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Question mATX case without wasted space for HDD/DVD or water-cooling

HerrKaLeu

Member
Nov 23, 2016
98
5
41
I want to build a PC that only uses m.2 SSD. No need for HDD/DVD. Here is what should fit in:

  • Maximum board size would be mATX
  • ATX bottom-mounted and easy to maintain filter
  • one to two 2.5" SSD
  • iGPU or a smaller graphics card
  • ideally 2 front 140mm fans, alternatively 2 120mm fans. Easy to maintain filter. A bottom fan with easily maintainable filter also would be good.
  • air cooling only. I assume since the width is a minimum due to the ATX-PSU, it may fit a 120mm cooler. Alternatively 92mm cooler may be OK. Not looking at more much than 65W TDP CPU.
  • Easy to clean air filter for all intake fans inc. PSU. Something what Fractal Design does with the Define units would be great.
All the cases still have the space in front for HDD/DVD and possible radiators. That adds about 10-12 cm to the depth of the case and is not used in my build. Many cases also have options for top radiator, which again wastes space for my case. Since the maximum is two 2.5" SSD, this also would cut down on cable management needs.

Something like a small FD Refine, but shorter and lower. Ideally price and quality are not worse than Fractal Design. I don't care for a window, but it wouldn't be a dealbreaker since my planned build would be very neat. Since this build doesn't really require much actual building, I also would look at a lower quality than FD if needed.

It seems most cases are still built for HDD. I realize people still buy them new, or have old ones. But I want to build a PC that has the absolute minimum only and has a case as small as possible. I don't want an ITX case, since I want to use the cheaper and more available mATX hardware. Without HDD space it should be possible to make an mATX case almost as small as an ITX case. I also recycle my main rig hardware (mATX) in this smaller build. I realize this case will be useless for someone who needs 3.5" drives.



the closest what I found is this Rosewill FBM-X2 for around $40 it holds 1 HDD, so they could still make it a bit shorter without that HDD space. I'm also not sure about the PSU dust filter.

Please point me in the right direction. Thanks.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
49,206
5,458
126
Do you care about "looks", or cable-management in any way? The smaller cases, most notably the really small micro-ATX Rosewill towers, have basically NO ROOM for cable management. No PSU "basement", no half-an-inch clearance between the frame and the back side (right side) panel. Just wires all hanging astrew in the main compartment.

There's a reason most higher-end cases are built how they are.

If you don't need a DVD drive, there are quite a few cases that are a bit shorter depth-wise.
 

HerrKaLeu

Member
Nov 23, 2016
98
5
41
Do you care about "looks", or cable-management in any way? The smaller cases, most notably the really small micro-ATX Rosewill towers, have basically NO ROOM for cable management. No PSU "basement", no half-an-inch clearance between the frame and the back side (right side) panel. Just wires all hanging astrew in the main compartment.

There's a reason most higher-end cases are built how they are.

If you don't need a DVD drive, there are quite a few cases that are a bit shorter depth-wise.
My cable management would be to avoid most cables :)
SSD would be m.2. Maybe, maybe, there would be a legacy 2.5" SSD. So we just talk about the 24-pin and the CPU cable mostly.
I'm fine twist-tying the cables if needed. This wouldn't be a case to re-arrange stuff often. so the itnerior look doens't matter too much.

From the outside, if it looked conservative would be best. No colored stuff, stripes, weird shapes and so on. The above Rosewill would be OK loo-wise. Nothing offending or polarizing, timeless.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
49,206
5,458
126
Yeah, I think some sort of Rosewill micro-ATX, without the LED front fans, the ones with the subdued look, would probably be your best bet. Cheap, too, when they're on sale.

(Also check "rosewill_inc" on ebay, they sell them direct on ebay, as well as from "newegg" on ebay too. Sometimes one or the other will have free shipping or be $5 cheaper than the other.)
 

pauldun170

Diamond Member
Sep 26, 2011
7,007
2,122
136
I want to build a PC that only uses m.2 SSD. No need for HDD/DVD. Here is what should fit in:

  • Maximum board size would be mATX
  • ATX bottom-mounted and easy to maintain filter
  • one to two 2.5" SSD
  • iGPU or a smaller graphics card
  • ideally 2 front 140mm fans, alternatively 2 120mm fans. Easy to maintain filter. A bottom fan with easily maintainable filter also would be good.
  • air cooling only. I assume since the width is a minimum due to the ATX-PSU, it may fit a 120mm cooler. Alternatively 92mm cooler may be OK. Not looking at more much than 65W TDP CPU.
  • Easy to clean air filter for all intake fans inc. PSU. Something what Fractal Design does with the Define units would be great.
All the cases still have the space in front for HDD/DVD and possible radiators. That adds about 10-12 cm to the depth of the case and is not used in my build. Many cases also have options for top radiator, which again wastes space for my case. Since the maximum is two 2.5" SSD, this also would cut down on cable management needs.

Something like a small FD Refine, but shorter and lower. Ideally price and quality are not worse than Fractal Design. I don't care for a window, but it wouldn't be a dealbreaker since my planned build would be very neat. Since this build doesn't really require much actual building, I also would look at a lower quality than FD if needed.

It seems most cases are still built for HDD. I realize people still buy them new, or have old ones. But I want to build a PC that has the absolute minimum only and has a case as small as possible. I don't want an ITX case, since I want to use the cheaper and more available mATX hardware. Without HDD space it should be possible to make an mATX case almost as small as an ITX case. I also recycle my main rig hardware (mATX) in this smaller build. I realize this case will be useless for someone who needs 3.5" drives.



the closest what I found is this Rosewill FBM-X2 for around $40 it holds 1 HDD, so they could still make it a bit shorter without that HDD space. I'm also not sure about the PSU dust filter.

Please point me in the right direction. Thanks.
Cougar MG120
Picked one up for my HTPC and I am pleased with it. The tooless SSD mounting setup is very flexible. The drive cage is removable.

It might be bigger than you prefer so check the dimensions.
Pricing varies from high 30's to mid 40's
 

HerrKaLeu

Member
Nov 23, 2016
98
5
41
Yeah, I think some sort of Rosewill micro-ATX, without the LED front fans, the ones with the subdued look, would probably be your best bet. Cheap, too, when they're on sale.

(Also check "rosewill_inc" on ebay, they sell them direct on ebay, as well as from "newegg" on ebay too. Sometimes one or the other will have free shipping or be $5 cheaper than the other.)
thanks for the ebay hint

Cougar MG120
Picked one up for my HTPC and I am pleased with it. The tooless SSD mounting setup is very flexible. The drive cage is removable.

It might be bigger than you prefer so check the dimensions.
Pricing varies from high 30's to mid 40's
Thanks. Looks like a nice case, but a bit large, though.
 

HerrKaLeu

Member
Nov 23, 2016
98
5
41
I haven't found the perfect case yet, but have 3 contenders:
Rosewill FBM-X2 they cost around $30-$40, but are currently not well available.
Jonsbo U3 Cost around $70, but isn't really available these days. My nitpick is they should put the PSU at the bottom and draw air for it from below.
Silverstone PS 15 Is around $70, and has a glass panel. I'd prefer the solid panel. sn' look bad, but

For comparison, I already own a Fractal Design core 1100, but think it is 2 large due to DVD option (and has room for improvement for my case). I actually own 2 of them. The above are a bit wider, which works for for larger coolers.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,199
931
126
I think Raijintek has some interesting minimalistic cases.
The problem with those cases that i do not like is the lack of fan mounts.

Having the case support a AIO radiator, also means it has well placed fan mounts.
This is why case makers try to push it out.
 
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HerrKaLeu

Member
Nov 23, 2016
98
5
41
I ordered the Rosewill FBM-X2. But I actually will return it. No, it isn't that bad. The good, it also can fit two 140mm fans in the front.


The bad are:

- the front panel has an opening at the bottom. that will bypass the front filter. Front filter is a bit too much, since it is not fine, more like little holes. But still better than that opening. I have a Fractal Core 1100, which has the same problem.

- A regular 400w PSU that is 160mm long doesn't fit in with the cables due to the HDD cage. there is about 180mm space, and the 2 cm gap isn't enough to bend my modular cables. At least not without using violence. I also have another 400w PSU, which is also 160mm long. So I assume that is a more or less standard length.


Yes, I could drill out the HDD cage, but then I couldn't return the case anymore. If for some reason they don't let me return it, i may try that. The cage could have been 5-10mm closer to the front, which would make this work.
 

HerrKaLeu

Member
Nov 23, 2016
98
5
41
Total 180°. I already requested the RMA for return, but slept over that case and decided to give it a shot. I drilled out the HDD cage, which gave my PSU (160mm long) enough room and also serves as a storage space for items.
with the HDD removed, you also can slide the fans a bit lower. This enables two 140mm fans to be installed. If the HDD cage is installed, the fans are higher, and may bend the USB-3 cable. (the case is rated for 2x120mm only). i installed two 140mm front fans and removed the rear 120 mm fan that came with the case.
My 145mm (120mm fan) CPU cooler also fits with very little room to spare. panel and SSd cables fit behind the mobo-tray. The mobo-cable doesn't without fear of bending the right panel.

2.5" SSD are easy to install and you can install them after the mobo (some cases require that before the mobo).

Conclusion:
- this case is as small as you can make it wile being able to install cables. If you have a smaller PSU, you can leave the HDD cage in, but I think that cage would make things much tighter.
- thermals are similar to my Define R5 (I only have iGPU on a non-OC i7700K). My R5 also had 2 bottom fans in addition. CPU max at 76°C, the R5 with 2 added bottom fans has a 1-2°C advantage.I say if you have a graphics card with certain power, you want a larger case
- the top magnetic filter slides around when you attach panels (they could make this solid)
- PSU filter is a bit flimsy
- Front filter is bypassed by the hole in the bottom (the hole you pull on to remove the front panel). i can duct-tape over that.
- noisier, now I hear my CPU fan under load. a closed top may help. but a 140mm CPU cooler won't fit. So it isn't like the Define cases. but noiseless under normal operation. A 65W CPU also may help.
- The way I set it up i can install two 2.5" SSD (the HDD cage could have held the 2.5/3.5 drive plus a 2.5" on top). I'm moving to m.2 SSd anyway, so this isn't a limit

My advice to manufacturer:
- delete the HDD cage
- make it a tiny bit shorter
- have a solid top
- Use a full mesh front - that saves a bit of length and improves airflow
- design for 140 fans - because there are the rails for 120 and 140mm fans, the sheetmetal has some unnecessary restrictions.
- skip the USB 2.0, just provide two USB 3.0
- controls should be in a 45° slant. There is always the decision between having the controls on top, or front. in 45° it would be usable in both scenarios

This case case is as minimalistic as I need it. Some pics, I like to store the parts that came with the case int he case.

Left.jpgRight.jpgFront.jpg
 
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thor23

Member
Jul 13, 2019
80
21
41
Nice case, wish it allowed coolers up to 155mm though. I would just put some magnetic 140mm ultra fine dust filters in front of your fans and remove whatever dust filter that comes with the case and you would need to tape over the bottom of the front panel(stock filters usually just block lots of air and still let in lots of dust).
 

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