Moving to SFF

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sherretz
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First off, I've finally reactivated my account, so hi everyone! Glad to see some of you older peeps still hanging around.

So, some personal life updates. We will be having our second child on or around 12/31. Our first child will be turning 2 in January.

"We've" decided that the area in our tv room where my computer and desk are sitting needs to be mostly given over to the children for a play area. As such, I've begun research into a smaller desk. The problem I keep running into is the gigantic size of my CS Cosmos and my speaker system (2.1, but the subwoofer is rather large). They eat up space like furniture.

I'm thinking it may be time to move my setup to a SFF enclosure of some type. I'm having a tough time deciding, though, whether I need to go to something like an Antec Sonata or go into mATX/uATX/mITX. The problem I have run into is the selection is limited (at Newegg) and the PSUs are largely crap for those little enclosures. My system isn't a power hog, but I want to be able to incrementally upgrade the video card in the future.

I'm looking for any tips, and I'm wondering if any of you have run into similar situations in the recent past.

Thanks ahead of time for your help! (now to figure out how to fix my sig...)

E8400 Stock; CoolerMaster H50; Asus P5Q Deluxe; G. Skill 2*2GB + 2*1GB PC2 1066; Sapphire 4850; WD 6400AAKS; Win 7 Pro; PCP&C Silencer 750W; Antec 300

noir2525
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Well i run into it alot of times finally found the perfect case which is the Qmicra v2F. Light weight, room for 4 hdd, 2 rom drives, regular atx psu, even space for long graphic cards, 1 cubic foot in volume so one fan is more than enough, and only weighs around 7Ib. Since its a box shape ur kids won't be able to knock it over if its on the floor.

Avoid the aspire Q-pack because it last me 3months before i got metal splinters from the mobo tray because i end up dusting it out 1-2 times a week.

NZXT rogue is a good case except that u can't use the mobo tray unless ur cpu is <72mm in hight. not to mention that this case is heavy around 20Ibs empty

As the mobo a mATX would be the best option because u can still cf or sli.

frozencpu.com carries the case or u can get straight from the manufacture.

Qmicra v2F = Core i5 2500k ~ ASUS P8P67-M PRO ~ G.Skill DDR3 1600 2x2gb Ripjaw X ~ GIGABYTE GV-R687OC HD6870~ G.skill Phoenix Pro 120gb ~ Creative Titanium HD ~ Killer 2100 NIC ~ Seasonic 650watt gold ~ 3TB storage

sherretz
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Thanks noir, I'll take a look.

I'm not really worried about HDDs or 5.25s too much. I've got only about 2 HDDs and only one burner and that's enough for me.

Right now I'm using a TRUE but I'm willing to make a change to something with a lower profile, and possibly even move to something like a CM H20.

sherretz
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Ugh. That Qmicra is 250 bucks! I'm not sure I want to pay that for a SSF-sized rig.

I understand it's a pretty good case, but that's still a bit steep of a price.

sherretz
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Another update! The December issue of MaximumPC has a SFF build in it. They use a Silverstone case and an ITX board, so I'm going to hop over there and see what other goodies Silverstone may have.

sherretz
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Update. I'd love some input on this. I'm currently torn between picking up a mini-tower like these: LINK

Or picking up this Shuttle: LINK

The Mini Tower will let me use pretty much everything, while the Shuttle is a smaller profile. However I will only be able to port over proc, vidcard, HDD, CDROM; and will have to buy new RAM. Also the Shuttle has its own cooling solution.

I understand there is a massive price difference, and so I'm leaning toward the mini tower. I have heard nothing but good about Shuttles, though, so it's on the radar. Again, let me know your thoughts/experiences.

Thanks!

sherretz
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Bump! I picked up the Cooler Master Elite 360 along with a H50 for my proc, knowing that the monolithic TRUE simply won't fit in the new setup. The case seems to have a very smart layout and design, even if I have to use screws where I normally wouldn't. But it's not like I'm hot-swapping constantly or anything like that.

I'll post pics/updates with how it goes once the stuff shows up. I'm curious if my 4850 will fit or not (and if it does, I'm hoping to move to either a 5850 or 6850 after the holidays).

hnkftalnot
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That's a nice mini tower, and pretty amazing it's still ATX. I just wonder where the PSU will go.

Good luck with the build, and I'm looking forward to some pics!

sherretz
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Interestingly enough, the PSU actually goes in the front, where a HDD cage would normally go. And there is some sort of extension for the wall cord. The case should show up today!

sherretz
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Update:

All went well until I tried to get the vidcard and PSU to play nice in a cramped space. The result: the PSU is about 2 inches to deep and so it interferes with the vidcard. The good news is I can run the rig with the case open while I wait for a shallower PSU.

I did some measurements and I need a PSU that's less than 6 inches deep. The PSU in my sig is 7.1 inches (LINK to PCP&C Data Sheet).

I saw this guy: LINK but I think it's going to be cutting things *really* close considering the PCB on the vidcard leaves 5 7/8" just barely.

sherretz
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I'll add photos once I get stuff loaded to my Picasa account.

I may ultimately move the H50 rad/fan to the side panel since having it on the "top" panel is causing some interference problems.

sherretz
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Slight addendum. Looks like my vidcard's PCI-E connector is on the back of the PCB. I'm going to see if there are other cards out there that could help solve some problems, as well as PSUs. I remember reading somewhere in these forums that someone found a fairly solid Seasonic SFF PSU with good voltages/amps. I'll poke around and see what I can drum up.

This build is very close to completion; it just need a little tweaking.

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The tubing/hoses on the H50 are a bit long so they can be unwieldy in such a small case. Overall, the case is very good quality, which is what I've come to expect from Cooler Master. Pics and update coming soon!

sherretz
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Update:

The CM case just isn't going to work. I'm considering this case: LINK but I'm concerned where the rad for the H50 would end up. My guess is some modding of the top panel would be in order, or possibly create a whole new hole on the side panel with the grilles.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Considering you often get what you pay for in computers, I'm close to picking up a Lian Li A05 instead. I'd have a 120mm mount for the H50 too.

Thoughts?

sherretz
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Update: I said "screw it" and bought an Antec Three Hundred. I can count on build quality and I knew that no matter what, everything would fit. All the pieces went in without a problem. I would have loved toolless bays, but I can deal with it. I don't crack open my case very often anymore. Cable management was a total nightmare, but I think I got it to at least a usable point. The case doesn't have a window so I'm not as worried as I normally would be.

I'm pretty sure this thing is even quieter than my Cosmos was.

So now I've got a CM Cosmos and a CM Elite 360 sitting in my basement that need to find new homes. I'll see if I can throw up a few pics.