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PowerHack i3 Cube

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Sep 7, 2015
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Motherboard
ASUS ROG Maximus Gene VII
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Intel Core i7-4790K
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ASUS ROG STRIKER GeForce GTX 760
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  1. MacBook Pro
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  1. Android
PowerHack i3 Cube.jpg
This project is years in the making, most of that time spent on research and planning. I took a lot of inspiration from the builds on this site, particularly MacTester57's build. This is actually my third Apple case mod / Hackintosh. The first one was a Conroe Quicksilver and the second was my Haswell Mac Pro (still my daily driver). I finally finished this Cube last year and been using it as my media server. The main challenge that I gave myself was to make it as clean and functional as the stock Cube but with modern components. This was one of Steve Jobs's passion projects and I wanted to be respectful to that. I also wanted it to be upgradable in the future. I used 3D printed parts to retrofit some of the components.

The main components I used:

ASUS H81T R2.0/CSM LGA 1150 Intel H81 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Thin Mini-ITX Intel Motherboard
https://www.newegg.com/p/N82E16813132714

Intel Core i3-4370 Haswell Dual-Core 3.8 GHz LGA 1150 54W BX80646I34370 Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4600
https://www.newegg.com/intel-core-i3-4th-gen-core-i3-4370/p/N82E16819117446

HyperX Impact 16GB (2 x 8GB) 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3L 1600 (PC3L 12800) Laptop Memory Model HX316LS9IBK2/16
https://www.newegg.com/hyperx-16gb-204-pin-ddr3-so-dimm/p/N82E16820104476

Thermaltake Engine 27 1U Low-Profile 70W Intel 60mm Low Noise PWM Fan Forty Fan Blade CPU Cooler CL-P032-CA06SL-A
https://www.newegg.com/thermaltake-engine-27-cl-p032-ca06sl-a/p/N82E16835106417

Foxconn PVA080F12H 8020 80x80x20mm Cooler Cooling Fan PWM 12V 0.36A 4Pin M353 QL
https://www.newegg.com/p/1YF-003V-000N4

StarTech.com USBPLATE 2-Port USB A Female Slot Plate Adapter
https://www.newegg.com/startech-usbplate-usb-gender-changer/p/N82E16812200086

Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 2.5" 480GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SV300S37A/480G
https://www.newegg.com/kingston-ssdnow-v300-series-480gb/p/N82E16820239757

I bought a couple of Cubes at a great price because they were untested and did not come with a hard drive or power adapter. This is the one I decided to mod:
1.jpg


Disassembly begins:

3.jpg


The opening for the IO panel is cut with the edges filed smooth:

4.jpg


The left side of the IO panel had to be cut in order to fit the case:

5.jpg


The IO panel installed:

6.jpg


I used a pair of M3 threaded rods to hold the motherboard in place:
7.jpg


For the optical drive I designed and 3D printed a pair of brackets to retrofit it:
9.jpg


This test fit actually did not go well, it was misaligned with the opening in the outer case, but after a small redesign it now works perfectly:

10.jpg


Ideally it would've been great to keep it passively cooled like in MacTester57's build, but unfortunately I don't have access to a shop or the machining skills, so I just cut off the stock heatsink and used low profile CPU fan/heatsink. The positive thing is that the weight is considerably reduced. Since I'm using an i3 for this build, it stays cool and quiet. I didn't like the way the aluminum pieces looked after I cut off the heatsink so I filed and sanded them until they looked smooth and symmetrical:
11.jpg


Here it is assembled with the case fan, SSD and power/reset buttons installed:
12.jpg


For the power switch I considered using a 3rd party touch sensor but then decided to get the stock switch to work because I like how the LED reacts to touch, and I couldn't find a touch sensor with a light built in. I used minihack's guide to get it to work but it didn't fit properly due to motherboard clearance. So I decided to install it upside down. I 3D printed a pair of brackets to offset the screw holes:
13.jpg


I'm very happy with the way it turned out:
15.jpg


Here's how it looks assembled. Also you can see how the CPU fan/heatsink perfectly fits without any modification:
16.jpg


Here's the other side with the IO panel and extra USB ports installed. I also made a vinyl decal with the correct labels to cover up the stock labels:

17.jpg


Here are all 4 sides (almost) completed:
18.jpg

19.jpg

20.jpg

21.jpg


I wanted to integrate an Apple IR receiver so I can use an Apple remote with the Cube, but I didn't want to modify the external enclosure of the Cube. So I made a USB dongle using an Apple IR receiver board, a USB connector and a 3D printed enclosure (you can see the full build info here):

Apple IR USB Dongle.jpg


Another thing I wanted to attempt was to mod a pair of Apple Pro Speakers to work with USB and Bluetooth and also look as close to stock as possible (full build info here):

Pro Speakers 2.jpg


The only thing left was to get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which I'm still currently working on. I wanted to use the original locations for the antennas. Since there was space for 2 antennas, I used the Apple BCM94360CS2 card with a Mini PCI-E adapter. I 3D printed a pair of antenna holders that fit perfectly in the original brackets:
22.jpg


I found a pair of antennas from China that ended up being the perfect size and fit even better than I hoped:

23.jpg

Wi-Fi is working, with excellent speeds. Bluetooth is not working at all. From the info I gathered on this site, it has to do with USB mapping, which is something I have not done yet. So that would be the next step in this project. I will be posting updates here.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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Fine work.
 
Joined
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Looks good! I always love a cube.

Would you consider sharing any of the print files for the antennas or the screw offsets? I'd thought about swapping the power button around, but hadn't thought about printing offsets like that- great work!
 
Joined
Sep 7, 2015
Messages
8
Motherboard
ASUS ROG Maximus Gene VII
CPU
Intel Core i7-4790K
Graphics
ASUS ROG STRIKER GeForce GTX 760
Mac
  1. MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
Looks good! I always love a cube.

Would you consider sharing any of the print files for the antennas or the screw offsets? I'd thought about swapping the power button around, but hadn't thought about printing offsets like that- great work!
Thanks!

Sure, I can share those print files.
 

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  • Cube Antenna Holder2.stl.zip
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Joined
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907
Motherboard
Z68MX-UD2H-B3, DQ77KB, NUC DC53427HYE, NUC D54250WYKH
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Nice work and thanks for the mention.
 
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