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Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:00 am
by toughluck
I'm looking to replace the chassis I'm currently using with a different one. I have to replace my desk with a much smaller one, which means restricted depth compared to my current one (and the case will be blowing back against a wall, which is also important). I'm going to be making the desk myself, so I have some freedom with regards to making it rigid (I can put the rear support plate where I want) and I can route cables where they won't impact airflow -- the choice of the chassis will affect the design, not the other way around, although the dimensions are limited: max. 43 cm depth if blowing to the rear (like most cases out there), max. 48 cm if blowing above (like Silverstone FT03). Max. width is, say, 23 cm. Max. height is limited by desk height at 71 cm (but that would restrict top vent to zero).

Components I'm going to move:
- Ryzen 5 1600X with Scythe Kotetsu cooler and memory
- Radeon R9 Nano card
- Qlogic Fibre Channel HBA
- Patriot Hellfire M.2 SSD
- Kingston SATA SSD
- Sound Blaster X-Fi card

I currently have my rig in an Aerocool DS230 case (really nice and quiet, but I found it's much too deep at ~48 cm), and the motherboard I have only supports voltage control for CPU fan, and all other fan headers (three) are PWM only.
I have experimented with my cooling and found that having three 120 mm fans in front was basically necessary (lower temperatures and less noise with three fans running at lower speed than two or one intake fans). I also added a 120 mm fan in the rear to exhaust air and tried running that, but this configuration would still raise CPU temperatures (due to still and recirculated air in the cavity around and above the CPU). I added two exhaust 140 mm fans on top of the case, this solved the problem, and lowered noise as well.
The fans are PWM bequiet! pure wings fans, I also have a few other fans sitting around that I might reuse here (or to get other fans).

I will be replacing my motherboard. I have a few musts:
1. B#50 or X#70 chipset
2. Primary M.2 slot not covered by the GPU -- either somewhere on the motherboard, or in position 1 (with GPU in position 2).
3. Chipset PCI-e 4x lane slot somewhere far down the motherboard for the FC HBA (preferably in the last position)
4. PCI-e 1x slot from the CPU (not shared with the 4x slot)
Funny how these basic design tenets are simply ignored by motherboard manufacturers. Virtually all motherboards from Gigabyte, and a lot from MSI cover the M.2 slot with the GPU. A lot of manufacturers don't wire the 1x slot to the CPU, a lot don't offer the PCI-e x4 slot at all, and the list goes on.

Nice to haves:
1. At least six chassis fan headers with voltage control (not just PWM). I think this is just a pipe dream, only a few EATX or ATX-XL motherboards seem to offer that many.
2. Fan control software that considers GPU temperature.


The question boils down to choosing the right chassis. I narrowed down the choice to:
1. Fractal Design Define C (Meshify C is virtually the same chassis with a better front air intake and perhaps looking a bit better, but no sound deadening panels at all and is somewhat more expensive).
2. Silverstone FT05

Considerations for each choice:
Define C
+ I would be able to migrate my current cooling 1:1 to the Define C
+ I already know how to optimize a front-to-back case
+ The case is the least deep chassis I found, there's going to be 8 cm behind the case to disperse air
+ The case is very affordable.
- I would migrate my current cooling 1:1, i.e., there's no solution for the fan splitter cable, FD's moduvent is limited to all or none (all mesh or all solid), and there's no provision for installing a single top exhaust fan
- No professional review focused on noise in controlled conditions
- Perhaps the understated design is both an advantage and disadvantage. I'd really prefer this chassis in gunmetal or white.

+ It's only 3 cm deeper than Define C, but doesn't need much (virtually any) space behind the chassis
+ With three chassis fan headers with voltage control, I can control the two intake fans and the CPU exhaust fan with no need for splitters
+ If needed, I could migrate my current cooling, but with no need for the two 140 mm fans (the 180 mm resell for a good price, which make this chassis cheaper than Define C)
+ Reviewed here with excellent results
+ I could get an optical drive if I feel like it
- Sound deadening looks much less effective than Fractal Design's, with only foam and no thick bitumen pads
- People reported problems with cable routing behind the motherboard
- The top is open, and looks like it might be susceptible to dust, at least when the PC is powered off?
- I noticed some users here have discouraged others from buying this case, are there any particular reasons for this?
- SPCR review notes that the 18 cm fans report low speed incorrectly (this might be a problem, but only for initial setup, no?)
- The price is high, unless I get it through Amazon (not available directly in Poland, have to buy from Germany)

I'm not partial to either design (unless there are obvious reasons why I should prefer one over the other). Perhaps I'm slightly partial to Fractal Design as a company, since I never had problems with their hardware quality (I built Define R3, Array (original, not R2) and Node 804) as opposed to the Aerocool DS230 I'm using now which has a badly spaced PCI grid and PCI brackets of cards attached towards the bottom don't line up with them, and it's not possible to mount low-profile cards on risers due to their lip position -- no such problems on any other case I worked on).

I guess that's it. Please advise or comment on this choice.

PS: I would appreciate other suggestions, too. Perhaps I'm missing other options that would be more suitable?

Re: Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 6:58 am
by toughluck
Since I the FT05 is on sale for a very affordable price, I'm going to give it a shot. In case (pun intended) it doesn't work out, I think I will be able to resell it and get the Define C.

I'll update once I get the case and move the system to it. Any tips and tricks I should be aware of before proceeding with the build?

Re: Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:27 am
by CA_Steve
Idle: With the case fan controller, I think it'll be a tie in noise between the case fans and the R9 Nano. When you get a new mobo, make sure it can also control the case fans. You might still have some rumble at the lower rpm, but should be ok.

Gaming: The R9 Nano noise will be primary source. Downside to small form factor/1 fan/175W TDP.

Re: Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:30 am
by toughluck
When I was picking my current motherboard, I didn't pay attention to whether it's capable of controlling 3-pin fans, assuming all motherboards are compatible and allow fan voltage control (my el cheapo Asrock AM1 motherboard allows this, why wouldn't an AM4 B350 motherboard?).
I've already paid attention to this and this is why I picked the Asus ROG B450-F I mentioned in my first post, it pretty much covers all bases, has GPU in position 2, PCI-e position 1 is single lane and has the M.2 slot running behind it, plus it has a full length (16-lane physical, 4-lane electric) in the 7th position.
Too bad it doesn't have more fan headers, but I can live with what it has, especially in an FT05, which only needs three chassis fans.

I can live with the Nano's idle fan noise, it's not that intrusive, and I don't tax the card when gaming, so it's not going to be bad.

Thanks for the feedback.

Re: Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:53 pm
by toughluck
A small update: I have received the case and I'm going to start building in it soon (I need to migrate the data).
It looks very solid and quite nice, although I can immediately identify where Silverstone could have improved on the design. However, for 69 euro? It's a steal.

I did get a motherboard with three chassis fan headers (+1 CPU), which is another reason to pick this case -- there are hardly any motherboards that would support more than three chassis fans, and three is a good fit for FT05 with its two intake and one exhaust fan.
The case came with a magnetic fan filter, I'm not sure where they expect me to use it, but it's a nice bonus.

All in all, given the positive reviews, I would recommend the case to everyone. It was way too expensive at ca. 249€, but at 69€, it's pretty obvious that Silverstone is clearing stock (I bought it on Amazon Marketplace from Venturabuy which is the Silverstone Ltd. representative in Germany). So get it while supplies last.

Re: Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:06 am
by toughluck
"Soon" means "in two months".

I built in the FT05 (and survived). There should be a t-shirt for that.
Some thoughts on building the case. Not really cons, they're more like observations. This is a special chassis.
1. Get a modular power supply. Pre-route the EPS 12 V (4-pin or 8-pin) cable to the location on your motherboard. No dedicated routing hole exists for it. What I did was I unscrewed the motherboard a bit to squeeze it through the cavity that's in there (it's big enough for the cable, but too small for the connector).
2. The lack of space behind the motherboard is a huge problem in building the case. If you use two 2.5" SSDs, there's almost zero room for cables. I used two and I'm considering to get rid of them and replace them with an M.2 module.
3. Don't use 3.5" HDDs in this case. The cage was added as an afterthought, this case is simply not meant to use 3.5" drives.
4. Don't use the slim optical drive. Again, it's more an afterthought. I would have paid extra for a version of this case without the slot for ODD.
5. There is no direct route to the bottom fans. The 3-pin connector needs to go to the fan, but the other one needs to stay connected to the front panel. So even if you don't use the fan controller knobs, they still have to be connected.
6. The case needs an exhaust fan. It can be kept on low, but it's definitely needed.
7. The case needs a blower cooled GPU. Multiple fans, etc., work, but you need to consider that this will cause intake fans to run faster.
8. The manual could use some polishing up. It omits important details, especially regarding fans.

Now for the pros:
1. The case is quiet. Even when the fans are spinning, you can hardly hear them. Only when they pick up is when you notice that they're in there.
2. It looks great. Friends have remarked on how nice it looks. It draws attention but in a good way.
3. It's very well built. Coming from many different cases, it's a notch above Fractal Design.
4. The 180mm fans are excellent. I have no reason to doubt Silverstone's specifications, nothing comes close to touching them. If they ever fail, the only alternative is another Silverstone fan.
5. The components run cool and the case stays cool. I noticed no hot spots (which are a problem with standard cases).

To be honest, I'm surprised why no other company picked up where Silverstone left off. A new version would be a good idea:
- two 200 mm fans
- more room behind the motherboard, routing holes
- no ODD bracket
- 3.5" HDD mount behind the motherboard (if any)
- some consideration for exhaust fans and maybe a dedicated shroud to cover the computer when it's not powered on so that it doesn't receive dust
There is really a lot of potential in this rotated orientation, I really hope somebody comes up with a new version in the future.

Re: Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:30 am
by Abula
toughluck wrote:To be honest, I'm surprised why no other company picked up where Silverstone left off.
Only silverstone does 180mm fans (well phobia and one more that i dont remember), its a case to be bound to their fans. While the concept is great, the implementation is not that great, for the reason you posted, i have my own but similar to yours. But i have since moved to Corsair Air 740, while not perfect either, its to me the best air cooling case in the market atm, although silverstone could easily beat it, if they go back to their routes when they created the FT02, which today by many still considered the best air cooling case.
toughluck wrote:- two 200 mm fans
Fortress / Raven line was always design on the proprietary Air Pentrator series, 180x32mm fans, with the AP183 bieng just released, seems they will continue the 180mm trend. I dont think they will move to 200mm.
toughluck wrote:- more room behind the motherboard, routing holes
1 inch is what i think it needs more, as you i struggle with cable management on two builds on it, but its doable, just not as fun and easy as with fractal cases.
toughluck wrote:- no ODD bracket
I agree.
toughluck wrote:- some consideration for exhaust fans and maybe a dedicated shroud to cover the computer when it's not powered on so that it doesn't receive dust
While i see your point, and its a good one, if they do it more with a mesh or a more enclosed would en up harder to take out, imo the FT05 on this is good, just place a cover when you are not using it. That said, you can look into the new raven prototype from CES2019, you might like the top (i don't). SilverStone Revives the Raven & RL Cases (RL08, RV Prototype)
toughluck wrote:- 3.5" HDD mount behind the motherboard (if any)
This i have mix feelings, while i have moved away from mechanical hdds on my main setup and laptop, i still think its way too expensive to be on storage on ssds for the average consumer, specially something building a high end air cooling setup might not spend the budget for a big ssd since he will likely be spending on a already expensive cpu and gpu, i feel you can have one mounted to the back wall if they follow the FT02 design, so there is space below the PSU for a hdd or two, probably no direct airflow, but thats fine, even the Fractal Meshify S2 has the 3.5 on the back with no fans on them, personally i wouldn't use it, but i can still see most will.
toughluck wrote:There is really a lot of potential in this rotated orientation, I really hope somebody comes up with a new version in the future.
i'm going to repost what i posted on the video, and what i have sent to Silverstone as feedback from FT05, hoppping they take it into account for the new iteration of the Raven / Fortress series,
Honestly, i think SilverStone is doing a mistake, FT/RV series are air cooling cases, thats what they have been all their life, i don't understand why trying to support water cooling, there are much better cases for that in the market, and even Silverstone could design one from the ground up with pure water cooling in mind. The FT06 needs the layout of the Raven prototype, but more like FT02 in terms of the PSU location/orientation that will make it less depth, and using the back of the case as the intake of the PSU fan, you can leave some SSD/HDD mounts below the PSU, not a needed but its wasted space if not. But most important, the front of the RV/FT should be mesh and add 2x AP183, make this case have 4x 183 (two on the bottom and two on the front), and let it be the best air cooling case in the market, as it should be.

Extra things that should happen on the next ATX Fortress/Raven series,
1) More space on the back of the case for cable management, it was extremely hard to do the cm on the FT05.
2) Taller, at least 2 or 3 inches more, high end GPUs like Zotac Amp, EVGA Kingpin, Asus Strix are above the length restriction on the FT05.
3) A little more tolerance on the CPU cooler height, 175mm would be ideal, but 165-170mm would be fine.
4) Make the side panels offering either tempered glass or aluminium, two options.
5) 2x AP183, two on the bottom (included fans), two on the front (2x mounts on the front to place 2x AP183 for direct air to the GPU), make it so its the best air cooling case ever.
6) For TG side panels version, do a TG front for people wanting to look into their GPU, for the Solid side panels do a Mesh front like the LD03, for people really wanting the best of the best cooling.
7) On the mesh front, remember to have AP183 mounts, and design an easy to take out fan filter, maybe something like TJ08-E or improve on it.

Again stop the watercooling support, design it to be the best air cooling case in the market. Do another line for pure watercooling, design it from the ground up, specially since there is no more case labs, the market is opening, but that doesn't mean your best air cooling cases need to go hybrid and mediocre, the fortress should be the best air cooling case period, no compromises. I would pay $200 for this case if you make it, $250 if you include the 4x AP183.

Re: Need a compact case, restricted depth

Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:42 am
by NeilBlanchard
I agree - the layout of the FT-05 is the best I know of. It is as close to perfect thermally / air flow; especially for video card(s). The power supply location needs some work, and the location of 3.5" hard drives, as others have said. Cable management is basically nonexistent.

A lack that almost every case has - is a way to mount a card reader.

The FT-05 has the best access to the motherboard I/O of any case design, as a side benefit.