!nverse: A Highly Versatile Steam-Box Design

MJVR1

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Jun 10, 2015
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50 Inch TV on top of the prototype? Your really taking structural integrity serious. May I ask, how will you be using this case?
 

esplin2966

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According to wikipedia, the typical melting point for common soldering alloys is between 180°-190° C, so with GPUs shutting down at 100°C internal temperature, and the exhaust air being quite a bit colder, you'll be in the green.
In that case, the coast is clear! I still don't really want power button or front IO PCB boards blocking the exhaust holes, but I can do it if there are no other options.

50 Inch TV on top of the prototype? Your really taking structural integrity serious. May I ask, how will you be using this case?
Personally, I'll be using this case in my room with my monitor on top of it. However, I know that quite a few people will want to use this as a HTPC, so I want it to be able to hold some weight on top of it so people can pile audiophile equipment and monitors on it to save space.
 

iFreilicht

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In that case, the coast is clear! I still don't really want power button or front IO PCB boards blocking the exhaust holes, but I can do it if there are no other options.

Personally, I'll be using this case in my room with my monitor on top of it. However, I know that quite a few people will want to use this as a HTPC, so I want it to be able to hold some weight on top of it so people can pile audiophile equipment and monitors on it to save space.
Shhhhhh. I think the coast is clear, let's go. ;)

Yeah better make extra sure for it to hold up. I do think that the way the case is designed will really help its structural integrity though.
 

esplin2966

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Shhhhhh. I think the coast is clear, let's go. ;)

Yeah better make extra sure for it to hold up. I do think that the way the case is designed will really help its structural integrity though.
The outer panels are pretty solid, but the interior skeleton is less supported. Still gotta test to make sure, but just from holding the case in my hand I think that it should hold a 50" TV fine.
 

esplin2966

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Hey everyone, here are the results of the temperature tests for the !nverse case.

Test Configuration:

CPU: i5-4690K
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Seidon 240M
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97N-WIFI
RAM: G.Skill Ares 2400MHz CL11 2 x 4Gb
Storage 1: Sandisk 120Gb SSD
Storage 2: Seagate 500Gb 7200RPM HDD
GPU: Gigabyte R9 390 Gaming
PSU: Silverstone SFX SX600-G
Case Fans: 2 x Silverstone FW121

The CPU is overclocked to 4.4GHz so that the system is sufficiently stressed in order to obtain decisive results.

Test Setup:

Due to suggestions from cowsgomoo, I decided to drill holes all over the case in order to allow the exhaust of the liquid cooler radiator to go directly out of the case, as well as make more exhaust holes for the GPU. This setup, with holes all over, is called "Porous". A sample image of the porous setup is shown below:



To capture the original exhaust hole configuration of the case, I tape the extra holes closed. In this setup, the exhaust of the liquid cooler radiator would have to flow past the motherboard and the PSU to eventually exhaust out the side. There are also less exhaust holes for the GPU. This setup is called "Air Tunnel". A sample image of the air tunnel setup is shown below:



To obtain a baseline, optimal cooling scenario, I take apart the exterior panels and open up the inside of the case to the outside. In this setup, the airflow from the GPU and the liquid cooler radiator is completely uninhibited. This setup is called "Open Air". A sample image of the open air setup is shown below:



Furthermore, I test whether raised the case higher up from the table helps with the cooling. A sample image of the raised setup is shown below:



I also compare the temperatures of the GPU when there are case fans over the GPU, air funnels over the GPU, and just bare GPU.

All in all, this comes to 18 possible setups:

CPU:
  1. Open Air (OA)
  2. Air Tunnel - Raised (ATR)
  3. Air Tunnel - Unraised (ATU)
  4. Porous - Raised (PR)
  5. Porous - Unraised (PU)

GPU:
  1. Open Air (OA)
  2. Air Tunnel - Raised - Bare (ATR - bare)
  3. Air Tunnel - Unraised - Bare (ATU - bare)
  4. Porous - Raised - Bare (PR - bare)
  5. Porous - Unraised - Bare (PU - bare)
  6. Air Tunnel - Raised - with Fan (ATR - fan)
  7. Air Tunnel - Unraised - with Fan (ATU - fan)
  8. Porous - Raised - with Fan (PR - fan)
  9. Porous - Unraised - with Fan (PU - fan)
  10. Air Tunnel - Raised - with Funnel (ATR - funnel)
  11. Air Tunnel - Unraised - with Funnel (ATU - funnel)
  12. Porous - Raised - with Funnel (PR - funnel)
  13. Porous - Unraised - with Funnel (PU - funnel)

Test Methodology:

To stress test the CPU, I run Prime95 Small FFTs for 10 minutes. To stress test the GPU, I run Unigine Valley Benchmark three times in a row. Aside from the CPU and GPU temperatures, I also measure the motherboard temperatures, hard drive temperatures, and fan speeds.

The ambient temperature is maintained at 22.8 C (73 F) for all tests.

Test Data:





Test Result Summary:




From the summary above, we can arrive at a few conclusions:

  1. For all tests, the difference between the porous setup and the air tunnel setup is about 1-2 degrees.
  2. For the CPU tests, raising the case makes the max single core and max averaged core temperatures about 3-4 degrees cooler. For the GPU tests, raising the case makes the max temperature about 8-10 degrees cooler, except for the bare GPU setups.
  3. For the CPU tests, the best, non-open-air setup produces max single core and max averaged core temperature that is about 8 degrees hotter than the open air setup. For the GPU tests, the best, non-open-air setup setup produces max temperature that is about 5 degrees hotter than the open air setup.
  4. For all tests, both hard drive temperatures do not exceed 45 C.

Next Steps:

Right now, the case feet is about 8mm tall. I want to figure out exactly how tall the case feet needs to be to achieve the same level of cooling as the raised setups.
 
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esplin2966

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Well done, very thorough !
Thanks! :D

It took a lot of work to plan out everything and then to do the write up, but I'm happy with how things turned out. I was worried that I would have to add a lot of holes on the top in the next design iteration to give the case better airflow, but it looks like the current exhaust configuration as it is works pretty well.
 

Phuncz

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If the differences are indeed relatively minor, I'd also prefer less holes. Price-wise and aesthetically a better choice in my opinion.
In the end if a CPU is 75°C or 80°C at the same load and same noise, it won't matter much. Considering you're running with a seriously overclocked Devil's Canyon (albeit AIO-cooled) I'd say it's a good design for the targeted hardware.
 
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esplin2966

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If the differences are indeed relatively minor, I'd also prefer less holes. Price-wise and aesthetically a better choice in my opinion.
In the end if a CPU is 75°C or 80°C at the same load and same noise, it won't matter much. Considering you're running with a seriously overclocked Devil's Canyon (albeit AIO-cooled) I'd say it's a good design for the targeted hardware.
Yeah, I definitely agree. Still working on my feet height tests. Hopefully it doesn't have to be too high for the cooling to be sufficient.
 

PlayfulPhoenix

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A good real-world demonstration of how simply adding a bunch of vents doesn't necessarily correlate with improved temperatures, but adding a few of them in an intelligent way - that addresses the flow and behavior of air - can be much more fruitful. A difference of "a few degrees" is essentially negligible with this sort of testing, so with that in mind, anything within that sort of range of your better results seems like a good contender for the best option

Right now, the case feet is about 8mm tall. I want to figure out exactly how tall the case feet needs to be to achieve the same level of cooling as the raised setups.
We're using 15mm feet on our case, as we found that to be an optimal height when balancing aesthetics and performance. That would be quite tall for a case such as yours, however, so you may want to accept some restriction and get closer to an even cm.
 

esplin2966

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Update 10/13/2015:

Put a 50" TV overtop the !nverse Prototype. Here are some photos:




As can be seen, the case holds the TV over it with no problem.

Also finished the fitment tests. Here are some photos:

Air Cooling Configuration:




If using SFX PSU or SFX-L, this configuration fits 3 x 3.5" hard drive and 2 x 2.5" hard drive.

120mm AIO Cooling Configuration:




If using SFX PSU, this configuration fits 2 x 3.5" hard drive and 2 x 2.5" hard drive. If using SFX-L PSU, this configuration fits 1 x 3.5" hard drive and 2 x 2.5" hard drive.

240mm AIO Cooling Configuration:




If using either SFX or SFX-L PSU, this configuration fits 2 x 2.5" hard drive.

Media Storage Configuration:





If using SFX PSU, this configuration fits 8 x 3.5" hard drive and 4 x 2.5" hard drive. if using SFX-L PSU, this configuration fits 7 x 3.5" hard drive and 4 x 2.5" hard drive.
 
Last edited:

iFreilicht

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Feb 28, 2015
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There are 3.5" HDDs with 8TB of storage and 2.5" HDDs with 2TB, mSATA SSDs are available with 1TB.
3*8TB+2*2TB+1TB = 29TB of storage. If you need more than that, you'd've already invested in an NAS.
 
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esplin2966

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There are 3.5" HDDs with 8TB of storage and 2.5" HDDs with 2TB, mSATA SSDs are available with 1TB.
3*8TB+2*2TB+1TB = 29TB of storage. If you need more than that, you'd've already invested in an NAS.
There's the media storage configuration for you too if you do want to build a NAS. In that case, it'll be 8*8TB+4*2TB+1TB = 73TB :)

Edit: Though I'm pretty sure no ITX motherboard has 12 SATA ports and 1 mSATA port. I guess people can mod the case by taping a raid controller somewhere.
 

iFreilicht

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If that thing is 7mm high, you could cram 3-4 of those into a 3.5" enclosure with an inline RAID controller and get a 3.5" 12-16TB SSD. U.2 is direly needed for drives like that though.
 
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esplin2966

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If that thing is 7mm high, you could cram 3-4 of those into a 3.5" enclosure with an inline RAID controller and get a 3.5" 12-16TB SSD. U.2 is direly needed for drives like that though.
This sounds completely crazy, in a good way haha. I see the future of media storage.
 

esplin2966

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Update 10/17/2015:

Hey everyone, a quick update from me. I have done the PCIe riser test with 5 different risers:

1) 300mm unshielded PCIe riser cable.

2) 300mm unshielded PCIe riser cable wrapped in aluminum foil.

3) 300mm unshielded PCIe riser cable wrapped in EMI shielding tape.

4) 300mm LiHead Type B PCIe riser cable.

5) 500mm 3M PCIe riser cable.

Basically, using each of these cables, I run Unigine Valley Benchmark and compare the scores attained. Here are my results:

1) System does not boot.

2) System does not boot.

3) System boots, but graphics crashes when running Unigine Valley.

4) System boots, and runs Unigine Valley Benchmark fine. Average FPS is about 89.

5) System boots, and runs Unigine Valley Benchmark fine. Average FPS is about 91.

From this test, it is clear that DIY solutions to shielding the PCIe riser cable does not work. The LiHeat cable performs slightly worse than the 3M cable, but at less than half the price. Therefore, I think the LiHeat cables are what we'll be bundling with the !nverse case. Now we need to see what kind of bulk discount we can get.

Thanks for reading!