Just a few weeks ago, I had a water cooled build in a small case, but the GPU went on the fritz recently so I had decided to downsize to a simpler build. Also, still keeping with a small form factor, I was curious about making a small build out of a Dell Optiplex SFF computer case. Most of the parts from the last build will be re-used on this one, so there won't be a lot of money spent.
The goal here is for a decent budget rig in a Steam Machine-like form factor. Also giving it a sleeper look would be interesting, hence the choice of this case. I've been researching various other cases to use, and out of those the Optiplex 3010 case in its small form was the best in terms of accessibility and adaptability for standard PC components. I still need to do a fair amount of modding to it, but it is not hard to work with.
Here's how it will compare in terms of size with other similarly shaped cases that can hold higher-end hardware.
Silverstone RVZ01 - 14 L
Fractal Design Node 202 - 10.2 L
Valve Steam Machine - 7.2 LDell Optiplex 3010 SFF - 8.4L
Not bad, I think, and it's pretty close to the Steam Machine in size even if it's not exactly the same.
When the build is done it will hold a mini ITX board, a standard length GPU, and a SFX power supply that should support almost every single GPU card that is out right now. Seeing as I'm on a budget, though, it won't be the latest and greatest graphics card, but a Fury Nano or 980 Ti is theoretically possible My parts list
Motherboard: Asus Z97I-Plus
CPU: Pentium G3258
CPU cooler: (maybe) Cooler Master GeminII M4
RAM: 2x4GB Samsung "wonder" Green DDR3-1600
GPU: EVGA GTX 760
Power: Silverstone ST45SF-G 450W
SSD: SanDisk X110 m.2 128GB
HDD: Toshiba DT01ACA200 2TB
Case: Dell Optiplex 3010 SFF
The only hardware I haven't bought yet is the CPU cooler and riser for the graphics card. I'm currently waiting for the graphics card to arrive.
So right now here's the main attraction- the case itself.
It was bought brand new, probably unused stock. It even has the protective wrapping on the front. The front bezel looks really nice. I thought it would be a bright silver color, but it is darker when you actually see it, closer to gunmetal color.
All the front I/O and fixtures for holding hardware are with the case. This includes the 2-in-1 hard drive and ODD caddy, and front 80mm fan holder with an included fan. Too bad the caddy can't be used with this build.
Here is the top inside of the case with the caddy removed. Note that despite being designed for a proprietary motherboard, 4 of the screw holes are in the exact locations to mount any mini ITX board.
Bottom inside view showing I/O cables and front fan. The tall standoff props up the caddy, and it can simply be un-screwed from the base. That fan is in a good spot to blow fresh air into the GPU and hard drive, especially since the my GPU has a blower-style cooler.
A closer look shows that the fan is mounted with rubber vibration-dampening screws.Build starts here
I already started the modding process, so let's get down to it!
I started with some easy stuff- removing the 4 posts that secure the CPU bracket on the Dell motherboard. They will interfere with the board and PSU that I will install.
The motherboard can't be installed yet, though. Now to remove the stock I/O shield. This one is integrated as part of the case.
I thought the foam padding was glued on, but it's just held by two small metal tabs and came off easily.
Now to cut a hole so that the motherboard I/O can fit in!
The stock I/O shield is actually smaller than a standard one. If I cut any further it will cut right through the rear vent, which I'm not sure if I want to do, so I'm just going to leave it as an open hole for now.
But what matters is that the motherboard fits! (CPU cooler is temporary)
Next, I will work on fitting in the power supply.