Log SMALLEST ATX CASE : CERBERUS-X (Complete build log)

Arboreal

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Oct 11, 2015
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I've always loved the Cerb and Cerb X, following Aibo'/Jess' work back from the Nova days

Although I don't own one, I do feel part of the family with my Sliger S610 which is about to come back into play having been sidelined for a Dan A4 for a while
 

MarcParis

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Apr 1, 2016
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Back to Nov 21' and launch of Alder's lake, I moved away from Mini ITX form factor, mostly due to appealing choice. (pricey, cpu cooler compatibility especially with more and more toasty cpu)
https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/sliger-s620-itx-master-piece.16505/post-257111

Zen4 release confirmed my former choice on motherboard since. I noted pretty its excellent efficiency (Performance per watt) but Mini ITX offer was still not my taste at all.

Till end of 2023 when I saw this very surprising Minisforum BD770i

Minisforum BD770i : Mobile Zen 4 chip (R7 7745HX), 120mm CPU heatsink with rear exhaust path with liquid metal (height 50/15mm or 60/25mm fan, screw size M2.5 14/25mm), dual SSD slot (gen 5) with optimal heatsink/cooler on top, Gen 5 PCIe 16x Slot, 2x so DIMM DDR5 (up to 5200MTS), Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6E AX1675 / BT 5.3

I found this Mini ITX concept very appealing to me, especially as its price is pretty competitive.

After several weeks of reflection, I decided to buy MinisForum BD790i with Gskill so dimm 2x32Go DDR5 5200 MTS in order to test it as I wanted to experiment as it could be the Motherboard that will lead me back to Mini ITX...:D

It arrived by late mid February, since I'm testing it intensively.

On external assembly, my only remark will be on the nut for wifi antenna. Back i/o shield is not assembled by default. Thus you need to unscrew wifi nuts, fit i/o shield and put back nuts. Not ideal, but doable but this is twisting internal antenna cables.



I started next external becnhmark to test bios features, installing windows, etc..


BD790i came with Bios 1.05 (BD770i and BD790i are sharing same bios apparently), here are main features tested :
  • PCIe bandwith : auto, Gen 3/4/5
  • iGPU : activated or not
  • Redimensionable BAR : activated or not
  • CPU max wattage : not sucessful (stick to auto, leading to 100W)
  • No profile can be saved (only one at a time)
  • No RAM setup (at 1st boot, MB is very slow, testing RAM). It is activating by default RAM speed parameters
  • Boot selector
  • Temperature monitor & fan management : it is working pretty fine (I stick to CPU fan curve even after installing "fan control")
Overall Bios is simple, effective & functionnal. Let's see future updates, especially for CPU firmware update.

Time was to test inside a case...

BD790i meets Sliger S620
S620 is definitely a bit big for my testing, but it was a nice starting point to investigate potential Mini ITX.
Assembly inside S620 remains average, especially on PSU side.
I've chosen airlfow with bottom intake and side exhaust



I tried in horizontal orientation, but it was too bulky and it allows my to find a pretty nice spot where to put the case : back my Neo G9 Monitor..:)



And still cat compliant..:)



To be continued...
 
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Allhopeforhumanity

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May 1, 2017
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That was my exact starting point : no immediate need but I had to know what is under the hood..:D

I nearly went with the same minisforum board for an ITX server build in a Jonsbo N3, but their shipping time was nearly 3mo, so I went with a standard Gigabyte board and some fun adapters to maximize storage instead (PCIE 16x -> 8x + 2 m.2s and m.2 -> 6x Sata).
 
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MarcParis

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I nearly went with the same minisforum board for an ITX server build in a Jonsbo N3, but their shipping time was nearly 3mo, so I went with a standard Gigabyte board and some fun adapters to maximize storage instead (PCIE 16x -> 8x + 2 m.2s and m.2 -> 6x Sata).
On NVME drive, AR900i is the king with 4 m.2 slots on a mini ITX MB..:)

I ordered my BD790i by Jan (pre-order) and shipment occured as planned by mid feb. Got it in overall in 1 month.

Overall it took me approx 2.5 Months (let's round it to 3 months) to collect the parts. My build is almost finished but already 100% functionnal (only missing some optional parts).
 
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Lakimakromedia

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Mar 21, 2019
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Gold shovel for me :D :
Its pretty late for such thing, and pictures are not avalaible anymore. But

First let's compare size versus Node 202, mini ITX case from Fractal Design. This case is pretty small while in horizontal stand (10.2l), however in vertical stand (due to large base), its dimensions become 125 x 385 x 332mm (15.9l)

The volume of case its not changing... There is a base, but base its creating [if You wrote about this] space around case to breathe. If in horizontal postion, u need also keep some space above N202, because u will boil internals. Same with Cerberus, u cannot put boxex around and expect good cooling. Yes, Cerberus has some front "intake", and back "exhaust", but same story. If those speces would be covered - temps go high. So volume of Cerb should be increase also :).
Just saying.

This AR900 its aTHING, and those 4nvme, damm and just yasterday bought some stuff for new project.....

BTW since You have this board, does it support bifurcation on pcie x16???
 
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MarcParis

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Gold shovel for me :D :
Its pretty late for such thing, and pictures are not avalaible anymore. But

First let's compare size versus Node 202, mini ITX case from Fractal Design. This case is pretty small while in horizontal stand (10.2l), however in vertical stand (due to large base), its dimensions become 125 x 385 x 332mm (15.9l)

The volume of case its not changing... There is a base, but base its creating [if You wrote about this] space around case to breathe. If in horizontal postion, u need also keep some space above N202, because u will boil internals. Same with Cerberus, u cannot put boxex around and expect good cooling. Yes, Cerberus has some front "intake", and back "exhaust", but same story. If those speces would be covered - temps go high. So volume of Cerb should be increase also :).
Just saying.

This AR900 its aTHING, and those 4nvme, damm and just yasterday bought some stuff for new project.....

BTW since You have this board, does it support bifurcation on pcie x16???
Regarding Cerberus-X, best volume usage is when it is in horizontal stand. Intake from left (bottom in vertical stand), main exhaust towards the top (side in vertical stand). By far I prefered horizontal stand for the cerberus-X (really good cooling, low dust, no GPU sag, no tension on CPU cooler). As you mentionned, while in vertical stand, you need to keep some place around for intake/exhaust.

Regarding Minisforum Mini ITX boards, no PCIe bifurcation as far as I've read (either BD770i/BD790i/AR900i).

ps : you are correct about my first pictures. I need to check them.
 
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MarcParis

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Let's continue my journey back to Mini ITX Motherboard world!

After testing Minisforum BD790i inside Sliger S620, I decided to test inside of my beloved Sliger SM550!
Please note you will need shorter CPU cooler screws (M2.5x14mm), as only M2.5x25mm screws are included with the motherboard.

Without M2.5x14mm screws, it is also working fine...as long as you are not moving too much the case.


Unfortunately BD790i is not fully compatible with SM550, due to its side panel pin location. You can remove one the pin, but it is leading to some vibration.
For my trial, I simply removed side panels.

I put also my sweet MSI GTX 1080Ti.


Best point of the SM550 is its size, just below 10l.

It fits so well behind my Samsung G9 Neo, and, and, and, thermals & noise were great also!



It reminds me immediatly my plan to switch my main setup to Mini-ITX inside a SM550...however it was completely cancelled with RTX 3000 FE GPU with 3 slots & passthrough fan design (and complete lack of GPU at all...2020....)


For several weeks, I kept using & testing this SM550+BD790i+GTX1080ti, and I clearly enjoyed it and I was not alone :


And I decided to push my experiment further...


I moved my core i5 12600K setup to my N-ATX v2 paired with my RTX 3090 FE.



and retired my R7 5800X+Asus Crosshair VI....and my Cerberus-X...after 7 years of duty!

One question remains...what will happen to my RTX4080 FE, left alone?



To be continued...
 

rfarmer

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Jul 7, 2017
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I had a white SM550 for a while and really liked the case. Later on I wished I had gone ahead and gotten the 560 instead. Sad to see the Cerberus go into retirement after all this time and I am just about positive you will find a use to the 4080 FE.
 
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MarcParis

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I had a white SM550 for a while and really liked the case. Later on I wished I had gone ahead and gotten the 560 instead. Sad to see the Cerberus go into retirement after all this time and I am just about positive you will find a use to the 4080 FE.
I'm not worried to find another utility for my Cerberus-X. It is the first time ever in my life that a computer case stayed so long in active service. I truly love my Cerberus-X...:D

Regarding SM550, well I've no regrets about SM560 as it was too large for my use and better cases (let's say upgrades) were released since, as your Fractal Terra.
 

Allhopeforhumanity

Master of Cramming
May 1, 2017
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I'm not worried to find another utility for my Cerberus-X. It is the first time ever in my life that a computer case stayed so long in active service. I truly love my Cerberus-X...:D

Regarding SM550, well I've no regrets about SM560 as it was too large for my use and better cases (let's say upgrades) were released since, as your Fractal Terra.

I feel the same way about my SM580's (I got a 2nd one after my wife was jelly at how much power I could cram into the first one, and we retired a Fractal R5), I'll probably keep them as my main chassis until reasonable GPUs can no longer fit.

The SM550 is a great size though, I was tempted but I already had a Steck and 2x Node 202's and couldn't justify another rig before they were discontinued.
 

MarcParis

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I feel the same way about my SM580's (I got a 2nd one after my wife was jelly at how much power I could cram into the first one, and we retired a Fractal R5), I'll probably keep them as my main chassis until reasonable GPUs can no longer fit.

The SM550 is a great size though, I was tempted but I already had a Steck and 2x Node 202's and couldn't justify another rig before they were discontinued.
I'll finish my build log by next week I suppose. Minisforum BD790i & SM550 just opened some new options.
 

MarcParis

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cerberus-X is back : Last stand of the AM4 (12th June 2024)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As I posted on my FormD T1 thread, I appreciated the time I spent with the Minisforum BD790i and FormD T1, but I was missing Cerberus-X too much.
This experience helped me to understand why I was missing the Cerberus-X, mostly its easy/fast maintenance. Basically while in horizontal stand, Cerberus-X is like an opened test bench. Without disconnecting any cable, I can life the side panel in 3 seconds.
Overall I used the Cerberus-X in vertical stand during 2 years and 5 years in horizontal stand.

Thus I decided to build again a setup within my Cerberus-X. As Zen 5 is round the corner, I selected, again, to use my AM4 setup...aiming to reach its pinnacle integration!

Components:
  • Motherboard : Asus Crosshair VI Hero (from 2017)
  • CPU : AMD R7 5800X (PBO -30)
  • RAM : 32Go DDR4 : 4xGSkill Flare-X 3200 MTS 14-14-14-34 8Go (2 sticks from 2017, 2 sticks from 2022)
  • SSD1 : Samsung 990Pro 4To (connected to CPU)
  • SSD2 : ADATA SX8200 Pro 2To (connected to Chipsetr through PCIe 2.0 x4)
  • PSU : A brand new Corsair SF750
  • CPU Cooler : Noctua C14S (who else?..:))
  • GPU : Nvidia RTX 4080 FE

Trial #1 :
  • CPU Cooler : Noctua C14S "standard" horizontal orientation with NF-A14x25 as intake
  • Top : Noctua NF-A12x15 as exhaust
  • Rear : No fan
  • Bottom : 2xNoctua NF-A12x25 as intake (no dust filer)



Feedback
  • CPU cooler heatsink too close to the back of the GPU
  • 2cm offset between side fan and cpu cooler heatsink
  • Top exhaust fan pretty useless
Conclusion
  • Let's optimize..:)

Trial #2 :
  • CPU Cooler : Noctua C14S "non-standard" vertical orientation with NF-A14x25 as exhaust
  • Top : No fan (not compatible with C14S orientation)
  • Rear : No fan
  • Bottom : 2xNoctua NF-A12x25 as intake (no dust filer)








Feedback
  • Strangely enough I never tried C14S vertical orientation with AM4. I was stuck with traditional AM3 orientation (C6H was compatible with AM3 to improve cpu compatibility at the start of the platform). I tried this orientation with my Core i5 12600K but I was not ready to "sacrifice" top fan at that time
  • Side fan & CPU cooler heatsink are perfectly aligned! It is a perfect match!
  • For CPU cooling, fresh air is brought by "top" & "rear" panels with no issue. Cooling performance is pretty good!
  • 100% Silent in low load (almost fully passive, I'm keeping only NF-A14-25 @10% PWM (ie ~400 rpm)
  • Super clean look
Conclusion
  • After 7 years of trials with my Cerberus-X, I'm still able to surprise myself with even a better final result!
  • To be honest, my beloved Crosshair VI Hero is showing its age (many USB ports failing, add-on Wifi card not functional), R7 5800X is clearly behind my core i5 12600k or my R9 7945HX...but I love them. I want to keep them active till Zen 5 and X870E MB...let's see

Oh I almost forgot to mention best Cerberus-X feature : its cats magnet feature..:D


Enjoy!
 
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