The Acorn - mITX-2-mATX EVGA Hadron Conversion

ChainedHope

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Jun 5, 2016
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*I wasn't sure if I wanted to port the build log over since a lot of people here are from OCN, but I figure I might as well so I have something to show anyone I haven't had the pleasure of talking with about it.

Introduction

Let me start this by saying that I absolutely love the EVGA Hadron line of cases! When I saw it released I just new I needed to have one in my life. The problem was that I wasn't ready to plunge into the mITX space as I have always working with larger cases and more parts than I could count, so down sizing for me was troublesome. However the building itch took over and I just needed to satisfy my craving, and what better way to do that than to make a small entrance into the SFF community that I had long admired.

And with that I present the idea of The Acorn. A small-ish package with the power to grow into a giant Oak (Its cheesy I know, but you have to remember I built this when the Hobbit movies were coming out and that acorn line towards the end really got to me). The idea for The Acorn was to convert the mITX EVGA Hadron Hydro into a mATX behemoth powered by dual GPUs and watercool it as I had never watercooled anything more than an AIO and wanted to give it a try. At the time I was eyeing the 970/390 cards as this was before their release, but ended up going with the tiny R9 Nanos. There were a lot of failures that ultimately worked in my favor, but I won't spoil them now. On to the crap-quality pictures!

Parts List
  • CPU: i5-4690k
  • GPU: 2x R9 Nano
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97MX Gaming 5
  • Storage: 128GB SSD + External 1TB
  • PSU: Silverstone SX600-G
  • Case: EVGA Hadron Hydro
  • Various EK/Alphacool/Magicool watercooling components

Full Gallery: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Recieved the case and the tear down commenced!




The original design had the bottom 240mm placed in the front... So I cut fan holes that ended up not needing to be there, but they helped a lot in the end (more on that later)


With the fan holes cut, I decided to test fit the motherboard/psu/ssd when they all arrived.


It fits like a glove! More pics in the Gallery linked above.

Some time passed (like 3 months) and I started getting in some of the watercooling components. I decided to get everything I would need for the loop and the cpu block. Since at the time the GPU choice hadn't been made I left that out. (Check the gallery for parts images, I dont want to bog the thread down with them)

Some more time passed (3 months later) and the R9 Nano was announced along with the first set of waterblocks. I was completely sold on it. It had great performance and at such a small size it almost seemed like AMD was wanting me to stick it in my case. I went a head and ordered 1 a few days after they were released to benchmark and see how bad coil whine was.


The coil whine on the first card was completely non existent! I thought for a moment that AMD finally made a high quality card that didnt sound like a dying mouse chocking on poison. With this the decision was made, we were going for the dual setup. However at the time I was having some serious family and personal issues so the project was put on hold for 6 months! It didnt stop me though, the project was always at the back of my mind and I needed to get it finished. I bought the second card and decided to cut out the small section of metal that seperated the 1U psu mount and the pcie slots. Since my dremel died, I figured the angle grinder was in order.





I now had both of the cards in the case and they fit almost perfectly with no sag when sat upright. It was almost beautiful in a way. This wont be the last time that parts just come together so nicely!

Around a month after getting the cards, I needed the PC up and running asap. My home server had died and I needed something to take its place while I waited for a new cpu/mobo to come in to replace the fried server. Since I had the parts ready, I decided to setup the CPU loop and dismantle it when I got the GPU blocks in. After some test fitting I had a plan.




And just like that I had managed to do my first custom watercooling loop. It wasn't that bad besides trying to bend the hardline ( I went through 2x 3' tubes before getting these runs). While it wasn't perfect, it held up nicely and worked for the time being.

A few more months passed and I finally was able to get the money to finish the build. I bought the EK Nickel Plexi blocks for the GPUs, some more fittings, and decided to change the fluid color to white. In my head I though it would look much nicer than the weird Koolance Purple coolant (it was totally red, not purple >.> ).


I completely spaced on taking photos of assembly and built the loop. Oops. The next photos were of leak testing. It took around 2 hours to get the correct bends for the tubing. It was much easier this go around than when I did it the first time, but one of the bends was a tricky little bugger and I wasted a lot of tubing on it.



After leak testing, I went ahead and "mounted" the psu. I say "mounted" because it was being held in place from the sheer force of the cables behind it lol. I ended up mounting it with a few screws to the side panel when the build was nearing completion.



My favorite part is that you cannot see any of the wires in the build! Only the 24pin is visible from the back with the back panel removed.



Its beautiful <3 and the front panel fan holes that I cut ended up being perfect for seeing the hidden tubing run and checking it for leaks.



Something else I found great was that the EK-FC terminal filled the space between the bottom gpu and the bottom radiator so that the cards wouldnt sag (they arent mounted to the case very well, just a long rod that mounts them to the side panel that was put in a week after finishing). Its like they were meant for each other.



With that all that was needed was to put the case fans on and remount all the side panels.



Conclusion
There are a few more photos in the gallery if you would like to see more. I tried to keep the photos to a minimum in the thread while showing the design decisions. Is the build perfect? No. But it definitely shows the potential of this little case. I would have liked to make a blank for the back. As it sits now there is a large gap where the GPUs are and they aren't mounted to anything. The only reason they aren't sagging is because the EK-FC terminal is the exact height difference between the bottom card and the bottom radiator (literally 1mm of clearance). If I had the chance to do it again, I would have not cut the front fan holes and tried to get another dremel to do a nicer cut on the backside. I would also have had the room to install some lights to make everything pop and to have been able to do a nicer job on the window mounted psu portion.

For those wondering. Temps at idle is around 40C and at full load is hovers between 60-65C while being silent due to the Yate Loons spinning at 1400RPM and the bottom rad being passive.

All in all it is a great little build, sure it has its problems but for the first major modding project and watercooled build I think I did a great job.

And because I have it, enjoy an Instagrammed to hell photo of my gaming area :p
 
Last edited:

Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
746
653
I'm glad I am not the only one who has a messy work area sometimes and will use an angle grinder when a dremel isn't available! Nice looking build!
 
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ChainedHope

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Jun 5, 2016
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I'm glad I am not the only one who has a messy work area sometimes and will use an angle grinder when a dremel isn't available! Nice looking build!
Have to make do with what you have :thumb:
This build is going into a second revision sometime in the following months, keep your eyes peeled for more messy goodness.
 
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iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
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Congratulations on finishing the build after such a long hiatus! I haven't seen this layout for a Hadron mATX build yet, that's quite neat!

Something else I found great was that the EK-FC terminal filled the space between the bottom gpu and the bottom radiator so that the cards wouldnt sag (they arent mounted to the case very well, just a long rod that mounts them to the side panel that was put in a week after finishing). Its like they were meant for each other.

It's lovely when stuff just fits together like that :)

With that all that was needed was to put the case fans on and remount all the side panels.
Aw man, that's not pretty, but I think you can easily salvage this.

Is there a way to remove the window? Because if so, doing that and just mounting the vandal switch through a hole in the metal part of the side panel would look a lot better. Also, using an angled plug for the PSU would help the looks a lot.

Apart from that, this is a very nice build! I love how you matched the colour of the button's LED to the fittings and the low number of wires visible is a huge plus for aesthetics. Well done!
 
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Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
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Jun 12, 2015
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I like it. It is a blend of expert craftsmenship and redneck GETRDONE functionality. A commentary art piece for 2016 if there was one. It reminds me of my very first mod in 2001.

It's missing duct tape though...so that is -3 redneck points...but you get +5 engineering points for adding a TON of functionality to the Hadron!
 

ChainedHope

Airflow Optimizer
Original poster
Jun 5, 2016
306
459
Congratulations on finishing the build after such a long hiatus! I haven't seen this layout for a Hadron mATX build yet, that's quite neat!



It's lovely when stuff just fits together like that :)



Aw man, that's not pretty, but I think you can easily salvage this.

Is there a way to remove the window? Because if so, doing that and just mounting the vandal switch through a hole in the metal part of the side panel would look a lot better. Also, using an angled plug for the PSU would help the looks a lot.

Apart from that, this is a very nice build! I love how you matched the colour of the button's LED to the fittings and the low number of wires visible is a huge plus for aesthetics. Well done!
I could cut the window out and replace it, but i think im going to move away from the Hadron and go scratch built... I have... ideas...

I like it. It is a blend of expert craftsmenship and redneck GETRDONE functionality. A commentary art piece for 2016 if there was one. It reminds me of my very first mod in 2001.

It's missing duct tape though...so that is -3 redneck points...but you get +5 engineering points for adding a TON of functionality to the Hadron!
Would it make it better if I told you the SSD is being held by duct tape because I didnt have enough velcro lol? Then again the build was more of a concept to show that it COULD be done.... not necessarily that it should be so the redneck functionality fits in :p
 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
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Jun 12, 2015
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Would it make it better if I told you the SSD is being held by duct tape because I didnt have enough velcro lol? Then again the build was more of a concept to show that it COULD be done.... not necessarily that it should be so the redneck functionality fits in :p
Yes, +3 points are added to your score.

But seriously, I totally understood where you were coming from on this build and I think its great. I personally hate being bogged down by craftsmenship as I love the design and proofing part of a project way more than I love filing, masking, wetsanding, and polishing.

Peace!
 
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