S4 MINI Classic (S4M-C)

Josh | NFC

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Damn those beauty shots are just that. Beautiful! One thing though: It would be very helpful if you could show a build (or different builds) inside the case to make the layout more clear. I was puzzled about the locations of the two fans for a minute before recalling how everything works.

BTW, those mounting holes for the power input: How did you choose them? Are they standardised somehow?


Thank man.


I fully intend to do some vids and get more pictures of hardware configs as soon as I can. Thanks for lighting the fire, so to speak.

As for the mounting holes...I totally forgot to say anything about them. But that is why I have you guys! They fit the Mini-Box Pico 4-pin female connector (and some other ones you find on Ebay). I'm not sure if its a hard standard but it is one that works well. Because it is a little larger than 2 Pin holes, people can use their screw-in 2 pin panel mount plugs in it by using washers or larger nuts...this way it fits a large assortment of connectors.
 

veryrarium

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Jun 6, 2015
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Happy to see you moving on to the preorder phase, Josh.
And I'm terribly sorry that I totally missed your suggestion at the end of your post back in August:
Veryrarium, it would be AWESOME if you have access to some coolers I don't that you wouldn't mind testing for me in the S4. If you do send me a P.M.!

Maybe it's too late and you have since already tested other CPU coolers <40mm tall in addition to what you had done earlier, and have confimed that every one of them with linear directional air exhaust trail the Zalman CNPS2X with its omini-directional air dispersion in cooling performance. If you still would like to have more data, though, I'm happy to contribute whatever test results I could perform on my own once I decide to purchase your work of art (when that happens I probably try to grab CNPS2X and test it too as a reference). My collection of "low profile" air coolers, though, haven't seen any update for quite a while, and these are all I have now (apart from some GPU coolers repurposed for Thin Mini-ITX boards that aren't in this photo):

(Additional photos with better views and legends)
Among these, Scythe Kozuti (a close call and not 100% sure), Cooldesk Leishen ITX90, Titan TTC-NK52TZ (AMD only), Thermaltake Slim X3, Noctua NH-L9i, Titan DC-155A915Z, Thermaltake CLS0011, Cooljag JAC7L07C, Reeven Vanxie, Thermolab LP53 (with a <12mm fan replacement), and Gelid Slim Silence i-Plus are no taller than 40mm. I think some of them have already gone EOL so not so useful when it comes to recommendations.
I have been interested in Titan TTC-NC25TZ, Thermolab ITX30, and some of the relatively new coolers such as Silverstone AR05, Jonsbo HP-400 (and HP-200), ID-Cooling IS-VC45 and IS-40Pro (the last two will become about 40mm tall once their stock fans are replaced with a 10mm thick fan, forcing the fan size to be 80x80mm or smaller) but haven't purchased any of them. (I know Aiboh gave IS-VC45 a shot.) ID-Cooling also has omini-directional-fin LP coolers a la CNPS2X in their lineup.

Back on topic, I noticed on your preorder page:
Exterior Dimensions (mm): 330x203x63 Interior Dimensions (mm) 324x203x57.
Either one of the depth numbers are probably mistyped as they can't be identical?

Also, about the custom powdercoating option... I'm wondering if hairline brush surface + anodizing instead of powdercoating with a durable matte black textured finish on the exterior panels is an available option.

Oh, and I totally forgot to ask this before writing the cooler stuff above: the 40mm cooler height limitation is for the entire cooler including whatever fan on top, and does not exclude the thickness of the Scythe Kaze12-Slim fan you have in a few of your photos, correct?
 
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Josh | NFC

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Hey bud no worries...and I would absolutely love to have some outside data that I can post and use for people making the cooling decision for themselves! Actually, because of our conversation I did some thinking and made a last-second change to the chassis to improve bi-directional cooler performance in SOME motherboard layouts (although it will be small) and also added vents to the GPU chassis side for omi-directional GPU coolers (of which there aren't many that actually need this, but every bit counts):




Awesome collection, by the way. I recognize most of those with the only one I don't have personal experience with is that one in the back row second from the right...not sure what that is but it doesn't look like it would clear.

Optimal system cooling is in the vertical position with the wrap-around aluminum front bezel on top:



In this orientation CPU, RAM, and MB heat flows upward and out. The durable powdercoat on the "wrap-over" side panel is up to he task of being a base.

The second most efficient orientation (and the one I suspect most HTPC users to adopt) is in the horizontal orientation with the CPU socket facing up:



This orientation's cooling can be further improved in two ways:

Firstly by adding "feet" to the bottom side of the chassis. The higher the better, but .25" is the minimum and .5" is a good medium. I want to offer high-end feet that screw into existing side panel threads in the future.

Secondly CPU cooling can be significantly improved by modding the "wrap-over" side panel to include vents. I want to offer a billet screw-in panel for DIYers. Adding vents here will significantly improve the performance of bi-directional coolers in SOME motherboard layouts. The reason vents were not included here is that I wanted a solid panel for MODDERS! The interior chassis skeleton is open under this panel and is well suited for custom liquid cooling pipes to point through it. I plan on doing an example of exterior custom liquid cooling both for fun and to show that although it doubles the volume of the chassis...the chassis is so incredibly small to begin with it can make sense for the extremists. :)


Either one of the depth numbers are probably mistyped as they can't be identical?

Thanks for catching that...should be 215mm.

Also, about the custom powdercoating option... I'm wondering if hairline brush surface + anodizing instead of powdercoating with a durable matte black textured finish on the exterior panels is an available option?

Unfortunately not at this time. I postponed manufacturing for two months debating the finish of the exterior panels. In the end I decided to make the scratch resistant coating the defacto option as so many of my customers of the S3 were putting them in their backpacks, which could scratch the aluminum. I don't know if I made the right call, but I do like the finish and so far people are pretty happy with it when they see it in person. Sorry! If 25% of people want this as an option IF I get lucky and get to order another run I will make it one. That's a big if though :*(

Oh, and I totally forgot to ask this before writing the cooler stuff above: the 40mm cooler height limitation is for the entire cooler including whatever fan on top, and does not exclude the thickness of the Scythe Kaze12-Slim fan you have in a few of your photos, correct?

Thank you for helping me to be clear! I am a jumbled mess and so used to looking at this thing that I forget what people need to know! 40mm is the "safe" height for the total room you have for cooling. You can use a low profile cooler + the 12mm scythe fan, or a cooler that is the full 40mm. Personally I have found the 12mm fan and less cooler to be quite effective because RAM and motherboard components can drop by 10C making everything more pleasant in there.


Here is a link to the high-res (boring) product photos





Happy to see you moving on to the preorder phase, Josh.
And I'm terribly sorry that I totally missed your suggestion at the end of your post back in August:


Maybe it's too late and you have since already tested other CPU coolers <40mm tall in addition to what you had done earlier, and have confimed that every one of them with linear directional air exhaust trail the Zalman CNPS2X with its omini-directional air dispersion in cooling performance. If you still would like to have more data, though, I'm happy to contribute whatever test results I could perform on my own once I decide to purchase your work of art (when that happens I probably try to grab CNPS2X and test it too as a reference). My collection of "low profile" air coolers, though, haven't seen any update for quite a while, and these are all I have now (apart from some GPU coolers repurposed for Thin Mini-ITX boards that aren't in this photo):

(Additional photos taken in different angles)
Among these, Scythe Kozuti (a close call and not 100% sure), Cooldesk Leishen ITX90, Titan TTC-NK52TZ (AMD only), Thermaltake Slim X3, Noctua NH-L9i, Titan DC-155A915Z, Thermaltake CLS0011, Cooljag JAC7L07C, Reeven Vanxie, Thermolab LP53 (with a <12mm fan replacement), and Gelid Slim Silence i-Plus are no taller than 40mm. I think some of them have already gone EOL so not so useful when it comes to recommendations.
I have been interested in Titan TTC-NC25TZ, Thermolab ITX30, and some of the relatively new coolers such as Silverstone AR05, Jonsbo HP-400 (and HP-200), ID-Cooling IS-VC45 and IS-40Pro (the last two will become about 40mm tall once their stock fans are replaced with a 10mm thick fan, forcing the fan size to be 80x80mm or smaller) but haven't purchased any of them. (I know Aiboh gave IS-VC45 a shot.) ID-Cooling also has omini-directional-fin LP coolers a la CNPS2X in their lineup.

Back on topic, I noticed on your preorder page:

Either one of the depth numbers are probably mistyped as they can't be identical?

Also, about the custom powdercoating option... I'm wondering if hairline brush surface + anodizing instead of powdercoating with a durable matte black textured finish on the exterior panels is an available option.

Oh, and I totally forgot to ask this before writing the cooler stuff above: the 40mm cooler height limitation is for the entire cooler including whatever fan on top, and does not exclude the thickness of the Scythe Kaze12-Slim fan you have in a few of your photos, correct?
 
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iFreilicht

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Pictures like this really help get the point across and can explain your thought process in designing the case much better than an in-depth prose analysis could.

Am I right in assuming that the wrap around bezel is only attached with the two screws at the back and the vandal power button?

Shouldn't the vents at the right of this picture be way larger? They won't be seen anyway, and space between them and the bezel is tight, so every mm² of exhaust surface area counts. Making the vents spaced out like that seems to greatly limit the capabilities of this exhaust area and make it look like an afterthought, which is a stark contrast to the tediously designed details of the rest of the case.

What are those silver nuts in the front for? I guess the two on the right would be used for mounting the HD-Plex PSU, but what about the one on the right?

Also, with the closed side at the motherboard, it seems like thermal performance could be rather bad. Did you do any thermal testing with this unit yet? I mean I understand why you did it that way, but I would fear of the consequences.
 

Josh | NFC

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Pictures like this really help get the point across and can explain your thought process in designing the case much better than an in-depth prose analysis could.

That's why I use at LEAST a thousand words! ;)

Am I right in assuming that the wrap around bezel is only attached with the two screws at the back and the vandal power button?

The original design worked in the way you described. It works 100% perfect that way, but three silver studs with nuts also hold it together. This came from some OEM customers suggestions as they need as many mounting points for various stuff as possible. They can be removed if desired.

Shouldn't the vents at the right of this picture be way larger? They won't be seen anyway, and space between them and the bezel is tight, so every mm² of exhaust surface area counts. Making the vents spaced out like that seems to greatly limit the capabilities of this exhaust area and make it look like an afterthought, which is a stark contrast to the tediously designed details of the rest of the case.

All your points are valid. They are they way they are for three reasons:

1. I already paid for that die shape. :)

2. The cutouts are meticulously designed to be the shape, size, and angle they are. It sounds silly, but thousands of dollars went into the consultation for the design of those vents. Several of my OEM customers need this box to pass FCC conductive and radiated emissions. (The original powder coat was actually chosen to aid in radiated emissions, as a fun side-fact.) Anyways, it turns out the shape and surface area of the vents plays a huge role in containing/reflecting EMI. I only worked with the engineer to get it looking good from an aesthetics standpoint, but Cascade Engineering in Redmond was employed to help contain emissions and CKC in Bothel did the FCC testing.

I know this is long-winded, but if you were wondering on how I arrived at that shape...well, there it is.

3. It was an afterthought. If anything I would argue that being from the same die as the cutouts on the side panel makes them look more uniform. But that's like, an opinion, or something. :D



What are those silver nuts in the front for? I guess the two on the right would be used for mounting the HD-Plex PSU, but what about the one on the right?

They are bonus studs that also hold the front bezel on without a bul
 

Josh | NFC

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Sorry I missed your last question.

Closed side at the motherboard side DOES trap a lot of heat as I mentioned above. I decided in the end that the tradeoff for modding/liquid cooling was worth it from the emails I've received over this past year. Adding a vent there will really help the temps, but at the same time, you only need to reduce the heat so much. Modern CPUs can run at stupid high temperatures all day long. If you are competition overclocking then I recommend removing the side panels. Or buying another case. :)

I have done thermal testing. Lots and lots! And lots!

Here are images in the horizontal position (with NO feet/standoffs) after running benchmarks in a 80F room for hours jam-packed with hardware:





Vertical orientation UPSIDE DOWN (reverse vertical is recommended for significant reduction in CPU temp):





Comparison of temperatures to the monitor...as you can see...not really that bad:



At the end of the day, there are tradeoffs for a computer case that is the same volume as a ream of paper. The main tradeoff here is heat...but the heat doesn't affect how hard the components run, even if it was double what it was reading. :D
 

Josh | NFC

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How much did FCC testing cost?

The testing itself (needed a couple tries, which is better than normal from what I hear) was about 8k when it was all said an done. All the work it took to get the certificate cost a lot more.

Here is an early sample of the test document for a S3 based build:

 
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QinX

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The chassis turned out amazing and that FCC testing chamber looks almost the same as the one I have been to for an older product I designed even though it's half way across the world.
I can vouch for the costs of those tests,they are expensive especially if you need multiple tries/tweaks to get it right.

I was just looking at your shop page for the S4 and I noticed this passage

Keep in mind my patents

Can I ask what patents you hold that are in the design? I don't want to intrude on them but you haven't referenced them anywhere so I can't have a look.
 

iFreilicht

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Thanks for answering all the questions, very informative!

The company I work at is going through similar tests, and jup, that stuff is pretty darn expensive. I wonder what the implications of using a DCDC converter instead of an ACDC internal PSU are in terms of grounding and general EMI shielding.
 
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Josh | NFC

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Thanks, QinX. If anyone really is interested please email me for an NDA. My stuff is searchable and findable in the USPTO (which is a nightmare to search and you practically need a patent lawyer to do it) but I don't want to make it any easier for a particular company that made me file these patents in the first place.

Once I have everything I need to file filed in Mini-ITX I will openly put allllllll my patent numbers on the bottom of the page.

AGAIN, I will not stop enthusiasts from doing what they love to do--tinker. The ONLY reason I had to go through all this was because one of my designs I was open with on a forum ended up being taken by a large company and then I was forced to stop any plans of production. Because of my OEM customers who absolutely cannot be wrapped up in a lawsuit over who owns these ideas, I had to do this work. I hate patents and wish they would stop being used as weapons against artists, tinkerers, and engineers.
 

Josh | NFC

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Thanks for answering all the questions, very informative!

The company I work at is going through similar tests, and jup, that stuff is pretty darn expensive. I wonder what the implications of using a DCDC converter instead of an ACDC internal PSU are in terms of grounding and general EMI shielding.

I only have a few insights that may not be very helpful, but here are things I learned the hard way:

1. You need to test everything that is required to operate your system that is sold as a system. So even if your brick and converter are individually certified, they may not pass as a system.

2. Many companies try to spoof the certification, or outright lie about their certification. This makes it our responsibility to find out what actually is or isn't certified--we have to retest everything together anyways, but if something is HORRIBLY shielded, it can ruin your whole test.

3. Power bricks are not well shielded and are usually not surrounded with metal, but plastic, which does next to nothing in shielding. Sourcing a good power brick took a lot of phone calls.

4. Our custom-ordered Mini-Box Pico was never an issue inside the chassis. Yay! A million other things were. USB ports were actually noisy and we had to use copper tape in the systems to create a good cage because the I/O shield wasn't good enough.

Again, I don't know how much this helps, but there it is...
 
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Phuncz

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Thanks for taking the time to explain all the many aspects about your case, it's very interesting even for me who is not planning to design a case in the near future. I'm glad to see how much thought and effort went into this case, but sad to see how much some of these "details" cost. I can't wait to see these in real life and maybe even get one !
 
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Josh | NFC

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I'm planning on doing some GOOD videos of the chassis (some builds, mods, and hacks) to go with my video series, but I made this quick "unboxing" video I'm going to post on social media later this week if anyone is interested. I'm pretty awkward in it and ramble on...so be warned. XD


Thanks again!
 

Phuncz

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Nice video, it really shows the amount of pride and effort this project got from you. I'm still very amazed by the end result and I can't wait to see the builds with this case !
 
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Vittra

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Is the $90 shipping estimate to Canada accurate? That was a bit of a buzzkill after being intrigued by the video.
 

Josh | NFC

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Is the $90 shipping estimate to Canada accurate? That was a bit of a buzzkill after being intrigued by the video.

It's automatically calculated by stripe. Once the orders go out if there is a significant difference in shipping of course I would refund it.

If you want to calculate the cost to ship the box weighs 5.6lbs and is 13x9x17" and they ship from zipcode 39532.
 
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