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Old February 5, 2015, 04:13 AM
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Default 2 Weeks, 2 Steam Box Designs

Update 2/5/2015:

Added "PCIe riser stabilizer bar" to "Planned Feature Upgrades" of both designs.
Added "Accommodate 140mm x 25mm case fans below GPU" to "Planned Feature Upgrades" of design 2.
Added "Remove 2.5" drives above GPU" to "Planned Feature Downgrades" of design 2.
Better renderings.
Added 2 questions for the community.


Hi, my name is Ray. About 2 weeks ago, I sent out 2 surveys to determine what the market is for a small factor (SFF) PC case. Now, I have 2 designs ready.

Neither of these designs are at production level yet. I just want to put them out here to hopefully garner some suggestions, as well as requests for design features. To make this process as organized as possible, each case design will contain 5 logs:

1) Dimension - This section documents the dimension of the PC case. All changes will be dated.

2) Design Features - This section documents all the design features of this PC case. All changes, additions, and removals will be dated.

3) Planned Feature Upgrades - This section documents all design features that I plan to add in the next iteration of the design. All changes, additions, and removals will be dated.

4) Planned Feature Downgrades - This section documents all the design features that I plan to take away in the next iteration of the design. Reasons for design downgrade may include manufacturing cost, lack of interest, etc. All changes, additions, and removals will be dated.

5) Missing Design Details - This section documents further design details that I plan to add in the next iteration of the design. This may include small things like specifying exact size for any screw holes, making the design render look better, etc.

I would also just like to say that the process of finalizing the design will be an iterative process with you guys and the manufacturer. This means that I will be modifying the design based on what you guys suggest/want, as well as what the manufacturers say is cost effective. Doing so will allow the final design to better fit what your needs are keeping costs low. I have already contacted a few manufacturers and gotten a few quotes.

Without further ado:

Design 1: Minimal Steam Box

This design is basically the smallest possible design I can come up with that accommodates dual-slot graphics cards.

Red is PSU, Cyan is GPU, Magenta is Motherboard, Green is SSD/HDD.

3D view, Panel on, 1:


3D view, Panel on, 2:


3D view, Panel off, 1:


3D view, Skeleton, Empty, 1:


3D view, Skeleton, Populated, 1:


Top view, Skeleton, Empty, 1:


Top view, Skeleton, Populated, 1:


1) Dimension: 346mm x 264.5mm x 63mm (5.77 L) [2/4/2015]

2) Design Features:
a) 5/6 Panels removable. [2/4/2015]
b) Cable management routing holes around motherboard. [2/4/2015]
c) Accommodate:
i) 2 2.5 drives + dual-slot GPU up to 245mm (9.65") in length. [2/4/2015]
ii) 7 2.5 drives + dual-slot GPU up to 170mm (6.7") in length. [2/4/2015]
d) Accommodate Flex ATX PSU. [2/4/2015]
e) Maximum CPU cooler height: ~45 mm. [2/4/2015]
f) 2 front panel USB 3.0 slots. [2/4/2015]
3) Planned Feature Upgrades:
a) Dust filters. [2/4/2015]
b) Cable management routing holes around GPU. [2/4/2015]
c) Removable top and bottom frame rack. [2/4/2015]
d) Holder for GPU to prevent sagging. [2/4/2015]
e) Add stabilizing bar to PCIe riser card. [2/5/2015]
4) Planned Feature Downgrades:
a) Only top and bottom panels removable. From what I learned from manufacturers, doing so will decrease costs. For a steam-box style PC case, I don't think having removable side and front panels add much. Do not hesitate to let me know if you think otherwise. [2/4/2015]
5) Missing Design Details:
a) Specify exact size for screw holes. [2/4/2015]
b) Specify tap size for screw holes. [2/4/2015]
c) CAD files for components (as opposed to colored boxes). [2/4/2015]
d) PCIe brackets. [2/4/2015]
e) Front panel circuit board (power button, 2xUSB 3.0, maybe audio jack?). [2/4/2015]
f) Motherboard spacers. [2/4/2015]



Design 2: Powerful Steam Box

This design is a bigger steam-box design that accommodates full-length graphics card and anything else I can stuff in there.

Red is PSU, Cyan is GPU, Magenta is Motherboard, Green is SSD/HDD, Yellow is Fan.

3D view, Panel on, 1:


3D view, Panel on, 2:


3D view, Panel off, 1:


3D view, Skeleton, Empty, 1:


3D view, Skeleton, Empty, 2:


3D view, Skeleton, Populated, 1:


3D view, Skeleton, Populated, 2:


Top view, Skeleton, Populated, 1:


Top view, Skeleton, Populated, 2:


Bottom view, Skeleton, Populated, 1:


1) Dimension: 336mm x 344.5mm x 81mm (9.38 L) [2/4/2015]

2) Design Features:
a) 5/6 Panels removable. [2/4/2015]
b) Cable management routing holes around motherboard. [2/4/2015]
c) Accommodate:
i) 9 2.5 drives + dual-slot GPU up to 325mm (12.8) in length + SFX PSU + 2 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
ii) 6 2.5 drives + dual-slot GPU up to 325mm (12.8) in length + SFX-L PSU + 2 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
iii) 9 2.5 drives + 2 3.5 drives + dual-slot GPU up to 230mm (9.06) in length + SFX PSU + 2 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
iv) 6 2.5 drives + 2 3.5 drives + dual-slot GPU up to 230mm (9.06) in length + SFX-L PSU + 2 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
v) 6 2.5 drives + 6 3.5 drives + SFX PSU + 2 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
vi) 3 2.5 drives + 6 3.5 drives + SFX-L PSU + 2 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
d) Accommodate SFX and SFX-L PSU. [2/4/2015]
e) Maximum CPU cooler height: ~63 mm. [2/4/2015]
f) 2 front panel USB 3.0 slots. [2/4/2015]
g) Removable top frame rack. [2/4/2015]
3) Planned Feature Upgrades:
a) Dust filters. [2/4/2015]
b) Cable management routing holes around GPU. [2/4/2015]
c) Removable bottom frame rack. [2/4/2015]
d) Holder for GPU to prevent sagging. [2/4/2015]
e) Accommodate:
i) 4 2.5 drives + 140mm AIO liquid cooler + dual-slot GPU up to 190mm (7.48") in length + SFX PSU + 1 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
ii) 4 2.5 drives + 140mm AIO liquid cooler + dual-slot GPU up to 190mm (7.48") in length + SFX-L PSU + 1 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
iii) 3 2.5 drives + 4 3.5 drives + 120mm AIO liquid cooler + SFX PSU + 1 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
iv) 3 2.5 drives + 4 3.5 drives + 120mm AIO liquid cooler + SFX-L PSU + 1 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
v) 4 2.5 drives + 2 3.5 drives + 140mm AIO liquid cooler + SFX PSU + 1 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
vi) 4 2.5 drives + 2 3.5 drives + 140mm AIO liquid cooler + SFX-L PSU + 1 120mmx15mm case fans. [2/4/2015]
f) Mount for 140mm case fan over motherboard. [2/4/2015]
g) Accommodate 140mm x 25mm case fans below GPU. [2/5/2015]
h) Add stabilizing bar to PCIe riser card. [2/5/2015]
4) Planned Feature Downgrades:
a) Only top and bottom panels removable. From what I learned from manufacturers, doing so will decrease costs. For a steam-box style PC case, I don't think having removable side and front panels add much. Do not hesitate to let me know if you think otherwise. [2/4/2015]
b) Remove 3 2.5" drives hanging over GPU. Heat from GPU may compromise the drives. [2/5/2015]
5) Missing Design Details:
a) Specify exact size for screw holes. [2/4/2015]
b) Specify tap size for screw holes. [2/4/2015]
c) CAD files for components (as opposed to colored boxes). [2/4/2015]
d) PCIe brackets. [2/4/2015]
e) Front panel circuit board (power button, 2xUSB 3.0, maybe audio jack?). [2/4/2015]
f) Extra mounting brackets for 2.5 and 3.5 drives. [2/4/2015]
g) Motherboard spacers. [2/4/2015]




Questions for the Community:

1) I think I can make Design 2 accommodate 140mm x 25mm case fans if it accommodates 3 less 2.5" drives, or is maybe 5-10mm thicker. Would you want that?

2) Do you want front panel audio jacks? Adding this will add costs.

3) Is it alright to make only the top and bottom panel removable for both designs? Doing so reduces costs.

4) How do the designs look aesthetically? Any suggestions on what would look better?

5) Are there any features that you think are unnecessary?

6) Are there any other features that you want?

7) Does it bother people that the power plug is on the side wall?

8) The cable management holes are designed so that you can put your own zip tie or velcro tie into it. Is the design too simplistic?
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Old February 5, 2015, 06:47 AM
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Dust Management ??

Dust is one off the biggest enemies of modern hardware.
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Old February 5, 2015, 07:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZZLEE View Post
Dust Management ??

Dust is one off the biggest enemies of modern hardware.
That was actually my first thought as well when I looked at these cases.

Overall it looks like your layout is a lot like the ML07/RVZ01 by Silverstone. I think your best bet would be to do a test/cheapy build in one of those and you'll get a feel for a lot of what's good and what's annoying about that layout.

My biggest gripe was having to do some careful cable management. Particularly running the GPU cables around a central divider, they should have just cut a small hole in the divider and grommeted it.
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Old February 5, 2015, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZZLEE View Post
Dust Management ??

Dust is one off the biggest enemies of modern hardware.
Hey man, thanks for the input. Dust filters are in the "Planned Future Upgrades" section :)
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Old February 5, 2015, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeKnight View Post
That was actually my first thought as well when I looked at these cases.

Overall it looks like your layout is a lot like the ML07/RVZ01 by Silverstone. I think your best bet would be to do a test/cheapy build in one of those and you'll get a feel for a lot of what's good and what's annoying about that layout.

My biggest gripe was having to do some careful cable management. Particularly running the GPU cables around a central divider, they should have just cut a small hole in the divider and grommeted it.
Thanks for the feedback man. I plan to put cable management holes that route the wires to the GPU as well.
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Old February 11, 2015, 04:32 AM
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Before I start, I think you should work on one case, not two, or at least one at a time. Instead of finding a solution for a problem in the first design you moved on to the next and created new problems that didn't exist in the first.

1) I find the first design compromised in airflow. The hot air generated from the video card and from the CPU needs to be channeled away from each other.
One way to do it without an exhaust fan is by ducting. Separate the video card and motherboard compartments with a thin plate.


2) The design is also flawed in power. There are no gold or even silver rated Flex ATX PSUs, and they don't go beyond 350W. Even if a dual slot 245mm video card can fit in there, it won't work. You should make sacrifices to accommodate a SFX & SFX-L PSU in your design.
Scrap the second SSD. Take away 35~40 mm of the GPU length. Increase the case dimensions where and if it is needed and add another top vent or stretch the existing one to accommodate the PSU intake. Whatever needs to be done.


3) Nobody wants a power cord hanging from the side of the case. If you want to keep the PSU in the same position then provide a power extension all the way to the back of the case.

4) Give the user multiple and correct choices. Let them compromise where it is allowed to. For example;

For the video card compartment:
I) 205~210mm GPU/no SSD
II) 170mm GPU + SATAIII SSD
III) No video card/Multiple SSDs/HDDs

For the PSU compartment (if it works):
I) SFX-L PSU
II) SFX PSU + SATAIII SSD

Powerful and quite gaming rigs will compromise on storage. Gaming + storage rigs will compromise on power, quietness and multiple drives. Mass storage rigs will forsake the discrete card altogether. None should compromise on airflow and power, no matter the cost.

Last edited by Luay79; February 12, 2015 at 02:03 AM.
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Old February 18, 2015, 07:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luay79 View Post
Before I start, I think you should work on one case, not two, or at least one at a time. Instead of finding a solution for a problem in the first design you moved on to the next and created new problems that didn't exist in the first.

1) I find the first design compromised in airflow. The hot air generated from the video card and from the CPU needs to be channeled away from each other.
One way to do it without an exhaust fan is by ducting. Separate the video card and motherboard compartments with a thin plate.


2) The design is also flawed in power. There are no gold or even silver rated Flex ATX PSUs, and they don't go beyond 350W. Even if a dual slot 245mm video card can fit in there, it won't work. You should make sacrifices to accommodate a SFX & SFX-L PSU in your design.
Scrap the second SSD. Take away 35~40 mm of the GPU length. Increase the case dimensions where and if it is needed and add another top vent or stretch the existing one to accommodate the PSU intake. Whatever needs to be done.


3) Nobody wants a power cord hanging from the side of the case. If you want to keep the PSU in the same position then provide a power extension all the way to the back of the case.

4) Give the user multiple and correct choices. Let them compromise where it is allowed to. For example;

For the video card compartment:
I) 205~210mm GPU/no SSD
II) 170mm GPU + SATAIII SSD
III) No video card/Multiple SSDs/HDDs

For the PSU compartment (if it works):
I) SFX-L PSU
II) SFX PSU + SATAIII SSD

Powerful and quite gaming rigs will compromise on storage. Gaming + storage rigs will compromise on power, quietness and multiple drives. Mass storage rigs will forsake the discrete card altogether. None should compromise on airflow and power, no matter the cost.
Hey, thanks a lot for your feedback!

I actually want to just work on one design too, since 2 is a lot of work. The reason I did 2 designs is because I'm not sure what people would want. As small as possible but with less GPU and PSU choices? or a bit bigger but accommodates basically anything? I decided to just make a sample of each and so that people can see it and then decide. The next iteration of design is coming soon, and I will get a poll out to see what people want. Once I figure that out, I will focus on one design. Depending on the poll results, I might have to merge the 2 designs and use SFX/SFX-L in the first design, which is fine.

1) I think that's a good idea. I have been thinking about a good way to deal with cooling in the first design, and ultimately that might be the way. I may also add some mounts for small case fans.

2) I'm not sure if what you're saying about Flex ATX PSUs is true. I own a 400w Flex ATX PSU myself, and Athena makes an 500w version (AP-MFATX50P8 | athenapower.com). I agree that there's no gold or silver ones though.

3) & 4) I am working on these right now. Expect better things for the second iteration :)

Would you happen to have any comments on the second design? I found your comments for the first design very helpful.
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