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Bento Box

Discussion in 'Cases, Modding & Electronics' started by beefycarnivore, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. beefycarnivore

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    I humbly begin the build thread for my own SFF Steam Box. I bow down to the likes of Lazzer, who is doing it right, but I like to tinker and recently fell into a spare video card.

    The plan: make the smallest possible computer that can use my spare XFX HD 7870 Double Dissipation card, while spending as little as possible and still being able to play 1080p. If I actually go through with this, it'll end up being my wife's gaming rig and our living room PC.

    Haven't gotten very far, but started by laying out a spare microATX board I had laying around and pulling the guts out of the 350W Antec PSU I had laying around. That looked like this:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Then I realized the power supply exhaust was on the front of the case (and so was the plug). So since this photo I've spun the PSU guts around and put hard drives in the front of the case. They can also go above the video card, but I haven't decided yet. I'll keep posting photos as I go, but the current plan is to make the enclosure out of wood for a few reasons:

    1. It's relatively cheap
    2. It's easy to work with (I have access to a small CNC router)
    3. Wood is good.

    There are lots of things up in the air at this point:

    1. AMD vs Intel - AMD is cheap, but power hungry, Intel is powerful and efficient, but more expensive
    2. microATX vs miniITX - there are lots of free microATX board if you buy a CPU, but they don't give away miniITX. miniITX is obviously smaller, but have tighter CPU cooler clearance, etc
    3. Case material. I could go aluminum, too, but don't know if I want to spend that much. I also have an older ThermalTake Bach HTPC case I could chop down to size. That might be interesting. There are at least stamped cages and things I could steal, as well as a couple of little noisy 60mm fans.

    This thread is mostly a reality check. Anyone who's gone down this path can help steer me in the right direction when I'm headed for certain doom (thanks again Lazzer for the warning about live heat sinks).

    ~Beefy
     
  2. Bo$$

    Bo$$ Lab Extraordinaire

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    AMD is cheaper that should pretty say, if you have money to burn buy intel, if you don't stick with AMD
     
  3. beefycarnivore

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    Here are some conceptual shots. The PC in these pictures is the Zeus Mini SFF from CyberPowerPC. As I find other SFF PCs with full sized cards in them, I'll maybe add them to the comparison.

    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Bigger than a console, smaller than most SFF PCs. Not as small as Lazzers rig, partially because I'm using microATX, not mini-ITX, and partially because Lazzer is awesome.

    The guts for now:

    [​IMG]

    Big thanks to the GrabCad community for the table and console models. It saved me a lot of time and they look great.
     
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  4. Vario

    Vario

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    That will look really nice. Wood cases are fun to make.
     
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  5. Vario

    Vario

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    Have you made any cuts yet?

    I think best bet is buy a used sandy i5, I have nearly that setup as you (XFX 7850 2GB DD) and with the i5 it is an absolute monster on a 1080p tv. You can get em for around $150 or less used. The lesser i5s with locked multis are often less. Even a locked i5 at 3.1 ghz or so would be ideal over a AMD. Also you can't really find any AM3+ in a mATX or ITX format and the power requirements are steep. On the FM2+ front, Kavieri performs more or less the same as Deneb and Thuban and doesn't exactly sip power compared to the intel quads. It doesn't really do much better than the 5800k or 6800k it replaced as a pure cpu.

    Add an optimistic 10% to the results for the 5800k to approximate Kavieri and it still won't do it.
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/product/675?vs=363
    http://wccftech.com/amd-kaveri-a10-7850k-overclocked-45-ghz-benchmarked-a105800k/
    You'd be crazy to buy AMD right now. Note that the 7850k nearly equates to a 5800k in gaming benchmarks as pure cpu (not integrated graphics), and the 5800k was near to Deneb which is old news at this point.


    Then consider that the recommendation of fast ram for all these AMD chips is just additional cost, you might as well just get an i7 with budget 1333 c9 1.5v ram for the same price and not need that fast ram.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
    beefycarnivore says thanks.
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  6. beefycarnivore

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    Vario, no cuts yet. I've been waiting until I decided on a board since I'm going to line up a lot of the vents with the CPU cooler and mount the power supply parts around the cooler / RAM.

    I've begun to come to the same conclusion as your recommendation. I've tried to stick with AMD because of their reputation as value leaders, but you bring up the point that's kind of killing me right now: the current gen of AMD is POWER HUNGRY. My first choice is the 350W Antec PSU I've got laying around, but I might also got a 500W Thermaltake that I could tear apart.

    I was able to find a couple of mATX AM3+ boards at Microcenter, but I don't think it's worth it. Thanks for reinforcing my gut feel on this one. Looks like I should look for deals on Intel.

    It's funny, our machines are pretty similar. My little card is a tad faster than yours, and your big card is a tad faster than mine (R9 280X). Your i7 3770k is quite a bit faster than my i5 3570k.

    The search begins, and then the chips will fly!
     
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  7. Durvelle27

    Durvelle27

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    Weres the PS4 O.O
     
  8. Vario

    Vario

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    Will the GPU breathe facing down like that? I am just curious!

    Can't wait to see some more and I like the cooling design with the ports.
     
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  9. beefycarnivore

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    I have a model, but it didn't fit on "my table". I might have to make that a little bigger so it all fits. All of those systems are pretty close in size, so it doesn't matter too much really. I just wanted something in the image for scale so I had an idea how this might fit in my entertainment center.

    Durvelle, how does your A10 do for gaming? I've considered selling this card and going APU, but don't have any frame of reference. This machine might end up as my wife's gaming rig, and her tolerance for lowered graphics settings is much higher than mine. For instance, we've played a couple hundred hours of Borderlands 2 split screen on an XBOX 360, which is pretty low res, and even lower res than when running it single player. I was always kind of distracted by it.

    I don't know! I had planned on making a couple of ports for the fans down there, and then have this thing stand up off the glass shelf it's going on, but I don't know how hard those fans will pull from under the box. Also, I don't know how well they're going to cool in such a small enclosure. The "Double Dissipation" design XFX uses just blows air against the PCB and heatsinks, which just blows out the sides of the cards, not out the backplate. I'm asking a lot of that 80mm PSU fan that I'm relocating. There might have to be more fans, and more deliberate placement. Or maybe even a special shroud that fits the video card tightly and directs the heat out a slot on the side of the case or something.

    I'm still early on, so this is all up in the air. It's always nice to see how the big boys do it, like Valve and company.

    I'll get something working here at some point!

    Any other recommendations are welcome!
     
  10. Vario

    Vario

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    Can you flip the card with a longer riser? Could you mount the card the opposite direction?
     
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  11. beefycarnivore

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    Most of the ribbon cable risers are 7.25" long, so I see no reason why you couldn't.

    I tried it out and it let me shrink things a bit. The only concern I have is noise from the fans. I don't know how noisy they are since they were in a big tower before.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    If I switch to a 2.5" drive I could probably get down to about the same size as an Xbox One. Still unsure about cooling.
     
  12. Vario

    Vario

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    [​IMG]

    I think you should leave the metal of that card's cooler exposed for sure, it looks great that way! Above was my attempt which I will probably reattempt, wasn't happy with how it looked post stain.

    Another option is using an AIO cooler custom mounted to the VGA and mount the radiator on the intake fan, use a similar AIO cooler for the CPU mounted on the exhaust fan etc.

    The noise isn't bad on the fans, its quieter than most cards. You should put a grill over it, could do clear lexan, the XFX fan blades are wimpy you don't want something falling in and breaking off. I experienced temperature reductions remounting the DD cooler with better thermal paste. This will not void your warranty if you notify XFX first that you are doing it. If you do it without telling them they may void warranty.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
    10 Year Member at TPU
  13. jcgeny

    jcgeny

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    your box looks like the very old and first camera , may be you can draw something using the 1920's style
    very black and white

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  14. beefycarnivore

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    I definitely like the look, and after thinking about it, I ran the machine with the side off for quite a while and didn't even notice the video card (except at startup, when they sound like a small aircraft taking off). Thanks for the heads up on the cooler remount. I'll keep that in mind. I don't think I'll need to overclock the card anytime soon, but it's worth knowing it can help.

    Also, I really liked your wooden machine au natural. It's got me thinking about leaving mine unfinished (just nicely sanded). I've also been looking for interesting wood / veneer to use. Came across this place that's only about 30 min from my house:

    http://www.exoticlumberinc.com/?gclid=CK_LlPKT1LwCFa9j7AodfQgALw

    Which has some really interesting wood, but a lot of it is rough cut and 1" thick. I planned on making this out of 1/4" or less to save space, since this thing isn't really load bearing.

    [​IMG]

    jcgenny, I still haven't really decided on a look, but I'll take yours into consideration. I recently saw these iPhone cases that look pretty good and fall into your theme:

    [​IMG]

    Luckily, I have access to a small CNC engraver, so I should be able to do some complicated engraving if I feel that's the way to go.

    Keep em coming guys.
     
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  15. jcgeny

    jcgeny

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    you can use a camera tripod or astronomical lunette with a big "tele-lens" [that will be used to increase airflow] beside the buttons.
    you can also do two or more holes in the plate where you fix the tripod , they ll be invisible and let fresh air gets in .
    to prevent to much dusts or bugs inside , you can use fan-filters to plug the holes.
    http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=36_463

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Vario

    Vario

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    Also you can use Rad grills /radiator grills if you want to make the case look professionally finished. These are about $20 or so. then again if you have cnc then you probably can make it seamless without...
     
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  17. FranzSchubert New Member

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    so i'm doing something very similar, and was curious as to mounting the PSU without its case.

    Seems legit? Assuming it clears everything and gets the same amount of airflow there shouldn't be an issue with it, correct?
     
  18. beefycarnivore

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    I think so. Just keep in mind that the case usually protects you from getting burnt or electrocuted. Lazzer has more experience with this, but I'll be sure to let you know what I end up doing and we can compare notes. I might even make a new case. for it in a different form factor.
     
  19. Devon68

    Devon68

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  20. beefycarnivore

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    Yeah, I think it's going to be tight, and because of that, I'll probably end up in the Intel camp again since they are so much more efficient for this generation of processors.

    How does your FX-6100 / 7850 combo do in games? What do you typically play? I can get the AMD stuff a lot cheaper. I can actually get the FX-6300 with a free uATX board. If the power requirements are higher, I think I have a 500W Thermaltake that I can cram in there to power it (should be JUST enough).

    http://www.microcenter.com/site/products/amd_bundles.aspx
     
  21. Devon68

    Devon68

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    Well since I got this system i haven't played anything too demanding. I played Battlefield 4 (60 FPS on high or 30-35 on ultra without AA or MSAA),Left 4 dead 2, need for speed hot pursuit 2010 (now this on ultra pushed my CPU to 68 Celsius and the safe limit is 70), but I have not played as much as I wanted. I had a shitty pc before and the desire to play all newest games but by the time i bought the pc I'm not that much into games anymore.

    It will be just fine.
     
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  22. beefycarnivore

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    Thanks for the info. I think I'm going to go ahead and built a prototype box for now just to see what this might look like from an assembly standpoint. I guess I'll also have to measure exact placements of the items like the CPU fan to be able to place the cooling ducts anyway.

    Franz, let me know if I can help in anyway. I have 3D modeling software if you want me to mock something up for you.
     
  23. Elsa256 New Member

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    Wood is a very good insulator :)
     
  24. beefycarnivore

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    I'm counting on it! Although, the power supply will most likely be hanging from the top of the case over unused portions of the motherboard, so I've got to shield it from contacting any of the mobo PCB. I'm not powering anything up until I'm happy with the clearance. Perhaps lexan should be my first prototype material so I can see what's going on in there!
     
  25. FranzSchubert New Member

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    thank you for the offer but i wouldn't know what to do with it even you did :)

    The problem at the moment is getting the right tools to actually execute the plan. Back in highschool (many moons ago), i spent all my lunches in the D&T room, so i got used to the industrial level equipment.

    But my projects so far have been done using whatever crap my dad had laying around in his toolshed. Dull chisels, mismatched drill bits, slanted (sideways!) jigsaws and a workshop table that wobbles.

    Cuz i have a plan in my head but i know i can't bring it to life, so i've invested into some new tools :) Just need to find time to get to my dad's house to do the dirty work. I guess that's a good excuse as any to see go see one's parents :)

    will post pics of my current shitty attempt later.
     

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