Prototype MT5: 5.4L Expandable case for mini GPUs

CC Ricers

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The MT5 case supports a variety of mini ITX hardware. Switching gears a bit from the original 4 liter concept, this case is now 5.1 liters in volume to support more power supplies. It can be configured for Flex-ATX PSUs or HDPLEX/MeanWell setups. The frame is built with corner pieces printed from ABS plastic, with acrylic case panels. There will be several color options for this case to make it more customizable.

A notable feature of this case is its two-piece design, which adds the possibility to expand the case for more compatibility, such as taller CPU coolers or extra wide GPUs.

Update - December 24, 2019

Pre-production version in progress


Case parts are currently in production for the prototype for parts fitting and thermal testing. New angled design using corner pieces because it is much easier to produce in quantity, in sheets using various materials.


Case specifications:
  • Material: FDM printed plastic with acrylic panels
  • Dimensions: 190mm x 227mm x 109mm (4.7 liter volume)
  • Motherboard: Mini-ITX
  • Graphics card: dual-slot, max length 175mm
  • Storage: m.2 plus up to 2 x 2.5
  • CPU cooler: max height 40mm
  • Power supply: Flex-ATX or custom AC-DC setup of 200-500W
  • Case colors: Black, white
This is the last prototype for the case. The final dimensions have since changed from this prototype.


Pictures of the first prototype (made with MarkForged Onyx)



Survey for those interested in purchasing

So yeah, it's a very generic title but this is what I've started working with for my next case project. First off is a vertical GPU mounting case with motherboard facing back-to-back which is becoming more standard fare.

But there's still very few options available and wanted to have my go at it since I have wanted a layout like this more for its short height and portability.

This case is inspired by the Circle cases a bit for style, but also by the Jottwehh 3.99 liter case for layout and being 3D printed (mine is somewhat bigger). The Jottwehh looked very promising but development unfortunately came to a halt. Same with the Hutzy XS. The last two cases in this list have mini GPU support with some sort of internal PSU support. I want to do the same.

Here is what I have of the design so far. Most of the outer shell is done, but now onto the interior pieces like the motherboard tray, and other parts for mounting components and accessories.



Here's a full preview render of the case so far, pictured with a GPU, SSD and Dynamo 360.



The case is to be made of four main parts that join together on the inside. The only visible exterior screws will be on the side panels, and the base (only seen from underneath).

The side windows will be acrylic, either in clear, smoke tint, or opaque colors. The top and bottom sections have large openings that can be used to attach different ventilation panels inside. There's also more customization options, but more on that later.

I originally intended this design to be made specifically for 3D printing, but with some very minimal tweaking it can also be suitable for CNC milling. Machined aluminum will look great but also more expensive in small numbers.

Also I will go team AMD for my next build and really want to showcase an Radeon card with Ryzen CPU. There really need to be more options for mini cards, but I am going to go with an older gen Radeon first.
 
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Valantar

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Looks nice! Any plans to make use of the room behind the ssd? Is there maybe room for an internal AC-DC brick, MeanWell or otherwise?
 
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CC Ricers

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Yeah, the space below the GPU can fit an internal AC-DC power supply. It could also fit the HD-PLEX 400W. That one's rather long so I have to figure out how to fit the 3-pin power plug if that one's installed.

You'd only have room for one SSD with a MeanWell but if you want to use an exterior power brick you can fit several.
 

Tazpr

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Love the design, if you're already sacrificing GPU length clearance then is sacrificing SSD compatibility that much of a loss? Especially since M.2's are so cheap now, come in massive capacities and most boards now have 2 slots, using the space under the GPU for an internal AC-DC power supply seems like the best use of space.

Gorgeous case though, has some Jonsbo UMX1 vibes but I think a bit nicer with the feet and windows.
 
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CC Ricers

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It could really look like the UMX1 if it can be made from aluminum, but again, that may be too much out of my reach for cost :p The bottom piece already has the feet built in which is also there for bottom venting (it could have slim 80mm fan support), but I may add some adhesive rubber pads so it doesn't scratch the bottom surface.

Also I agree on the SSDs in that it won't be a loss for the power users that just want the best performance out of a small space. I'll have other rear panels that are made to fit taller GPUs like the Gigabyte 1070 and 1080 mini cards. Performance like this is best complemented with fast m.2 drives.
 

Windfall

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Yeah, the space below the GPU can fit an internal AC-DC power supply. It could also fit the HD-PLEX 400W. That one's rather long so I have to figure out how to fit the 3-pin power plug if that one's installed.

You'd only have room for one SSD with a MeanWell but if you want to use an exterior power brick you can fit several.

Use a C6 connector. the c14 is way too un sff
 
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chyll2

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just my two cents, if it is intended for Ryzen use, it should at least have one 2.5" drive. Point being, two m.2 slot for Am4 board is the exception. Only Asus has it, the rest of mini-itx board for AM4 only have one M.2 slot.
 

Valantar

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just my two cents, if it is intended for Ryzen use, it should at least have one 2.5" drive. Point being, two m.2 slot for Am4 board is the exception. Only Asus has it, the rest of mini-itx board for AM4 only have one M.2 slot.
The majority of ITX boards regardless of platform have only one m.2 slot, although this seems to be improving recently, at least for Intel platforms. Still, leaving out 2.5" drive support entirely seems a little premature. Fitting one of these can't be that hard.
 

CC Ricers

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The majority of ITX boards regardless of platform have only one m.2 slot, although this seems to be improving recently, at least for Intel platforms. Still, leaving out 2.5" drive support entirely seems a little premature. Fitting one of these can't be that hard.

Noted. I'm slightly increasing the height of the case by 3 to 4 mm in order to make room for a 2.5" drive sitting flat underneath the motherboard. It doesn't really affect the proportions of the case much. That way it's possible to still keep that support even when using an internal PSU.

As a compromise solution, you can suggest using a crutch in the form of an adapter SATA -> M2. In this case, you can win a bit in size.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/SATA-M-2-NGFF-SSD-adapter/dp/B00J3XHKJO

That adapter is interesting, being narrower than a 2.5" SSD but really more useful for very slim cases I would think. For my case a regular 2.5" hard drive wouldn't be much of a problem to fit (see response to the quote above).
 
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Thehack

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Can you add support for the ONE2 distro that I'm developing?

It has a board size of 95mm x 52mm x 30mm. Mounting points has not be determined, but planned is two holes at 76.6mm apart at the moment.
 
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Duality92

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You could make cutouts in the motherboard tray panel and have 4 tabs to hold an SSD, you could actually put two of those if you'd want.
 
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CC Ricers

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Can you add support for the ONE2 distro that I'm developing?

It has a board size of 95mm x 52mm x 30mm. Mounting points has not be determined, but planned is two holes at 76.6mm apart at the moment.

Yeah, that should be possible. It would be mounted to the inside of the front panel. To support a variety of boards, a replaceable acrylic piece will go on the inside, that you can slide into between tabs. The piece will contain all the mounting holes, so you will just need to remove the top and the acrylic panel, which will have all the mounting holes for different parts. They would screw onto this acrylic piece and then you slide it back into the front.

You could make cutouts in the motherboard tray panel and have 4 tabs to hold an SSD, you could actually put two of those if you'd want.

For the SSDs I'm actually thinking of having cutouts for SSD mounts on the bottom side of the case instead. That way you can remove this part separately without detaching the motherboard.
 
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CC Ricers

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I added another few mm to the case height, but this time I also tried out what it might look like to have the case be as small as possible while still fitting common DC-DC components. This is what I came up with. The length and height are nearly square now, with dimensions of 199mm x 198mm x 105mm.



And a rear view of the case (which is the first time I've shown it BTW):



The back panel design shows no visible screws, and the card is installed by removing the top side. The power inlet is still a work in progress.

The GPU has been moved about 15mm down to support taller cards in this setup. While this means you probably can't fit HD-PLEX AC-DC power units anymore, the DC boards that are 2 inches wide fit with room to spare. This would be a great setup for builds if you don't mind using an external power brick, or some with internal PSUs for lower power builds.

That is not to say I've ditched the idea of 400W brick-less builds with all the components inside. This smaller design is more of a side step, which can branch out to a second, somewhat larger case that can fit cards as long as the Zotac 1080 mini.

So if I am to make two different cases based on similar designs, I still want them to be different enough in features to support more uses for the larger one.
 

Tazpr

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Aug 7, 2018
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I added another few mm to the case height, but this time I also tried out what it might look like to have the case be as small as possible while still fitting common DC-DC components. This is what I came up with. The length and height are nearly square now, with dimensions of 199mm x 198mm x 105mm.



And a rear view of the case (which is the first time I've shown it BTW):



The back panel design shows no visible screws, and the card is installed by removing the top side. The power inlet is still a work in progress.

The GPU has been moved about 15mm down to support taller cards in this setup. While this means you probably can't fit HD-PLEX AC-DC power units anymore, the DC boards that are 2 inches wide fit with room to spare. This would be a great setup for builds if you don't mind using an external power brick, or some with internal PSUs for lower power builds.

That is not to say I've ditched the idea of 400W brick-less builds with all the components inside. This smaller design is more of a side step, which can branch out to a second, somewhat larger case that can fit cards as long as the Zotac 1080 mini.

So if I am to make two different cases based on similar designs, I still want them to be different enough in features to support more uses for the larger one.

Where do I buy? If I throw money at you can I have one?
 
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CC Ricers

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Where do I buy? If I throw money at you can I have one?

Calm down, not just yet ;) Still have lots to do with the design.

Love to see your designs (and design methods) evolve!

Thanks, I like how this is coming along so far and I like to make it extendable for different sizes and configurations.

I have to work on the motherboard tray. The design for that is straightforward but still figuring out the best way to connect it. Also, the top piece doesn't have the connection mechanism yet. It will require screws but I don't want them to be visible on the outside walls.
 

CC Ricers

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Here are some minor updates, features added to the case. I've finished modeling the power inlet for the back side of the case, to fit certain C6 cloverleaf plugs. The holes are blind, don't go through the outside of the case. In place of a C6 connector you can also screw on small adapters for different types of DC power jacks.



Next is the GPU installation process on the back of the case. The top lid is removed and the two case screws are inserted in the holes to secure it.



Again these are blind holes so the screws are not visible from the outside. For securing the bottom retention tab, I'm still debating whether to model in a tab holder as part of the rear panel or just add a screw to hold it in, for this prototype of the case.

I'm still not certain how to attach the top lid and have it done securely, as there isn't much room to place in any side screws without increasing the size of the front and back panels. Maybe I can secure the lid with snap-fit joints and slots, but I don't know how well it'll hold up with repeated use.

 
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CC Ricers

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I've decided to go with cantilever snap-fit joints after all, at least for the prototype. Two on the front side, and two on the back. This is the best way I can think of at this time to make the pieces connect without needing to insert screws from the inside, which seems too difficult to do in tight spaces. The snap-fit joints are just narrow enough to not produce a big overhang over the GPU mounting area.