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[Solved] Dan Cases A4-SFX side panel surgery to accomodate large air cooler?

Posted (edited)

I'm in the odd position of traveling back and forth between Germany and Singapore every few months for the foreseeable future. I considered having two machines, but I have a RTX A5000 at my disposal, and I don't feel like having it sit around idle in one place when I'm not there. I wouldn't use it for mining.

 

So I'm seriously considering a Mini ITX build to lug back and forth in my cabin (or even checked-in luggage as I'm not too worried about theft on this route and I have insurance). It's also convenient to just have one system with my data and stuff instead of two.

 

So the goals are:

  • Maximum portability
  • Must house RTX A5000
  • Gaming resolution will be 3440x1400 or higher
  • I prefer air cooling over AIO. It should be as silent as reasonably possible with adequate cooling
  • I won't be stressing the machine except when gaming and the occasional compile or video-encoding job + some machine learning with the GPU
  • My current machine is from 2012 (i7-3770), upgraded to a GTX 1070 in 2016. I'd like a similar future proofing pace, i.e. my next machine should come in about 6-10 years (2028-2032). This means that whatever I buy now (AM4 or LGA 1700, DDR4 or DDR5) will likely be obsolete by then.

Already acquired for the new build:

  • Kingston FURY Beast RGB 2 x 32GB, DDR4-3600
  • Kingston FURY Renegade 2000 GB, M.2 2280
  • RTX A5000

Case and PSU:

  • Dan Cases A4-SFX (1.25 kg) seems to be the most portable case available
  • Also considering, but with doubts:
    • Ssupd Meshlicious - Too large, 4.11 kg
    • Cooler Master MasterBox NR200 - steel, too heavy at 4.8 kg
    • Sliger S620 - very nice actually, although a bit large and slightly heavy at 3.6 kg - however, extremely expensive to obtain
  • PSU: Corsair SF750 Platinum

Probably would be one of these boards due to availability:

  • If Intel: ASRock H670M-ITX
  • If AMD: Gigabyte B550I Aorus Pro AX or AsRock B550M Steel Legend

CPU and Cooling

  • The "reasonable choice": Intel 12600K or Ryzen 5700X + Noctua NH-L9a
    • Maybe LGA 1700 is better because I could upgrade to a better CPU and cooler in a few years when I stop traveling)
    • But the 12600K is almost too toasty for that tiny cooler - so I'd probably enforce a 65W power limit
    • Ryzen 5700X is the most powerful CPU at that TDP
  • "Frankenstein's monster": Ryzen 5800X3D or Ryzen 5900X or Intel 12700K(F) + be quiet! Shadow Rock TF 2
    • Requires side-panel surgery

 

The surgery

The Shadow Rock TF 2's clearance is exactly 48.5mm above the CPU (discounting the stem and heat pipes). The Dan Cases A4's maximum cooler height is 48mm. I'm thinking there's a good chance that cutting a hole that's just slightly smaller than the heat sink, the latter would rest comfortably on the side panel. If necessary, I could raise the mainboard by 1-2mm using stand-offs. The cooler would protrude from the side panel by 64mm.

 

The cooling performance would likely be fantastic for the small case.

 

Final thoughts

  • Maybe given the fairly high resolutions I play at, the 5700X would actually be perfectly sufficient
  • I'd probably buy 2 coolers (they're quite cheap) and transport the machine without a cooler when traveling back and forth to save weight and reduce the risk of damage.

 

Is this stupid? What would you do?

 

 

Edited by tfa7
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Having a big hole in a machine that's supposed to be portable seems kind of unreasonable to me. Maybe there's another way to get that half millimeter of clearance. Depending on the thickness of the side panel, you could grind away 0.5 millimeters of the panel.

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1 hour ago, startrek03 said:

Maybe there's another way to get that half millimeter of clearance. Depending on the thickness of the side panel, you could grind away 0.5 millimeters of the panel.

The Shadow Rock TF 2 is massively to big, actually. Here's how I'd intend to mount it (bad photoshop for illustrative purpose only). Essentially most of the cooler would be outside the case. But the gap below the cooler (48.5mm) matches the clearance of the case (48mm). If I make the hole just slightly smaller than the heat sink, there will be excellent airflow but the heat sink will also sit flush with the remainder of the side panel.

dan.png

dan2.png

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So the plan is to mount the cooler with it already through the side panel opening? 

 

How do you intend to protect the fins and fan?

 

80+ ratings certify electrical efficiency. Not quality.

 

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2 hours ago, brob said:

So the plan is to mount the cooler with it already through the side panel opening?

 

How do you intend to protect the fins and fan?

 

Correct, that would be the idea.

 

I don't feel a need to protect the cooler. I don't intend to go near it. It'll sit happily at the edge of the table with the cooler facing the wall (at a good distance).

 

I think it could work, but I'm still considering whether it's worth the trouble. Maybe I should just go with a 12600K locked to 65W cooled by a Noctua NH-L9a for now and then in a few years, when I'm not moving back and forth anymore, I can switch to my old case (cooler master silencio 352) and upgrade the CPU to Meteor Lake or something like that. It's said to still support ddr4 and LGA1700...

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3 hours ago, tfa7 said:

The Shadow Rock TF 2 is massively to big, actually. Here's how I'd intend to mount it (bad photoshop for illustrative purpose only). Essentially most of the cooler would be outside the case. But the gap below the cooler (48.5mm) matches the clearance of the case (48mm). If I make the hole just slightly smaller than the heat sink, there will be excellent airflow but the heat sink will also sit flush with the remainder of the side panel.

dan.png

dan2.png

Just my opinion: As a PC with a fixed location this would be fine. As a portable PC, I would not recommend it.

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4 minutes ago, startrek03 said:

Just my opinion: As a PC with a fixed location this would be fine. As a portable PC, I would not recommend it.

I don't disagree. Like I said, I'd probably unmount the cooler whenever I move it.

 

Another idea would be to just use something like a Lian Li TU150. Large, but very light-weight. I can stuff the inside with socks and T-Shirts during transport...

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2 minutes ago, tfa7 said:

I don't disagree. Like I said, I'd probably unmount the cooler whenever I move it.

 

Another idea would be to just use something like a Lian Li TU150. Large, but very light-weight. I can stuff the inside with socks and T-Shirts during transport...

It even has a handle.

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2 hours ago, tfa7 said:

I don't disagree. Like I said, I'd probably unmount the cooler whenever I move it.

 

Another idea would be to just use something like a Lian Li TU150. Large, but very light-weight. I can stuff the inside with socks and T-Shirts during transport...

 

The TU150 was my first thought, but it is heavier and larger.

 

If the case is always going to be in a relatively safe place during operation with no cats around, you could simply operate with the side off. Only use the side while transporting the cooler-less system.

80+ ratings certify electrical efficiency. Not quality.

 

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I've aborted this idea.

 

I'll just go with two machines for now

  • I'll carry my old i7 3770 + GTX 1070 in my old Silencio 352 to overseas. I've weighed the whole thing and it's just 11kg. Hardly worth going ITX for a few kilos less in my case.
  • Back home I'll go with a 12600K in my old Fractal Define Mini, with a proper cooler (NH U12A probably)

Should I decide to actually carry the new machine back and forth, I'll go for something like the TU150 or whatever's new next year. I also have a good upgrade path for whatever LGA 1700 comes out in a few years.

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