Cheap DIY transparent case from generic storage box (no 3D printing or power tools)
My eGPU has been living in a cardboard box for a few weeks and although I liked the crude look of it I decided it was time to make a proper case for it.
My requirements were:
1) Transparent case or at least side panels and possibly preserve the DYI look
2) Small as possible and portable
3) No 3D printing or powertools
4) Cheap because I needed to also fit a better and smaller PSU (SFX) in my budget
I'm gonna start with some info about the power supply:
My original PSU was a standard ATX and was way too big for any compact case. It was also quite underpowered, only 14A on 12V ~ 170W, while in theory it should have been good enough for my 1060 it turned out to cause issues - see my build guide for more on that. It also wasn't very future proof for new GPUs. It didn't even have a 6 pin connector and I had to use a 2xMOLEX to 6pin adapter which was also a concern. I ended up getting a EVGA SuperNOVA 450 GM. While it is pricey (~75 EUR at local shops) and I don't really need the modularity aspect, it ticked all my boxes - small size, enough power for any GPU, 2x6/8pin connectors (although on a single cable). You can also consider Segotep SG-M350 350W as a cheaper (~23 EUR) alternative but I decided that I'm saving so much on the case, that I can splurge on the PSU.
At first I though of going for a standard mini ITX case, but non of them would fit the transparency and price requirements at the same time. I also wasn't sure how much modding would be required to fit my R43SG in them. That is when I got the idea of using a generic transparent storage box found in any home supplies store:
The size that fit my needs best was a 9L ~30x23x16cm, but you can get whatever fits your components the best.
1) Make mounting holes in the box cover (it is going to be the base of your case) for the PSU, GPU and bigger slits for the M.2 cable to pass trough. Get angular and straight planks for mounting the PSU on its side. Make sure you leave enough space for ports, cable management and test if the box still closes before cutting the holes. It's a good idea to add some rubber feet for internal support if the plastic flexes from the weight of the PSU/GPU.
2) Cut holes for the GPU and PSU fans and ports/exhaust in the box base (it is going to be the cover for the case). You can use tape with size similar to the fans to draw decent circles. My holes ended up a bit crude but you can always optionally add some sort of filters/grills to cover them up a bit. I used some leftover mosquito net and 90mm fan grills. Try to mainly use saws for all cuts because the model knife might cause cracks in the plastic. I mainly used the knife to smooth out the holes after the saws.
3) Enjoy your ~5 EUR case!
The biggest drawback of this over my old solution or a proper case is that fan noise is quite louder at speeds above 50% and even more so above 75%. Luckily my GPU rarely turns its fans so high, and the PSU never even turns its fan on because it is very lightly loaded.
Here's a picture of all the tools and consumables I used:
If the fan noise is worse by the case resonating, try adding a dampening pad for a drumset. I've found with thin cases they can help a lot.
@corb555, Thanks for the suggestion I might add some of those to the edges of the bottom for improved stability. I think the noise is mainly from the fan holes and exhaust for the GPU being too crude and not big enough resulting in air hitting the plastic. I really messed up some of the cuts on the sides, but the box being so cheap I can always get another one and have a go at making it better. Maybe cutting them with some heat from a soldering iron would work better.
I really love this cheap enclosure! Any issues after almost 2 years?
None, whole setup still works like a charm
I can only add that as far as my initial requirements go - the portability one isn't achieved much. I don't move it very often because the plastic lid doesn't handle the weight of the 1060 and PSU very well.