[Preservation of Original Post]
Hi everyone! Although I've been a member on OCN since 2006, I've only recently become active on the forum and this is my first thread here. I hope you all enjoy it!
First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has posted a work log or guide on OCN. I've spent many hours reading through entire threads looking at your work, and I've seen some amazing things and learned more than I could possibly imagine. Now it's my turn to make a contribution of my own.
Before I get to the project, you should all know that this is my first mod and I have very little power tool experience. I will be doing many things for the first time. But that only means I will have more opportunities to learn.
Finally, I'd like to give a special thanks to CyberDruid and Syrillian. Your work has especially inspired me, and the two of you are largely responsible for my motivation to do this project.
This case will be for my sig rig; I will not be building a new computer. Here's a picture of my sig rig from last summer.
Sig rig at the start of this project:
Corsair 2x1GB XMS2 DDR2 800
Hitachi P7k500 320GB
Creative Audigy SE
Sony CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive
NZXT Nemesis Elite
I also own a Sapphire 3870, which is not installed because it will not fit in my case.
Swiftech Apogee GTX
Swiftech MicroRes (Rev 1)
Tygon R3603 1/2" ID 5/8" OD
Swiftech Coolsleeves 625 UV Blue
Breeze Miniature Hose Clamps (Yes, some people still use hose clamps in their computers
OK, enough with the introduction, on with the project details! I will be attempting to build an all acrylic case from scratch. I have no experience working with acrylic, so it will be interesting to see how this goes.
The design I have settled on resembles a tech station. However, I am building a fully enclosed case- not a tech station.
The case will be roughly 24” x 12” x 20”. It will be somewhat of a cross between a tower and a tech station. At the bottom I will put my radiator and pump. Suspended above that will be a large box made of black acrylic which will house the power supply, cd drives, and four 3.5” bays, as well as almost all the cables. I will mount the motherboard and hard drive on top of the blackbox, with my microRes somewhere in the upper section. That is the general idea of my Blackbox case. Here are some Sketchup drawings:
The Planning Phase
I will do my best to reproduce my thoughts from the planning phase of my project here for all of you to see. If nothing else, this should explain why I chose to do things the way I did.
I've spent the last two months thinking about different designs. So far I have gone through four or five different revisions, and I must say that Google Sketchup is a great help in that regard. A number of times during the planning phase, I thought I had everything figured out and was ready to order the acrylic and get to work. But after putting the design into Sketchup, there were things I was not quite satisfied with. Even though I have no modding experience I feel as if I've already built a handful of cases, just by having designed them in Google Sketchup. The most important thing to keep in mind when using sketchup is to make everything to scale and use exact dimensions. Doing this will prevent surprises when you go to install hardware in your scratch built case.
When I first sat down to think about designs, I started by considering what I will need to fit in my case. Since I only use one CD drive and one hard drive, I figured I could cut back on the drive bays to save space for a radiator. Just in case I want to add a second 5.25” device, I decided my case should have at least two 5.25” bays. For hard drives I thought I should have a place to mount a primary 3.5” drive, and if possible a collection of 3.5” bays just in case I ever want to setup a RAID array or add storage. Also, I have been considering upgrading to the Feser Quad 480 rad for a while now and I wanted to be able to fit that in my case along with my mcp655 pump and microRes.
Next I decided to write out all my goals/requirements for the case design. Unfortunately I do not have my original list to include here. It was at this point that I started to think about things such as cable routing/management, air flow, etc.
After this I thought about what hardware I wanted to be able to see, and more importantly what hardware I did not want to see. I decided that I want my motherboard, hard drive, and as much of my water loop as possible to be clearly visible. Everything else will be placed in a box of opaque black acrylic, where no one will see it.
Hmm... sounds kind of like... a blackbox!
I spent a long time trying to decide on motherboard orientation. I really like the horizontal tech station style layout. It makes more of the motherboard visible and gives better support to heatsinks and expansion cards. At first, when I was unsure what I would do about a motherboard I/O shield, I decided it was mandatory to mount the motherboard horizontally in case I did not find a good way to support the PCI/PCIe expansion cards. Later, after solving the issue, I considered mounting the motherboard vertically like in a standard ATX case, but I decided to stick with the horizontal layout because I was happy with the design and switching to a vertical mount would require a complete redesign.
For radiator placement, I had a lot of requirements and there was really only one place I considered putting it. First of all, I wanted my radiator to take in cool air directly from outside the case; in other words, my radiator had to be mounted on the case air intake. Second, the radiator must be easy to fill and drain. For this reason my radiator must be mounted sideways. Yes, the Feser quad has a bleed screw so it could be bled in a vertical position. But ideally I would like to be able to fill the majority of my loop by gravity without the assistance of a pump, and I would also like to be able to use a rad that does not have a bleed screw in case I decide to use a different rad. In the end, I chose to mount my rad horizontally at the bottom of my case like I had seen other people do.
The first things I ordered were a couple of upgrades for my sig rig. I bought a DVD burner combo drive, a new wireless card, and some Corsair Dominator ram.
Next I ordered a couple sample pieces of acrylic from McMaster-Carr. I was still having trouble deciding on which color/tint acrylic to use, and I wanted to see McMaster-Carr's acrylic before placing a large acrylic order with them. Here are two 1-square-foot tiles, one gray and the other bronze. They are both .236" (roughly 1/4") thick.
While I liked both panels, I still needed something darker and more opaque, so I ordered another piece in opaque black. Here is the black sheet:
Fan Selection Process
Next I sampled some fans because I was having a hard time deciding which fan(s) to use. I want moderate to high air flow with low volume levels, and since I will be putting most of the fans on a radiator they will need high static pressure. I already had two Scythe S-Flex 1200rpm fans which are incredibly quiet, but do not move as much air as I would like. After reading reviews and fan comparisons, as well as listening to a collection of recordings, I narrowed down my choices to the Scythe S-Flex and the Yate Loon fans. So I ordered one of each, as well as seven fan filters from Petra's Tech Shop. Each bag has two filters in it.
The air filters, while not the best looking, are fairly cheap and work extremely well. I compared the SFlex SFF21G to the Yate Loon D12SM, which I must admit was a completely subjective test and no objective measurements were made.
The YL is definitely a nice fan, but there were a few things I did not like. It seemed significantly noisier than the SFlex fans when undervolted, and it seemed to have significantly less static pressure. Placing one of the fan filters over the YL's air intake severely reduced the airflow.
On the other hand, the SFlex SFF21G seemed louder than the YL at full speed (12 volts). But the noise was not the fan- it was the rush of air that was making the noise. The SFlex SFF21G moves a lot more air than the YL. An addition of an air filter has little effect on the SFlex, and the SFlex moves more air than the YL at the same noise level(undervolted) as the YL at both high, medium, and low voltages.
Something you probably all know is that there is a large price gap between the two fans- the SFlex fans cost about $13 in high volume whereas the YL fans cost about $5 in bulk. My case will probably have twelve 120mm fans, so the difference really adds up! I was hoping that the YL would be close enough to the SFlex that I would not be able to justify paying for the SFlex fans, but sadly this was not the case. However, the fan search did not end there; I wanted to compare the SFlex SFF12G to the SFF12F, which runs at a lower rpm, is more quiet, and moves less air.
So then I went to Sidewinder Computers, where I ordered the parts for my existing water loop. I bought an SFlex SFF21F fan to compare to the SFF21G I bought from Petra's. I also ordered nylon Tee fitting with 1/2" barbs to use for a drain line(which my existing loop does not have), and I ordered some anti vibration pads to use with fans to keep the noise level down.
comparing the SFlex SFF21G to the SFF21F, I decided to use SFF21G fans for my radiator. The two fans have similar airflow/noise ratios and they are pretty much the same except the SFF21G has a higher top speed and low speed. While it is louder than the SFF21F when both are at their lowest speed, but the SFF21G is still nearly silent. However, when run at full speed, the SFF21G seems to move a LOT more air than the SFF21F. Since I'm paying a lot for these fans, I settled with the highest performing one(SFF21G) because I want these fans to last a long time and I feared that in the future I may want more airflow and regret going with SFF21F. Also, I'd like to note that at 12 volts, the SFF21F seem to move more air than the YL D12SM, at a lower volume level, and with more static pressure. Again, please note that all this testing was entirely subjective and I have nothing to back up my claims about these fans.
Once I made up my mind about the fans, I was ready to place a few more orders.
I decided to get the Feser Quad 480 rad. I will be adding both my 3870's to the loop, and my Swiftech MCR320 has been struggling just to keep the water temp down with just my Q6600. I will be putting 8 fans on the Feser quad in push/pull, with shrouds.
Both GPU's and the CPU will be in the same loop. I have chosen the Swiftech MCW60-R2 as my GPU block for a couple reasons. First of all, it is an excellent block at a fair price. It also offers low restriction, which makes it perfect for putting in the same look with my CPU. Since the MCW60 and Feser quad are very non-restrictive, my Swiftech MCP655 pump should have no trouble moving water through the loop with a decent flow rate. Finally, one of the biggest reasons I chose the MCW60 over a full cover waterblock is that it is universal, as far as a universal gpu block goes. I am hoping this new loop will last a long time and that I will be able to upgrade my graphics cards without buying new blocks. Here is what came from Sidewinder Computers today:
EEE PC 901 vs. Feser Quad
In these pictures are my new Feser quad
, 7 more Sflex SFF21G fans
, ram and mosfet sinks for my 3870's, some fittings, a ball valve(to use with the Tee fitting to make draining the loop easier), some hose clamps, and fan headers. Note that I still have no MCW60 GPU blocks- Sidewinder was sold out and I ordered them from Petra's along with a few other things.
And finally, this came yesterday:
Check out what came last night...
So now that the Performance-PCs order has arrived, I'm still waiting on the Petra's, MountainMod's, and SDPlastics' orders.
I've been busy with sketchup the last couple days and I think I've finished the radiator shrouds. They will be made from 1/8" acrylic, probably black. The sketchup file is attached for those interested.
One of the shrouds is wider on one end because the fan filters I have are slightly larger than 120mm and the intake fans need to be spaced further apart than the standard Feser/Swiftech fan spacing.
Sneak Peek of Final DesignEdited by jpz - 9/5/09 at 2:33pm