Concept Billet Aluminium - 6.4L ITX Case

One Works

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One Works
Oct 3, 2019
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First, what most people want to see with any concept, the pictures





The specs as they stand. Currently in the early planning phase so anything and everything could change.

Case Construction: Main body machined from a single piece of 6061 T651 Aluminium
Dimensions: 390 x 240 x 62mm - 5.8L
Motherboard: Mini ITX
CPU Cooler: Designed around Noctua NH-L9
GPU: Up to 220mm 2 slot. 130mm height, possible requirement for slim power plug depending on the card.
Power supply support: HD Plex 400w with internal AD-DC
Fans: Possibly 40mm fan on side of motherboard

Now the explanation.

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” There are many versions of the quote, but it describes the idea behind this case well. I have many tools, including a hammer, but my business is based around one main tool. The Haas VF-3SS, 6.1 tonne of Vertical Machining Centre. As such, to me, every problem looks like it should be carved out of billet aluminium.

A lot of high end laptops and tablets have their bodies machined from billet. So, why not a desktop case? It would be the ultimate high end finish, with only one panel line for access to the internal components, and even that could be accurately machined to have it’s visual impact minimised. I initially had the idea a few years ago when I first got the Haas, back then, they why not was pretty simple to answer. With a much smaller market and limited selection of ITX components, Micro ATX was the mainstream small form factor. A block of aluminium to machine a Micro ATX case out of would be more than most would ever be willing to spend on a case, and that’s before you even start machining it. Today, with more and more manufactures supporting the ITX standard, components are readily available, and you can easily build a sub 10L system which has more than enough power for most applications.

For the last 3 years I have had access to a machine that I have dreamed about having since I first started looking into CNC machining at 16 years old (31 now). So far, I have not made a single cool thing with it for myself. That needs to change. Since I’ve always been interested in computers and case modding, having completed a few crazy custom built cases over the years, this seemed like the perfect project. For now the plan is a one off case for myself.

Questions, comments, feedback, messages to let me know I’m crazy. I look forward to reading what everyone has to say. Thanks in advance to everyone who takes the time to read and comment.
 
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Thehack

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I would use a flex sized psu placed where the dcdc is and extend the depth of the case to take a longer card. I can probably help you out with the psu situation if need a 12v unit instead of flex (400w but can be cooled with a bigger fan). The dcdc unit as is takes up a big foot print but not a lot of valuable volume.

I too also dream of a milled chassis, but machine and programing costs would be more than I can ever handle ;).
 

sgsharkie

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Dec 16, 2019
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Love it.

Shape and design is similar to to Modivio cases but with the bonus of being metal rather than the acrylic.
 

robbee

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Looks like a really nice concept. I own a very similar Modivio xcase S, and if there's one thing i would change about this layout, it would be to increase the gap between the gpu and side panel. Being so close to it causes unwanted turbulence.

Basing it around the HDPlex is a good call imho. Flex ATX has good availability and is easy to use but is too darn loud. 12V internal AC-DC may be too big of a challenge to some. HDPlex offers a nice balance between availability and ease of use.
 

AURMEND

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Nice work, I'm curious on how you will connect the sides to the bottom
 

One Works

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That looks awesome
Thanks, appreciate the kind words.

I would use a flex sized psu placed where the dcdc is and extend the depth of the case to take a longer card. I can probably help you out with the psu situation if need a 12v unit instead of flex (400w but can be cooled with a bigger fan). The dcdc unit as is takes up a big foot print but not a lot of valuable volume.

I too also dream of a milled chassis, but machine and programing costs would be more than I can ever handle ;).
Yeah, I did look into options for going with Flex ATX or SFX/SFX-L for the power supply and utilising the additional space for the GPU as I did originally want to stick with a more standard power supply solution. I found there are a large number of graphics cards which fit the shorter length and so the additional space could often end up wasted. The other issue I have is for every litre of volume I add, it adds about $30USD to the cost of raw material haha.

At the moment I've designed around what I want personally. Would be interesting to get some more feedback to see what the popular opinion is. Just in case there are enough other people out there mad enough to want a case milled from billet and I end up going into production.

Definitely would not be looking at a milled chassis if I didn't have the equipment to do it myself. I know roughly what I'd charge someone to do this as a one off, and I would not pay that for a case myself 😅

Love it.

Shape and design is similar to to Modivio cases but with the bonus of being metal rather than the acrylic.
Thanks! Just took a look at the Modivio cases, shocking how similar it has ended up having not seen them before. I feel like I'd get on well with the designer of the Modivio case, we clearly have a similar thought process haha

Looks like a really nice concept. I own a very similar Modivio xcase S, and if there's one thing i would change about this layout, it would be to increase the gap between the gpu and side panel. Being so close to it causes unwanted turbulence.

Basing it around the HDPlex is a good call imho. Flex ATX has good availability and is easy to use but is too darn loud. 12V internal AC-DC may be too big of a challenge to some. HDPlex offers a nice balance between availability and ease of use.
Wow, that's super interesting. The Modivio case was not one that I came across when I was looking into various cases that are out there. It is amazing how similar the design has ended up! The main external shape of this has come from what is practical to mill internally.

That was one of the issues I found with Flex ATX when looking into it, the need to modify the PSU to use a Noctua fan to quieten things down. There's at least one out there selling this as a ready to go option though.

Definitely a big call to include the AC-DC internally. Main reason behind that was not personally wanting a large external power brick and also finding that the Plex AC-DC unit is priced competitively with the external power bricks anyway. I also noticed there are quite a few people trying to fit the unit into their Skyreach 4 Mini cases which works to an extent, I believe it limits the height of GPU that can be used.

Nice work, I'm curious on how you will connect the sides to the bottom
Thanks. The main body of the case is to be milled out of a single piece of aluminium. So the sides and bottom will be one piece. As for the one removable side/top panel with the venting holes... I haven't quite got to designing the mounting mechanism yet. Wanted to get some feedback on the overall concept before getting into all the little details.
 
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She loved E

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Yesssss, I love it!

Will the 10-15 mm shift of the GPU to contain the bracket within the case cause any issues getting the riser cable to fit? I don't know that I've seen anyone do this, but it seems like an elegant way to hide the bracket.

I'll take mine in copper please.
 

Tazpr

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Aug 7, 2018
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Love the design and principle behind this - sticking to the topic of Flex-ATX for a moment - could you reduce the overall volume by mounting a flex-atx unit where the HD-PLEX is and removing the space where the AC-DC is entirely? This would let you move the GPU closer to the motherboard and potentially reduce your overall cost.
 

One Works

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One Works
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Yesssss, I love it!

Will the 10-15 mm shift of the GPU to contain the bracket within the case cause any issues getting the riser cable to fit? I don't know that I've seen anyone do this, but it seems like an elegant way to hide the bracket.

I'll take mine in copper please.
Thanks for the response. That's something I'm concerned about actually. I don't have a riser cable here to test it out. Went with that design for now as it keeps the back of the case clean and and also gets the GPU closer to the side without interfering with the round internal corner. Will definitely have to get my hands on a riser cable and see if it'll work though in practice though, unless someone on here has already tried it.

Oh wow, I can only imagine how much a chunk of copper that large would cost 😂

Love the design and principle behind this - sticking to the topic of Flex-ATX for a moment - could you reduce the overall volume by mounting a flex-atx unit where the HD-PLEX is and removing the space where the AC-DC is entirely? This would let you move the GPU closer to the motherboard and potentially reduce your overall cost.
Interesting... I had looked into it, but for some reason now that I'm looking into it again it does seem like a better idea. Volume works out about the same, with some tweaking I'm sure I could bring it down to the same but with an additional 40mm or so clearance for the graphics card. Dimensions of the configuration below are 350 x 270 x 62mm - 5.86L

 

Thehack

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Thanks for the response. That's something I'm concerned about actually. I don't have a riser cable here to test it out. Went with that design for now as it keeps the back of the case clean and and also gets the GPU closer to the side without interfering with the round internal corner. Will definitely have to get my hands on a riser cable and see if it'll work though in practice though, unless someone on here has already tried it.

Oh wow, I can only imagine how much a chunk of copper that large would cost 😂



Interesting... I had looked into it, but for some reason now that I'm looking into it again it does seem like a better idea. Volume works out about the same, with some tweaking I'm sure I could bring it down to the same but with an additional 40mm or so clearance for the graphics card. Dimensions of the configuration below are 350 x 270 x 62mm - 5.86L

Good work. This is exactly why I mentioned Flex ATX. You get more GPU choices, usually the more easily available ones. You also aren't beholden to a single PSU.

HDPLEX AC-DC + 400 DC-ATX should also fit in that region as well.
 

RenG

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Jul 17, 2016
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How about starting smaller? Maybe a similar case for APU? It will be a mac mini killer. Count me in!
 
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One Works

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One Works
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Good work. This is exactly why I mentioned Flex ATX. You get more GPU choices, usually the more easily available ones. You also aren't beholden to a single PSU.

HDPLEX AC-DC + 400 DC-ATX should also fit in that region as well.
The AC-DC portion of the HDPlex setup is quite a bit longer than the width of the motherboard so would eat into the Graphics card area.

May have to increase the size of the case slightly to allow for a standard C14 inlet rather than the C6 I have currently used. Now that the length of GPU has been increased to 260mm the temptation is to go larger to fit full size cards. Although, there is at least on 2080 Super from MSI that would fit within the 260mm.

How about starting smaller? Maybe a similar case for APU? It will be a mac mini killer. Count me in!

Since this started out as a project for myself I hadn't really considered an APU as my workload requires a dedicated GPU. If I were to produce a case it would end up quite pricey which may not go well with the lower overall build cost of an APU based system. I think that may be why it seems as if most of the cases for APU systems are aimed at the budget end of things?

Having said all that. A Mac Mini killer would be cool. What motherboard standard and power supply would you design for if going down the APU route?
 

Goatee

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Jun 22, 2018
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Thanks for the response. That's something I'm concerned about actually. I don't have a riser cable here to test it out. Went with that design for now as it keeps the back of the case clean and and also gets the GPU closer to the side without interfering with the round internal corner. Will definitely have to get my hands on a riser cable and see if it'll work though in practice though, unless someone on here has already tried it.

Oh wow, I can only imagine how much a chunk of copper that large would cost 😂



Interesting... I had looked into it, but for some reason now that I'm looking into it again it does seem like a better idea. Volume works out about the same, with some tweaking I'm sure I could bring it down to the same but with an additional 40mm or so clearance for the graphics card. Dimensions of the configuration below are 350 x 270 x 62mm - 5.86L

Cool design.

Would bringing the card to left hand side (riser routed under the itx board) be an option? If thoughtfully designed it may allow PIO boards to be supported natively as well....

edit:
The AC-DC portion of the HDPlex setup is quite a bit longer than the width of the motherboard so would eat into the Graphics card area.
This may also be negated by moving the GPU To the other side.
 
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One Works

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Cool design.

Would bringing the card to left hand side (riser routed under the itx board) be an option? If thoughtfully designed it may allow PIO boards to be supported natively as well....

edit:

This may also be negated by moving the GPU To the other side.
I don't see why that wouldn't work. Main goal in terms of thickness of case is to keep it under about 64mm the Aluminium plate I intend to use is readily available in 65mm, next up from that would be 80mm which would result in a huge amount of wastage. So the only potential issue would be running out of height with the additional clearance under the motherboard that may be required.

Sorry, a bit out of touch here. Could you explain a bit further what you mean by PIO boards? Google wasn't helpful this time around.

That's a good point, the additional clearance from having the GPU notch would possibly help if someone wanted to use the HDPlex setup, but would even help allow more clearance for cables with a Flex ATX power supply.
 

Goatee

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Sure,

here is an example board -https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/B150M-PIO/

More posted here: https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/list-of-motherboards-with-angled-pcie-slot-pio.1657/

They are niche (within the SFF niche) and mainly designed for the China cyber cafe world.

The boards are slightly bigger than itx but have the PCIE connector on the board edge, rather than in the conventional spot. This avoids the use of a riser in the sort of layout We have been talking about.

interference with the PSU in its current location (other than HDPLEX configs) might be a concern due to the longer board.

I have used a HDPLEX flexible riser under a mb with no additional clearance requirements.
 

RenG

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Jul 17, 2016
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Having said all that. A Mac Mini killer would be cool. What motherboard standard and power supply would you design for if going down the APU route?
Just standard mini-ITX mobo with HDPlex 200W DC-ATX would be wonderful. Sort of like Realan E-W60 case but milled from a billet of aluminum.
 

One Works

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One Works
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Sure,

here is an example board -https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/B150M-PIO/

More posted here: https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/list-of-motherboards-with-angled-pcie-slot-pio.1657/

They are niche (within the SFF niche) and mainly designed for the China cyber cafe world.

The boards are slightly bigger than itx but have the PCIE connector on the board edge, rather than in the conventional spot. This avoids the use of a riser in the sort of layout We have been talking about.

interference with the PSU in its current location (other than HDPLEX configs) might be a concern due to the longer board.

I have used a HDPLEX flexible riser under a mb with no additional clearance requirements.
Oh wow, didn't know they existed. They are a strange configuration, looks as if it would be quite a challenge to make a design compatible with both that form factor and standard Mini ITX.

That's good to know regarding the HDPlex riser. I'll take a look and see how that layout looks tomorrow.

Just standard mini-ITX mobo with HDPlex 200W DC-ATX would be wonderful. Sort of like Realan E-W60 case but milled from a billet of aluminum.
With a 200w PSU like the HDPlex mounting directly to the 24pin connector on the motherboard it would be a fairly simple design. Motherboard mounting, power pass through, power button and maybe some front I/O. With the cost of M.2 NVMe SSDs these days I wouldn't be sure I would even bother adding mounting for 2.5" drives 🤔
 
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