Hi all. I've had good luck getting help from the Anandtech forums before (in fact, I had help with the build I'm currently asking about redoing), so I'm hoping to keep the streak alive.
I've currently got a PC-Q11b acting as a home server, but because of my split-platform home (I have a Macbook Pro and Nexus 4, my wife has a Windows laptop and iPhone 4S), I've found it to be less useful than anticipated (Apple makes it harder and harder to use anything but AFS formatted drives for storage, and Windows Home Server just isn't that useful with either mobile OS in my experience.
So, I'm considering revamping it entirely to be a HTPC/decent gaming rig. I had previously wanted a nice AV style case for such a build, but everything that could house a full size GPU is too thick for my entertainment center's main shelf. With the PC-Q11, I could stick it in one of the two cabinets in the center, so long as I had bluetooth controls and opened the back of it up for ventilation and cables.
So, as it stands, the case has the following internals:
ASRock H67m-ITX Mobo
Sandy Bridge Pentium G620 (2.6ghz) (biggest bottleneck if I do this, would be upgraded upon Haswell release)
4GB RAM, 1 stick (so I could easily add one more)
120w Pico-PSU (would have to be replaced with a ~400w PSU)
1TB WD Caviar Green HDD
80GB WD HDD (aka the Minecraft Server Drive)
Obviously the G620 would limit the Radeon 7850, but it would be a stop-gap solution, basically just sticking around until I can get an LGA 1150 mobo + Haswell i5. The Pico-PSU is hardly powerful enough to handle the 7850 by itself, so that would have to go. I would also probably just drop the 80GB HDD, since the Minecraft server hasn't been used in half a year or more, and I'd have no use for it in the new machine.
Here are the changes that I've determined would be necessary to cram in a 7850:
-I would have to add new PSU (something in the 400w+ range I guess, and preferably something that takes up less room than ATX, but looking around, I don't know if that's possible with a good brand)
-Removing the 80GB HDD
-Moving the 1TB HDD to the optical bay at the top of the case*
-Adding an additional 4GB stick of RAM
-Cutting a hole in the floor of the case to fit additional ventilation*
-Replacing the feet of the case to raise it off the surface to take advantage of said ventilation*
*These are modifications I saw elsewhere that people had performed on this case to fit in dual-slot GPUs, and my brother should have the equipment for me to cut the aluminum in a controlled fashion.
The biggest concern that all of this, and primarily why I'm posting it to this board, is going to be air flow and cooling. The case already supplies one 140mm fan up front, and I would put a 120mm or 140mm fan along the bottom in the hole I would cut (this should also help with air flow along the GPU). Removing the HDD bracket and sticking the drive in the top rack shouldn't be too much of a problem, though I will need to figure out how to securely mount it up there (velcro if all else fails). And maybe with that additional space for the GPU to breathe, I wouldn't actually need to cut a hole in the bottom. That'd be nice, but I'm not counting on it.
Is something like this feasible? Here's a picture of the case's internals. I know it looks cramped, but the max expansion slot length supported is 240mm (~9.4"), and the 7850s I've seen tend to be around 8.15". Also remember to picture the HDD in the optical bay up top instead of taking up valuable space near the PCI-e slot. The PSU would sit directly above the mobo (if you mentally rotate yourself such that the mobo is the bottom of the case, anyway).
And again, I know that the G620 is quite weak for the 7850, but it would basically be a placeholder for me until Haswell comes out. I think an i5 Haswell + 7850 would be more than adequate for my needs (it would live hooked up to my TV, so I'd never need more than 1080p).
Thoughts? I've even seen people fit some components similar to these in the PC-Q07, which is even smaller, which gives me hope.