Completed The MI-6 Microtower Case: Performance in 6.7L

firewolfy

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Nov 12, 2015
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Hi,

I'm working on several items in preparation for the next batch and wanted to do a status update.

Case Revisions:
Here is what I have:
  • Added cover support to prevent flex.
  • Aligned GPU PCIE connector for better fit.
  • Larger PCI bracket back opening for larger HDMI/DVI/Displayport connectors.
  • Black powdercoat exterior cover, with natural aluminum top (anodized).
Now those are the revisions most already know about. Here are a few more new ones:
  • Permanent-bonded feet (instead of adhesive foam tape).
  • Open-Access.
  • Top case fan expansion, Loft.
The first one is self-explanatory while the last two are significant changes.

Open-Access is a silly name I came up for the idea, but it makes the case super easy to work in. I removed most of the front of the chassis. No more front wall covering the MB side, so there is easy access to the MB components, cables and connectors.

I am prototyping it now. When I was building in it today, It took me a minute to realize that without any front wall, installing the MB, the 24-pin, the USB cable, the pwr/LED/audio connections was simple.

I didn't have to orient the case to get light in to the right spot, or contort my hands to hold screws or make connections. Here is a pic of my system that I transferred to the test case today.



Now a concern was structure rigidity. After all, I'm removing a bunch of 0.080" thick main chassis material. Well, the top of the front chassis can twist a little bit more now, but not a big deal. It doesn't affect anything and still supports the cover and top plate.
I am sold on this change.

We do lose 3 potential mounting locations for quick release HDD brackets. The only spot left will be at the bottom of the case, in the case fan spot. I know, I know, this kind of talk is a bit heretical. I like the bracket, -it's pretty neat.
But easy access, to what you need to work on, is kind of a big deal.

HDD/SSDs will still have the 'blade' style mounting, and it is getting easier. The simple holes are changing to keyholes, so no fumbling with trying to get M3 screws started inside the case and aligning the HDD at the same time.

Just start 2 screws in the HDD, latch the HDD into the keyholes, then tighten the screws.


Loft:

The top case expansion is not yet fully defined, but this is the sort of thing I have so far:


This would be an add-on part to enable use of a 120mm or 2 92mm fans, up to 25mm thick. Let me know what you think.

Before I detail this out and get quotes, I am going to do a bunch of torture tests with top fan(s) in a simulated loft, and verify thermal improvement. See what improvement there is in overclocking frequency, etc.

Then decide if this makes sense, and maybe a larger size for a radiator.

Other:

I have 4 pre-production cases with custom colors that I am prepping to sell on the webpage in about 2 weeks. I will alert everyone on exact sale date. These cases were the final fabricator samples before the production run.

The colors will be red, white and graphite grey powdercoat, and the 4th will be black anodized alum. The tops are TBD right now, and might match the cover, or natural alum.

They have a few differences from the production run. I will post the details over the next 2 weeks, along configuration details.
 
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ignsvn

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@firewolfy,

I may have missed this, but what's the reason of not using the usual vandal switch for those who opt for front IO?

Another suggestion for next iteration is that, to make more attachment holes for the drives like.. (Pardon the awesome artsy image, I know)

 

ignsvn

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LOL I think I clicked "Submit" right after yours ... anyway..
 

ignsvn

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OK, after reading your latest update.. as of now I'm against the "open concept" thing. IMO the case is already easy enough to build in. The front holes are brilliant idea. Not sure if more working space is needed.

The keyhole for disk drives, however, is a good idea :thumb:
 

Boil

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Nov 11, 2015
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Have you considered a similar design, but with no riser? GPU slots in, PSU still on top, it'd be about 15mm wider, but the heatsink clearance would be close to 130mm.
Yeah, that config has been kicked around. The size is a bit bigger than I'd like to build, and the top intake for the GPU kind of conflicts with the side intake for the CPU, in that there will have to be some other location for exhaust and there is opportunity for hot air recirculation. The current MI-6 minimizes hot air recirculation in the case.
Remember, such a layout would allow dual 80mm x 25mm fans over the motherboard rear I/O, allowing for excellent chassis exhaust...

It would also allow for some of the smaller Noctua tower coolers...!
 
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jaagdijot

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Jan 29, 2018
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I definitely support Boil’s suggestions.

That would greatly improve the CPU cooling options for this build.

Or would it be possible to widen the motherboard side of the case by a CM to support a cooler like the Noctua NH-L12S? I think that would allow people to comfortably cool the current 2700X from AMD or the upcoming unlocked 8 core (coffee lake sku?) from Intel.

Also, would it be possible to make color options so that we can have the same finish on the exterior of the case (eg. powder coated black on the lid instead of the brushed aluminum deviation)?

If you can do these in the upcoming revision, I’m sold and will definitely buy one.
 

rfarmer

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Jul 7, 2017
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I definitely support Boil’s suggestions.

That would greatly improve the CPU cooling options for this build.

Or would it be possible to widen the motherboard side of the case by a CM to support a cooler like the Noctua NH-L12S? I think that would allow people to comfortably cool the current 2700X from AMD or the upcoming unlocked 8 core (coffee lake sku?) from Intel.

Also, would it be possible to make color options so that we can have the same finish on the exterior of the case (eg. powder coated black on the lid instead of the brushed aluminum deviation)?

If you can do these in the upcoming revision, I’m sold and will definitely buy one.
Here is some testing the Lazer3d team did with the NH-L12, NH-L12S and the Scythe Big Shuriken 2. The Big Shuriken 2 cooled slightly better and already fits in the MI-6. It keeps my 8700k nice and cool.
 

ignsvn

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There's another great contender for ~65mm CPU cooler: NH-L9x65.

Also, not sure if it's wise to put 100W~ TDP processor like the 2700X in a super small enclosure like this.. As usual, a compromise must be made in SFF.

Edit: sorry, doesn't mean to sound like a jerk, just voicing out my opinion =)
 
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firewolfy

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Nov 12, 2015
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Ok, did some torture tests today to check the viability of the top expansion option.



5°C improvement with the loft and 120x25 fan, versus the standard top. Not as great a drop as I'd like, but measurable and useful.

I included some overclocking to try to tax the loft and 120x25 fan. Temp came down 4C to 81C at 4.6GHz (max stable overclocking with 1.375V or less for long CPU life). 81C is not bad at all for a Prime64 8 thread torture. Got a 7% gain in Passmark CPU score.

So the loft is a go. As I showed on previous posts, it will be able to hold a 120x25 fan or two 92x25 fans. I'll also work in second taller version for radiator/fan combos.

One big issue I found: The previous overclocking I did (see posts 705 and 714) was done incorrectly. I had set a fixed Vcore of 1.375V, as max for long CPU life, but for some reason thought that the this was just a max, not fixed (even though it is called fixed). Anyway this much voltage generates a lot of heat for any OC freq. That was why it seemed even the 4.3GHz OC I had tried seemed to be too much. So disregard those test results. I'll put a note on those posts to that effect.

EDIT: FYI, overclocking was done on all 4 cores together, not just a single core.
 
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ignsvn

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@firewolfy,

Another way to provide room for installation & not sacrificing structural rigidity is by making the whole internal front wall detachable with screws.
 

Revenant

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Apr 21, 2017
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I may have missed it but is the fan loft compatible with the first run cases?

I’m wondering how the loft would do as an intake with the CPU fan as an exhaust...

Definitely prefer 92mm x 2 for it.
 

theGryphon

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Jun 15, 2015
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I may have missed it but is the fan loft compatible with the first run cases?

I’m wondering how the loft would do as an intake with the CPU fan as an exhaust...

Definitely prefer 92mm x 2 for it.
The case has proper intake from the side, so the top fan(s) should serve best as exhaust.
 

Revenant

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The case has proper intake from the side, so the top fan(s) should serve best as exhaust.

You're talking a negative pressure case. I'm going to positive pressure.

It's true that convection air movement would suggest that heat rises. However, building a positive pressure case with heat being washed out the sides is not unheard of. The CPU fan is either under the heatsink or on top. For my case it's under the heatsink. This leads to the fan having to pull cold air through 1. the sides of the case, and 2 the heatsink itself. It then splashes onto the VRMs which are a huge source of heat in this build, while my GPU traps hot air on the front. . VRMs are a limiting factor on overclocks with ITX boards.

Three intake fans forcing air in would wash it out the side (path of least resistance), and allow me to cool my VRMS while also reversing my CPU fan and make it an exhaust.

It's worth a shot to see if it makes a difference.
 

rfarmer

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You're talking a negative pressure case. I'm going to positive pressure.

It's true that convection air movement would suggest that heat rises. However, building a positive pressure case with heat being washed out the sides is not unheard of. The CPU fan is either under the heatsink or on top. For my case it's under the heatsink. This leads to the fan having to pull cold air through 1. the sides of the case, and 2 the heatsink itself. It then splashes onto the VRMs which are a huge source of heat in this build, while my GPU traps hot air on the front. . VRMs are a limiting factor on overclocks with ITX boards.

Three intake fans forcing air in would wash it out the side (path of least resistance), and allow me to cool my VRMS while also reversing my CPU fan and make it an exhaust.

It's worth a shot to see if it makes a difference.
I know that Noctua reversed the fan direction on the NH-L12S vs the NH-L12, must be a reason behind it. I am hoping @firewolfy makes the expanded top available for current owners and I look forward to your results. I also favor the 2X92mm fan set up.
 

Revenant

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I know that Noctua reversed the fan direction on the NH-L12S vs the NH-L12, must be a reason behind it. I am hoping @firewolfy makes the expanded top available for current owners and I look forward to your results. I also favor the 2X92mm fan set up.
I would of course test both setups. It would be interesting to see the results.
 

theGryphon

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 15, 2015
297
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You're talking a negative pressure case. I'm going to positive pressure.

It's true that convection air movement would suggest that heat rises. However, building a positive pressure case with heat being washed out the sides is not unheard of. The CPU fan is either under the heatsink or on top. For my case it's under the heatsink. This leads to the fan having to pull cold air through 1. the sides of the case, and 2 the heatsink itself. It then splashes onto the VRMs which are a huge source of heat in this build, while my GPU traps hot air on the front. . VRMs are a limiting factor on overclocks with ITX boards.

Three intake fans forcing air in would wash it out the side (path of least resistance), and allow me to cool my VRMS while also reversing my CPU fan and make it an exhaust.

It's worth a shot to see if it makes a difference.

Don't get me wrong, I know exactly what you're going for: https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/i-think-i-found-a-little-gem-realan-e-i7.6175/

It's just that it seems to me that MI-6 would benefit "more" (edited in) from exhaust on top. I sure can be wrong. Regardless, definitely test both orientations :thumb:
 
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firewolfy

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Ok,
I spent the last week working thru way too many concepts (detachable face, hinged pars, various add-ons), and found that there is little that can be done that wouldn't require giving up HDD or fan mounting locations. I finally came up with what I think is the best solution for an open-access concept. The design allows use of the quick-release bracket at 3 locations instead of the 1 I mentioned the other day, and still has good access to the MB connections. I'm almost done detailing it, and here it is:


Funny, it looks like a minor revision, but I spent so much time checking all the combinations of components and clearances. Glad to have it done (nearly).

Here a simple assembly with a couple HDDs to give a better feel for it. The upper HDD would be installed last to use the access area. Note that the QR bracket shown is now higher in this new design, so the case fan will now fit below it. No more either/or.
 

ignsvn

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Funny, it looks like a minor revision, but I spent so much time checking all the combinations of components and clearances. Glad to have it done (nearly).
That's what I call good product development iteration - and this is why I choose MI-6 instead of similar cases from [other forum brand name I don't need to mention]. I wish I could help in a way.

Since you're already sold on the big cutout on the front plate, I can't comment much (although I'm curious on why a detachable front plate is not feasible?) However, I do question the distance between the drives there in your render. Will the cables fit? SATA data & power cables are notoriously stiff :(
 

firewolfy

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Nov 12, 2015
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That's what I call good product development iteration - and this is why I choose MI-6 instead of similar cases from [other forum brand name I don't need to mention]. I wish I could help in a way.



Since you're already sold on the big cutout on the front plate, I can't comment much (although I'm curious on why a detachable front plate is not feasible?) However, I do question the distance between the drives there in your render. Will the cables fit? SATA data & power cables are notoriously stiff :(
The main reason a detachable front plate is so difficult is that there is very little room for attachment points. The hdd and fan locations take that up, so the plate ends up with ungainly long flanges to attach to open spots in the case. For a plate to sit on top of the existing sheet metal, and not flush, would require the cover to grow deeper, and a ground rule I have is to keep each gen as interchangeable as possible.

The hdds shown are offset a bit so the connectors can run past eachother. But yes, depending on the sata power cable, it might take some thought on routing.