Smallest case for 65W CPU and DDR4

Phryq

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Hi,

I know this probably gets asked a lot, but I'm not seeing the answer in any threads in this forum.

I'm trying to find the smallest / thinnest possible motherboard / case combo. All I need inside the case is

1 - Desktop quad i7 (Skylake or Kabylake in January)
2 - DDR4 Ram (ideally 3 slots, but can do with 2)
3 - Single PCIe for NVMe SSD (Samsung Evo 960), though I could possibly make this external with Thunderbolt 4.

Does something like this exist that I can put in a backpack?

Thanks!!
 

Phuncz

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Phryq

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Ok, thanks for the replies guys. I've done a lot of reading, and found my own solution :) It's I believe the smallest possible existing.

SilverStone PT 13 case
Asus H110 Thin Mini-ITX
Mesh to stop dust getting in https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01303JRQG/?tag=theminutiae-20

The motherboard has both these m.2 ports. Does that mean I could fit in 2 960 EVOs?
M.2 Socket 3. with M key, type 2242/2260
M.2 E key type 2230

I'm also confused about WIFI. Could I plug a WIFI thing into my LAN port? Or what's the best way? If feasible I'd use both M.2 ports for SSDs
SilverStone has some wifi cards
 

Therandomness

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Nov 9, 2016
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Ok, thanks for the replies guys. I've done a lot of reading, and found my own solution :) It's I believe the smallest possible existing.

SilverStone PT 13 case
Asus H110 Thin Mini-ITX
Mesh to stop dust getting in

The motherboard has both these m.2 ports. Does that mean I could fit in 2 960 EVOs?
M.2 Socket 3. with M key, type 2242/2260
M.2 E key type 2230

I'm also confused about WIFI. Could I plug a WIFI thing into my LAN port? Or what's the best way? If feasible I'd use both M.2 ports for SSDs
SilverStone has some wifi cards
M.2 E key is Bluetooth and wifi only. No SSDs will work in that slot.
 

Phryq

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M.2 E key is Bluetooth and wifi only. No SSDs will work in that slot.

Ok, thanks. So I just want to double check, the motherboard does not have built in WIFI. I should add some kind of WIFI card. Silverstone recommended this to me. Wouldn't it be better to buy something with antennas (the reason I'm going compact is to take is as carry on for flights, but I think I could just pack the antennas separately). This card has Antennas, does bluetooth and has a USB 2.0 port. Would it be a better choice, and work with the motherboard / case?

Also, about a fan, SilverStone recommends this fan, is this my best option? It needs to be less than 30mm thick. I'm looking for the quietest cooling possible, but I guess that's hard to achieve in this form factor. Does it matter which fan I choose in terms of BIOS / software control? Or I could just get the most efficient fan that fits the form-factor?
 

Therandomness

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Ok, thanks. So I just want to double check, the motherboard does not have built in WIFI. I should add some kind of WIFI card. Silverstone recommended this to me. Wouldn't it be better to buy something with antennas (the reason I'm going compact is to take is as carry on for flights, but I think I could just pack the antennas separately). This card has Antennas, does bluetooth and has a USB 2.0 port. Would it be a better choice, and work with the motherboard / case?

Also, about a fan, SilverStone recommends this fan, is this my best option? It needs to be less than 30mm thick. I'm looking for the quietest cooling possible, but I guess that's hard to achieve in this form factor. Does it matter which fan I choose in terms of BIOS / software control? Or I could just get the most efficient fan that fits the form-factor?
Just saying, that Silverstone card is mPCIe, and you'd need to buy that second Silverstone card to work with it (Basically, the mPCIe card slots into the mPCIe slot on the expansion card, and the antennas have small wires which plug into the card). Most 120mm fans are 25mm thick btw, and you can get any, but some are quieter than others and all will work with any BIOS.
 

K888D

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I've built quite a few HTPC's with the PT13B case, that Silverstone cooler is a good choice as its meant for very low profile cases such as this one, but it may get quite loud under full load if you plan on using a 65W Core-i7.

The WiFi card that Silverstone have recommended will NOT work in the motherboard you have listed (Asus H110T/CSM). That Silverstone card is a Mini PCIe connector not M.2. This particular motherboard has these M.2 connectors:
  • 1 x M.2 Socket 1 with E key, type 2230 Wi-Fi devices support
  • 1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)

For WiFi you will need something like THIS or THIS, and for the Antennna's you will need a kit like THIS which includes the wires/pigtails, nuts and antennas. The Silverstone PT13 case has some push out tabs on the rear which you should be able to secure the antennas through, you will need some pliers and a small adjustable spanner.

For M.2 storage the Samsung 960 Pro will NOT fit as it is an M.2 22x80 card (too long), this motherboard can only fit 22x60 M.2 storage drive, so something like THIS will fit. I've not really seen any PCIe M.2 drives in this size format (22x60), they all seem to be the larger 22x80. M.2 Sata is allot more common for this 22x60 form factor, which are about the same speed as your usual 2.5" SSD Sata drives.
 

Phryq

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I've built quite a few HTPC's with the PT13B case, that Silverstone cooler is a good choice as its meant for very low profile cases such as this one, but it may get quite loud under full load if you plan on using a 65W Core-i7.

For M.2 storage the Samsung 960 Pro will NOT fit as it is an M.2 22x80 card (too long), this motherboard can only fit 22x60 M.2 storage drive, so something like THIS will fit. I've not really seen any PCIe M.2 drives in this size format (22x60), they all seem to be the larger 22x80. M.2 Sata is allot more common for this 22x60 form factor, which are about the same speed as your usual 2.5" SSD Sata drives.

Thanks! Wow I would have been upset if I'd bought everything and the build didn't work.

I really thought I'd found my dream machine... I really want a Samsung EVO NVMe, so I guess I'll need to start from square 1, and get a different motherboard.

Are there any motherboard that would fit in the PT13 case and allow the new Samsung EVO 960? Maybe I'll have to get something slightly larger (and then more passive cooling to keep it quiet), but it has to fit inside a backpack that already has a laptop in it.

Worst case I guess I need to carry everything on the plane in parts (carry the motherboard/ram/fan in a box) and assemble it when I land. I'm just really nervous about doing that.
 

Phryq

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You could have all the specs you wanted if you changed to this motherboard:

https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/Q170T-CSM/

It has a 22x80 M.2 slot for PCIe SSDs and a 22x30 M.2 slot for WiFi cards.

Perfect! Thanks! I was thinking more about the ASRock, as it would still fit in my backpack, and has better cooling, but... wouldn't it be possible to passively cool it, by putting a ton of copper above the CPU, that somehow reaches outside the case like this? Here's a passive copper cooler, but it costs too much (and probably wouldn't fit, but maybe I could cut a hole in the case to let it through? Here's a smaller and cheaper option.
 

Therandomness

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Perfect! Thanks! I was thinking more about the ASRock, as it would still fit in my backpack, and has better cooling, but... wouldn't it be possible to passively cool it, by putting a ton of copper above the CPU, that somehow reaches outside the case like this? Here's a passive copper cooler, but it costs too much (and probably wouldn't fit, but maybe I could cut a hole in the case to let it through? Here's a smaller and cheaper option.
The dimensions of that passive copper cooler (the first one), at 12.4 x 6 x 11.4 inches would make it bigger than most STX cases. That smaller and cheaper one is designed to have several fans blowing in it's direction, so it's not really a 'passive' cooler.
 
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Phryq

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Ok, I'm thinking something crazy but...

What about using copper wire / copper tape / copper plates or heat pipes create my own passive-cooling case? Using either the Silverstone PT-13, or this slightly taller version, or the AS Rock above? There's also the HDPLEX passive cooling system. Or I could buy the H1.S Case with built in passive cooling, although I'm confused, in some places, it's rated 65W, and others 55W. There's also the Alaska passive cooling cases, but they seem to be meant for lower watt CPUs. Here's a review of the Alaska Euler, which recommends the Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS for more powerful CPUs, but it's just too big.

I wonder why there isn't something designed like the above, but using copper on the outer case as well. For example in this pic below, but use a copper heat sink, and maybe half-copper half aluminum fins (I guess copper is too malleable to be used as exterior fins without support?



Here's the original design
 
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EdZ

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I wonder why there isn't something designed like the above, but using copper on the outer case as well.
Because copper is very expensive compared to aluminium, and for much of the case would provide littl-to-no thermal benefit, so it would be hugely wasteful. There do exist passively cooled cases with partial copper exteriors.
 

Phryq

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Ok, I made my own image and edited the pic above before I saw your reply. Well anyhow, here it is again. What do you think if this design?



I'm checking out your link now. The case seems perfect, but they only sell pre-built systems with 35W CPUs. In theory, shouldn't their case be better at cooling than some of the larger 65W passive cooling cases?

Or should I really just give up on this passive cooling idea, and find the quietest fans plus a dust mesh?
 
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EdZ

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In theory, shouldn't their case be better at cooling than some of the larger 65W passive cooling cases?
No. While Copper has a better thermal conductivity than Aluminium, that's not the limit of performance for a passively cooled case. The limit is surface area and the temperature difference between the case and outside air, and switching from Aluminium to Copper changes neither of these.
 

Phryq

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No. While Copper has a better thermal conductivity than Aluminium, that's not the limit of performance for a passively cooled case. The limit is surface area and the temperature difference between the case and outside air, and switching from Aluminium to Copper changes neither of these.

Ok, so the 'fins' are the most important aspect, because they increase surface area. Anyhow, I'm giving up on a passive cooling solution for now (unless someone has a good idea) and will just find the quietest fan that's less than 34mm thick (would love any suggestions, otherwise I'm just going off Amazon.com reviews).

But just for fun, here's my new design called Medusa Cooling,


By the way, AS Rock *does* have a 4 slot Mini-ITX motherboard, but it's expensive and I'm thinking I don't need it with a Samsung 961 Evo.
 

Phryq

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Ok, I'm thinking of going with the ASRock STX Mini since

- It's convenient. Motherboard, chassis, wifi, and power are all meant to go together.
- Room for a relatively big fan.
- The M.2 SSD is directly connected to the CPU, so 7% faster?

The only downside seems to be that it's steel, not aluminum (not doesn't heat-sink as much?)