Epoch - A Long Term Project in a NFC SkyReach 4 MINI

confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
Original poster
SFF Workshop
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Jun 19, 2015
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sff.network
I realised recently that I'm not a superhero. Being the solo parent of two pre-teens, working a day job, dealing with anxiety disorder, amongst other things, I needed to slow down. I've (significantly) slowed my content production down for SFF Network, and it's time I built a more.. long term.. system. One to last more than the three or four weeks my playing with review units has led me to recently. Million Dollar PC hall of fame inspired, as the designer of this case would say - "No compromises".

Amusingly, with all the samples to hand, I've chosen to buy most of the parts for this build - over the past few months mind you. Let's get started.



Hardware. Yes, that's a NFC SkyReach S4M - It's about time I had hands on with this legend of the SFF world. I'll be giving my thoughts on it throughout the build. Along side this;
  • Intel i7-7700T (thanks @Kmpkt)
  • Gigabyte B150N Phoenix WiFi
  • G-Skill Flare-X 16GB
  • Sapphire RX570 Pulse ITX
  • NFC SkyWires kit (fantastic, by the way, more thoughts later)
  • HDPlex DC-ATX 400W, early generation with arguably the better looking heatsinks



The NFC SkyReach S4M. A great quality case, designed by @Josh | NFC and produced by Lian Li in Taiwan via partnership with SFFLab. The expected Lian Li quality is here, although there are some niggles I'll mention. See that black faceplate? The silver aluminium? Yep, I'm changing that :D

One thing to note on my thoughts - Phillips head screws seem a little out of place on such a premium product. I'll be replacing them with Allen head screws where possible.



Ok, this has to go.



Done. The orange is great and all, but the tribal pattern? Meh.



The accessory kit that comes with the S4M. No instruction manual is included (le sigh), but the riser is awesomely small. The included screws cover a load of config options, but as I mentioned above, I will be installing my own style where possible.



The included SILIFLEX riser is awesome - just follow the instructions on the riser, or we'll all judge you.



The power inputs are either a barrel jack or an IEC C8 connector - I'll be using an internal AC-DC so the latter will be used. However, I hate unused holes/ports/slots/mounts, so I'll be rear mounting a power button (also happens to fit in with the aesthetic in mind) in the barrel jack hole.



I previewed this aesthetic at Computex a couple of years back, and at the risk of angering the masses, I prefer it over the NFC S4C. Prepare yer pitchforks! The two matching outer panels are attached with four Phillips head screws in a countersunk hole. I'll be adding additional depth to these to suit the screws for my personal build, though. Good thing I'm painting it!



The panel fit is a bit tight, and it does lead to marring the inside of the panels. I'm a little disappointed in this - a tight panel fit is nice, but I'm removing powdercoat every time I mount the panels. The fit is a little too tight :/



Options! The SkyBracket allows mounting of a 120mm fan all over the case - the mounting holes are numerous and well positioned. This, as with the entire case, is aluminium.



More of the mounting holes. These are compatible with both the SkyBracket and the SkyBracket Duo, pictured in part here.



Mount either bracket where you want. Or don't. It's your build! I won't be using either in my system.



So they will live on as a "friendly" face.



Up front, behind the black front panel, hide a few more options, should you be willing to create a custom front panel. I was tempted to use these, and take these as inspiration. We'll see where that takes me.



Right, let's go with a test build. SkyBrackets removed.



IO Shield in, fits perfectly.



Motherboard in. As always, the padded EMI shield makes this a pain.



GPU in. I needed to bend the bottom retention tabs on the card to get this to fit - not sure if this was a card or case issue.



Riser in. This is a pretty snug fit - and I'll be 3D printing a cover for this - I'm not a fan of this shade of brown. Screams mid 90's motherboard to me.



NFC SkyWires in, along with the HDPlex 400w DC-ATX. The SkyWires are very, very nice, with a silicone style coating on the robust wires. Kudos to @Josh | NFC for these. I was going to sleeve these, but nope, these are too good to hide. I did modify them though, by removing the wires for the extra two pins, taking the PCIe 8 pin to be a cleaner 6 pin for my card.

No official mounting holes for the HDPlex 400w DC-ATX, so find your own way to mount it.



From the back, pretty subtle. I'm very happy to see access to back mounted M.2 drives and CPU cooler retention included in the case's design - great for me especially as I will be slotting in a 512GB or 1TB M.2 drive when this becomes my main system.



Rear mounted power switch. I'll be re-wiring this, these are just the cables included when I sourced a CustomMod Nano with this switch. That case? it didn't fit the motherboard it was designed for. #fail



A fair bit of empty space here. Yuck! Ah well, to the top will be used for an internal HDPlex AC-DC 400w, when those.. eventually.. hit the market. To the left? not sure yet.



That black brushed front panel? Fingerprint magnet. Note the replaced screws.. ;)



And to the back, showing the power button.

--------------

Long term plans;

  • Paint the shell beige (well, duh!)
  • HDPlex 400w AC-DC
  • Cable management
  • Custom front "3D" panel made from NZ timber
  • De-tribal that IO shield
  • 3D printed stuff
I'll be logging these mods as time goes on, including guides where I can.
 
Last edited:

MJVR1

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Jun 10, 2015
92
55
Can never go wrong with the S4. If you have the time, could you post your thoughts on the 570 ITX please? Information on that card is a bit hard to come by surprisingly.
 

confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
Original poster
SFF Workshop
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Jun 19, 2015
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sff.network


A Sketchup model of the S4M front fascia, along with a representation of the front panel USB Type A & C unit from a Salvo Studios S401. I'll be using this to design my front panel. There's nothing a good set of calipers and a ruler can't convert to CAD :D
 
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confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
Original poster
SFF Workshop
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Jun 19, 2015
3,515
6,054
sff.network


In position, the USB PCB adds 10mm to the thickness of the front panel - keep in mind the standard fascia is flush with the top of the draft panel here.



Allowing for strength and workability, the overall front panel will be around 17mm thick - 15mm forward of the case, 2mm embedded where the original front panel was.



This recess is where the PCB will live.



In position. The transparent layer is a guide layer for me to ensure sufficient depth. The right angle USB3 header will have to be replaced with a vertical one - no biggie.



Countersunk holes, but of course.



And rounded edges.



In woodgrain!

At this point the dimensionality of the fascia is complete. Now to decide on aesthetics - should I default to SkySlots? A logo? A big hole? Wait and see. (Honestly, I don't know at this time!)
 

Zephyraeon

Caliper Novice
Nov 15, 2018
33
24
For the front panel you're going to do, have you decided on the type of wood you're gonna use? When you said NZ timber my mind immediately jumped to recycled kauri (which would look amazing).
 
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Choidebu

"Banned"
Aug 16, 2017
1,172
1,160
How about adding some air guides/vents where case fans should be? For the thickness it might not do much, but still a vent nonetheless.

So I assume you'll be CNCing the front panel?
 

owliwar

Master of Cramming
Lazer3D
Silver Supporter
Apr 7, 2017
585
1,081
I'd recomend some form of vents on the front of the gpu position, as it will help with temps
either sideways as you have room for it or in skyslots style which is really nice.
 

owliwar

Master of Cramming
Lazer3D
Silver Supporter
Apr 7, 2017
585
1,081
@Solo alas, no - I usually use my Sennheiser CX6.00BT :p

Project update: Realised I was going about this all wrong and decided a more accessible USB3 hub was a better idea - less work, more ports, more flexibility in desk layout.
this will allow for a much slimmer front bezel as well.
good idea
 
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confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
Original poster
SFF Workshop
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Jun 19, 2015
3,515
6,054
sff.network
Another change to the plan. After seeing @Josh | NFC 's stream today, I decided to double check my measurements. According to the official specs on the HDPlex 400w AC-DC, it just won't fit with the Sapphire Pulse ITX 570. Damn.

No moar brickless for me. Time to go looking for Dell power bricks..