Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Mar 8, 2016
746
656
C.O.T.S. Case - 7.27L Suitcase Build






COTS Case

What does COTS stand for? In the military, COTS is 'Commercial Off The Shelf' - something that isn't specifically requested to be made on behalf of the US Military, but is already openly available on the civilian market. In SFF computing, there is a huge and growing boutique case movement - artists in the craft like @Josh | NFC, @K888D and @dondan who make cases that are designed from the ground up to house exactly the components you want. I don't generally consider these cases as COTS because they are made in batches, and have a long lag time or must be pre-ordered. An example of a SFF COTS case would be something like the Silverstone RVZ02 - you can get it off Amazon or Newegg. This isn't any fun, and none of the 'gamer' ITX cases met the use case I had (more on that below).

COTS Case isn't about looking good. COTS Case is about buying something that is already out there and making it work for you. If you're on the fence and have the budget, don't go down this route - get an NFC S4 Mini or a Sentry or another case that will impress your friends and fill you with pride of ownership. I've seriously spent more on cheap, shitty cases trying to save on money than if I had purchased an S4 or a Sentry.

That being said, I have managed to find a case that meets all of my requirements.

Initially, my requirements were:

1) Steambox layout
2) Takes an SFX power supply.
3) Cheap (under $75ish)
4) able to fit a discrete GPU
5) fits in the bottom half of a Pelican 1490 or 17.75" x 11.37" x 2.62" (451mm x 289mm x 67mm)
Later on, the requirement grew to include space for a 3.5" desktop HDD, and some of the other requirements became flexible (specifically #2).

Backstory
I did a lot of research when looking for the right case, and probably checked out over 50-75 cases online. None of them had room for an SFX power supply within my budget. The !nverse case was the closest, but was too large to fit in the Pelican 1490 case I already had on hand.

Eventually I exhausted consumer cases (most of which were too tall) and began to look at server cases. 1U cases were almost perfect, but there definitely wasn't any room to fit an SFX PSU and I'd be limited to single slot graphics cards (one day though...).

1U was too small and 2U was too large, so initially I skipped over them and looked at conventional ITX cases. Several were very close, and eventually I eliminated almost all of them. After googling more I came across a 1.5U server case. 1.5U is 66.675mm per the spec, which almost exactly matched the height I was looking for... more googling turned up a bunch of different cases, all seemingly rebrands from the same OEM. The different suppliers:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ADDWD54/?tag=theminutiae-20
ARK Technologies: http://www.arktechinc.net/server-case/1u-rackmount/1-5u-ipc-1-5u1525.html
Newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811128067
X-Case X1525L-USB3 : https://www.xcase.co.uk/collections...t-1-5u-rack-chassis-with-dual-expansion-slots
Winsis Case IPC-1.5U1525 : http://www.ipexinfo.com/product/detail/114648
KI-N1525 : www.casepro.cn/EnProductShow.asp?ID=255



The case looks to have been available for at least 10 years. My one concern was with width: all of the dimensions listed the case at 19" wide, which was the width of the racks that this type of unit was designed to be mounted in. Thought 19" wide, the actual area between the two mounting columns is listed as 17.75" or 450mm. With an interior dimension of 451mm on my chosen carrying case, that was cutting things close. I needed to know the exact width of the case with the mounting brackets removed. Unfortunately, none of the sites listed above, even the manufacture's site (which I finally figured out to be CasePro, the last link above). I turned to the Questions section on the Newegg Product page and was given several answers, all of which indicated the case would be narrow enough to fit. An answer from the case manufacturer confirmed an actual width of 428mm. Confident that this case would fit, I placed an order for a case through Newegg for $58.99. Shipping is usually $5, but due to being overseas at an APO/FPO address I had to pay $20 for shipping. Amazon had a similar price with free shipping, but they refused to ship overseas.

Case Details
(Somewhat) Detailed product spec sheet here: http://www.cablematic.co.uk/documentos/ck10tec.pdf

7.27L (16.85" x 2.67" x 9.84" or 428mm x 68mm x 250mm)

PCI-E Slots: 2
Front IO: Power switch, reset switch, 2x lights, 2x USB 2.0 Ports
1x 3.5" HDD mounting plate (will interfere with a 2 slot GPU)
1x 2.5" mounting cage (room for 4ish HDDs if you jame them in)

Case videos:





Comes with handles attached - handle measurements ARE included in the width. Only vent on top is the one over the SFX PSU. Measurements are 428mm x 68mm x 250mm.




Bags of screws - no directions included, figure it out.




As it comes out of the box. Note the 3.5" HDD tray below the PCI-E brackets. 2.5" HDD cage on the right. Note the plastic sheet floating on top with 4 holes in it - tolerances are so tight this keeps your MB from shorting out on bottom of the case if you have any protruding components..




The fans are 60mm and are the always on, plug into a molex connector variety - I replaced these with two Noctuas almost immediately. By the 3.5" tray you'll also notice a bracket for a PCI-E riser cable (I removed it). The 2.5" HDD cage is situated extremely close to the side panel vents - either keeping your HDDs cool or blocking airflow depending on how you're looking at it.




Picture of the side panel vent holes. This set is closest to the PCI-E bracket, the other side is near the 2.5" SSD cage.




Close up of the 60mm fans provided. 12V molex adapters, no PMW here!




The fans draw air in through this very narrow 'stealth vent' that is hidden behind the front bezel. May remove more of this with an angle grinder.




Close up shot of the PCI-E bracket.




One thing I didn't like was the bracket covers - they hung a good distance away and were of the punch out variety.




Front panel IO headers - a few comments that these are incorrectly labeled in the reviews. Be prepared to play games to figure out which goes to what.


Case builds:
Part of any COTS Case build isn't necessarily installing what fits, but seeing what else you can put in the case. I am lucky enough (or stupid enough) to have a bunch of extra components for test fitting. See below for builds using an SFX PSU, Pico PSU, HDPlex,etc and different types of risers (Sintech vs Li-Heat 250mm D-type riser).


GA-Z170N Gamer 5 ITX MB installed with Intel i6600k and 16GB of Vengeance DDR4 ram.



2.5" HDD cage is removable - I removed mine after reading multiple complaints about how hard it was to screw in drives using the holes closest to the front panel.



Corsair SF450 PSU fits nicely along with an 8TB HDD and 120GB SSD. There is minimal room between the motherboard and the bottom of the case, bottom mounted m.2 drives may not fit. Top mounted m.2 recommended! Definitely not bad to use 'stock'.




View from the front of the case - custom cables would definitely be an improvement.



This Windforce 750Ti is not to spec - the protruding heatpipe makes using a fixed riser impossible here. Not also the circuit board front IO which contains LEDs, power, reset, and (2) USB 2.0 ports. Multiple reports of the headers being labeled wrong on the power buttons.



Another shot showing how far the heat pipe pushes the card over - very important to check if your GPU is standards compliant!



Here is a mockup with a FlexATX PSU shell. I've aligned the left edge of the PSU with an SFX screw hole on the case. Also you'd have to shim it a little vertically. There is a lot of wasted space with this setup. I'd advise using a custom plate to close the hole or maybe even drilling through the case to maximize space if going FlexATX. Not really worth it IMO, but just showing the versatility of the case.




This is a mockup showing 2x 3.5" HDDs. With the included HDD mounting plate (under the HDD, right side) there isn't enough room to mount 2 HDDs. It may be possible to stack 2 HDDs on top of each other but this would require fabrication of a mount of some sort or the liberal use of Velcro. Only possible by using a DC ATX, HD-Plex 300W pictured here. The cables would be crushed pretty badly if you tried to place the lid on as shown (i placed it this way to make sure nothing shorted out). No room to mount the HDPlex on the front panel unless you were willing to remove one 60mm fan, not enough room otherwise.



Turning the HD Plex sideways on the left side of the case is the optimal setup IMO. Still experimenting with using magnets to mount it to the steel case. Could also possibly remove the aluminum plate on the back of the HDPLEX and use the standoffs to direct mount to the case.



All of the cables being on one side is beneficial to this mounting method. Still plenty of room if you were to make a custom drive mount.



Airflow to the CPU is partially blocked by the 24 pin cable.



Here a generic Pico-style PSU is used. Caps are touching the ram, doesn't effect function however. Power input cord is looks to be a little short and I'd recommend replacing it with a longer, more routable cable. If you used some small standoffs to lift the motherboard slightly you could possibly route a 300mm PCI-E flexible riser cable under the motherboard have it face up where the power cable is currently. The built in stand offs are extremely short, I don't think an Li-Heat cable would fit without using spacers of some sort. The PSU holes in the top cover make placing a GPU here a great option, if height can be increased (a lower CPU cooler like the ZALMAN CNPS2X or Engine 27 might also be optimal as the Noctua would be very close to the top cover).



Pardon the cable mess! Moved the 8TB drive and SSD over, and bent the ever-loving crap out of the LiHeat riser (which still worked). I had to place something non-conductive between the D-type riser slot and the case wall, otherwise it would have been shorting out solder points. Definitely not ideal, perhaps an option when the HDPlex Silicon riser is offered in longer lengths. An in spec card would also have helped immensely.



This shot shows a Sintech riser being utilized (purchased off Amazon). I left the PCI-E bracket for the card back in the US but it works well enough for the moment. Ideally I'd like to use a bracket and then perhaps use some foam blocks to keep the card level. Again, custom cables would be recommended, especially for the GPU power cables (seen crossing over the top of the card) so that they could be routed differently.



The main reason why I bought the case - it fits perfectly in a Pelican 1490. Seen here with a custom laptop screen-turned-monitor. Cables going down into the bottom half are an FPV flat HDMI Cable and a barrel jack to molex power cable. There is enough space around the case to insert foam blocks for cushioning, but it would be advisable to remove the case before trying anything heavy duty. Testing still ongoing. As the PC case is steel, I would like to one day cut out some holes in the top and use DEMCiflex affixed to the inside to allow the heat to vent straight up.

If you didn't click the SPOILER links, make sure you do - most of the commentary and pics are there. I also have an IMGUR gallery with most of the content if you are lazy. Still to do is replace my GPU with a 1050Ti (either LP or single slot.. or something?) and look at raising the MB and mounting the GPU on the other side. Maybe chop the case top and add some DEMCiflex. Custom cables for sure. I'm outside of the US so it'll probably wait a while but this has been the journey - thanks for reading!
 
Last edited:

jtd871

SFF Guru
Jun 22, 2015
1,166
848
Good document of your modified build.

How are you planning on keeping the rack case inside the Pelican when you stand the whole thing up for travel? It looks like foam blocks to protect your monitor will be required to lug the whole thing around in travel mode, too.
I'd be all over opening up the vents (and creating new ones where needed) to help this puppy shed heat. Maybe even think about ducting cooler air in and warmer air out?
 

Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Mar 8, 2016
746
656
Good document of your modified build.

How are you planning on keeping the rack case inside the Pelican when you stand the whole thing up for travel? It looks like foam blocks to protect your monitor will be required to lug the whole thing around in travel mode, too.
I'd be all over opening up the vents (and creating new ones where needed) to help this puppy shed heat. Maybe even think about ducting cooler air in and warmer air out?

Good question! Right now the monitor is friction fit in the top lid and sometimes pops loose when opening or closing the lid. I intended to epoxy some closed cell foam to the lid and then put Velcro on the foam blocks and lid to keep it in place. I plan on redoing to top part when I get back off deployment and replacing the monitor (it has gotten a little beat up flying around). Currently however I think there are only a few mm between the top and bottom case, enough that some flat foam strips less than the thickness of a mouse pad would keep it from moving at all.. might be fine without it.

There are also some small holes in the side of the case to mount a carry strap, I think I could fashion some sheet metal L brackets and secure it that way. As is there is about .5ish inches of space between the case and side wall - looking at packing some strips of foam around the edge to keep it from shifting.

As for the vents, having ran the Deployment box open faced in my previous build if I can get both coolers facing up I won't need any ducts - convection will take care of the rest. That depends of me getting the GPU flipped. Not a lot of clearance (from case wall to pelican case wall) to draw much air in currently through the vents but, I've been looking at possibly finding a way to raise the 1.5U enclosure up out of the box temporarily.

Edit:

Cleaned up the wiring and mounted the HDPLEX through a combination of magnets and pressure. Used a small piece of foam as well.


 
Last edited:

TheHig

King of Cable Management
Bronze Supporter
Oct 13, 2016
951
1,171
Thanks for sharing you ongoing journey with your build! The final pic looks like you have the layout and wiring squared away nicely.
 

ChainedHope

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 5, 2016
306
459
Wow very nice job finding a case that fits so nicely in that pelican. I'm planning on doing a very similar project in the not-so-distant future (no hdplex sadly, going SFX).
 
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Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Mar 8, 2016
746
656
Wow very nice job finding a case that fits so nicely in that pelican. I'm planning on doing a very similar project in the not-so-distant future (no hdplex sadly, going SFX).

Yeah, I initially planned on just staying with SFX but eventually changed my mind - no desire to lug around 2x 3.5" externals with me! Please make sure to post a link whenever you start your build with whatever case you wind up going with.
 

ChainedHope

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 5, 2016
306
459
Yeah, I initially planned on just staying with SFX but eventually changed my mind - no desire to lug around 2x 3.5" externals with me! Please make sure to post a link whenever you start your build with whatever case you wind up going with.

I will. Still need to figure out what im going to put inside of it. Im really wanting to throw ryzen into it (depending on reviews) but they arent planning any mITX til Late Q2 / early Q3 from what I understand. Im going to be needing it around mid Q2 so we will see.

I pretty much have to go SFX if I want to use one of my nanos in the build, the hdplex just doesnt work well with it.
 

diynoob

Case Bender
May 3, 2017
2
1
Awesome thread! I am looking into this case now. I am thinking a Zotac 1080 mini should fit in here at 210mm....So only about 40mm left of clearance. The only suspect part is the USB pcb I can see. But the case may be wide enough to fit.
 
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Bambam625

Trash Compacter
May 5, 2017
49
18
actually. I really like that rack mount case. It reminds me of a larger logic mc600. Might do a build in it. cant find what gpu size it supports though.
 
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Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Mar 8, 2016
746
656
I'm on vacation right now, but I can give you some better measurements when I get back. The only thing that makes it tricky is the USB/power button circuit card protruding into the case.

But it was a lot like the MC600, just much larger and cheaper. Not gonna have their great customer support however. You can try e-mailing the Casepro mfg in china, but as it isn't used as a gaming case I don't k ow if they'll have the specifications on hand.
 

Cassiopee

What's an ITX?
Oct 23, 2017
1
0
Hello, That is a very cool project !!

I'm trying to build something in a rack and the one you choose is great but too short ! They have two other options that could do the trick. Thank you for pointing out that CasePro was the manufacturer !