Log Talos - a new living room-proof computer

robbee

Master of Cramming
Original poster
Silver Supporter
Sep 24, 2016
605
775
With the new year, the time has come for a new case. And with a new case comes a new build log of course. This time, I will not be building my personal computer but will instead build a new enclosure for my HTPC, which currently resides in my Mikros enclosure.

Being an HTPC, it has a couple of different requirements and constraints than an ordinary computer. The hardware requirements will remain the same as before: a simple low power processor along with a low profile 75W graphics card with aftermarket fan(s), preferably with an internal power supply.

The most important requirement though is its looks: it should be living room-proof. By that, I mean that it should blend in with the room and not look like an odd box sitting on my cabinet. This is very subjective of course, but I'm trying to use materials and shapes which are more common in interior design.

To sum up, I'm making an enclosure inspired by interior design that houses a computer that is strong enough for some light couch gaming. This bring me to my new case.


1. Design

For the case design, I'm trying to find a blend between your typical PC case, being a black cube, and some other elements that are popular in interior design. I'm looking at lines, shapes and materials of other things you would often find in your living room (decoration, art, furniture, ...).

After a couple of months experimenting and iterating, this is what I came up with. I present to you, the Talos:



2. Materials

My material of choice to distinguish this case has become brass. This choice reflects not only in its looks, but also in its functionality. The core of the case is made of a 4mm thick brass sheet that will support all the hardware and give the case its rigidity and strength. Rather than hiding this core inside the enclosure, I chose to have the brass show slightly along the edges of the case. This look is complemented with a brass power button and case feet. The case feet have the typical reversed cone shape that's used often for furniture feet.

The rest of the case will be 3d printed in matte black, both to keep cost under control (the brass base plate is already expensive) and because my inner maker-geek longs to use my printer. It is also a very efficient way to make these custom one-off projects.

For the vents, I will be using some black painted mesh to allow for sufficient airflow in the case.


3. The case

The case dimensions will be 204mm x 247mm x 66mm, for a total of 3.3 liters (case feet excluded). It will be made of 4 major parts: the 4mm brass base plate, a 4mm thick printed bezel, a 3mm top plate and a 3mm bottom panel. For front IO, there will be a 12mm power button, USB type C header and a power LED. The cpu cooler limit is 38mm and the graphics card should be low profile and less than 172mm long. The graphics card uses a short PCB riser to rotate it 90 degrees. There will be the option to deshroud the graphics card, replacing the fans by aftermarket 60x25 ones. This should keep the case quiet under load.


4. A story of power

As noted in the introduction, I want to use an internal power supply in this case. Existing form factors like Flex and SFX all felt too chunky and overkill for a build like this. This left me with the less established options of HDPlex and 12V power supplies like Meanwell. I chose the Meanwell LSP 160 along with the Mini-box 160XT that I already owned. This choice is mainly a functional one, the Meanwell form factor looks as if it was made for my case and allows me to print the bezel in one piece. There is also the 200W UHP series, but this one is slightly too large for my print bed. The 160W power budget is rather limited though, so this requires me to be creative in my choice of hardware if I still want to use a 75W graphics card.


5. The hardware

With the power budget established, I could start my hunt for components. I had to decide on a CPU that offered enough performance for some light gaming but that would also leave enough power for my graphics card. The few '65W TDP' options all seemed too power hungry as their true power consumption went well above their rated TDP. This meant that AMD was no longer an option as they focus on the higher end of the spectrum and their Athlons are simply not potent enough. Intel, however, does still have some nice options that meet my requirements, and contrary to their high-end line-up, their mid-end line-up has its power consumption under control. I decided on an i3 from the 10th generation, a quadcore processor with hyperthreading that would be called an i7 a couple of generations ago (thanks AMD). Initially, I wanted to get an i3-10105, but I got a good deal on a 10100T, which is the 'low power' equivalent with a TDP of 35W. This should leave more than enough power for my graphics card.

The graphics card itself will be a hard choice, because at the moment there aren't really any interesting options. The long overdue 1050ti and 1650 by Nvidia have had their prices explode and the A2000 is actually a workstation card and is also way too expensive. With the 6500XT and the RTX 3050 being >100W cards, I don't think we will be seeing any low profile cards soon. Let's hope the upcoming Intel cards have something nice to offer.

The rest of the hardware will be simple: an M.2 SSD, a Noctua NH-l9i to cool the processor and two 60mm Noctua fans to replace the graphics card fans.


6. Result

Coming soon...
 

REVOCCASES

SFF Guru
REVOCCASES
Silver Supporter
Apr 2, 2020
1,521
1,761
www.revoccases.com
very nice project, looking forward to your progress :)

The 160W power budget is rather limited though, so this requires me to be creative in my choice of hardware if I still want to use a 75W graphics card.

not sure if it would fit in your build as planned, but you could also have a look at some of those AIO PSUs from HP, DELL & Co.

I am using this HP 12V/200W Platinum unit in a couple of my builds and it performs very good. Maybe could even make use of the IEC connector somehow - or just de-solder it and wire it up to the back of your case as planned...

Bild_2022-01-13_131103.png


here I found one offer on eBay (not sure if it's legit though):

 

robbee

Master of Cramming
Original poster
Silver Supporter
Sep 24, 2016
605
775
I am using this HP 12V/200W Platinum unit in a couple of my builds and it performs very good. Maybe could even make use of the IEC connector somehow - or just de-solder it and wire it up to the back of your case as planned...

That's an interesting PSU for sure! The AC in is in an awkward position though as it makes the required space a lot bigger if it's not mounted to the back of your case. I would probably go with your suggestion and desolder it. This could be a nice and quiet alternative for some Flex ATX cases though!

But I'm afraid the 74.8mm width is a little much for my case. The LSP-160 is only 55mm on that axis so it would add lot of extra unused space.
 

robbee

Master of Cramming
Original poster
Silver Supporter
Sep 24, 2016
605
775
Here's a first progress update. I'm sitting around at the moment mainly, waiting for components and parts to arrive. But in the meantime, I have printed the bezel and installed some stuff. Let's take a look:



3D printing in progress. As you can see, the part barely fits my printer! But after about 15 hours of printing time, the part came out very nice with minimal warping (about 0.5mm on the 2 back edges.)




Here you can see the finished bezel with threaded inserts. The banding on the part are a little too profound to my taste (the horizontal lines) because either the PLA had been laying around for too long or the extrusion multiplier wasn't dialed in perfectly. I may consider this a prototype and reprint later, we shall see.





Some parts have already arrived. The AC in is already soldered and wired from a previous project. The brass case feet and power button have arrived too. Those case feet are actually drawer handles that I drilled through and use upside down.




Ready to solder the power button. It is a teeny tiny 12mm button so the contact points are close together. Makes for some clumsy solder job! But I managed without joining the two contact points in the progress, yay! Then some heat shrink top insulate the solder points.




Everything I got so far put into place.


The next step will be the brass base plate. It is being laser cut as we speak so I should have it soon. I will need to thread some holes before I can use it though, which will be the first time I do that. Let's hope nothing goes wrong there!
 

BaK

King of Cable Management
Bronze Supporter
May 17, 2016
713
719
Did I hear 12V build?! I'm in!

The mix of brass and 3D print looks great, good choice!
In your pics the horizontal banding makes the PLA look like wood, which adds a nice touch to the whole.
That's definitely going to be more 'living room' compatible than my LiGHTPC!

Will there be some contact between the brass plate and the MW PSU to help its heat dissipation?
 
  • Like
Reactions: SFFMunkee

robbee

Master of Cramming
Original poster
Silver Supporter
Sep 24, 2016
605
775
Welcome @BaK , good to have you here! :D

There will be some contact between the brass plate and the Meanwell but not in the position Meanwell suggests. If heat becomes a problem (I actually except not), I can still try to add a 120mm fan to the cpu cooler to have it closer to the PSU. Alternatively, I can add some small 40mm fan above the unused USB ports on my motherboard blowing in the direction of the PSU.
 

BaK

King of Cable Management
Bronze Supporter
May 17, 2016
713
719
Welcome @BaK , good to have you here! :D

There will be some contact between the brass plate and the Meanwell but not in the position Meanwell suggests. If heat becomes a problem (I actually except not), I can still try to add a 120mm fan to the cpu cooler to have it closer to the PSU. Alternatively, I can add some small 40mm fan above the unused USB ports on my motherboard blowing in the direction of the PSU.
Thanks!

The 120mm fan could indeed be helpful in moving the hot air that gathers in the PSU / Pico area. I had this problem in my B01T3 and that's how I solved it. You need room for the fan above the RAM and Pico though.
Otherwise maybe a simple aluminium L shape support to attach the PSU on its larger side and on the brass plate could let you gain some °C.

I will need to thread some holes before I can use it though, which will be the first time I do that. Let's hope nothing goes wrong there!
Nothing to worry about, just don't rush at it!
The tool to thread small holes usually comes with 3 taps, you have to use them in the right order. Adding some oil helps and take care to stay perpendicular to the plate. Shouldn't happen with such a thin plate but go backward if you feel abnormal resistance. You really don't want to force and break the tool inside the hole!
 

robbee

Master of Cramming
Original poster
Silver Supporter
Sep 24, 2016
605
775
The 120mm fan could indeed be helpful in moving the hot air that gathers in the PSU / Pico area. I had this problem in my B01T3 and that's how I solved it. You need room for the fan above the RAM and Pico though.
Otherwise maybe a simple aluminium L shape support to attach the PSU on its larger side and on the brass plate could let you gain some °C.

I do have some VLP ram that I can use for this project but you're right that it wont fit above the pico. Maybe I can attempt to make a duct that redirects the air that goes next to the heatsink, to the PSU. Some thing to consider.

Nothing to worry about, just don't rush at it!
The tool to thread small holes usually comes with 3 taps, you have to use them in the right order. Adding some oil helps and take care to stay perpendicular to the plate. Shouldn't happen with such a thin plate but go backward if you feel abnormal resistance. You really don't want to force and break the tool inside the hole!

The holes go all the way through the plate so one tap should do it. I don't have a drill press though so keeping the tap vertical will be the biggest challenge. Adam Savage has a good method to keep taps vertical using a mold though that I will try:
On another note, the base plate cutting is finished and should be shipped to me any time now. This is a picture I got from the manufacturer:



This sure seems to be the shape that I wanted! The large holes are m4 passthrough for the case feet, the middle sized ones are m3 passthrough to attach the plate to the bezel, the tiny holes are the ones that need m3 threading. They will be used to attach things to the base plate itself (fans and 2 of the 4 motherboard offsets). Then theres the gap for the back of the motherboard, the gap for the fans and the notch to give the AC in some more room.