Prototyping Neutrino : a 4L case dedicated to thin mini-ITX with discrete GPU

aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Feb 16, 2016
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Hi there,

I'm glad to share one of the projects I've been working on for quite some time.

Some of you may know my interest for thin-itx boards. I experimented quite a lot with various combinations of hardware and cases but Neutrino is by far my favourite project.

To make it short, I purchased last year the PCM5-QM77 motherboard from the Chinese OEM Ling-Jiang.
This is a very particular thin-itx motherboard as it features a QM77 chipset and, most of all, a full PCIe 16X slot.

The idea was indeed to design a compact system featuring a discrete GPU over the board, using the custom powered riser we developped earlier on.

I found a cheap i7 3630QM CPU (50€ in France), which is roughly an i5 7500, and I was good to go.

After experimenting a bit with custom air coolers made of a flat cool-pipe and various heatsinks, I decided to settle on watercooling the CPU.




Luckily, I found this old Thermaltake GPU waterblock, which is thin enough to work with my "sandwich" concept.

Hereafter the final version of Neutrino, exclusively based on off-the-shelves parts, except for the custom riser.
The outer volume is 4.26L. I made it a little larger to give room to two SSD drives.


- MB : Ling-Jiang PCM5-QM77
- CPU : i7 3630QM (45W)
- RAM : 2 x 8 Gb DDR3 Team Neptune 2666
- PSU : Artesyn 2"x4" 250W PSU
- CPU waterblock : Thermaltake W2 All-Copper GPU waterblock
- Pump : Alphacool DC-LT
- Radiator : Alphacool Nexxxos dual 60mm
- Reservoir : Alphacool Mini-Tank made for Shuttle computers few years ago
- Fans : Gelid industrial 60mm fans + Gelid industrial 40mm fan for the PSU
- Fittings : Koolance 6/10


I already received the laser-cut panels and will start building the system next week.

Cheers !
 
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aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Piccolo PC
Feb 16, 2016
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I received the various case panels and other laser-cut parts, made of 2 mm anodized aluminium.
Took me a good hour to clean them.

Next step : besides the actual build, I have to mod the reservoir to add an inlet.

Sunny week-end though ; let's start the final build next week.

 

aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Piccolo PC
Feb 16, 2016
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Quick build test : everything fits but the radiator holes, off by 2 mm -_-
I guess I should have checked whether Alphacool .step model was accurate... or not.

Some 3M velcro tape should do the trick.



 

aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Feb 16, 2016
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Thanks !

There is a 1 mm gap between the large mosfet heatsink of the PSU and the aluminum case. Do yo think it's worth filling it with a thermal pad ?
@Thehack ?

BTW, I did a quick temperature test and it's not bad :
with fans and pumps set at 50% (quiet, not silent) in Speedfan, the CPU temp stabilized around 60°C after 15 min of CPU-Z burn test.
 
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Thehack

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Thanks !

There is a 1 mm gap between the large mosfet heatsink of the PSU and the aluminum case. Do yo think it's worth filling it with a thermal pad ?
@Thehack ?

BTW, I did a quick temperature test and it's not bad :
with fans and pumps set at 50% (quiet, not silent) in Speedfan, the CPU temp stabilized around 60°C after 15 min of CPU-Z burn test.
It will get warm on the outside but I why not? Cooler PSU run more efficiently means better power. Though be careful to use insulating thermal pads.

Amazing work by the way!
 
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aquelito

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Feb 16, 2016
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Though be careful to use insulating thermal pads.

Amazing work by the way!
Thanks the for the clarification :)
I've got some Gelid Extrem pads, specified as non-electrical conducting, that should so the trick.

I will also have a 40 mm fan extracting hot air from the PSU.
 

aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Feb 16, 2016
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So... I f***ed up the reservoir modification... the kind of reservoir I'm 99.99% sure not to find again.

I drilled a hole too large to be tapped for G1/4 fittings...

My only solution is to drill it a bit more and use a G3/8 tap. Fortunately I have a Koolance G3/8 to G/14 adapter.
Let's hope I do not f*** up this one too.
 
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aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Feb 16, 2016
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Thanks. Waiting for a G3/8 tap and 15 mm drill bit to get the job done.

I did not mention it but this is not the first issue I encounter with my watercooling gear !...

I ripped off two of the wires of the DC-LT pump a while back, during a test session.
Very very fragile since the wires were not protected from any stress, just holding to the pump with a frew strands...
Alphacool refused to RMA the pump so I just soldered back three shorter black wires, which eventually helps me with the cable management.

Sometime mistakes are a good thing :)

 
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aquelito

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SAVED !!

With the right tools, I managed to drill and tap a clean G3/8 hole.
The Koolance adapter saved the day !

Conclusion : 1/2 second of distraction costed me one week delay and 50 EUR...

@BaK : that was indeed a stressful hole to drill :)


Fortunately the reservoir, once connected to the radiator, fits as intended.
Still waiting for some fittings to connect the pump with the reservoir, using 10mm ID tubing.


Between the pump wires, reservoir port and the radiator mounting holes, I sincerly hope the last steps will go smoothly...
 
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CC Ricers

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Great job. I like the industrial look of Koolance fittings. Stay away from their black quick disconnects though XD
 
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aquelito

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@CC Ricers : thanks ! You could draw the 3D-printed enclosure around it ;)

@Thehack : all the credit goes to @QinX ; this build is just a "poor-man" version of H2O Micro hehe.

I get my panels cut by a company called John Steel, based in France, close to the German border :)
https://pro.john-steel.com/fr/
I've made some quotes with other companies I'm already working with ; John Steel is by far the cheapest, and quality is pretty good.
 

BaK

Master of Cramming
May 17, 2016
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SAVED !!

With the right tools, I managed to drill and tap a clean G3/8 hole.
The Koolance adapter saved the day !

Conclusion : 1/2 second of distraction costed me one week delay and 50 EUR...

@BaK : that was indeed a stressful hole to drill :)
Oh you did the new hole at this bottom side! (I would have called it the back side ;))
The result looks very good! :thumb:

Well done not drilling the hole in the middle of the side, so it is now a little higher than the outlet. Maybe you did so to align it with the rad port, but it should also help getting rid of bubbles better.
In case you want to improve this, I've added some 'aquarium sponge' into my mini res that helps catching bubbles, similar to this one on aliexpress:



Where are you getting your laser cut panels from and are they expensive?
Let me quote him from his adibou's thread:
Thanks !
I had two different cases - this one and Neutrino - CNCed from a single 2 mm anodized aluminium plate for around 130€ excl. shipping.
Don't know where they come from though.
Edit: ninja'd by @aquelito
 
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aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Feb 16, 2016
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Very good sense of observation !
The hole is indeed off-centered to fit the reservoir in the case and, as you mentioned, have the inlet above the outlet, to make the bleeding process easier.



The good thing with the G3/8 adapter, is that his steel thread won't wear out over time. A bit like having an insert in wood.

Thanks for the sponge.
The case is intended to be used vertically. The sponge will help "catch" the bubbles and not release them in the circuit every time I turn the case upside-down ?
 
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BaK

Master of Cramming
May 17, 2016
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The case is intended to be used vertically. The sponge will help "catch" the bubbles and not release them in the circuit every time I turn the case upside-down ?
From what I see with mine, bubbles are trapped into the sponge and then with time, they go up and gather slowly at the top of the res (where I have no foam).
So if you turn the case I guess they will go from the top of the res back to the sponge and stay there.

Maybe doing the bleeding with the case horizontally so you can top the res off thanks to the port on the right of your last render. So there won't be any, or very few bubbles left to deal with when you turn the case vertically...
 

aquelito

King of Cable Management
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Piccolo PC
Feb 16, 2016
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Yep, I plan to bleed it horizontally, to top the res off.
I already did it once to test the CPU block and removing 99% of the bubbles did not take more than 10 min.

I'll have to fill the res up to the max to avoid releasing any air pocket back into the circuit, once the case is placed vertically.
 
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