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Completed S401: Salvo Studios <8L mITX Steel Unibody Chassis w/ GPU & CPU fans in same direction

primitiveType

Cable Smoosher
Oct 20, 2018
8
5
I'm going to have a sale this Saturday ("Small Business Saturday") on the S401. I plan on giving $20 off shipping with a coupon code. This means free shipping to the lower 48 states. I also will be updating my European shipping rates as I'm losing a ton of money on those units. Currently most of Europe is $35 shipping but I will be increasing that on Wednesday before the discounted shipping. It costs me just over $100 to ship a single case to Europe so consider from now until Wednesday a sale for European shipping.

Edit: Also, I have the spacers made but don't especially like the way they fit. Given the complexities surrounding making and shipping them I'm going to abandon this accessory for now. I have 5 sets in great shape I'm willing to sell for $10 + shipping each. If you would like a set contact me via e-mail or start a conversation with me here.
How much space do the spacers add? I don't see them on the website
 

primitiveType

Cable Smoosher
Oct 20, 2018
8
5
How much are you planning on being able to expand out the case? I do hope that RAM comes in soon for you.

I did the math and decided I needed 3/8" (I know, that's kind of a lot). I used some 3/8" standoffs and it was too tight for my liking, so I got some 1/4" standoffs and used some 1/4" foamcore and it looks like enough space. That's more space than most people would want to add I think, but I kind of think the asymmetry is neat, and i'm planning on using clear acrylic and in-case lighting so that the the acrylic catches the light. I'll see how it looks and performs, and go from there. I might end up scrapping it and downsizing my cooler if I think I have the headroom for it. But with a case this small, adding 1/4" isn't the end of the world, even if it ends up being a waste volume-wise. 1/4" is a pretty thick piece of acrylic, but I'm hoping if I polish it smooth, it will catch the light nicely and look pretty cool, even if it's a pretty hunky piece. And I found a pretty cheap way to source that thick of acrylic. I'm planning on buying a big 1/4" rod of acrylic, cutting it, and welding it together into a frame, rather than cutting from a sheet. That will save me a ton, since the smallest size sheet you can get for the s401 is 24"x24", which is quite expensive at 1/4".

Tracking info says Friday for the ram. Hope it comes sooner... I can't believe how slow it has been. Amazon has spoiled me, but the deal I got on it was worth the wait I think (3200mhzC14 ram for like 160USD)
 
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annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
424
314
I did the math and decided I needed 3/8" (I know, that's kind of a lot). I used some 3/8" standoffs and it was too tight for my liking, so I got some 1/4" standoffs and used some 1/4" foamcore and it looks like enough space. That's more space than most people would want to add I think, but I kind of think the asymmetry is neat, and i'm planning on using clear acrylic and in-case lighting so that the the acrylic catches the light. I'll see how it looks and performs, and go from there. I might end up scrapping it and downsizing my cooler if I think I have the headroom for it. But with a case this small, adding 1/4" isn't the end of the world, even if it ends up being a waste volume-wise. 1/4" is a pretty thick piece of acrylic, but I'm hoping if I polish it smooth, it will catch the light nicely and look pretty cool, even if it's a pretty hunky piece. And I found a pretty cheap way to source that thick of acrylic. I'm planning on buying a big 1/4" rod of acrylic, cutting it, and welding it together into a frame, rather than cutting from a sheet. That will save me a ton, since the smallest size sheet you can get for the s401 is 24"x24", which is quite expensive at 1/4".

Tracking info says Friday for the ram. Hope it comes sooner... I can't believe how slow it has been. Amazon has spoiled me, but the deal I got on it was worth the wait I think (3200mhzC14 ram for like 160USD)

The extra space isn't wasted if you can slip some extra slim fans in front of your video card ;) (Okay, yeah, I know, it'll look more kludgy than a submarine held together by gum and duct tape). I wonder how it would look if you didn't polish the acrylic. It might do a frosted refraction thing. I have a clear acrylic panel on right now and the RGB strip runs in a 90 degree angle starting from the back by the video card bracket, forward, then up along the front side toward the PSU. The light points right up at me and doesn't diffuse much. It's what I get for cheaping out on anti-sticky tape. Meh, maybe I'll fix it if I every get around to messing with the PSU cables.

Edit: Took of the side panel (loving these thumb screws) and moved it. There's a bit where it runs behind the PSU and goes a bit dark, but the ambiance is much better. Darn, now I need RGB RAM. Sales, you said... tell me more about these "sales"...
 

annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
424
314
Coupon is live now. Enter "THANKS18" during checkout (no quotes) to get $20 off your S401 order. This means shipping is free to the lower 48 US states when you purchase an S401.

I know I'm largely preaching to the choir here, but anyone who may read this that's on the fence, do jump on this! Not only is this case unique amongst SFF cases that are readily available, it's a great value for what you're getting. I definitely also recommend the acrylic side panels since you can let all of that glorious RGBling shine through the vent side while also having a custom logo on the solid side.
 

annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
424
314
wish I had waited... :(
No sweat, bro. You've got a great case and that extra $20 is going to an outfit that's doing this mainly as a labor of love. (I live in Hawaii; it may as well be a foreign country when it comes to shipping. This is why I don't buy from Newegg; I can never figure out how to make their shipping work for me compared to Amazon Prime, that behemoth). Don't let it stop you from posting pics after building a great computer!!
 
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grsychckn

SFF Guru
Original poster
Salvo Studios
Gold Supporter
Oct 11, 2017
1,093
1,845
Let me add that I'm going to attempt to have a VERY small number of white S401 units made (< 5). I'll probably have to increase the price for these because the paint will be specialized. If you're interested in one, contact me to reserve it.

Edit: I won't require anyone to pay until they see pictures.
 

annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
424
314
Let me add that I'm going to attempt to have a VERY small number of white S401 units made (< 5). I'll probably have to increase the price for these because the paint will be specialized. If you're interested in one, contact me to reserve it.

Edit: I won't require anyone to pay until they see pictures.
White case + mirrored/frosted side panels... Somebody please do this with white LEDs and white sleeved cables. Thank you.

P.S. Oh, and Cryorig C7Cu because of the white fan. Thank you again.

P.P.S. Oh, and one of those Asus Dual video cards with the black and white shroud. Thank you. (it's too bad... I can't think of any nicely colored mITX PCBs like some of those ATX boards...)
 
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grsychckn

SFF Guru
Original poster
Salvo Studios
Gold Supporter
Oct 11, 2017
1,093
1,845
White case + mirrored/frosted side panels... Somebody please do this with white LEDs and white sleeved cables. Thank you.

P.S. Oh, and Cryorig C7Cu because of the white fan. Thank you again.

P.P.S. Oh, and one of those Asus Dual video cards with the black and white shroud. Thank you. (it's too bad... I can't think of any nicely colored mITX PCBs like some of those ATX boards...)

It was either white or a chrome-like finish (not polished but powder coated). The ones I've used in the past look great, but they need a clear coat on top for protection which my hobbyist gun could not apply. I seriously considered the chrome look, but was worried it would be more "silver" than chrome once completed. I have even thought of electroplating one set in copper or chrome, but it's way too expensive.
 
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annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
424
314
It was either white or a chrome-like finish (not polished but powder coated). The ones I've used in the past look great, but they need a clear coat on top for protection which my hobbyist gun could not apply. I seriously considered the chrome look, but was worried it would be more "silver" than chrome once completed. I have even thought of electroplating one set in copper or chrome, but it's way too expensive.

...

man, wouldn't copper-plated look great with that C7 Cu though... <starts looking up sandblasting and electroplating>
 

grsychckn

SFF Guru
Original poster
Salvo Studios
Gold Supporter
Oct 11, 2017
1,093
1,845
...

man, wouldn't copper-plated look great with that C7 Cu though... <starts looking up sandblasting and electroplating>
You're talking in the thousands of dollars though - but it would look great especially if sealed so it doesn't tarnish.
 

annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
424
314
You're talking in the thousands of dollars though - but it would look great especially if sealed so it doesn't tarnish.
110% know that it's impractical. But it's Christmas time so it doesn't stop the wishing for Christmas magic.

I'd probably die of laughter if someone went and did that then put an Athlon in it and no GPU.
 

mushin1989

What's an ITX?
Nov 29, 2018
1
7
Hey all,

New to posting but I've been reading SFF for over a year now. Great community.

I'm finally getting around to publishing my build/review of Brian's case. Photos below:


Construction

As others have said, this case is built like a tank. It has the thickest paneling I've ever seen, and they're steel. The handle is a weapon. The included riser is of extremely high quality.

This means two things: 1) the s401 is keeping your components safe wherever you go; 2) it may be heavier than other premium SFF cases, namely the Ncase M1, which is also of a different overall form factor.

The acrylic panels, should you choose them, look fantastic. Swapping panels between the standard steel and the acrylic is easy due to included thumb screws.

There isn't a lot more to say here. It's excellent. It's sturdy. It's the opposite of janky or flimsy. Build quality like this isn't generally achieved at a sub $200 price point.

Build Experience


The easiest SFF build experience I've had, and I've built in the admittedly large Thermaltake Core V1 (which while also very easy, included an incredibly frustrating HDD/SDD mounting experience and wasn't very aesthetically pleasing with its ultra thin, crappy panels and scratch-heavy 'plastic window'). Using a Corsair SF600 and the stock cables (save for the necessary premium Corsair SATA cables, which you can buy individually for no more than about $10), I found cable management here more or less as easy as any other case I've built in (though nothing is quite as easy as cases which let you just shove everything into another chamber/below the motherboard).

How you ask? Two things here: 1) the Corsair SF600's cables are generally the perfect length, 2) the cables have very few places to actually go. There is pretty much one correct way to do this, and if you do it carefully and properly, even relatively novice builders should be able to achieve a clean presentation; this is due to how well Brian designed this case. Though some note that the included SF600 cables are too stiff to easily work with, I at least had no such problem: I simply bent them the way I wanted, then secured/fastened them with respect to the other cables where necessary.

Though I'm aware there are many out there who want nothing less than perfection out of their cable presentation (and certainly won't be satisfied with what I consider relatively 'clean'), I feel that for the size of the s401 it is possible to achieve remarkably pleasing cable management.

While building in the s401 doesn't have some of the conveniences you may be used to in modern cases (namely tool-less HDD installation), every inch of space is so carefully used that you will understand why. Slot trays would simply have nowhere to go behind the GPU/riser, or add to the cost of the case/reduce its 3.5''/2.5'' flexibility. It's fine. Get a screwdriver.

Performance

Again, I know that I might be stretching belief here for this form factor, for the lack of fan availability, but...

this is the quietest case I've ever had. By a lot. And before my foray into SFF, I had some very, very large, well-built airflow cases.

Why? It's designed to allow for it. It has so many opportunities for air to enter the case that it can arguably be considered 'open air'. One might think this would make noise pollution more likely, and while that is technically true, a quiet fan paired with a quiet card will result in a supremely quiet, case-fanless operation. That may sound piercingly obvious, but many may not realize just how much case fans contribute to the overall acoustic performance of a case (since people tend to focus on the CPU/GPU fans so heavily). Along that vein, let me quickly go over my build:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 1600
Cooler: Noctua NH-L9a AM4
Mobo: ASRock AB350 ITX
RAM: GSkill Ripjaw V Series 16GB DDR4 3000
GPU: EVGA Founders Edition 1080Ti
PSU: Corsair SF600

That Noctua is quiet. Paired with Thermal Grizzly paste, in the s401 it has the same thermal performance as AMD's remarkably decent stock Wraith Spire cooler (which has a way larger heatsink), and I used that cooler in a case with 1x 200mm fan, 2x 80mm fans, and 1x 120mm fan. In other words, a larger case with a fair amount of air coming and going out of it. I wasn't expecting that result.

The GPU is neither the quietest nor the coolest due to its blower/reference design, yet it is still extremely cool and whisper quiet at idle in this case; idling at 27-29C and staying as cool as my previous, larger airflow case in rigorous operation so long as I set the fan to a user curve in MSI Afterburner (which I had to do in my previous case as well anyway, likely due to the reference design).

In spite of a common and often somewhat misguided wisdom that blower style cards are better performing in SFF cases, the s401 is yet another case where a good aftermarket card/cooler is going to perform better due to its open design/the fan's proximity to the panels.

The caveat to all this: when orienting the case vertically (which this entire review is based on), the top component will receive heat from the bottom component. The optional 60mm fans have been shown to help with this slightly (about 2C), something which I decided wasn't worth the added noise. Since my CPU sits on top of the GPU, it gets warmer than it has in previous cases due to warm air rising out of the case; however, I haven't seen it break the 60C range. More aggressive fan curves when gaming/rendering will generally resolve these issues, and acoustically speaking, if you are working with headphones/music/or even just keep the case beneath your desk, this isn't really going to present an issue.

While I can't provide measurements, subjectively speaking (in my environment) I cannot hear the operation of my components in this case at idle if so much as my central air is turned on, if so much as the external HDD is spinning (even though I have the case positioned on my desk, next to my monitor, just over one foot from my face). When listening to music, a video, or when my wife/kid are making any kind of noise in the next room, forget about it: I can't hear what's going on inside this case at idle. As a writer, most of the time I spend at the PC doesn't stress the hardware, so this is all I need. When it comes to gaming, either my speakers or headphones take care of any trouble the acoustic performance of this case might cause me (and again, if I had a non-reference cooler on my GPU, this aspect would be even better). If I positioned the case under my desk (which I'd only do if it didn't look so damn good), this aspect would, once more, be better.

Long story short, surprised by the thermal and (depending on your components) acoustic performance of this case. I don't pretend to be an authority here, and I don't make a living off reviewing PC hardware or components, but this is my honest experience as a PC builder of 10+ years.

Conclusion

I am wowed by Brian's work here. This case is well-built, cool, quiet, efficient, and less than 8 freaking litres. It wedges itself into a competitive, exclusive space for premium SFF building. It has the 'console' form factor while being more readily available than the Sentry (which nobody can seem to get), and capable of complimenting full-size GPUs in contrast to the S4 Mini. Brian prices his case very competitively, actually includes a high quality riser at no added cost, and offers customized acrylic paneling which looks fantastic.

Speaking of Brian, interacting with him in questions, discussion, and indeed in business has been an incredible pleasure. He is customer oriented, fair, transparent, and earnest in his work. Supporting him directly supports his family and the ongoing success of the labor of love which is the s401 (your money isn't going to an amorphous corporate machine, which is often one of the best things about supporting small projects).

In case you are wondering, no, I absolutely was not asked to either review or promote his case; I'm just very enthusiastic about his project and wanted to share it with others. I am in no way affiliated with Salvo Studios.

If you are thinking SFF and are attracted to the 'console' form factor, I strongly recommend you take a serious look at the s401. If it isn't available, feel free to ask Brian either at his website or the SFF forums about future availability. Brian is also working on a larger case, the s701.

This case is a keeper and one I plan to build in for years to come.

Alex
 

grsychckn

SFF Guru
Original poster
Salvo Studios
Gold Supporter
Oct 11, 2017
1,093
1,845
Hey all,

New to posting but I've been reading SFF for over a year now. Great community.

I'm finally getting around to publishing my build/review of Brian's case.

...

This case is a keeper and one I plan to build in for years to come.

Alex

Alex - I can't tell you how happy I am that you're pleased with the case. And to add to it such kind words regarding the build quality/engineering. Thank you!
 
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Sahaj

Average Stuffer
Dec 10, 2017
59
60
@mushin1989, that writeup is a thing of beauty. Makes me want to buy the S400/S401 all over again.

Brian, wait, you're considering making an all-white case now? Dude. Come ON. My wallet is already crying from the holidays.
 
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grsychckn

SFF Guru
Original poster
Salvo Studios
Gold Supporter
Oct 11, 2017
1,093
1,845
My interest in the DSE Vertex is waning due to lack of updates... A white version of this case may just be for me. Any idea of an ETA?

I'm waiting to pickup the very last set of cases from the fabricator and had planned on dripping these unpainted units off at that time for paint. The turn around on the paint is only a few days. Basically, it could be before Christmas but most likely around new year.
 
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