Concept Mini-STX cases for dedicated GPUs

ChattyMatty

Chassis Packer
Jun 8, 2018
13
7
"The nice thing about this design is that it can easily be extended and used to make the longer case..."

This. First thing I thought when I started reading was make the end caps modular and then folks could just order the 4 panels and spine extension to fit the GPU they chose. Ever play with Tamiya M-series R/C cars? Same idea. Their chassis had a 'backbone' design which let the builder decide one of several different wheelbases by swapping (or deleting) a central extension-

Longest WB, note the silver center extension:


Remove that section in the middle and you get the shortest WB-



As you can see, the front and rear suspension could essentially telescope to many different chassis lengths. Could do something very similar with the case.

To over flagellate the expired equine, the mobo and maybe the drives could all mount to one end cap like the motor and steering in the car chassis stays attached to the front suspension, and the rear suspension (the front of the case with the power button, maybe the power supply, etc.) stays attached to the other end cap and then you just offer three or four different side panel lengths based on GPU length. Build the primary size just big enough to house the single fan cards, a second size panel with backbone extension for dual fan sized cards and a third for the largest triple fan unit on the market. That way too, if next year the newest super-duper cards are even longer, you don't have to reinvent the wheel, just add longer side panels and presto! It's future proofed.

And with the longer cases you'd have more options to move the power button I/O panel to other edges, maybe even have the option of using a standard SFX power supply (or at least it's guts) if someone bought the mid-length side panels but opted for a shorty GPU.
 
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Windfall

I'm a huge fan of SFF
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Nov 14, 2017
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I have most of the stuff you'll likely need for the project and could likely do a KMPKT sponsorship if you're keen.

Don't steal my fire. LOL. Actually, i'd love to help with design/ financing. I'd REALLY like to help, if something could be worked out. I cant bring as much to the table as KMPKT, but i could help. Plus, if KMPKT thinks this'll go, that is a MAJOR confidence booster. I bring little top the table when compared to KMPKT- he has a INSANE 3D printer, parts, and industry know-how. I have a bit of money I'm willing to risk and experince with Fusion 360. I i can help, @CC Ricers, then make a space for me in this!
 

Windfall

I'm a huge fan of SFF
Moderator
Nov 14, 2017
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"The nice thing about this design is that it can easily be extended and used to make the longer case..."

This. First thing I thought when I started reading was make the end caps modular and then folks could just order the 4 panels and spine extension to fit the GPU they chose. Ever play with Tamiya M-series R/C cars? Same idea. Their chassis had a 'backbone' design which let the builder decide one of several different wheelbases by swapping (or deleting) a central extension-

Longest WB, note the silver center extension:


Remove that section in the middle and you get the shortest WB-



As you can see, the front and rear suspension could essentially telescope to many different chassis lengths. Could do something very similar with the case.

To over flagellate the expired equine, the mobo and maybe the drives could all mount to one end cap like the motor and steering in the car chassis stays attached to the front suspension, and the rear suspension (the front of the case with the power button, maybe the power supply, etc.) stays attached to the other end cap and then you just offer three or four different side panel lengths based on GPU length. Build the primary size just big enough to house the single fan cards, a second size panel with backbone extension for dual fan sized cards and a third for the largest triple fan unit on the market. That way too, if next year the newest super-duper cards are even longer, you don't have to reinvent the wheel, just add longer side panels and presto! It's future proofed.

And with the longer cases you'd have more options to move the power button I/O panel to other edges, maybe even have the option of using a standard SFX power supply (or at least it's guts) if someone bought the mid-length side panels but opted for a shorty GPU.

A fellow RC enthusiast here? Great to see you in the hobby!
 

Cellbuster

Efficiency Noob
Jun 14, 2018
7
3
I can't wait to see how this pans out! I like the polygonal look of your design languange. I've paused my hacked up STX build (the one in the first link) before moving to the Dynamo 360 stage because I don't have the means to put together an appropriate enclosure.

It may be early for some of these questions, but what's your target cooler height in your current sketches? Also, which direction are you planning to aim the IO on the motherboard? I know the STX160 aims the main IO into the case (and front panel out), which I think is the right choice, but it may be feasible to design a case that can accommodate both orientations.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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I have most of the stuff you'll likely need for the project and could likely do a KMPKT sponsorship if you're keen.

That would be awesome. I have never made a sponsored build so I don't know how to best approach it. Basically all I know is to at least showcase the use of the parts as best as possible. I may not need SODIMM RAM and I can use the current CPU I have in my current thin ITX system. I'm still waiting on parts to be sold out for that, though, so I can source out the cost for the case and other parts of the build.

Don't steal my fire. LOL. Actually, i'd love to help with design/ financing. I'd REALLY like to help, if something could be worked out. I cant bring as much to the table as KMPKT, but i could help. Plus, if KMPKT thinks this'll go, that is a MAJOR confidence booster. I bring little top the table when compared to KMPKT- he has a INSANE 3D printer, parts, and industry know-how. I have a bit of money I'm willing to risk and experince with Fusion 360. I i can help, @CC Ricers, then make a space for me in this!

No worries here, even if it's little it could help. What are you considering?

@ChattyMatty, that's a pretty cool idea making the chassis more modular. The way I have the design now it's set up as one semi-rigid piece that is reinforced with at least 2 or 3 panels attached. I may make the 3D printed parts smaller so as to just have the "spine" itself also be acrylic and that may reduce the costs. I could also make that into two modular pieces so you can add the front piece to support the PSU, extend the length and install more powerful graphics cards.

I can't wait to see how this pans out! I like the polygonal look of your design languange. I've paused my hacked up STX build (the one in the first link) before moving to the Dynamo 360 stage because I don't have the means to put together an appropriate enclosure.

It may be early for some of these questions, but what's your target cooler height in your current sketches? Also, which direction are you planning to aim the IO on the motherboard? I know the STX160 aims the main IO into the case (and front panel out), which I think is the right choice, but it may be feasible to design a case that can accommodate both orientations.

Thanks for the support! I'm still not sure how well people will take the angled look here as more people here prefer minimal design and rounded corners over something a bit more aggressive.

The max cooler height will probably be limited by the height of the rear I/O, so I'm guessing like somewhere between 25 and 30mm? I won't know for sure without a STX board right next to me but it will be a huge factor for determining the minimum width of the whole case.

For the short version of the case, the front I/O will be exposed and flush to the front of the case, like it is with the Asrock barebones systems. But with the longer version that fits full length cards I'm not sure yet. It has a different assortment of connectors and routing 4 extender cables will be cumbersome in such a small. Like for example, would I need to find a 15cm extender for USB type A and type C? and then route them in a way that doesn't interfere much with the internal power cables.
 

Windfall

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Nov 14, 2017
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That would be awesome. I have never made a sponsored build so I don't know how to best approach it. Basically all I know is to at least showcase the use of the parts as best as possible. I may not need SODIMM RAM and I can use the current CPU I have in my current thin ITX system. I'm still waiting on parts to be sold out for that, though, so I can source out the cost for the case and other parts of the build.



No worries here, even if it's little it could help. What are you considering?

@ChattyMatty, that's a pretty cool idea making the chassis more modular. The way I have the design now it's set up as one semi-rigid piece that is reinforced with at least 2 or 3 panels attached. I may make the 3D printed parts smaller so as to just have the "spine" itself also be acrylic and that may reduce the costs. I could also make that into two modular pieces so you can add the front piece to support the PSU, extend the length and install more powerful graphics cards.



Thanks for the support! I'm still not sure how well people will take the angled look here as more people here prefer minimal design and rounded corners over something a bit more aggressive.

The max cooler height will probably be limited by the height of the rear I/O, so I'm guessing like somewhere between 25 and 30mm? I won't know for sure without a STX board right next to me but it will be a huge factor for determining the minimum width of the whole case.

For the short version of the case, the front I/O will be exposed and flush to the front of the case, like it is with the Asrock barebones systems. But with the longer version that fits full length cards I'm not sure yet. It has a different assortment of connectors and routing 4 extender cables will be cumbersome in such a small. Like for example, would I need to find a 15cm extender for USB type A and type C? and then route them in a way that doesn't interfere much with the internal power cables.

I think that our DM would be a place to discuss how much I'll invest.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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I've done some more work on the frame piece, the part that will be 3D printed. The corners have been trimmed off on the sides so that the clear side panels sit more flush with the front, back, top and bottom.

Here is a teaser render of what that can look like:



I aim to make clear side panels standard, so it's more of a showoff-y case despite being very small. The scale is hard to get from this pic (should've used a soda can) but for reference that power button is 16mm in diameter.
 

Cellbuster

Efficiency Noob
Jun 14, 2018
7
3

Whoa that looks pretty.

Thanks for the support! I'm still not sure how well people will take the angled look here as more people here prefer minimal design and rounded corners over something a bit more aggressive.

The max cooler height will probably be limited by the height of the rear I/O, so I'm guessing like somewhere between 25 and 30mm? I won't know for sure without a STX board right next to me but it will be a huge factor for determining the minimum width of the whole case.

For the short version of the case, the front I/O will be exposed and flush to the front of the case, like it is with the Asrock barebones systems. But with the longer version that fits full length cards I'm not sure yet. It has a different assortment of connectors and routing 4 extender cables will be cumbersome in such a small. Like for example, would I need to find a 15cm extender for USB type A and type C? and then route them in a way that doesn't interfere much with the internal power cables.

Couple notes on the motherboard orientation (and this will probably be more clear once you get an STX motherboard in hand.) The reason why the front IO facing out the back is probably preferred is because most of the main (rear) IO is display, which is not so much needed with dedicated graphics. So, the only things that get embedded within the system is 2 USB ports (which you may be able to populate with a wireless dongle for a keyboard) and your ethernet port. This also allows the 19V DC in to sit within the system so no cable has to run out.

It could go either way, but if the main IO is facing out the back of the case, the hard drives will probably have to go above the motherboard since the special cables are on the short side.
 
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macbosco

Airflow Optimizer
Mar 20, 2018
304
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www.nouvolo.com
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.

I dig this concept, but how do the 4 horizontal piece attach to the vertical piece? Do plan to use sheet metal or molded plastics? If they are separate pieces and attached by screws, the screw will show up on the external? I assume you plan for some strength in the vertical mounting piece (not metal?)
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Whoa that looks pretty.

Couple notes on the motherboard orientation (and this will probably be more clear once you get an STX motherboard in hand.) The reason why the front IO facing out the back is probably preferred is because most of the main (rear) IO is display, which is not so much needed with dedicated graphics. So, the only things that get embedded within the system is 2 USB ports (which you may be able to populate with a wireless dongle for a keyboard) and your ethernet port. This also allows the 19V DC in to sit within the system so no cable has to run out.

It could go either way, but if the main IO is facing out the back of the case, the hard drives will probably have to go above the motherboard since the special cables are on the short side.

Thanks, hopefully the final product will look just as good!

Duly noted on orienting the mobo to have the front IO facing back. I realize this is what @aibophobia did for his STX project, and as he said it is somewhat lacking in inputs either way. If I do that I may have to switch to a wireless mouse and route two additional USB 2.0 ports using the internal header to the back. Wifi card is straightforward, I'll add it to the smaller m.2 slot and make cutouts for antenna.

I don't know much about the special SATA cables or how they'll be affected in the routing, but at least putting the mobo in this orientation makes the PCIe riser cable shorter.

I dig this concept, but how do the 4 horizontal piece attach to the vertical piece? Do plan to use sheet metal or molded plastics? If they are separate pieces and attached by screws, the screw will show up on the external? I assume you plan for some strength in the vertical mounting piece (not metal?)

The skeleton is 3D printed and I have uploaded a test model to Shapeways and their automatic tools verify it's printable. The 4 pieces are already joined geometrically so when I export the file for a 3D printer, it sees it as one unified piece.

Although I am not sure if I will stick with 3D printing the vertical pieces and indeed then I will have to split the 3D printed parts into 4. In this situation I will add holes for screws to attach the middle wall separately. That wall would be cut from 3mm acrylic (same as the exterior panels).
 
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CC Ricers

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I've been looking at the thread for the HDPLEX 400W AC-DC and then going to their website, looks like they've discontinued the 300W version to be replaced by this. This is gonna make designing this case more tricky, because originally I had thought about supporting the 300W to have builds with cards as powerful as the GTX 1080.

The 400W power supply isn't just the same, because it is considerably larger. It's coming in at over 190mm long which is around 25mm longer than the proposed height of my case, so that can't fit vertically.

What I like about the 300W AC-DC by comparison is that it's only 150mm long, same as the 160W version, and it also has the mounting holes in the same locations. This makes it easier to make it compatible with two different PSUs.

So if I were to make the case taller to accommodate the 400W PSU, it would be basically big enough to fit a regular mini ITX board anyway. Staying with the option to keep the case short and small as possible, I'd be only able to support the HD-PLEX 160W and some non-standard setups with MeanWell PSUs. The new power supply has me thinking how it might be used for mini ITX cases, though...
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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To break it down more succinctly, I have come up with three different layout ideas for cases with the 400W unit soon to launch and 300W being phased out.
  • Mini-STX cube/square case for the shortest GPUs, no extra power connectors, external power brick, no additional PSU
  • The main one: Mini-STX extended case for longer (reference length) GPUs, more powerful performance, uses KMPKT Dynamo
    • For <160W, internal HDPLEX 160W AC-DC unit
    • For >160W, eternal brick or roll your own internal setup (MeanWell, etc.)
  • Stretch goal concept: Mini-ITX cube/square case for mini GPUs, uses Dynamo with either external brick or 160W or 400W AC-DC
 
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Cellbuster

Efficiency Noob
Jun 14, 2018
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That's too bad about the HDPLEX dilemma. That being said, I still find a power brick version to be interesting. And furthermore, a design that would accommodate a full length GPU and the STX board would leave a decent amount of space for options that may be available in the future.

Mini-STX cube/square case for the shortest GPUs, no extra power connectors, external power brick, no additional PSU

Just a note, this power set up probably won't be viable for ASrock STX boards, but possibly with ASUS STX boards that have the 12V sata out. There's an STX build around here that powered a 1050ti off of one of these. Just a note in case you move forward with this design.
 

CC Ricers

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I don't mind revisiting this concept again, mainly because of the way I have designed some parts to easily be modifiable for mini-ITX boards.

It is probably more viable to create a case for mini-ITX boards and still have it within the size limit for reference length cards. Also, to support Flex-ATX in addition to DC power supplies.
 
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Windfall

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I don't mind revisiting this concept again, mainly because of the way I have designed some parts to easily be modifiable for mini-ITX boards.

It is probably more viable to create a case for mini-ITX boards and still have it within the size limit for reference length cards. Also, to support Flex-ATX in addition to DC power supplies.

To me, that ruins the point of a case like this- I want STX....
 
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CC Ricers

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To me, that ruins the point of a case like this- I want STX....

I hear you on that. I still want to see STX happen, though strangely they're becoming low on stock in typical stores that carry tech products (and general places like Amazon too). However, power supplies above 160W is what I'm trying to achieve for more powerful builds.

Thoughts on using a Flex-ATX PSU here? If I end up supporting them, it would be for modular ones like the Seasonic SSP 300 SUG. so I can create a custom cable that can power on the PSU. Like make a basic cable with only the necessary wires to jump-start it? The other end would be connected to the Dynamo. Barring that, use a MeanWell PSU (up to 400W) and add support for a 80mm case fan.
 
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CC Ricers

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I'm bumping up this topic again to see if there may be newfound interest in the project. It may be tricky to use a HD-PLEX 400W AC-DC power supply due to its long size, but with the advent of new STX boards for Ryzen it night be a novel approach for compact Ryzen powered systems. Also, my following experiences prototyping other 3D printed cases has made me more confident in pursuing this project too.
 

Andrew.J.Vigil

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Nov 28, 2017
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I'm bumping up this topic again to see if there may be newfound interest in the project. It may be tricky to use a HD-PLEX 400W AC-DC power supply due to its long size, but with the advent of new STX boards for Ryzen it night be a novel approach for compact Ryzen powered systems. Also, my following experiences prototyping other 3D printed cases has made me more confident in pursuing this project too.
Me me me! I'm interested!
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nice to still see some interest in this case idea. For now it's still in a design and concept stage but the biggest step to prove this idea through is to buy a mini STX board. However with my APU upgrade also stalled for budget reasons it won't be easy trying to make purchases for two motherboards at the same time.

Because of that, I will dust off the old designs and get some price estimates for the case parts, especially the frame.
 
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