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Planning Design Concept for Small-Footprint Desktop

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Karrek, 21 Jun 2011.

  1. Karrek

    Karrek Member

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    [NOTE: Updated/alternate designs are now included later in thread...]

    Fellow Modders: I am currently planning my first real mod, which will basically be a scratch build. My goal for this build is to make a fairly compact computer that can fit on top our family computer desk, minimizing the room that it takes. On top of our desk, I have experimented with placing the computer behind the monitor, but it is inconvenient to get to the disk drives, power button, USB ports, etc. I do like having the computer perpendicular to and to the side of the monitor (which is the current position and probably most common everywhere), but there really isn’t any useable room in front of the computer, so it is somewhat of a space killer.

    For basic design, I want to keep an ATX formfactor, as I think it is more flexible and upgradeable (and I already have older parts that I plan to reuse). I also want to use the rotated motherboard design (think SilverStone Raven cases).

    Thus, after brainstorming for a while, I decided to experiment by building an L-shaped computer that will also act as a monitor stand, with the optical drives, ports, and power button all in the front, under the monitor. I haven’t decided in the monitor would be attached to the case, or just rest on the “shelf.” In many ways this is similar to an all-in-one, but better (upgradeable) in my opinion.

    My current concept:
    [​IMG]

    My thought process is that with this shape, the computer will be less obtrusive, have a smaller desk footprint (when combined with the monitor), provide easy access to optical drives/USB/etc, hold the monitor, and still be a full-size rig (probably comparable to a mid-tower). Here are some more concept images.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    And the potential airflow:
    [​IMG]


    After thinking about it for a couple months, it finally dawned on me that I can’t be the only person who has ever thought of this. After some fruitless Google searches, I finally found the right search terms and found a company that made an “L-shaped PC case” which is pretty close to what I had envisioned. (http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,667031/Chieftec-introduces-L-shaped-PC-case/News/ )

    [​IMG]


    Their case had two main criticisms: airflow and cable management. I think that the vertical motherboard design will take care of most of the cable management issues, and also help with airflow. I also think that adding the fans at the bottom and top of the case will move the air nicely. For now I will stick with air cooling, as I don’t have the money or experience to run water cooling yet.

    Please share your expertise with me and let me know your thoughts and potential tweaks to this design. I probably won’t be able to build it until October (as I am travelling for work this summer).
     
    Last edited: 28 Jun 2011
  2. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I like the top mounted I/O. As long as there's access to that without moving the rig, it's perfect.
    You should probably simplify the build by mounting the fans on the back instead of diagonally. The one over the mobo blocks any possibility of large aftermarket heatsinks anyway.
    -I'd also rotate the power supply. Chances are good that the psu you need will be longer than atx standard. I think 450-750W versions are 180mm long, and 800+W units are 230mm. (This monkey is currently designing a case for an unknown PSU. -guessing sucks.)
     
  3. Karrek

    Karrek Member

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    I do want easy access to the I/O, which is a big reason that I like the rotated motherboard concept. Good input on blocking larger heatsinks, I'll change that. I was trying to stick with large fans to keep things quieter, but venting it out that back will work just as well. Currently the fans in the drawings are 140's.

    When you say rotate the PSU, do you mean so that it will pull air from the bottom of the case and vent it out the back? or turn it so that the power cable is on the side of the case? I agree that I should design it for a large PSU, in case that upgrade happens someday.

    Thanks for the reply Cheaps.
     
  4. GuilleAcoustic

    GuilleAcoustic Ook ? Ook !

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    Do you really need all those 5.25" drives ? I'd put the Hdds right behind the screen, move the PSU in front position and place 2x 140mm fans in the bottom and another fan at the top for the exhaust feature.

    vented side will help heat to get off the case.

    Let me know what hardware you want to place in it (especially HDDs and 5.25" peripherals), I'll try to help you if you want. I like uncommon design :thumb:. Nice idea and good start.
     
  5. Karrek

    Karrek Member

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    Thanks for the input!

    For the 5.25" drives, I was planning a fann controller, an optical drive, and a storage box (probably like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811997011) for flash drives, etc. Since I had three, I figured that it would look better to make it symmetrical using four spaces - maybe have two storage boxes. One could eventually be a card reader or something, but then again I have never needed those in my computers.

    I didn't have fans on the front panel because there wasn't room, but also to reduce noise - just have the vent to allow air to pulled through and passivley cool the HDDs.

    But I do recognize that this design could be improved, so I appreciate any input and feedback. I'm willing to drastically change it too, if there are other ideas for a compact desktop-type form. currently I have a 22" screen that I would use, and I would place my speakers on each side of this (which is why I am keeping it a little narrower. But again, open to suggestion....
     
  6. cchr

    cchr Member

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    if you go for top mounted or even side I/O's you'll also need a cover/shroud to keep it all tidied up and hidden.
    nice idea, go for it :thumb:
     
  7. Karrek

    Karrek Member

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    Design options

    Alright, I came up with a couple more options for the main layout of the case. I'm not addressing the front yet, as I'm NOT sure where I want to go there yet.

    For the main case, here are some alternatives. Please let me know if these have merit and what elements you like, or what things might have issues...

    Option 1:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Option 2:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    Both options have two 140mm fans at the bottom and two 120mm fans at the top. (200mm fans were too big.) The hard drives above the PSU are there to show size and the possibility on mounting them along the side. The HDDs also might go under the front of the case (below the monitor).

    Here is some more detail of the top. There will be a cover on the top and sides…
    [​IMG]


    Which of these options should I focus on, or is there another direction I should consider?
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2011
  8. Karrek

    Karrek Member

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    Also, the PSU could be either a short or longer PSU, to allow for flexibility. I'm thinking that the HDDs could be on a slide-out tray (if I put them in the front under the monitor) to make them accessible?
     

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