Prototyping Introducing the Chimera CX2

PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
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SFFLAB
Chimera Industries
Editorial Staff
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Feb 22, 2015
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I: Introduction

Hello all,

@Wahaha360 and I have been working on a new enclosure for some time now, but I think we're at the point where we'd like to share our work and begin to collect feedback. Say hello to the Chimera CX2:

CX2_Hero_One.jpg
A render of the current version of the CX2 design

II: Current Specifications

Technical
  • Dimensions (H x W x D)
    • 340-345mm (w/o and with feet) x 192mm x 355mm
  • Volume
    • ~23L
  • Weight
    • ~3.5kg

Compatibility
  • Motherboard Support
    • mITX, mATX, ATX & eATX
  • PSU Support
    • Bottom Rear: SFX, SFX-L (in lieu of PCI slots 6-8 and some bottom mounted components)
    • Top Rear: SFX, SFX-L, ATX (in lieu of a rear fan and tall CPU coolers)
  • CPU Cooler Support
    • Bottom-mounted PSU: 165mm
    • Top mounted SFX/SFX-L: 93mm
    • Top mounted ATX: 70mm
  • GPU Support
    • Height: Up to 175mm
    • Length: Up to 345mm, less any front-mounted fan and/or radiator depth
  • Storage Support
    • 3.5": Two drives on the bottom or front via included bracket
    • 2.5": Two drives on the bottom or front via included bracket
  • Cooling Support
    • Front
      • 2 x 120mm or 140mm fans; 120, 140, 240 and 280mm radiators up to 320mm in length
    • Bottom
      • Bottom PSU: 1 X 120mm or 140mm fan;
      • Top PSU: 2 x 120mm or 140mm fans; 120 and 240mm radiators up to 280mm in length
      • Rear: 1 x 120mm fan

Options
  • Colors
    • Silver or Black
  • Panels
    • Base Model: Flat Solid
    • Option: Vented Side Panel
    • Option: Windowed Side Panel
  • Other
    • Option: Integrated Handle

Schedule
  • Projected preorder date
    • March 2020
  • Projected shipping date
    • Summer 2020 (Computex, more or less)
  • Projected price
    • Sub-$200

III: Reason for being

CX2_Hero_Two.jpg
It wouldn't be CX2 if it didn't have a handle option!

Our primary goal with the CX2 was to bring top-tier component support to an enclosure with as small a footprint – in volume and space – as possible. "Top-tier component support" to us meant an enclosure whereby some of the largest motherboards, coolers and GPUs in the consumer market could not only fit, but be supported adequately and holistically, taking into account fitment, thermals, installation experience, and so forth. Indeed, even in many traditional cases, users can't take for granted whether or not a common component off the shelf will fit; lately this has gotten worse as CPUs and GPUs alike demand more substantial cooling.

Given this intention, CX2 naturally sits at the upper bound of what can actually be considered SFF. Somewhat ironically, then, the appeal of CX2 may be limited within this audience. In a way, that makes sense, though: what we are hoping to do is to provide a solution to 'bridge the gap' between this community and the broader PC hardware world that's familiarized only with enclosures that are much larger in size. Philosophically we want CX2 to demonstrate the virtues of SFF to those unwilling to compromise on the perceived flexibility they get with large towers.

Our secondary goal has been to embrace modularity. CX2 is meant to support a selection of bespoke and aftermarket parts and accessories in order to provide tangibly improved flexibility to the end user, as well as a longer lifetime. This will manifest in the beginning in a variety of panel choices, an integrated handle option, and a front I/O solution that can be swapped out (and thus updated) over time.

Finally, our third goal has been to introduce a premium quality enclosure at a very competitive price; think comfortably sub-$200. To deliver this requires a lot of effort throughout our various design, manufacturing and fulfillment decisions - not an easy thing to do considering that CX2 is of a different size class than the likes of the S4M, DAN A4, M1, and so forth. To that end, we've spent considerable time looking at materials use, manufacturing methods, flatpacking and beyond to optimize for cost in an intelligent way. We will have more to say on this once pre-orders are open.

With the current iteration of CX2, we think we've found a way to deliver on these goals. The dimensions and tolerances of CX2 allow it just enough space to support tower coolers like Noctua's monstrous NH D15, a plethora of over graphics cards, and a variety of 240mm and 280mm radiators for AIO's and custom loops alike. Rear plates and internal brackets allow for a ton of customization, with planned panel and other options expanding this further for those who want more than the basics. And at a sub-$200 price, we are able to bring good value to the premium SFF enclosure space, while expanding the potential customer base of enthusiasts who go with CX2 as their next enclosure.

IV: Layouts for CX2

CX2_Hero_Three.jpg
A peek at the internal chassis of CX2

These layout examples are meant to be illustrative, but focus on cooling and PCI devices. Many more builds are possible! These just cover the most common use cases.

One note: CX2's thermal design is centered around a front-to-back approach, whereby two large front fans pull air through the front and towards the back. A rear fan, optionally, assists with this. It's simple, but works well: given the size of CX2, a pair of 140mm fans are able to achieve significant airflow that can swiftly evacuate hot air from the enclosure. Furthermore, we have spent a lot of time and effort experimenting with the front panel, and are currently looking at a selection of meshes and punched aluminum options for the final product (the renders above show CX2 with a metal mesh). As such, you will notice that twin 140mm fans are installed in the front for all build configurations, and we generally suggest twin fans on the front for any and all CX2 builds.

Layouts

Check out the full gallery of example layouts here. This is not nearly an exhaustive list; if you'd like a mockup of a different prospective build, just ask.

A few build examples arbitrarily picked from the gallery:

CX2_ATXOne.png
(ATX motherboard with tower cooler and five PCI slots populated)

CX2_EATXTwo.png
(EATX motherboard with 280mm AIO and five PCI slots populated)

CX2_EATX_Five.png
(EATX with 280mm AIO and eight PCI slots populated, and ATX PSU top-mounted)


Layout Experimentation


To help folks experiment with what's possible in CX2, I've developed a Google Sheet that allows you to input components and their respective dimensions, and tests if they are expected to fit. This is based on the current dimensions of the prototype – which can change – so consider it a helpful reference rather than gospel, until we finalize CX2 in the spring. The original is read only, so make a copy if you'd like to play around with it. If you notice any issues or bugs with the sheet, just let @PlayfulPhoenix know.

V: Updates & Other Information

As we have more to share, we will summarize here.

VI: Frequently Asked Questions

This will be expanded and amended over time as we observe common questions surfacing! Please review the questions here before asking your own in the thread.
 

VegetableStu

Shrink Way Wielder
Aug 18, 2016
1,831
2,489
already on the case! (har har)

gonna put my sketch in a spoiler because i don't want people to think the PSU placement i'm thinking of is standard right out of the gate ,_,
Still playing around with the layout, especially with the SSDs, but if I manage to transition to SATA m.2 over a SATA adapter (i doubt I'd be able to do this by the end of this year, LOL), i'll have much more room to play with and possibly less modding to do
 

wertigon

Trash Compacter
Sep 13, 2019
53
34
At 23 liters, it's a bit too large for my taste - but once you get over that, there is a lot to love. The SFX PSU replacing the three last PCI-e expansion slots is one such thing. Is it also possible to use an mATX board with the first four slots and an ATX PSU the last four slots? The airflow is also spot-on - only thing that might improve it is if you could have a radiator on top as well.

All in all I think this case offers a lot of customizability and if bought, would serve most needs for over a decade. Now that 3.5" drives are finally starting to become obsolete, seeing as their transfer speeds are just not able to keep up anymore, and 1TB SSDs are finally cheap enough.

One thing I would love to see apart from this, would be PCIe expansion cards for Harddrives.

Either a 2x3.5" 3-slot or a 4x2.5" 2-slot PCIe expansion drive bay. It'd eliminate all need for extra hard drive space, and would allow for quite a few configurations:

* 3-slot GPU + 4x2.5" + SFX PSU
* 3-slot GPU + 2x3.5" + 4x2.5"
* 2-slot GPU + 2x3.5" + SFX PSU
* 2-slot GPU + 4x3.5"
* 16x2.5"

And best of all, no cables necessary between PSU, motherboard and harddrive. :) It's probably a pipe dream though...
 

VegetableStu

Shrink Way Wielder
Aug 18, 2016
1,831
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I've changed my mind, I'm gonna follow the standard for once. I realised I don't have the time to do the buildup to working for the mods.


i've got ideas for when I need the second x16 slot, but that's for a far future down the road ,_,
 

fabio

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Apr 6, 2016
839
903
Just a few days after I’ve dropped the idea to have a slightly bigger Cerberus X! 😍❤
 

gwertheim

Airflow Optimizer
Nov 27, 2017
239
150
Any chance we will see a version without a TG side panel and just a metal side panel instead?
 

enricko7

Average Stuffer
Jun 12, 2018
73
32
Case looks nice Phoenix and Wahaha. Cool to see you revisit the Cerberus X design but with a Sidearm flair. How much clearance would a front mounted radiator have from an EATX motherboard? I don't know what the same metric is for the CerbX, but when I see EATX boards with motherboard and oftentimes EPS connectors on that front edge, I really wonder about the cable strain.
 

fabio

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Apr 6, 2016
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903
I have one questio: There is also support for this new gigabyte XL-ATX?? It's just a matter to have one more PCIe space on the back :)
 

Allhopeforhumanity

Master of Cramming
May 1, 2017
400
383
I have one questio: There is also support for this new gigabyte XL-ATX?? It's just a matter to have one more PCIe space on the back :)
Just be warned though, the gigabyte XL-ATX TR4 board is a little weird for long GPUs as they can interfere with the "armor" on the power and SATA plugs. As a result I could only get one RVII in (top slot) but couldn't get a 2nd one in any lower slots. Board has a strangely long boot time as well.
 
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gwertheim

Airflow Optimizer
Nov 27, 2017
239
150
I think it will, it has 8 pci slots.
I am talking about the physical dimensions of the board it's about a half an inch bigger than an eatx board which presents problems if you want to add fans or watercooling and even cable management
 

fabio

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Apr 6, 2016
839
903
I am talking about the physical dimensions of the board it's about a half an inch bigger than an eatx board which presents problems if you want to add fans or watercooling and even cable management
I think there is no problem for that. If I could fit an eatx in the Cerberus with the seasonic stock cable, here will be similar! If you consider that even using a 14mm fan you will get 50mm of clearance, is pretty a lot!
 

Vittra

Airflow Optimizer
May 11, 2015
357
84
This reminds me of a configuration in one of Necere's case idea threads (either here or on [H]) where we tossed around the idea of having ATX compatibility in an mATX case with the understanding not all PCI-E slots would be accessible - at the time the HEDT platform was a major consideration, but I think this still has very real merit.,

I've actually been looking for better air cooling capability than my Cerberus-X as I'd like to continue to avoid WC, so this case is effectively exactly what I am looking for.
 

gwertheim

Airflow Optimizer
Nov 27, 2017
239
150
I think there is no problem for that. If I could fit an eatx in the Cerberus with the seasonic stock cable, here will be similar! If you consider that even using a 14mm fan you will get 50mm of clearance, is pretty a lot!
Interesting