Freilite Spiramentum: Two chamber case concept

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Original poster
Feb 28, 2015
3,241
2,355
freilite.com
Spiramentum - Latin for "gap, split"

After I posted an update to Brevis S that showed an extension module, @pazoo asked whether it would be possible to make a case that separated the components into two chambers.

This is a very basic concept for now, as there are quite a few challenges with this sort of design.

Here's the inspiration:



The design wouldn't be the most efficient in terms of space, but it would to play with I/O and lighting effects between the two halves while also allowing all vents to be hidden in the gap between them.

I'm not sure whether the two sections need to be of the exact same width, that seems to be limiting in terms of space efficiency.
 
Last edited:

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Original poster
Feb 28, 2015
3,241
2,355
freilite.com
That's what I was looking for!
Couldn't you make the separation more even, like GPU+PSU on one side, CPU+SSD on the other? That would keep the heat from the GPU contained.
[...]

It is a very interesting proposal for a case, and I've been toying around with it all day in my head. It would allow some extremely interesting combination of parts, depending on how the components are split between the cases.

It seems like there are three ways of separating the components into the two parts of the case.
  1. Mainboard and GPU in Section 1, PSU and drives in Section 2
  2. Mainboard and drives in Section 1, PSU and GPU in Section 2
  3. Mainboard and PSU in Section 1, GPU and drives in Section 2
Option 1 allows the PSU to be separated from all heat generating components, and the drives won't be heated up either, which could be beneficial for longevity. Routing for a flexible riser would be trivial, and the I/O can be placed in such a way that the heavy display and power cables are located at the bottom. GPU and Mainboard take up way more space vertically than a PSU and a few drives, though, so it doesn't seem as space efficient, which is made even worse by the fact that a GPU is slimmer than a regular mainboard.

Option 2 seems better in that regard, and as a FlexATX PSU and dual slot GPU are of very similar height, less space is wasted and the two most heat generating components are separated as well. If one wanted to support an ODD, though, Section 1 would still be a bit taller than Section 2. But, when using multiple drives, cable routing from the board to them is made a fair bit easier. The same goes for AIO watercooling for the CPU.

Option 3 is the most balanced in my opinion. The two compartments would be of close to the same height, the ATX24pin cable could be routed directly to the mainboard and caused the least clutter in that regard. A little bit of space would be wasted above the FlexATX PSU, though one could fill that with 2.5" drives again. Alternatively, an SFX supply could be considered. In this instance, AIO watercooling for the GPU would benefit. You could also use just Section 1 of the case to build a very capable APU rig with an integrated PSU.


In any instance, drawing air only from the space between the two sections seems like a cool concept and would benefit the looks greatly, but installation of components would probably be quite a bit harder, too.

I can see advantages with any of those combinations, although even if you don't go Option1, if you put the drives and PSU under the motherboard and GPU respectively, I don't think they will get that much heat, will they?

So I've played around with sketchup a bit and tried to find the most efficient ways for each of these setups to work:



From left to right: Option 3, Option 1, Option 2.
Motherboard is blue, PSU is red, GPU is green and drives are orange (in this case a slim ODD, a 2.5" 9.5mm HDD and a 3.5" HDD)
The white "sidepanels" are 270mm tall, just for reference. The left section is 55mm wide on the inside, the right one is 44mm wide on the inside.

As you can see, Option 1 is nothing but wasteful of space. It is the tallest of all of the layouts and would only work with normal-height GPUs. The hot air from the CPU would also have a hard time escaping the case. I'd say this option can be scrapped from the get go, except if I wanted to support 5.25" Disk drives, as it would actually have enough space for that.

Option 2 is much better and could be the smallest one if only 2.5" drives were used. I could also put the motherboard at the top for best ventilation, so it's a viable option if ODDs aren't used.

Option 3 seems to be have the best balance, it uses all available space (notice the ODD intruding into the GPU zone), allows great ventilation for both CPU and GPU.

In any case, the space for the 3.5" HDD could also be used for other purposes.
 

pazoo

Caliper Novice
Dec 25, 2015
33
5
One more thread to follow :)
Option3 seems the way to go, although Option2 might have a better mass repartition between the 2 chambers.
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Original poster
Feb 28, 2015
3,241
2,355
freilite.com
One more thread to follow :)
Option3 seems the way to go, although Option2 might have a better mass repartition between the 2 chambers.

Welcome aboard! Huh, didn't even think about mass repartition, I'll have to check that, though it will highly depend on the CPU cooler that's used.
 

Hahutzy

Airflow Optimizer
Sep 9, 2015
252
187
Option 3 is the most compact, but of all the cabling that potentially has to traverse between chambers, the PCI-E ribbon is probably the worst.
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
5,183
4,519
I also like Option 3 the most. Option 1 does allow usage for DC-DC PSU and on-board storage. But that's where your other project is for, so it would redundant. The PCIe extender does seem your main worry, I would try alligning the MB PCIe port and GPU PCIe connector as much as possible to the middle. Maybe let the board face outwards for better thermal performance ?
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Original poster
Feb 28, 2015
3,241
2,355
freilite.com
Option 3 is the most compact, but of all the cabling that potentially has to traverse between chambers, the PCI-E ribbon is probably the worst.

That is of course one of the challenges. I do think that using the 3M riser would allow to fold the ribbon in on itself and route it in unimaginable ways.

Another idea would be to use USB C-Type cables for that. They have four differential signal pairs each and are designed to carry up to 100W of power, so one cable would allow to pass 2 lanes of PCIe to pass through. I don't know at which frequency, though.
In theory, you'd need eight of those cables for a full x16 connection, and they are already shielded from crosstalk and EMI.

I also like Option 3 the most. Option 1 does allow usage for DC-DC PSU and on-board storage. But that's where your other project is for, so it would redundant. The PCIe extender does seem your main worry, I would try alligning the MB PCIe port and GPU PCIe connector as much as possible to the middle. Maybe let the board face outwards for better thermal performance ?

Brevis S is using a FlexATX PSU as well, but a DC-DC PSU would be an interesting idea with Option 1. The question would then be what to put in the right chamber.

Letting the board face outwards would defeat the point of the exercise, but I agree that it would make things easier, especially the cooling.

In terms of where to actually route the cable, it really depends on the design. If the two chambers were connected via a slim base at the bottom, like the Sharp X68000 is, routing the riser through there would be trivial, it would just have to be rather long.
If they were connected with an acrylic block or something in the middle, routing wouldn't be that hard to accomplish either. It get's complicated if you don't want anything between the two chambers.

The second big challenge would be the installation of the components. depending on how the two chambers are connected to each other, taking the case apart could become really complicated. Again, having a base at the bottom would be the easiest solution, but it wouldn't look as cool as a floating connection in the middle of the case, I think.

Dat Sharp X68000 .... Beautiful !!!

It's not mine, unfortunately. You're probably going to like this:

This guy recreated a fully custom x68000 case and it looks pretty neat:
http://www.lcv.ne.jp/~mgs1987/x68/x68win7.html
end result here:
http://www.lcv.ne.jp/~mgs1987/x68/x68win7k.html

Something that will greatly impact the design of this case is whether it has to work in a horizontal orientation as well, because that requires the connection between the two chambers to bear more load. I don't really see it being used that way, but maybe I'm blind for the use cases. Do you think it should allow a horizontal orientation, or doesn't that make sense at all?
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
Gold Supporter
May 11, 2015
1,578
2,107
I'd love one of those X68k cases, but I can;t imagine they're easy to find even in Japan (let alone getting it to the other side of the planet. Plamo and BD escrow and imports are bad enough).
The PCIe extender does seem your main worry, I would try alligning the MB PCIe port and GPU PCIe connector as much as possible to the middle. Maybe let the board face outwards for better thermal performance ?
There are two routes to run the PCIe flex riser: through the 'base', or through the handle near the upper-middle.