Completed Circle Pro - Solid Alu CNCed mini-itx case - 240mm liquid cooling

boof

Cable Smoosher
Apr 15, 2019
11
21
We've completely sold out of these - only a couple more exist. I have a few spares in my personal inventory, but that's it. They cost the same as MKII to make, so it doesn't change the nature of our funding challenge.

I could totally be missing some insight here, but what is preventing production to continue as it's been doing? seems like there were somewhat consistent cycles where batches were regularly produced and sold, albeit in low quantities

it also doesn't feel right to assume they cost $1500-2000 each and were being sold at a loss
 
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WinterCharm

Master of Cramming
Jan 19, 2019
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I could totally be missing some insight here, but what is preventing production to continue as it's been doing? seems like there were somewhat consistent cycles where batches were regularly produced and sold, albeit in low quantities

it also doesn't feel right to assume they cost $1500-2000 each and were being sold at a loss

It's very possible that Mk II requires on a manufacturing technique that isn't readily available outside of this particular partner they're working with... I think he's just talking about the cost of doing the volume of cases they have now, vs the tooling cost.

Also, @CircleTect What if you took the MKii design / cad files, and went to a local machine shop, rather than doing the tooling for the case with this other manufacturing method, had it machined in small batches like before? Would it happen at around the same price as Circle Pro Mk I? What would the case cost end up being then?

I think you could continue doing preorders and small batches of machined cases, rather than switching to a new manufacturer, similar to how you were with MK1??
 

Nanook

King of Cable Management
May 23, 2016
805
792
Also, @CircleTect What if you took the MKii design / cad files, and went to a local machine shop, rather than doing the tooling for the case with this other manufacturing method, had it machined in small batches like before? Would it happen at around the same price as Circle Pro Mk I? What would the case cost end up being then?

He already answered that it would cost $1500-$2000 for a smaller run than a then require Minimum Order Quantity. I am in the product design / development field, and if I were to make such a case (machined and anodized at the caliber of the Circle Pro), it would likely cost USD 4000 to 8000+ for a single set (assuming $1k-2k for each machined component). There are cheaper machining shops out there, but I would not trust them to achieve Josh's standards.

The economy of scale would not even take effect until a much higher quantity, and yes I'm actually surprised that this case could have been made for $400.
 

DmanX

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Sep 12, 2019
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He already answered that it would cost $1500-$2000 for a smaller run than a then require Minimum Order Quantity. I am in the product design / development field, and if I were to make such a case (machined and anodized at the caliber of the Circle Pro), it would likely cost USD 4000 to 8000+ for a single set (assuming $1k-2k for each machined component). There are cheaper machining shops out there, but I would not trust them to achieve Josh's standards.

The economy of scale would not even take effect until a much higher quantity, and yes I'm actually surprised that this case could have been made for $400.

Right, but what happened such that the original version is no longer viable. While the new version (MKII) has some nice changes, the original is still excellent. Why can't that still be sold?
 

gwertheim

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Nov 27, 2017
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Each case would cost $1500-2000 each. Not even kidding. That's why the engineers who have said they're amazed we got the price this low already are correct.



We've completely sold out of these - only a couple more exist. I have a few spares in my personal inventory, but that's it. They cost the same as MKII to make, so it doesn't change the nature of our funding challenge.



As far as I'm aware, Lian Li don't have the capabilities to make our case. Completely different processes. Even if they could, they wouldn't be able to reduce the price by much. We have already teamed up with a good manufacturing partner, and they can't get it any lower.



$250 doesn't even begin to cover the costs of manufacturing this case.



Taking into account the manufacturing issues we had in our first few batches, this is uncomfortably close. I actually had to sell my car to cover the cost of mistakes in the first couple of batches.



It's a fair point though. Customers shouldn't have to worry about the manufacturing techniques we've chosen or the challenges we've faced. The important things are if the product solves the customer's problems and does it for the right price.

When I started this project, mass manufacturability was not a design consideration. I just wanted to make a truly great computer case. And because it was essentially a hobby, I didn't approach the problem from the perspective of building a profitable business. I approached it from the perspective of making a perfect, no-compromise design.



Definitely.. From what I've seen, you guys seem to be doing an excellent job with your marketing, and I truly wish you all the best in your kickstarter. Unfortunately this isn't my greatest strength. The designing and making of things is my real passion - I personally find social marketing exhausting and I hate the feeling of pushing an agenda on others.

I do acknowledge that we could have marketed the case a lot better, but to be honest we have a large and highly engaged email list already from our Dave2D video (over 1M views!), so I didn't feel like we needed more to fund the pre-order. I was obviously wrong about that, but I don't think I was wrong about the number of people we needed on the list, instead I think I was wrong about the thesis of the product in a more general sense. This includes the size of the market, the required features to access a larger market (full-length card support, etc), the ease of building in the case and the price, among other things.

All that said, I'm really proud of the work we've done on this project. I still think Circle Pro is an incredible design - perfect in its own way if you're happy with an ITX length graphics card. MKII would have improved MKI in almost every way, and addressed most of OptimumTech's complaints. Unfortunately, I've learnt the hard way that the market it serves doesn't appear to be large enough to make it a self-sustaining product at this time.

Right, but what happened such that the original version is no longer viable. While the new version (MKII) has some nice changes, the original is still excellent. Why can't that still be sold?

It can't be made without a initial investment in tooling and that is expensive. If you want to pay $2000 to $8000 for for a single case, that's your business but I would suggest you rethink your priorities.

Think about it, the machining time, the technician to run the machine, the anodizing and everything else involved. The more you order, the cheaper it will cost at the end of the day.

You are paying for quality and that's never cheap
 
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gwertheim

King of Cable Management
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Nov 27, 2017
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@CircleTect have you thought of doing a Kickstarter or something to raise some money. Maybe something like where you need to have a certain amount of pre orders to do a run?
 

DmanX

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Sep 12, 2019
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It can't be made without a initial investment in tooling and that is expensive. If you want to pay $2000 to $8000 for for a single case, that's your business but I would suggest you rethink your priorities.

Think about it, the machining time, the technician to run the machine, the anodizing and everything else involved. The more you order, the cheaper it will cost at the end of the day.

You are paying for quality and that's never cheap

Either I'm missing something or you misunderstand what I'm wondering about.

The case (original version) has been selling for about a year or so. So what changed such that the original case can no longer be sold?

I get that the new version (MK II) with a new CNC shop would require an initial investment. But the old one (original version) shouldn't when using whomever was producing them.

TLDR; The original version was selling quite well when inventory became available every 2-3 months. Why can't that continue?
 
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CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
118
501
circlestudio.co
I could totally be missing some insight here, but what is preventing production to continue as it's been doing? seems like there was a period where batches were consistently produced and sold, albeit in low quantities

We were putting the money in ourselves to get small batches made, with a larger batch guarantee made with our manufacturing partner. Benefits of this included working out problems batch to batch instead of shipping out many units with the same issues. Also meant we only shipped stock we had on hand, resulting in people getting their cases super quick after ordering. Overall, a system that's worked for us up till now, but with some big downsides.

The main one is that it's completely unsustainable. The margin we were making per unit is not enough for the cost it takes to assemble each unit, let alone deal with QC, part replacements, etc. I have thousands of parts in storage that didn't meet QC standards. Nothing more heartbreaking receiving a shipment and having a high part reject rate!

We could potentially continue production in this way if the price was more like $599, but the market has been pretty clear the price is already too high.

Ramping up to the MKII batch, the dream was to make the production of Circle Pro sustainable, with a manufacturing partner who can manage the production and assembly. This would allow us to expand, produce more units more frequently and eventually reach manufacturing scale and hopefully reduce the price. If we can't meet the MOQ though, it would have to stay a boutique low volume assembly model, and we're not making enough to sustain that.

@CircleTect have you thought of doing a Kickstarter or something to raise some money. Maybe something like where you need to have a certain amount of pre orders to do a run?

Yep totally, we've been running a massdrop style pre-order on our website.

The economy of scale would not even take effect until a much higher quantity, and yes I'm actually surprised that this case could have been made for $400.

Yeah, honestly even this price is too low. That was probably a bad business decision - but the market has been pretty loud and clear about what it expects is a fair price in this niche. I would say 90% of the dialogue about this case online has been that it's priced too high. It's a marketing or communication issue if I can't convince people it's worth it.

Right, but what happened such that the original version is no longer viable. While the new version (MKII) has some nice changes, the original is still excellent. Why can't that still be sold?

MKI and MKII use the exact same materials and manufacturing processes. They essentially cost the same to make. MKII just has lots of design improvements. The biggest difference is the manufacturing partner and logistics chain. That's the work the customer doesn't see, but is arguably the most important element of product development. With the MKII production supply chain, the goal was to make it a sustainable process, whereas MKI production was not. I'm a bit bummed we won't be able to take advantage of that.
 

gwertheim

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Nov 27, 2017
938
1,555
Either I'm missing something or you misunderstand what I'm wondering about.

The case (original version) has been selling for about a year or so. So what changed such that the original case can no longer be sold?

I get that the new version (MK II) with a new CNC shop would require an initial investment. But the old one (original version) shouldn't when using whomever was producing them.

TLDR; The original version was selling quite well when inventory became available every 2-3 months. Why can't that continue?

Say you design and want to build a new kind of widget. Say you want to produce a dozen units for different customers and charge $100 a unit.

Out of that $100, 30 goes to materials, 30 goes to machining, another 30 because that whole first batch was ruined because of a massive mistake, 30 goes to anodizing and 20 goes to shipping. To make 1 unit cost $150.

It's not a viable business plan to make something that loses money. In this sort of small batch production mistakes happen and it cost @CircleTect a ton of money to fix those mistakes to the point where it would be insane to continue.
 
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DmanX

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Sep 12, 2019
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We could potentially continue production in this way if the price was more like $599, but the market has been pretty clear the price is already too high.

Is it too high?

How do you know?

Aside from regular budget customers on Reddit or even on here who don't mind a metal shoebox/toaster oven with perforated side panels that bite the bullet for a ~$200 Dan, Ghost or NCase case, how do you know if $599 is too high? Better marketing can fix that perception. Showing people what is possible (customer gallery), perhaps working with customers to build 3D printed brackets for different configs to allow reference sized GPUs to fit (a HD Plex AC/DC combo bracket or a bracket that allows a normal SFX PSU to be turned on its side [fan facing towards glass]). Air cooled 65 Watt CPUs and 95W CPU's undervolted/TDP limited. Liquid cooled using either a 120mm or 240mm rad. A 3D printed shroud or even a black plastic or powder coated steel shroud for a 120mm RAD installation. Perhaps even a slightly deeper shroud to eliminate the blank space above when not using any radiator.

I don't think you should give up. There's a market for exclusive high end cases that are expertly designed and that are beautiful.

Aesthetics. There are many that are willing to pay for it. It's like fine art.
 

boof

Cable Smoosher
Apr 15, 2019
11
21
We were putting the money in ourselves to get small batches made, with a larger batch guarantee made with our manufacturing partner. Benefits of this included working out problems batch to batch instead of shipping out many units with the same issues. Also meant we only shipped stock we had on hand, resulting in people getting their cases super quick after ordering. Overall, a system that's worked for us up till now, but with some big downsides.

The main one is that it's completely unsustainable. The margin we were making per unit is not enough for the cost it takes to assemble each unit, let alone deal with QC, part replacements, etc. I have thousands of parts in storage that didn't meet QC standards. Nothing more heartbreaking receiving a shipment and having a high part reject rate!

We could potentially continue production in this way if the price was more like $599, but the market has been pretty clear the price is already too high.

Ramping up to the MKII batch, the dream was to make the production of Circle Pro sustainable, with a manufacturing partner who can manage the production and assembly. This would allow us to expand, produce more units more frequently and eventually reach manufacturing scale and hopefully reduce the price. If we can't meet the MOQ though, it would have to stay a boutique low volume assembly model, and we're not making enough to sustain that.

thanks for explaining. the takeaway for me is that the current/past model operates on unsustainable margins, and there isn't enough demand to increase production and thus increase margin.

to add onto what others have said, I agree that the marketing seems to be a weak point. if I were just discovering the case, there's very little info available outside of the main website. the website also isn't polished and doesn't do the case justice imo. the tagline uses incorrect English -- super nit-picky I know, but it's the first thing people see. showcasing what others have done with the case could also encourage new customers.

up until recently there was only one review I could find, and not by any of the common SFF reviewers that most are familiar with. the most recent one by Optimum Tech seemed to be unprepared for the limited compatibility which is unfortunate, but could be offset with more reviews. the fan issue he ran into also seemed easily preventable, so it would've been good to clear that up.

communication seemed to be a little lacking at points. the whole MKII update was a suprise, though a welcome one. even though I already grabbed one, I was happy to see a possible new iteration. the new update list seems promising but I have no idea what half the improvements mean. some more details or pictures to show what exactly was improved could get people excited.

just kind of brain dumped everything. the intention here is to help, not to be a critic. all this is with a grain of salt since it's not like I have experience here

Is it too high?

How do you know?

previously I would've agreed as they sold out instantly, but the current funding campaign clearly shows the current demand at a $450 price point, and gives an idea about demand at higher price points
 
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Sirpotet

Efficiency Noob
Jun 19, 2019
7
3
I hope that @CircleTect will run another campaign if this one is unsuccessful. I for one would have bought the case if It got to market, and as an addition to that, the craftmanship and excellent look of the case makes it worth 400-500$ (to me)
 
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DmanX

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Sep 12, 2019
92
80
previously I would've agreed as they sold out instantly, but the current funding campaign clearly shows the current demand at a $450 price point, and gives an idea about demand at higher price points

I don't know if that's indicative of demand at the $450 price point. It may be that only ~48 people right now are in the market for the case and more importantly, even know about the preorder. What I noticed is that some emails go to the bulk folder of email recipients. One of reasons why using email to market is not the best idea. Not bad, but not best. Best is a multi-pronged approach. Social media, Email, Website.

The price of the case rose since inception and each batch sold out in spite of the price increase. So I think it' quite possible to sell the MKII between $549 - $579. Also possible to sell 3D printed add ons. But it requires marketing.

It's all about that marketing. Good marketing lets people know not only what's on offer, what is possible, but why they are paying what they are.
 

CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
118
501
circlestudio.co
I hope that @CircleTect will run another campaign if this one is unsuccessful. I for one would have bought the case if It got to market, and as an addition to that, the craftmanship and excellent look of the case makes it worth 400-500$ (to me)
I don't think you should give up.

Thanks guys. I haven't given up. But I don't think the answer is just better marketing in the case of Circle Pro. Yes, we probably could have reached the required funding, but probably not by a landslide. There are product and price issues at play as well.

Ideally, I want to nail the product, the price AND the promotion all at the same time. But to nail the price, I won't be able to use CNC machining. So there's a challenge there in making an incredible case with lower cost manufacturing techniques. I've made a survey that will help me focus on what people want in a case. If you have a couple of minutes, I'd really appreciate your thoughts!

Questionnaire
 

DmanX

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Sep 12, 2019
92
80
Excited to know that you're going to continue to design!

I have a strong feeling that the next case will be a hit and a trend setter for design.
 
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Engr62

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Jun 7, 2018
122
74
Thanks for posting the questionnaire. I've submitted my input.

One thing I didn't see in the survey was power supply preference. I failed to mention it in the general comments, but I definitely prefer SFX PSUs.
 
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Supercluster

Average Stuffer
Feb 24, 2016
85
121
In case the design does not require special lollipop, keyseat (T) or dovetail cuts (channels), there are no tooling costs when the production method is machining. The shops have all the basic milling and chamfering cutters.
Even so, Harvey Tool (for example, from experience) can make you a completely custom shaped cutter for a few hundred bucks (times three, since they have a MOQ on custom shapes).

Even endless demand cannot scale nearly as well as the other production methods.
This is not sheet metal or casting folks, there are no dies and molds; the most expensive resource consumed is time.
 

jaruri

Caliper Novice
Feb 15, 2018
25
51
Finally got my custom loop up and running! This took way too long, with the biggest problem being the length of the end tanks of the tx240

Its running a zotac 1080ti mini with the bykski block and compact terminal (its a PERFECT fit) and a ryzen 5 3600. So far the temps are actually way better than I expected. I've been running heaven benchmark for an hour or so now and the CPU and GPU are maxed out at 51c and 41c? (Though I'm pretty sure there is an error with the reading somehow, highly doubt this is correct).

CPU Side:
Here you can see the pump is mounted in air between the PSU and the RAM. It feels quite secure so I'm not too worried about it springing a leak. I might see if I can make a bracket that holds it in place better too. The cabling in that area is quite messy since I have the 2x Sata cables, power button, temp sensor, usb2, and 24pin all in the tight space. The run from the pump to the CPU block was out of laziness of not wanting to bend the tubes since I was tired. Will replace that with a bend at some point.


GPU Side:
Here you can see a corsair lighting node pro with a corsair lighting strip and the stock SSD carrier. I also replaced the PSU cable to a right angle plug, sadly it doesn't fit on the exterior side so it dangles a bit. The space between the radiator outlet, mounting point for the PSU bracket, and the PSU cable make it impossible to fit a hardline run from the radiator to the GPU so I had to do a bit of soft tubing here. The natural bend looks alright so I think I'll keep it like this.

Very happy I got this first run done now, am planning on making some changes as well. Will be getting better clear flex tubing for that one run, a black cube fitting to put in the res inlet, so I can better fill the loop. (Holy hell filling and bleeding this thing is a nightmare, its still not 100% there and has some air still in the loop) Will also swap out the liquid with a white pastel instead of distilled water. I should also add another command strip on the bottom of the PSU to level it out a little bit more.

A shot of it with my current main rig, definitely a little bit smaller ;)


 
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Lyang

What's an ITX?
New User
Nov 10, 2019
1
0
我对CPRO非常喜欢,最重要的是美观和工艺,,如果因为兼容性和价格等原因,降低了材质或者加工质量,我认为是得不偿失的,,
如果可能的话我希望能够最大程度保持他的特殊性