My Smallest Workstation So Far / Ryzen7 in 3.2 Liters Case




Introduction: My Smallest Workstation So Far / Ryzen7 in 3.2 Liters Case

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This is my smallest and most powerful workstation (the one on the right in picture), and after 3 months of using it, I would like to share this. It is built for use of specific software, so it is not for everyone, but somebody might find it useful... . It is meant for processing where graphic cards don't matter and CPU is where all the work is done.

Volume of this case is 3.2 liters, weight 1.8kg. Additional 0.5kg or more for power supply, depending on workload…

Parts used in this build:

- motherboard - mATX with two ram slots- MSI A320 Grenade AM4

- CPU - Ryzen 1700X

- Cooler - Noctua NH-L9A (modified for AM4 socket)

- Ram - DDR4 2x8Gb HYPERX at 2333Mhz

- Graphics - ATI Radeon HD 5450 512MB

- ssd 500Gb - Samsung EVO 850

- PSU module – PICO PSU 150W 12V

- PSU supply – generic 12V 150W PSU for laptops

- Powered riser extension cable

- finger protector (wire mesh in front of fan, might call it fan protector, depends who you ask)

Step 1: Scetch

First I bought mATX motherboard and made a bunch of measurements how to make a case around it. Original idea was to use aluminum plates for side panels, but my local laser shop is not working with aluminum. They can cut steel plates, wood, acrylic … I decided to go for acrylic, since steel plates would add some extra weight, while acrylic is adding 2-3 mm to width. Therefore some corrections in sketch.

Final width of case is 55.8 mm.

Step 2: Designing PC Case and Laser Cutting

This one took much more time than expected. A lot of measurements and after trying to put it together, there is still some manual work to put all the pieces together. Pieces from laser shop din't fit on first attempt (laser melting 5mm plastic..., what can go wrong..) .

Attached are dxf files version 2. Version 1 had smaller holes on top and bottom causing higher temperature then version 2.

Step 3: Cooler NH-9A Modifications

At the time of build there was no low profile cooler for AM4. In first picture you can see the diference between old and new socket. I modified old cooler by cutting it here (picture 2).

In video you can see how it should look like to fit AM4 motherboard. This is not very precise, but it works...

Step 4: Ssd

In this build storage did't mater to much, because data is elsewhere on network. However I realized not even ssd is fitting into this small PC case. Removing ssd case solved this. Note that actual ssd is much smaller than 2.5 ssd casing.

Step 5: Graphic Card

Back plate of graphic card was cut as in image 1 and fit to casing as in image 2. Using Proxon (Dremel) or other tools. Also you have to use powered riser for graphic card (left one).

Step 6: Cabeling

This was like a puzzle game.Too many cables and not enough space. It took some time to fit it in the box. Meanwhile there are some solutions on the market, smaller (ITX) motherboards, slightly bigger cases which were not available few months ago...

Step 7: Conclusion - Was It Worth It ?

Big yes for me.

First foto is my old HP Z400 workstation, Dell laptop on top of it and new workstation on top.

It means a lot to me to travel light, and a year ago I didn't imagine I could travel with 8 core workstation in my backpack.

This instructable was not step by step. There is a lot of work in this project, but since new components are coming out every month I would do it differently next time...

Step 8: V3 Version

V3 is a bit bigger than V2, but it has space for 2 more single slot low profile cards.

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    2 years ago

    Impressed by the size, the case looks unfinished though.


    4 years ago

    Thanks for the reply.


    4 years ago

    While it may be obvious to you, there a still several pieces missing in this puzzle. Do we assume you use the laptop screen and keyboard as IO channels for you workstation? The only reason I say that is I see both the workstation and the laptop in the same back pack.


    Reply 4 years ago

    So far there was always some monitor or tv that I plug in. I do carry dvi to hdmi cable and few adapters. Also keyboard and mouse. However I did use TeamView for controlling PC through laptop as IO, since TV was 720p.


    4 years ago

    I'm always fascinated by the ways in which on can shave off bulk and build compact, yet powerful things. I don't need the computing power, for now I'm ok with my notebook's 2x1.7Ghz i5, but I'd still read the your next instructable. Consider entering this this instructable into the First time author contest :)


    4 years ago

    That's a neat setup :)