• Discord?! We've had a Discord server for a while, but now we've opened it up to folks who aren't members of our fantastic community forum. Join our discussions by clicking the "Discord" button on the side menu!!

Concept Customizable Mini STX case

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
The A300 DeskMini has just been released and I have been thinking about this for some time, but now I think it's a good time to discuss my next case concept which will be designed around mini STX boards, especially for APU builds.

At a volume of 1.8 liters, this case will fit mini STX boards with low profile cooler (including stock AMD and Intel ones) and SSD's. A particular feature of the case is 120mm fan mounts above the board, which will allow you to use your own fan for quieter cooling. Depending on board layout, it may be even possible to fit a small AC-DC PSU for a brickless build. Its design will be derivative of the MT4 case currently in progress.

 
Last edited:

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
Throwing out some other design plans. First, oops, didn't start on modeling yet. So no pictures or renders still.

But here's what I envision. Most of its users will probably be owners of the Deskmini A300 and transplant their board into this case. Maybe because they don't like the case or want something that's even smaller.

The MD2, by default will come with a custom rear panel that has all the cutouts for the A300 motherboard, plus an extra cutout that is a pass-through for a power cord, for using a PSU inside the case.

The case will be 60mm tall, which is shorter than what the stock AMD cooler allows. You'll need to get a third party cooler under 39mm to use it. Maybe I'll add the option for 50mm side fans for extra ventilation.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
I've pivoted this concept into supporting thin mini-ITX boards instead. As small as the mini STX boards are, I still like the slim format of thin mini-ITX and considering they're still not quite dead with several vendors, even Asrock, offering boards for Raven Ridge APUs.

With this board format I could make the case slimmer at 44mm tall. This is tall enough to support 23mm coolers and with the LGA 115x there's still a decent amount of those being sold.

Here's a rough design of the case. Features like power button, front I/O and SSD mounts still have to be added.



A 3D render showing the lid of the case, and the motherboard installed on the lid. This part along with the board is flipped upside down when the case is fully assembled.

 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Donut

Donut

Trash Compacter
Mar 15, 2019
54
35
Very nice! Question out of ignorance: What are the benefits of having the motherboard upside down? It seems like that might work against the convection of heat.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CC Ricers

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
Very nice! Question out of ignorance: What are the benefits of having the motherboard upside down? It seems like that might work against the convection of heat.

Heat convection only really matters for passively cooled builds. Fans that blow air out in a directed manner overcome convection. The benefits of an upside down motherboard include making it easier to install the hard drive and optional PSU, because the case doesn't need as many parts to mount those things if you can place all those parts directly on the bottom.

I'm more concerned if the plastic can hold up to the weight of the motherboard supported upside down, and prevent it from bending.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
Considering a redesign which will still keep the case at a relatively slim 50mm but using one 3D-printed piece instead of two. Top and bottom ends will be acrylic for a more refined look!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jello

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
Hey everyone, decided to revive this topic because I had some more build ideas in my head. STX has grabbed my interest now and then, planning builds for Hackintosh or for gaming, including some more ambitious ones with discrete GPUs. However more recently I came across this Coffee Lake NUC with some pretty good mobile CPU options but it was the design that was more striking to me. I pretty much fell in love with it.



This is a case that would look very nice to own but it is part of the NUC. And many people would rather have Ryzen for its better integrated graphics. So far, the third party options for mini STX cases seem very lacking so I want to have a go at making a similar case design to this NUC. It would be a mix of materials, and I don't have a mini STX board, but the design should be rather simple to build and it's also easy to get the necessary measurements to design the case around it.

What I'm thinking is 3mm aluminum for the case exterior (ideally, with a bead blasted texture), 2mm for the motherboard tray and a choice of aluminum or plastic for the top and bottom panels.
 

rfarmer

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jul 7, 2017
2,338
2,407
I would actually be interested in this if it had certain features. I actually bought a Silverstone SST-VT02B and while I really like the looks of the case there are a couple things I didn't like. If you are able to maintain the usb 2.0 side mounts the DeskMini uses and 2x2.5 drive mounting that lets you use the Asrock SATA cables. The Silverstone case has the 2.5 drive mounts 90 degrees off what Asrock uses and you can only mount the drives in one orientation so only one SATA cable is long enough. I went back to using my Deskmini case just because it works better but I would love to have an all aluminum case that works as well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CC Ricers

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
Adding the extra USB 2.0 ports on one side should be possible. And I do plan to make this design support a pair of 2.5" drives. Do all the boards that come with the DeskMinis have the same drive mount setup? I assume they do if they supply the same cables. That is, if one were to swap in the A300 board into a DeskMini case sold with the H310 board, the drive mounts should still be fine.

The all aluminum case will have an internal layout pretty much the same as the DeskMini A300, but with the huge side vent to give it plenty of ventilation I also want to make it possible to install slim fans with 120mm fan mounts so they're not stuck with stock 80mm or 92mm fans. 13mm slim fans should still allow enough clearance for the vertical SO-DIMMS I would hope.
 

JSItems

Caliper Novice
Apr 28, 2019
25
21
I know this doesn't seem like it would fit your most recent render, but I just wanted to say I would be very interested if you ever did end up doing a brickless case for my A300W mini.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
I know this doesn't seem like it would fit your most recent render, but I just wanted to say I would be very interested if you ever did end up doing a brickless case for my A300W mini.
A brickless A300W may be possible if it's done within some constraints. For starters, the CPU and RAM placements differ with different boards. In this board I think the area where a chipset would be looks like the best place to put a MeanWell PSU above it.



But the easier route would be to make a longer case for the brickless version, which then places the PSU on its side next to the board.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ssouthall6

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
I made a quick design today and worked on two main parts- the outer shell and vented side panels. The panels have round hole cutouts for 120mm fan grills/meshes. You can mount an optional slim fan with the inner holes. The outer holes are to screw the panels to the case.

Here are some renders of the case in aluminum with black plastic side panels. Still left to do is the motherboard tray. I still haven't yet made some cutouts including the front I/O and wi-fi antenna holes. And I'll probably add some rounded rectangular vents to the top.


 
  • Like
Reactions: rfarmer

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
Another case render, this time with a honeycomb fan grill, fan hole slightly made smaller, and also have reduced the metal sheets to 2.5mm thickness in order for it to more easily form bends. SSD for scale. The fan grill is just a placeholder, it's likely I will use a fine mesh for the stock, but there's nothing to stop you from using other designs. This is part of the customizability, after all.



Here's how the SSDs will be mounted on the other side of the case. I believe this is the best orientation according to how the DeskMini cases have it.



I ran some price quotes from 3rd party manufacturers and it seems like going with an all-metal version might be cheaper per case than a mixture of metal with plastic. But I'm still not sure. If going all metal I don't know yet if they will be all unpainted or with some side panels painted black.
 
  • Like
Reactions: rfarmer

Windfall

I'm a huge fan of SFF
SFFn Staff
Nov 14, 2017
2,114
1,574
Another case render, this time with a honeycomb fan grill, fan hole slightly made smaller, and also have reduced the metal sheets to 2.5mm thickness in order for it to more easily form bends. SSD for scale. The fan grill is just a placeholder, it's likely I will use a fine mesh for the stock, but there's nothing to stop you from using other designs. This is part of the customizability, after all.



Here's how the SSDs will be mounted on the other side of the case. I believe this is the best orientation according to how the DeskMini cases have it.


I ran some price quotes from 3rd party manufacturers and it seems like going with an all-metal version might be cheaper per case than a mixture of metal with plastic. But I'm still not sure. If going all metal I don't know yet if they will be all unpainted or with some side panels painted black.
I really like that.

So is the entire outer shell one bent piece?
 
  • Like
Reactions: CC Ricers

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
I really like that.

So is the entire outer shell one bent piece?

Yes, it wraps around all the four corners. I don't know yet how I'll attach the ends. Could be either with a flange bend, or a separate small joiner piece.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CountNoctua

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
Another small update with a render. A horizontal layout this time, plus I added the front I/O. The cutout sizes are accurate but not the distances between the cutouts. I had to eyeball this since I didn't take proper measurements with a reference picture.



Also, ideally I would like to get between 5 and 10 of these cases made. The more, the better for the price to go cheaper.
 
  • Like
Reactions: rfarmer

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,165
2,434
That is looking really good, any idea on price?
If I make 5-9 of them, $60 each. For 10 or more, it could be in the $50 to $55 range. I think this could be a fair price given that Silverstone sells $35-$40 cases out of plastic and SECC.

Do you think VESA mounting would be a popular option?