Case And System Cooling
The process for selecting compact PC hardware is almost backwards compared to what one goes through for larger systems, since the smaller case has so large an effect on the fit of other components. Thus, we started with our chassis and worked from there.
Case: Silverstone SG03
Cube cases are often chosen for portability, but “super sizing” the cube design to fit Micro-ATX motherboards results in a very wide product. While our $625 PC SBM builder Paul Henningsen stuck with the concept by choosing a cube-shaped case measuring 10.4” wide, the plan for our $2,500 system called for something much narrower. Its smaller 7.9” x 12.3” footprint also allows for more space on a desk, although it’s nearly twice as tall as a typical Shuttle system.
Height isn’t as big of an issue as width when carrying a case by its handle, so our easy choice was the Silverstone SG04B-H. Unfortunately, it was one of two products that was out of stock when it came time to order. Using the same under-structure, we then chose the SG03-B as a functionally-identical replacement.
Newegg’s own photo of this case doesn't do it justice, as reflections of the inner panels that don’t show up in the finished system create a false impression. A little adjustment to the lighting angles of our photo shows the SG03 for the great-looking chassis that it is.
Laid on its side, the SG03 looks nearly identical to Silverstone’s cube cases except for the additional space at the ends, which become the top and bottom in this tower design. That extra space is the key to how this case supports our full configuration while most cubes cases will not. Moving the optical drive to the top prevented it from interfering with the use of an extra-long power supply, while moving the hard drives to the bottom prevented any drive cage interference with the use of two over-sized graphics cards.
Hinged winglet-sized doors surround the intake fan grille, shown with the two replacement fans described below already installed. The left cover hides front panel ports, while the right covers the reset button and activity LEDs.
Intake Fans: Two Scythe S-Flex SFF21F
Two Scythe S-Flex model SFF21F fans were chosen to replace the single fan supplied by Silverstone, since these are each capable of 63.7 cubic feet per minute (CFM) at 28.0 decibels (max speed). Sony Fluid Dynamic Bearing technology helps to achieve that low noise rating while providing an impressive 150,000 hours of mean time between failures (MTBF).
Exhaust Fan: Silverstone FX121
With no space for a full-sized exhaust fan, Silverstone’s FX121 Cross Flow blower was added to assist voltage regulator module (VRM) cooling and pull heat away from the CPU socket. Its 14 CFM rating at 26 decibels is extremely unimpressive, but there simply isn’t room for a better solution.