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NUC in a Mac Mini case

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This is not yet an active build log, but it will be…..as I have one of the mid 2010 type Mac Mini cases coming from Hong Kong ( http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/281296801123?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649 ) for me to do something with.

It is the server model of case and so does not have an optical drive slot.

I currently have a fully working Haswell NUC build running "naked" so it is time for some clothes and as the case I am buying is cheap enough I thought it should make a nice little project.

Snags/challenges/issues I anticipate are:

1. Cooling.
Here my choices are between: (a) NUC standard cooler (pros - free; cons - yet to see if it will fit okay as it might mean the NUC has to sit centrally in the case with the cooler in the "well" of the cover; (b) replacing the standard cooler with a different commercial cooler (pros - might be able to find or adapt to make something tailored to fit my application; cons - cost and engineering); ( c ) make an adaptor plate and work out a way for passive cooling using the aluminium of the case (pros- silent; cons - might run hot and the case may become a small heater).
My ideal would be (a) or ( c ), for different reasons!

2. Rear access.
Dependent on how the cooling sorts itself out, this may determine the position of the NUC inside the case. Ideally I'd like the NUC side with the 2 USB 3.0 ports, the PSU inlet, and the graphics outputs to be at or near the rear of the Mac Mini case. However, the cooling solution might make this difficult to achieve…..

3. Connectivity.
1. Mounting the NUC in a Mac Mini case may mean no internal SSD (just the mSATA) so if I find this an issue then I'd like to route the onboard SATA connector to the rear panel for an eSATA option.
2. The front USB 3.0 ports are not accessible, meaning only 2 ports might naturally be at the back of the case. I am not going to cut the Mac Mini aluminium as I anticipate that being a world of hurt with potential to look terrible - so I may need to use one of the headers to bring 2 more USB ports to the rear panel.
3. As the NUC IR sensor is not OS X compatible I may look at using one of the front USB ports to attach an Apple IR sensor and put that in the correct place at the front of the case to make it work.
4. BT and wifi - I have a combined BT/WIFI half mini-PCIe card and will look to mount laptop type antenna in the case so that will have to be either under the Apple logo which I think is not shielded or in the case cover (bottom side). I think for this build a BT/wifi connection is essential given limited USB connections so a BT keyboard and mouse/trackpad is the way to go (making sure that wake on BT works is pretty important then).
5. I think I will need to put a power switch on the rear panel too (although a touch sensor on the top of the case under the Apple logo would be cool - but I suspect not a practical proposition).
6. Rear panel composition. The rear of the Mac Mini has a strange curved aspect. At the moment I am thinking of making my flat rear panel and then building a frame around it to match the curves of the case. As I operate a laser business I expect my first attempt will be to cut flat layers, build them up and bond them together. Alternatively I may have to look at getting a back 3D printed.

Of course, when I get the case here it might be my thoughts are way off. The problem is I have not found ANY NUC in Mac Mini case mods on the net. I have found thin ITX builds and have seen there is even a kit available for that. However, I have the NUC and it SHOULD be a better overall proposition for the case.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions - please don't flame though! - as this mod is a long way off starting as the case is taking the slow (up to 5 weeks) boat from Hong Kong to me….
 
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So, I am feeling a little silly right now. The case dimensions look to be plenty big enough for me to have internal storage, and (I hope) for me to mount the NUC to the rear panel area. So with luck and a following wind maybe this will be fun and not too hard.

I'll let you know when the case gets here. In the meantime though, as I said, all comments and links to other builds are very welcomed.

:)
 
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Just been reading around some NUC issues with regard to cooling and case design - this http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2336947&page=11 makes interesting reading and in particular is relevant when thinking of a passive NUC design. The point about SSD failure at high temp.s is important.

After reading that I would not go for a small passive case for an NUC.

I am wondering in fact if maybe I should stick with the NUC standard cooler, make vents around the base cover for extra intake and perhaps passively cool the SSD by coupling it thermally to the Mac Mini case. It is perhaps a bit of reverse thinking to normal.

Obviously I need to do some more reading…..
 

beelzebozo

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One of the most beautiful cases ever built by Apple. Simple, elegant, minimalistic.

Want a wild idea? The case is approx. 197x197x36mm. The NUC motherboard is approx 102x102mm. So this means you have about 90mm of free space next to the motherboard. A low profile GPU (ie the very popular Saphirre 7750 LP) is 170x67mm. So, in theory, you can fit that next to the motherboard. But wait, it gets better! The NUC hasn't got a PCIe slot. But it has a mini PCIe slot and there are also models with a thunderbolt port... Sooo you could fit one of these: http://www.hwtools.net/Adapter/PE4H.html

And the whole setup could look like this:

crazy_nuc.jpg

Crazy right?
 
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One of the most beautiful cases ever built by Apple. Simple, elegant, minimalistic.

Want a wild idea? The case is approx. 197x197x36mm. The NUC motherboard is approx 102x102mm. So this means you have about 90mm of free space next to the motherboard. A low profile GPU (ie the very popular Saphirre 7750 LP) is 170x67mm. So, in theory, you can fit that next to the motherboard. But wait, it gets better! The NUC hasn't got a PCIe slot. But it has a mini PCIe slot and there are also models with a thunderbolt port... Sooo you could fit one of these: http://www.hwtools.net/Adapter/PE4H.html

And the whole setup could look like this:

View attachment 88306

Crazy right?
Just a little too crazy for me that one!

I know the Sapphire card from my Cube build and even if physically it might be possible (remember too the 7750 will need a 12v PSU of 50W) i am pretty certain that would blow any chances of keeping things cool in there.

Still, I like crazy so keep the ideas coming!
 
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I recently bought some OpenBeam parts.

Title_Picture.jpg

These are the results of a clever little kick-starter originating project. Basically the "beams" are 15mm square extrusions that on each of the four longitudinal sides have a channel capable of taking M3 nuts and securing it captive. They also can slidably take a 3mm thick sheet of material.

By using one of these on each side of the Mac Mini enclosure - they could be JB welded into place or of course you could drill the base of the case for a couple of M3 fixings on each - they can be used to provide a possibility of three different slidable shelf positions. Giving the chance with appropriate placement of making a completely removable sled assembly comprising backplate, NUC, hard drive and any other components needing to be fixed in the Mac Mini.

I think that OpenBeam is a great option for case modding and makes all sorts of things very much easier.

The only downside to me for using these in the Mac Mini case would be they take up 1.5 cm on two sides of the case. However, as there are I think around 19cms internally to play with, the reduction of space down to 13cm side to side and 19cm front to back seems acceptable for the gains and I should be able to still get an NUC and a 2.5" drive (and a few needed adapters) neatly and removably arranged.
 
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The only downside to me for using these in the Mac Mini case would be they take up 1.5 cm on two sides of the case. However, as there are I think around 19cms internally to play with, the reduction of space down to 13cm side to side and 19cm front to back seems acceptable for the gains and I should be able to still get an NUC and a 2.5" drive (and a few needed adapters) .
Did you consider makerbeam slots? They are 1x1 cm only.

cheers
F
 
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Did you consider makerbeam slots? They are 1x1 cm only.

cheers
F
True…:thumbup:


I'll do some measuring and see how tight it might be.

EDIT: 2 x 150mm Makerbeams now ordered. I figured that every cm probably will be useful and that it will give me a chance to compare the different products!
 
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Also bought from eBay in preparation: 1 x audio splitter to route the mic and headphone from the single common front socket to make separate rear sockets, one USB 2.0 PCB header connector with 2mm pitch (the NUC does not have the usual 2.54mm pitch everyone else seems to use) that I can use to connect my Apple IR sensor, a short USB 3.0 right angle to straight cable to route an extra USB port to the back and a capacitive touch switch that I hope I can use to make a touch area on the top Apple logo to turn the NUC on with.

The makerbeam stuff should arrive quickly, so I can hopefully start piecing together a prototype removable system tray.
 
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