Build in progress: Portable PC?

janas19

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
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Hello and welcome to my humble thread. There are two parts: first, a work-in-progress “Portable PC” that measures under 5L and attempts to be a desktop. Second, the results of my comparison between the Intel i7-2600 stock cooler and the Prolimatech Samuel 17, which I won in the anniversary giveaway contest. I would like to shout out Aibohphobia and all the other mods for the awesome job they do, a huge thanks to all of you!


Without further ado, lets get to the build log. So far my log isn't very fancy, just the essentials. This is a work-in-progress, so it's definitely not complete and I welcome your feedback.
 
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janas19

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
109
39
Portable PC Build Log (Work In Progress)

How did this project begin?

Some background: I currently own a Silverstone Sugo SG05, an 11L case that came out some years ago. At the time it was considered a groundbreaking design and very popular with SFF enthusiasts. More recently, I've noticed PC parts getting smaller than ever and seeing that my SG05 has so much unused space, I wondered can I build a PC that is smaller than a console system and would fit in a backpack, aka a “Portable PC?” This idea was both intriguing and challenging, and something I've wanted to try (within my tight budget). Thus the project started.

Parts

Here is a list of parts I have at the moment. Most of these are temporary holdovers and will be upgraded at some point in the future.

  • Travla C287 “Car PC” aluminum alloy chassis
  • PicoPSU-120
  • Migrus FSP120 AC-DC adapter
  • Intel DQ67EP motherboard
  • Intel i7-2600 processor
  • EVGA GTX 750 Ti
  • Adex Electronics PE-FLEX16R-A riser
  • Western Digital 2.5” Scorpio Black 250GB HDD

Construction, Phase 1

Today I took pictures of my parts and putting everything together for the first time. Would everything fit together right and work as intended? Keep reading and see for yourself!

Travla C287 (front)



This is definitely not a new case and still has front USB 2.0 ports. It appears to be an aluminum alloy, but not the high grade aluminum alloy I have found in Lian Li cases. Still, the overall build quality is quite good and I was pleased by attention to small details (such as four anti-vibration washers for the slim ODD).


14oz Tomato can for scale



Back



The back photo shows there is one thumb screw which allows the entire top panel to be removed in a simple tool-less manner.

Interior (bare)



Interior, all parts installed



Installation was surprisingly easy. It took less than 10 minutes to install all the necessary pieces of a fully functioning PC. Still, due to the height of the stock Intel cooler, it was necessary to remove the top bracket which holds the 2.5” HDD and slim ODD. Because of this, I had to lay the HDD in the front space temporarily. I think this setup could work as a home PC, however I would definitely not want to move it around with a loose 2.5” drive inside. The PicoPSU suspends the need for a large ATX wire harness, giving it a clean look.

Phase 1, test



With all parts installed, I fired it up and voila! boots to Windows just fine. So far, so good. I run a few tests and everything appears to function normally.

Conclusion


Because I only have the PicoPSU-120 currently and plan eventually on upgrading to an HDPlex-160W PSU, I decided not to test the Portable PC with a discrete GPU as of today. Hopefully as I can acquire the other parts necessary for this project, I will update the build in the future with some gaming results.

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions or comments!
 
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janas19

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
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Prolimatech Samuel 17 winner

For the second part of this thread, I will post pictures and the results of my tests with the Prolimatech Samuel 17 I received from Aibophobia. I have definitely come to appreciate what a beautiful and powerful little cooler this is, and perhaps you can too!

Unboxing the shipment and photos

Outer case



As you can see the outer case has attractive colors and details about the cooler.

Inner case



Prolimatech kept the contents simple. There is the cooler itself, a small hardware kit, and instruction sheet. Here you can see the six nickel-plated heatpipes and a large stainless steel fin array, with threaded holes for 120mm fans on top.

Hardware kit contents



One detail I like about the Samuel 17 is Prolimatech includes two sets of fan screws, one for regular width and one for slim width fans. This makes it very convenient to use either type. There are also brackets for LGA 1366, 775, 1155-6, and AM2 sockets. A 2oz syringe of thermal paste is included for installation.

Installation, round 2!



Here you can see the photo after everything is installed and ready to go. But why “Round 2” I hear you wondering. Well, in Round 1 I installed the cooler and everything else inside the case, but I forgot to plug in the 4-pin 12V connector to the motherboard first! With the Samuel 17 cooler installed, it is impossible to connect the 12V plug in my motherboard (Intel DQ67EP) after the fact, due to there being less than 15mm clearance to work in.

No clearance



Having fat fingers and no tools, I had to remove everything and re-do the entire process over again. But I did learn a valuable lesson! For all the mini-ITX motherboard owners out there with big 120mm coolers like the Samuel 17, make sure to plug in your fan and power headers before installing your cooler, if you aren't sure.

Result:




After rummaging through my parts boxes I was able to find a spare Scythe Slipstream 120mm fan to work with. At 25mm width I was hoping it would do the trick. However....

Case won't close



The Samuel 17 and Scythe Slipstream are literally millimeters away from fitting. Very close but no cigar. I will have to run the tests with the top off until I can figure out a better solution.
 
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janas19

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
109
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Prolimatech Samuel 17 (test results)

I wanted to test the Samuel 17 and it's cooling abilities, so to do that I used the Intel Core i7 stock cooler I had on hand and ran a series of benchmarks. One thing to note is the stock cooler runs at 2400 RPM, while the Scythe Slipstream 120mm fan I used with the Samuel 17 is made for quiet HTPCs and runs at 1600 RPM. Therefore, tests with a 2400 RPM fan on the Samuel 17 should result in lower temperatures than what is shown below.

Stock Cooler
  1. Idle: 48-50 C
  2. Chrome with 3 Youtube tabs: 57-60 C
  3. Spelunky (2D platformer): 64-65 C
  4. Heaven 4.0 (DX11 Benchmark): 72-73 C
  5. Prime95 stress test: 95 C and above (2400 RPM)

Thermaltake Samuel 17 w/ 120x25mm Scythe Slipstream
  1. Idle: 27-28 C
  2. Chrome with 3 Youtube tabs: 38-39 C
  3. Spelunky (2D platformer): 35-36 C
  4. Heaven 4.0 (DX11 Benchmark): 47-49 C
  5. Prime95 stress test: 78-80 C (1600 RPM)
Even operating under a 1600 RPM fan, the Samuel 17 manages to drop the temperature output of the i7-2600 by 15-20 degrees Celsius over the stock Intel cooler in a wide range of benchmarks. Very impressive results for such a compact cooler! I really enjoyed testing this little dynamo out and seeing just how powerful it is. That's all I have for now, stay tuned in the future for upcoming build log progress. :)
 
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janas19

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
109
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So that's a great question. In fact, I happen to be very familiar with it as I have been thinking about it for a long time, ever since I started having the urge to go smaller than my SG05 (see the "How did this project start" section above).

From my research, console-like cases require SFX PSUs or a full-length GPU. I don't like either of these. The only case I have found which doesn't force those form factors is NFC's S4 Mini, and that costs $150 (without the power button).

I thought surely there has to be *some* way to have a console-sized case under $100 with a full-height, 5.5" length GPU and DC-DC PSU. And the Geeek A10 is near perfect, except for the low-profile requirement. The only way is case modification, which I don't have the tools to do well.

I borrowed some inspiration from the guys who do "external GPUs" on laptops over at Notebookcheck.net forums. Except instead of using Pe4c adapter, I am going to use an Adex PCI-E riser and have my GPU rest on top of the case.This is a visual representation of what I mean: https://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthread.php?t=18454236.

You may think this is a little silly and yeah it probably is. But I have looked at everything else and nothing was possible for me. So I'm going to do it my way instead and just be that one weird guy lurking on the forums haha. ;)
 
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Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
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I've been looking at doing a flexible riser build also. Cool build so far, but I don't know about just sitting the card on top lol. To each his own. Maybe if you swapped out the CPU cooler for a lower profile one you could cut out part of the ODD and mount it there? Relocate the HDD to the side of the case with velcro/gaffers tape and mount the hard in the front horizontally, using an HDMI extender or something?

Always good to see new builds, looking forward to seeing how yours ends up!
 
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janas19

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
109
39
Yeah that's actually a very good idea, but I'm not sure if that would fit inside the case or if I would have to cut the top. I'll have to look into it, might require modifying the back I/O panel and getting an ultra low-profile cooler like the Silverstone AR04.

I wish I knew more about 3D printing plastic panels, such as ABS, acrylic, or something. It seems like printing out a stiff plastic panel with a GPU hole already cut in the top could be very beneficial for a lot of thin ITX builders.
 

Stevo_

Master of Cramming
Jul 2, 2015
449
304
Too bad you couldn't find the Travla 292 case that would have been perfect though you'd maybe still need a single wide GPU.
 

raymondo

Trash Compacter
Mar 2, 2015
42
32
No case is nice for stationery use but for a portable PC it leaves the components in a rather vulnerable to their enviroment.
Looking forward to see how this build's GPU solution will work out in the end.