These are the built-in controller knobs of the Scythe chassis fans. They are set to minimum speed and taped into upper front corner out of the way:
Assembling the parts starts with routing the front panel connector cables properly. They will be sandwiched between motherboard and motherboard tray, so rerouting them pretty much means detaching the motherboard:
Motherboard and the hard drive installed. As you can see, the chassis is just high enough that motherboard clears ODD on top and HDD on bottom:
Motherboard and the hard drive installed. The hard drive clears the motherboard by just few millimeters.
The stains on the southbridge tell that this motherboard is already on it’s second life. It served originally my personal desktop machine, but I poured white wine over it on certain party, and +12V voltage sensor and one of the DIMM slots stopped working.
Now that the previous motherboard of this machine broke, I gave it another try and was able to wash it clean. Literally wash - I removed all detachable parts including CMOS battery, washed it under tap water, dried with hair dryer and let it dry for 24h before connecting again. And lo and behold, the fourth memory slot started working. Another 70€ saved!
Hard drive mounts to aluminium sled with plastic rails. The two aluminium sleds also double as case bottom and feet:
The SATA cable for ODD is routed under the motherboard like front panel connectors. The SATA cable needs to do a tight turn - needed to be very careful here to not place too much stress to motherboard SATA header:
Opening the right side panel we see that there’s not much there. No space for anything, and thus no holes either:
Except this one, for screwing ODD in place. Notice also the steel inserts for motherboard standoffs - this is a quality case, and it shows. Aluminium is not good for screw threads, it breaks too easily and it has lot of friction. Steel inserts make sure the threads are easy to use and last some use and abuse:
One of the downsides of the M4A78-EM motherboard is that it has only two chassis headers. But it’s a solid budget motherboard otherwise, can’t get everything for just 70€.
Notice also the clearance between motherboard and ODD tray - not too much space wasted here either:
In this revision of M4A78-EM the other chassis fan header is awkwardly between IO panel and CPU cooler. This might work for cases that sport case fan in back next to IO panel, but it’s very bad for this build. Interestingly enough, on my newer M4A78-EM the headers are in a bit different locations, better, if you ask me. Different revision, I guess.
Quality case often come with details you didn’t know to ask, but which help you build better machine. And here’s one: an extra PCI slot cover. There is some amount of room behind the ODD, but not enough breathing space for anything that generates heat, so SilverStone engineers added this slot there:
And here it is in use - perfect for getting couple of USB ports more and not blocking the already area around the real expansion card covers:
The USB PCI backplate cable is *just* long enough. Remember it needs to go between motherboard and VGA card, which requires an additional turn.
Here you can also see both ends of the ODD SATA cable, routed behind the MB:
Graphics card in place. This was the only “oops” on this rebuild: on the previous motherboard, M2A-VM, VGA slot was one spot higher, on M4A78-EM it’s one spot lower.. meaning the graphics cooler fans sit very, very close to the hard drive cages.
Do note that the fans face to different directions - this is intentional. At first they blew both away from the VGA card, but that heated HDD to uncomfortable levels, so I switched it around. This hurts GPU temps a tiny amount, but very little in practise, and helps HDD a lot. And because HDD dislikes temps over 40C, while GPU can handle up to 95C, shifting some thermal load from HDD to GPU is a good deal:
This S shaped piece of acrylic is the only totally custom part on this build, and plays a crucial role:
These black tabs are rubber foam; expensive and heavy, but very good at vibration insulation. Attached with hot glue.
The air guide (the S-shaped piece of acrylic) installed. The purpose of this is twofold: First, it directs air from the front fans towards the CPU/PSU intake area and second, it keeps the cables from the non-modular PSU out of the way of the said airflow:
The air guide friction fits between front panel connector PCB and case border, with help of the rubber foam tabs:
Air guide and PSU in place. The PSU is 380W model from SeaSonic S12II series. It’s 80Plus certified and one of the first sub-400W 80Plus PSUs on market back when it was bought. And 380W is already too much for this system, but because everyone and their dog believes bigger is better this was the best fit I could find.
Air guide and PSU in place, cables in their almost final places. As you can see, there’s a lot of spare cabling to store, and this is where the custom guide really shines:
All major components in place:
Tape was used to keep power and SATA cables out of the way. The borders and corners of the case have quite a lot of room for cables, you just need something to hold them there:
The Fanmate 2 controlling VGA fans was routed to the back of the case. If you do tricks like this, keep an eye on the power ratings - the reason why I was able to pull it off is that I used small (92mm) low power fans. Anything larger would go over the max rated power supported by a single fanmate:
Here you can see the bottom of the case and the HDD caddies. They are machine aluminium extrusions that also form the feet of the case. Now that the VGA fans are blowing almost against the case floor, I’m thinking of machining a fan vent to the empty HDD tray. I just need to make sure the structural strength of the case is not compromised:
The bottom of the case and the HDD caddies. They are machine aluminium extrusions that also form the feet of the case. Now that the VGA fans are blowing almost against the case floor, I’m thinking of machining a fan vent to the empty HDD tray. I just need to make sure the structural strength of the case is not compromised.
Overall view of the completed innards. Some of the cables look like they’d be in way of airflow, but trust me, none of them actually are:
Completed system, from front. To get idea of the size, the front grille is almost exactly the size of 2*120mm fans. You can actually see the hub of the top fan through the mesh:
It’s small and pretty, but does it perform? Yes. By stressing the system with EVE, the most consuming task she suspect her system to, we got CPU temps a bit past 60C and GPU temps a bit past 65C. When you weight in the HDD being below 35C, the system works very well thermal-wise.
It’s also quiet. Not silent, seeks of the random 7200rpm 500G WD drive are audible if the room is very quiet and you can hear medium band whoosh of turbulence when you go closer than 30-50cm of the vent on the left panel when room is otherwise quiet. However, the left panel will face to the wall, not to user, so the perceivable noise is lower. In practice the easiest way to check if the system runs is to look at the blue leds on the front, or their absence, so I consider this very successful build.