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Second guessing my case for a "new" build

Hi TH Forum Members :)

Are Micro ATX case builds supposed to be this tight?

Okay, so this one's a bit lengthy and complicated, so I'll try my best to keep things simple. :D My aunt gave me an eMachines T5026 that had a dead PSU, so I decided to "gut out" the case and throw newer parts in it (the parts I'm using can be found in my signature). It's an mATX case and I'm starting to have doubts about being able to fit everything I want inside it, as well as wondering whether or not it will provide adequate cooling for the newer parts. The problem is, I really don't have the spare cash to spring for another case, so I was hoping for a few more opinions.

Here are some screenies:

This is the case open, with just the Antec EA-650 PSU installed:

Cables Out -

Cables In -

As you can see, with the cables inside, the case is crowded enough already. I'm also worried about having the PSU so close to the two disc drives in the top bay. The cables reach and connect just fine, but there's barely any room between the the PSU and disc drives. Will this cause any major issues (extra heat, electrical issues, etc.)?

This is the case closed, with the side panel on:

There are no mounting brackets for an extra fan on the panel itself, although it does have those two exhaust grating thingies carved out of them. There's also only one 80mm (or 90mm, I'm not certain) fan on the back.

Here's what was in there before (an LGA775 board with this Cooler Master fan with shroud attached):

Now, here are some pics of the other stuff that's going inside.


CPU Cooler:

That picture shows the fan mounted. It'll blow front to back in the case, if I'm not mistaken; even though the original cooler blew out toward the side where that round exhaust grate is on the side panel. I actually want to add a second fan to the Hyper 212 Plus.


The card measures roughly 11 inches in total length. It's also a dual slot design. Looking at the motherboard, it'll sit on the two middle expansion slots on the back of the case; leaving the other two slots - the very top and the very bottom - open. The card has a blower on it, so it should push heated air from the card out of the case. I measured 11 inches from where the card would start on the back of the case inward, and found it should fit fine, as the sideways mounted hard drive bay actually clears the height of the topmost expansion slot.

Now, I'm hoping to attempt to unlock the 4th core on the Athlon II X3 440 (assuming it's good), and do some light overclocking (perhaps from the stock 3GHz to maybe 3.2 to 3.4 GHz if it'll let me). I'm thinking the fan(s) on the Hyper 212 Plus will be blowing from the front to the back 80mm back case fan, then out of the case. Does this sound correct?

I also noticed the PSU has a fan on the bottom of it; will this be blowing hot air from the PSU into the case, or is it an intake fan and the PSU has a second fan on the back blowing it out of the case?

Finally, with the long, horizontal grating on the bottom of the side panel, should the 9800GTX be cool enough with this allowing some ventilation, combined with the fan on the card, and the blower occupying the second slot?

The PSU cables are going to be the biggest issue it seems. I'm just concerned about them impeding air flow in the case.

Given all this information, does anyone have any opinions about whether this should work or not? I'd like to simply just get a bigger case; but it isn't feasible for me financially at the moment. Also, the reason I am asking is because I've purchased all these parts already, I'm just waiting on some of them to arrive (I've only got the CPU, PSU, and RAM so far). Thanks so much for your help in advance! :)
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  1. Hmm, let's see:

    Since your PSU has a fan on the bottom, it should be sucking the air out of the case. This can't usually be changed.
    And remember that good cable management leads to good air flow!

    Also, the short depth of that case (from front to back panel) is quite short.
    I find the major problem with these cases is fitting the power and data cables for the DVD/CD drive.
    The gap between the power supply and the DVD drive is very tight and the thick bundle of power cables take up most of that space.
  2. dragonic2020 said:
    Since your PSU has a fan on the bottom, it should be sucking the air out of the case.

    Thank goodness! This is very reassuring news :) Thank you so much for clearing this part up with that very useful bit of information, dragonic2020. I was worried it was going to expel hot air from the PSU and dump it right in between the area where the cooler and the back case fan is.

    dragonic2020 said:
    And remember that good cable management leads to good air flow!

    This is my main concern. While I'm grateful that the PSU has so many connector options (including one PCI-e 6-pin and one PCI-e 6+2 pin), it's just a horrible mess in there. I hope there's something I can do to get them under better control using this case.

    dragonic2020 said:
    I find the major problem with these cases is fitting the power and data cables for the DVD/CD drive.
    The gap between the power supply and the DVD drive is very tight and the thick bundle of power cables take up most of that space.

    That's exactly the problem I'm experiencing. Can this cause extra, unnecessary heat to sit and fester between the two components, with hardly anywhere to escape?

    Thank you for taking the time out to lend a hand with this one, dragonic2020. I really appreciate it. :)
  3. My current case is similar, if not shorter, in depth to yours.
    And my DVD burner is SATA.
    I had to bend both the SATA and power cables almost 90 degrees to fit in that tight space.

    I rarely use my DVD drive. But so far, I have't had any issues with overheating.

    My only thought now is if your Hype 212+ will fit in your new case.
    The best way is to try it and see!
  4. This is why many OEM cases come with power supplies with only the required cables.
    Rather than putting two fans on the cooler I would look for the best fan at that price for bringing air in the front. You may want to cut away material to increase airflow.
    Some dealers have clearance prices on round IDE cables. Try to find one where shipping won't overprice it.
    I like cable ties from the electrical supply section of a building supply store, and a roll of electrical tape,.
    The power supply cables being unseathed makes them more flexible.
    I can not tell how the hard drives are mounted, but there and in the 3 1/2 inch external bay are are the only places to stash cables. You may need access openings.
    After the video card is mounted I would suspect there is little room for a good side fan.
    You could cut an opening and mount the fan outsde the case. (possibly the front one).
    I can see no drawbacks to cutting an opening for the 212 assembly or leaving the side off'
    Coat hanger wire and a foam AC filter would help keep the dust down, buy quiet fans though.
  5. @ dragonic2020

    So you're also using a mATX case? It's good to hear some info coming from someone with hands-on experience using this form factor. Thank you... The optical drive data cables seem to be fine, but you're absolutely right - I practically have to bend the power cables at a 90 degree angle in order to get them to fit right. Additionally, I had to unseat the PSU, plug in the optical drives first, then install the PSU again to get the power cables in there. It's a little inconvenient, but hopefully, it'll work alright once I'm up and running. I'm afraid that I'm also starting to wonder if the Hyper 212+ is gonna make it in there, though. :(

    Thanks for sharing your feedback, as well. :) These are great suggestions; especially where tying up and storing the excess cables in the empty drive bay space is concerned. The front mounted fan is an excellent idea, but I'm afraid it would be near impossible (if not simply impractical) to do with the way this case is designed. Here's a pic of what it looks like:

    It's looking more and more like this is going to simply be a "placeholder" case until I can afford to get something better suited for my other equipment; more than likely a standard ATX full tower. That way, when I'm ready to upgrade or replace, at least I'll have a case with better space options.

    Thanks for all your help on this one dragonic2020 & walterm... I guess I'll just have to wait until all the remaining parts are delivered and try to see if I can make them all fit without having to worry too much about overheating and inadequate airflow occurring inside this case.
  6. Best answer
    Plan A)
    Try it. You have all the parts. there are a few good things going for you.
    The graphics card is a direct exhaust type which will tend to get rid of most of the heat well.

    Your psu is a good one. The fan will intake air and exhaust it out the back. Don't count on it to help with case cooling though. The psu fan is there to take care of the psu only, and that is what it does.

    Your hyper212 cooler is a good one, and you will be directing the heated air out the back of the case.

    Can you remove the hard drive cage, it looks like it will obstruct the intake air flow? See if you can't mount a hard drive elsewhere. Velcro to the bottom of the case, or in a 5 1/2 external bay.

    Stuff unused psu cables into the 3 1/2" bay. What does not fit there, tape to the sides to get them out of the main front to back airflow.

    If all this comes close, you could replace the rear fan with a higher rpm one, <$10.

    Plan B) Run with the case side removed. Just keep pets and cats out of the room.

    Plan C Replace the case. Antec 100 is only $37 with free shipping.
  7. Great suggestions, geofelt! :)

    The points about the way the PSU, GPU, and CPU fans will all function are definitely reassuring to me. Thanks for demystifying how they should all work once I have them.

    The hard drive cage actually pops out rather easily. Here's a screenshot:

    I did a try out run using an old 3.5 inch IDE ATA-100 HDD I had laying around, and this is how it would install with the HDD cage attached: . Do they make 2.5 inch SATA HDD's for desktops? Maybe I could get one of those and put that in the cage above the removable one. Then again, for the same amount of money, I could simply get the Antec One Hundred case you recommended and fit everything I have, including my existing 3.5 inch SATA HDD I planned to ultimately use. :( I really like that case by the way (fan mounts on the side, back, and top!)

    Even with the HDD cage removed, would this just simply allow for more open space to allow air to move a little more freely? Otherwise, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't be able to mount a fan in the front of the case because of the way it's designed. :??:

    Plan B... if worse comes to worse, I guess if I have to, I will for a short while. I've just never had a computer running with an open case. No pets or small children to worry about, but I'd still probably worry myself to death over it (even though in reality there's probably few risks with doing this).

    About the Hyper 212 Plus fitting... well, here's another screenshot of the inside at an angle: . I guess if you're familiar with the length of a typical expansion slot (non-low profile), then that could be used as a reference point. I'm thinking that even if the cooler's mounting bracket is as tall as the I/O port, and the fan and heatsink part are as big as that case fan in the screenie, it should hopefully fit okay. I should have honestly just done some quick measurements and checked the specs of the cooler before buying it. Rookie mistake! :lol:

    Great suggestions all around, though, geofelt! :) Thank you, as well, for taking a moment to help out a novice builder before he takes the big plunge!
  8. Most tall heat sinks, the hyper 212 included are about 160mm high. About 6.3" puis a little bit for the motherboard. I expect it will fit, but you could measure it.

    I would not bother to use an old IDE drive, they are slow, and your motherboard will probably not have an adapter. Sata is better.

    Yes, they do make 2.5" drives for the desktop. Even laptop 2.5 drives are ok.

    If your storage needs are modest, look into a SSD for the os and a few apps. They will be 2.5".
    You should get 80gb to 120gb. 40gb will do in a pinch for the OS only.

    Or, for $99, you can get a seagate momentys xt hybrid drive with 500gb.
    It includes a small cache to improve performance. Performance will be better than any hard drive, but not as good as a dedicated ssd.
  9. Looks as though I'll be cutting it real close with the Hyper 212 Plus cooler in there. I measured the case, and it's 6.5" deep. I hope the mobo isn't too thick or I'll be out of luck. If not, I'll just have to use the stock Athlon II X3 440 heatsink/fan.

    As for the HDD, I'm definitely shying away from the old IDE interface. I'll be using the stock HDD left over from the actual T5026 case I'm using. It's this one, a 3.5 inch Western Digital WD1600JD-22HBB0 7200RPM 160GB: .

    I was originally thinking I'd eventually go for a RAID 0 config, since I now have a mobo that will support it.

    However, I really like the idea of going with at least a hybrid drive, if not going all the way and getting a larger capacity SATA or hybrid HDD and pairing it with a modestly sized SSD. Would RAID 0 compare as far as access speed is concerned to an SSD, or are SSD's just plain faster, but they don't make large enough one's yet for relatively inexpensive prices?
  10. Raid-0 is commonly percieved as a great performer because synthetic data transfer benchmarks show up so well.
    In normal desktop usage, there is really very little , if any performance advantage with raid-0.
    The reason is that normal desktop operations do mostly small reads and writes.
    That is a task that any SSD does exceedingly well.
    -----------bottom line----------------
    Forget about raid-0, get a SSD if you want performance.
  11. An SSD or a notebook HDD usually mount to racks made for 3 1/2 inch HDD slots. Some cases come with 2 1/2 inch cages, seeing more like that.
    Appologies for the front fan idea, though depending on the inside some slots or holes might help.
    I would be tempted, if there is room after mounting the motherboard and video card to mount the HDDs to the floor of the case, you would want shock/vibration damping, long screws through the bottom or angle brackets.
    If that worked you could remove the HDD cage altogether.
    Luck and enjoy.
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