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Micro ATX Quiet Case Build


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#1 jammin

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 04:55 PM

I haven't really done a great deal of modding up until now, and with my slow upgrade process I though it would be an ideal time to jump in and get a project under way (it also helps that I have plenty of free time right now).

I have followed a good number of case build projects and have often been impressed by the results that others have been able to achieve.
This will be my first attempt, so I'm trying not to be too ambitious with the complexity. Plus I don't have access to many tools or a workshop right now, so the build can't require too much heavy machine work.


What I want to get out of the project (goals)

A case that:

- Is in a Micro ATX format. I don't want this thing to be huge, though it will probably be a bit larger than a regular mATX case
- Is as quiet as possible. I really don't want to be able to hear this thing while doing simple tasks or while listening to music.
- Has decent cooling ability. I realise this is going to be compromised by the above point.
- Is relatively cheap and easy to put together. Ideally it won't be any more expensive than buying a prebuilt case (but I'll get exactly what I want).

Hardware:

Known:

- 8GB Muskin DDR3
- Corsair AX850 PSU
- Xilence fan controller
- HD 4850 With AC Accelero S1 (at least for now)
- TRUE Rev. C

Unknown (depening on platform decision):

- AM3+ or 1155 mATX motherboard
- Suitable AMD or Intel CPU
- 2 x 140mm Fans - poss Thermalright TY-140
- 2 x HDD (either from current build or new), maybe 1 x HDD, 1 x SSD (funds permitting)


Initial Designs

I started with some simple sketching to solidify some ideas in my head

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Then I fleshed these out into a reasonably rough model in Sketchup

Overview:
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Front:
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Rear:
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Inside:
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Behind the motherboard:
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A bit of explanation:

Obviously it is reasonably compact, with room for a mATX board.

There are no 5.25" drive bays, so that means no optical drives (unless I connect one via USB).

Therefore the front panel will be completely solid, no openings.

HDDs will be suspension mounted to the top internal case panel (I have a system with bungee cord planned that should hopefully be both simple and effective).

Two sections added to the top and bottom of the case (these the ones with the rounded profiles). The bottom one will be divided in two and provide air intake. The top one will have an exhaust opening at the back and the fan controller (and likely USB and power switches etc.) at the front). The idea is that no fans will have a direct sound path towards me.

Speaking of fans, there will be two 140mm fans, one intake at the bottom of the case at the front and an exhaust at the top towards the rear.

The main frame will be made from aluminium angle, though I am still undecided on some of the other materials for case panels etc. Some of the choices may be novel (and also largely dictated by cost).

Extensive use of acoustic foam throughout the case. That is why the side panels provide more space, if you had noticed that. Foam isn't pictured in the model, though will feature on all internal panels.

I don't have the tools or likely skill (to be honest) to manufacture a motherboard tray/back panel from scratch, so that will likely be the most expensive part of the build. I have one on order (A Lian Li model that I am waiting on stock for).


I'd be happy to answer any questions, and I'm hoping to get the initial frame under way reasonably soon.

Edited by jammin, 16 May 2011 - 01:34 PM.

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#2 El_Capitan

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 04:59 PM

Can't wait to see it! :thumbsup:

#3 bishop245

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:20 PM

me either looks like a nice design

#4 SpeedCrazy

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:33 PM

That looks very well thought out and quite slick end design. Cant wait to see it go to production. :thumbsup:
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#5 jammin

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:45 PM

I'm sure it'll get some revisions as I go along, but I think I have the main concept down pretty solidly now.

I'm aiming for a high level of build quality, so it won't be a particularly fast process (and I have an approximate date around the end of May for the motherboard tray).

That should give me some time to give materials some serious consideration.

Aluminium sheet is an option of course, though I am also thinking about other materials, like hardboard and timber (an attractive wood might be nice for the external panels). Plastics are an option too, and even cardboard or canvas.

Those curved edges are going to be the most challenging to execute accurately.

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#6 jammin

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 12:33 PM

I got some aluminium angle today:

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Two pieces of 18mm (W) x 18mm (H) x 1.5mm (T) x 2400mm (L)

Cost: £8.48 (I'll be keeping track of the cost for all the bits I buy so I can add up the total cost)

My case model is based on 20mm x 20mm x 2mm angle, so I'll have to double check my measurements to see if anything needs to change in terms of lengths to cut.

More pictures once I get everything measured and cut to the required lengths. Should have the initial frame put together in the next few days hopefully. :)

Edited by jammin, 12 May 2011 - 02:33 PM.

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#7 jammin

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 03:56 PM

Well, my sister came to visit this weekend, so I didn't get much time to work on this.
I did get the measuring and marking done though.

Remember, measure twice (or three times), cut once.

Posted Image

Markings made for the following pieces (with 6mm gaps to allow for cutting and filing):

- 4 x 196mm lengths (frame widths)
- 4 x 365mm lengths (frame uprights)
- 4 x 405mm lengths (frame depth)
- 2 x 371mm lengths (case panel uprights, front. The back uprights will use different size angle to allow for overlap for fixing to the case with thumbscrews)

Posted Image

Posted Image

Cutting and frame building done tomorrow hopefully.

Posted Image
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#8 ccokeman

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 04:22 PM

Looks promising Ben! Have you thought of using one of the self contained liquid cooling solutions instead of the TRUE?
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#9 bp9801

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 04:51 PM

That looks like a sweet concept, I'll definitely be following this since I would like to do something similar eventually.

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#10 jammin

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 04:58 PM

Looks promising Ben! Have you thought of using one of the self contained liquid cooling solutions instead of the TRUE?


I have looked at the reviews of some of them, but I am mainly concerned about noise and I'm not sure about how they would perform with low airflow fans.
There is the cost too. I already have the TRUE and it only set me back about £26 new.

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#11 ccokeman

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 06:09 PM

Already having it is a big plus. I was looking at thermal capacity though. I will have to try one of the ones I have with a pair of Noctua fans and ULNA adapters
Processor Intel Core I7 920 @ 3.6
Memory Mushkin 998995 Blackline 12GB 9-9-9-24
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Monitor Gateway UXD3000, LG W3000H, ASUS VG236 x 3
Water Cooling By DangerDen & Swiftech
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#12 jammin

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 01:02 PM

OK, got all the lengths cut today.

After cutting with a hacksaw:

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Then after filing them down so they match in length:

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Of course I couldn't resist trying to see what the completed frame will look like (with the help of some blu-tack)

Posted Image

And the first joint with a nut and bolt (i'm going to have to trim the bolts down so they all fit ok ). Number 1 of 24.. That's it for today.

Posted Image

Posted Image
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