Thursday, November 26th 2020

Streacom Announces the DB1 Case

The high-end CPU and GPU performance arms race has been pushing power and TDP limits higher but fortunately, progress is also being made for more power-efficient CPUs with much lower TDPs that still offer competitive performance thanks to improvements in their integrated graphics. Whilst there is no shortage of fanless cases on the market that can cool these lower TDP CPUs, they have been geared towards industrial applications, tend to be expensive, and offer very little in the way of design.

The DB1 is here to change that with a case that delivers all the benefits of fanless/silent computing, but in an ultra-compact form factor that once again breaks the mould of typical fanless cases. With a total volume less than 5 l (222 x 222 x 101 mm), the DB1 is our most compact fanless case but can still comfortably handle 45 W of cooling, which is ideal for power-efficient systems based on the new generation of APU/iGPUs that deliver excellent performance/watt.
The DB1 is constructed from 4 mm thick aluminium panels, a 21 mm thick extruded heat sink, solid aluminium pillars and is made using CNC milling and finished with sandblasted/anodized surface treatment, but despite using these premium materials, processing and finish, is extremely competitively priced.

The beauty of the DB1 (apart from its appearance) is the simplicity of its design that used 4 solid aluminium pillars to connect the heat sink and side panel that in turn secure the front, rear, upper and lower panels in place. This approach greatly reduces complexity, combines functionality (as the pillars also serve as the feet), and mean that the entire case can be fully disassembled with just 8 screws.

This design also allows for great flexibility in orientation and placement of the case, every panel can be rotated to allow for left or right positioning and inverted orientations. The modularity also means that requirements for customization are lower, making this an excellent platform for system integrators.

With our approach to fanless, the cooling is done by the case itself and the DB1 is no exception. Using the same copper CPU shim, adjustable CPU mount and heat sink mount as our DB4, heat is transferred from the CPU to the heat sink (side panel) using 6mm copper heat pipes and dissipated into the environment along its surface and fins which are optimised for natural convection.

With the combination of the universal CPU mount and fully position adjustable heat sink mount, there are virtually no motherboard compatibility issues as the socket location is not a limiting factor and conflicts with board components are minimised.

The stock CPU mount is compatible with all current desktop sockets and there is also an optional compact CPU mount to expand that compatibility to less common sockets such as FCBGA 1667 or even more specialist soldered CPUs.

It's hard to appreciate just how small and tightly packed some our compact cases are, to the extent that we sometimes get asked if it's possible to install an SFX or even ATX PSU inside them.

For some context, the DB1 is not much larger than the ITX motherboard it holds, and this ultra small form factor is only made possible by the use of a NanoPSU that plugs directly into the motherboard.

Apart from reducing the space required, use of the Nano PSU has two other advantages,
  • It reduces the amount of heat being dumped inside the case as the AC to DC conversion is happening in the external AC adapter, and
  • It is fanless, no need to expand on how important that is for a fanless system
With the target TDP, power draw and price point that the DB1 was designed for, it was important to have a suitable matching power solution, so we are introducing a new NanoPSU that can match these criteria. The Nano90 is our most compact and affordable NanoPSU yet, delivering 90 W of power with zero noise and will be available at the launch of the DB1.

Modularity and versatility are principles we always try to incorporate into our designs, so with the DB1 we have made all the panels interchangeable and added an option to rotate the internals by 90 degrees, allowing any variation of heat sink and front panel position/orientation.

The DB1 was of course design to work primarily in the vertical orientation as that occupies the least amount of desk space and also gives the best cooling performance as convection is optimised. It can however also be used in the horizontal orientation with the ability to position the front I/O at either side of the case. The front I/O is also modular and uses the same module as the DA2 so included Type-A 19PIN can be replaced with an optional Type-C 19PIN or 3.1 Gen2 or any future standard. This modularity and cross-platform approach is part of our wider commitment to product continuity and ensuring the case you buy today does not become obsolete when new hardware is released.
  • The DB1 will be available with resellers in Q1 2021 to retail for ~ 109EUR / 129USD.
  • The Nano90 will be available at the same time with a retail price of ~ 68EUR / 79USD.
Full details and specs can be found in the product introduction PDF and on the DB1 product page.
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13 Comments on Streacom Announces the DB1 Case

#1
spnidel
I thought this was a heater at first
Posted on Reply
#2
Chrispy_
Nobody likes external PSU bricks and it looks to me like there's plenty of space to integrate the damn thing at the top or the front of that case anyway.

Making a case small because it can't fit everything you would expect in it isn't really helpful, it's just a misleading disappointment.
Posted on Reply
#3
bonehead123
Although I really like the strong, clean, industrial look, including the actual design effort, the external brick is a no go for me too :(

And even though normally, the lack of USB-C on the front is also a no-buy for me, at least they made it an available option, unlike most of the other 1.67431 gazillion so-called "NEW" cases released this year...:D
Posted on Reply
#4
randomUser
Chrispy_
Nobody likes external PSU bricks and it looks to me like there's plenty of space to integrate the damn thing at the top or the front of that case anyway.

Making a case small because it can't fit everything you would expect in it isn't really helpful, it's just a misleading disappointment.
External power brick was the first thing that was caught by my eyes. And it was an automatic "nope, not for me"

I use www.chieftec.eu/de/geh%C3%A4use/itx/uni-serie/bu-12b.html
While it is bigger than DB1, it has space for everything. i5-10500 with HTPC200 cooler. 3x SSD inside the case. Intake 80mm fan. 10gb pci-e nic.
It sits comfortably behind the TV. Makes no sound (well at least the one that could be heard from 50cm away)

wow, its even bigger no no, once i saw that power brick and nano psu are not included.
Posted on Reply
#5
Mats
Chrispy_
Nobody likes external PSU bricks and it looks to me like there's plenty of space to integrate the damn thing at the top or the front of that case anyway.

Making a case small because it can't fit everything you would expect in it isn't really helpful, it's just a misleading disappointment.
Dunno which PSU form factor you're thinking of here, except for maybe a noisy Flex ATX with a 40 mm fan.
randomUser
External power brick was the first thing that was caught by my eyes. And it was an automatic "nope, not for me"

I use www.chieftec.eu/de/gehäuse/itx/uni-serie/bu-12b.html
While it is bigger than DB1, it has space for everything. i5-10500 with HTPC200 cooler. 3x SSD inside the case. Intake 80mm fan. 10gb pci-e nic.
It sits comfortably behind the TV. Makes no sound (well at least the one that could be heard from 50cm away)

wow, its even bigger no no, once i saw that power brick and nano psu are not included.
It's silent and passively cooled, not really comparable to a Chieftec IMO.

I'm not sure why having a brick is such a bad idea? It tops out at 80 W anyway.
Posted on Reply
#6
DeathtoGnomes
That last image looks eerily similar to TT's P3 case.
Posted on Reply
#7
randomUser
Mats
Dunno which PSU form factor you're thinking of here, except for maybe a noisy Flex ATX with a 40 mm fan.

It's silent and passively cooled, not really comparable to a Chieftec IMO.

I'm not sure why having a brick is such a bad idea? It tops out at 80 W anyway.
It is comparable, because... i have another Chieftec case (same size) with passive cooling (except for the TFX PSU which was included with the case and has a fan.). It has a 45W TDP cpu in it and works fine.

The PSU problem is another story.
I wish they made passive TFX psu. But i guess it would cost over 100 eur, just because its passive, while passive power bricks cost like 20 eur. Seems like its a rocket science to combine pico PSU with a power brick to make a passive 100W~ TFX psu meant for low power systems like these.
Posted on Reply
#8
Chrispy_
Mats
Dunno which PSU form factor you're thinking of here, except for maybe a noisy Flex ATX with a 40 mm fan.
Uh, that actual external brick, pictured, would fit in the case by the looks of things.
Posted on Reply
#9
timta2
Two decades later and that B&W G3 design inspiration lives on.
Posted on Reply
#10
olstyle
I am with you on the Power supply. Cooling it with the second side panel would have been a way better idea.Though it could be worse.
Posted on Reply
#11
Valantar
Chrispy_
Uh, that actual external brick, pictured, would fit in the case by the looks of things.
I think they meant which internal PSU form factor you would be suggesting, though it's rather obvious that it would be a non-standard solution at this size. The case looks like it might fit some of MeanWell's tiny (and extremely efficient) AC-12VDC PSUs with some slight modding, so it should be possible to mod this to be brickless with a suitable 12V PicoPSU/DC-ATX board. (I'm guessing the included one is 19V, which means it might handle a 24V input, but a pure 12V setup would be much better IMO.) MW The RPS-200-12C (or its open-frame sibling RPS-200-12) might be a stretch to fit in there, though those are likely also overpowered for whatever this case is able to cool in terms of hardware. The friggin tiny (3x2x1", roughly) RPS-120S-12 should be a shoo-in, and is rated for 114W with just convection cooling. Put a thermal pad between its heatsinks and the case and that ought to work. Still, as you say that really ought to be standard.

It's a nice looking case, but as someone who hates power bricks, it's a no-go for me.
Posted on Reply
#12
Chrispy_
Valantar
I think they meant which internal PSU form factor you would be suggesting, though it's rather obvious that it would be a non-standard solution at this size. The case looks like it might fit some of MeanWell's tiny (and extremely efficient) AC-12VDC PSUs with some slight modding, so it should be possible to mod this to be brickless with a suitable 12V PicoPSU/DC-ATX board. (I'm guessing the included one is 19V, which means it might handle a 24V input, but a pure 12V setup would be much better IMO.) MW The RPS-200-12C (or its open-frame sibling RPS-200-12) might be a stretch to fit in there, though those are likely also overpowered for whatever this case is able to cool in terms of hardware. The friggin tiny (3x2x1", roughly) RPS-120S-12 should be a shoo-in, and is rated for 114W with just convection cooling. Put a thermal pad between its heatsinks and the case and that ought to work. Still, as you say that really ought to be standard.

It's a nice looking case, but as someone who hates power bricks, it's a no-go for me.
Why does it need to be a form factor? That actual external brick would fit inside the case at the front, just ahead of the 24-pin, and with some minor changes to the case would fit above the top edge of the motherboard too. The unit used in this product is likely a generic Delta/Chicony unit that will have reasonably common external dimensions and if it dies should be easy enough to source a similar/identical replacement.

Like you say, if thermals are a problem, use an adhesive thermal pad. The external bricks are already passively cooled and covered in thermally-insulating plastic, so they can't get that hot if their housing is physically heatsinked....

It'd be nice if there was a standard but these cases are all kind of proprietary in some way, so having intelligent layouts (such as an integrated PSU brick bay by default is more important than ever. Based on replies in this thread, the external brick is a massive issue that immediately excludes this product from consideration for many in the target market, and playing the armchair engineer (I am an actual, qualified engineer but that's not the point) it wouldn't be that difficult or expensive to actually implement.
Posted on Reply
#13
Valantar
Chrispy_
Why does it need to be a form factor? That actual external brick would fit inside the case at the front, just ahead of the 24-pin, and with some minor changes to the case would fit above the top edge of the motherboard too. The unit used in this product is likely a generic Delta/Chicony unit that will have reasonably common external dimensions and if it dies should be easy enough to source a similar/identical replacement.

Like you say, if thermals are a problem, use an adhesive thermal pad. The external bricks are already passively cooled and covered in thermally-insulating plastic, so they can't get that hot if their housing is physically heatsinked....

It'd be nice if there was a standard but these cases are all kind of proprietary in some way, so having intelligent layouts (such as an integrated PSU brick bay by default is more important than ever. Based on replies in this thread, the external brick is a massive issue that immediately excludes this product from consideration for many in the target market, and playing the armchair engineer (I am an actual, qualified engineer but that's not the point) it wouldn't be that difficult or expensive to actually implement.
No arguments there - settling on a single form factor for internal AC-12/19VDC PSUs is less than ideal as the use case makes any "one size fits all" solution inherently problematic. You're likely right that they could fit the current brick in there, and as I said there are also off-the-shelf, high quality, high efficiency internal AC-DC units they could fit in there with plenty of room to spare - though those are likely too expensive for them to consider. Still, as you say, the brick is a big issue, and a very poor design choice.
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