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Do components need to be enclosed in a case?

Last response: in Systems
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December 15, 2009 7:30:59 PM

I am trying to get creative about building a NAS and have contemplated building it into my desk (that i am also building from scratch). my question is thus, do i need to enclose all the components or can i leave the back open? i am just curious what the benefit is to putting all the components inside a case or is just to protect the parts from dust and all that. thanks.
December 15, 2009 7:37:28 PM

Sound would be a concern as an open box is going to make the noise more noticeable.
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December 15, 2009 7:40:09 PM

but is there a chance of damage to the components?
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December 15, 2009 7:51:09 PM

chadbunderwood said:
but is there a chance of damage to the components?

Shock damage? No.
Heat damage? Depends on your design. You will need to plan for fresh air both into and out of the desk area your parts are in.
At a minimum, you will need an exhaust fan and passive intake vents to keep the component area close to ambient temperature.
A cooling fan for the cpu will be required, with others depending on what they are and how well you have planned airflow thru the space.
Remember that heat rises.
I assume you will be able to clean out the dust bunnies from time to time...
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December 15, 2009 7:53:21 PM

yeah, i would at a minimum have an 80mm fan pulling air off the components and intakes at the front. and i guess i would just hit the components with some compressed air every once in a while to knock off any dust.

so heat and dust are the two biggest worries then?
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December 15, 2009 7:54:44 PM

Everything that Newf pointed on is good. Though, I thought another part of it was static build up? With a metal case, it protects the components inside from possible build up.
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December 15, 2009 8:03:34 PM

Well ,test beds are essentially wide open. The only thing test beds have is like one fan. So outside temperature you are fine. I say this however, under the assumption that you are an adult with no children or pets....or idiot friends.....or have a tendency to spill liquid.....or........you get the picture.
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December 15, 2009 9:34:04 PM

Kithzaru said:
Everything that Newf pointed on is good. Though, I thought another part of it was static build up? With a metal case, it protects the components inside from possible build up.

You will still get a good ground from the power supply negative lead, so static should not be a bigger than normal issue.
Inside a desk I don't think physical damage will be an issue.
That leaves heat and dust.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 15, 2009 9:52:50 PM

chadbunderwood said:
I am trying to get creative about building a NAS and have contemplated building it into my desk (that i am also building from scratch). my question is thus, do i need to enclose all the components or can i leave the back open? i am just curious what the benefit is to putting all the components inside a case or is just to protect the parts from dust and all that. thanks.

In a case, it is easy to move the PC around and to access components.
It will function just fine without the case.
For ventilation, I would design with some slow turning 120mm fans. Two intake fans in front with a filter would be good. 80mm fans will spin fast and become noisy.

Show us a pic when it is done.
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December 16, 2009 12:33:22 PM

A metal case provides three functions:
1) Protection from outside elements (water, dust, cat hair, toddler's fingers, etc.)
2) A static "shell" if properly grounded to allow static electricity to go to ground along the computer chassis as opposed to grounding out in your sensitive electronic components
3) Radio frequency shielding for electronic components inside the case so they don't interact improperly with other electronic devices outside the case.

Role 1 can be accomplished with just about any case material. Role 2 can be accomplished by a strong insulating material and an intelligent user who grounds out before they touch anything inside their box. Role 3, though, is a bit more difficult. RF shielding doesn't have to be a very thick layer of metal (a thin film or foil is usually sufficient) but it can make a world of difference if you are getting RF interference with your microwave, TV, cordless phone, etc.
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