Prototyping Silent Winter V0.5 - 14.3L SFF case with Dual 240mm Slim Radiators or Semi Passive Cooling (2020 Update)

WinterCharm

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Jan 19, 2019
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Hello friends!

Happy New Year! Since this past October, I’ve been hard at work on my CFD-driven airflow focused SFFPC case. The first shots I showed you back then were simple concepts exploring the inner layout, and possible construction methods. The design has since evolved and matured. **I’m now ready to share a little bit about v0.5**, which is the latest iteration.

Let's get into the main design!

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Renders





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Case Concept

The case was designed to hit a balance between 5 main goals:

1. Design driven by functionality and an Understanding of Fluid Dynamics.
2. *Viable* variety of options for cooling high end components. (Liquid *and* Air cooling, including semi-passive, and passive configurations)
3. Compatibility with off-the-shelf parts (ITX motherboards, low profile CPU coolers, full length 2.n slot GPUs, SFX power supplies, 240mm radiators, AIOs, etc.)
4. Premium Look and Feel (Design driven by functionality does not *have* to be ugly)
5. Sub 15L so it’s squarely an SFF case.

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What niche does this case sit in?

Silent Winter sits on the *opposite* side of the cooling vs compactness tradeoffs we usually see in the SFF market (cases typically forego fan mounts and venting to shave down to sub-10L). Silent Winter is a **CFD-Driven, airflow optimized** take on the premium SFF case, with **maximum compatibility** in mind. Even if it makes the case slightly bigger (14L vs sub-10L), the benefits of better airflow are hard to argue with: More air lets you handle hotter components, gives you more OC headroom, or allows for lower fan RPMs, and therefore a quieter system.

More details about the Semi-Passive Kit will be coming soon, but they’re currently pending another round of CFD studies.

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Silent Winter v0.5 Case Specifications: (subject to change)

Physical Dimensions:
  • Length: 30.5 cm
  • Height: 30.5 cm
  • Width: 15.4 cm
  • Volume: 14.33 L or 14,325 cm^3

Parts Compatibility:

Code:
    Motherboard: 
         Mini ITX with dual rad & quad fan
         Mini DTX with Single rad & quad fan
         {!}(Air Cooling Requires 3 fan headers on Motherboard)
         {!}(Liquid cooling Requires 2 fan headers + 1 pump header on Motherboard)
         {!}(Semi-passive Mode Requires 2 fan headers on Motherboard)

    CPU Sink: 60 mm max height

    GPU:   295 mm x 48mm x 150 mm max (~2.5 slot)
           200 mm x 54mm x 150 mm max {!}(Short GPU REQUIRED with pump/res)   
           (Note: 1S = 18mm, 2S = 36mm, 3S = 54mm)

    Radiators:  Dual 240mm Radiators: (290mm x 140mm x 30mm) dimensions
              
    Fans:  Quad 140mm x 25mm fans (In anticipation of NFA14x25)
           Quad 120mm x 25mm fans
           Quad 120mm x 15mm slim fans {!}(with radiators)

    Pump/Res: 130mm x 130mm x 55mm (NEED Short GPU) {!}(Check GPU & Pump/Res dimensions carefully!)
            (If you decide to not use a pump-block combo on the CPU/GPU)
      
            EK-Quantum Kinetic FLT 120 DDC (120mm x 105mm x 51.2mm)
            EK-XTOP SPC-60 PWM (62mm x 62mm x 51mm)
            Swiftech MCRES MICRO REV2 RESERVOIR (101mm x 103mm x 38mm)
            Swiftech MCP35X Micropump (59mm x 92mm x 62mm)
            Swiftech MCP35B Micropump (59mm x 92mm x 62mm)
            Swiftech MCP355 Micropump (44mm x 87mm x 61mm)
            Alphacool DC-LT Pump w/ FrozenCPU Res (49mm x 49mm x 65mm)
            Lightobject DC24 Straight-through brushless pump (116mm X 50mm X 50mm)       

    Power Supply: SFX (100 x 125 x 63.5 mm) or SFX-L (125 x 125 x 63.5 - not recommended, but okay)

    Power Button: Kailh Box Navy with custom round aluminum keycap (changeable for modding)

    SATA SSDs: Room for 3 x 2.5" SSDs (100mm x 70mm x 6.8mm) {!}(SHORT GPU required)

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Semi-Passive Kit (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Passive Cooling Projection: (Assuming 5CFM natural convection) [2] [3]

* CPU: up to 100W (~85ºC max)
* GPU: up to 150W (~85ºC max)

Semi-passive Cooling Projection: (Assuming 30 CFM fan airflow) [2] [3]

* CPU: up to 170W (~85ºC max)
* GPU: up to 335W (~85ºC max)

[2] TDP's here are rough preliminary calculations based on expected heatsink volume and area, and 23ºC / 73ºF ambient air. These are obviously subject to change, as the designs are not final. I cannot stress this enough.

[3] Numbers are based of REAL power consumption, NOT TDP. TDP is largely a marketing term, and it's highly advisable to base cooling off Package Power Consumption (Courtesy of Anandtech) as almost all power consumed by a chip (aside from rounding errors) is dissipated as heat. Neither Intel nor AMD provide accurate TDPs for their chips... (See chart for listed TDP vs Real power consumption). Keep this in mind when considering hardware to use in this build.

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Layout, and Structure

With v05, WinterCase had fundamental changes to the structure. In previous designs (v03 and before) the top and side panels attached to an internal frame. In v04 and v05 this internal frame was removed, and now the *panels* themselves are the main structural component. This was done to maximize *internal* volume.

The inner layout is a sandwich layout (popularized by the Dan A4) with the PCIE riser bridging the GPU / Motherboard. While this is typical of a Sub10L case, Traditionally, cases above 10L have a “standard” PC layout (such as the NCase M1). However, there are problems with this design in maintaining a *linear airflow path* (which is crucial for passive cooling). The “traditional” PC layout creates dead zones in airflow when passively cooling a case.

The linear airflow path and unique vent pattern emphasizes low air resistance in this case, allowing for natural convection, and maximizing airflow at *low* fan RPMs in semipassive or active cooling setups. This design enables an *entirely silent* passively cooled mid-range system (3700X + 2060 Super) or a *whisper quiet* high end system (3950X + 2080Ti) using 4 case fans and huge heat sinks, giving you the reliability of air cooling with the performance of water cooling. In Active Air-cooled mode, you can maximize part compatibility for a reasonably quiet and very flexible system. In Active Liquid Cooled mode, **dual 240mm slim (30mm or thinner) radiators** ensure gobs of overclocking headroom even on high end components (9900k OC + 2080Ti OC) for the hardcore enthusiast.

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Closing Comments

This is a late design prototype. It’s about 80% complete. Most of the slots / cutouts / standoffs / dimensions are finalized. Some things remaining include:

* Baseplate - will attach to the rectangular section on the bottom (so the case doesn't topple)
* Carrying Handle - (raised rectangular section up top will house this, should sit flush)
* Tempered Glass Side Panels (optional, but widely requested)
* Final Screw Placements / Assembly
* Airflow related tweaks (currently running CFD on this)
* Heat Sink Design tweaks (pending more CFD)

Once I finish the detailed design, I plan to make a physical prototype and validate my numbers, make some revisions, and lining up production. Then, comes crowdfunding and actually starting production. I *hope* to get these in people’s hands by August 2020.

Thank you for taking the time to read over this and check out my design. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments here. **I want to know your thoughts about this design, and where you think I could improve things.** <3

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Timeline

1. Finish Semi-Passive Kit (SPK) CPU and GPU heat sink design + CFD (by end of Jan 2020)
2. Update and finalize first CAD for first physical prototype (v06)
3. Create First Physical Prototype (via local machine shop) by (Early Feb 2020)
4. Do physical testing in normal, semi-passive, and passive modes, with real hardware and analyze data, update CFD models. (Feb 2020)
5. (As necessary) modify designs and repeat steps 3-6. (Feb 2020)
6. Update for manufacturability (v07)
8. Finalize Designs and prepare for crowdfunding. (hopefully by March 2020)
9. Crowdfunding + Manufacturing (March-April of 2020)
10. Delivery of case (hopefully by August 2020)

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Older posts hidden below. I'll try to stick to this format for updates! :)

Hello friends!

While I'm relatively new to this forum, I've been part of the SFF reddit community for a long time. I've hinted here and there that I've been working on a case design & prototype for the last few months. I'm finally at the point where I'm happy with the v0.3 concept (0.1 and 0.2 were different designs that I ended up tossing out) and would like to share it with you! :)

Without further ado, let's get into it!

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Case Concept

The case was designed to hit a balance between 4 main goals:
  • Premium build quality, look, and feel - Anodized, bead blasted Aluminum enclosure, and "double halo" frame.
  • Focus on proper cooling capability & airflow (plus filtration)
  • Compatibility with widely available parts (ITX motherboards, low profile CPU coolers, full length 2.n slot GPUs, off the shelf SFX power supplies)
  • Sub 15L (fell slightly short of this goal during compatibility efforts, but the tradeoffs are *well* worth the extra 0.3L!)
What niche does this case sit in?

Silent Winter sits on the opposite side of the cooling vs size tradeoffs we usually see in the SFF market (where cases typically forego fan mounts, filters, or venting to shave down to sub-10L). Silent Winter is an airflow optimized take on the premium SFF case, with maximum compatibility in mind. The benefits of great airflow are hard to argue with, even if it makes the case *slightly* bigger. More air through the radiators lets you handle hotter components, gives you more OC headroom, and allows for lower fan RPMs, and therefore a quieter system. By having large vents and support for quad 25mm x 120mm fans, along with a linear airflow path will give you serious air push/pulled through this case. With Dual 240mm slim rads, the case is more than capable of cooling a 2080Ti + 9900k overclocked build. (A CPU Pump Block will likely be needed, though you may be able to cram a pump/res below some GPUs). The case has support for liquid *and* air cooling.

Semi-Passive Kit?

While the case supports dual 240mm radiators, I realize that not everyone has the desire to water-cool their system. For those who like the simplicity and extreme reliability of air cooling, I'm designing a Semi-Passive Kit that will come along with this case. The goal is to perform on-par with liquid-cooling in this case. I have a feeling that some people will happily forego the hassle of liquid cooling if they had a thermally comparable option. Currently, these heat sinks extend all the way from top to bottom, nearly touching the fans on both sides to maximize heat transfer area. (I'm still working on the design, currently doing some CFD runs on a few concepts, which is why a design hasn't been shown yet). When using the SPK, the "dead space" left by foregoing radiators won't be wasted. The SPK can be used in Passive *or* Semi-Passive mode.

In passive mode (NO FANS), according to rough calculations (subject to change) it should easily cool a 65W CPU and 155W GPU. In Semi-passive mode, where the only fans in the case are four 25 x 120mm fans on the end pieces, rough calculations show the capability to semi-passively cool 200W for the CPU and near 400W for the GPU. This opens the door to totally silent mid-tier (Ryzen 3700X + 2060Super) builds, or near-silent high tier builds (9700k + 2080 Super), if you keep fans at ~ 1000 RPM. Should be fine as long as you can provide around 30CFM of airflow. The machined end-pieces on this case create a large ventilation area in the highest flow region (outside 1/3 of the fan), and there is about a 25mm gap between the fans inside the case and the end plate, making it easy to move air through the case, whether naturally via convection, or using case fans.

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Silent Winter v.03 Case Specifications: (subject to change)

Physical Dimensions:
  • Depth: 33.16 cm
  • Height: 33.18 cm
  • Width: 13.94 cm
  • Total volume: 15.3 L or 15337 cm^3
Parts Compatability: (SUBJECT TO CHANGE SLIGHTLY)
  • Motherboard: mini ITX with dual rads, mini DTX with 1 rad
  • CPU Block : 67 mm max height
  • GPU: 300 mm x 60mm x 130mm max
  • Radiators: Dual 290 x 130 x 30 mm (including 'boxy' rads with square corners)
  • Fans: Quad 120mm x 25mm fans (including air filter)
  • Power Supply: Standard SFX (100 x 125 x 63.5 mm) or SFX-L (125 x 125 x 63.5 - not really recommended, but not impossible)
  • Power Button: mechanical keyswitch (Kailh box white) with backlight + aluminum keycap (Keycap design will be open sourced for modding)
  • Hard Drives: None currently (I am exploring options!) Use M.2 for now.

Passive Cooling: **/***
  • CPU: up to 65W TDP
  • GPU: up to 155W TDP

Semipassive Cooling: **/***
  • CPU: up to 175W TDP
  • GPU: up to 420W TDP

** TDP's here are rough preliminary calculations based on expected heatsink volume and area. These are obviously subject to change, as the designs are not final. I cannot stress this enough.

***It should also be noted that these are TDP's at boost clocks. Keep in mind Intel calculates their CPU's TDPs at base clocks (a 9700k will exceed the 95W it says on the boxunder boost) while AMD calculates TDP at boost clocks (Ryzen 3700X will output 65W at boost, like it says on the box).

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Visual Design and features

The case is built around a "double halo" mainframe -- two rounded rectangles connected to each other with 2 vertical beams. The casing is a rounded rectangular aluminum tube, which slides off to provide 360º access to the internals. This means there are no exposed screws on the exterior.

Here's the Imgur Album, including a video orbiting the case, so you can see all around :)


Now let's get into some details!



A backlit Kailh White Cherry MX Blue Switch with white LED is used as the power button, due to the construction of the case. You must depress it before sliding the outer shell off the mainframe, and a keyswitch had the travel necessary for this application. It also has the nice touch of having incredibly long service life and is easily replaceable. There is an extra benefit of allowing people to make custom keycaps for tastefully modding the power button.


The panel cover being wider than the case may feel like a waste of space, but it's functional - it allows for larger components in *every* case, as it relaxes fitment issues around things like square edges radiators, and doesn't force people to use low profile fittings for water-cooling. For those of you who air cool, the relaxed dimensions eliminate turbulence from any heat sink fans being too close to the wall, so your components get proper downdraft while hot air is quickly evacuated from the case. Parts compatibility listed above is purposely underestimated by about 5mm on all sides. Building in this case should be a pleasure.



There are two somewhat heavily machined pieces that fit into the halo (which I call end-plates), holding the air filters and fan/radiator mounting. You can see them more clearly in the image below. They are designed to hold the weight of the entire system, and will be secured as such (expect 12 screws here). This allows for the mainframe to be simpler and less expensive to make. The inside mounting plate for the CPU/GPU/PCIE riser/PSU is likely be folded powder coated steel (trying to keep costs reasonable here), bolted onto the mainframe. Reaching inside the tube will allow people to lift the case easily, as *everything* is connected to the double halo frame.

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Development Timeline

1. Finish V0.4 and V0.5 CAD drawings by end of October 2019 (lots of finishing stuff like exact sizes of slots and screw holes and so on), CFD for airflow + liquid cooling configurations, exploring side panel perforation)
2. Finish Semi-Passive Kit (SPK) CPU and GPU heat sink design + CFD by end of November.
3. Consult with local machine shop and modify particular parts for manufacturability, build CNC files. (V0.7)
4. First Physical Prototype (via local machine shop) by Jan 2020
5. Get SPK prototype made by Jan 2020.
6. Do physical testing in normal, semi-passive, and passive modes, with real hardware and analyze data, update CFD models.
7. (As necessary) modify designs and repeat steps 3-6.
8. Finalize Designs and prepare for crowdfunding. (hopefully by March 2020)
9. Crowdfunding + Manufacturing (March-April of 2020)
10. Delivery of case (May 2020)

Once design are finalized, I'm hoping to send out some prototypes to maybe Optimum Tech, LTT, BitWit, Jayz, and Science Studio, so people can see what builds in this thing will look like, and I'll post a build guide / video of my own.

Crowdfunding will open around the same time. Once crowdfunding is started, My *only* goal will be to ensure that cases are made correctly, packed, and shipped out to everyone, until all orders are fulfilled.

After all crowdfunding orders are fulfilled, It'll be waiting to hear feedback from users, and look at doing more batches of low volume production, assuming demand is there, so we'll have cases on hand for those who want to order.

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Closing Comments

This is still an early design prototype.
There is a lot of very specific work left to do, as I work on the details of the design. Things like screws, mounting holes, brackets, and making various things to "industry standard" dimensions. That's why this is v0.3 is still lots of "volume" placeholders that are exactly to dimension, but very low detail. The careful and detailed CAD work with some actual specs and parts will happen in the coming weeks. I wanted to make sure that the overall design and layout were good first. Once I finish the detailed design, I plan to take these files to a local machine shop and see if we can make a physical prototype, or I might just generate a .STL and get the rough prototype 3D printed... then take the iteration of that design to a machine shop.

Thank you all for taking the time to read over this and check out my design. Please feel free to ask me questions in the comments here. I want to know your thoughts about this design, and where you think I could improve some things.

I want to know a bit more about custom heatsink manufacturing, and custom case manufacturing, so if you have experience with either of those, please reach out to me. I fully intend to take this case to production, and give back to this wonderful community.

<3

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Edits:

  1. fixed media links.
  2. Changed Cherry MX Blue to Kailh Box White
  3. Added a Timeline for Case Development
 
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Poblopuablo

King of Cable Management
Jan 14, 2018
672
351
If it were me, is say use a kailh box white switch. It sounds so much cleaner. :) Just my 2¢. :) It seems like a cool design! :D
 
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WinterCharm

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Jan 19, 2019
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If it were me, is say use a kailh box white switch. It sounds so much cleaner. :) Just my 2¢. :) It seems like a cool design! :D
Could certainly look into that. Kailh makes some nice stuff! thanks :D

Edit: after looking up some switch sound comparisons, I very much agree! :D Kailh box white switches it is!
 
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TheArkratos

Caliper Novice
Mar 26, 2019
30
34
Exciting indeed, this is close to my dream layout. I'm prototyping a similar layout but supporting M.2 Risers and Bifurcation risers, excited to see where you take this. I'm watching this thread for sure.
 
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WinterCharm

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Jan 19, 2019
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This is exciting! Nicely done so far. Will there be a side glass option?
Thank you! I am planning for it. (and for the option of a vented side panel, pending some CFD work). I love tempered glass. I don't know if I'll be able to do it on early units (I'm trying to keep part count and configuration options low so we don't jump into inventory hell like the Ghost S1 did) but "maybe" for the early stuff, and "yes" later on.

Currently, I'm thinking two sides of tempered glass with black edges, mounted to an aluminum frame with a square cut into it. This will be connecting two curved aluminum pieces (on both sides) to form the outer shell. The rails for the shell sliding on/off the double halo frame are on the front/back, and it was done this way with tempered glass in mind. :)
 
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WinterCharm

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Original poster
Jan 19, 2019
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Exciting indeed, this is close to my dream layout. I'm prototyping a similar layout but supporting M.2 Risers and Bifurcation risers, excited to see where you take this. I'm watching this thread for sure.
Wonderful. I really look forward to seeing you bring your case design through the development process. I have been playing around with the idea of M.2 drive bays as one of the possible "drive" options. But I'm currently unsure about the technical considerations... (getting vertical mounted M.2's is ideal for airflow, and then having to power this separate PCB using the PSU, and connecting it to several of the sata ports on a motherboard, sounds like a developmental nightmare). I could just slap a drive cage in there, but any drive cage that I make for the case will be airflow optimized (using CFD) because it'll be in the direct airflow path...

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The following comments are from Reddit, between TheArkratos and Me, but I wanted to share them here.

TheArkratos said:
Also personally... I would support the TX240 rads (20mm thick) with 25mm fans or 30mm rads with 15mm (low profile fans) Would save you 2 cm over the course of the case and means users that don't watercool don't waste too much space. This is probably a controversial opinion but based on how many people are ok watercooling in the ncase it doesn't seem like people are adverse to using low profile fans if they have to.
It's interesting that you suggested this. I really wrestled with doing that (actually was one of the prototypes I threw out), but there are so many nice high-performance slim rads like the alphacool nexxxos st30, that I didn't want to leave behind, for the people who love liquid cooling.

However, with regard to air-cooling, I myself am a huge fan of it, due to the low maintenance and extreme reliability. And you're right --- traditionally in a case design like this, air cooling means tons of wasted space, and performance left on the table, both of which are not cool in the SFF community. This is where the semipassive kit comes in. I hope the people who are serious about air-cooling high end components use this kit. The design goal is to perform on-par with the liquid-cooling in this case. I have a feeling that some people will happily forego the hassle liquid cooling if they had a thermally comparable option. Currently, these heat sinks extend all the way from top to bottom, nearly touching the fans on both sides to maximize heat transfer area. (I'm still working on the design, currently doing some CFD runs on a few concepts). When using the SPK, the "dead space" left by foregoing radiators won't be wasted.

There is also a drive cage in the works. Still working on the specifics of that design. In this configuration, the steel mounting spine will be moved up / down to fit the cage. Once again the combined 60mm left by the radiators (instead of 40mm) is just enough to fit this drive cage. It's taking time because I insist on using CFD to optimize anything in the airflow path of this case, so more on both of these coming later. :)
 
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Poblopuablo

King of Cable Management
Jan 14, 2018
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I personally, would appreciate standard 240mm aio's with slim fans for my system. (Primarily because I already have them, and don't quite feel up to par with a full custom loop.... I did just make a custom aio however).
 
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WinterCharm

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Jan 19, 2019
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I personally, would appreciate standard 240mm aio's with slim fans for my system. (Primarily because I already have them, and don't quite feel up to par with a full custom loop.... I did just make a custom aio however).
45mm x 240mm AIO’s should fit in this case with 15mm fans.
 

CountNoctua

(no relation)
Jul 11, 2019
215
262
Full height key switches have a lot of travel for a power switch. I would use Kailh Choc Pale Blue. 70g actuation, RGB shine through. They are also flatter/more stable (I think) so harder to mispress if you hit off-center.

 
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Poblopuablo

King of Cable Management
Jan 14, 2018
672
351
Full height key switches have a lot of travel for a power switch. I would use Kailh Choc Pale Blue. 70g actuation, RGB shine through. They are also flatter/more stable (I think) so harder to mispress if you hit off-center.

Choc PCB might be harder to source, but definitely a great option to consider!
 

CountNoctua

(no relation)
Jul 11, 2019
215
262
Choc PCB might be harder to source, but definitely a great option to consider!
EDIT: forgot I had this macropad PCB bookmarked (needs a controller, and there's a link to the build guide on the page). Good option if an actual PCB is needed to control the switch, assuming you can handwire it (still pretty new to custom KBs and only done soldering, so I have no idea about this) or just fit the PCB behind the button. Don't order too many, people, I still need one. :p

True. If so, any of the heavy Cherry MX heavy (I favor Clear-based) tactile or clicky switches should be okay. I'll add Hako True to the list (58g actuation, 98g bottom out), which is also a Kailh BOX design.

A switch tester would be good to test these out. KBDfans and some of the other stores will let you select individual switches to include, which is a good way to find the perfect switch for something like this. They also have a few preselected testers like this:
 
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Poblopuablo

King of Cable Management
Jan 14, 2018
672
351
EDIT: forgot I had this macropad PCB bookmarked. Good option if an actual PCB is needed to control the switch. Don't order too many, people, I still need one. :p

True. If so, any of the heavy Cherry MX heavy (I favor Clear-based) tactile or clicky switches should be okay. I'll add Hako True to the list (58g actuation, 98g bottom out), which is also a Kailh BOX design.

A switch tester would be good to test these out. KBDfans and some of the other stores will let you select individual switches to include, which is a good way to find the perfect switch for something like this. They also have a few preselected testers like this:
Yeah I love hako royals. I have mine with 70g springs and they are SOOOO satisfying!!!
 

WinterCharm

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Jan 19, 2019
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Some I know are:
Cherry MX green (clicky)
Cherry MX black (linear)
Cherry MX super black (linear too I think)
Cherry MX grey (tactile/linear)
Aliaz 100gr (silent tactile)
awesome. I’m going to keep an open mind when it comes to what switch to use, because I’m still a bit new to the world of mechanical keyboards :)
 
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DmanX

Average Stuffer
Sep 12, 2019
60
50
However, with regard to air-cooling, I myself am a huge fan of it, due to the low maintenance and extreme reliability.
*Emphasis mine, because... yes, absolutely yes!

This is where the semipassive kit comes in.
Putting hand over heart...

I hope the people who are serious about air-cooling high end components use this kit.
We will. So say we all.

The design goal is to perform on-par with the liquid-cooling in this case. I have a feeling that some people will happily forego the hassle liquid cooling if they had a thermally comparable option. Currently, these heat sinks extend all the way from top to bottom, nearly touching the fans on both sides to maximize heat transfer area. (I'm still working on the design, currently doing some CFD runs on a few concepts). When using the SPK, the "dead space" left by foregoing radiators won't be wasted.
This is simply brilliant. I was excited before, but now I'm enthralled.