Prototype MT5: 5.4L Expandable case for mini GPUs

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
A preview of the printed 5-liter case shell. This was completed just yesterday.



The missing material on one side of the case was a printing error and while it could be a cause for concern, it is ABS and should be able to hold up well for testing, especially when all other pieces are fastened into place.

Since this print job, I have revised the design anyhow. It's going to look 95% like this part, but I was able to split the shell into two pieces and still make it aesthetically work. Also makes it easier for printing (requires far less vertical supports). It uses a metal fastening system that should be better than the last, and without requiring threaded inserts.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bjornyyy and Jello

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
Here's what the refined design now looks like. The case is now split into two parts. Each piece is printed out individually and interlock with tabs in a few places along the front and back, with screws at the corners. These screws with standoffs do most of the job holding the case together, while tabs do the job preventing shearing/sliding of parts.


This not only has benefits for printing the parts, but also for case configuration. The case is split between the GPU and motherboard side along the back. In this fashion it is possible to replace it with extended length pieces to support taller CPU coolers and perhaps other components.

The image below shows an example of two side pieces that differ by 12mm in width. The smaller piece makes the case more compact with coolers up to 39mm, while the larger piece can support coolers up to 50mm.


From what was determined a couple pages ago in the poll for cooler compatibility, this can easily address multiple different layout needs without needing to get a completely separate case. If one wanted to build with a taller cooler, for example, they can upgrade with a replacement part to extend the case. It might also be possible with the GPU side if there is demand to use the extra thick 2.75 slot cards.
 

rfarmer

Shrink Way Wielder
Silver Supporter
Jul 7, 2017
2,193
2,230
Probably a good idea with the 2.75 width. With EVGA adding the 1660 Ti to the 2070 for wide itx cards other vendors may follow suit.
 

Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
Creator
Bronze Supporter
Mar 6, 2016
2,740
3,506
J-hackcompany.com
Lookin' pretty good. I'd also see about integrating some front exhaust, since most ITX GPU will exhaust in the front, to the where the seam is.

I also do not think should extend the length of the chassis for PSUs. Most GPUs will dump heat in the front, so I don't think it's a good idea.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CC Ricers

Jello

Airflow Optimizer
Bronze Supporter
Nov 15, 2016
373
161
Really interesting design. Would be cool to see a GPU side model that also allows for low profile GPU, maybe integrating some 2.5 drive bracket mounts.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CC Ricers

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I might implement more models if there is a demand for other use cases.

Probably a good idea with the 2.75 width. With EVGA adding the 1660 Ti to the 2070 for wide itx cards other vendors may follow suit.

Yep, that's the idea! Both the 2060 and 1660 Ti are practically triple width so it's a good idea to have that option. Not like it should be much harder to make parts for an extra wide case.

Lookin' pretty good. I'd also see about integrating some front exhaust, since most ITX GPU will exhaust in the front, to the where the seam is.

I also do not think should extend the length of the chassis for PSUs. Most GPUs will dump heat in the front, so I don't think it's a good idea.

I see your concerns about exhaust heat trapping up in the front area especially if PSU exhaust is right next to the GPU. I haven't actually tested this before so I may or may not go forward with the layout.

The original reason I had wanted the flex PSU in the front is that it leaves potential room for GPUs as long as 220mm, so you can fit other cards like Zotac minis, with a more niche power supply like the HD-PLEX. Dunno if I'll still leave it like this, otherwise the MT5 case will become the MT6 and I'll make the larger version long enough to fit a reference size GPU and the PSU will be mounted so the exhaust face other side panel.
 

Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
Creator
Bronze Supporter
Mar 6, 2016
2,740
3,506
J-hackcompany.com
Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I might implement more models if there is a demand for other use cases.



Yep, that's the idea! Both the 2060 and 1660 Ti are practically triple width so it's a good idea to have that option. Not like it should be much harder to make parts for an extra wide case.



I see your concerns about exhaust heat trapping up in the front area especially if PSU exhaust is right next to the GPU. I haven't actually tested this before so I may or may not go forward with the layout.

The original reason I had wanted the flex PSU in the front is that it leaves potential room for GPUs as long as 220mm, so you can fit other cards like Zotac minis, with a more niche power supply like the HD-PLEX. Dunno if I'll still leave it like this, otherwise the MT5 case will become the MT6 and I'll make the larger version long enough to fit a reference size GPU and the PSU will be mounted so the exhaust face other side panel.

I would say all GPUs that can be hand in 220mm, can be hand in 170-180mm. It's a different story for 270mm GPUs though.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
I'll have to see how it goes with thermals, then. Currently I'm using my 4 liter prototype case for my main system, and it uses a RX 570 mini card. When gaming or benchmarking, this card does not get hot enough to shut down or throttle. I don't suggest overclocking cards in these tight spaces, anyways.

The alternative setup for the 5 liter case actually drew me to that design, and in fact is highlighted in this other recent case concept that showed up. This seems to do fine for the HD-PLEX, but I haven't seen this configuration too often (maybe more with the similar Custom Mod cases?)
 

Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
Creator
Bronze Supporter
Mar 6, 2016
2,740
3,506
J-hackcompany.com
I'll have to see how it goes with thermals, then. Currently I'm using my 4 liter prototype case for my main system, and it uses a RX 570 mini card. When gaming or benchmarking, this card does not get hot enough to shut down or throttle. I don't suggest overclocking cards in these tight spaces, anyways.

The alternative setup for the 5 liter case actually drew me to that design, and in fact is highlighted in this other recent case concept that showed up. This seems to do fine for the HD-PLEX, but I haven't seen this configuration too often (maybe more with the similar Custom Mod cases?)

I'm a fan of allowing hot air to immediately dumped outside the cases where possible. If you sacrifice thermals for looks, then I'd say at least add room for a fan to help exhaust.

Being small is good and all, but we also have to make it decently easy to build, which the linked case doesn't seem too good. (I also don't like how the overall design looks too close to CustomMod. Attachment points seem needlessly complex, and doesn't really add much to the rigidity of the case).
 
  • Like
Reactions: CC Ricers

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
With this case, it could be possible to mount a pair of 80mm slim fans on the bottom, but sacrificing the place for a 2.5" hard drive in that spot. I want the hot air to be mostly pushed out of the top, and then the sides.

My current 4L prototype is made up of six pieces, including the motherboard tray, and made of a vinyl/carbon fiber blend which handles heat very well. It is nice but could be made cheaper, but still needs to be strong enough. So ABS plastic is a good compromise.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jello

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
Love this last iterations, really nice looking and I like the 2 part approach.

Thanks, I'm really liking how this is progressing since the first version.

I've started settling on some outer dimensions of the base case that would be a good compromise for many people. It falls somewhere between the previous 4 liter and 5 liter designs.

At 190mm in length, the current-gen EVGA short cards are longer than I had thought. These wouldn't fit in my current 4 liter prototype. At this size I had to extend the length to accommodate them as well as fit the 196mm Inno3D twin fan cards (but just barely). The top has been extended and motherboard nudged lower, in order to accommodate a slim 92mm or 100mm fan on the top (12mm max thickness). I feel like this is an easier setup than dual 80mm fans.

At the final outer case length of 214mm the case is long enough to fit some longer-than ITX cards but not long enough to fit a Flex ATX PSU in the front. It's not completely discouraged, but it's preferential to use alternative, smaller internal PSUs if possible.

There is one situation where a Flex ATX PSU can fit, though, which is with a GPU that doesn't need extra power connectors on the top. In this layout, the PSU is directly below the GPU oriented sideways (short side on the bottom). This can allow a very compact setup with some entry-mid level GPUs that is easier on the budget. And yes, low-profile GPUs can work with this kind of setup also.
 

jujudk

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 1, 2017
102
83
It looks very good
And the 2 part / modular ? design is wonderful
For the flex atx i think it's one of the best option, it's small and can easily accomodate most configuration, while having a brickless build
 
  • Like
Reactions: CC Ricers

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
I've decided to drop the 5 liter case layout completely and just fall back on the layout that would fall halfway between both. The result is a case with the same square-ish proportions as the original prototype, but slightly larger in width and height. This would support Flex-ATX in certain configurations while being able to accept a decent amount of short cards.

Here is a render of the case in white with a sample low power gaming build. It has a twin fan GPU 191mm in length and a HD-PLEX 160W AC-DC.



The final dimensions for this case are 209.5 mm x 214.7mm x 106.3mm. Case specs are updated in the first post. I can start ordering a production for this design very soon.
 
Last edited:

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
Really interesting design. Would be cool to see a GPU side model that also allows for low profile GPU, maybe integrating some 2.5 drive bracket mounts.

A low profile GPU would really open up the side area a lot and would be very easy to add a Flex PSU or additional hard drives. You could even fit a 3.5" drive in that extra space, or a hot swap tray such as this one if the side piece is made to hold a drive bay. It could potentially be used as a NAS or HTPC in this application.

This looks great. Any estimates on how much it will cost?

Not sure of what the exact cost would be, but I'd like to keep it around $90, not including the riser cable. This includes the acrylic side panels and necessary screws, though.
 
Last edited:

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,099
2,314
Got the black case shell in my hands finally. It's pretty much a "throwaway" part at this point since this was before the 2-piece redesign, but I got a good idea of the look and feel.

Not much else to show in pictures compared to what I previously posted. It's glossy but not too shiny in normal lighting.

  • The hairline texture adds to the case, but I have to make sure to tell the supplier to minimize printer head vibrations in order to not have ripples on the surface.
  • Installing the hex standoffs were a real pain in the butt. These standoffs require a m3 screw to hold them from the inside and there are very tight clearances. Best bet was to use an Allen key with hex screws.
  • Also the hex holes were a little larger for the standoffs than expected so they sometimes rotated around. I have since reduced the size of the holes slightly as I prefer a snug fit.
  • I've always planned to ship these cases mostly pre-assembled so that's a good thing for any customers to keep in mind.
The GPU fits into the slots well, but there are tight clearances for the screws also. To make installation easier, I may print a special jig that holds the slot tab in place.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: owliwar