Completed DIY "laptop" / portable PC

timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
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First disassembly after completing the build - went easier than I remember. 4 cables to unplug (PCIe, GPU power, monitor power, extra fan). 4 feet unscrew and the bottom comes right off, with mobo, usb header and PSU attached.

Noise-wise, it's slightly louder when idle than Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, but same on full power (own impression, don't have anything to measure with).

Just finished benchmarking, Gelid did a great job with their Slim Silence AM4! It comes with a thermal paste pre-applied - wiped that off and put new Kryonaut for a fair comparison. Very easy install, fan cable is ridiculously long, too - went all the way around the heatsink and back to the fan header. Forgot to take photos with the Slim Silence on, though... Looks sleek, it's lower than LP RAM.

First run on Gelid was better than Noctua, I was really surprised so I re-run TimeSpy in my warmer office - still really close. My Noctua fan was flipped - sucking the air away from the CPU - got slightly better idle results that way with an open case. Slim Silence matched idle temperatures with only slightly higher on full load.

Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 (21*C room)
Gelid Slim Silence AM4 (19*C room)​
Gelid Slim Silence AM4 (22*C room)​
CPU temp min
49​
49​
49​
CPU temp max
72​
75​
77​
GPU temp max
79​
77​
79​
TimeSpy CPU
5169​
5185​
5177​
TimeSpy GPU
8264​
8324​
8266​
TimeSpy Total
7582​
7631​
7588​

I ordered 45mm M4 standoffs for the main box and 5+6cm M3 nylon standoff for the mobo - I'll cut the height of the main box by 2cm! Overtek's Enhance 7660B flex PSU will fit with the current layout, just waiting for delivery of everything. I'll re-run the benchmark when the new PSU comes - temps may be slightly higher with everything packed tighter.
 

ignsvn

By Toutatis!
Moderator
Apr 4, 2016
1,538
1,402
I just ordered a Gelid Slim Silence AM4 cooler - I should be able to test it over the weekend and see how it compares in my build against Noctua NH-L9a-AM4. If performance is similar on 65W CPU, I will be able to reduce the main box's height from 6.5cm to 4.5cm or even 4cm! If all works, my lapdesk would officially fit in my 17'' laptop bag!

Congrats, it's a pretty impressive feat. Temperature seems decent, I believe it's no cause for alarm.
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
Flex PSU shipped early March, didn't have time to tinker lately but finally got round to it!

4 screws, a few cables and disassembled :) Then SF750 PSU removed:


USB3 header was taller than the 45mm standoffs! Had to make some fruit knife surgery and cut the "springy" bit around the cables so I could bend them more.



Overtek's Enhance 7660B flex PSU has a metal lip with 2 holes - I drilled 4.5mm holes in the aluminium plate and used that lip to screw the PSU with M4 screws:


All connected. PCIe cable was too short - good I had an extension laying around:

And all put back together:


Benchmarks with 45mm tall brass standoffs, 20*C room, no extra fan for additional airflow:
Code:
CPU temp min    52
CPU temp max    76
GPU temp max    87
TimeSpy CPU     5198
TimeSpy GPU     7717
TimeSpy Total   7188

GPU temperatures are higher than before, but things are tighter and there's less airflow without the extra fan. CPU seems the same and the scores still look good. I run TimeSpy 4 times one after the other and readings were consistent, seems more or less stable. I'll try to install an extra fan blowing at the GPU for some more fresh air and re-run TimeSpy.

Really happy with all of it, though!

Real shame Overtek's Enhance 7660B flex PSU is not modular, I'm not sure what to do with the 2x SATA and the spare PCIe cable - I might just cut them off with a bit extra length in case I want to re-solder? Don't have the space to tuck them in.
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
Added two 40x20 Noctua fans - one behind the PSU, blowing at the motherboard, other in front of the GPU, blowing between the GPU and MOBO - helped with idle temperatures but not a lot under load.
No idea why suddenly GPU temperatures run so high. Definitely less space, but a 10*C spike? I'm not that concerned, though. I might re-run TimeSpy with the rig disassembled to check temperatures, maybe re-paste if I get round to it.

TimeSpy with two extra 40x20 Noctua fans for air circulation:
Code:
CPU temp min   48
CPU temp max   76
GPU temp max   86
TimeSpy CPU    5196
TimeSpy GPU    7819
TimeSpy Total  7268

Makes me wonder how a rig like that would work if it was designed by someone who knows what they're doing ;) With custom, purpose-built parts, especially cooling, this could actually be a proper portable PC.
 

msystems

Master of Cramming
Apr 28, 2017
449
733
Nice build. Very unique so congrats on taking it to the finish. It kinda looks like a laptop on steroids, sacrificing the battery capacity of a laptop to cram in more performance. Looks like it can take more abuse than a regular sffpc, so its really in its own category. Sorry if I missed it, but do you store it in a hard case? To go further with the concept, I'd say ruggedize it.

I wanted to do something like this in an iconic zero Halliburton aluminum case and mocked it up, but then it got stolen! (Fortunately I took the million dollars out first)
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
Nice build. Very unique so congrats on taking it to the finish. It kinda looks like a laptop on steroids, sacrificing the battery capacity of a laptop to cram in more performance. Looks like it can take more abuse than a regular sffpc, so its really in its own category.
Thanks! Yeah, the whole idea was to have PC parts that I can upgrade and tinker with, and not be limited to whatever the laptop manufacturer decided. Initial concept was to include a battery, but after using the first prototype I didn't miss it. I thought if I plug in anyway I might as well replace the battery in the chassis with the PSU and not have to drag around an extra brick. I can always put it into hybrid sleep in Windows if I need to move it somewhere - an M.2 SSD and overclocked RAM make startup and wakeup really fast.

Sorry if I missed it, but do you store it in a hard case? To go further with the concept, I'd say ruggedize it.
It fits my 17'' laptop backback. With the latest changes to height I store it in a 17'' laptop bag, I'm trying to solve high GPU temps though. My point was to move easily and set up at a desk or table anywhere. Hopefully sometime soon park benches with mains plugs will become common ;)
I didn't really think about ruggedizing, I'm usually using it indoors. Handy to move around, especially for VR. Easy enough to put in a bag and carry with me if I'm going somewhere, too.

I wanted to do something like this in an iconic zero Halliburton aluminum case and mocked it up, but then it got stolen! (Fortunately I took the million dollars out first)
Haha, I can imagine one of those with handcuffs at the handle :D Shame it got stolen, sounds like a cool concept to keep the rig in!
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
Ha! With the rig open on the desk and GPU having around 35mm clearance from the bottom sheet, GPU temps after TimeSpy are much lower:
Code:
CPU temp min   48
CPU temp max   71
GPU temp max   73
TimeSpy CPU    5205
TimeSpy GPU    8211
TimeSpy Total  7556

When I rested the GPU on the bottom sheet, temperatures went to what I've seen before:
Code:
GPU temp max   86
TimeSpy GPU    7623
TimeSpy Total  7131

Looks like create more air circulation. I'll probably drill more vents, holes in the bottom plate do not go all the way in the back. Might add another 40x20 fan blowing at the GPU and try again.

Any ideas much appreciated.
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
Its not as modular, but have you seen this semi modular laptop? An interesting concept worth looking at: https://frame.work/
Haven't seen it before - great idea. Great to see things going from recent monoliths to at least repairable

UPDATE:
Hah, actually mentioned them in this post some time ago, totally forgot. Great to see they went further with their project!
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
I've read your threads, @msystems - brilliant stuff :) Can't believe I missed them earlier. Fired me up to tinker more with my build :)

Previous tests gave me an idea - if even 35mm GPU clearance improves temperatures by 10*C, what if I lift the whole aluminium sheet?
Max GPU temperature after TimeSpy is again down to 76*C!

Flip it on its head and I have my solution. If I go back to an old design from this post with the GPU on the same sheet as the mobo, CPU and GPU can draw fresh air from vents in the top sheet! GPU's backplate is touching aluminium for extra heat dissipation, will make the bottom sheet very warm if I use it on my lap... not planning on having more kids anyway.

Mocked up two hardware layouts - will have to test temperatures with an aluminium sheet over the CPU and GPU first. If all works ok, I'll order new sheets, test which layout fits better with cables and start drilling for a final-final-final design
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
I'm looking at some cooling ideas while I'm waiting for Kryonaut (want to repaste GPU) and new aluminium sheets.

Gelid Slim Silence is good but gets really loud under load. I'd love to replace the fan with Noctua 60mm or cut the hole bigger and even 80mm fan, but Noctua does these only in 25mm height and I won't have enough space. Cutting the fins to fit a 92x14mm fan would probably not work well, either.

Not a lot with 1U height:
I have to measure clearances - really tempted with A18 and shortening the screws so I can use a 92x14mm Noctua fan.
Or, A37 and two 40x20mm fans with ducts to act like blower fans? Not sure how well that would work, though. Still have the copper AXP-90, could do a proof of concept before I buy the A37


UPDATE:
I found the Dynatron A18 for £29 in the meantime! Even if I don't end up using it, the included blower PWM fan will be fun to experiment with. NH-L9A or APX-90 with a blower fan? Or maybe just better for air circulation than an extra Noctua 40x20? Can't find Dynatron A37 anywhere in Europe or aliexpress
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
69
Repasted GPU and temperatures improved by around 9 degrees - great news! Bad news - on the next day GPU slid down at full fan speed, but luckily only one of the fan fins broke off. GPU is really wobbly now, had to put it on a longer raiser facing up.
Ordered 2x Noctua NF-A9x14 fans and will make a Noctua mod :D Should be handy - I will be able to flip them to exhaust through the top on the next build.

I put Dynatron A18 on last night to test it and IT'S LOUD! Gave me an idea, though - I removed the blower fan and just rested a Noctua NF-A9x14 on the copper sink - holy crap, the sweet silence! Together, that's actually a decent very low profile cooler - 1-2mm lower than LP RAM!


Temperatures look good, too - GPU repasted, Dynatron A18 + Noctua NF-A9x14 fan:
Code:
CPU temp min:   47.8
CPU temp max:   78.1
GPU temp max:   69.4
TimeSpy Total:  7499
TimeSpy CPU:    4854
TimeSpy GPU:    8297

I'll just dremel the fan frame a bit and slot the fan between the existing screws - friction and springs should hold the fan well enough. Temps should be better with the fan totally flat against the heatsink, too, and I have an option to flip it to exhaust.
 

timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
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oh what happened?
thanks. I had the GPU on a riser, facing down, propped up a few centimetres from the desk. on Zotac 2070 Mini fins fan blades stick out of the shroud, fans ramp up to 100% on boot, GPU slid off and fell fans first on the desk. luckily only one fin fan blade snapped off... I wanted to do a Noctua mod anyway ;) just glad nothing serious broke
 
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ignsvn

By Toutatis!
Moderator
Apr 4, 2016
1,538
1,402
thanks. I had the GPU on a riser, facing down, propped up a few centimetres from the desk. on Zotac 2070 Mini fins stick out of the shroud, fans ramp up to 100% on boot, GPU slid off and fell fans first on the desk. luckily only one fin snapped off... I wanted to do a Noctua mod anyway ;) just glad nothing serious broke

did you mean the plastic shroud? because the fins are (supposedly) made of metal.
 

timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
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One of the blades on GPU broke off, made the GPU really wobbly and loud:


Really easy to dissect Zotac RTX 2070 Mini. 6 screws for heatsink, 4 for the shroud, 3 for each fan:


Butchering finest Austrian engineering - cut Noctua fan cables around 2.5cm from the fan, cut original GPU Y-splitter, stripped the shields, put new heat shrink and laid out on the heatsink:


Twisted cables together, bent along and covered with heat shrink - much easier than soldering such small cables (green - twisted; yellow - twisted and bent; black - twisted, bent and covered with heat shrink):


GPU Noctua mod complete! Really easy, actually - Zotac 2070 Mini already has two 92mm stock fans so really easy to swap for Noctua and reuse the original mini PWM Y-splitter:

Full Noctua lapdesk ghetto mod :D Brilliant silence! GPU and CPU manufacturers should do it as stock!
Just need to drill the CPU fan a bit to slot it between heatsink screws and cable tie fans:


GPU temperatures in TimeSpy fell another 4*C! Really happy with results!
Code:
GPU repasted + Noctua mod, Dynatron A18 + Noctua NF-A9x14 fan:
CPU temp min:   49.3
CPU temp max:   77.3
GPU temp max:   66.9
TimeSpy Total:  7604
TimeSpy CPU:    5181
TimeSpy GPU:    8289
 
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Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,075
2,057
Looks great! It might be worth making some sort of shroud between the CPU fan and heatsink sides rather than drilling the fan too much, as putting the fan very close to the heatsink will increase turbulence and thus noise, plus make the occluded spot behind the fan hub receive less airflow. It's always a tradeoff between this and forcing air through the fins more directly, but it might be worth testing a shroud with just some tape or paper to see if it has an effect.
 
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timginter

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Apr 21, 2019
177
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A 7mm drill bit, some trial and error, and holes drilled - fan loosely slotted between the screws and secured with 200 x 2.5mm cable ties - perfect fit!


This combo is amazing! That's a 28mm setup (maybe 30mm including sticking out cable ties) with amazing performance! I updated parts list in 3rd post - a bit on the pricier side if you can't find Dynatron A18 on a good deal, but it would be my go-to setup for really low builds.

putting the fan very close to the heatsink will increase turbulence and thus noise, plus make the occluded spot behind the fan hub receive less airflow (...) might be worth testing a shroud with just some tape or paper to see if it has an effect
I was wondering, what you said about the fan hub - that's right where the die is. That copper heatsink seems really good at spreading the heat, though - I run TimeSpy several times after drilling holes and cable-tying, temperatures improved even more and didn't notice increase in noise!

Code:
GPU repasted + Noctua mod, Dynatron A18 + Noctua NF-A9x14 fan drilled + cable ties:
CPU temp min:   47.9
CPU temp max:   75.4
GPU temp max:   66.4
TimeSpy Total:  7639
TimeSpy CPU:    5186
TimeSpy GPU:    8335