I posted a build last month of a custom case I have been working on that got a lot of positive feedback, thankyou to everyone who commented and I hope you enjoy this one just as much! Some minor improvements have been made to the design and here is the updated build in the new prototype.
I wanted to build a gaming PC that takes full advantage of short length ITX Graphics Cards, but with a limited choice of off the shelf cases, most of which have poor thermal performance, I decided to design my own case instead. I wanted to take the classic cube/shoebox form factor and shrink it down to its absolute minimum for fitting true ITX components, yet provide efficient cooling so I can game quietly.
The project started in late 2015 with cardboard mockups, an i3-6100 and a GTX 950 to prove the concept was possible. This quickly moved onto a wooden prototype and an upgrade to an i5-6500 and GTX 960. The temperature results were great so I decided to move the design into something I could have made professionally. I settled on laser cut Acrylic panels with 3D printed corner pieces and the design progressed into a nice and compact 7 litre case.
The first Acrylic prototype went together perfectly and thermal performance was great achieving the quiet system I was after, however Gigabyte decided to release their ITX version of the GTX 1070 shortly afterwards which was a dream come true for this case. But, it turned out that Gigabyte couldn't resist making the card massively tall, so I adjusted the proportions of the case to fit this card and retain the sub 7 litre volume, the second prototype was ordered and here is the result:
LZ7 v0.2 UPDATED BUILD
The aim of this build is not to provide top of the line Titan level OC type raw performance (even though a 1070 is actually more powerful than a last gen Titan!), but instead a moderate gaming machine that you can comfortably play the latest games in max settings, enough power to satisfy the average gamer.
Some people might say that a GTX 1070 is overkill for the average gamer, especially if you're gaming at 1080p, but I wanted to see what the case was capable of (heat wise) if the most powerful ITX card available today was fitted, the Gigabyte GTX 1070 OC ITX.
I've stuck with same core components of the Intel i5-6500 and GTX 1070, however because the case has been increased in height it means that I could now pick a taller CPU cooler. The Scythe Big Shuriken 2 seemed like the best choice with its large heatsink and 120mm fan, 10 heatpipes and a height of only 58mm. I upgraded the Scythe 120mm fan to an Akasa AK-FN078 as I found the Scythe fan to be quite audible at low RPM, the Akasa fan was much better and ran practically silent.
For system cooling I went with a Prolimatech Vortex 140mm Slim fan, and to power everything a Corsair SF450 SFX fully modular power supply.
Testing the case went very well, I used Prime95 in combination with Unigine Valley for full system load over a 2 hour duration before recording temps.
The Shuriken achieved some surprisingly low temperatures under full load with a max CPU temp of just 50C at a CPU and System fan speed of around 900 RPM, taking the CPU fan up to 1500 RPM brought that temp down to 45C at full load.
The Gigabyte GTX 1070 also did a great job with cooling, overclocking itself (automatically) up to a stable 1810 MHz. This was achieved with the 'silent' fan profile resulting in a quiet fan speed of around 1530 RPM to maintain its thermal target temp of 83C. Changing the GPU fan profile to 'Auto' reduced the max GPU down to 69C and the boost clock increased further up to 1848 MHz. I don't think that's too bad for a 150W TDP card being cooled by a single 92mm fan in a sub 7 litre case!
Overall the system ran very quietly during the stress testing considering the load it was put under.
In its idle state the CPU runs at 27C thanks to the Big Shuriken and Prolimatech Vortex system fan combo.
To get an idea of more real world type performance I used the system to play quite a bit of the Battlefield 1 Beta and some good sessions Star Citizen, both games were played on max graphics settings running at 1080p, both games ran flawlessly and looked amazing.
The Battlefield 1 Beta was so much fun, I can't wait to get the full game when it's released in a few weeks, although I think l need to upgrade my monitor to a higher resolution model to make full use of the GTX 1070.
During Star Citizen gameplay I checked the Gigabyte monitoring software and it showed the GPU was only using about 45% of its potential, the fan was barely on to cope with the heat, the only sound coming from the computer was a faint hum from the Prolimatech system fan.
You may have noticed from the photos that the case has some different configuration options. There are a few different side panels that allow you to tailor the build to your personal preference. For aesthetics there is a slot vented window panel for the GPU, for dust protection you can add a standard 140mm dust filter onto each side, and for all out airflow performance you can fit a 120mm metal fan guard providing minimal resistance.
I've experimented with some laser cut wooden veneer panels, I'm hoping that these optional add on panels will give the case a more 'living room friendly' vibe.
One of the photos is comparing the case size to a Raidmax Element which measures 16 litres.
There are a few screenshots near the end of the gallery showing the temperature performance in different scenarios.
My original goal was to build a really small gaming machine that doesn't sacrifice thermal performance. I think this second prototype has successfully achieved that goal and I'm very happy with the result!