Stalled ~7L console-style case concept (and possible future NCASE product)

Necere

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Feb 22, 2015
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UPDATE December 2017: Further development on my version of this concept is on indefinite hold. @Wahaha360 has started development on his own version for those interested.


Original post follows below:

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This is something I've been working on lately, a console-style case (about the size of an XBOX One), designed for moderate power/TDP builds (think GTX 1060/1070-class GPUs). The goals for this design are to have a compact, capable gaming machine, in a slim/console form factor, with effective system airflow and dust filtration.

Preliminary specs:
  • Dimensions: 75 x 340 x 280mm, 7.1L
  • CPU cooler: up to 47mm
  • GPU: up to 175mm
  • PSU: FlexATX
  • Drives: 2x 2.5" (+ODD in alternate version)
  • Fans: 2x 120x15mm (one shares CPU cooler space), dust filtered

WIP render:



Internals (components only; no mounting brackets yet):



Airflow concept works like this: air enters the two slim 120mm intake fans on the top, providing cooling to the CPU/motherboard/drives, then flows to the left past and through the PSU and GPU, exhausting out the left side vents. The only ventilation holes are those on the top and left side, so the airflow path is pretty well defined. There's about a 20mm gap between the case floor and the GPU, so it's got enough room for intake inside the case without needing any ventilation on the bottom.


Alternate version with slim optical drive support (requested by a few people):



Black version. Thinking of different finishes for the top cover vs. the rest of the case (brushed or satin finish for the top, matte black for the rest), for a two-tone effect:




Size comparison with a Node 202:




Let me address a few things right off the bat:
  • GPU size is a limitation, but the size and cooling potential of the chassis is best suited for lower power/lower TDP parts, so it would only prevent you from using parts you really shouldn't anyway.
  • Yes, FlexATX PSUs have small fans which can be loud under load. Limiting the case to short GPUs is a way of enforcing an upper limit on power usage, which should help with fan noise. The system airflow is also designed to feed into the PSU, taking some of the burden off its internal fan. Nevertheless, I'll be testing a couple of different Flex units and if they turn out to be unsatisfactory, we won't proceed.
  • We will probably have to offer the PSU for sale alongside the case.
  • Given the stricter PSU and GPU limitations, why choose this over another ~7L case? Basically, this case trades off wider component support for dedicated case fans, directed system airflow, and dust filtering. It's also not as deep as some other cases, which might make it preferable for a system that sits on a desk.

Comments welcome.
 
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buLL

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Mar 11, 2017
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Wow, that black version looks awesome! For me, simpler design = better. Cant wait to see how that works out
 
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flacman

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Feb 23, 2016
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Love the comparison to the Node 202. Looking forward to seeing how this chassis progresses :)
 

Kmpkt

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If it's worth anything, the IO on the solid bottom band with the optical drive looks much better than it does in the isolated panel on the first render. Regardless of the presence or absence of an optical drive, I'd personally like to see you keep the positioning of the IO on the bottom.
 

CC Ricers

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The console style case is back, and it looks better than ever! I quite like the two tone black and white design, it reminds me of an XBox One S kind of :)
 
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|||

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I'd think positioning the FlexATX PSU along side the motherboard instead of the GPU would give more flexibility in letting end-users trade-off GPU size versus storage needs.
 

Necere

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As I mentioned in the CustomMOD Slim thread, this type of chassis would be awesome with a mount like the In Win chassis I link below has…

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIABFS59N8268

W360 has been on about something like that as well. Some way of VESA mounting a case behind a monitor, essentially. It's an idea, but it would require some engineering to do properly.

I'd think positioning the FlexATX PSU along side the motherboard instead of the GPU would give more flexibility in letting end-users trade-off GPU size versus storage needs.
Sure, of course. But I arranged the components that way for a reason. Quoting myself from [H]:
Airflow concept works like this: air enters the two slim 120mm intake fans on the top, providing cooling to the CPU/motherboard/drives, then flows to the left past and through the PSU and GPU, exhausting out the left side vents. The only ventilation holes are those on the top and left side, so the airflow path is pretty well defined. There's about a 20mm gap between the case floor and the GPU, so it's got enough room for intake inside the case without needing any ventilation on the bottom.
So the PSU location is actually essential to the overall system airflow scheme.
 

iFreilicht

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Feb 28, 2015
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Sure, of course. But I arranged the components that way for a reason. Quoting myself from [H]:
So the PSU location is actually essential to the overall system airflow scheme.
I think that is very, very good idea. FlexATX for now should only be used with low-power GPUs, as you noted. It also looks like you don't allow for wider-than reference cards to cement that limitation. Is this correct, or am I looking at it wrong?

Either way, I'm glad someone starts to tackle FlexATX cases who might have the force to actually go through with it.
 
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Ceros_X

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Mar 8, 2016
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While you are in the planning phase, please consider adding mounting points that allow us to utilize an HDPLEX 300W instead of a FlexATX. I'd also like to be able to place 1-2 3.5" HDDs in there instead of an optical drive (if using something like a PICO PSU) but that's just me. I think supporting DC PSUs is a must for a lot of the SFF community.
 
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Phuncz

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I generally think of ODDs as absolete on SFF cases but the second design makes a very nice trade-off where the design is not affected by the inclusion of the drive. I also prefer the second design a lot more due to it looking more balanced. Especially with the stand it looks very attractive.

BTW: Silverstone has an interesting product to complement it, should no ODD be desired: http://silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=717&area=en
 
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neocmetal

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Mar 1, 2017
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Just a thought, curved edges instead of squared corners. Like how streacom does its cases.
 

HansWursT619

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Feb 22, 2016
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I love the design, especially the two color/texture design in the later renders.

Do you think those 2 slim 120 fans can create a sufficient airflow through the case? Their static pressure at reasonable speeds is minimal and I doubt it would really push the GPUs heat out the side.

I feel like that extending the vents all over the top panel would result in cooler temps, as the air can escape on its own.
 

Colinreay

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Aug 28, 2016
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Looks great Ncere! Personally I'm a huge fan of the design with the ODD drive. Even if it didn't have the ODD that little black bar design at the bottom looks amazing.

Side note - that looks like the Node 202 that I uploaded to the Sketchup Warehouse a while back. Glad to see it's being put to use!
 

TheDreamingMonk

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Sep 17, 2016
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That second silver w/ black bottom bar render would look right at home under my television... The matching silver M1 on my desk needs a friend!
 

alexep7

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Jan 30, 2017
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Completely agree with what has been said before, the 2nd version looks amazing, especially the dark one, even if the ODD seems unnecessary.
 

CC Ricers

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If you don't need an ODD in that space, can you use that space to mount an additional 2.5" HDD or two?

I'm also with @Ceros_X in adding support for the HDPLEX power supplies. It would be a good idea for people that prefer a more silent PSU option.
 

Karamazovmm

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Mar 15, 2016
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Why don't we let the vents be on the same face? I know that the riser cost is going to increase, however shouldn't that lead to a better performance?

I understand the psu limitation and your design choices, however doing what I mentioned would lead to people pushing the envelope, instead of being tied down due to cost decisions
 

Necere

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I think that is very, very good idea. FlexATX for now should only be used with low-power GPUs, as you noted. It also looks like you don't allow for wider-than reference cards to cement that limitation. Is this correct, or am I looking at it wrong?
It does allow for taller cards, actually. Many if not most of the short "ITX" cards available are taller than reference height, so it's important that the case be able to support them.

While you are in the planning phase, please consider adding mounting points that allow us to utilize an HDPLEX 300W instead of a FlexATX. I'd also like to be able to place 1-2 3.5" HDDs in there instead of an optical drive (if using something like a PICO PSU) but that's just me. I think supporting DC PSUs is a must for a lot of the SFF community.
Support for internal AC-DC/DC-DC is something I'm considering. There's no standard for it though, unlike flexATX, which makes me hesitant. If it supported HDPLEX's current models, it would only work with those and there's no guarantee they'll be available in the future.

The issue with a 3.5" drive where the ODD/PSU are is there isn't enough space for the drive to clear the motherboard and GPU. The only real viable location for a 3.5" HDD is in place of the GPU.

Just a thought, curved edges instead of squared corners. Like how streacom does its cases.
Larger bend radius generally makes the space within the radius less usable, and is problematic for this design. The fan bracket, for example, needs the full length of the case from front flange to rear. If there's a radius on the front edge, the fan bracket needs to be moved away from the front, which in turn requires the case to be deeper. Likewise, if the bottom front edge has a bigger radius, the front I/O can't be as close to the edge, which cuts into the internal space for things like drives.

Do you think those 2 slim 120 fans can create a sufficient airflow through the case? Their static pressure at reasonable speeds is minimal and I doubt it would really push the GPUs heat out the side.
It's definitely one of the concerns I have with this design. You know, I've talked about this issue myself. I've maintained that slim fans, because of their lower static pressure, don't work well as primary intakes - especially with filters and heatsinks they have to push against. Yet here I am with a design that does just that. So how am I justifying it? Two things:
  • All the fans in the case work together to get the air moving in the same direction, more or less. The air comes in through the two 120mm intake fans, takes an immediate right turn, where the PSU and GPU fans are drawing in that same air and pushing it out the side (and to some extent the back with the GPU). In vertical orientation you get the additional effect of stack effect cooling ("heat rising"), which isn't a major factor by itself, but it's one less way for heat to build up, and one less thing the fans have to work against.
  • Lower TDPs = less cooling needed. The size limitation on the GPU (and the CPU heatsink, to some extent) puts a ceiling on TDP, which means less overall heat to get rid of, which means less cooling and less airflow needed.
How well it works in practice remains to be seen, of course. I don't expect a miracle, but I'm hoping temperatures and noise levels will be reasonable.

Side note - that looks like the Node 202 that I uploaded to the Sketchup Warehouse a while back. Glad to see it's being put to use!
It very likely is. I just pulled it off of there the other day when someone on hardforum requested a comparison. Nice work on the model!

If you don't need an ODD in that space, can you use that space to mount an additional 2.5" HDD or two?
I'd have to work out the mounting for it, but there is of course room there for one 2.5" in place of the ODD.

Why don't we let the vents be on the same face? I know that the riser cost is going to increase, however shouldn't that lead to a better performance?

I understand the psu limitation and your design choices, however doing what I mentioned would lead to people pushing the envelope, instead of being tied down due to cost decisions
Do you understand the airflow design, and how everything works together to get the air going the same way through the case? To be clear, there are no vents on the underside of the case. Only the top panel and left side are ventilated.
 
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Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Support for internal AC-DC/DC-DC is something I'm considering. There's no standard for it though, unlike flexATX, which makes me hesitant. If it supported HDPLEX's current models, it would only work with those and there's no guarantee they'll be available in the future.
My upcoming unit as well as HDPlex's 300W DC-ATX will have standardized threaded mounting holes on the backplate. I will be making the standard available here for all case designers and will also be forwarding it to the fine people at G-Unique if they want to collaborate on helping us standardize DC-DC board. As a case designer, all you will need is four small holes to retain the screws.

Also @Necere, what wattages are you thinking of supporting with respect to Flex ATX power supplies? I am also collaborating with Larry on a load sharing device that would allow the linkage of multiple HDPlex AC-DC units. Additionally my solution will allow daisy chaining for either 460W and 760W capacities, while Larry is going to be offering a 500W version of his DC-DC shortly. Perhaps this could provide a nice alternative to the Flex?
 
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