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Case Mod - Complete HAL (rackmount case mod)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by IBMer, 30 Aug 2018.

  1. IBMer

    IBMer New Member

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    Hi everyone!

    I just wanted to share my new case mod.
    Its main originality is to be based on a relatively slim rackmount case while hosting a custom watercooling loop for overclocked CPU and GPU.
    This comes as a follow-up of my IBM PS/1 vintage mod projects here and here .

    From lessons learnt from both projects, I wanted:

    • to keep a relatively small footprint, in a desktop, under the screen, format. Yet to be able to host a 35" 21/9 screen. Rack case came as an obvious choice. However in terms of depth they are often to short or too long, 1U would not allow to have an all-internal loop, but 2U would be too massive.
    • to keep a custom watercooling loop, but this time without an external cooling tower. To do this I chose to use stand-offs and have the air flow from underneath to above the case, with fan/radiator holes pierced on at the bottom and on the cover of the case.
    • to have a sufficiently powerful, yet relatively silent PSU... Modularity would also help with cable management this would exclude 1U PSUs.

    Actually, this is pretty much inspired by the "pizza-box" format used for instance by SUN or NeXT in 1990s for some of their workstations.

    The inspiration
    [​IMG]


    Selected parts and implications for the mod:

    • I chose a iSTAR USA D-107V2, 1,3U rackmount case (dimensions: 43x 5,8 x 54cm LxHxD, ). It was obviously too deep and would have to be cut to somewhat match a pizza-box format. Moreover, without turning the case into a Xmas tree, a few LEDs and a bit of plexiglas could help turning its rather industrial look in something more gaming-looking.

    A quest for slim parts (1/3): the case
    [​IMG]


    • a mini-ITX motherboard, for now I kept my ever reliable Asus ROG Maximus Impact VI, with an Intel Core i5 Haswell 4670k, 2x8Go 2400 Gskill DDR3 RAM, et and a M.2 SATA Crucial 500GB SSD
    • the PSU is a Corsair SF600. With 6.3cm height it is too thick for a 1.3U case. It required to cut the bottom of the case, that way the PSU was actually used as one of the stand-offs necessary for the cooling system.
    • 2x Magicool G2 240 radiators, they are peculiarly slim (2.6cm thick), and ventilated by a single Cooler Master MF200R RGB, 20cm fan (found as a clearance sale, will switch to 4x EK Vardar 120 if not sufficient).
    • an Alphacool NexXxoS XP³ Light CPU waterblock, chosen for its low profile as well.

    A quest for slim parts (2/3): CPU waterblock
    [​IMG]


    • my ever reliable EK-SBAY DDC 3.2 PWM 5,25" pump/res combo , perfect for this slim, horizontal layout.
    • rest of the loop would be 10/13 flexible tubes and mostly Alphacool 90° fittings.

    A quest for slim parts (3/3): pump/res combo
    [​IMG]



    • as for the GPU, initially I thought about waiting for 2070/2080 but due to their launch I found a bargain deal on a EVGA GTX 1080 Cheesecake Hydro Copper. The only constraint, as it is rather wide, was then to cut the side of the case for the waterblock and PCI-E power connectors.
    • Monitor: I chose the HP Omen X 35, as it was the only G-Sync monitor with a narrow enough base to be used on top of this case. Models from Asus, Acer all have tripod-style stands which would have been unstable.

    A wide screen, unlike its stand
    [​IMG]

    A first idea of the modifications to be made
    [​IMG]

    My (minimalistic) tools set:
    for 2D blueprints to have (almost) accurate cuts and holes I used Dassault Systèmes' Draftsight
    a Dremel 4300
    a Dremel Ultra Saw


    Let the fun begin!

    STEP 1: cut-offs

    The bottom of the case, shortened, and with the 20cm hole for the fan

    [​IMG]

    Cutting-out a hole for the PSU
    [​IMG]

    Work on the inside and rear panels
    [​IMG]

    PSU with its brackets
    [​IMG]

    For the remaining stand-offs I found these... HiFi spikes
    [​IMG]

    STEP 2: work on the case cover

    This was the main element to depart from the original rackmount feel. I picked a 6mm thick, black opaque acrylic sheet.

    The prepared acrylic sheet
    [​IMG]

    I added 5cm at the rear so that the monitor stand would not overlap too much with the cooling system.

    Everything seems to fit nicely
    [​IMG]

    Just a try with all components inside
    [​IMG]

    The picture was taken with an asus GTX 1060 before I purchased the watercooled 1080, clearly showing that the GPU side will have to be cut.

    On the PSU side it was necessary to bend the cables, also due to the peculiar VRM design of the Impact VI. I moved the motherboard 6mm on the left and used braided cables, more supple than the ones provided by default with the SF600.

    For the fan/radiator grill I wanted an uncommon pattern and found this aluminium sheet at the local DIY store

    Work on the fan grill
    [​IMG]


    STEP 3: Paint work

    Paint work
    [​IMG]

    Going for the traditional black-red look
    [​IMG]

    I found a nice metal-looking red mylar tape to cover the side of the top panel:
    [​IMG]

    STEP 4: the loop

    Radiators, assembled
    [​IMG]

    A nice Amazon: M3 nylon stand-offs, nuts, bolts and spacers
    [​IMG]

    By combining stand-offs of various length I managed to get the 2.8cm needed to use the 90° Alphacool fittings.


    As for the layout of the loop, it proved to be easier than expected

    Tubes layout
    [​IMG]

    Water flow
    [​IMG]

    A first hint of the final look
    [​IMG]

    Finger marks bliss...

    Side view
    [​IMG]
    At this stage something still needed to be found to cover the hole left by the case lock.

    View with the front cover opened
    [​IMG]
    I used an RGB LED stripe (which would remain red). As my current motherboard does not have any RGB controler I used a small XSPC SATA powered one also used to control fan leds.

    XSPC RGB controler
    [​IMG]

    Rear view
    [​IMG]

    Underneath view
    [​IMG]

    I had a last minute issue: heads of the waterblock plate screws were longer than the motherboard stand-offs on such a slim case... I had to cut this square hole (since the picture I found a more elegant path for the PCI-E cables).

    Once the EVGA 1080 GTX Hydro Copper received, as expected it would not fit without a cut on the side, for both the waterblock and PCI-E connectors.

    This is how it looks
    [​IMG]

    Not too bad once illuminated as you'll see below.

    Here is a view of the near final case, during the test of the loop.

    Everything runs fine without a single lick
    [​IMG]

    STEP 5: Final results (and name of the project finally explained)

    Finally, a few views of the final project.
    The last touch, the replacement of the case lock, gave the name to the whole project: HAL (it's a wide-angle lense for mobile phone).

    Desk view
    [​IMG]

    Front view
    [​IMG]

    GPU side view
    [​IMG]

    HAL: "I am completely operational, and all my circuits are functioning perfectly."
    [​IMG]

    Comments, suggestions for improvements and questions more than welcome.
    And if anyone knows about other slim case mods based on 1U to 1.5U rackmount cases I'm always interested in new sources of inspiration.
     
    Goatee, kim, _Prometheus_ and 3 others like this.
  2. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Lovely and properly crammed. The red tape is a clever touch.
    The only 1u-ish build I can think of would be Gtek's wood and aluminum monolith scratch build. The name escapes me.

    Edit: found his website at least. project log pictures are long dead.
    https://hg-computers.eu/products/
     
    Last edited: 30 Aug 2018
  3. IBMer

    IBMer New Member

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    Thanks for the interest!

    Indeed I remember the "wooden monolith".
     
  4. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    very clean, original, beautiful :thumb:, great build:rock:
     

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