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TexasSwede

In search of a small, attractive mATX case with good cooling

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I am planning to build myself a secondary system to bring in my RV 8travel trailer). I happen to have a Asus Prime B360M-C (mini-ATX) motherboard left from a project a couple of months ago, so my plan is to use that for my build. I haven't picked a processor yet, but I am considering a i5-8600K. Yes, I know it is 2 generations old, but performance seems to be as good as the 9700K. Why spend more money when I don't need it?

I am not doing much gaming (I am a software developer) but I do enjoy playing Microsoft Flight Simulator, when I occasionally have time. So I think an RTX 3070 will be perfectly fine (when they become available). 

Initially I think I will put a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD on the motherboard, perhaps with a larger SATA SSD for additional storage. Due to vibrations in the travel trailer I will not get any mechanical drives.  The only other card I will need is a wifi-card, since the motherboard lacks that feature.

 

I am looking for a small case, with decent cooling capabilities. Either air cooled or where I can install an AIO, since the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo (which is my personal favorite for air cooling) is pretty tall.

I will keep the computer in a cabinet in the second bedroom:

 

RV_Office_1.png.2a70b6bb4dff811fba7a04d9e61d19ff.png

 

The cabinet on the right hand side in this picture is pretty big, and the breaker box is located directly under it (in the base of the cabinet), so it will be easy to install a new outlet inside the cabinet.

I also think I need to arrange a way to get the warm air out of the cabinet itself, but I see that as a smaller problem, I could create a fan assisted exhaust on the side or on the top of the cabinet.

RV_Office_2.png.8ada00248c3a725f15750442b3c13413.png

I have considered Corsair 280X, I like the looks and the two-chamber design, but I am worried about the air flow in the case. Another case I have been considering is Thermaltake Core V21. It looks okay,. not as cool as the 280X but it will be hidden most of the time anyway. Cooler Master NR400 and Fractal Design Meshify C Mini are tow other cases I looked at, I find NR400 ugly, and Meshify C Mini is okay, but not that exciting. 

 

What other cases should I look at? Since the motherboard is mATX I would prefer a case that is designed for that size, and is as small as possible.  If the case supports "EATX", it is probably too big to be interesting for me. 
I am willing to go with a smaller form-factor PSU, if needed. I don't have any specific budget, I rather get the right case. Any suggestions?

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Drill + Dell prebuilt = good cooling + cheep + small + ugly

Meshify c mini = good cooling + only ok look

And I guess that a  C mini + some paint = interesting look

For airflow, the meshify c is the best of the best, and if you have enough for it, I would do it. 


I am still TechWizardThatNeedsHelp, just less of a mouthfull.

 

My beautiful, but not that powerful, main PC:

My new PC I'm saving for:

  • NZXT H1 Matte Black
    • Comes with a 650W NZXT PSU
    • NZXT AIO
  • Ryzen 5 3600
  • MSI B450i GAMING PLUS AC
  • XPG ADATA 2800Mhz
  • RX480 untill I have more for a 2060 or 2070
  • 2tb Sabrent Rocket Q PCIE gen 3 NVME SSD
  • Samsung 470 128GB SATA SSD
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Why does it need to be attractive when it's stored in a cupboard? You could just go for a cheap rack case and put it in there (if it fits of course). If it fits I'd definitely go for rack mount. Is also a lot safer also since it can't move around. 

 

Regarding cooling: I'd definitely go with an AiO or a horizontal mainboard orientation due to acceleration. Big air coolers are heavy and going over a pot hole will result in nasty forces on the mainboard if it's vertically mounted.


Use the quote function when answering! Mark people directly if you want an answer from them!

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Posted · Original PosterOP
On 9/28/2020 at 8:38 PM, bowrilla said:

Why does it need to be attractive when it's stored in a cupboard? You could just go for a cheap rack case and put it in there (if it fits of course). If it fits I'd definitely go for rack mount. Is also a lot safer also since it can't move around. 

 

Regarding cooling: I'd definitely go with an AiO or a horizontal mainboard orientation due to acceleration. Big air coolers are heavy and going over a pot hole will result in nasty forces on the mainboard if it's vertically mounted.

The reason I want it attractive is that at times I may bring it out of the cabinet. Plus that I am OCD and just want to know that things are nice/done right even when nobody may see it. That is why I write neat and clean code, even if nobody may ever see it. But I do see your point.

I don't think I want to put a rack mounted computer there, we will probably have friends traveling with us at times, and then I need to remove the computer from the cabinet so they can keep their clothes and stuff there. I doubt my wife would let me mount a permanent rack there, no matter how geek tolerant she is... 😄 

 

I was thinking the same as you regarding cooling, I am leaning towards an AIO. Even with a horizontal motherboard I think there will be quite a bit of side-to-side movement that could damage the motherboard/processor if I had a big heavy air cooler.

 

Right now I am leaning towards a Thermaltake Core V21. It seems to be very flexible, and the mesh sides will help with cooling.  Anyone has any experience with that case? Thoughts?

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
On 10/2/2020 at 11:45 PM, Timbermaniac said:

Just saying.. cooler master nr200 fit small matx. But usually that small matx is a low end motherboard...

The specifications for Cooler Master NR200 I have found only says it supports Mini-ITX, not Micro-ATX.
Can you show a source for your statement that the case supports Micro-ATX?

 

As you can see, there is quite a bit of size difference between the two form factors (Micro-ATX a.k.a. mATX) and Mini-ITX:
micro-ATX-mini-ITX-ATX-dimensions.png.9bad1512f9a6c679cf7df0270df374ad.png

 

A micro-ATX motherboard does not need to be a "low-end motherboard", unless your definition of low-end is fewer PCIe slots. It is just a more compact form factor, but with the same chipset as the full-size ATX motherboards. For example, compare ASUS ROG Strix Z370-G Gaming and 370-H Gaming. They are almost identical.

 

The motherboard I am using for my build is ASUS Prime B360M-C. I am using my computers mostly for software development, and don't plan to overclock this computer. When your living depends on that you have a working computer, you do not want to play around with overclocking and potentially have the system crash on you in the middle of work or an important conference call. If it crashes when you play Call of Duty or Fortnite it doesn't really matter, that's only a game.

 

I ended up getting the Cooler Master Core V21, due to it's flexibility, and the fact that it had two panels with mesh and one with glass, giving me good ventilation. I added an Arctic Liquid Freeze II 280 for cooling of the i5-9600K I purchased [1].

If anyone is interested, the other components I used in the system is a 1TB Samsung 970 Evo, 32 GB Crucial Ballistics Gaming 3200MHz [2] and a Corsair RM650x power supply. The system is whisper quite, it is almost impossible to hear that it is running. I also purchased an additional 140mm fan for rear exhaust, but it has not been installed yet. 
For now I am using the on-board graphics, I may get an RTX 3070 some time in the future (when they become available).


[1] Yes, I know the K-processors are able to be overclocked, and that I need a Z-series motherboard to be able to do that, but because i5-9600K is both and cheaper ($169.99 at Microcenter) than i5-9600 ($199 at Amazon and NewEgg), that was a no-brainer.
[2] The motherboard only supports 2400 MHz, but this memory was cheaper.

 

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