Question Durable Basic Rectangular Box Case

Jul 19, 2019
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Does anyone know of a solid completely rectangular ATX case? With no outward curved parts - even on the top or the front - so you could lay it on absolutely any side and stack things on top of it like it was a box? Like a generic computer without "fancy" front part. Like a Dell Optiplex 9010 (see http://offsquare.com.my/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/optiplex9010mt.jpg) except without the weird thing in the back by the PCI slots, and maybe even flater in the front. Like I wouldn't even need/want a front panel at all - maybe just a completely flat metal with holes for drive bays? I could add USB/audio connectors with a drive bay?
Like https://www.newegg.com/rosewill-rch-200-usb/p/N82E16817182338?Description=usb 3 panel&cm_re=usb_3_panel--17-182-338--Product
When USB 3 goes out of date I could swap out a drive bay with whatever is current, so it'd be sort of future proof.

Is this a thing?

Thanks!
 

Darkbreeze

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Moderator
First of all, you don't want to lay any computer on any side except the one it was intended to be laid on.

The internal cooling systems are DESIGNED for specific orientation, in order to use the benefits of the "stack effect" which is outlined here:

https://www.energyvanguard.com/blog/50616/Heat-Rises-and-Falls-Stack-Effect-Air-Movement-Heat-Flow

Orienting the case differently than it was intended, negates all of the benefits of that and might completely skew the entire cooling configuration depending on the case design and age.

Secondly, you generally have at least three sides, front, back and top, and in some cases the side or bottom, that have cooling fan locations. You don't want to lay a case on any of those sides if there are fans located there regardless of what case design you have.

As far as the case itself being totally rectangular, it doesn't really get much flatter and rectangular than this:

https://www.newegg.com/black-fractal-design-define-c-atx-mid-tower/p/N82E16811352066?Description=Define C&cm_re=Define_C-_-11-352-066-_-Product


Or the Define S, S2 or Define R5 or R6 cases. All are about as angular as you could hope for in a modern case.
 
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Karadjgne

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Herald
Strongest part of any case is the frame. The weakest part is the panels. They are a very large area of unsupported metal/plastic/glass. The larger the panel, the greater the ability to flex. The last thing you want to do is put a standard ATX case on its side, and put heavy things on top. You'll flex the panel and whatever clearance the cpu cooler is supposed to have, is now gone.

And you definitely do not want to suspend a cpu cooler upside down with the case laying on the left panel and have the right side panel flex into the solder points on the back of the mobo. Instant dead shorts and a smoking pc.

If you want a desktop case, buy that kind, designed to be flat. If you want a stand up case, buy that. But don't stack stuff on top of the pc, it's a pc not a bookshelf.
 
Jul 19, 2019
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Thanks for the replies.

Something like a case that was sturdy and rectangular enough to be bolted to the wall and pass as a bookshelf is exactly what I want :)

I don't have a high end system and wouldn't mind doing a little modding, so I'm not too concerned about airflow.

I have to admit, the Define models are just about what I asked for, except it is has a front panel door I don't care for, and is really fancy compared to what I was thinking.

Hmmm... man the engineer in me just wants a really sturdy steel box with motherboard standoffs, pci slots, and a cutout for the power supply. And the fact that, when you buy a case, you sort of commit to your front panel, kind of bothers me. I wish it were interchangeable. If I had a steel box with a steel plate for a front panel I could just get a new steel plate front panel or mod it when I wanted different connectors. They could sell front plates with connectors that would be a standard size so you wouldn't have to get a whole new case when your usb went out of date or you wanted and sd card reader...

OK the impression I get is it's not really on the market, and the closest thing is to take a 20 year old computer, take off whatever silly plastic front panel they have and screw a metal plate over the front?
 

USAFRet

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And a 20 year old case will have crappy air flow, be lacking USB 3.x ports, and might not even be ATX compliant.

Solution:
Build a strong steel box of the desired dimensions.
Take any current case, and gut the innards. Motherboard tray, front panel connections, etc, etc.
Build it inside that metal box you made.
Adjust airflow as needed.


But really...a PC case isn't that big. Wouldn't make much of a 'shelf'.
 
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Jul 19, 2019
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I get ideas sometimes too. Then I realize they are bad ideas, and I forget about them. LOL.
subtle... Is that about building a case or mounting one?
Both Lian Li and Thermaltake make cases specifically intended to be wall mounted, and I imagine placing five or six books on top with a pair of book ends wouldn't be the end of the world. Like this one.

sure enough.... erm... I'm not actually trying to make a bookshelf :)
Just want something basic and future proof and solid (Something I could mount somewhere if I ever wanted to.) and "very box like".

Think of what you could do if they made cases that way:
  • Stack two computers on top of each other. Or a printer on top of two similar height computers.
  • Be able to temporarily set things on top without the object sliding off.
  • Easy to clean since no pockets on the top to collect dust or dirt
  • Impact protection from the front.
  • Mount (to wall, underside of desk, ) to save space or make difficult to steal without destroying it, or to avoid hunching over to turn on and insert USB drives.
  • Throw in moving van with minimal protection, and put things on top without sliding off and in front of the case and wedging it to the side.
  • No style to have go out of style
In general, boxes are practical. But it seems I must not be like most computer builders or they would have different cases on the market. Or I'm too picky and bad at chosing between so many options that aren't quite what I want.
 
Jul 19, 2019
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What about a PC test bench?

too vulnerable. Or are you saying as a starting point for building?
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
They have stackable computers. They are called blade or rack mounted servers. Could be an option. I've seen desktop systems installed in server chassis before.

I'm not sure why you'd NEED more than one computer stacked in the same location UNLESS one or more of them were servers, but I guess there could be some case use scenarios.

Tripp Lite has these you could build a system in easily.



Beijing Finen electronics has these.

http://www.finen.net/en/product_d.asp?id=16




And while Thermaltake and Lian Li, among others, have their own wall mounted systems, you could certainly make your own.


 
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Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Some things are confusing.

You want the ability to toss it in the work van:- get a laptop.

You want the ability to make it theft proof as possible:- get a full tower, bolt it to the desk.

You want it sturdy enough to handle stuff stacked on top:- why bolt it to the wall or under a desk?

You are looking for a one-size-fits-all scenarios case, and honestly there isn't one.

Something like a Fractal Design Node 202 fits almost all that criteria, but that's mITX, so somewhat specialized and will have certain restrictions.
 
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Jul 19, 2019
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OK, I'm thinking about getting the Corsair 200R. I'm doubting whether it makes sense to modify the old Compaq EVO W6000 case I have. PSU mounting isn't even ATX. We'll see.

Thanks for all the ideas.
 

AllanGH

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The weakest part is the panels.
I'll second that. I'm very disappointed in how poorly case panels deflect bullets.
I'm really liking that homemade wood hanging case I posted. I think I might even make something like that before long.
....and the penny just dropped for me. I have some Cocobolo, Zebrawood, and Purple Heart not doing very much in the garage, right now....
 
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