I'm looking to build a computer that is slim enough to mount on the side of my small corner desk. I can go up to 6" wide on the inside, or up to 4" wide on the outside. I'd love to be able to fit the case on the outside so I can have more leg room, but I'm ok with it on the inside if it means cheaper components, more options or better specs.
I'm not a gamer and I don't need something to support ultra-smooth gaming FPS. I'm a web developer, and on rare occasions I do video editing, but probably the most intense use the video card will get is playing back Blu-ray DVDs when I'm using the system as a bedroom entertainment center. Even this is not critical to me; if BD playback is lower quality that's ok with me. However, I don't want some piece of crap card if I can help it, because it's a bummer on those types of occasions to have the computer chop out and not handle it.
That said, I do want to trick out the rest of the system. I'm looking at Core i5-3570K CPU, an ASUS Z77 mobo, 16GB RAM, 120GB Intel SSD for the Primary HDD, 2TB SATA-III Data drive, Blu-Ray Burner and hopefully a half decent video card. Maybe for those other specs right there a mini case would be too restrictive anyway; I'm not sure.
In my research so far, I'm seeing that it's next to impossible to get a decent video card if you can't fit a standard size PCI card in your case. This pretty much rules out mini cases and motherboards that aren't full ATX it seems.
The best video card options I've really seen for less than full-height PCI cards are the GeForce GT 630 and the Radeon HD 6450, neither of which seemed very impressive, though I suppose they're better than the built-in Intel graphics on the Core i5-3570K (am I wrong?)
At first the Apevia 500W case stood out to me because of its 5.3" width, but it is more expensive, looks cheaper and has a worse design than the Cooler Master. It also comes with a crappy power supply that I'd be replacing anyway. And on top of that, it seems like that extra half inch of width savings would prevent me from using full-height PCI cards.
So I'm looking for your thoughts - for my needs, is it worth trying (or even possible) to fit all this into a 4" wide case and still keep cheaper components, many options and better specs? Or should I just suck it up and go to the 5.9" wide full-ATX case?
That's a pretty nice case - I did see those - the main concern I have with that case are primarily that it's at least 7.5" wide if I turn it sideways, and that might start invading my legroom. As opposed to a taller, more narrow case say 5-6" wide that fits a full ATX. The other concern would be more limitation on components since I have to do a slot load drive and only have two externally accessible rear PCI slots.
Thanks for the idea, I may go home and make a mock case out of cardboard in the same shape and tape it up there and see if it could work, but I'm afraid going this route may unnecessarily increase my price points.
Those are nice cases and you make a good point about putting it in the desktop. However I've got a really small desk and the case being up there would be aesthetically too much. I really need to keep to a slim case underneath.
Thanks for the tips though, those are really great cases.
I think what I've concluded is that, no, you cannot get a high-end video card into a slim case because the power supplies are too small unless you go custom, and because they just don't make half-height ones as powerful.
I've decided to go with a full-height video card in the slimmest ATX case possible - right now the 6" wide Cooler Master Elite 361 is the best I've found.