Concept 3D printable 5L-class FlexATX/ITX GPU case project

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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I currently have a Lazer3D LZ7 build (7700K, 1070 ITX, SF450 PSU) that I'm upgrading, and one of the major things I wanted was... to replace the case with something lighter than the acrylic, and more shatter-resistant since I already broke several pieces off of it during travelling, had to replace a whole panel and some other cosmetics fell apart.

I've seen the LTT review (on Floatplane only for now) of the Velka cases and fell in love particularly with the Velka 3... but after careful review I found some points that annoyed me, which would likely work with the Velka 5 but where it made no sense to go that "big"...

Top fans that are reportedly noisy, and I'd also like to be able to fit one, or better 2 15mm 2.5" HDDs in there, and even 1 looks like it's not going to happen with the Velka 3, too thick.

So I've started having a look and doing some preliminary CAD, and based on the same "style" and placement as expected it looks like I'd be able to make something between the Velka 3 and 5 (4.7-5L) which fits 2 nice and quiet Noctua 92x15mm fans on top, and my 2 15mm drives on the front plate. In essence it's about 10mm longer, probably 15 taller, and 3mm wider which for me is a more than acceptable compromise over "absolute smallest" given the benefits.

Given the size and with some tricks the plan is to make something that would be fully 3D printable on a standard 200x200mm print bed. Obviously it's not nice aluminium anymore, but alas... printed out of polycarbonate it should at least be more resistant than acrylic.

Still a lot to do, add support for some parts, reinforcement ribs etc but in principle it should be relatively sound. All the pieces will get "extensions" towards the sides, so that the side panels don't exceed the 200x200 dimensions. It likely will get a little taller becasue of the hard drive cables 😕 Will try to slant them first to see if I can get them out of the way of each other.

Planned loadout is:
- Asrock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC
- i9-9900K
- NH-L9i
- 32GB DDR4-2400
- MSI GTX1070 ITX Aero
- 2x 1TB ADATA SX8200 Pro NVMe SSDs, RAID0
- 2x 2.5" 5TB Seagate Barracuda HDDs, RAID0
- Athena Power 500W FlexATX PSU, fan replaced with Noctua 40x20mm
- 2x Noctua 92x15 fans




 
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Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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And after some work shortening PSU wires (thankfully could avoid having to do the mainboard cable, there's enough room to shove it under the GPU...) and fan wiring it even runs, so I didn't kill anything and my Chinese PCIe riser works :)


Can't pull too hard on it though, the fitting parts are PLA and would sure melt/deform. Once finished it's going to be printed in polycarbonate.

A couple more quirks to fix, then figure out the side panel situation and it's going to be a done deal :D Not looking forward to assemble the stuff... the HDDs aren't in below but they fit, albeit VERY painfully...


It's funny, it's so dense it feels like it weighs a ton, but it's only 3.4kg so far - 1kg less than my previous LZ7 build yet it feels heavier

 

robbee

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Sep 24, 2016
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Looking good! Even though I love 3D printed cases, i'd be a bit worried that it might be even more fragile to travel with than an acrylic case.

Out of interest, how thick are those walls and what are the infill and perimeter settings?
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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Thanks!

Figured out something for the sides, and "production" prints are running, hopefully I can get everything printed and assembled today.
Had to add 1mm in height to try and stress the pcie riser bend a bit less. Going to be welcome for the HDD connections too, with a reduction of the top plate thickness I'm getting an extra 2mm inside.

Dimensions are 198x242x100, volume 4.8L.



 
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Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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Looking good! Even though I love 3D printed cases, i'd be a bit worried that it might be even more fragile to travel with than an acrylic case.
Nah, the problem with acrylic is that it's fairly rigid but not impact resistant and easily shatters if it takes a hit, which happened for me. Not the case for the commonly used FDM printed materials, they're a lot more flexible. It's certainly not going to shatter, but on the other hand it will be more flexible. I count on the structure for everything to hold itself together and from yesterday's test build it should work pretty well.

Out of interest, how thick are those walls and what are the infill and perimeter settings?
I have 20% infill and 3 perimeters/top/bottom layers, printing at 0.2mm. Walls are 3mm on the perimeter except under PSU and on top side (2mm) since I count on the PSU and fans to add the rigidity and under bottom HDD (1mm) because I need all the room I can between the 2 HDDs for the connections.... Sides are 2mm.
 

BaK

Master of Cramming
May 17, 2016
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Nice proto, well done! :thumb:
Looking forward the polycarbonate 3D print!

- Athena Power 500W FlexATX PSU, fan replaced with Noctua 40x20mm
How silent is the PSU with the fan mod?

And after some work shortening PSU wires (thankfully could avoid having to do the mainboard cable, there's enough room to shove it under the GPU...) and fan wiring it even runs, so I didn't kill anything and my Chinese PCIe riser works :)
An M2427 from @Thehack would help you a lot with the PSU cables!
Is that an ADT PCIe riser?
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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How silent is the PSU with the fan mod?
Very faint, remains the loudest thing and a bit high pitched when it runs full speed, but totally bearable. Less airflow, but the air still only comes out about 12°C above ambient so I think it's OK.
I've now flipped it to blow into the PSU and hope it'll be helped a bit by the case fans. Plan is to only have the CPU and PSU fan as intakes (well and GPU but some of that goes out the PCIE slots), and the 2 "big" top fans pulling some negative pressure. Will just put a little extra intake over the VRM heatsink on the cover but apart from that all closed.

Is that an ADT PCIe riser?
Yep, looks like it, there was no brand displayed where I purchased it but that's the logo on it.

An M2427 from @Thehack would help you a lot with the PSU cables!
That's pretty neat indeed!
Not really feeling like rewiring the whole PSU right now though... but then it would save maybe around 100gr and some wiring hassle... will think about it
 
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deeree

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Mar 4, 2017
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Will it be possible to buy the final files so I will be able to print it myself?
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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Why not, will see if I'm happy enough with the result I guess 😄
And it will only have been tested with the gear I have
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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There we go.
It's not going to win beauty contests, but that was never the goal, it does its job of packing as much power and storage as possible in the smallest/lightest package, which it pretty much does with its 9900K/GTX1070/12TB storage in 4.8l and 3.5kg.
Seems sturdy, fastening worked out as hoped.
I will replace the power button though, only thing I found in my parts bin 😄





 
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BaK

Master of Cramming
May 17, 2016
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Pics from last thursday made it look way cleaner. The black has now some whitish parts...
What happened, different lights, other cam?

Congrats on the achievement anyway, really nice little full packed box!
And oh, keep the power button, it reminds me of a time bomb activation! XD
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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The back plate has white spots, stuck to the plate too much. Others are just reflections.

You're the 2nd to tell me that about the button :p I'm mostly worried of breaking it in my suitcase next time I travel.

Was really hard to shoehorn things, especially around the HDDs since all the power cables have to go around there as well.

In terms of temps I get the same as outside of the case, so I'm pretty happy. VRM cooling opening works, that heatsink's basically always cold now. Very happy with the sound as well, of course you hear the fans at high load but it's not obnoxious and it's perfectly quiet at idle/low load.
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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The PC has been in service for 7 weeks now, I've travelled twice with it (7 flights in my suitcase) and it's been running at full load for several accumulated days, and everything is fine. I'm back home for a few weeks now and will be doing a few little changes I hadn't had time for before I left and an upgrade I thought of in the meantime.

Firstly I noticed the reason my case backplate wasn't fitting right (can see in the previous photos that the motherboard tray tab wasn't actually fitting in the slot) was because the graphics card was pushing on it. Can't bring the card further back as it's already touching the hard drive on the other end, so I got rid of the PCIe bracket and integrated the holding points and cutouts in the backplate. Also holds the GPU in place better. I'm also moving the power button to the back so that the front is flat and I can lay the PC on it in my backpack without risking to break the button.



The square hole below the graphics card is for the end port of a 7-port USB3 hub I want to integrate, never have enough USB ports. It will fit nicely under the GPU with 6 ports on the side and the 7th at the back. It should plug into the motherboard's front port header with a short adapter and cable that I'll hopefully be able to fit somewhere, and I'll Y the PSU's 5V line to power it. I'll have to redesign the GPU side panel to hold it as well as the 2nd port of the front panel adapter. Should give me a total of 14 USB3 ports, 7 of which on a hub which is fine because several of the things I use like usb-serial adapters and dev tools are USB2 or don't need that much bandwidth.



I'd also like to redesign the way the side panels are fastened and add captive nuts like for the backplate/top interface instead of the current way of just screwing into plastic, but that means reprinting the entire case and more importantly taking everything apart and shoehorning it back together again, which I'm not so thrrilled about, so I'm not sure I'm ready for it just yet...
 
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BaK

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May 17, 2016
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Good job, nice improvments all around! :thumb:

What is the thin rectangular hole between the GPU ports and the mobo IO shield for?
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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A slot for the peg on the motherboard tray to slide into. Whole motherboard tray is held by slots and pegs around it.



Just got my Startech USB3 mobo header -> 2 port adapter and 15cm USB3 cable and they fit juuuuust right to mount the USB hub, so will have to go find an idea to hold the hub to the side panel now.

When the rigidity of the front panel cable is almost preventing you from closing the panel the build is thin... looks like the 2nd USB will have to come out on the front, no freaking choice IF I can use it at all...



The cable to the hub also wouldn't fit if there was 1mm less:



Everything unplanned fitting down to the mm seems to be a recurrent theme in this build, guess I got lucky...
 
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ignsvn

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Apr 4, 2016
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Just curious; you said durability is a problem with LZ7 (acrylic) - in general is polycarbonate something more durable than acrylic?
 

Kilrah

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Feb 20, 2017
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Not if you treat it normally... but acrylic is pretty rigid and very prone to shattering if too much effort is put on it.
Since I travel with my SFF build and carry it a lot around it's invariably going to get banged, with my LZ7 the GPU panel got shattered once in my suitcase, and one of the bars of the GPU vent grills on the HDD-side panel just broke in my backpack becasue once there was something that ended up under and pushed on it.

PC/PETG you will never shatter, they're flexible and tough enough to absorb the shocks.

I've actually changed materials a bit, now I only have the motherboard plate and PSU brackets in PC (things that are suspected to most heat), the rest is PETG since it's basically impossible to print the top/bottom parts in PC and they don't get warm enough to need the heat resistance anyway.