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neilhart's Scratch Build # 3 - Mini-ITX Tower

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
Scratch Build # 3

I am starting this work log today to share my experiences building my next project.

The ’97’ series motherboards are now available with more versions coming. I am particularly interested in the high performance ones with M.2 and SATA Express in the Mini-ITX form factor. However as I see it there is still risk in being an early adopter and I don’t really care to own something that is not OS X supported.

At this moment I am aware of the ASUS Z97I PLUS and the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac with the new tech.

So while the long range objective is have a small form factor high performance machine, I am going to shoot for an interesting scratch built Mini-ITX case at this point in time.

So I have ordered a Gigabyte B85N motherboard to use as a development mule and I will use one of my Haswell CPUs for testing. Until the Gigabyte motherboard arrives I am using an ECS H55H-I as a layout aid along with dated video cards.

Here is the start.





I have stripped the 4th G5 Power Mac case from my purchase last year of 5 dead systems. I took the outer shell/left side seen here. With the first two cuts I removed the top and bottom loop sections seen top and bottom of the photo. I then pulled all of the threaded inserts from the main panel. And a third cut to get the main panel that I needed.



I then cut off (what is now the top and bottom) the edges for a panel height of 16 inches (apx 404 mm). The right side is 8 inches and the back panel is 5.5 inches (202 mm and 139 mm). I made a cut that is about 60% of the panel thickness deep. The width of this partial cut is about the panel thickness (3 mm) and really should have been 4.5 mm wide. Anyway, I did the 90 degree fold that you see here without a break and a lot manual force. Note to self: purchase a break when finances allow.



I made up the 4 motherboard standoffs needed from 4 of the G5 motherboard standoffs (drilled through the bottom and from the bottom up tapped them to 6-32 threads). The standoffs are about 16 mm tall which should provide clearance under the motherboard for M.2 modules and cables.

I plan to use an AIO water CPU cooler with the rad assembly a the top of the case with an unobstructed side to side ventilation path. I have not sourced the cooler yet.

The PSU for this system is a Silverstone ST45SF-G. a 450 watt fully modular unit.

I had toyed with the idea of putting the GPU card on a cable extender but in the end decided a standard configuration would be better in the long run.

My next task is to locate the motherboard and cut the I/O plate hole followed by the GPU PCIe slot in the back panel. Then locate and drill and counter sink the motherboard standoff holes.

As a side note, the un-seen side on the panel is covered with the blue painters tape to keep that surface as free from damage as possible. The final exterior finish is still open at this time.

Comments, questions and advice freely accepted.

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
A small update:

I located the motherboard position and cut the IO panel opening.



Followed by cutting dual PCIe slots for the GPU card. Also the notch above the slots to allow easy GPU card installation. Here I am making the slots deeper after a test fit.



Then making up the external ledge for mount the GPU.



And then the mounting clamp piece. Note the spacer that simulates the GPU bracket.



Then carve out the opening for the PSU mount.



And with my parts assembled at this point. I am still waiting for the Gigabyte motherboard and I have not selected a GPU card for this project.



I have decided to go with the Thermaltake Water3.0 PRO cooler and use a i7-4770K with the longer range intent of installing one of the new Z97 motherboards.



More to follow.

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
You sir are unstoppable! Keep up the good work, you provide inspiration for us all!
dj thank your for the praise.

I am following your adventure with the "HiRise" project and your survey of motherboards was very good. I purchased the GA B85N because your review called my attention to the two mini pcie slots. The mother board arrived yesterday and it came up immediately running 10.9.3.

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
Another small update:

The Gigabyte B85N motherboard arrived and came up running Mavericks with no issue at all

I made up the mounting brackets for the Water3.0 Pro rad and mounted it and cut the exhaust fan hole seen here.





Here is the panel mostly complete. Note that I have counter sunk all of the mounting holes and am installing stainless steel socket flat head screws.



And went ahead and reassembled the system seen here running.



The system with an i7-4770K with the Water3.0 Pro runs Prime95 Torture Test and peaks at 58 degrees before adding the exhaust fan hole. I don’t expect much change with the hole.

Next up is generating another 2.5 inch drive bank assembly similar to the the one that I did on the SOS (system on slides) project. Then it will be time to worry about packaging the system (top, bottom, front and left side). And maybe adding some ventilation holes to the rear. I am thinking of going with a brushed aluminum with a clear coat finish.

More to follow,

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
Drive Bank:



I made up the drive bank last evening and re-routed the cables to the PSU for adequate clearance.

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
I can see the GPU fan and the PSU fan facing each other. Shouldn't they exhaust hot air in different directions?
dj good catch. I am concerned about one subsystem affecting the other.

The PSU exhausts out the back.

The current GPU is a 9600 GT place holder as I would like to run a GTX 750 TI should we get support for it. That card should be a single wide version without need for additional 12 VDC as is the reference design.

If not that, the MSI GTX 760 Mini-ITX. The exhaust for the double wide GPU cooler is out the rear.

Now the question is more of will the GPU pre-heat the air being drawn in by the PSU? That may turn out to be the case and I may need to design a baffle or rotate the PSU to intake from the bottom if I see that there is a problem.

I will be able to tell more as I mock-up the case.

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
Another update:

I have fabricated the top and bottom panels. The bottom has feet installed (these may change as they don’t really match the rest of the system).

I was not happy with the main power harness so I made up a modesty panel to hide the direct routing. The main harness does not route under the motherboard now.

I have a folded panel for the left side and front. I just completed cutting the 5” CPU fan intake hole.

As normal a lot of small detail work that soaks up a lot of time with little to show you.















I have upgraded the memory to 16 GB 1600 MHz and am still shopping for a GPU.

The Gigabyte B85N is a real pleasure to work with and OS X 10.9.3 appears to be made for it.

More to follow.

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,746
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
Another update:

I have decided to go with the MSI GTX 760 Mini ITX GPU for this project and I put one on order.

My concern now is that the height of the card may exceed my case design. The 8 pin power connector will also present problem. An opportunity to innovate.



So with this decision made, I went back and made a few changes.

I rotated the PSU to take air from/through the bottom panel.



I modified my main power harness modesty panel to also provide tight routing of the 4 SATA data cables.

Before and after:





This arrangement provides the space for a thin 92mm case fan at the front of the case.

More to follow.

Good modding,
neil
 
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