This Is The Smallest, Most Powerful 4K Gaming PC You've Ever Seen

Image: Imgur

30 centimetres, by 30 centimetres, by 10 centimetres. That's how big this 4K-friendly, Intel Core i7-toting, dual SSD-booting, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 SLI-ing gaming rig is. The only problem? The case itself cost more than the $US3500 of high-end PC components inside. Built for an Australian hardcore PC enthusiast and engineer, it's a prototype for what could well be the smallest 4K gaming PC that money can buy.

This particular PC build was shared on Reddit and Twitter by Protocase, the Canadian company that created the prototype small form factor enclosure. Despite containing Intel's most powerful consumer-grade CPU -- the overclockable Core i7-6700K with a not-insignificant 90 watt TDP -- and not one but two top-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards, the machine is smaller than a couple of stacked pizza boxes. It's almost smaller than a particularly chunky gaming laptop.

With the CPU air-cooled by a super-low-profile Noctua L9i, the PC is built on the micro-ATX form factor, using an Asus Maximus VIII Gene motherboard and a 32GB complement of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 RAM. It uses a Samsung 950 Pro M.2 SSD, which plugs directly into the motherboard for faster speeds and less cable wastage, and a larger Sandisk Ultra II 2.5-inch SSD for bulk data storage. These are all impressive pieces of PC hardware.

It's the graphics cards that are the biggest ask in any small machine, though, and the two GTX 1080s are custom-mounted on PCI-Express risers and moved to the rear of the motherboard tray -- where they have dedicated custom-drilled air intakes through a clear acrylic side panel. Three 90mm fans at the front of the case draw fresh air in. The 700-Watt power supply is, after the case, the most customised part of the gaming rig, with a 700 Watt FSP PSU altered to fit the one-off form factor.

Image: Imgur

Importantly, both the CPU and GPUs are able to draw in cold air from outside the case, according to Protocase. The "as small as possible, yet elegant and functional" design apparently does a very good job of keeping operating temperatures down despite the power-hungry components inside. And, of course, you have to remember that this is a machine that can handle some serious computational load, whether it's high-res gaming, video editing or general-purpose number crunching.

Built for Australian IT consultant Lukasz Dyjakon, the case is functional first, but has a straightforward kind of beauty to it. Prototype design, metal and acrylic manufacturing came to a total of $CAD4025, eclipsing even the $CAD3500 spent on the internal components, but Protocase says that Dyjakon plans to approach "a number of high volume manufacturers" to gauge interest in a mass-produced model for the mainstream. I know that I'd buy one if it ever made it to market.

From Protocase: "Today, engineers who design custom PCs and electronic devices understand that the more powerful a computer is, typically, the larger it will need to be in dimension due to the cooling requirements that are needed for the hardware components. Inside a standard computer case, it’s usually the graphics card and CPU that are craving cold, fresh air, and this is compounded by the fact that in a typical design, the two are close together."

"The case is designed so that the 2 hottest components in the case, the CPU and graphics cards, are separated and have access to fresh air directly from outside the case. As you can see from the photos below, the CPU is accessing fresh air from the left side of the case, and the dual graphics cards are accessing fresh air from the right side of the case."

It's a nearly identical setup to the PC I'm running here at Gizmodo, and I can attest to its flawless performance for high-frame-rate 4K and VR gaming. It's also all extremely conducive to overclocking, although the small form factor means exhausting all that extra waste heat would be a big ask. It's small enough to be taken onboard an airplane as carry-on luggage, which has to be its crowning glory. Sure, you won't exactly be able to plug it into the in-flight entertainment monitor in the back of the seat in front of you, but you'll be able to do some serious gaming at your destination. [Reddit / Protocase]

Custom Case PC Build

Full system specs:    CPU: Intel 6700k   Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i   CPU Fan: Scythe Kaze Jyu Slim 100mm   Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VIII Gene   RAM: 32GB (4 x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200 MHz   GPU: 2 x nVidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition   SSD1: M.2 SanDisk 950 Pro 256GB   SSD2: SATA SanDisk Ultra II 1 TB   Fans: 3 x Noctua NF-B9 PWM   Power Supply: Based on FSP 700 Watt Platinum with braided cables.   Other Cables: Custom Riser & SLI Cables   Front Panel I/O: 4 x USB 3.0 and HDMI pass through for VR headsets.



    That's a really smart way to run those blower GPUs.

    Awesome. Just Awesome. =)

    im really impressed with this. great use of space. id love to see real world temp testing on it, i dont think it would be bad, just interested.
    great job to the guy who designed it.

    Would be great with a similar sized pcie expansion case to run pro tools in a mobile recording rig. Impressive.

    A very jizz worthy rig indeed!

    Wow, im actually impressed with this build design.
    The only thing i would change would be a slight increase in width to fit a Corsair h5sf for mad sex appeal.
    The achilles heel IMHO would be the PSU as its a more obscure form factor(?) but only in regards for replacement. (if not handled by warranty)

    Ok, seems to be a standard 1U design on the PSU which has a relatively common market

    Last edited 22/07/16 12:19 pm

    Here I am looking at building a new rig and this comes along and squashes my hopes and dreams.

      Better start saving that extra $5000.

        I love how mere hours after you post this article, it's about to be obsolete by the Titan X!

        A single 1070 is more than capable for what I'd throw at it though, it's the sleek form factor that's incredible about this.

          This case can power the Titan X's no problem.
          I had 980Ti's in it before :)

    this case is available , similar design but it can only house a single card

      That's an awesome case. But I can't see where to buy it - Kickstarter only?

    Frost the Nvidia logo into the side of the case, and illuminate with green led

    looks awesome, but where's the power supply?
    perhaps that black (looks like a rad) box near the top??

      It's a 1U form factor FSP unit, the kind of thing that usually lives in a server chassis. With some modification, apparently.

    i wanna know how much noise this thing makes. i understand its a prototype, but can anyone comment on the noise of the 1080s?

      Looks loud with all those fans and the tiny buzzer in the server psu.

        Actually, its whisper quiet. The most audible things in the case are the GPU's. The PSU in that setup runs at 420 Watt from the wall when the system is under 100% load. It being a Platinum grade power supply, its very efficient and only about half utilised.

        Have a look at some of the test, performance data I've put up

          I'd love a case like that. With the dana4 being kickstarter only I'm just rocking a Silverstone raven, which is massive.

    With dx12 games not being optimised for sli this seems a bit excessive for gaming.

    Awesome and it is pretty amazing that such good hardware was placed into such a small case. However, I wonder why he made it so small. Is it to transport to LAN parties or something similar.
    Personally if i spent those sums on a computer I would go a traditional enclosure from Fractal (looks nice instead of some bright glowing ball of led lights) with a water cooled set up to reduce noise and potentially extend the life of components.

      Because all that power in such a tiny case is awesome.

      Any fool can fit heaps of hardware in a massive box - that's easy and commonplace. But engineers are all about the elegant solution, and doing more with less.

    This case must be mass produced please?! The creator can get all the royalties and credit.

    When are people going to learn that SLI is kind of a complete waste of money. There are only a few handful of games that even support SLI. Game developers won't waste precious time and resources by coding their games for SLI when that target audience is insignificant. It just doesn't make financial sense. Specially now thatal major AAA-titles are released on yearly cycles (CoD, Battlefield, Assassins Creed, etc). If you want proof of SLI being a hazzle look at Totalbiscuits videos. More often than not he needs to disable one of his Titan X's to even make the games run without crashing and running into issues

    Where can I get the case money is not an issue

    I can't even get 1080 and then theres this...

    They Should Add Led Lights To It For It To Look Sick.

    This is just a HTPC right?

    Amazing, but:
    1) the Noctua cpu cooler fan black? Exist?
    2) I think that it's not possible to fit inside a sli-hb bridge cable.

    If the point 2 is not true, i'll have it. A day....

    Last edited 20/11/16 11:19 am

    This is absolutly great. The last thing you could add -imagine that- watercooling.
    That also would help for OCing especially with the cpu, wouldn´t it?

    I haven't read all the article, I stopped when...
    You provide the link to the Noctua L9i cooler, where it has a big warning about the device not being suitable for any CPU with a TDP > 65W, and you reckon it'll cool an i7 6800K?
    Last time I looked the i7 6800K had a TDP of 140W!

    Forget the rest of the article...

      You should read the rest of the article. It's actually cooling a 6700K, which is a 90W TDP. The owner says it maintains acceptable temperatures under load.

    i wonder where I could buy this if it ever comes out. it seems like a viable gaming desktop that doesn't need very much space and can be easily transported.

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