Concept Mini-STX cases for dedicated GPUs

CC Ricers

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With the rise of mini STX and seeing people follow in the footsteps of putting some dedicated GPUs- like this recent build, or from one of our most notable forum members- I've decided to pursue this form factor for my next case project.

This is something I cannot yet start at the moment due to funds, but it's started to grow on me and I would like to follow through with it. For aesthetics you can expect it to look just like my Project Thin-X case and use the same kind of materials. Layout-wise it's like a DAN A4 case but even smaller.



(This is a rough draft and design still subject to change)

To sum it up, I think this case will fill a certain price/performance gap with STX boards in between the following:
  • Barebones mini STX systems that are cheap but too underpowered for gaming (no dedicated GPU)
  • Micro STX systems that have dedicated MXM GPUs but are too expensive for some users
I first want to address the use case for cheaper, lower tier of graphics cards under 75W (like GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti) with mini STX for ultra compact builds that you can easily carry with you, while being reasonably affordable. But with the Dynamo DC unit the potential becomes greater.

Quick specs:
  • Roughly 4 liters in size
  • Mini-STX motherboard support
  • Reference length/height GPU support, up to 270mm in length
  • Front I/O (exact specs TBD)
  • Support for KMPKT Dynamo 360
  • Support for HDPLEX AC power units
  • Completely brickless :)
As power requirements become more efficient for components, the possibilities for higher end gaming become greater in some respects. So this case isn't just intended for the budget gamer. Because of the PSU support, if cost is not an issue, you can go ahead and stick a VR capable card in there too.
 
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Kmpkt

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Let me know if you want to build this unit around the Dynamo 360. I can probably get you one of my personal units if you're going to be logging it etc.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Let me know if you want to build this unit around the Dynamo 360. I can probably get you one of my personal units if you're going to be logging it etc.

Cool, good to know! I originally had planned only a size that's just large enough to fit the tiny ~145mm cards (which are several of the GPUs that don't have a 6-pin connector) but it shouldn't be hard to make an extended version of that case so you can fit more powerful mini GPUs plus your Dynamo 360.

I'm guessing that in place of using the STX board's DC jack, you would connect the AC adapter to the DC-in from the Dynamo and then power the STX board with its DC-out, correct?
 
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CC Ricers

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So I was thinking more about @Kmpkt's proposal to add support for the Dynamo 360. This sort of case is exactly what the Dynamo would be a great fit for and it also satisfies one of my concept ideas on a case that supports most mainstream GPUs but relies solely on DC-DC passive power supplies (and optional internal AC-DC).

As the gears started turning in my head, I started working on a concept design initially for performance GPUs on the smaller end. But then I realized, nothing's stopping me from making the case longer and supporting full length reference cards.

So that's what I ended up going with. Here is my initial design and case render. It's still not close to being finished but the rough shape and layout is there. So get ready because here it is.

It is a case that fully supports cards of reference length and height, together with a mini STX motherboard (that supports a PCIe x4 over m.2 interface). You can see it has a layout similar to DAN A4 with similar proportions, but its smaller dimensions make it much smaller in volume. Oversized cards beyond 270mm in length will not be supported.

You can run performance GPUs with a reasonable amount of power supply support, made much easier with the Dynamo 360. Plus it also will support the HD-PLEX AC-DC power supplies making this setup totally brickless. All at under 4L in volume.

Vents and front I/O are not final- those are really just holdovers from my other case design.
 
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xcrco

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We're getting smaller and smaller.can we have a smaller box to support for mini-itx cards if its possible in the future. a miniature box. just a suggestion but whatever outcome this is. I'm excited for this.
 
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CC Ricers

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can we have a smaller box to support for mini-itx cards if its possible in the future. a miniature box.

Yeah, and in fact that's how the concept started out as. A box for only tiny GPUs that don't require much power. That makes it almost a square box at 155 x 165mm in size. Here's an image of how that might look like:



The motherboard is still flipped around back to back like a DAN case. This case is too small to fit any additional PSU so power will come from an external brick.

It still requires a special riser cable, but less components and material will make it cheaper to use than the XL version.
 

Kmpkt

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I'd be keen to partner on a project like this as I've been thinking of the same thing for a while. I have ready access to a 3D printer for prototyping etc. as well.
 
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CC Ricers

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Yeah, a product which offers a good way of how you can use the Dynamo would be good to have. I also forgot you have access to a 3D printer. I've been using Shapeways for my stuff and they recently updated their materials without much notice. You can't do basic FDM printing with them anymore if you wanted to, which kinda sucks.
 

CC Ricers

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Here is a side view to show how the Dynamo and HDPLEX power supply would fit on the side opposite of the GPU. The empty space is where the motherboard will be located, with a bit of wiggle room in between.



I still have yet to figure out where to route the cable and place the AC power connector. The standard C14 connector seems big for this case, so maybe I'll go with the smaller C6 which is also commonly found in mid-size AC adapters.
 
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CC Ricers

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I have re-designed the frame for the mini STX short version of the case. The motherboard standoffs will be placed along the diagonals of the center support. It also would need mounting holes for the SSD's. This part is easy to print already, but I'm thinking if the center support should be cut from acrylic sheet instead (the case will need many more screws, though).



The nice thing about this design is that it can easily be extended and used to make the longer case, and then add mounting points for the Dynamo and other power supplies. It could probably even be done to make a regular mini ITX case with mini GPU configuration.
 
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Thehack

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Here is a side view to show how the Dynamo and HDPLEX power supply would fit on the side opposite of the GPU. The empty space is where the motherboard will be located, with a bit of wiggle room in between.



I still have yet to figure out where to route the cable and place the AC power connector. The standard C14 connector seems big for this case, so maybe I'll go with the smaller C6 which is also commonly found in mid-size AC adapters.

Keep in mind that most C6 are rated for 2.5A, which is around 270W. Shouldn't affect if you go for a STX + GTX 1070 (220W) but certainly should be considered when people try to stuff a 1080.
 

CC Ricers

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Keep in mind that most C6 are rated for 2.5A, which is around 270W. Shouldn't affect if you go for a STX + GTX 1070 (220W) but certainly should be considered when people try to stuff a 1080.

Good point. The C6 connector can start to break down before it reaches the peak output of the HD-PLEX 300W unit, so you'd need to stick with the default C14 connector. I'd support the C6 for builds that require less than 250W, a GTX 1060 with a non-overclocked processor would do fine in this case. The entire width of the C14 socket is 49.5 mm which is about half as wide as the case. I'll probably need to orient it vertically and still allow enough room for many GPUs to install above it.
 

Thehack

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Good point. The C6 connector can start to break down before it reaches the peak output of the HD-PLEX 300W unit, so you'd need to stick with the default C14 connector. I'd support the C6 for builds that require less than 250W, a GTX 1060 with a non-overclocked processor would do fine in this case. The entire width of the C14 socket is 49.5 mm which is about half as wide as the case. I'll probably need to orient it vertically and still allow enough room for many GPUs to install above it.

You can forgo the switch as well. The HDPLEX AC-DC doesn't use a switch.
 

Thehack

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What PSU switch are you referring to?

I think I got you confused with a C14 power entry with integrated switch. What you're talking about is one with two holes for mounting. You can use one without mounting holes for slimmer fit:



This uses a snap action to fit.
 

CC Ricers

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I think I got you confused with a C14 power entry with integrated switch. What you're talking about is one with two holes for mounting. You can use one without mounting holes for slimmer fit:



This uses a snap action to fit.

Oh, I see. The C14 dimensions that I was referring to was for the connector that is included with the HD-PLEX power supply and detachable with the unit:



If my case can support mounting this connector the spacing will need to be wider, but the user won't need any extra custom connectors. However for the slim ones I'll need to supply ones that come wired separately. The snap action is interesting though- I could design the case frame around it. If I decide to support those I'd probably ask you where to get them :p

My HTPC one project is as good as dead. Can I help with this? I might be willing to help pay for prototypes (as you lack funds) I could dip into my savings XD

That would be sweet if you could. Do you have a mini STX board, though? I currently don't so if I start prototyping I can only do with making a mockup to at least test the standoff locations. I am hoping I can sell some parts which will then partly go towards getting one.

However, what I have now is a framework which could also be adapted to also make a 4L mini ITX case similar to Hutzy XS or the Custom MOD Mini.
 

Windfall

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Oh, I see. The C14 dimensions that I was referring to was for the connector that is included with the HD-PLEX power supply and detachable with the unit:



If my case can support mounting this connector the spacing will need to be wider, but the user won't need any extra custom connectors. However for the slim ones I'll need to supply ones that come wired separately. The snap action is interesting though- I could design the case frame around it. If I decide to support those I'd probably ask you where to get them :p



That would be sweet if you could. Do you have a mini STX board, though? I currently don't so if I start prototyping I can only do with making a mockup to at least test the standoff locations. I am hoping I can sell some parts which will then partly go towards getting one.

What I have now is a framework which I can hopefully use to also make a mini ITX case similar to Hutzy XS or the CustomMod Mini.

No, i dont have an stx board. did you sell the thin x one?
 

Choidebu

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Keep in mind that most C6 are rated for 2.5A, which is around 270W. Shouldn't affect if you go for a STX + GTX 1070 (220W) but certainly should be considered when people try to stuff a 1080.
Ahh the beauty of 110V grids... I kept forgetting that most peeps here are from north americas.

Good thing I'm on 220V