Concept Two Portable SFF Gaming Cases - under 7L and under 5L (w/ 500W PSU)

KSliger

King of Cable Management
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Sliger Designs
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May 8, 2015
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Greetings!

This thread will not only be for creating the two following designs, but also for showing users here how easy and affordable making your own case project can be!

First thing to always do is layout some goals for your design, and in our case if there's a derivative design that comes to mind that can use common chassis parts to accommodate other form factor components... draw that too.

After determining goals it's a matter of taking a CAD program (Solid Edge) and laying out your standard form factor components in free space.

Design goals for both versions:

  • Any Mini-ITX motherboard
  • Low profile heat sinks such as ID-COOLING IS-25i, EVERCOOL EC-HPS-810CP, or other 1U equivalents
  • Support single PCIe x16 on flex riser, or bifurcated riser (dual PCIe x8 slots)
  • No case fans (CPU, PSU and GPU fan only)
  • Power Switch, 2x USB 3.0, Mic/Headphone jacks on front panel
  • FSP500-50FSPT 500W FlexATX PSU (modified cable pin-out)
  • Made in USA
  • <$250 retail including the modified PSU, riser, feet, and handle
  • Design to production in <60 calendar days
Design goals for ≤ 7.0L:
  • Under 7L in total volume (~9.00" tall x ~3.65" wide x ~13.00" deep - 7.0L)
  • Support any and all dual slot GPUs (up to 312mm)
  • 2x 3.5" or 4x 2.5" SSD or combination 1x 3.5", 2x 2.5"
  • Carrying Handle


Design goals for ≤ 5L:

  • Under 5L in total volume (~3.65" tall x ~9.00" wide x ~8.50" deep - 4.6L)
  • Support any dual slot short length GPU (970 or upcoming Fury Nano)
  • No 3.5" HDD or 2.5" SSD support, only support for MBs with M.2 sockets

Attached layout for 5L has cards upside down, will be flipped for GPU intake side face down in final model.

Goals for this thread:
  • Provide a general guideline for designing your own case
  • Design a two new case layouts for upcoming components
  • Community feedback on design
  • Argue about imperial units vs metric, have someone tell me my heat sink model is missing a screw
Updates to follow!
 
Last edited:

Aibohphobia

aka James
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Feb 22, 2015
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For a ~7L design with the GPU behind the motherboard like that, I think Dondan's A4 layout makes more sense since it uses the space in front of the mob that's created by supporting long GPUs for a SFX or SFX-L PSU. The selection of SFX/SFX-L PSUs isn't great but it's certainly better than FlexATX.

The 5L design is more interesting since the short GPU plus FlexATX PSU makes for a layout with very little wasted space. I'm not sure on the video card orientation though, it would seem better for cooling to have it facing the other way, like the 7L design. Dual-GPUs via a splitter would be neat but single-slot air cooled gaming cards are extremely rare anymore so that would only really be feasible with water cooling.
 

KSliger

King of Cable Management
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May 8, 2015
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For a ~7L design with the GPU behind the motherboard like that, I think Dondan's A4 layout makes more sense since it uses the space in front of the mob that's created by supporting long GPUs for a SFX or SFX-L PSU. The selection of SFX/SFX-L PSUs isn't great but it's certainly better than FlexATX.

I do agree the SFX-L makes more sense in this layout, however the basis here is the 7L is only a variant of the 5L stretched longer for full length dual slot PCIe cards; or optionally two single slot x8 full length cards once I figure out the 30cm 2x8 riser situation. (currently only have 30cm 1x16, and 10cm 2x8)

Also regarding SFX is that's DonDans DAN-A4 territory for now - there's definitely a market there but with all the time and effort he's put into that making a cheaper knock off with more features and beating him to market would be a total dick move.

The 5L design is more interesting since the short GPU plus FlexATX PSU makes for a layout with very little wasted space. I'm not sure on the video card orientation though, it would seem better for cooling to have it facing the other way, like the 7L design. Dual-GPUs via a splitter would be neat but single-slot air cooled gaming cards are extremely rare anymore so that would only really be feasible with water cooling.

Absolutely on the flipped orientation on the riser, both 5L and 7L will be designed to orient the 1x16 or 2x8 like the 7L shown.

Currently it's laid out oriented the wrong way up as I laid these out thinking only with 10cm bifurcated riser and 30cm single riser, I'll update the pictures above once I have the right motherboard model, heatsink model, riser model and front panel board model.
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
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May 11, 2015
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For the 7L, the PSU could slot between the GPU and mobo, with a suitable insulator to prevent contact heat transfer (either an insulating foam, or airgaps). The 'gap' behind the motherboard caused by the extended GPU fan makes for a nice cable exit area, and it avoids an internal C-13 cable.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
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Feb 22, 2015
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With the GPU flipped around on the 5L version I see how the 7L is simply an extended version so that makes sense.
 

Phuncz

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I'm very eager to see what your project is going to offer the custom case community. This would be a serious step from having a brilliant idea to actually getting it made, something many people fear or miscalculate.
 

esplin2966

Cable-Tie Ninja
Mar 2, 2015
169
113
The 7L design looks very interesting. Almost no SFF cases accommodate 3.5" hard drives, so to fit 2 in there is a tremendous feat. It looks like the hard drives will be placed beside the motherboard and over the GPU?
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
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I like the 5L design more, the 7L one seems to waste a bit too much space. My guess is that you already planned for the flex riser and everything, but it looks very tight on the mock-ups.
The big question I have is: Will those cases come with the 500W PSU, will that PSU have custom cabling, and is that PSU going to be sold on its own as well?
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
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May 11, 2015
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For the 7L, the PSU could slot between the GPU and mobo, with a suitable insulator to prevent contact heat transfer (either an insulating foam, or airgaps). The 'gap' behind the motherboard caused by the extended GPU fan makes for a nice cable exit area, and it avoids an internal C-13 cable.
I did a real quick 'n' dirty mockup of this, and it doesn't save any volume. However, it looks like the PSU could be flipped over 'on top' of the GPU to save a bit of case height. It blocks the SLI fingers (not an issue) and may have some issues with extra tall GPUs, but for reference designs it could save 20-ish mm of relative case height.

 

Phuncz

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I don't like that particular development either (oversized GPUs) but it's something that's hard to fight when most cards seem to extend in height and/or thickness these days.
 
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Edward78

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 16, 2015
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Do you guys mean depth??? I thought as long as you had 6 in clearance you were good. maybe 6.25 so the case top won't mash the wire down...
 

iFreilicht

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For all this dimensional terminology, imagine the motherboard lying flat on your desk like in an old desktop PC. That's why you say a GPU is two slots "wide", and 5 inches "tall".

@KSliger you mentioned design to production in <60 days as a goal in the OP, how far in are you by now?
 

Regack

Trash Compacter
Sep 11, 2015
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Too many GPU now protuts from the PCIe bracket. It was really hard when I moved to a Lian-Li PC-V353 to find one with a standard height.

The Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti sticks up like 5cm above the top of the PCI bracket... it's crazy! I'm terribly excited for the R9 Nano, I hope it sparks interest and influences getting smaller a bit. I would love if we could somehow go back to single-slot powerful GPUs. Anyway, sorry to distract from the main conversation - I really like the 5L case here, though I would personally forgo the front inputs and keep it completely clear. With something this small I just don't see where you need it. I'm probably in the minority with that, however.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
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Feb 22, 2015
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With something this small I just don't see where you need it. I'm probably in the minority with that, however.

Once you get this small, dealing with that stupidly bulky USB 3.0 header and cable becomes a pain so I agree.
 

KSliger

King of Cable Management
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May 8, 2015
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@KSliger you mentioned design to production in <60 days as a goal in the OP, how far in are you by now?

I've been outrageously busy, I will work on this over this weekend 9/12 - 9/13. Also hopefully will have news on the 500W FlexATX next week.

Hold up came from commissioned design I spinning this off from completely changed requirements to a mobile CPU fanless design with heatpipes all over, which is obviously rather gimped for a workstation/gaming design and hence wasn't very palatable to do concurrently.
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
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Well that's somewhat unexpected. I'm patient, don't worry. If you can still pull this off in the timeframe you set yourself I'll be very impressed.