Concept [IDEA] Small footprint Tower case with Vertically orientated Full-length GPU and NO visible Vents

MatTKO

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 28, 2019
13
7
Since I wasn't able to find the perfect case that would fill all requirements I had, I decided to sketch a layout for the case which has small area footprint that is mostly quadratic (depth and width are similar), does not have vents at the front, top or on the sides of the case, supports full-length GPU and has volume under 17 liters.

Here is the layout I came up with:

VIEWPOINT FROM THE LEFT SIDE


VIEWPOINT FROM THE BOTTOM



FRONT LEFT VIEWPOINT


This layout supports:
  • full-length GPU,
  • Mini-ITX motherboard,
  • ATX PSU,
  • tower CPU cooler,
  • three 120 mm fans (one at the bottom as intake fan, two at the back of the case as exhaust fans).

The inner volume of the case is 14.5 liters.

The first potential problem I see is the ATX PSU. There is barely any space for cable management so a SFX PSU might be a better fit. Using a SFX PSU would allow me to reduce height by approx 15 mm, although that would mean reducing GPU length by approx 15 mm as well.

Can some experienced designers like @Necere, @PlayfulPhoenix, @dondan, @Josh | NFC, @K888D, @sergiiua, @ZombiPL, @AlexTzone, @macbosco, @Lone, @Matt3D, @CircleTect, @grsychckn, @firewolfy, @LukeD, @DSE chime in and tell me what other potential problems this layout has.
 
Last edited:

Windfall

I'm a huge fan of SFF
SFFn Staff
Nov 14, 2017
2,114
1,574
Since I wasn't able to find the perfect case that would fill all requirements I had, I decided to sketch a layout for the case which has small area footprint that is mostly quadratic (depth and width are similar), does not have vents at the front, top or on the sides of the case, supports full-length GPU and has volume under 17 liters.

Here is the layout I came up with:
VIEW POINT FROM THE LEFT SIDE

VIEW POINT FROM THE BOTTOM


This layout supports:
  • full-length GPU,
  • Mini-ITX motherboard,
  • ATX PSU,
  • tower CPU cooler,
  • three 120 mm fans (one at the bottom as intake fan, two at the back of the case as exhaust fans).

The inner volume of the case is 14.5 liters.

The first potential problem I see is the ATX PSU. There is barely any space for cable management so a SFX PSU might be a better fit. Using a SFX PSU would allow me to reduce height by approx 15 mm, although that would mean reducing GPU length by approx 15 mm as well.

Can some experienced designers like @Necere, @PlayfulPhoenix, @dondan, @Josh | NFC, @K888D, @sergiiua, @ZombiPL, @AlexTzone, @macbosco, @Lone, @Matt3D, @CircleTect, @grsychckn, @firewolfy, @LukeD, @DSE chime in and tell me what other potential problems this layout has.

WOW. That's one huge mass ping.

XD

Yeah, dump the ATX PSU, and go SFX or even flex atx.
 

tinyitx

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 25, 2018
2,100
2,054
First problem is that the PSU at the top is probably not going to receive much fresh air as the majority of air will be exhausted out by the 2 rear fans before reaching the top. This might not be a big problem.

Second potential problem is the paths of inflow and exhaust of the display card cannot be separately defined. This problem, IMHO, is a big one. Whether the card is a traditional centrifugal fan type (pic 1) or an axial fan type (pic 2), there will be mixing of fresh intake and warmed exhaust. Re-circulation seems unavoidable.
 
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Necere

Shrink Ray Wielder
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
1,707
3,239
That bottom fan will need intake clearance below it to get airflow, see this thread to get an idea of how much you might need. One (somewhat restricted intake fan and two exhaust fans (+PSU) will result in a negative air pressure scenario, which is worse from a dust control perspective.

I would also echo @tinyitx's concerns regarding GPU airflow.
 
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el01

King of Cable Management
Jun 4, 2018
770
588
The bottom fan is a bit of a weird one for me because it's going to be cannibalized by everything (@tinyitx 's concern), and a lot of it will be exhausted directly by the side fans.

Perhaps flip the whole thing such that the PSU is at the bottom? I can see issues with the top mount causing instability.

Otherwise, a pretty good start!

(my suggestion would be to remove the 2 side fans and orient the tower cooler such that the fans exhaust out the side. Would also help slim the case down a bit :D)
 

MatTKO

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 28, 2019
13
7
WOW. That's one huge mass ping.

XD

Yeah, dump the ATX PSU, and go SFX or even flex atx.

Unless ATX PSU cannot fit in that space, I don't see much benefit of going SFX or flex ATX at this point.

Does anyone know how much space is needed for ATX PSU cable management? There is about 24 mm of empty space between the back of the PSU and GPU.

I can always put SFX PSU into a space for ATX PSU but not vice versa.


First problem is that the PSU at the top is probably not going to receive much fresh air as the majority of air will be exhausted out by the 2 rear fans before reaching the top. This might not be a big problem.

Second potential problem is the paths of inflow and exhaust of the display card cannot be separately defined. This problem, IMHO, is a big one. Whether the card is a traditional centrifugal fan type (pic 1) or an axial fan type (pic 2), there will be mixing of fresh intake and warmed exhaust. Re-circulation seems unavoidable.

I envisioned this case for an open air GPU. This layout definitively wouldn't work with a blower GPU.

How much, if anything, would it help to put the bottom fan at the front-left corner of the case so that it blows some of the cool air in front of intake fans of an open air GPU?
I think that the top-front corner of the case would be the most problematic area. As a potential solution, I flipped the PSU so that its intake fan takes some cool air from the back of the case but also some warm air from the top-front corner before blowing it out to the back of the case.

FRONT-LEFT VIEWPOINT



That bottom fan will need intake clearance below it to get airflow, see this thread to get an idea of how much you might need. One (somewhat restricted intake fan and two exhaust fans (+PSU) will result in a negative air pressure scenario, which is worse from a dust control perspective.

I would also echo @tinyitx's concerns regarding GPU airflow.

Wouldn't a negative air pressure actually help with the warm air re-circulation, or is my logic flawed?

Has anyone experimented with a layout like this?


I actually sketched three layouts with a vertical GPU. The one with which I started the thread (rotated motherboard) seemed like the most sensible solution.

The second one has rotated motherboard and case. With this one CPU cooling seems problematic because you cannot use a tower cooler and the rear fans are basically taking air from the CPU cooler. This is my favorite layout because the case has small depth.

FRONT-LEFT VIEWPOINT


VIEWPOINT FROM THE LEFT SIDE


VIEWPOINT FROM THE RIGHT SIDE



The last is a sandwich layout. This layout probably has the best airflow but I am not a fan of PCI-E risers. Also, some warm air would end up on the front part of the case and would be difficult to exhaust.

FRONT-LEFT VIEWPOINT


VIEWPOINT FROM THE LEFT SIDE


VIEWPOINT FROM THE RIGHT SIDE


The bottom fan is a bit of a weird one for me because it's going to be cannibalized by everything (@tinyitx 's concern), and a lot of it will be exhausted directly by the side fans.

Perhaps flip the whole thing such that the PSU is at the bottom? I can see issues with the top mount causing instability.

Otherwise, a pretty good start!

(my suggestion would be to remove the 2 side fans and orient the tower cooler such that the fans exhaust out the side. Would also help slim the case down a bit :D)

I am trying to make a layout with fans only at the bottom and the back.
 
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tinyitx

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 25, 2018
2,100
2,054
I reckon there will be just as many problems.

#1) The entire case relies on the single bottom fan for fresh air intake. Let's say this fan pulls in (ref Noctua NF-A12x25 fan's 102 m3/h or NF-A14 fan's 140 m3/h) 140m3/h. I am using max values to make the picture easier to grab.

As the gap between the display card and the front panel is narrow at 20mm, let's say only 1/3 of these 140 m3/h fresh air will go up the gap to feed the card. This means, about 1/3 x 140 = 47 m3/h will go to the card.

Now take an Asus strix card with three 92mm fans as an example. Each fan pulls in 30 CFM max. Three fans will need 90 CFM (=153 m3/h).
So, the card needs 153 m3/h but only receives 47 m3/h. It is suffocating of fresh air! Even the entire 140 m3/h cannot meet its appetite of 153 m3/h!

#2) Because of the proximity of the CPU intake fan to the display card's exhaust area, most (if not all) of the card's exhaust will be pulled in. So, CPU cooling is not very desirable.

#3) With the PSU flipped upward, the fan should be even more difficult to get fresh air from the bottom case intake fan. I am not sure what you meant by 'PSU so that its intake fan takes some cool air from the back of the case'. If there are openings on the back of the case near the top for fresh air to go in, then hot exhaust from the PSU is going to go back and recirculate. Not good.
As I can see, PSU fan can only possibly pull in some hot exhaust from the display card. Not desirable.
At this configuration, 1/3 of fresh air from case bottom intake fan will go to the display card while the remaining 2/3 will go to the 'main chamber'. A good portion of this 2/3 will go through the CPU intake fan while a smaller portion will be sucked by the rear exhaust fans.

 
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el01

King of Cable Management
Jun 4, 2018
770
588
By now, it would be a rather decent idea to configure something like the Corsair One with the PSU at bottom, a large fan at the top blowing air down at the GPU and heatsink.

Something else to consider would be having very tall feet, which *might* help with airflow. Partitions/air ducts would help A LOT though.

Your idea is good, but having vents nowhere visible is a bit difficult to do with the hardware planned.
 

MatTKO

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 28, 2019
13
7
I finally found some time to work on this project. The first idea I had was abandoned. I am currently working on a case that combines a case with sandwich layout and a case with motherboard mounted on the front/back of the case. Since I went through four cases in under six years, I decided to make a case that I will be able to use in at least two different builds with two different layouts.


Internal volume has increased to around 18 l but this gives me even higher compatibility with components (especially with CPU air coolers).

Supported components:
Mini-ITX motherboard,
dual-slot GPU with length up to ~ 338 mm,
ATX PS/2, Flex ATX, SXF or TFX PSU,
tower CPU cooler up to ~ 182 mm tall,
up to 8 fans (92 mm),

water cooling: 2x 140mm radiator with length up to ~ 312mm.

Sandwich layout in three variants:
FRONT-LEFT VIEWPOINT




Variants of a layout with motherboard mounted on the front/back:
FRONT-LEFT VIEWPOINT





Hopefully, I will have a concept to show by the end of the month.