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Old 01-26-2013, 05:08 AM   #1
csillag
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Default Searching for very small (~5l) uATX case (no GPU)

Hi all,

I am new here, and I am looking for advice.

I would like to build a system based on a Micro ATX motherboard (namely, Gigabyte GA-Z77MX-D3H TH ), and not much else.
If possible, I would like to use a passive, externel, power-brick - style CPU.
I don't need any ODD.
I don't want any video card. (The one in the CPU will be just fine for what I need.)
I only need space for one 2.5" SSD.
I would like to use some slim, low-profile cooling solution. (I am going to use a CPU with 45W TDP.)

I am searching for a case that is as small as possible.

Since the motherboard is 9.6" x 9.6", (245mm x 245mm)
I am thinking of something of dimensions like 10" x 10" x 3" (254 x 254 x 72 mm) or so.
( ~ 5l of volume.)

I tried to look, but I could not find any Micro ATX cases in that kind of form factor.
There are some Mini ITX cases, but I want to use a Micro ATX motherboard.
(As far as I can tell, nobody has released Mini ITX motherboards with Thunderbolt ports yet.)

I considered Intel NUC and Shuttle's offering, but none of them offered 3-monitor support, which is required for me.
(Hence the choice of motherboard.)

Could you please help me find a suitable case?

Thank you:

Csillag
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:45 AM   #2
Vectronic
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SilverStone SST-LC19 15.3" x 13.7" x 2.6"

That's the smallest I could find (that's a reasonable price and doesn't come with a bunch of possibly useless hardware), though it seems you might be paying a bit for shipping.

You could look into 1.5U (2.6") or 2U (3.5") Rackmount single system cases... they typically come with a full rack and the smaller case stuck to it. I have no tips there though, that's a whole other dimension...lol

If money isn't a concern, maybe check around your town/city for someone with a metal break, buy sheets of metal, design the case yourself.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:58 AM   #3
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectronic View Post
SilverStone SST-LC19 15.3" x 13.7" x 2.6"

That's the smallest I could find (that's a reasonable price and doesn't come with a bunch of possibly useless hardware), though it seems you might be paying a bit for shipping.
Thank you for the tip. I am aware of that case, but it's still too large, there is a lot of wasted space inside.
Here is how it looks with a uATX mobo installed:

There is a lot of empty space, and the PSU. (That's why it's 15.3" x 13.7", instead of 10" x 10" )

Quote:
You could look into 1.5U (2.6") or 2U (3.5") Rackmount single system cases... they typically come with a full rack and the smaller case stuck to it. I have no tips there though, that's a whole other dimension...lol
Thank you, will look into that.

Quote:
If money isn't a concern, maybe check around your town/city for someone with a metal break, buy sheets of metal, design the case yourself.
I'm not sure about the money, but the required time is definitely an issue. I can not afford that...

Thank you for your answer anyway.
I will keep looking...
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:18 AM   #4
Vectronic
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You probably have, but try looking into Mini-ITX cases where the interior will still fit 9.6x9.6.

For instance, that case I linked to, would still fit a standard ATX motherboard, you would just have to be a bit creative withe some of the mounting screws (or just skip those 3 entirely)

Scale that down to mITX still fitting uATX... The only major problem with that is, you might only have access to the first/top PCI-e slot. But if you were looking into mITX before, seems the number of slots aren't a high priority.

Last edited by Vectronic; 01-26-2013 at 06:23 AM. Reason: fixes.
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:23 AM   #5
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectronic View Post
You probably have, but try looking into Mini-ITX cases where the interior will still fit 9.6x9.6.

For instance, that cause I linked to, would still fit a standard ATX motherboard, you would just have to be a bit creative withe some of the mounting screws (or just skip those 3 entirely)

Scale that down to mITX still fitting mATX... The only major problem with that is, you might only have access to the first/top PCI-e slot. But if you were looking into mITX before, seems the number of slots aren't a high priority.
... I have not thought of this. Are the mounting holes compatible?
And what about the back-panel connectors? Is there enough space for them? I will look into this...

About the slots: right, not interested, for now. (If they are needed later, I might just move into a bigger case.)
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:29 AM   #6
Vectronic
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Yeah, the mounting holes are all in the same ATX pattern... depending on the motherboard layout (standard/non-standard), it might be missing a hole, or have extra holes, but they all follow the same pattern.

The images here are kinda useless, but... example enough.

An example using the board you want, with a mITX from Gigabyte. You only get 4 mount points, but they are the important ones, you could either drill the others, or just use padding, or modified mounting screws to work as stand-offs.

Last edited by Vectronic; 01-26-2013 at 06:47 AM. Reason: pointless image
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:15 AM   #7
csillag
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Now I'm looking at the Cooler Master Elite 100, which is about the right size (10,3" x 12,5" x 2,7"), and can accept uATX.

However, it seems to be obsolete, and not really on sale any more, at least here in Europe.

Will keep looking...
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:28 AM   #8
coffeejunkee
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Are you sure you need Thunderbolt? HD4000/2500 support 3 monitors, as long as 2 monitors support DisplayPort. Intel DH77DF is a mITX board with DisplayPort output.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:44 AM   #9
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeejunkee View Post
Are you sure you need Thunderbolt? HD4000/2500 support 3 monitors, as long as 2 monitors support DisplayPort. Intel DH77DF is a mITX board with DisplayPort output.
According to this FAQ by Intel, one needs to connect two of the displays via DisplayPort.

The mentioned Intel mITX board (and every other mITX or mATX board I have even seen) has only one DisplayPort. So, I guess it's not gonna work without Thunderbolt.

The only way out would be to use a DisplayPort splitter, but
  • That's very expensice
  • It severely limits the available resolution
  • It's hard to say which motherboards support it.
So I guess the safest way is to go with Thunderbolt, for now.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:03 AM   #10
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This is not really my area of expertise but as I've understood it you link up the monitors to each other. Would make sense because I don't know a single H77/Z77 board with more than 1 displayport.

Also, afaik the only TB monitor available is the Apple Cinema Display. 3 of those are going to cost a whole lot more than a DisplayPort splitter.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:31 AM   #11
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeejunkee View Post
This is not really my area of expertise but as I've understood it you link up the monitors to each other.
Well, as far as I know, that's not how it works.
My plan is to use both Thunderbolt ports as simple DisplayPort, and connect the 3rd monitor via the HDMI port.

Thunderbolt supports daisy-chaining, but the requires active Thunderbolt devices, which I don't have, and don't plan on buying.

DisplayPort 1.2 also supports daisy-chaining, but don't know what kind of devices support it. My monitors certainly don't. (And i'm not sure the motherboards support it, either.)

Quote:
Would make sense because I don't know a single H77/Z77 board with more than 1 displayport.
...yes, and so most H77/Z77 boards can't really do 3 monitors, even though the GPU supports it. This is what the owners of such boards have realized, usually after the purchase. For example, see this thread.


Quote:
Also, afaik the only TB monitor available is the Apple Cinema Display. 3 of those are going to cost a whole lot more than a DisplayPort splitter.
Yep. Not going there. I plan to keep using my simple DVI monitors, with my active DisplayPort->DVI adapters, plus a passive HDMI->DVI dongle.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:26 PM   #12
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeejunkee View Post
This is not really my area of expertise but as I've understood it you link up the monitors to each other. Would make sense because I don't know a single H77/Z77 board with more than 1 displayport.
When ASUS released the "P8Z77-V Premium" motherboard (equipped with TB+DP+HDMI display outputs), it has said that it's the first Z77 motherboard to support 3-way digital output - because the TB port can be used as a DP, and thus we have two DP ports, which is required, according to Intel. It figures.

See this review.
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:21 PM   #13
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I really like the Wesena cases.

http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.c...5.qscstrfrnt04
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:56 PM   #14
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scannall View Post
They look like, but
  • Their Mini-ITX cases won't accept a Micro ATX mobo, and
  • The slim HTPC cases are too wide; their 17"x15" footprint in ~2.5x what I need. (Ideally, something around 10" x 10")
So those won't work for me now.


Thank you for the suggestion anyway.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:49 AM   #15
coffeejunkee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csillag View Post
When ASUS released the "P8Z77-V Premium" motherboard (equipped with TB+DP+HDMI display outputs), it has said that it's the first Z77 motherboard to support 3-way digital output - because the TB port can be used as a DP, and thus we have two DP ports, which is required, according to Intel. It figures.

See this review.
Ok, guess we could expect something like that from Intel. Especially weird it's not working with the active DP adapter.

Back to your original question, there just aren't that many really small mATX cases, most are simply shrunk down ATX cases. Silverstone has some small ones though, like http://www.silverstonetek.com/produc...id=182&area=en and http://www.silverstonetek.com/produc...id=345&area=en. But they are still about 20L.

Maybe you should consider getting a mITX case like http://www.lian-li.com/v2/en/product...ndex=64&g=spec and adding a basic discrete card for 3 monitor output.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:37 AM   #16
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeejunkee View Post
Ok, guess we could expect something like that from Intel. Especially weird it's not working with the active DP adapter.
Technically, I think it's (mostly) the fault of the motherboard companies. They should simply add 2 DP (or miniDP) port to their boards with Z77 chipsets, and then we would not have any problems.

Quote:
Back to your original question, there just aren't that many really small mATX cases, most are simply shrunk down ATX cases. Silverstone has some small ones though, like http://www.silverstonetek.com/produc...id=182&area=en and http://www.silverstonetek.com/produc...id=345&area=en. But they are still about 20L.
Too big for me. Way too big.

Quote:
Maybe you should consider getting a mITX case like http://www.lian-li.com/v2/en/product...ndex=64&g=spec and adding a basic discrete card for 3 monitor output.
I already have a fanless, PCI-E x1 radeon card, that can do Eyefinity. (1 DP + 1 DVI + 1 D-SUB. With Eyefinity, you have to have 1 DP. With Intel, you need 2... )

The thing is, since integrated graphics is so powerful nowadays, and it's already there, and sucking up power (and my money), why not just it, too?
So I would like to avoid having to use a discrete card. Adding a card makes the build more complicated, too, since it brings extra requirements, about the space, cooling, etc.

Also, expandability is way better on Micro ATX than on Mini ITX. So, if later, for whatever reason, I decide to add a few cards, then if I have a Micro ATX build, I just need to get a bigger case, and I can keep the rest of the system. If I go MiniITX now, and need expandability later, I need to re-do everything from scratch.

So I would really prefer to go with the mentioned Micro ATX board.

* * *

The Cooler Master Elite 100 case should probably work. Now let's see if I can hunt one down somehow...
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:38 AM   #17
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I suppose they could add a 2nd displayport, but still, there are many discrete cards out there with 1 dp output which run 3 monitors fine, assuming you use native dp monitors or an active adapter.

That CM case is small indeed, but it looks like you can't actually use any mATX expansion slots? The mobo seems to slide under the psu...
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:14 PM   #18
piasabird
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There are cases like this with a 250w power supply:
http://www.directron.com/mi008.html
Dimension:
- 8.7"x 5.1"x 11.8"; 220mm x 129mm x 300mm (W) x (H) x (D)
*Measurement of depth is without front bezel.
Drive Bay:
- 1 - 5.25" Exposed
- 1 - 3.5" Exposed
- 1 - 3.5" Hidden
Form Factor: Small form factor
Motherboard: Mini ITX
Expansion Bay: 1 full size expansion
PSU: ATX12V SFX 250W with 20+4 pin MB connector
Front Access Port:
- USB2.0 Port x 2
- Audio Port x 2 (AC97 & HD Plug)

So what dimension is most important to be small?
Height, width, Depth?
There may be some case with a slot loading DVD or Slim DVD that are smaller. However, smaller is often more expensive. If you used an external Optical drive it could get pretty small. If you went with no hard drive and used only an SSD you might have to use an external brick power supply.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856102002

This is more like a toy?

Thunderbolt + HDMI
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856102001

Cubes

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2296848

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811119261
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Last edited by piasabird; 01-27-2013 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:42 PM   #19
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I reread your requirements. Seems like you want to do more than whats possible in such a small size. For 3 monitors with HDMI you either have to find a MINI-ITX motherboard that supports that or use a video card. Gigabyte has a couple of boards that have 2 HDMI ports with a third that is DVI. I dont know what kind of results you will get with 3 monitors from just an IGP.

What kind of video do you expect with 3 monitors? Is this for stocks or what? I use 2 monitors at work for scanning and it seems to work ok. I have seen some video plugs that have 2 dvi connectors split out from one plug.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:08 AM   #20
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piasabird View Post
There are cases like this with a 250w power supply:
http://www.directron.com/mi008.html
Dimension:
- 8.7"x 5.1"x 11.8"; 220mm x 129mm x 300mm (W) x (H) x (D)
*Measurement of depth is without front bezel.
Drive Bay:
- 1 - 5.25" Exposed
- 1 - 3.5" Exposed
- 1 - 3.5" Hidden
Form Factor: Small form factor
Motherboard: Mini ITX
Expansion Bay: 1 full size expansion
PSU: ATX12V SFX 250W with 20+4 pin MB connector
Front Access Port:
- USB2.0 Port x 2
- Audio Port x 2 (AC97 & HD Plug)
Thank you, but the Micro ATX MoBo won't fit. (Its 245 x 245 mm)

Quote:
So what dimension is most important to be small?
Height, width, Depth?
All 3.
Height should not be more than 70-80mm,
Depth should not be more than 250-300mm,
Width should not be more than 350-400mm.

I want to put it into my back-pack, much like a really large notebook.

Quote:
There may be some case with a slot loading DVD or Slim DVD that are smaller. However, smaller is often more expensive. If you used an external Optical drive it could get pretty small. If you went with no hard drive and used only an SSD you might have to use an external brick power supply.
Yep, that's what I'm gonna do: no DVD, no 3.5" drive, external brick power.

The only problem with that is that it does not support triple monitor.

Cubes are too high.
(To be carried around like I want to.)
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:13 AM   #21
csillag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piasabird View Post
I reread your requirements. Seems like you want to do more than whats possible in such a small size. For 3 monitors with HDMI you either have to find a MINI-ITX motherboard that supports that or use a video card. Gigabyte has a couple of boards that have 2 HDMI ports with a third that is DVI. I dont know what kind of results you will get with 3 monitors from just an IGP.
I found a vendor that can sell me this case, here.
The sizes are 260mm x 69mm x 318mm - inside my limits.
And it accepts Micro ATX mobo - perfect.

I have found Micro ATX boards (both for Intel, both for AMD) that can do three display with integrated graphics.

So, basically, problem solved now.

Quote:
What kind of video do you expect with 3 monitors? Is this for stocks or what?
Writing software and developing applications, reading docs, doing research, that kind of stuff.

Quote:
I use 2 monitors at work for scanning and it seems to work ok. I have seen some video plugs that have 2 dvi connectors split out from one plug.
The problem is resolution. Two kind of splitters usually limit the supported resolution. I want (at least) 3 x 1920x1200...

Will ping back when the build is ready.
(I plan to start actually purchasing the parts in a week or so.)

Last edited by csillag; 01-28-2013 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:34 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csillag View Post
So, basically, problem solved now.
*Celebrates*

Even with a 45W TDP CPU, if you are stressing it, it might be a problem to cool it, that case is fairly air-tight, though I guess if you are removing the PSU you can have exhaust fan(s) there.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:53 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csillag View Post
I found a vendor that can sell me this case, here.
The sizes are 260mm x 69mm x 318mm - inside my limits.
And it accepts Micro ATX mobo - perfect.

I have found Micro ATX boards (both for Intel, both for AMD) that can do three display with integrated graphics.

So, basically, problem solved now.

Writing software and developing applications, reading docs, doing research, that kind of stuff.

The problem is resolution. Two kind of splitters usually limit the supported resolution. I want (at least) 3 x 1920x1200...

Will ping back when the build is ready.
(I plan to start actually purchasing the parts in a week or so.)
I am glad you found a solution. I was in a similar scenario, where I wanted a slim case for a MicroATX> I actually did get a CoolerMaster Elite 100. The PSU blocks the expansion ports, but I did not mind. See how it looks here

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2079074

Haha, wow, I did that almost 3 years ago.. still using it as an HTPC
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:11 PM   #24
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Shame the socket wasn't in the center of the case, having that little black box with some gaint cooler sticking from the top would look neat...lol

Like one of these with a light in the center.


Damnit, getting ideas.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:51 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AkumaX View Post
I am glad you found a solution. I was in a similar scenario, where I wanted a slim case for a MicroATX> I actually did get a CoolerMaster Elite 100. The PSU blocks the expansion ports, but I did not mind. See how it looks here

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2079074

Haha, wow, I did that almost 3 years ago.. still using it as an HTPC
Hi,

I have read your thread, when I was researching this case.
I suspect that the one I found might be a lower-quality clone of the original Elite 100. (Since the dimensions are identical, to the mm.)

I'll see how it look on the inside when I get it.

Finding the right cooling solution will be a challenge, thought.
I consider doing something like this. (The part with the hammer is hilarious.)
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