Why are you interested in SFF?

Solo

King of Cable Management
Nov 18, 2017
738
1,226
In addition to looks, standard component layouts are just plain boring for the most part. And there's no challenge (i.e. fun) involved when cable management is handed to you on a silver platter!
 
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Edward78

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 16, 2015
233
11
The NES was a awesome SFF size... To fit a GPU & a blueray in 10" width by 8" length by 3.5" would be awesome... But a case, not use the NES, cause it use to overheat when I had it as a kid...
 
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el01

King of Cable Management
Jun 4, 2018
770
588
What got you all interested in building little computers?

For me it's when I was building a new computer and I really wanted a ROG board but the ATX versions were out of my price range so I ended up going with the cheaper mATX Asus Maximus III Gene with an Intel i7 750 in the Antec Mini P180. Not exactly a SFF case though :p

Then I built an AMD 1090T system in the Antec P182 as a workstation. Really nice case but it's big and heavy and after replacing the Maximus III Gene build with an ITX build in the M1 I decided to only build in smaller cases from then on.
OK, I am really really late to the game...

My dream is to design hardware and cases. The embodiment of this is efficiency laboratories, my concept on how an "ideal" (in my eyes) design and technology firm should be run. The three pillars of efficiency laboratories are efficiency in the following:
  • design-don't design a HAF-X style case with ugly lines. decorate simply and design logically
  • business-don't focus on paying excecutives. pay all roughly equally and give excess back to the consumer.
  • manufacturing-don't be apple. don't use wasteful single-block aluminium uni-bodies. cast them out of aluminium and reuse excess instead.
Emphasis can be placed further on design. Efficiency in design specifically can mean various things depending on who you ask. My definition of efficiency in design is based on the following:
  • minimalism- no unnecessary lines
  • space efficiency- waste not, want not. space used for a purpose. fan offsets to prevent noise are ok. random gaps are not.
  • consideration for effective use of material- cutouts from manufacturing should be repurposed elsewhere, as little of a sheet of aluminium as possible should be used.
All three of these points agree with the small-form-factor ethos. A physically smaller chassis means fewer lines to use, and fewer holes to punch. Space efficiency is a no brainer. Effective use of material kinda works: a smaller case requires less material to make. Essentially, the points I base my everyday experimentation on are all SFF points.

Then there's part two: my "bi-personality" attitude on technology.
On one hand, I believe that technology should be accessible and that everyone should be able to use and understand it. This stems from my broke college-student brain who wishes he could build his own custom laptop if it wasn't for the price and limitations.

On the other hand, I am frustrated at brainwashed consumers that I saw at school who were like "MacBooks are so much better than your s***ty Dell, and iPhones are so much better than your crappy old-man Motorola." Sometimes, when I see a Mac user in a Starbucks furiously clicking on a program because "it won't load fast enough so I must have a virus" I just want to go over and fix their problem then lecture them about x86 architecture, about the memory hierarchy, and about the deficiencies in Apple and why they really used to innovate but then tanked when Steve Jobs died. I could say more insensitive things, but I really don't want to start a massive public outrage.

(by the way, if you ever wanna laugh very hard, go here: http://nothingbeatsapple.blogspot.com/2013/02/28-reason-why-androids-suck.html)

But both of these problems can be solved quite easily. I'll get into that later.

I have a task for you: Ask any non-technically educated person what a gaming computer or DIY computer looks like. Or search it up online. "Gaming computer" or DIY PC.
Here's what I (imagining that I am a non-technical person) would think, for those of you who don't have time:



https://www.google.com/search?tbs=s...E3tIMTpOp3D7XbUmAOMIi18sZ46OiCaHMcHcBD1jmFang
(this link wouldn't play well with SFF Forum)

Done? OK, the first thing you (from my perspective) will see is giant, massive towers that are all styled up and "ugly" to the normal consumer with RGB everywhere and plastic front panels and "edgy" design, and an excessively difficult-looking and complicated-looking bunch of circuit boards. From my experience, people are disgusted(less) and scared(more_ about these massive, scary, edgy behemoths, which is why Apple-like design appeals to many people. Safe, clean, approachable design. Even hand a normal PC/Mac user a ThinkPad and they will probably think (no pun intended) that it is from the early 2000s.

The current PC trends, in my opinion, make gaming PCs and building your own PC in general seem like the following to the average person:
  • Excessively complicated
  • Technically dificult
  • Expensive (577 dollars??? I could buy a netbook for that! Why would I need so much "performance"? I can totally game on a netbook...)
  • Ugly and convoluted ("Why can't everything be gathered up neat and tight and hidden like a MacBook? Why is the case so huge? Why are all those pipes running all over the place with acid inside them? What's with the exposed circuit boards with clear things on them?")
(by the way, when I built my friend a PC in the Meshify C, I thought it was HUGE compared to expectations)

However, if you show someone, say, a S4 Mini, Cryorig Taku, Fractal Design case, Streacom case, or even a Lazer3D case, they will think:
  • S4 Mini: What's with all the vents? Is this some new Dell XPS desktop? It looks nicer than even my Mac!
  • Cryorig Taku: Cool piece of furniture! What's with the power button?
  • Fractal Design: Isn't that just an HP or something PC? I dunno, looks pretty good actually!
  • Streacom: Oh, wow, a new Mac mini! Wait, where's the Apple logo?
  • Lazer3D: Nice new... Whatever smart AI you have in your house. Is that a new AI?
The SFF side has mostly been the "safe" and "expectation" side of things for consumers. Heck, the Node 202 could even be mistaken for a XBox One if you don't use consoles often.

The summary is that SFF is a very good way to teach people that building PCs doesn't have to be expensive or ugly or hard or huge. No, it can be cheap, minimalist, easy, and small! The solution to the two problems I mentioned waaay up above is to introduce SFF! Mac users will be like "oh ok so it's a better Mac? I'll take it!", normal consumers will be fine with it and start to get interested in PCs, and conversely, everyone can learn something!

Whew, I'm running out of steam here, and it's getting pretty late considering I have to wake really early! I will continue this thread tomorrow, adding why DIY PCs and PCs in general interest me more than consoles, Macs, and OEM PCs.

Thanks to anyone who has outlasted this entire article! See you lurking around tomorrow ;)! May a force of Volvo Polestars carry you to victory!
-el01
 

Beardedswede

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 9, 2018
191
158
Mainly just no need to do a ATX build anymore. Just wasted space. I could go for a standard m-itx that semi big but I'm planning to go for ghost S1 so I can travel with it as well. I move around a lot.
 

Choidebu

"Banned"
Aug 16, 2017
1,172
1,160
I'd have to disagree that ATX build is hard and complicated. Everything is at its place just plug everything in. It's not like we got different ram slots, different extension slots, etc. The psu can't be any simpler... Ugliness is also in the eye of the beholder.
 

el01

King of Cable Management
Jun 4, 2018
770
588
I'd have to disagree that ATX build is hard and complicated. Everything is at its place just plug everything in. It's not like we got different ram slots, different extension slots, etc. The psu can't be any simpler... Ugliness is also in the eye of the beholder.
I do agree with this from an enthusiast's perspective, but when people open up their OEM PCs they are overwhelmed with technical-looking stuff jammed in. They then apply this to all PCs in general. The human mind uses one experience to form opinions about a wider topic (essentially "stereotyping"), and so if one person sees their first PC and thinks it's scary, then they will always think it is scary.

I was trying to write my response as a "normal person perspective." The tubes of an AIO cooler may look crazy and complicated to them, such as the inside of a car. Heck, when my mom came over and watched a Gamer's Nexus Computex video, even she (who has an electrical engineering degree) said "oh wow what is that complicated thing". Of course, my mom's experience my not be everyone's experience, and she may not be the most qualified witness, but this experience is just a part of my view.

This "normal person" perspective can also be explained by common "stereotypes", which are that PCs are old and antiquated (given that most exposure is in schools and at home, and people don't upgrade very often) compared to shiny and "new" Macs. Also, at school it is perpertrated that "nerds" with an unruly appearance and weak bodies build PCs, and people sometimes transfer these properties to a PC, so they might think that the internals of a PC are ugly, unruly, or "nerdy".

Society makes PC building seem so complicated (I think we are still in a '90s mindset of configuring IDE slave/master affinities and all), but once you watch a Ryzen APU build, it looks so easy and cheap!

Continuing on with my original post...
Whew, I'm running out of steam here, and it's getting pretty late considering I have to wake really early! I will continue this thread tomorrow, adding why DIY PCs and PCs in general interest me more than consoles, Macs, and OEM PCs.

Thanks to anyone who has outlasted this entire article! See you lurking around tomorrow ;)! May a force of Volvo Polestars carry you to victory!
-el01
Continuing on:
First, building SFF may not be cheaper than a netbook, but is waaay cheaper than a Mac for better specs!

Either way, let's talk about the meaning of PCs to me and why they mean more to me than console or Mac. First, a bit of history.

I was born in the U.S while my parents were still finishing up college in Houston. Life was very difficult for my parents, who, fresh off the boat from China, didn't have much of anything. They didn't know much English and didn't have much money. My dad came from the countryside of China, where he had to work very hard to even get into a decent middle school. From elementary school, every day, he woke up at 6:00 to harvest wild vegetables from the public fields, as most families didn't have much food or money to buy food. The point is, he had to work very very hard without much assistance to get to the U.S, and he worked hard here as well. One of his habits is to be prepared for everything, and this included my education as well. My dad is the type of person to carry around a water bottle everywhere, water fountains or not. So, when I grew up, I didn't have any allowance or any "special" gifts for my birthday. We went out to eat once in a while, but overall, my dad didn't spend much money on toys and such for me. My LEGO collection was all from garage sales, and clothing was picked up on discount. It wasn't that he didn't care about me, it's that he cared too much and wanted to prepare a good future for me.

How does this relate to my story? Well, let's talk about consoles first. Around middle school, most of the people at my school were playing various games (I think it was Halo and COD) and discussing how much fun they had playing together. I wanted to fit in, as I had only one or two friends and wanted more. So, I did some research on the XBOX and the PlayStation. I discovered that it was a good console overall, but I had to pay for XBOX Live or similar every month to play with my friends every month. I knew my parents wouldn't give that money to me, and so I walked to school the next day, disappointed. My friends (who were REALLY good people) asked me what was wrong, and I told them about XBOX Live. Then my friend Liam told me about playing on the PC, with literally no cost every month! Then, I started playing free games on the family PC, and my PC obsession started from there, with upgrades done by me once in a while. Later today, I will discuss my beef with Apple, if that's what you want.

-el01
 

Mortis Angelus

Airflow Optimizer
Bronze Supporter
Jun 22, 2017
279
275
Portability and space saving. But when building my modPC inside an Xbox, the main charm/interest was in the actual planning and trying to fit everything into a tight space. Building in a large case don't require such planning and tinkering (not even for a custom loop). Not to the same extent at least.
 

el01

King of Cable Management
Jun 4, 2018
770
588
I do agree with this from an enthusiast's perspective, but when people open up their OEM PCs they are overwhelmed with technical-looking stuff jammed in. They then apply this to all PCs in general. The human mind uses one experience to form opinions about a wider topic (essentially "stereotyping"), and so if one person sees their first PC and thinks it's scary, then they will always think it is scary.

I was trying to write my response as a "normal person perspective." The tubes of an AIO cooler may look crazy and complicated to them, such as the inside of a car. Heck, when my mom came over and watched a Gamer's Nexus Computex video, even she (who has an electrical engineering degree) said "oh wow what is that complicated thing". Of course, my mom's experience my not be everyone's experience, and she may not be the most qualified witness, but this experience is just a part of my view.

This "normal person" perspective can also be explained by common "stereotypes", which are that PCs are old and antiquated (given that most exposure is in schools and at home, and people don't upgrade very often) compared to shiny and "new" Macs. Also, at school it is perpertrated that "nerds" with an unruly appearance and weak bodies build PCs, and people sometimes transfer these properties to a PC, so they might think that the internals of a PC are ugly, unruly, or "nerdy".

Society makes PC building seem so complicated (I think we are still in a '90s mindset of configuring IDE slave/master affinities and all), but once you watch a Ryzen APU build, it looks so easy and cheap!

Continuing on with my original post...

Continuing on:
First, building SFF may not be cheaper than a netbook, but is waaay cheaper than a Mac for better specs!

Either way, let's talk about the meaning of PCs to me and why they mean more to me than console or Mac. First, a bit of history.

I was born in the U.S while my parents were still finishing up college in Houston. Life was very difficult for my parents, who, fresh off the boat from China, didn't have much of anything. They didn't know much English and didn't have much money. My dad came from the countryside of China, where he had to work very hard to even get into a decent middle school. From elementary school, every day, he woke up at 6:00 to harvest wild vegetables from the public fields, as most families didn't have much food or money to buy food. The point is, he had to work very very hard without much assistance to get to the U.S, and he worked hard here as well. One of his habits is to be prepared for everything, and this included my education as well. My dad is the type of person to carry around a water bottle everywhere, water fountains or not. So, when I grew up, I didn't have any allowance or any "special" gifts for my birthday. We went out to eat once in a while, but overall, my dad didn't spend much money on toys and such for me. My LEGO collection was all from garage sales, and clothing was picked up on discount. It wasn't that he didn't care about me, it's that he cared too much and wanted to prepare a good future for me.

How does this relate to my story? Well, let's talk about consoles first. Around middle school, most of the people at my school were playing various games (I think it was Halo and COD) and discussing how much fun they had playing together. I wanted to fit in, as I had only one or two friends and wanted more. So, I did some research on the XBOX and the PlayStation. I discovered that it was a good console overall, but I had to pay for XBOX Live or similar every month to play with my friends every month. I knew my parents wouldn't give that money to me, and so I walked to school the next day, disappointed. My friends (who were REALLY good people) asked me what was wrong, and I told them about XBOX Live. Then my friend Liam told me about playing on the PC, with literally no cost every month! Then, I started playing free games on the family PC, and my PC obsession started from there, with upgrades done by me once in a while. Later today, I will discuss my beef with Apple, if that's what you want.

-el01
@confusis Could you move the above entry to another post in "Off Topic" titled "el01's Crappy Stories"? Thanks in advanced!

Mod edit: Nope.
 
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miptzi

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 20, 2017
94
66
Atx lost its magic for me a long time ago... Too much unused drive bays and expansion slots, big-for-nothing motherboards and half-empty cases that proved to be inefective in terms of space usage on desk and internally. I've been using mATX for years, and although it's seems the perfect spot between resources and size, now even them are too big in my taste. I personally feel confortable in the 8-18L liters world now....
 

ondert

Airflow Optimizer
Apr 16, 2017
289
133
Simply thanks to today's efficient chips there is no need an ATX or mATX case even for gamers at home. How many of you or your friends ever built an SLI system?
 

Aux

Cable-Tie Ninja
Dec 5, 2018
179
153
its an interesting challenging hobby . ... seeing something you have designed, built or worked on being used and remarked on, is fantastic
 

iamtheqi

Cable Smoosher
Sep 24, 2019
12
6
With prompt from @Choidebu I shall REVIVE THIS THREAD!

I've been playing with computers for the past 12 years and building full sized PCs with high-end to low end specs for friends and families. Although i thoroughly enjoyed it, it was getting a little stale for me until I came across /r/sffpc.

You're telling me i can fit that same power into a small box?!?!
Also because i like to tinker with stuff not limited to computers so add making my own case into the mix and I have this fun little project in the works
 

CountNoctua

(no relation)
Jul 11, 2019
214
263
Small builds can be more challenging and fun.
I started custom PC building 15 years ago, and always did mid and full towers until about 4 years ago, when I did my first SFF-ish build.

I partly decided to do SFF for that because I was looking for a specific case color - orange - and the Bitfenix Prodigy M happened to fit the bill, as well as meeting other requirements. I also ended up giving the build to my brother, who was in college at the time, and the portability of the computer was a definite plus when it came time to pack the computer in the car.

Now that I check the specs, it was actually too large for true SFF (26L) but it was way smaller than my other builds, and got me thinking about even smaller PCs.

My current PC and two builds I have planned are SFF because of space concerns, as well as the benefit of portability. I recently got rid of a lot of excess hardware, but still have quite a bit, including a bunch of cases. SFF takes up a lot less desk and floor space, and when I retire old builds the cases will take up far less room and/or be easier to pack and ship.

I also plan on making my current PC a dedicated VR system once the other builds are done, and it's nice to have a computer than can easily be transported.
 

Choidebu

"Banned"
Aug 16, 2017
1,172
1,160
Bitfenix Prodigy M

For us who dabbled in the [sup]SMALL[/sup] way before it was cool, the bitfenix prodigy when it first came was just meh.

BUT, like yourself, the case propels many, many others into converts, discovering new world that is sff.

So I still hold that one dear, fwiw.

You gotta admit, the design makes it looks small on photo. Irl, idk, kinda the same size as two inkjet printer stacked together.
 
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iamtheqi

Cable Smoosher
Sep 24, 2019
12
6
You gotta admit, the design makes it looks small on photo. Irl, idk, kinda the same size as two inkjet printer stacked together.
Yes I see it.


I partly decided to do SFF for that because I was looking for a specific case color - orange - and the Bitfenix Prodigy M happened to fit the bill, as well as meeting other requirements.
It's so hard to find a case that ticks ALL of the boxes, since there's so many people into SFF now i guess the brands have to try to cater to as many of them as possible
 
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