[Scratch Build] It's finally done! Custom case, custom watercooling, custom cables, custom everythin

Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
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37
I recently built my first gaming pc by myself, and it was great fun. But now that I'm done, there is a large gap in me that needs to be filled!
So i first thought about watercooling (just for looks really), but the watercooling support of mitx cases (mine in particular) is either rather poor, or they are way too large. At that point, I started to think about making a custom case, read up on all the people who already did it (M1, Nova (now Cerberus), Compact Splash and the likes) and now i started to design my own! In this first post you will find the most recent images and specs. You can find all updates in the second post

EDIT: The case and PC are finished! Click here to go to the final update post.

So here it is:


As you might have noticed, the case has a somewhat unusual layout.
All the connectors to the motherboard, GPU and PSU are on the bottom of the case, hidden inside a small chamber wich raises the components to allow for more room for said cables.
The entire case will be standing on aluminium case feet and thus raised ~1,5cm off the ground, so cables can be routed out of the underside of the pc in any direction, or i could even put a hole in the table for ultimate clean-ness.

This case is made using 2mm steel panels powdercoated in black and three 3mm acrylic panels for an unobstructed view on all of the components in there. All the panels are held together by Parvum Modding Cubes, which are also used in every Parvum case.

The case supports:
Hardware:
Mini ITX Motherboard
Full Length GPU
SFX PSU
As many ssds as you can find space for
280mm radiator, up to 60mm thick or up to 30mm thick in push-pull
D5 Pump
 
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Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
41
37
I recently built my first gaming pc by myself, and it was great fun. But now that I'm done, there is a large gap in me that needs to be filled!
So i first thought about watercooling (just for looks really), but the watercooling support of mitx cases (mine in particular) is either rather poor, or they are way too large. At that point, I started to think about making a custom case, read up on all the people who already did it (M1, Nova (now Cerberus), Compact Splash and the likes) and now i started to design my own!
Here is a quick peek at what I already did:


Three of the panels will be acrylic, to show off all that sweet hardware. The panels have no bends, they are held together by 10x10x10mm cubes with threads (parvum modding cubes)
Currently in the model:
  • mini itx motherboard (socket position of the msi z87i)
  • full length gpu
  • SFX-L power supply
  • EK Supremacy CPU Block
  • custom GPU block model (could not find measurements for EK FC980)
  • ddc pump with ek top
  • 240x60mm radiator with 2x 120mm fans
  • all bitspower fittings (because i found the dimensions of all those)


Intake/Exhaust for 2 120mm fans

The interior is flipped 90 degrees, so the IO is on the bottom. still have to think about how i want to do the case feet.

Here you have a better view of the inside of the case. I will be moving the pump, atm its placement is based on the cpu socket position, wich is likely to change when using a different motherboard


A better view of the clearance between the cpu, loop and the psu. gpu removed for obvious visibility reasons.

Todo:
  • Case feet: they have to be at least 5cm tall to leave room for the cables
  • Power Switch placement: as you probably noticed, atm there is none
  • Add more vents somewhere, as the IO cutouts and fan intakes are the only ventilation
  • Still need a catchy name
  • let me know

Suggestions for changes and/or additions are very welcome!
 
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Aibohphobia

aka James
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
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4,717
Looks good!

But how come the motherboard tray doesn't extend a bit farther so it can use the set of Parvum cubes in the corner?
 

Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
41
37
Looks good!

But how come the motherboard tray doesn't extend a bit farther so it can use the set of Parvum cubes in the corner?

I originally wanted to have the motherboard tray only underneath the motherboard itself, with cubes at all 4 corners. but after some rearranging of cubes because of symmetry it ended up like this... but now that you mention it, that would look a lot better and be more sturdy as well
 

FCase

SFF Lingo Aficionado
FCase
Dec 20, 2015
142
92
Awesome design! What are the current dimension? I was going to mention exhaust vents as right now you have alot of air coming in but not much going out. But I see you have it on your to-do list. Keep up the good work.

Mal
 

Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
41
37
Awesome design! What are the current dimension? I was going to mention exhaust vents as right now you have alot of air coming in but not much going out. But I see you have it on your to-do list. Keep up the good work.

Mal

I'm glad you like it!
the case only is currently at 304mm x 174mm x 314mm (LxWxH)
with the panel-thumbscrews and 5cm case feet that increases to 308mm x 178mm x 366mm
that would be 16.6l or 20.06L
 

Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
41
37
A little pre-update, because it is gioing to take me some time to complete what i am doing right now. I made some changes to the design, including:
  • 280mm radiator in the front instead of a 240mm -> had to increase the height, but that is not really a problem for me personally, as i just want it to take up little room on my desk
  • adjusted venting on the panel for the 280mm rad
  • changed pump position and had to redo the tubing (not really, just wanted to because looks)
I also tried to design some case feet, but didn't really find something i liked. I also have no idea where to put the power button still. maybe on the feet/ sleds? we'll see.
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
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First of all, very interesting concept, I'm on board. While it's not that small, having the I/O on the bottom and the radiator at the back just gives such a nice look at all the components, and I really like that.

So onto my suggestions:
  1. The radiator seems to define the size of the case right now, but you also need quite a bit of room for angled cables on the bottom. It could make sense to recess all hardware (except the radiator) upwards into the case to allow for more space for the cables underneath. That way, you wont have to make extraordinarily tall feet, will use the currently wasted space at the top of the case and can create passive exhaust vents that are neatly hidden inside.
  2. To me, vents in the acrylic kind of kill the look, maybe you could flip the PSU around and let it intake from the inside? That would help you solve the exhaust problem, too.
  3. In terms of case feet, I'm thinking of a piece of very thick acrylic (15mm or so) that is flush with the two opaque side panels but recessed from the two transparent ones by 20mm or more, letting the case look like its levitating. There would be a cutout in this sheet to allow I/O cables to be plugged in, and it would have a channel running to the back to hide all the cables coming from there. I see that this might not fully work with the way the GPU is positioned, but it could be worth a thought. That acrylic could also be transparent, smoked, and lit with LED to get a bit illumination going.
  4. As you'll have to use relatively tall feet, positioning the case button on the bottom seems like the best idea. Would work nicely with idea 3 ;)
  5. I guess you're going to glue the three acrylic panels together? Try to find out how to make this look as seamless as possible to show of the components a bit better. Ideally, that part of the case would be a single part, but I understand that's impossible to implement.
  6. There's a lot of space next to the pump, maybe you can use that to fit "standing" SSDs there? So they would only be attached with two screws through the back of the motherboard tray.
 

Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
41
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First of all, very interesting concept, I'm on board. While it's not that small, having the I/O on the bottom and the radiator at the back just gives such a nice look at all the components, and I really like that.
Exactly what i was going for. when i buy an expensive waterblock for my gpu, i want to show it off, not the backplate! :p

The radiator seems to define the size of the case right now, but you also need quite a bit of room for angled cables on the bottom. It could make sense to recess all hardware (except the radiator) upwards into the case to allow for more space for the cables underneath. That way, you wont have to make extraordinarily tall feet, will use the currently wasted space at the top of the case and can create passive exhaust vents that are neatly hidden inside.
Very interesting suggestion, thanks! I will definitley try that when i get home!

To me, vents in the acrylic kind of kill the look, maybe you could flip the PSU around and let it intake from the inside? That would help you solve the exhaust problem, too.
The Acrylic is not actually vented. it just looks hat way because of the silver fan grill on the psu. it is separated by about 1cm from the acrylic. also, i made holes to mount the psu either direction, so if it starves for air i can still flip it.

In terms of case feet, I'm thinking of a piece of very thick acrylic (15mm or so) that is flush with the two opaque side panels but recessed from the two transparent ones by 20mm or more, letting the case look like its levitating. There would be a cutout in this sheet to allow I/O cables to be plugged in, and it would have a channel running to the back to hide all the cables coming from there. I see that this might not fully work with the way the GPU is positioned, but it could be worth a thought. That acrylic could also be transparent, smoked, and lit with LED to get a bit illumination going.
Hm i'm not entirely sure on that one, i would like to have the feet match the finish of the other panels. will still look into this though.

As you'll have to use relatively tall feet, positioning the case button on the bottom seems like the best idea. Would work nicely with idea 3 ;)
Hopefully i won't have to use case feet as tall thanks to idea #1, but i might make the feet just tall enough to place the button there, i think that would look pretty good.

I guess you're going to glue the three acrylic panels together? Try to find out how to make this look as seamless as possible to show of the components a bit better. Ideally, that part of the case would be a single part, but I understand that's impossible to implement.
Still thinking about that... in the latest model, they are also held together with cubes, bit i'm not sure if i like that yet. the problem with glueing them together is that it has to be absolutely perfect because it is right at the front.

There's a lot of space next to the pump, maybe you can use that to fit "standing" SSDs there? So they would only be attached with two screws through the back of the motherboard tray.
Between the pump and the gpu maybe? between the rad and pump there is obviously no space because of tubing but that might work. i originally intended to just put it behind the motherboard tray as there is enough space there



Hey! Just a heads up that you might have got the Parvum Modding Cube dimensions wrong, you said they're 10mm here but their website says they're 12mm. Unless you've found a different version of them in 10mm? Which I'd love to use too!
i found these but a few days ago i realized they are only threaded on two sides, so i'll have to stick with 12mm parvum cubes. i already updated them in my latest model of the case. when you really need 10mm ones you could buy the ones with 2 threads and make the third on your own or you could grind down 1mm on each side of the parvum cubes.
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
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Great to hear we're on the same wavelength about this! :)

Still thinking about that... in the latest model, they are also held together with cubes, bit i'm not sure if i like that yet. the problem with glueing them together is that it has to be absolutely perfect because it is right at the front.

The cubes wouldn't be the worst thing, they are quite present in the design after all, but just the thought of a seamless three-panel window on this makes me drool. If there's any way to do it, this is the case where it will really pay off.

Between the pump and the gpu maybe? between the rad and pump there is obviously no space because of tubing but that might work. i originally intended to just put it behind the motherboard tray as there is enough space there

Jup, that's where I would've put them. You could still put HDDs behind the tray, but at least SSDs are commonly shown off these days.
An example for what that can look like:

 

Simwalh

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Jan 16, 2016
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Oh Look! It's an update!

In the last few days I changed a lot of the case, redid some parts, wasted much time redoing the cooling tubes a few times (and moving everything just slightly afterwards to redo everything again...) and more. Have a look:


First change was extending that motherboard tray to the front cubes (thanks @Aibohphobia) , I really don't know why I did not do that in the first place. Also, I added cubes to the window panels as an experimental alternative to glueing the panels together (tell me what you think please, i am not sure about this)


I also raised the components inside the case to make room for the cables (thanks to @iFreilicht for that idea) and the raised IO plate is slotted for ventilation and bent to hide the cables. At the front you can see that I added a vandal switch, it actually is mounted to the acrylic and is holding up another cover plate to hide cables. I'll have to use some connector to be able to take the panel and the button off, but i think it looks good and i really don't know where else to put the button, as i dont really need high case feet anymore.


View from the bottom. The power button will be blocking some ports on my gpu. With my current gpu the only HDMI port will be blocked, but i am using displayport anyways and i got three of those on there. The case feet in the model are LianLi 35mm ones.


The probably second biggest change is that i added support for 280mm radiators, up to 60mm thick in push or pull. I also changed the mounting slots to allow for air flowing more freely when using a 280mm radiator.


And last but not least, a shot with components. The radiator in the model is not as high as the one i am planning to get, so that's why there is so much room above it. also, as the radiator i'll be using has ports on the side as well as the top and one on the bottom, i am ditching the fill/drain port (and saving ~100€ by doing so). All i have to do to drain the loop is remove the top panel, screw in a barb and flip the case over (would have had to flip it even with a drain)

Todo:
  • sleep (was up until 1-2 in the morning the last few days)
  • put some thought into cable routing and add neccessary holes and cutouts
  • get manufacturing figured out (suggestions? I live in Germany) and probably modify the model a bit to make it manufacturable
  • prepare myself to splurge some money, because this will most likely be pretty expensive and i still have to buy 500€ worth of watercooling parts
In terms of changes i have to make to the case I would say I'm pretty much finished. If you still want to make a recommendation for a change, please go ahead! I will have to sleep on this some nights and maybe some new ideas will pop into my head before sending this design to a manufacturer.
 
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iFreilicht

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Feb 28, 2015
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Nearly perfect, I would say. It's very cool to look at a picture, immediately notice something and then see that you addressed it directly below it, feels like you've put a lot of thought into the implementation of the changes.

I really like the idea of the power button holding the opaque cover plate like that, simple but effective.

A few small things:
  1. For cable management, consider the possibility of routing your power button cable underneath the motherboard, not through the "back I/O" panel.
  2. For connecting the clear panels, maybe just a single cube in the corner would suffice? All other panels are strongly connected already and can bear the load of the components on their own, so a single cube should be enough to connect the panels rigidly while being the least disruptive visually. Also the panels are not likely to flex as they are kept straight on two edges already.
  3. Any plans for drive mounts now? It seems like putting them below the mainboard tray makes installation crazy complicated.
  4. If you want to find a local shop in Germany that can do the cutting for you, googleing "Plexiglasverarbeitung [Ort/Stadt/PLZ]" should work nicely to find them. I would advise searching through a shops website first to see what capabilities and tools they have, then call them and say you'd like to get a prototype done, which file format they'd prefer to get the drawings in or how you can go about all that business, also ask the person you're talking to whether you could send the drawings to them personally, that usually allows them to respond faster (or at all) and you know for sure that whoever gets the drawings knows what they are for.
    Also, don't hesitate to call multiple companies and see who gives you the best offer.
 

Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
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For cable management, consider the possibility of routing your power button cable underneath the motherboard, not through the "back I/O" panel.
I realized that the cable routung for all the cables i need is pretty straightforward, as my mainboard has a rater unusual layout:

I marked all the ports i am planning to use (at some point) red, and i will be able to reach all of them without the need for extra cutouts. i can just rout the cables from the motherboard around the mobo tray and out of sight, and then where they need to go to. I have 12mm space behind there, so that's no problem at all.

For connecting the clear panels, maybe just a single cube in the corner would suffice? All other panels are strongly connected already and can bear the load of the components on their own, so a single cube should be enough to connect the panels rigidly while being the least disruptive visually. Also the panels are not likely to flex as they are kept straight on two edges already.
I added that many cubes for rigidity and mainly consistency of the asthetics, so that now there are the same amount of cubes front to back and top to bottom, but i get what you're saying. I'll try how it looks later.

Any plans for drive mounts now? It seems like putting them below the mainboard tray makes installation crazy complicated.
I tried your suggestion but didn't really like the look that much. And as i said before, I have 12mm of space behind the motherboard so that won't be too big of a problem. I'm only using one ssd anyways, and just recently upgraded to it, and even a second one would be no problem.

If you want to find a local shop in Germany that can do the cutting for you, googleing "Plexiglasverarbeitung [Ort/Stadt/PLZ]" should work nicely to find them. I would advise searching through a shops website first to see what capabilities and tools they have, then call them and say you'd like to get a prototype done, which file format they'd prefer to get the drawings in or how you can go about all that business, also ask the person you're talking to whether you could send the drawings to them personally, that usually allows them to respond faster (or at all) and you know for sure that whoever gets the drawings knows what they are for. Also, don't hesitate to call multiple companies and see who gives you the best offer.
I'll try and contact some in the next days, thanks for the tip!
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
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That is a really neat layout for your case, great that you could find one that suits you so well!

How are you going to install the drives? From what I understand, you'd pretty much have to remove all parts from the case beforehand, right? I guess it's not that much of a problem as it's a one-off installation, but if something breaks, you'll probably spend a lot of time getting those drives out.
 

Simwalh

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Jan 16, 2016
41
37
That is a really neat layout for your case, great that you could find one that suits you so well!

How are you going to install the drives? From what I understand, you'd pretty much have to remove all parts from the case beforehand, right? I guess it's not that much of a problem as it's a one-off installation, but if something breaks, you'll probably spend a lot of time getting those drives out.
With my design where everything is held together by the modding cubes and thumbscrews i can basically remove every panel individually. The motherboard is mounted on its own panel (not sure if this is visible in the pictures) and i can just take off the back panel and change the drive.