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Antimemetic: Scratch-built, Fully Passive, GTX 1080, SFF

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Antimemetic is a scratch-built, fully-fanless, 0-Decibel, passively cooled gaming PC enclosure lovingly hand-crafted by me here in a small New York City apartment. 

I'll document the construction process here.  As I note below, this is a long-term, community effort by which I have learned much from others who have experimented with passively-cooled, high-powered enclosures in the past.  So, in many ways, this build stands on the shoulders of giants :) Please do let me know your thoughts, suggestions, etc.

 

Antimemetic is also:

 

Heat-piped, not water-cooled.  Heat pipes require no maintenance, can’t gunk up, and won’t leak on your components.  Water is better at moving heat long distances (i.e., far away from your components), but that just means a large enclosure. That’s fun and can look very cool, but is no more effective than heat pipes for short runs.

 

Heat-sunk. Radiators are quite effective for fans that create air pressure, but large heat sinks can use convection (and radiation too) to dissipate heat.  The enclosure does not “incorporate” heat sinks. It *consists* of them.

 

Silent. Zero fans.  Full stop.

 

Efficient. It can happily cool over 700 watts (175 per side) in a reasonably cool room. That means Xeons if that’s your pleasure, and SLI if you fancy (and if you’re willing to give up one door for the space!).

 

Minimally-machined.  I am working out of a small NYC apartment, so as much as I’d like to do it myself, there is very little milling that I can realistically do. Instead, I employ off-the-shelf components, often for things they were not meant to do :-)

 

A perfect cube. Its dimensions are 370mm x 370mm x 370mm.


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Solid. It is made of aluminum heat sinks, aluminum extrusions, copper feet and steel fasteners. No plastic, glass or acrylic act as structural components.

 

Omnidirectional and tidy. Cables are routed cleanly through the bottom, so, while closed, there is no front, no left, no right and no back to the enclosure.

 

Comfortable to build in.  It is not a tiny case.  In exchange, you net plenty of room inside to poke around.

 

Versatile.  Unlike many scratch builds that are custom built for only one set of components, this case can accommodate ATX, MATX, ITX, SLI GPUs well over 300mm, eight SSDs, PSUs over 220mm long. …Why? Because planning.

 

Gull-winged. Two sides open using high-end (and very expensive!) Japanese gull-wing hinges.

 

Motorized. The gull wing doors are mounted to a linear actuator that opens at the press of a button.

 

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Unique. This is the only Antimemetic that I will ever build. My sense is that my future enclosures will be more compact, but less versatile. This is the original.

 

Beautiful.  No cheesy windows, no blingy lights. Just black aluminum and pure copper.  Okay, maybe some tasteful lighting on the internals.

 

Original. I sketched out the design and then went to learn implementation from others. Stefan and his passive setups have been tremendously instructive in this regard.  I am indebted to him for his assistance.  I could state now, for the record, that I created Antimemetic before seeing his excellent pseudo-cube enclosure, but you probably wouldn’t believe me.  Instead, I’ll just say that I think Antimemetic is prettier ;-)

 

Sponsored. Heat Sink USA was kind enough to provide four gorgeous heat sinks for this build.  Some say “functionality is the new marketing,” and I agree.  At heatsinkusa.com you can customize the length of your heat sinks, selecting from various profiles, and buy right from the website with prices displayed.  No asking for “quotes” and waiting days for a response.  Cut to size and shipped quick.  They’ll even provide CAD drawings to work with.  Tough to beat that.

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Let’s see how it turns out  ;-)

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Let’s start at the bottom: Antimemetic rests on four 20-gauge copper pyramids.  They need to leave space between them for the user’s choice of cable routing, so I chose 123mm square posts.  Here they are, straight out of the box.


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Important to protect them with a little masking tape prior to work.


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The pyramids themselves are hollow: designed not to bear much weight, but to decoratively cap fence posts.  As such, they’ll need some kind of filler before I’ll trust them to bear Antimemetic’s weight. I chose Bondo because, well, it’s perfect for the job. It is medium-weight and will probably adhere to the copper. If not, no sweat; plenty of ways to join the two. Worst case scenario, we get a perfectly snug-fitting form for the Bondo. Here we are applying the first layer.


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It’s important to apply Bondo in layers if you plan to go 3d like this. Otherwise, you risk the outside drying before the inside, creating an egg situation – hard shell on the outside, wet yolk inside.  We’re going for a solid core so that won’t do.  I’ll let this dry for a bit, and then start applying the layers.  Next update should provide solid, filled, feet.

What do you think?

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@Stefan1024 I recall you having a passively cooled PC too.

 

I suppose getting rid of fans is an option to make the PC totally silent or like you could just get Be Quiet! Silent Wings 2.

 

 

a Moo Floof connoisseur and curator.

:x@handymanshandle x @pinksnowbirdie || Jake x Brendan :x
Youtube Audio Normalization
 

 

 

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Wow, instant follow ;)

 

The gull-wings are stunning and the build looks beautiful in general. But where are the cables?

I don't clain to be the first one to build a box out of heat sinks. You are very wellcome to use the same design. I'm working currently on this:

 

 

What electrical components do you use?

 

Mineral oil and 40 kg aluminium heat sinks are a perfect combination: 73 cores and a Titan X, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Oil

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Damn, its beautiful! I would love to build something like this one day, but the price and weight are big deterents.

Check out my YouTube channel here and don't forget to subscribe :D

Current build: Project Athena

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3 hours ago, nycesquire said:

Thanks! I have not yet decided what components I will use (any sponsors out there reading?)  It will probably be my existing components as of now: a 980 GTX and 4690k.  Would love to have some hotter components to test!  A 250watt gpu and higher TDP CPU would let me push the design a bit.

 

You can get something like a GTX295 or GTX470 for cheap. OC it and it will use >350 watts.

Also are you aware that the PSU is usually the limiting factro by build this size?

Mineral oil and 40 kg aluminium heat sinks are a perfect combination: 73 cores and a Titan X, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Oil

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I am aware - frustratingly so.  I have researched the problem thoroughly.  Currently, the PSU you use (Enermax 550) is the best out-of-the-box option.  

 

The alternative I have identified is an EVGA 1600 watt PSU. It is a fanned unit that does not spin up until 825 watts according to reviews.  There are a few choices here.  One is to simply replace the fan with a dummy load. It shuts down automatically when it reaches its max temperature, which is probably around 850 watts.  If you are willing to sacrifice the longevity, it seems safe enough. What do you think?

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On 31.3.2016 at 11:51 PM, nycesquire said:

I am aware - frustratingly so.  I have researched the problem thoroughly.  Currently, the PSU you use (Enermax 550) is the best out-of-the-box option.  

 

The alternative I have identified is an EVGA 1600 watt PSU. It is a fanned unit that does not spin up until 825 watts according to reviews.  There are a few choices here.  One is to simply replace the fan with a dummy load. It shuts down automatically when it reaches its max temperature, which is probably around 850 watts.  If you are willing to sacrifice the longevity, it seems safe enough. What do you think?

IMOH the Enermax is not the best one. While it reported to run at 65°c while pulling 500 watts from the PSU, the thermal imaging camera revealed it was 95°C.

I like the Seasonic Platinum Fanless 520 watts more, despite my unit had a little bit of coil whine.

 

When I look at your design, it looks like you have no ventilating hohles in the bottom or top. So your inside temperature is considerable higher than the surrounding heat sinks. I estimate ebout 60°C. Putting a passive cooled PSU inside this environment will work out bad.

This is one of the reasons I will fill up my new passive PC with oil.

 

On 1.4.2016 at 2:00 AM, nycesquire said:

Alternatively, I wonder if I could just remove the blades.  That might not pass the boot-up test though.

It is easy to fake a motor. I can tell you how to do it. But than you have to make sure it won't overheat.

 

Mineral oil and 40 kg aluminium heat sinks are a perfect combination: 73 cores and a Titan X, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Oil

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9 minutes ago, Stefan1024 said:

When I look at your design, it looks like you have no ventilating hohles in the bottom or top.

Actually, bottom and top are well-ventilated. It's not apparent from the render.  I'll show some models shortly.

 

9 minutes ago, Stefan1024 said:

It is easy to fake a motor. I can tell you how to do it. But than you have to make sure it won't overheat.

 

Please do share your thoughts!  I will need to do this for my SLI build.

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2 minutes ago, nycesquire said:

- snip -

If you spend enougth, you can get some cinde of power combiner and use two PSUs. But you should try to avoid that.

By the way, an SLI build with 500 watts is possible. Especially with the new 16 nm GPUs.

 

To fake a motor, you can use a resistor and a coil in series. Also the GPUs and the MoBo is fine with no fan attached.

Mineral oil and 40 kg aluminium heat sinks are a perfect combination: 73 cores and a Titan X, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Oil

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Yeh, a shame for sure, but they might still make it. Not been an update for a while but they did leave it open

 

 

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As you can tell, the aesthetic of this build is minimal - raw materials and raw finishes.  There is aluminum and copper for the metal. Why not some stone for the feet.  Seems appropriate, I think.  Here is the feet filled, but still a bit uneven:


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Here we are with a final coat of filler:


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Some discoloration remains, but that will be covered by the final coat of black paint, or perhaps Plasti-dip?  I haven't decided.  What do you think? Either way, I intend to keep the somewhat rough texture.  An all-glossy setup is simply not very striking.  There should be some contrast, in my opinion.

Before I paint, I"ll need to drill four holes on the top of each, fill with JB weld and set a threaded insert so that the feet will attach to the frame.

Oh, and speaking of the frame...


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What a lovely bunch of aluminum T-slot extrusions!  All have been cut down to the millimeter according to my specs, and then anodized black.  Here's a quick test-fit of the bottom plane of the frame:

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The tolerances are outrageously tight:


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The finish is perfection:


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I would have preferred to have had them anodized *after* I had finished the project, but the extrusions I wanted weren't available raw, unanodized. So it was either pure aluminum in color, or black from the outset.  I chose black.  Now, each extrusion is hollow.  I'll need to tap them so that they can hold a screw:

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All are tapped M6.


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Yes, I did a lot of tapping. It might seem tedious, but there really is a zen to it.  It's a simple twisting motion that you can really focus on.  Three twists clockwise to cut the thread, one twist counterclockwise to break off the cut corkscrew-like piece.  In the world of ambiguous regulations and two-sided arguments I live in, the definite character of this work... it's actually quite cathartic.  Here's a test fit:


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Perfect.  Let's move on to the final bit of machining required for the T-slot to work:


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For those unfamiliar, the head of a screw fits through the T-slot and slides down the shaft.  Then, wherever you want it to connect in a perpendicular manner to another t-slot, just drill an access hole.  Stick the Allen key into the access hole to tighten and voila, a perfect mechanical attachment.  Because my tolerances are so tight, it's more science than art. Thank goodness for the clamps to hold everything steady!  I use a drill guide here because it's more flexible for exotic shaped pieces like the extrusions.

Well, there's update #2 for you.  Would love your feedback!


 

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Gotta love aluminum extrusions. Frames built out of these are literally TANKS. Really want to do a 8020 frame, looks good man, keep it up!

I like good humans and good food

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Gotta love tapping! You have to be careful to get the tap in straight the first time though, or you'll ruin the piece.

Check out my YouTube channel here and don't forget to subscribe :D

Current build: Project Athena

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