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NUC in a Mac Mini case

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I am sure there will always be a future project!
Bahah... yeh... that is true. I keep thinking about a totally passive cooled system so I never have to worry about pet hair clogging stuff up.
 
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Bahah... yeh... that is true. I keep thinking about a totally passive cooled system so I never have to worry about pet hair clogging stuff up.
I might end up having to go passive on this one myself.

Having plugged my 1TB drive into the board, the connectors are approximately the same height as the white one at the front of the board.

So it looks like to get it to fit in the Mini case I may need to have the CPU side on the top so that I can have the HDD connectors underneath in the available space made by the lid. In turn, that then means the stock cooler will need to be replaced because it will not be able to draw in cool air when it is tight against the case top. In short that means the stock cooler would need to go and be replaced by a copper plate that can then make contact with a similar plate on the inner case roof. I think though that if I go down that road then I will still need to put in some form of active air intake from the "lid" and venting to the rear to cool the rest of the board components - especially the drives.

Summary, two choices: Passive cooling for the CPU as above OR keep the active cooling and do surgery to remove the standard SATA power and data connectors from the board to wire up connectors directly.

What do you think pros and cons?? (and let's assume I am prepared to void the NUC warranty ;) !).
 
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Have you considered finding another Mac mini case and doing a stacked design? Cut out the top of one and the bottom of another and mate the two for a double tall case?
 
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Have you considered finding another Mac mini case and doing a stacked design? Cut out the top of one and the bottom of another and mate the two for a double tall case?
Doesn't really appeal to me….

If I wanted to go tall I'd not have got an NUC. :)
 
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I think the risk to the motherboard is quite high if you intend to desolder components

Have you seen these sata cables, will they be small enough
http://www.tonymacx86.com/hardware-parts/97591-sata-cables-custom.html

Also I would consider, taking a right angle sata cable from PM G5 and trimming the plastic off the top to get extra headroom. You increase the risk of a cable failure, but this is better than MB failure.

If you do this would also remove any plastic on the connectors that locks the two connectors together, not needed, and will also stres the connector if you have to remove it.

Kiwi
 
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I think the risk to the motherboard is quite high if you intend to desolder components

Have you seen these sata cables, will they be small enough
http://www.tonymacx86.com/hardware-parts/97591-sata-cables-custom.html

Also I would consider, taking a right angle sata cable from PM G5 and trimming the plastic off the top to get extra headroom. You increase the risk of a cable failure, but this is better than MB failure.

If you do this would also remove any plastic on the connectors that locks the two connectors together, not needed, and will also stres the connector if you have to remove it.

Kiwi
It is a waiting game until my case gets here - no irreversible decisions until then! Just looking at the options right now.

Working from other people and their measurements is no substitute for seeing the case myself as there can be a fraction of a mm between "just enough room" and "too tight" and a world of difference between the two outcomes.
 
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I've got a dead Mac Mini and from the looks of it, mounting the NUC so the heat sink is against the top of the case, would be a good choice and have the exhaust exit from your modded back cover. Might even gain a little extra cooling from the aluminum case. I'm betting you will be able to rail mount the motherboard to the back panel and slide it in from the back, but you will have to connect the cables after it is slid in (just like you have to do with the apple mobo.)

You have 26mm height to slide in from the back and 31mm total internal room when including the bump-out that the twist on base gives you. I think 5mm should be enough for low profile connectors as long as they end up in the bump-out space. If you are getting a dead mac mini, it has a flexible circuit board sata cable that is as low profile as you can get... assuming you could solder a sata cable to it.
 
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So the case arrived ahead of expectation today and things have progressed!

Here is the case:





The plastic inserts which hold captive nuts just pop off with a knife:



And here is the NUC just popped into the back of the case (it does not go all the way due to the white plastic power socket).





So I did decide to shave it down to size following the advice from Kiwi:







By this stage I was thinking that the idea of keeping the stock cooler was not the greatest one, as the height is just too marginal, so I was looking at how the cables would be accessed from underneath.



Sata connectors, even slimline ones, just would not have easily fit the other way up as they would sit even higher than the white power connector, and force the board to sit at a strange tilted angle. So I think this configuration will work better. In this configuration of course, they can stick up as they extend into the space left by the Mac Mini base cover.

So I think that the NUC will fit better in the case with the CPU on the top side - obviously though this won't work:



A blower needs to access cool air from somewhere and as the fan would be jammed against the roof, it just isn't gong to happen…...

So I took off and dismantled the original cooler with a view to seeing if the base of the cooler might be suitable to form the base of a new home brewed passive arrangement:







The "fins" of the heatsink had to be pulled off with pliers! and left this behind them:





So it was then a case of cleaning up the base plate to make it the starting point for a new passive heatsink:



Where the fins had been, heat from a heat gun loosened the solder and they could be removed, leaving a layer of solder:



and when that was cleaned off I am left with something that looks good enough for me to work with:



I then took a copper 3mm plate I have and drilled it to match the screw pattern of the base plate:



and that is where I am at right now.

The plan from here on is to use thermal adhesive to attach the 3mm plate to the original cleaned up base plate and use that as a heat spreader. This will then contact with a similar 3mm plate that I will fix to the inside of the Mini casing.

The reasons for the holes in the plate are to be able to access the heads of the fixing screws - which when the plate is glued in place will then be "captive" - so the holes will let me remove the assembly from the processor/board.

I've also made some initial designs for a motherboard tray.
 
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Having reflected overnight on the mod, I have decided to change direction (again!).

I have played with the OpenBeam rails and looked at dimensions once more, including assessing what parts of the case are "flat" and which bits curved.

I have come to the conclusion that a sliding tray system will be too limiting and that access to the interior through the base and the case rear is good enough.

I really want to give the cooling of this case as good a chance of working as possible and to be able to also include what I consider to be essential elements in as airflow friendly a manner as I can.

So my current thoughts are to proceed with my home made spreader block but, instead of a sliding tray, I plan to make a larger thermally bonded in roof tray from 3mm aluminium (copper would be better, but aluminium is easier to work with and I hope good enough). This tray will extend around 10cm into the case and then across most of the width of the case. This roof tray will add to the case cooling area and include binding posts to allow the board to be tightened down symmetrically keeping the spreader block square to the roof.

I'll also include some extra binding posts to the side of the motherboard so that I can fix an additional IO carrier in place there for the audio connection and 2 more USB connections. Then up front in the case will be my Apple IR receiver, a power on LED and my large 2.5" drive. I'm looking also to re-purpose the original blower unit to draw air from the base cover and blow it rear ward across the mobo and also help keep the HDD mSATA and RAM cool.

I will probably abandon the idea for a touch sensor under the logo area and stick with a standard pushbutton on the rear. I will though consider it again when I have all the parts to hand to play with.

It may be a couple of weeks now before a proper update as I need to order in a few bits and pieces, not least of which will be the roof tray. :)
 
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So I took off and dismantled the original cooler with a view to seeing if the base of the cooler might be suitable to form the base of a new home brewed passive arrangement:







The "fins" of the heatsink had to be pulled off with pliers! and left this behind them:





So it was then a case of cleaning up the base plate to make it the starting point for a new passive heatsink:



Where the fins had been, heat from a heat gun loosened the solder and they could be removed, leaving a layer of solder:



and when that was cleaned off I am left with something that looks good enough for me to work with:



I then took a copper 3mm plate I have and drilled it to match the screw pattern of the base plate:



and that is where I am at right now.

The plan from here on is to use thermal adhesive to attach the 3mm plate to the original cleaned up base plate and use that as a heat spreader. This will then contact with a similar 3mm plate that I will fix to the inside of the Mini casing.

The reasons for the holes in the plate are to be able to access the heads of the fixing screws - which when the plate is glued in place will then be "captive" - so the holes will let me remove the assembly from the processor/board.
:clap::clap::clap:
I think I'm going to borrow your repurposed base plate's idea for my Cube 2.0 . I'm planning to use this part http://www.streacom.com/products/ht4-thermal-riser/ instead of a solid copper block.
 
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