S4 MINI Classic (S4M-C)

Josh | NFC

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I have been working on a new powder for months, and we have had many problems getting it perfect.



A couple weeks ago I decided that I liked it so much that I was going to commit to redoing a large number of my S4 inventory in it. My goal is to deliver a luxury powdercoat with the attention to detail of a one-off, but at a fraction of the price of a custom job. We have had disaster after disaster, but it looks like I still might make the target of $50-$55 premium, as opposed to the $170 it would take to do this particular powder in a one-off.

So let's talk about the powder. This is a wrinkle that is formulated to be incredibly durable--like truck bumper durable. Of course a good powder without good prep is useless, but all these panels are brushed BY HAND, chem dipped, acid bathed, and pre-baked. This is how the factory should have done my panels, but I digress...

In diffuse light like you would find in an office, the panel looks similar to the stock powdercoat, albeit a handsome dark grey:


Flat, diffuse lighting in my office:



While nice, this is not...Not From Concentrate special. It needs to have some pizazz while remaining classy. Luckily, this powder has some tricks up it's sleeve. Tilt the powder and it adopts a metallic sheen, like polished lead:



Still stealthy, classy, and monochrome...three of my favorite things. But what if I told you that along with Teflon and diamond dust there is vampire blood infused in the panels, that only appears in bright sunlight?



Also notice how the panel is looking even more "gunmetal" in the sunlight:



Don't worry, ALL the vampires in Twighlight were harmed in the making of this powder. :thumb:


It really is almost impossible to photograph, and you have to take tons of shots to convey the properties it has. I hate the cop-out of saying it looks WAY better in person, but...it does look WAY better in person. I am super duper proud of it, and now we just need to work out a few kinks before it goes up in the store!

You can check out a couple more diffuse shots over in the S4#25 thread, where I used this powder in a customer build.

I absolutely loathe multi-posting in various forums, but I am going to copy pasta this thread so people looking at buying an S4 soon can make a decision on holding off for the new color. Sorry in advance... Thanks for looking!
 

iFreilicht

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Holy cow, what a stunning colour that is. I would really like to see some HD camera footage of that rotating in different light sources to really see how the colour changes depending on the angle of the light.
 
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hyperborea

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Jan 13, 2016
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I was skeptical when you said this would have the same attention to detail as your custom powdercoats, and I was expecting you to pick some outlandish colour... but that looks gorgeous.
 
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hat1324

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You know whats really good about that color? You don't have to sharpie all the scratches you make on the case :p
 

PlayfulPhoenix

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That silvery-grey looks fantastic. The hue lends itself well to the harsher texture of the powder coat... And, as always, you've captured it perfectly :thumb:

I'm happy you've given the paint so much attention, by the way, because it's really important to do right, and exceedingly few products nail it. For Project Nova, we spent a lot of time, and requested a lot of samples, to ensure that everything from the brand of paint to the finish and particular hue was up to snuff... There are a ton of ways you can go about coating metal, but only very few of them will strike the right balance between durability and a good look and feel.
 
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hat1324

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Hey Josh. I noticed you changed your recommended GPU on your website to the R9 285. I hope that wasn't my influence from my faulty GPU :(
 

Josh | NFC

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Hey Josh. I noticed you changed your recommended GPU on your website to the R9 285. I hope that wasn't my influence from my faulty GPU :(

What I really need to do is make a list of tested and recommended GPUs. There are several GeForce cards I have tested now and think are great...and I am getting some more new R9 cards from Sapphire this month I hope will be good.

BTW, I found some really interesting stuff regarding the Dell 330....the are indeed NOT all created equal, and either there are some REALLY good counterfeits or different revisions because some use LESS power (lower internal resistance?) and supply more without shutting off.
 
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Josh | NFC

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You know whats really good about that color? You don't have to sharpie all the scratches you make on the case :p

Your panel inspired me not to settle for the factory application. This new powder and application is so tough that when we don't get a panel perfect and redo it, we don't even bother with beadblasting...we have to use B12 first...

That silvery-grey looks fantastic. The hue lends itself well to the harsher texture of the powder coat... And, as always, you've captured it perfectly :thumb:

I'm happy you've given the paint so much attention, by the way, because it's really important to do right, and exceedingly few products nail it. For Project Nova, we spent a lot of time, and requested a lot of samples, to ensure that everything from the brand of paint to the finish and particular hue was up to snuff... There are a ton of ways you can go about coating metal, but only very few of them will strike the right balance between durability and a good look and feel.

That means a ridiculous amount coming from the people who keep the bar in this industry at a stupid-high level. I'm just hoping you will trade me out for a Mini when you get your system shipped because I need to mod and photograph that thing so bad...
 

Josh | NFC

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Twice in a row we got bad bakes on all the panels despite polishing them till they shone like new dimes. I'm at a loss here...
 

flacman

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Feb 23, 2016
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Josh -- G'day from Australia and what an awesome case and beautiful product photography!

I've been reading about the S4 Mini for a couple days now... got some queries to which I haven't found elsewhere.

edit: removed a Q -- found your Hardforum Q/A video.

  • Seeing as I haven't done any "electronics" work in about 10 years, what's the learning curve to build an S4 Mini system? e.g. I have no idea how the power button will connect to the motherboard - is there soldering/manual wiring required?
  • Seeing as the chassis isn't dust filtered, have you, your customers or other members on this forum had issues with dust build up on the components?
  • What's the typical power load based on the sample spec you have on your website (6700T, R9 285)?
  • How much does the above system weigh in Kilograms? I'm considering bringing a potential build as a flight carry-on.
Cheers.
 
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Josh | NFC

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Josh -- G'day from Australia and what an awesome case and beautiful product photography!

Thank you!

I'll try and answer your questions as best I can. :)

  • Seeing as I haven't done any "electronics" work in about 10 years, what's the learning curve to build an S4 Mini system? e.g. I have no idea how the power button will connect to the motherboard - is there soldering/manual wiring required?
The S4 Mini is more challenging to put together than a standard ATX chassis because of the extremely limited working space. However, I wouldn't say it is more complicated and it should be fairly plug-and-play unless you are trying to achieve the neatest possible wiring.

All the bulgin switches I have seen require you to wire them. You can purchase power button wires with the header connectors already on them to simplify things--just cut off the button, strip the wire, and solder it to the power button. You then plug the header onto the motherboard.

I can sell you the button and wire it for you. I use brushed stainless bulgins from Digikey which are $20 in the amounts I buy them in. With the wiring ready to go I sell them for $30. If you want a ring illuminated one you can buy them from ModSmart for about $17 and the wire with the plug for about $5 then supply your own solder and heat shrink and save some money.

In addition, I build full systems, and I try and do a good job, but obviously it is way cheaper to build it yourself. :)


  • Seeing as the chassis isn't dust filtered, have you, your customers or other members on this forum had issues with dust build up on the components?
Any answer I give will be controversial as people have passionate opinions on it. I have had three full S4 systems that I used as my personal PC for pretty much everything, and during my time with them individually I will say they have the least dust build-up of any system I personally have used (note that I use the Mini in the vertical orientation). This actually makes sense when you think about it.

The S4 Mini with just a CPU heatsink and GPU fan are already going to build up less dust because they don't have any intake fans. In addition, I find the primary reason dust builds up in chassis is because dust can't escape. It gets trapped inside the chassis and swirls around. The S4 Mini is vented aggressively so this is not a huge problem. It is pretty simple to clean, and there isn't left over space in the chassis where dust can easily collect.

That's not to say it is dust proof by any means, but just looking at my render rig which I have to clean weekly my Mini which I game on is something I only dust out once a month. The S3 Mini gathered more dust because it was really designed to run in a horizontal position and dust would fall in the cracks, but even still it wasn't really a dusty PC because it didn't have intake fans constantly sucking air from the room into it.

Personally, I despise filters. They are good in concept, but they don't solve the issue of dust and only end up trapping it inside your chassis and in the filter, which is not simple to clean. It is much simpler just to blow out an unfiltered chassis once a week in my mind than to take out a filter, vacuum it out, wash it out, dry it, reassemble it, and STILL blow out your PC. But that is just my opinion and it is a controversial one...

  • What's the typical power load based on the sample spec you have on your website (6700T, R9 285)?
275w with prime 95 + Valley running. If you don't need high-resolution gaming and are fine playing games at 1080p on medium-high settings the 750ti is actually not a bad card. My demo S4 I carried around the U.S. had this config and I played Crysis 3, Alien Isolation, and the Blizzard games and it looked and ran great on the 1080p televisions. Once you sit 2.5 feet from your high res IPS monitor that's when details are noticed and running games on high-ultra really pops. I bring this up because the system load for that card was 130w :)

  • How much does the above system weigh in Kilograms? I'm considering bringing a potential build as a flight carry-on.
Cheers.

A fully built system on the heavy side weighs about 8lbs with the power brick. This number could fluctuate depending on your heatsink choices, GPU, and power brick--most likely under 8lbs though.
 

flacman

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Feb 23, 2016
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Wow, thanks for such a detailed response.

By the way, how much extra is that sexy orange or speckled chaos green coat on top of your base price?

After watching most of your videos, I do agree a system based around a PicoPSU 160W XT is probably the best way to go.

Given that Nvidia Pascal / AMD Polaris are just around the corner, I think I'll wait it out until the for the additional power/compute efficiencies.
 

Josh | NFC

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It's 150 for the first coat and 100 for every coat after that. The Chaos Tangerine is a two stage and that green black combo is a three stage. Thank you for your questions!
 

michaelmitchell

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Mar 12, 2016
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This case is a thing of beauty! If shipping wasn't so expensive to Europe I probably would have ordered one already even though I am sceptical about using the short cards.

I do development using game engines and I am hoping to use this small form factor for a full powered portable dev/demo rig for VR (that I can upgrade unlike a gaming laptop) I would love to see another version of this exact case a little longer to accommodate a larger GPU but that being said if the short cards become more popular I would be more than happy to stick to the smaller size if I can access the top range GPUs.

For now I am closely following this case http://zaber.com.pl/sentry/ since it will fit most of my needs and will much cheaper shipping since it is being made and designed in Poland... but damn I want your S4 mini so bad!
 

Josh | NFC

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Shipping will be much cheaper on the Sentry, and if you want longer GPUs then that is the way to go! I want my customers to have the right tool for the job, and the Mini definitely is a niche chassis.

However I am not sure the Sentry will end up being much cheaper overall, as their asking price is more than the Mini with shipping. Perhaps they will drop it if their kickstarter comes through.

Good luck, and thank you for your kind words of support!
 

michaelmitchell

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Mar 12, 2016
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I feel you, I actually love the mini chassis niche so much that I am willing to gamble that NVida and ATI starts marking more high end cards even if I do need to pay a little extra for a niche card like the R9 Nano to get the power I want in the form factor... but honestly for my current needs a GTX 970 mini will do the trick just fine, I actually only have a GTX 960 mini right now and it is fine for what I need for the next little while until I get my hands on consumer VR headsets.

I am mostly concerned with weight & portability because this will replace a high-end laptop for me which is one of the reasons Dans A4 and other designs with the GPU behind the motherboard don't appeal to me because the form factor is awkward to fit into a laptop bag along with a 15" usb screen, I also just inquired about the Sentrys weight and it is VERY heavy (about 2.8kg empty), I remember reading something about the weight for the S4 and it being much lighter but I cannot find it again, either way that extra weight is going to hurt when flying especially with a final build of over 6kg not including peripherals.

At this stage I am seriously leaning towards ordering an S4 if you can help to bundle something ready for me to use eg. HDPLEX and correct power adaptor to run a high-end system, PCI-E cable, power button, CPU cooler and fans that will otherwise be very difficult for me to order or expensive to ship separately from the USA.

At the end of the day, if need higher performance at the expense of size, weight and portability I will just buy another PC that is more stationary.
 

Josh | NFC

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The S4 Mini weighs under 1.5kg.

I can bundle some things, but I am not sure how to go about the heatsink--as I would have to disclose that and we both would end up paying taxes on it.
 

michaelmitchell

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Mar 12, 2016
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It looks like I can get quite a few more parts in Europe than I thought so that is no problem but I am not so sure about an HDPLEX or adapter, I will send you an email to move the conversation from the forum.