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Would apprechiate assistance finding a non-flashy smallish case!

Greetings LTT community.  I've been a long time passive participant but I needed some tech-minded eyes on this, and so it became the perfect opportunity to officially join up.  I want to build a medium-small (bigger than a shoebox... perhaps more like 3 shoeboxes) desktop computer that will suit my needs for the foreseeable future (aka ~3 years, although I make my hardware last).


All the strikethrough text was my original post... I thought I would leave it for posterity :).  I'm looking for a case with specific features, so it'd be great if anyone has advice/recommendations/etc (even if it's not exactly what I describe).  I am looking for a case on the smaller side of things, but still have enough room for a mATX mobo, a single 2-slot graphics card, a couple of SSDs and honestly not much else (I might even end up with a mini-ITX mobo if it has good onboard M.2 storage).  The only other real requirement is mounting for 4 120mm fans (although I could get by with 3 or if there is a larger fan intake in the front, this would work as well).


No side panel, color isn't a big deal as most cases are black or dark grey (having something like good Japanese rolled steel or quality aluminum construction is much more important, with screwless access being ideal), no RGB support needed/wanted and as long as the front IO has some USB ports I'd be happy.  Thank you in advance for any recommendations or suggestions and I will be sure to read and consider every reply. - Tony R.


1 - Background (feel free to skip to 2)


Here's what I have so far:

CPU: Intel Core i7-8086K (I actually won this in the contest/giveaway that Intel held earlier this year, otherwise I would have bought an 8700K)

GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 HYBRID GAMING, 11G-P4 (passed on nVidia's 2000-series; it needs to mature + the included rad fan is due for replacement)

Other: Multiple Wacom tablets


What I need:

Everything else.  My previous desktop (i7-3770S/EVGA 660 Ti) will be repurposed due to age, so there will be zero carryovers regarding parts. I have an inexpensive keyboard and a very basic Logitech mouse with an extremely inadequate monitor that made sense at the time and has served me well, but my eyes deserve better.  I've been making use of laptops for work and consoles for gaming in more recent years, but would like to return to a dual-purpose, fixed setup.  With Black Friday/Cyber Monday/End of Year/etc deals coming up soon, this provided the motivation I needed to at least put together my "ideal part list", even if some items like extra storage/RAM/monitor calibrater/etc are bought at a later date.


I've been using PCPartPicker to see what options I had and happened to come across a build for a similar use case by one Eli Harper.  Of course, I have slightly different preferences.  For maximum quietness, I prefer windowless cases... I rather airbrush/customize a solid case than show off its inners for now; this includes zero interest in RGB kb/m as well (although backlt keycaps - like on a lot of laptops - can be nice) and finally work should come before play if a compromise needs to be made.  I'm going to do my best to describe what would be most desirable, and I'm hoping that some people will lend me their experience/observations to help all of this come together.  As far as spending, that is flexible... to a point.  I know the monitor will likely be the most expensive item, but in terms of the max amount of money to spend, that lands between $1,700 - $2,200 USD.


2 - The Important Bits


What I would love input on:

Monitor - I've lived in a 1920x1080 world for too long (although I find it still perfectly fine for most gaming, and I don't even plan on buying a 4K TV until next year, it hurts productivity - or at least there is a lot more resizing and moving of panels inside Adobe CC products and other software suites).  A bump up to 4K would be nice, but I'm also considering 1440p (curved screens are out - common in ultrawide displays - since I personally feel that might cause issues with my non-gaming workflow).  A wide color gamut is a must, while higher than 60hz refresh rates or HDR are luxury items that aren't "must have's" at this time (and which also raise the price drastically when combined).  I am basically looking for a "pro" monitor (as little light bleed as possible and a high contrast rate, with the aformented wide color gamut) and not a gaming monitor, but I know there is some convergence.


Motherboard - This one is a little easier.  I've had lots of luck with ASUS mobos (although I'd be open to recommendations), but now I need to decide what kind of mATX (or miniITX if it fits the bill) to get.  I plan on running the CPU with a Noctua air cooler, and while OC'ing is always nice, a lot of Z370 boards are missing features that wouldn't appear until Z390 (which is something I was waiting for, but now I want to avoid Z390/Intel 9th gen altogether).  WiFi is not important, but USB 3.1 Gen 2 (and possibly Type-C) is, however I could do without since I doubt I would notice.  I haven't really looked at CPU-locked boards, so maybe there is a diamond in the rough that someone could clue me is on.  I've still never needed more than 16GB, but regardless I would only need 2 DIMM slots and one PCIx16 slot for the graphics card.  On board M.2 storage (at least one full-size slot) and at least 3 PWM fan headers are a must.  Random Q - Are those 16GB/32GB small Optane modules found on some boards useful?  I'm considering having one large 3.5" mechnical drive (either a WD Black @ 7200rpm or a WD Red @ 5400rpm) for storing my game library and I didn't know if they helped with HDD caching specifically.


Case - One of the more subjective catagories.  My needs are basic though.  I want a very unassuming, no windowed case with mounts for 4 fans (ideally I would have two intake, and two exaust - one of those two coming from the 120mm GPU rad fan, however as long as there are mounting spaces, arrangements can be made/altered later).  I would also like it to be as small as reasonably possible.  My old desktop is housed in an Antec P183 V3, a great case but at 30 pounds alone, it's not what I need or want now (I would love to get something as solid and screwless as that, but at at least half the size and and maybe one-third the weight).


3 - Wrap Up


Thanks to anyone who took the time to read any part of this.  I will still comb through user builds and reviews, because, well most everyone should.  However if anyone could point me in the right direction regarding a certain component, it would be greatly apprechiated.  LTT is one of the best communities out there because we build off of the collective knowledge of one another... plus the hunt+build is a lot more fun for the majority of us compared to just throwing whatever money you have at a retailer and hoping for a good outcome ?.  Cheers! - Tony R.

Edited by Tony Rayo
Cut down majorly on length and focused on just the case

Professional Photographer / Digital Illustrator

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Oh, and if anyone has recommendations for 1440p, 120hz, wide color gamut monitors for accurate photo editing + gaming, please feel free to reply as well!  Monitors don't seem to be one of those items that get Black Friday discounts (at least not across the board), and I'm willing to seek out the best for my money's worth.

Professional Photographer / Digital Illustrator

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