Lets Design Our Own HTCP Chassis - Provide Your Design Input

dhy8386

OSNN Newbie
Joined
10 Dec 2007
Messages
3
All,

I do not know about you but I have always been frustrated by the lack of the “perfect” htpc case. To me the perfect case is a small footprint, with great air flow and is extremely silent. The case ideally would also be minimalist since I want it to be able to sit next to my TV and look sexy. However, most cases are either too tall, too wide and deep, very noisy, or some other mix. Building my own case would be the utopia but until now, that was never a serious reality. Then I stumbled upon a site called Protocase. They custom build steel cases and the quality looks fantastic. It got me thinking about designing my own case - but even better, allowing all of us to customize and perfect a htpc case that we could all have built. After spending countless hours looking at various htpc style chassis and reading reviews on them, I have come up with my first pass. Included are a series of sketches (sorry for the poor renderings) for my idea. The case will be constructed out of relatively thick steel for maximum noise damping. It will house a Micro-ATX motherboard and standard ATX power supply (this was important to me to maximize the choices). The case will have 2 expansion slots (although I think three may be feasible) via a riser to allow for 1 PCI-e 16 card and one PCI card. To maximize space, I used a slot load, slimline DVD/CD drive. The case will house 2 3.5” HDs (my intent is for the brackets to allow the HDs to be mounted on noise damping foam). It will also have a VFD/IR mounted behind a window (i plan to use the imon VFD/IR OEM version installed on the inside of a case). It will have one power/standby button. This keeps the front looking minimalist and sleek.Airflow is from front to back exhausted through the sides via a 92MM intake and a 92MM exhaust (the PSU will exhaust on the left side and a separate 92MM fan will exhaust on the right side - this airflow dynamic is similar to Silverstone’s LC11 which keeps the components quite cool). All the airflow openings are strategic as I wanted to allow for efficient airflow without allowing too much noise to escape. Hence why I designed this to allow for bigger 92MM fans instead of more typical 80MM. All my renderings are in silver to make it easier to see but my intent is for the case to be black.

Please provide me feedback as I know this designed can be improved dramatically with all our collective inputs.
 

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Sazar

F@H - Is it in you?
Political Access
Joined
12 Apr 2002
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14,905
Given the heat output of some components internally, I would consider using an all mesh or grill upper. If this is sitting within a cabinet or something similar, it will look cool in that way :)

With a lot of passive products on the market, noise should not be an issue.

Also, beige == bleh.
 

dhy8386

OSNN Newbie
Joined
10 Dec 2007
Messages
3
Here are the other two pictures...

You have hit on my main concern. Is this case well ventilated enough. We do not need it to be freezing. We just want good heat performance as it will serve as an HTPC not a super-OC's gaming rig. The mesh grill is a good suggestion - I am balancing that against nosie output...
 

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Taurus

hardware monkey
Joined
8 May 2002
Messages
3,206
ooh, i like this discussion. i actually bought a sheet of sheetmetal years ago with the intention of cutting and bending by own case. this was like 5 years ago when it seemed like there were a lot less specialty-type cases out on the market. never ended up getting around to it.

some things i like about your design...

- the choice for 92mm fans. larger is always better. and with an ATX power supply being just over 80mm tall, 92mm would be a good size for the max internal height and give the case something like a 95mm (3.9") external height.

i also like the design for the front face in that is elevated out from the chassis so that the perimeter is, in effect, a hidden intake vent.

- a vibration-dampening system for the harddrives is a must. this is something i wish more cases had.


here some changes I would change...

- instead of having the power supply take in it's own fresh air from the bottom, raise it up so that there is a 10mm gap below the fan and remove the vent in the case so that the power supply aids in total case ventilation. this would potentially let you eliminate a case fan to save space and reduce noise. obviously, the power supply could be flipped over so the intake fan is facing up, if need be.

- if the above is implemented, then you could also remove the two harddrive vents on the bottom and, thus, have a solid bottom. with bottom ventilation being a non-issue, you could shorten the feet to something like 1mm, thus saving more overall space. short feet that are hardly noticeable also give the ability for the case to be stood upright without looking silly. this gives increased flexibility for the consumer. you might have to include feet on one or both sides, in this case.

- let the front intake be the only one in order to provide a straighter path for airflow. the power supply would vent out air on the left side and the lone 92mm fan near the cpu could vent air on the right side. if the front is designed right so that air can come in on both sides, then there should be no hot corners in the case.

other general questions/comments...

what kind of riser do you plan to use? by the looks of it, it will connect to the motherboard using a ribbon cable instead of being a solid piece. i don't know how that could potentially affect PCI and PCI-E communication. worth a consideration, though.

- front faces with different color options would be cool. gloss black, matte black, silver, brushed aluminum, gloss white, etc. if you were to get up to the mass-production scale.

- and maybe make the front face easy to snap on/off. then if you include a screen on the front of the chassis (behind the face) to filter out hair and dust, it would be easy to clean it routinely. removing the face to clean is easier than unplugging everything and taking it outside to blow it out.


that's all i got for now.. :)
 

Taurus

hardware monkey
Joined
8 May 2002
Messages
3,206
dhy8386, where'dja go? 2 posts and you're gone? i was excited about this.
 

dhy8386

OSNN Newbie
Joined
10 Dec 2007
Messages
3
Still here....

From the collective input I have received here and from other boards, here is the latest....

I like your idea of removing the bottom vents (the less openings the better). Instead there will be two top openings (I had originally thought bottom openings would have less of an impact on noise but from what I have read, this is not true). One over the CPU to allow for cool air to be pulled in and then exhausted to the right. The other will be directly over the PSU like you said. I think i would still leave the side vent on the PSU side. Additionally, I am turning the HDs 90 degrees so I can decrease the width by an inch/inch and a half. As for the riser, I was thinking about using this one below which would stick into the PCIe 16 slot so that when the video cards are flipped, they should only hang off the end of the board by about an inch (i realize that i may need to increase the width of the case up to an inch - I will do better measurements to confirm).

While I am still convinced I should use an ATX powersupply, what do you thing about using a mATX PSU? It would allow for the case height to be reduced by about 1/4 of an inch. I dont think that is worth the change but....

The different color face plates would be a good idea if I ever got this thing to scale...
 

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