The Hack'ed in-tosh APU Build

Discussion in 'Concepts and Ideations' started by Turnburglar, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter

    #1 Turnburglar, Mar 2, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
    Hey SFF enthusiats.

    New member here, starting my first build thread. I recently did my first PC build and ended up with a 2400G running in a MATX tower. Obviously during the build I noticed how much space goes completely to waste, and I have always wanted the PC to match a console in form factor. As a long time Mac user I used the Mac mini as inspiration for this case, but I think I made it obvious that Apple parts ARE NOT inside. I want the AMD spire or prism RGB to be poking out through the hood, like a supercharger peaking out of a heavily modified car. I mainly use this system for light gaming and thought it would help with my CAD, but I have been doing all my modeling on my macbook Air lately.

    Hardware inside: (already owned)

    Ryzen 5 2400G APU
    2x8 Corsair LPX 3000mhz Ram
    Samsung 970 evo M.2

    Hardware needed:

    ITX board: which one should I buy? are any better for APU's?

    PSU: thinking about going with a mini-pico 160xt. Is there any reason not to use this PSU for this build?

    Besides making final hardware choices, the most help I am gonna need from the community is help with modeling the tolerances. I really dont want to do dozens of 3d prints before I get something to fit right. Things like IO on the back, and clearance for the CPU cooler immediately jump out as problem points. Also I havent modeled the base plate yet. That is where I will attach the MOBO, and need ideas for getting the MOBO screws in the right spot. At the moment this is a personal project, that will not be mass produced. If I get enough help from the community, I will post the finnished CAD file for everyone to use.

    mod 1


    Soul_Est and Phuncz like this.
  2. Valantar

    Valantar Cable-Tie Ninja

    Looks neat. One note: with a build like this, you'll have to choose your motherboard before finishing the modelling, as socket positioning on the board will affect where exactly the cooler will protrude. This can vary by a few cm along both axes depending on the layout of the board.

    Also: I might be picky, but I would want the fan opening to either be dead-centre of the design, or off to the side in a way that makes it look intentional. It might be a trick of the perspective in your renders, but they look just slightly off-centre, which pops out to my eyes. Of course, any effort made to adjust the fan opening position will make the case bigger, as you don't have much flexibility with a bare-bones design like this. Lastly, why the square protrusion around the cutout? Is it for the Wraith Prism? The 2400G comes with a Wraith Stealth, IIRC, which is circular at the top.
  3. owliwar

    owliwar Master of Cramming

    reggarding dimmensions and hole positions, there are documentations you can find online for this, but as a quick tip heres an image


    on the i/o apperturer theres info on the 14th page of this doc. this one is in inches
    also check the resources section on the forum for the motherboard templates. and guides
    its really helpfull

    good luck!
  4. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter

    #4 Turnburglar, Mar 8, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
    So one of the things I realized kinda quick was that all MITX boards have the same hole dimensions? Doesnt matter between manufactures or intel/AMD? Thats good because for my modeling i used an ASUS Z270 mobo because that was simple and easy file for me to find.


    So right now I am at a point of compromise. As you can see from the sketch, I dont think I could remove any volume from the case. In fact I am competing admirably with the Mac mini whose official dimesions are 197 x 197, and I am within +/- 2mm of that. The problem is the switches and power supply. Fit on the right side of the case: the switches are very cramped, and the PSU cutout is blocked by the mother board. My case is already thicker than the Mac mini by double. The Mac mini is only 36mm thick, and even with my clever CPU cooler clearancing, I cant escape the minimium thickness of the ITX set up being about 60mm. I am thinking about making my system even thicker, but it would allow for proper switch placement and even make the system 2.5 SSD compatible?

    How much clearnace do I need if I want to mount some 2.5 SSD directly underneath the mobo? is 7mm enough? I dont want the SSD to cause any shorts on the back of the mobo.

    I do see that I need to design this around the Mobo that I end up using because it is such a fitted case. I did design the top with the intentions of a wraith prism cooler, because I like the RGB and increased cooling compared to my stealth. I know that the prism is expensive, but this case is meant to highlite AMD. I also might settle on a wraith spire becasue it still offers more cooling and lighting element for less money.

    The real kink in the build is that I dont hav access to the printer I thought I did, and dont really want to buy one at this exact moment, since I am moving states in the next couple of months. I sent a bid to a local maker but they havent gotten back to me either.....

    LOL anyone want a CAD file to print??
  5. W4RR10R

    W4RR10R Trash Compacter

    SO, if I may make a suggestion, use the mini stx board from the asrock deskmini a300. You would have to purchase new ram (it uses SODIMMs), but it is much small than mITX (140mm x 147mm vs 170mm x 170mm) and use an external AC adapter and has a DC in jack on the rear IO. As for RAM, I am using a G.skill 3000 mhz 2 x 8 kit, there is also a sodimm version of the ram you have. It has Standard AM4 cooler mounting holes, I believe that all the "Stock" AMD coolers fit. The only downside the board is that there is not CPU/GPU overclocking at the moment (we still don't know if it will be supported.

    Deskmini A300 (Newegg) $149.99 Includes the AC adapter
    G.Skill 2 x 8 GB 3000 MHZ DDR4 SODIMM (Newegg) $143.71

    PS: I love the Idea of the "shaker hood" style cooler, probably great for airflow too
  6. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter

    I really like this idea and it would help me smash the Mac mini in terms of foot print, I just have my reservations about the compromises I would be making with stx versus the mini ITX. By going to mITX I already achieve my goals for form factor, and yet I still can use standard parts. Any CPU or ram made will work in the mITX, whereas the stx is very limited. I even like having the PCIE slot just incase I dont keep this APU forever I still would have a useful mITX mobo. I also dont like the connectivity of the STX boards. Also I plan on OC'ing my GPU and not only is the support for that non existant in STX, but I am worried the VRMS in an STX board could handle it? I know without a doubt that the MSI 4+2 is well made. The MSI b450i gaming ITX is the motherboard I will probably end up buying. The only complaint I hear about them is lack of APU OC'in bios, but I think ryzen master will be good enough. I use that only now anyways cause I hate working in my current ASRock bios. Still great idea, I just need all the parts going into this build to be recylable incase this build doesnt work out.

    I just looked and the AMD Prism cooler is eliminated from the list of candidates. I didnt realize how large that cooler actually is. Even with my shaker hood concept it is too large and would ruin the original concept. The two main coolers I am deciding between now is the Noctua L9a and the AMD Spire RGB. I think the spire would be more true to the design. The noctua would undoubtably be the smaller and better performer. I think the spire will be noiser and maybe a couple degrees warmer. What do you all think? Looking cool matters?
  7. W4RR10R

    W4RR10R Trash Compacter

    Those are all great reasons, availabilty and compatability are huge pros for any project. Just wanted to let you know about the board as it only became available a week and half ago.
  8. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter

    Of course, appreciate the heads up. When I saw it on a youtube channel I thouhgt: "thats what I wanted all along!" but then when I looked closer and thought about the build and its future, I kinda realized it was just too small for me. One thing I am trying to keep in mind is that not only do I OC my current 2400G, but next gen APU's could be released in july. The 3300G is supposed to be 15CU at 65W and the 3600G is 20CU at 95W. So even with Navi vs Vega aside, 15 CU over 11CU = 38% increase in GPU, which would be more than enough for the 1080p im doing. 20CU over 11CU = 81% increase would be incredible. I just have to see if the 95W cooling solution would fit in this form factor. Because these APU's are both a cpu and GPU, they can actually pull way more juice than their meager TDP suggest. I have heard a few reports of 2400G's pulling 120W, and buildzoid even said he pushed one all the way too 200W.
  9. Valantar

    Valantar Cable-Tie Ninja

    There's no doubt APUs can pull quite a bit of power in a motherboard that allows it, especially if you overclock them. The iGPUs are quite overclockable, with 2-300MHz being easily attainable. I agree with you that compatibility with future APUs would be great, but remember that iGPUs need memory bandwidth, and even current APUs are bandwidth starved with fast DDR4. It's likely that the biggest iGPU perf increase in the foreseeable future is moving to DDR5, but that's still a few years away when AMD moves on from socket AM4. If rumors about the 3000-series are correct they'll no doubt be faster than the 2000-series, but performance scaling won't be linear unless RAM speed also scales linearly (which would mean DDR4 ... 5000+?, given that current ones work at ~3600 or so).

    For your build, there are some hardware options that might help you achieve your goals, but they all come with compromises:
    - a thin-ITX motherboard would help with clearance for buttons and ports on the back (smaller I/O shield) and have an external power plug, but are usually limited to 65W CPUs, use SO-DIMM RAM, and don't have full PCIe slots. The only one I've seen for AM4 also uses Intel cooler mounting, which means you can't use your intended coolers.
    - STX is even smaller, allowing you to shrink the footprint of the PC further, but not the height, and is more limited in I/O. Also limited to 65W CPUs.

    If no compromises is your goal, I'd say your best best for powering this is buying one of @guryhwa 's ArchDaemon boards and a suitable 12V external power brick, somewhere around 200W ought to work. The 300+W versions Gury sells would be overkill for this build. You'll need a pretty hefty power plug though, as running ~17A ([email protected]) is too much for a conventional barrel jack.

    If your goal is pushing the APU to its limits, I think the Wraith Prism/Max is a good choice despite there being similar/better coolers that are cheaper - there aren't many top-down coolers at that size and performance that also look good. I think I'd go with a square cut-out, though, as it'll be both easier to fit, a less complex print, and would show off the RGB (if that's your thing) and AMD logo on the cooler. Of course this would expose the cooler to bumps and damage if you're travelling with this - if so, I'd enclose it. IMO, not rounding off the top (like your first renders) also looks a lot better than the rounded corners of the second render. It's more Mac Mini-esque, and in a way that works.

    As for mounting 2.5" storage in the case: if you're really looking for compactness, shuck your drives and mount the PCB only. Cover it on kapton tape or something similarly insulating, and you'd be good to go. Most 2.5" drives have PCBs not much bigger than an mSATA drive (even the high capacity ones; this is Samsung's 860 QVO), and you'd be able to tuck them away pretty much anywhere. SATA SSDs don't produce noticeable heat, so there's no reason to think about cooling it. If you don't want to do this, you'll need more than 7mm clearance, as the case for the drive itself is 7mm, and that'll no doubt interfere with components and soldered component legs on the back of the motherboard. The ATX spec for motherboard-to-case clearance is 9.5mm, and you might need that much if you're getting a board with a rear-mounted m.2 slot.
  10. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter

    Hey Thanks Valantar you had alot fo really great points!

    You have some really good points about the APU's being choked due to Ram speeds. Currently I am going through the RMA process with corsair because my 3000mhz CL15 sticks never even got close to those numbers. They where more like 2400 CL16 sticks. The problem with feeding these APU's golden sticks of ram is that not every mother board even supports ram that fast, and some of the 4000+ kits are more expensive than a mid range GPU. I did buy an APU initially cause I wanted to keep costs down. Still even with the weak ram sticks my 2400G was achieving playable framerates on all the meager titles I play. Im sure once I get my ram sorted out my 2400G will be 'enough' and any future APU's would be just nice to have. The new 3300G looks like a INCREDIBLE budget chip if it really is 6c/12t 3.9 ghz and 15CU if it hits that $135 price tag I have seen leaked. Really I am probably gonna sit on my 2400G until the youtubers get some solid benchmarks comparing the APU's.

    When it comes too thin ITX or STX, I think those options are just going too far into the compromise zone with features, they ultimately lack power, and cost even more than mITX. I am already under 8" x 8" which handidly beats the foot print of most consoles.

    For PSU's I sent an email to HDPlex and they told me that their new 200W pico style unit is coming out next month. More power than I could ever need, and works off the cheaper 19v bricks.

    Im totally down to strip the SSD down to the PCB and wrap in kapton. That would make it easy to shove off to one side of the case and sit between mobo and case wall. Thank you also for the ATX spec of 9.5 mm, I am gonna adjust my mobo stand offs accordingly.
    Soul_Est and Valantar like this.
  11. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter




    idk but to me it looks like the prism is just too large of a cooler. The spire would give me a little more headroom in the OC than the stock stealth does. I also think the psire RGB would look good because it would be subtle??
  12. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter


    @Valantar here is a model with the flat edges, and no square built around the CPU hole. Instead I just gave it a nice offset and chamfer. Also I added vents. What do you think?
    Soul_Est and Valantar like this.
  13. Valantar

    Valantar Cable-Tie Ninja

    Looks a lot better! Of course, taste is (extremely) variable, but IMO, that's a far superior design :)
  14. Valantar

    Valantar Cable-Tie Ninja

    You're right that the Prism is quite large. It's worth noting that the Spire coolers are very good for what they are too, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was capable of handling an overclocked APU while gaming, but maybe not under sustained torture testing. I just helped a friend install a system in a Node 202 with a Wraith Stealth, and I'm shocked at how well that tiny, extremely basic (no heatpipes, no vapor chamber slug like the spire) cooler copes with his R5 2600 in a case with limited airflow.

    Btw, what motherboard are you having trouble with your RAM in? I'm running my 3200 kit at 3000 in my Biostar X370 ITX, as that's the fastest they can do there - 3200 isn't stable at all. Still, at least I'm getting close to spec, and that's on a relatively bad 1st-gen motherboard. Hope your RMA goes through!
    Soul_Est likes this.
  15. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter

    #15 Turnburglar, Mar 10, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
    The Mobo is a ASRock B450M Pro4. It's Matx in size. For awhile I was thinking it was the Mobo that wasnt defective, but the more I played with the ram speedz and timings even in 2400mhz, I decided that it was probably the Ram that was bad. The good news is that once I get the new Ram, if I can get it running at speed that should be a huge performance increase for me. With these APU's; Ram speed and timings seem to matter more for performance than the GPU clock speed.

    Speaking of APU's... would there be any performance benefits from adjusting how much system ram they consume? For example instead of maxing them out at 2gb, for those with 16+ GB kits we could easily afford 4 or even 6GB.

    The spire would be a improvement over the stealth. I just measured my stealth and it has a total height of 62 mm. If height is my limiting dimension, I am thinking about going to a Noctua L9. Im gonna draft a new case today for that cooler and see how it comes out. LOL before I even get my first print, I will have multiple iterations of cases to choose from.

    With my case design being very small in volume, do you think the CPU cooler fan can be the primary source of air flow? Do I need side vents even? Should I run 40 mm case fans in one or two spots? The Noctua coolers and the AMD ones are all top down coolers so I think the should double as good case fans.
  16. McSpain

    McSpain Trash Compacter

    I'm pretty sure, that the AMD iGPUs won't work with macOS. You'd need an additional dGPU or stick with Intel. I recently finished a Hackintosh project on a H310M-STX board. It needs an external brick, but other than that makes a really nice MacMini replacement. Hardware compatibility is a major concern when planning a Hackintosh.
  17. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter

    Hey man sorry about the confusion, but the case is simply taking design cues from the Mac mini. I am NOT making a true hackintosh. Kinda just a funny thread title.

    Just a regular AMD apu running windows 10 in a custom case.
  18. Turnburglar

    Turnburglar Chassis Packer
    Thread Starter


    Here is my latest revision that I made to fit the noctua line of coolers. For the L9a I could probably lower the shelf of the cooler vents, but at its current dimensions it will fit an L9a WITH the larger fan attached. Now I have the same idea (mac mini) but designed it for the most available cpu coolers fitting the SFF model. At the end of the day I might end up with the Noctua L9a because it seems to be the closest in form, and offers quiet computting with increased performance over the stealth cooler.

    BTW I set my MOBO height to be 11mm from the bottom. Should allow me to run rear mounted M.2 slots, and even do some cable managment, or a good place to store a SSD PCB.
  19. RenG

    RenG Average Stuffer

    Consider using the Thermaltake engine 27 (or the even smaller engine 17). It will make your case slimmer, making it closer to a mac mini.
  20. GuilleAcoustic

    GuilleAcoustic Chief Procrastination Officer
    Moderator LOSIAS

    The engine 17 is for 35W TDP CPU, but this is a non-issue as both engine 17 & 27 are Intel CPU only ;).