Concept DSE Vertex - A 10L Inverted Vertical Format ITX Tower

Discussion in 'Custom Cases & Projects' started by DSE, Mar 25, 2018.

  1. DSE

    DSE SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter DSE

    #1 DSE, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018

    The Story

    Ever since I made the Breathe case, I was always wondering: Would I ever make another case? Could anything new be done with the component layout? Could I ever deliver on the features so many people wanted in the Breathe?
    Now I've got my answer: Yes; and its name is Vertex.

    The first inklings of the idea for the Vertex formed out of the comments on my thread for the Breathe. People saying things like "I don't like how the cables come out the top, could you make the cables come out the bottom?" "Can you make a cover to conceal the cables?" "I have a 2.5 slot graphics card, will it fit in this case?". To questions like these, I always had to say no, because in my head, the concept for the Breathe's identity always had certain characteristics that I did not want to change. However, those questions, complaints, and suggestions still stuck with me.

    So on the night of February 18, 2018, I decided to open SketchUp and play around with component layouts again. A few hours later, I made some layouts that I actually liked and wrote this post to my thread. As I worked on the idea, the two layouts merged into one and thus, the concept for the Vertex was born.

    Here were some of the early layouts.

    And the design iterations of the Vertex built up through the following weeks.

    And about a month later, here we are.

    The Design

    When I was designing the Breathe, I had the idea of a case that would look like an ambiguous piece of art sitting on your desk. I wanted to continue that aesthetic with this case, except do it even sleeker, cleaner, smoother. So the result is another monolithic case with ventilation on all sides but with smoother lines, curves, and less visible fasteners.

    Functionally, I wanted the Vertex to accomplish a lot of things. Primarily, I wanted it to serve as a "workstation" case, a vertical case that could house and enable more powerful hardware than the Breathe could. So I gave it a lot more space for bigger CPU coolers, more width to fit thick, long, and tall 2.5 slot graphics cards, and enough spots to hold six 2.5" drives.

    I guess the most defining feature of this case is the empty gap at its base.
    Since all I/O comes out the bottom, the purpose of this 52mm gap is to provide enough space in the underside of the case to plug stuff in and create enough clearance for all the connectors and for their wires to run out. The large rectangular cutout in the foot of the case is to help with plugging in cables when you have laid the case on its side.

    With the exterior appearance of the case, like I said, I wanted to make it clean, so the side panels use no screws and are completely toolless, using the same ball studs and clips that are used in the Cerberus cases.

    The side panels overhang the bottom gap of the case a little bit to create a lip to hold on to when pulling the panels off of the case.

    If you need to do some major installations in the case, the internal frame can be released from the external frame by unscrewing 8 screws that are camouflaged into the vent pattern.
    The right side of the internal frame can also be unscrewed and removed if needed when working in the case.

    That circular hole above the cutout for the motherboard's I/O shield in the bottom of the internal frame is for a 16mm vandal switch.


    These are the colorways I'd like to offer the case in. Of course with powder coating, we can do other colors but these are just the combinations that I think look clean.
    Standard white on silver.

    Black on silver (my favorite).

    Black on black.

    White on black.

    The Name

    I named the case Vertex because it's an inverted vertical format case that's 10 (X) liters in volume.
    So "Vert-X".
    And it sounds cool. I like it.


    Length: 189.81mm
    Width: 146.79mm
    Height: 364.67mm
    Volume: 10.16L

    Material: 0.95mm steel for internal frame; 2.03mm aluminum for external frame and side panels
    Finish: Powder coat and anodize

    PSU compatibility: SFX
    Motherboard compatibility: Mini-ITX
    CPU cooler compatibility: 72mm max height
    Graphics card compatibility: 306.7mm max length (from outside face of PCI-E bracket to end), 52.9mm max width, 134.6mm max height (from bottom of PCI-E fingers to top)


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And here it is compared with its older, but smaller, brother.
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  2. rfarmer

    rfarmer King of Cable Management
    Silver Supporter

    I like the look, the increased cooler height and the SSD mounting. Only problem I see, at least for me, is the lack of front IO/usb ports. With the IO on the bottom of the case it would be inconvenient for plugging in flash drives.
    DSE likes this.
  3. DSE

    DSE SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter DSE

    Yep, definitely understand. This is why I'd actually recommend a USB hub to be used along with this case. I assume the type of people who are into this case would be the type to own one already.
  4. renecop545

    renecop545 Trash Compacter

    #4 renecop545, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
    Wowowow this is a fantastic looking redesign man! I really like how you incorporated past suggestions like making the case assembly tool-less and allowing for the case to rest both vertically and horizontally, while still maintaining the super clean aesthetic. Random observations in no particular order:
    • The vents on each side have a larger margin from the edge compared to the Breathe. I assume from your airflow tests you discovered that this had better cooling performance?
    • Really impressed by how many iterations you went through, did you do anything any user testing between them? Some of those look quite nice so I'm a little surprised you didn't select them, but this final concept you settled on is very nice too XD
    • Minor gripe, but would it be possible to make the top seamless instead of split into 2 parts like in this picture?

    If it's not due to engineering concerns but cost concerns I'd be willing to pay extra to have a seamless aluminum external frame. Also, will the the breathe be adopting this new design as well, or will it stick with the v2 you originally outlined here? Either way, this looks like a fantastic case and I'd be down to order a red or a red/black colorway when it becomes available!

    Front I/O would be nice, but unfortunately I think it'd clash with the overall aesthetic of the case (where would you put it?). Since there is a gap at the base, it seems like it shouldn't be too hard to just tilt case and insert/eject from the bottom.
    Soul_Est and DSE like this.
  5. Philairflow

    Philairflow SFF Lingo Aficionado

    #5 Philairflow, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
    I made a lot of brainstorming about vertical cases. That is not a secret. And I think I/O on the bottom is a huge disadvantage versus the Breathe. I like the design but I think the Breathe has a far better handling.

    The disadvantage of Breathe is the open cables on top. But I think it is not worth the tradeoff.

    So I would prefer the Breathe with a shroud on top.
  6. Phuncz

    Phuncz Lord of the Boards
    Moderator SFF Purist Gold Supporter

    I like the design, internally and externally. Especially some details, like the hidden screws are a nice touch !

    The outer shell does seem to be one piece that connects it's ends at the top. Is this even possible for a manufacturer, given that the die of the press machine needs a certain amount of space to work and even has to bend a little beyond the needed bending radius for most metals (flexilibility) ? If not, I'd consider splitting that part up in to two, with the split on top (like you already have) and on the bottom.

    Having the cables exit at the top is a disadvantage of that concept. It's a preference basically.
  7. DSE

    DSE SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter DSE

    Thanks! Yep, the margins are for better ducting. No user testing on the previous iterations, I just moved on in the design based on what would be prettier or more feasible for fabrication and the final design was the most promising candidate. As for making the external frame seamless, I think that's a question for @KSliger.

    The Breathe will still be sticking with its v2 design. I might work on translating the Breathe into the design language of the Vertex in the future, but I have no plans right now.

    Thank you, thank you. Not completely sure about the external frame. I think it should be possible to fabricate, but again, this is another question better answered by @KSliger. If it being un-manufacturable is the case, then I'll definitely be splitting it somehow.
    Biowarejak and renecop545 like this.
  8. gunpalcyril

    gunpalcyril Airflow Optimizer


    This is lovely. I don't think any criticism is needed, small things like a seamless exterior and external io and orientation completely miss the point, This is well thought out and great.

    I like how the bottom cutout on the "feet" can serve as a carrying handle, and how seamless the transition is from the case body itself.
    I like the filleted corner design, and the omission of less visible bolts and screws.

    Is the ssd drive mounts (or space for it) compatible to use 3.5 hard drives? Would be nice if that was an option as well.

    It looks like there could be space to add brackets for aio watercoolers? 92mm? 120mm? :D

    My only request would be if I could get this vertex case with breathe v1 vent cutouts, I would happily pay more for it.

    Looking forward to release date.
    Biowarejak and DSE like this.
  9. jtd871

    jtd871 SFF Guru

    This *almost* makes me regret buying an A4. Very nicely done.

    Couple of points:
    1) Love the overall concept (like a FT03 mini but upside down and well-ventilated).
    2) I like your point about using USB hub for general IO (it's what I do with my A4 and really regret that @dondan put a front USB on the A4 as it really is a PAIN getting that front USB3 connector to the header)
    3) This design does make it difficult to have discrete wifi antennas attached to the rear IO. I will bet that there are extension cables that connect to a desk-mount antenna, though.
    4) Second the difficulty of having the single wraparound meet perfectly at the top. I'm confident that you and @KSliger can work something out.
    DSE likes this.
  10. theGryphon

    theGryphon Cable-Tie Ninja

    #10 theGryphon, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
    Great looking design, and functional to boot :thumb:

    A few ideas/suggestions:

    1) The way PSU is oriented limits the case compatibility to a) regular height GPUs and b) SFX-only (no SFX-L) PSUs. What I would do, I suppose, is rotate the PSU 90 degrees so its fan faces the back of the GPU, and use the remaining case depth behind the PSU for SSDs (along the side wall). 2 x 2 = 4 SSDs should fit in there, to be installed on a bracket. I would also move the PCI-E mount point closer to the wall to accommodate tall GPUs. I hope it's clear but if not, I'll try again :)

    2) The design got me thinking, why not flip the case 180 degrees and have the IO on the top? You can even make one of the panels full cover and only the back panel would give an opening for cables, along with the cutout on the top which would still remain. If you do this, which you should, you should also make the panels edge over the wrap-around frame (as in Dan's A4) and make the wrap-around end at 1/3 of the way (from both sides) on the bottom, avoiding the requirement of precision manufacturing for the wrap-around. As an plus on the side, the case would have handles on top ;)

    You should really take the two suggestions above, especially the second one... IO on top will make accessibility quite a challenge, I fear, and wireless antenna support will be limited to those with extension cables. Plus the USB dongle, that's a lot of cables around if you ask me. Having the IO op top is really the ideal solution, and you really can get away with no front IO.

    Now come the more fantastic idea:

    3) For those who do not want to use an internal PSU but instead go the brick way... You can support two 120mm AIOs, one each for the CPU and GPU, on top there. The SSD bracket I mentioned above can be moved down to be installed over the motherboard. I'm not sure if you can engineer in two AIOs with a full-length GPU card though... maybe only for short GPUs?
  11. jmarin

    jmarin Cable-Tie Ninja

    The ONLY thing I can think of that would detract from the beauty of this case is that the cables will be seen from the font coming out of the bottom. Having a plate or cover to hide those would make the case even cleaner and look even more like artwork, like you mentioned
  12. myfirstpcyay

    myfirstpcyay Average Stuffer

    Damn DSE...beautiful case.
    DSE likes this.
  13. 206er

    206er Case Bender

    Some suggestions:

    1. If the seam on top is because of the bending process, you can move it to the bottom.
    2. You can extend 1 of the side panel so it can cover the cable entry hole and the aforementioned seam for better aesthetics. For ease of removal, you can provide a small notch that can be used to insert a finger to pry the side panel and also route the USB hub to the front

    And questions:
    1. What is the radius of the wraparound? I'm a bit afraid that it can be easily toppled because of the rounded bottom shape
    2. How big is the gap for cable routing? HDMI, DP, and power connector are relatively big.
    3. Where will you put the power button?
  14. Phuncz

    Phuncz Lord of the Boards
    Moderator SFF Purist Gold Supporter

    If you look at this picture and have an I/O shield handy, you can make a good estimate of both questions:


    If you're concerned about it not being steady enough, it seems most of the weight is in the center plane anyway.
    Considering both images, I wouldn't worry about DVI cables fitting through.

    And you can see the cutout for the power button on this image (above the I/O shield)

    DSE likes this.
  15. DSE

    DSE SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter DSE

    Thanks man. The SSD space can't hold a 3.5" drive unfortunately. A 3.5" drive is just too long to fit there. As for brackets for fans/cooling, it's something I'm thinking about and playing with right now. Trust me, there isn't enough free space anywhere in the case for a 120mm rad+fan; like even if you completely take out the SFX PSU, that space still isn't big enough to fit a 120mm rad, because of how radiators have those tanks at either end. But I'm thinking 92mm could be possible at the top of the case if the user is willing to not use the drive bracket. Maybe. I'll have to play around with it more.

    I'll see if the Breathe's staggered slots will fit on Vertex.

    Thanks, really appreciate it. Points taken. :)

    Thank you.

    1) It doesn't. This case can fit a graphics card as tall and thick as an ASUS ROG Strix GTX 1080 Ti with length still left to spare. Please read what I wrote.

    I know SFX-L is better, but since when has SFX ever become a problem? Forgive me, but I'm just confused here. Like is the Corsair SF600 not enough? People won't be running an overclocked, full watercooled build in this case nor will they ever be running Threadripper in here either.

    I wanted this case to support six 2.5" drives since I was designing with the ASRock X299E-ITX and ASRock Fatal1ty Z370 Gaming-ITX motherboards in mind. Both of them have 6 SATA ports and part of my idea of the ideal workstation PC is the capability for massive storage. I already tried orienting the PSU the way you described in my iteration phase of the design and it didn't give me the space for the number of drives I wanted.

    2) Because I already made a case like that. It's called the Breathe. I designed this case explicitly to be the polar opposite of what the Breathe is, because that's what people wanted. So I have essentially made both sides of the coin; people just have to choose which one they want. I mean, people are free to flip this case upside down if they want, but I didn't design it specifically for that purpose and I don't want to.

    3) Like I said to @gunpalcyril above, fitting a single 120mm rad+fan in this case is probably not happening unless the user does do some pretty extreme modifications and uses a short graphics card, so two 120mm rads+fans is out of the question. 92mm rad+fan might be possible. I'm working on it.

    Well the reason for the gap to be open the way it is, is for accessibility. Having a cover like that would reduce accessibility to the I/O ports and cables to zero. I'm very satisfied with the way I have the panels currently.

    Thanks, but it's not as beautiful as you are. :)

    1. The reason why I have the seam on top is for strength and aesthetics. With the seam at the top, the two ends of the external frame are secured to the internal frame. That way, the ends aren't "free" and can't be susceptible to being bent/deformed. With this case sitting on your desk, you probably won't be seeing the top of the case most of the time, you'd be seeing the sides and bottom instead. If the seam was at the bottom, I'd hate to constantly see it at the base of my case, especially with it being such a glaring structural design flaw in my eyes.

    2. I disagree, as that would upset the whole symmetry of the case. It would break the top-bottom symmetry of that side panel and break the front-back symmetry of the case. Maintaining a visual balance is really important to me. The extended side panel would just decrease accessibility as well. I want the case to have the same level of accessibility, front or back.

    1) 1/4 inch. I tried tipping over my Breathe many, many times, and it wants to slide rather than topple over. Considering that the Vertex has a larger footprint than the Breathe, I have no concerns about it being prone to toppling over. The radiused bends would have very little effect, if at all, on the case's stability.

    2) 52mm. I edited the main post to specify this; so thank you for that. 52mm is sufficient for all those connectors.

    3) In the bottom of the internal frame. There's a 16mm circular hole above the cutout for the motherboard's I/O shield, as @Phuncz has previously pointed out. I have edited the main post to specify this as well, so thanks again.
    renecop545 and Phuncz like this.
  16. jmarin

    jmarin Cable-Tie Ninja

    Your explanation makes sense and I can definitely see your point. Most likely the cables would be barely visible as it is. It's a beautiful design
    DSE likes this.
  17. veganzombiez

    veganzombiez Caliper Novice

    Dangit, DSE, you've made two sweet cases I really want. Good job on the designs!

    I think I'm gonna stick with the Breathe, since I'm quite fond of the red case + black screws on the exterior.
    DSE likes this.
  18. gunpalcyril

    gunpalcyril Airflow Optimizer

    @DSE I was actually thinking of putting the 120mm radiator on 2 different positions: either right above the motherboard or if you remove the ssds (or "flatten" the ssds along the the inner spine of the frame) it looks like it could fit in the space as well. To clarify, both these positions would have the rad would be oriented vertically, so air travels sideways.

    Just an afterthought, since you are using a full internal cage frame, it could be simple to just fashion extra mounting points for bar brackets to hold up 120mm rads/fans.
    DSE likes this.
  19. DSE

    DSE SFF Lingo Aficionado
    Thread Starter DSE

    Ah, I see what you mean. Putting the 120mm rad above the motherboard would be really something. With 25mm for the waterblock thickness, 25mm for the radiator, and 15mm for a Noctua NF-A12x15, that only leaves 7mm of space between the rad+fan and waterblock, so it would be extremely tight, but I think it can be done.
  20. gunpalcyril

    gunpalcyril Airflow Optimizer

    @DSE you never know... there's a lot of different builds working with insane clearances in this forum haha.

    Is this targeted to be sold after breathe v2? Estimated release date?
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