Completed Circle Pro - Unibody CNC machined SFF with 240mm liquid cooling

Discussion in 'Custom Cases & Projects' started by CircleTect, May 24, 2017.

  1. CircleTect

    CircleTect SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter Circle Studio

    #1 CircleTect, May 24, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
    Status: 04/03/2019 - Out of stock. New batch estimated arrival: mid March.

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    Thank you to everyone in this thread for helping make this case a reality.

    Circle Pro
    An 11L Mini-ITX case with 240mm liquid cooling, standard. CNC machined out of billets of aluminium. Tempered glass magnetically attached side panels. Supports mini-itx graphic cards up to 213mm long. Two radiator fans and two case fans with two separate dust filters. The entire case assembles with magnetic 3mm Philips screws (screwdriver supplied). 2-5 day worldwide express shipping.

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    Original post below.

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    Hi guys,

    I’m super excited to be starting a new project and would love to collaborate with you all to make something great.

    I’ve learnt a lot from my last project, Circle One, which you can check out the results from in the HardForum thread HERE or in a photo album HERE.

    I’m using this case as my main workstation right now, and it’s fantastic, but there is one thing that really bothers me about it: fan noise under load.

    Because SFF cases sit right in front of you on the desk, noise is a critical factor. The limited TDP capacity of slimline coolers like the NH-9Li means that when I do serious work on the Circle One using an i7-7700, the CPU fan ramps up to an annoyingly noticeable level. This isn’t such an issue for gaming, as headphones are in use, but for day-to-day work it is a significant annoyance.

    My pitch is this: noise is a problem in this form factor and I think a lot of us struggle with it. I’d like to have a go at solving this in a high performance SFF system, whilst at the same time delivering a beautifully engineered, premium case.

    The first part of the solution is obviously to increase cooling performance and to reduce and/or control fan speeds. To that end, the defining component of this design is a 240mm AIO. Everything is defined by this part, including the width and depth of the case. Keeping the fans at a low RPM is important, so choosing an appropriate TDP CPU to maintain steady, low speeds is preferable.

    I’ve considered going completely fanless and making the case a passive heatsink with custom heatpipes, but I think that could be a fairly intimidating project. I might consider that for next time. For now, I want to focus on off-the-shelf components.

    A focus of this case will be high end manufacturing materials and techniques. Think sand blasted aluminium, rubber mounting grommets, dust filters, CNC machined modular frame parts (instead of sheet metal) and a minimal aesthetic.

    Here’s a screenshot of my first pass at a design. One of my friends mentioned that it looks a little similar to the Jonsbo UMX1.

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    I think the UMX1 is a beautiful case - but I think we can take the concept further and concentrate it into something even better. Below is a mockup of the new concept compared to the UMX1.

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    Specs:

    • SFX and SFX-L compatible
    • MINI-ITX gpu (maximum card length TBD)
    • 240mm AIO
    • Optional tempered glass side panel
    • Multiple 2.5” drive mounting options
    • More to come

    Here is “Project Two” in a lineup with other community developed cases (and a few bigger names as well). I think this helps give perspective on where this concept fits in the family of cases.


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    Every case has design priorities. This case emphasises:

    1. Low noise
    2. Premium industrial design
    3. Small form factor
    4. Performance

    Below are some concept renders. Please note that these renders don’t include important details yet, such as PSU venting holes, case panel parting lines, etc. These renders are just for general concept validation before I go into more detail with the CAD.


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    What do you guys think? Can anything be clarified or better defined? What would you change in the design brief or in the component choice or layout? Any and all feedback welcome.

    Ps. This is my first post on these forums, super glad to be here.
     
    Nanook, Lone, ondert and 28 others like this.
  2. Kmpkt

    Kmpkt Innovation through Miniaturization
    KMPKT

    Nice first design. Can you give me a bit more information about airflow in the case? From what I can tell the air intake will be on the top via the radiator, but I can't exactly tell where the outflow will be. Also welcome to the forums.
     
  3. Biowarejak

    Biowarejak Maker of Awesome | User 1615
    Silver Supporter

    Welcome!! I think it looks pretty viable as it stands. Looking forward to see more progress.
     
  4. CircleTect

    CircleTect SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter Circle Studio

    The plan is to actually exhaust air from the top vents - so the fans on the radiator are in a pull configuration.

    The PSU is mounted to the front panel and will pull fresh air from the front, expel it into the case - either to go up and out through the top radiator, or I'll create a shroud to expel the hot air from the front panel.

    The gpu is mounted on the other side of the mobo and will draw fresh air from ventilation holes next to it.

    General fresh air will come from a combination of the back and side panels (possible even the bottom panel, creating a cross draft type effect over the motherboard - will need riser feet for that though).

    So currently, the concept is a negative air pressure design, similar to the Corsair One, which is why I want to implement dust filters.
     
    yawacool likes this.
  5. EdZ

    EdZ Virtual Realist
    Gold Supporter

    If the goal is noise reduction, mounting the fans on the 'inside' of the radiator, so the radiator sits between them and the outside, would be quieter. The radiator fins would act as a baffle, absorbing some sound and keeping the rest directional and focused in a narrow cone pointing straight up.

    If you want to use dust filtration, then positive pressure makes the design easier: that way you only need to filter the intake, and any exhaust vents can be unfiltered but will reject dust (due to positive pressure). With a negative pressure design, every possible intake path must either be sealed or filtered to prevent dust being actively drawn in. Panel gaps, screw holes, etc will all need to be dealt with.
     
    Choidebu, owliwar, iFreilicht and 3 others like this.
  6. Phuncz

    Phuncz Lord of the Boards
    Moderator SFF Purist Gold Supporter

    I'm liking the external design on this project, the internal design also seems promising. I'm following this one closely !
     
  7. jmsantos1983

    jmsantos1983 SFF Lingo Aficionado

    Wow, looks pretty!!!
    Does it have to have water-cooling? Can it be a version that could take slim fans?
    Also, this post talks about using smaller PSU: https://smallformfactor.net/forum/t...us-are-now-available-direct-order.1983/page-5
    Could this type of PSU help reduce the size of the case?
    Can someone order your last case?
    Will you make a version that takes regular size gpu?
    Vertical slim disc drive?
    Thank you.
     
    SeñorDonut likes this.
  8. Nasp

    Nasp SFF Lingo Aficionado

    Will the GPU side also have tempered glass? It seems to me that most people want to show off their GPU rather than (or in addition to) their MB, RAM, cables, and CPU cooler.
     
    Biowarejak likes this.
  9. NoSk0pz

    NoSk0pz Average Stuffer

    #9 NoSk0pz, May 25, 2017
    Last edited: May 25, 2017
    I'm really liking how this looks. clean and easy on the eyes :)

    edit: where's the power button?
     
    Biowarejak and Soul_Est like this.
  10. CircleTect

    CircleTect SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter Circle Studio

    Why a cone? Do you have any more information / resources on noise patterns? Your degree of specificity about the cone shape has me intrigued.

    I'm designing the case with water cooling in mind, but you could definitely mount slim fans in there if you wanted!

    Do you think it needs to be smaller? The design so far is being defined by the water cooler. I could technically squish the current square shape to a sort of squat rectangle, but I'd rather keep the design looking harmonious on the outside.

    Currently there isn't enough demand to put an order in for my last case, but you can register your interest for it here if you like. If I get enough registrations, then I can announce the final price and start collecting pre-orders :)

    Yes, I'm actually going to see if I can make this work on the current version. This might be possible with an SFX PSU, I'll let you know how I go.

    Not sure yet. Wasn't planning to, but depending on the final case structure, it might be possible to have tempered glass on both sides.

    Haha, I'm not at that stage of detailing yet. Somewhere on the front, hopefully :thumb:
     
    Biowarejak and yawacool like this.
  11. EdZ

    EdZ Virtual Realist
    Gold Supporter

    Not an exact cone. The principle is the same as normal sound baffles, except the source is on the other side. Sound from the fan heading straight up passes straight through the fin array relatively unimpeded. Sound at an angle hits the side of one of the fins, then bounces to the other side off the opposite fin, and continues bouncing back and forth with each reflection losing a little energy as it is absorbed by the fins. The metal fins are not as effective as a soft baffle material, but there is still energy loss, and the tightly packed fins mean lots of bounces the further you get off-axis. You can roughly think of it as: the more of the fan you can see behind the fins, the more you will be able to hear the fan behind the fins; stick a piece of white paper under your black radiator, then look through it from different directions and see how much of the white you can see.
     
    Phuncz and Colinreay like this.
  12. jmsantos1983

    jmsantos1983 SFF Lingo Aficionado

    Ok, i see, water cooling is a most.
    How much you think you will sell it for?
    Can you put a vote on the watercooling?
    The case looks great, like beutiful. Looking for something like this with the hopes of making the smalles built that is available.
     
  13. CircleTect

    CircleTect SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter Circle Studio

    Hey guys, here's an update. Please take everything with a grain of salt, and feel free to question everything. At this stage I'm going to be making big experimental changes, and sometimes they'll be off the mark :)

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    Change Log:

    1. Removed thumbscrews from the glass panels. Looking towards making them clip magnetically to the frame by using a combination of laminated black plastic with adhesive attached to a stainless steel rim. Will make a groove so you can open the panels easily without tools.
    2. Made the case fit a full length reference GPU. To do this, I had to sacrifice the SFX-L psu and replace it with an HDPlex 300W.

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    3. I added some slim fans to the bottom panel of the case. The airflow concept is now very simple: air is pulled up from the base, and then expelled through the top, cooling all components in its path. No other holes in the panel may be necessary.
    4. To achieve air being pulled in from the base, I had to raise the unit from the ground without changing the size or shape of the side panels. You can see the development of the foot concept below. I think the last concept pictured is the best, and is achievable thanks to the slim fans.

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    5. I added dust filters between the slim fans and the lower panel, so the main air-intake should be fully protected from dust now.
    6. I didn't make the fans on the radiator slim, as I reasoned that if you're buying a radiator, you probably want to use the fans that were included.
    7. To clean the air filters easily, I'm thinking the base panel can slide out like this:

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    8. I'm thinking that it might be possible to have glass panels on both sides. This could be possible if I create PSU and cable management shrouds, which could hide the unsightly cable mess.

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    What do you guys think? Is the HDPlex enough to power this system? If not, is there a Meanwell, or other modular solution that could do the trick? And what do you think of the airflow concept?

    Thanks guys :)
     
  14. Nasp

    Nasp SFF Lingo Aficionado

    Looks well thought out.

    Where will do you mount storage drives and where will you place a power button? Any front I/O?
     
  15. Kmpkt

    Kmpkt Innovation through Miniaturization
    KMPKT

    HDPlex will power this system at stock with a 7700K and GTX 1080 without issue. 1080ti is probably pushing it.
     
    Phuncz likes this.
  16. Phuncz

    Phuncz Lord of the Boards
    Moderator SFF Purist Gold Supporter

    I'm liking the changes a lot, with a big preference towards the feet design in most of the renders.
     
  17. CircleTect

    CircleTect SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter Circle Studio

    #17 CircleTect, May 27, 2017
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
    Thanks! Storage drives can fit in a caddy in front of the HDPlex on the motherboard side. I might integrate this into my 'psu shroud' concept.

    Power button will be on the front, 2/3rds of the way up. I might make a custom button, as I find standard vandal switches a bit limiting.

    Great to know, thanks. I'll try implementing the HDPlex 300 and see how I go.
     
  18. CircleTect

    CircleTect SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter Circle Studio

    Any word on availability of the HDPlex 300? @Kmpkt Seems like it's been out of stock for a while.
     
  19. Necere

    Necere King of Cable Management
    NCASE Spatial Philanthropist

    I think you're going to have problems with the AC-DC in that location. It relies completely on passive cooling, and situated right above the GPU like that it's going to get a lot of the excess heat radiating from it.
     
    Biowarejak and Phuncz like this.
  20. CircleTect

    CircleTect SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter Circle Studio

    Hmm, fair point. I could swap the AC-DC with the DC-ATX on the other side perhaps. I was a little worried about minimum ATX cable lengths and whether they'd be a little cramped on the other side anyway.

    In your experience, do you think HDPlex is the way to go?