dream, that'd be the one.

I too like the active community that's out to discuss common interests and in doing so helping one another. To help the discussions from turning stagnant people come from different backgrounds, with different experiences, wants and desires. Maybe I've overlooked some posts, but my impression is that the "hardcore" gamer lacks a seat at the table here. Or is there someone who fits the profile?

Read through the NCase, A4 and Nova threads, then you'll see how each person wants something just a little different. The requirement for what is SFF and what the ideal case is becomes quite arbitrary :)
Both the Ncase and the A4 threads are relatively old, so I've had plenty of time to play catchup. I've had both threads open on my tablet, amongst half a dozen others since I registered here (around late August iirc, so almost half a year), and peeked into the threads who came up from time to time. I've seen numerous of your posts in the threads I've read to date, so it's nice to see a reply from you in this thread, and get a proper hello. Hello. :)

The Nova thread is unfamiliar to me, and a quick search netted me nothing.

My tastes have changed as parts keep shrinking. A specialty case I would like is a case that could only support a dual slot "ITX"style card. The power supply would be that custom 250w HDPLEX. It would be a perfect square in shape and have 2 USB3 ports and power button on the front. The only supported HD would be mSata or M.2 that is built into the motherboard.

With room for a tower CPU cooler and the HDPLEX in the front? A large Borg vessel or a rubik's cube on the desk, or standard black/white/silver? Do you like me prefer the front USB ports to be placed at the bottom (doesn't look nice with cables hanging all over the front imo), or is it more of a "as long as they're there" type of deal for you?
 

cowsgomoo

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Oct 8, 2012
Messages
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IMG_9793_zpsd3e08c9d.jpg

okwchin's picture of his mini-ITX case summed up what I look for in a case nicely.

And as someone who experienced the 2011 earthquake in Japan when I was living for a year there, I look for the lightest (and hopefully sturdy) case that packs all my computing experience into it, and that I can take and go, with the possibility of not ever coming back, and without losing anything, in 5 minutes notice.
 

illram

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Messages
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a double sandwiched mITX + <=170mm 900-series replacement of the 750Ti with an external power brick housed in what can only be described as a double IX-01B/M350. If I had a wet dream, that'd be the one.

Exactly what I want. You could do a thin, square shaped case with the ITX GPU folded around the back of the mobo with a riser, and with the HDPLEX somewhere else (anywhere, it's tiny). The case would basically be as big as a mini-itx board and a only a little wider than the board and the GPU lying parallel to one another. Essentially Dondan's A4 but even shorter as it would not accommodate a full size GPU. .
 
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Raphaei

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Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
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I want the Valve Prototype Steambox enclosure, without the circle of lights on the front.

Hardware i use in my current systems:

ITX motherboard with intel 35w TDP CPU, and 16GB of low profile ram
1x mid range graphics card under 10" long
1x m.2 SSD

cooled with 120x25mm fans, preferably 2 total for the system, or less.
What are you using your computer for, if I may ask? Hardware setup only tells part of the story. My guess is a little of this, a little of that? Like a student computer perhaps, or a home office computer?

While I think it's a bit of an overkill to use 2x 120mm fans for such a system, if I personally made one I'd feel uneasy with only one. But then again, I'd probably go for a stronger GPU to being with, as well as at the very least a SSD + 3,5" HDD combo.

Yeah ask ten different people what they want and you'll get 11 different answers. ;)

I like to try and tinker with how much power I can stuff into a tiny enclosure. Personally, I'd look at it as "what is missing right now." I see a lack of cases optimized for the new crop of short GPU's coming out. It's a growing niche but not common enough to justify any sort of large production run I'd guess. If power usage continues to drop for these newer cards maybe we get to the point where you can safely run a short but powerful GPU on a pico-type PSU. Maybe you could do so now with a low power CPU but it'd be cutting it close. This would lead to a truly tiny but powerful little case. To me the PSU is one of the big limitations in ITX "gaming" case designs.

Yeah, 11 different answers is the beauty. :)

Regarding the chassis designed for ITX-GPU's, I think, or rather I hope that the market already has allowed for smaller companies / hobby enthusiasts to design, produce and sell their stuff. If the small companies can get the ball rolling, sooner or later the larger ones will chime in. I see a lot of potential in this forum already, many ideas and designs, as well as a will to realize them. I think that thanks due to websites like Amazon, ebay and the likes, selling directly to the costumer with a small scale production in the garage based on placed orders should already easy enough. No middle men = you can compete in price with the larger companies even with their lower cost per manufactured goods.

Maybe it can be a bit tough for a new upstart to start getting orders, but once a reputable enough website reviews their chassi (or whatever it may be), and they get favorable reviews on ebay/Amazon from customers, it should start snowballing.
 

rawrr

Gawd
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Jul 31, 2014
Messages
546
Exactly what I want. You could do a thin, square shaped case with the ITX GPU folded around the back of the mobo with a riser, and with the HDPLEX somewhere else (anywhere, it's tiny). The case would basically be as big as a mini-itx board and a only a little wider than the board and the GPU lying parallel to one another. Essentially Dondan's A4 but even shorter as it would not accommodate a full size GPU. .

I've got something in the works... :D
 

Aibohphobia

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
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Messages
1,340
The Nova, but in ITX form... using ITX form factor GPU's. At least one front and rear 120mm fan. Water cooling is not necessary. Please and thanks.

What kind of layout are you imagining?

Because what comes to mind to accommodate all your wish list would mean a layout quite a bit different than Nova.
 

Zap

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
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Messages
1,421
Yeah ask ten different people what they want and you'll get 11 different answers. ;)
I think you underestimate. :p I personally could think of four distinctly different SFF designs that I wouldn't mind owning.
1) Server
2) Quiet but powerful
3) LAN
4) HTPC

I currently just use production cases that come close to what I imagine.
Personally, I'd look at it as "what is missing right now." I see a lack of cases optimized for the new crop of short GPU's coming out. It's a growing niche but not common enough to justify any sort of large production run I'd guess. If power usage continues to drop for these newer cards maybe we get to the point where you can safely run a short but powerful GPU on a pico-type PSU. Maybe you could do so now with a low power CPU but it'd be cutting it close. This would lead to a truly tiny but powerful little case. To me the PSU is one of the big limitations in ITX "gaming" case designs.
"What is missing" would be great for companies/individuals that can find a niche.

Regarding PSU, I would like to see more use of existing standardized internal PSUs that are smaller than ATX. This means SFX, TFX and Flex ATX ("short" 1U). Even the most power hungry single GPUs can be run on existing SFX PSUs.
And as someone who experienced the 2011 earthquake in Japan when I was living for a year there, I look for the lightest (and hopefully sturdy) case that packs all my computing experience into it, and that I can take and go, with the possibility of not ever coming back, and without losing anything, in 5 minutes notice.
How about a backup of your data on an external drive? I used to work for someone (this was back in the 90s) that had a backup set on 3.5" floppies in a case in his office. It was understood that in case of emergency, grab wallets, keys and that floppy disk case.
"How'd I miss that, baby."
I think mATX is like the computing red headed stepchild. Too long the focus for big box brands, too small for a tower gaming rig, too big for SFF. I like this!
 

theGryphon

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
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Messages
1,295
What kind of layout are you imagining?

Because what comes to mind to accommodate all your wish list would mean a layout quite a bit different than Nova.

Aiboh, I've been thinking about an ITX layout with ITX GPU, but I didn't have time to do a sketch up. I'm on the road (again!) now, so I'll try to describe it in words.

1) imagine a vertical orientation.

2) Place an ITX size PSU under the ITX mobo such that its fan is facing to the right, where the back of the mobo is facing. PSU is flush with that right side panel. Of course, the mobo has the standoffs. I'm thinking of a solid right side, no panels, no CPU cutouts, just to keep it minimal.

3) Place an ITX GPU on the backside of the PSU, so that theyare back to back, with about 10mm between them. This way, GPU's fans will intake on the left side, same as the CPU fan. GPU is to be connected with a flexible riser, which would route through between the PSU and GPU.

4) I would perforate all sides, except for the front and bottom. This way, you don't need any case feet but just very low profile non-slip stick-on rubber.

5) If my description was sufficient, you can see that the internal dimensions of the case are about 305 (H) x 175 (D) x 100 (W), and I believe the whole case should be around 310x185x105 = 6.0 Lt.

6) Case should have space for two 2.5" drives, and CPU coolers with a total height of 85 mm.

7) I can imagine a screw-on side bracket to accommodate 120mm AIO liquid coolers.

I really believe there's nothing like this out there.
 

updawg

Gawd
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Messages
609
With room for a tower CPU cooler and the HDPLEX in the front? A large Borg vessel or a rubik's cube on the desk, or standard black/white/silver? Do you like me prefer the front USB ports to be placed at the bottom (doesn't look nice with cables hanging all over the front imo), or is it more of a "as long as they're there" type of deal for you?


I would prefer black/silver with usb ports on bottom as well as the power button. Also have the hdplex mounted on the front panel (on the inside obviously).
 

Screes

Limp Gawd
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Mar 28, 2013
Messages
367
What are you using your computer for, if I may ask?

Gaming primarily.

The 120mm fans are to keep it quiet. I refuse to run fans over 1000rpm's, and so you need large fans in order to run them slowly and still have enough CFM to keep things cool. It also helps to use low power usage components, which is why i favor the 35w TDP intel chips with a mid range GPU. I only game at 1080p, so anything more than a GTX760 is overkill for me. Lately i'm more worried about power consumption of the graphics card than how many pixels it can push, which is why i tend to favor nVidia lately. I might pick up a GTX970 depending on how much power the GTX960 and 950's draw, we'll see.
 

DontPeek

Weaksauce
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Oct 22, 2014
Messages
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For me it's,

1) Power (Full size GPU's, room for coolers capable of cooling high end CPUs, etc.)

2) Silence (Enough room for cooling without tiny fans, room for ATX power supplies that can be fanless or much quieter than SFX.)

3) Airflow (I like decently low temps and sensible airflow allows for lower rpm fans which helps with point #2. Also I don't like blower cards so it needs to be able to exhaust hot air from open air cards.)

4) Style (Yes it needs to not just be functional but look good as well. For me it's important that the case has appealing lines and nice proportions. Ncase M1 and Evga Hadron are good examples of this.)

Things like compatibility with full size ATX power supplies and non-blower cards probably doesn't align with a lot of people on this forum but those are just my priorities. I'm willing to compromise on the absolute smallest size for the points I listed above. Somewhere between 12-15 liters is fine by me.
 

cowsgomoo

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Oct 8, 2012
Messages
547
How about a backup of your data on an external drive? I used to work for someone (this was back in the 90s) that had a backup set on 3.5" floppies in a case in his office. It was understood that in case of emergency, grab wallets, keys and that floppy disk case.

Well, every gram counts in this case. So my options are: leave my PC behind and grab data and run. That isn't very desirable. If I were to grab everything and run.
Option 1: mini-ITX case + weight of enclosure + weight of adapter + weight of USB cable + 3.5" disk
Option 2: mini-ITX case + weight of sata cable + 3.5" disk.
I'd go for option 2.

Edit: A 2.5" doesn't really cut it for me and the 2TB one isn't available in my country yet, not to mention the 4TB one.
 

Urelure

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Messages
459
When you say "hardcore gamer", do you mean the absolute best performance squeezed out of every game title, with 4K, upcoming G/Free -sync, only >60 FPS accepted and so on?

Because if so, itx isn't really the form factor in my book. There are so many new display technologies surfacing these days that even top end hardware is struggling to keep up. If you aim to speerhead in-game performance than SLI/Crossfire is really a must and you would need at least m-atx.

There are several itx cases in here that support top end GPU's already which means that you're down to either finding a unique layout or go in a completely different design direction that the sleek minimalist cases we are seeing in here these days. there is a lot to explore within the sub 20L realm, but as far as "as small as physically possible" I think it is becoming harder. Forgetting about the harcore gamer for a while, here is a list as i see it.

- 170mm GPU support only to make a cube has already been metioned.
- the MB/GPU sandwich design has been mentioned.
- Another would be to design something a bit larger that the M1 which offer more flexible WC loops. 3 x 120mm rads in any config or 1 x 180/200mm rad + 120mm rad etc. to allow for heavier overclocks and maybe support for regular D5 pumps and larger res. It can probably be done within 18-20L.
- How about something modular? Think Caselabs, only space efficient.
- There is also the issue of side widows. There hasn't really been a case design here that allows you to show off your hardware properly.
- If you managed to make a case, again slightly larger that the M1, with support for full modular ATX PSU I think you would make many people very happy.
- Some sort of really crazy, over the top, design. We know there is a market for space ships, dragons, and disco lighting out there:D ...Not for me though

I think there is still room for more of these custom design small production line cases in the market, but I also think we are nearing a point where marketing will become more important as there is a finite amount of potential customers in this (and other) forums. For instance, I think a big reason for the M1 being on production run 3 now, is coverage on PC Perspective and other tech sites. I actually learned about it from an aritcle in a norwegian tech site.
 
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yolostrats

Weaksauce
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Aug 29, 2014
Messages
93
I'm also working on my own design but it will not be for public sale. I'm not against it, but i'm not going to start a case design hoping for that. Small steps first.

I've got one complete design and one i'm now working on. Ideally:

* Small size around 7-9L
* Not a cube
* Good airflow path, high airflow capability (plus user fan control of some kind)
* Quiet or nearly silent
* Easy to carry (even at a small size, you can still slip and drop the case)

I've made my first design larger to accommodate a handle in the form a of bent pipe around the outside. Similar to the cosmos case or d-frame. The entire thing will be covered and sound dampened on the inside. No fan ports on the sides, front or top to leak noise. Exhaust will happen through the back (actually through the top but routed backwards). Intakes at the bottom and also covered a bit.

To keep such a small size, there will not be any traditional SSDs or HDDs. Only a single m.2 512gb SSD on the asus h97i plus unless something better comes out at that price. PSU will be silverstone 500W SFX-L and originally 600W SFX but erratic noise and sounds worries me. GPU will be MSI 970 for silent non-gaming use.
 

medeyer

Limp Gawd
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Jan 16, 2013
Messages
355
My $0.02. Personally, I would prefer it if all the drive mounts were all together in one space, not scattered all around the case. The NCASE M1 is a good/bad example; one underneath the GPU one on the PSU, more in the ODD bay, basically mounts from corner to corner (oh no, criticism of the M1, flame him). Granted, it finds places for them due to the limited space, but it's less than ideal. I'd just prefer a dedicated area for 2.5" drives and leave it be. The SS D380 and Corsair 240 have these. Even all my mock up designs have dedicated 2.5" bays.

3.5" drives have no business here.
 

WiSK

2[H]4U
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Messages
2,207
The NCASE M1 is a good/bad example; one underneath the GPU one on the PSU, more in the ODD bay, basically mounts from corner to corner (oh no, criticism of the M1, flame him). Granted, it finds places for them due to the limited space, but it's less than ideal. I'd just prefer a dedicated area for 2.5" drives and leave it be. The SS D380 and Corsair 240 have these.

The NCase M1 indeed gives you many options for drive mounting. However, if you are only using 2.5" drives then you can stack up to 4 of them all together on either side of the ODD wall in a volume far far smaller than the space the Air 240 wastes for just 3.
 

wonderfield

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Dec 11, 2011
Messages
7,396
Honestly? Anything not stylistically boring. Small size is a secondary consideration to style &#8212; a lot of mITX cases are essentially just slightly different configurations of cuboids, with a race-to-the-bottom mentality in terms of volume.

It's okay to not be the smallest kid on the block.
 

edward78

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 21, 2011
Messages
280
A slitely higher (5.5 inch) 2 slot Element Q. strange Thermaltake doesn't do 1. It would be better for heat to be able to have a dual slot GPU in that case with no modding. The only case I have been able to find you can put a norm. dual slot GPU in is http://www.lan-gear.eu/langear-miniITX-Infinity-Specifications & only EU shipping. :( Oh well I heard the paint comes off anyway... Really why is the new thing no ODD, why are the cases not smaller while being able to take a ODD & a Dual slot none LP gpu?
 

Raphaei

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Sep 10, 2014
Messages
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Oh, plenty of answers already, I love it! Also long detailed posts, I love me some reading candy. <3

Oh right, I see it's got a name now. I followed that thread up to early November iirc.

Exactly what I want. You could do a thin, square shaped case with the ITX GPU folded around the back of the mobo with a riser, and with the HDPLEX somewhere else (anywhere, it's tiny). The case would basically be as big as a mini-itx board and a only a little wider than the board and the GPU lying parallel to one another. Essentially Dondan's A4 but even shorter as it would not accommodate a full size GPU. .
When I started out playing around this is what I first set out to do, since I wanted to make a build exactly like that but there was no chassi to be found. But as a first project I felt uncomfortable with the amount of compromises there had to be, surely there can't be many that would want a case like that. On the other hand, I feel that it would be a given design to supplement an already existing line of models.

Gaming primarily.

The 120mm fans are to keep it quiet. I refuse to run fans over 1000rpm's, and so you need large fans in order to run them slowly and still have enough CFM to keep things cool. It also helps to use low power usage components, which is why i favor the 35w TDP intel chips with a mid range GPU. I only game at 1080p, so anything more than a GTX760 is overkill for me. Lately i'm more worried about power consumption of the graphics card than how many pixels it can push, which is why i tend to favor nVidia lately. I might pick up a GTX970 depending on how much power the GTX960 and 950's draw, we'll see.
I'm still rocking an old 2500k @ 4,2Ghz, I haven't felt the need to upgrade it, and probably won't for another generation or two. I have been eye balling the ~35W alternatives for a smaller, energy efficient gaming system much like the one you have, I feel like an eco terrorist playing simple games with a full fledged gaming system with half a dozen HDD's spinning.

Out of curiosity, how does the 35W CPU handle the loads? Can it feed the 760 sufficiently? I'd personally be wary of coupling a 35W CPU with anything above a 750Ti since from what I gather, it can't cope in games a 760 get the chance to stretch it legs.
 

Necere

2[H]4U
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Jan 3, 2003
Messages
2,775
Here is my sophisticated drawing for the ITX GPU case I want:
I assume you want it to support a dual-slot GPU, right? Because you couldn't fit one in those dimensions (or even a single-slot GPU, really). Here's the width of just the motherboard plus dual-slot card:

5JTJac7.png


After you account for bends and chassis/panel attachment requirements expect the minimum width to be 210mm+.
 

updawg

Gawd
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
609
I assume you want it to support a dual-slot GPU, right? Because you couldn't fit one in those dimensions (or even a single-slot GPU, really). Here's the width of just the motherboard plus dual-slot card:

Edit: Here is my new sophisticate drawing
0xtRwHj.png
 
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josephclemente

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 31, 2006
Messages
189
The Silverstone SG05 is still my favorite case. It is very hard to beat this case without adding liters.

Things I would change would be to make some of the mods out there come stock.

The ability to fit nVidia cards with the Titan-style blower cooler. This requires a cutout in the front metal, and some interior plastic shaving of the front bezel. It would be nice if the cutout was already there.

Support full ATX power supplies, but include an adapter for SFX power supplies, and make sure that adapter still allows you to mount an SFX power supply high up like before, to keep the same heatsink clearance. I have modded an SG05 before to allow this, and it worked out well. I'm OK with *SOME* SFX power supplies (not the one famous for coil whine) but only after modding them with a better fan. It is so much easier to find a good ATX PSU.

Oh yeah, I like having a larger hex fan grill on the front. The original grill is a bit restrictive for my taste.

Different materials would be nice, like all aluminum (only if heavy gauge) and no plastic bezel.
 

Raphaei

n00b
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
28
When you say "hardcore gamer", do you mean the absolute best performance squeezed out of every game title, with 4K, upcoming G/Free -sync, only >60 FPS accepted and so on?

Because if so, itx isn't really the form factor in my book. There are so many new display technologies surfacing these days that even top end hardware is struggling to keep up. If you aim to speerhead in-game performance than SLI/Crossfire is really a must and you would need at least m-atx.

There are several itx cases in here that support top end GPU's already which means that you're down to either finding a unique layout or go in a completely different design direction that the sleek minimalist cases we are seeing in here these days. there is a lot to explore within the sub 20L realm, but as far as "as small as physically possible" I think it is becoming harder. Forgetting about the harcore gamer for a while, here is a list as i see it.

- 170mm GPU support only to make a cube has already been metioned.
- the MB/GPU sandwich design has been mentioned.
- Another would be to design something a bit larger that the M1 which offer more flexible WC loops. 3 x 120mm rads in any config or 1 x 180/200mm rad + 120mm rad etc. to allow for heavier overclocks and maybe support for regular D5 pumps and larger res. It can probably be done within 18-20L.
- How about something modular? Think Caselabs, only space efficient.
- There is also the issue of side widows. There hasn't really been a case design here that allows you to show off your hardware properly.
- If you managed to make a case, again slightly larger that the M1, with support for full modular ATX PSU I think you would make many people very happy.
- Some sort of really crazy, over the top, design. We know there is a market for space ships, dragons, and disco lighting out there:D ...Not for me though

I think there is still room for more of these custom design small production line cases in the market, but I also think we are nearing a point where marketing will become more important as there is a finite amount of potential customers in this (and other) forums. For instance, I think a big reason for the M1 being on production run 3 now, is coverage on PC Perspective and other tech sites. I actually learned about it from an aritcle in a norwegian tech site.
When I say "hardcore" gamer I don't mean 4k with Ultra settings and 60/144fps. To me, there are "hardcore gamers" and hardcore gamers. Hardcore gamers are the ones right below the professional players, and the "hardcore" players adopt the same mentality, the same approach to games as the ones above, but for various reasons just don't quite make it up to the top skillwise. This can be done raiding in WoW with <10 FPS on a very modest system for all what it matters. I have no idea what to call people with unrealistic expectations of a computers hardware/performance. Spoiled? :D

I agree on m-ATX as a minimum if one is looking for a performance computer. mITX's main beauty is its size, then it's just a matter of how much you can squeeze into it. mITX is that tiny woman you just want to pick up and throw around. If you want to to a water loop in one (mITX, not the woman!), and design a chassi accordingly, my first instinct tells me there's room for a ~240mm rad mounted in the front, and another at the top, above the MB. Assuming you want to double up for very high OC's on CPU+GPU, that is. I might have overlooked something as I'm not that experienced when it comes to water cooling, I enjoy the simplicity of silent, efficient fans.


I'm also working on my own design but it will not be for public sale. I'm not against it, but i'm not going to start a case design hoping for that. Small steps first.

I've got one complete design and one i'm now working on. Ideally:

* Small size around 7-9L
* Not a cube
* Good airflow path, high airflow capability (plus user fan control of some kind)
* Quiet or nearly silent
* Easy to carry (even at a small size, you can still slip and drop the case)

I've made my first design larger to accommodate a handle in the form a of bent pipe around the outside. Similar to the cosmos case or d-frame. The entire thing will be covered and sound dampened on the inside. No fan ports on the sides, front or top to leak noise. Exhaust will happen through the back (actually through the top but routed backwards). Intakes at the bottom and also covered a bit.

To keep such a small size, there will not be any traditional SSDs or HDDs. Only a single m.2 512gb SSD on the asus h97i plus unless something better comes out at that price. PSU will be silverstone 500W SFX-L and originally 600W SFX but erratic noise and sounds worries me. GPU will be MSI 970 for silent non-gaming use.

I'm a sucker for airflow paths. Eliminating hot pockets, dead pockets (?, parts that doesn't get any ventilation), vortex buildups, etc. Thanks due to my friend who's an architect he's helped me do tons of airflow simulations, it's incredibly illuminating. Maybe you and I can share notes?
 

DG25

Gawd
Joined
Dec 15, 2006
Messages
550
What i'm looking for is the smallest possible case, with no hardware compromises (i.e it should fit all standard size hardware: GPU, SFX, 2.5" hdds, standard size intel cpu cooler height).

One design i like, that involves a pci-express x16 riser, is one that is based on this case: http://www.g-alantic.com.tw/1088/ga630/
Sadly, that case can't fit a SFX psu, but if it was made a bit longer, it could. With a SFX PSU, size would be 300x300x65 mm at 5.8L. I think this would be close to the SteamBox, but without the custom pci bracket they use. Some say this solution is ugly, but personally i don't look at the back of the case that often and it gets the job done, making the case as small as possible. Also, this case would use a fixed 2 slot x16 pci riser, which are more common and reliable, imo (and maybe a bit cheaper).

Second design would be a more simpler one, without riser card. Basically just a slimmed down Silverstone SG05, without optical driver, at a total height of 140mm-145mm, as low as the GPU permits, with custom 90 degree pci express power connectors (low height), with the SFX PSU over the CPU or in front of the case (seated vertically). Case dimensions would be something like ~210x280x145mm at ~8.5L
 

rawrr

Gawd
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
546
What i'm looking for is the smallest possible case, with no hardware compromises (i.e it should fit all standard size hardware: GPU, SFX, 2.5" hdds, standard size intel cpu cooler height).

One design i like, that involves a pci-express x16 riser, is one that is based on this case: http://www.g-alantic.com.tw/1088/ga630/
Sadly, that case can't fit a SFX psu, but if it was made a bit longer, it could. With a SFX PSU, size would be 300x300x65 mm at 5.8L. I think this would be close to the SteamBox, but without the custom pci bracket they use. Some say this solution is ugly, but personally i don't look at the back of the case that often and it gets the job done, making the case as small as possible. Also, this case would use a fixed 2 slot x16 pci riser, which are more common and reliable, imo (and maybe a bit cheaper).

Second design would be a more simpler one, without riser card. Basically just a slimmed down Silverstone SG05, without optical driver, at a total height of 140mm-145mm, as low as the GPU permits, with custom 90 degree pci express power connectors (low height), with the SFX PSU over the CPU or in front of the case (seated vertically). Case dimensions would be something like ~210x280x145mm at ~8.5L

I had a look at this before; I actually prefer the look of the GA620 (although neither look particularly stunning!). I found it interesting that you could actually fit a pretty hefty GPU in there Obviously no SFX PSU support, but I was thinking about HDPLEX.
 

DG25

Gawd
Joined
Dec 15, 2006
Messages
550
Yeah, the GA620's front looks better, especially the one without optical drive. But the reason i like those cases is the pci bracket holder thing they use, that permits 300mm length with a regular 2 slot GPU. I've never seen that before. Too bad it's too small for SFX.
 

Urelure

Limp Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2014
Messages
459
When I say "hardcore" gamer I don't mean 4k with Ultra settings and 60/144fps. To me, there are "hardcore gamers" and hardcore gamers. Hardcore gamers are the ones right below the professional players, and the "hardcore" players adopt the same mentality, the same approach to games as the ones above, but for various reasons just don't quite make it up to the top skillwise. This can be done raiding in WoW with <10 FPS on a very modest system for all what it matters. I have no idea what to call people with unrealistic expectations of a computers hardware/performance. Spoiled? :D

I agree on m-ATX as a minimum if one is looking for a performance computer. mITX's main beauty is its size, then it's just a matter of how much you can squeeze into it. mITX is that tiny woman you just want to pick up and throw around. If you want to to a water loop in one (mITX, not the woman!), and design a chassi accordingly, my first instinct tells me there's room for a ~240mm rad mounted in the front, and another at the top, above the MB. Assuming you want to double up for very high OC's on CPU+GPU, that is. I might have overlooked something as I'm not that experienced when it comes to water cooling, I enjoy the simplicity of silent, efficient fans.

I'm a sucker for airflow paths. Eliminating hot pockets, dead pockets (?, parts that doesn't get any ventilation), vortex buildups, etc. Thanks due to my friend who's an architect he's helped me do tons of airflow simulations, it's incredibly illuminating. Maybe you and I can share notes?

Hehe, first off, a computer (any size) and a woman (any size) have NOTHING in common except for the fact that bigger is NOT better:D

I have no need for watercooling myself at this point, I was merely exploring holes in the SFF market.

If you have the expertise available to make proper airflow calculations, then I think you might be on to something. Airflow is the number one compromize in most sub 20L cases.
 

iFreilicht

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
1,348
I'm looking for <7L cases without the need for an external power brick. I know it can be done, I did it myself, but using the LianLi PC-Q12 is just a compromise in many ways.

And, I want to be able to put the case into a backpack or sidebag. Not that I need to use that feature very often, but I absolutely love the idea of it :D

What I want my case to fit is a good PC that can easily double as a better console replacement or even an HTPC, so dedicated graphics are a must, low noise is desirable. I like the idea of having space for a slim ODD, but that is not a must-have, certainly.
 

majic12

Limp Gawd
Joined
Mar 6, 2014
Messages
145
I dont mind a mini itx eighter but i realy dont like water cooling as most of the time im gona use the pc as a workstation for 3d (and a litle gaming)and just cant afford to risk a leak.
- a gpu support of maybe 300mm
-cpu cooler up to 140mm
-160mm standart power supply
- place for 3 ssd or 3 smaw hdd (no more than that)
-the use of 140mm fans or those new noctua fans that have mounts for a 120mm fan but are 140mm.(maybe 2 at the bottom of the case and 1-2 on the top)
-slim dvd
It can be done.Ive seen some companyes come close but ruin it at the end as they want to save from materials.
-2mm think andorized aluminum for the outher shell of the pc woud be good.Just like the josbo umx1 plus.

Speaking about design maybe you coud borrow some ideas from Abee(beautifuf pc cases and terrible cable managment and airflow.Not to speak about the prices!)

acubic t80
http://www.akihabaranews.com/wp-content/uploads//images/9/09/58409/1.jpg
asenclosure 220htr(this one is big)
http://img1.kakaku.k-img.com/images/productimage/fullscale/K0000411107.jpg
acubic a90
http://www.techfresh.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Abee-acubic-A90-Mini-ITX-PC-Case.jpg
 

Sanguineus

n00b
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
Messages
35
Answering topic question - what am I looking for in mITX case?

For the same qualities as with my girlfriend:
- slim
- fit
- flexible
- good looking
- nice face
- stylish
- ready to fit some 12 inch long stuff inside

;)
 

rawrr

Gawd
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
546
I'm still rocking an old 2500k @ 4,2Ghz, I haven't felt the need to upgrade it, and probably won't for another generation or two. I have been eye balling the ~35W alternatives for a smaller, energy efficient gaming system much like the one you have, I feel like an eco terrorist playing simple games with a full fledged gaming system with half a dozen HDD's spinning.

Out of curiosity, how does the 35W CPU handle the loads? Can it feed the 760 sufficiently? I'd personally be wary of coupling a 35W CPU with anything above a 750Ti since from what I gather, it can't cope in games a 760 get the chance to stretch it legs.

The 35W and 45W i5 and i7 models seem quite good. There isn't too much data on the internet, but they seemed to offer >90% gaming performance of a standard chip, with that crazy low tdp.
 
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