Prototyping Silent 7.9L case with 87mm heatsink clearance

Discussion in 'Custom Cases & Projects' started by Gautam, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    #1 Gautam, Aug 9, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018

    This is a design that I originally built about 2 years ago, and recently had manufactured. The main intent of it, and the advantage it has over other similarly sized cases, is that it has 87mm of heatsink clearance, allowing for significantly higher cooling capability, and is very focused on good thermals. It trades the ability to take a full-size GPU in order to use larger pancake-style heatsinks and have proper exhaust from the front.

    Complete dimensions are 108mm x 209mm x 350mm = 7.9L. First, I wanted to stay below 7L, then 7.2L, then 7.5L, and then I ended up here. So it goes.

    I'm relentless when it comes to silence, and get bothered even with gentle fan noise. I use this system to do virtual reality demos to corporate audiences, so it has the unusual requirement of being silent even while doing what would be heavy gaming.

    I'm using a Raijintek Pallas with a Noctua P14s redux on top. It's quite capable even with the stock fan, but the 25mm Noctua cuts down on noise even further. My build is dated, with a 6700k, but this setup allows for very easy overclocking, 4.8GHz non-AVX/ 4.55GHz AVX, without any delidding. However, instead, I have it undervolted at stock turbo of 4.2GHz, with the fan set to max out at below 600 rpm, so even under the heaviest loads, it's close to impossible to tell that the system is on.

    When the time comes, an 8700K, Ryzen 2700 or eventual 9900K shouldn't be a problem. It can also fit the 140mm Corsair H90 AIO, along with the common 25-27mm 120mm AIO's, though air is my preference.

    Similarly, the GPU (Gigabyte GTX 1070 Mini) has its stock fan removed, with the same 140mm Noctua in its place, and has a similar fan profile set.

    The PSU is flex ATX, but its fan is removed, with a 92mm Nexus Real Silent in its place, making it quieter than most if not all SFX PSU's. A side benefit to the exhaust fans is that the M2 drive (1TB 960 EVO) stays below 70C under load. Without the fans, it can go up to around 15C higher.

    Hopefully posting here is fine. I'm planning to do a small run for some friends, but no plans beyond that.
    aquelito, NinoPecorino, BaK and 2 others like this.
  2. Windfall

    Windfall SFF Guru
    Bronze Supporter

    Very nice! How much was manufacturing, and who made it?
    Gautam likes this.
  3. ywori

    ywori Cable Smoosher

    wow looks good. If you are doing a production run world wide and shipping is not crazy to Singapore I am interested.
    Gautam likes this.
  4. dumplinknet

    dumplinknet Airflow Optimizer

    Is that a flex psu?
    I have no doubt this case can cool even the hottest of hottest CPUs out there.
    The mid flex in the case isn't appealing, however.

    Wish I can see more. Any plans for a painted version?
    Gautam likes this.
  5. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    PSU is FlexATX yes. I know no one likes them, but mine has treated me well.

    If you're talking about the side panel's bulge, it's really getting on my nerves, too. It bulges noticeably even when it's completely empty. It either needs to be thicker or needs an additional mount in the center. Other than that, it's quite robust. No other panel flexes at all; only the side, which lacks reinforcement. The base is reinforced by the front and the back which are attached to it so it's sturdy. I really wanted a silver case for myself, though I think it'll look great in black as well.

    I'm really bad at the whole build log thing. Can't get out of the habit of neglecting to take pics till I'm done.
    I don't have concrete plans yet, since it's still not quite refined enough for anyone other than myself yet IMHO. Some issues need fixing first. The flexing, and I'm probably going to make it longer. There's a chance I might try to add mounting for SFX as well, since it has the space to fit it if the space above the GPU were to be removed. I also miscalculated the height of the standoffs, so I expected the heatsink clearance to be a bit higher. It's narrowly not enough for a Cryorig C1 or NH-L12(S) with 25mm fans on top currently, but slightly shorter standoffs and a slight increase in width would fix that.
    Protocase, and the price was pretty reasonable. It was about the same as a new DAN case would be, so it was a no-brainer for me. The key is to minimize the number of cuts and keep it generally simple. A grill pattern or holes in place of the vents would have doubled the price.
    Soul_Est likes this.
  6. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    Here's the case with a much, much hotter build. The flex in the side panel was solved by simply bending it straight with my bare hands...

    The structure is rigid aside from the side panel, but I might think about switching from 1.5mm aluminum to 2mm. It's a bit too much for the FlexATX to ask for. There are some interesting ways that two PSU's could be used, or 12V PSU's, etc, but the simplest solution is, of course, an SFX-L PSU. This alternate layout comes at the expense of high fan clearance above the GPU.




    I'm considering having a removable backplate to switch between the two.
    NinoPecorino, whatanoob and rfarmer like this.
  7. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    Sorry for the triple post, but I’d like to be roasted somewhat. What issues do you have with my design, what do you find unappealing?

    I know it doesn’t look very good. A different vent pattern might go a long way, but on the whole, I’m anything but a design guy- I’m function over form 200%.

    My flexatx solution is unorthodox, but just picture an HDPlex in its place if that’s your thing.

    Perhaps the volume is too high for not supporting full-size GPU’s, but I’ll unequivocally say that, as of now, I view them as pointless. There are excellent mini options easily available today, and with Zotac’s 1080ti mini, the only thing better than it is a Titan. Objectively, my design is at the top for SFF performance/liter efficiency, currently by a wide margin. It offers performance on par with an NCASE with size slightly larger than a DAN case.

    The amount of volume spent on cooling is high. I think it’ll become clearer how important thermals are once the 9900k hits and people start trying to overclock them well past 5Ghz in SFF rigs- you know they will. My personal reason for it is a quest for silence.

    I feel like there’s not enough experimentation with high heatsink clearance designs, particularly everyone is doing CPU and GPU back to back a la the DAN case. Which is a brilliant design, but not the best for every scenario. In contrast, there are very few designs having the mobo and GPU facing the same direction, which you’d think would be more intuitive.

    There are other potentially interesting variations, one simple one could be simply making a thicker version of the NFC S4 Mini, which I think could have very high potential.
    NinoPecorino likes this.
  8. zovc

    zovc King of Cable Management

    My biggest criticism with the design as-is, which honestly I like its simple and "no nonsense" approach, is that you probably could fit a larger motherboard in here.

    Maybe without tweaking the layout very much, you could do a MATX board and multiple PCI cards, like a GPU taking up a single slot's worth of space with a water block and a capture card or something else in another. Using a solution like the HDPLEX (even using an internal AC-DC) unit might take up less volume overall.

    A while back, I mused around the idea of using a larger radiator as a side panel for a case, maybe mounting one to your flexing side panel would give it extra support?
    Gautam likes this.
  9. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    Thank you for the reply.

    The thought crossed my mind, but mATX is over 240mm, which would add a significant amount of size. As it is, the dimensions are very similar to a DAN case. It’s slightly longer, but also thinner. Larger than an A4 sheet of paper, but not by much, and still able to fit comfortably in a normal backpack. Going from 209mm to past 250mm in length would remove that capability. SLi via bifurcation is possible in theory, and it’d be pretty crazy.

    I’m also philosophically opposed to mATX for the most part, because they’re a waste of volume, just like full-size GPU’s and SFX PSU’s. If an ITX board gives the same performance, why bother.

    Cooling is highly underappreciated, but yields tangible benefits.

    Actually, a slim 240mm or even 280mm rad would already fit with a fully custom loop.

    If a Threadripper ITX board comes out, I might just have to attempt such a build.
  10. chyll2

    chyll2 Cable-Tie Ninja

    Please take this with grain of salt or some random dude opinion. I am no expert on this but if I will improve on your existing design, it would be the following:

    1. Dust filter. But I guess this can be easily be sold by screw in filter for the fan (very minor or nitpicking in this case)
    2. Screws. I am not asking for screwless design but maybe a flat screw or hex screw, the panel hole should be countersunk to make it more flush
    3. Screw again but this time for the fan.
    4. Vents. You can add it on the place beside the Rear IO. Top panel should also have small vent hole. This will help on expelling the hot air once you change the vent pattern. (but as you said it increase cost, but I actually prefer different option if I have an option)
    5. You are already aware, flex in the side panel. people looking at it will be drawn to it.

    What I appreciate
    1. Good CPU Cooler clearance
    2. Sticking to vision on Mini GPU.
    3. Stick to Mini ITX
    4. This might be bigger than some ITX case but the tower style make it consume less desk space.

    1. No IO port below. The case is small to sit beside the monitor. I am sure the rear IO will be plenty accessible.
    Gautam likes this.
  11. BaK

    BaK Airflow Optimizer

    Really nice build, plenty of air cooling while remaining silent! :thumb:

    So I guess there are 3x 92mm fans on the front side right, with one dedicated to cool the FlexATX PSU?
    Was just wondering if blowing air on the PSU like this, without a duct to force the air to go inside it, was still cooling properly the PSU components? Can you feel some air going out from the back of the PSU?
    Gautam likes this.
  12. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    #12 Gautam, Sep 4, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
    Thank you, I'm definitely far from an expert. I need to do something about the front in general. I've even being toying around with the idea of putting fan cages in the front so that no screws are visible on the outside. Filters can be added independent of the case. The screws are definitely meh. They're what I got from the manufacturer, and are easy to switch.

    I should have put vents on the rear, but my exhaust is mainly through the front anyways. Top I skipped because I didn't like how it looked. Being able to put a fan on the top would increase versatility, more heatsink and watercooling radiator orientations possible.

    Front I/O is pretty important to me. I tend to have a lot of USB devices connected at a time (VR headsets and phones), so the rear I/O actually isn't even enough for me...:/

    Glad you noticed the small footprint. One of the advantages of this design over the DAN case is that it takes up a lot less desk space when oriented upright. And, because the GPU and CPU heatsinks face the same direction, it can be laid flat like a console without airflow being hurt. There are some instances when I like being able to do this.

    Yes, exactly. A duct would definitely help. The fan typically spins very slowly, so I don't feel much. I did, however, stick a temperature probe on the heatsinks in the back of the PSU, and got better temperatures than the stock fan. (Both about 90-92C) It has been running with this fan arrangement for over 2 years now without any problems.

    It'd be interesting to dismantle the PSU completely and just mount its PCB's to the case directly...which is what I was thinking of doing if I ran into temperature problems.

    Edit: I see you're also no stranger to using external fans with flexATX PSU's. Love the work in your project, looks great.

    FWIW, take this with a grain of salt, but the 400W FSP seems to be good up to around 200W completely passive.
  13. BaK

    BaK Airflow Optimizer

    Your last answer made me have a closer look at your pics, and indeed the one without the mobo shows a fan blowing air out of the case. I first thought the 92mm fans were blowing cool air into the case.
    Is the fan aligned to the PSU also in that orientation, pulling hot air from the PSU?
    If so I am then surprised you are getting better temps with that setup than the default fan, even more without a duct.
    But well, 2 years without trouble should be a good proof your setup is working fine!

    That's an option but could be a dangerous one... Maybe dremeling the PSU casing to make vents could be enough while still preventing fingers to touch electrical componants.

    Thanks! That was a nice project where I learnt cables sleeving.
    I have a new one now, almost ready to be posted here, that has some common points with yours and especially the case dimensions. Is your case prompt to fall down on its side if pushed by accident or is 108mm wide enough for it to stay up?
  14. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    #14 Gautam, Sep 5, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
    It’s just about enough- but I won’t go any taller for sure. I actually keep it on the carpeted floor of my living room frequently and it stays up. With rubber feet on a desk, it’s very stable. Interested to see yours.

    The push/pull thing is always an interesting question. The fan aligned to the PSU is intake. The FGGB FSP units have intake fans, rather than exhaust, rather unlike most flex PSU’s, so I just kept the external fan as intake, too, blowing cold air into the PSU. I’m not sure how it’ll fare with exhaust. Turbulence is a factor, and the PSU was designed for an intake fan. The other two 92mm fans are exhaust, and they’re the important ones. The cool air goes to the CPU and GPU heatsinks from the side panel.

    In the grand scheme of things, the PSU doesn’t dissipate much heat. At 80% efficiency at 250w, it’d only be dumping around 60W, and that’s pretty pessimistic; it’s likely less than half that, especially in the case of the 500W unit I’ve since upgraded to.
    BaK likes this.
  15. BaK

    BaK Airflow Optimizer

    I also think keeping the external PSU fan as intake is a good thing. That's also what I have on my MiniCube build :)

    Now I wonder what you will get with the three 92mm fans as intake and invert the GPU and CPU ones to exhaust? That will give you a more 'homogeneous' airflow and thus maybe slightly better cooling, dunno...

    Good to know your case is stable on a desk, mine will be around 120mm wide so I should'nt worry!
    Gautam likes this.
  16. Gautam

    Gautam Cable-Tie Ninja
    Thread Starter

    I’ve been asked this several times about both the silent and insane setups. I’ll test shortly.
    BaK likes this.
  17. batterybull

    batterybull Caliper Novice

    this looks awesome, if you don't mind an external brick I recommend the gury's archdaemon PSU. Dust filter wise try demciflex? bonus points if you can mount it internally. Again, great job.
    Gautam likes this.