This Tiny Gaming PC Case Is Already A Runaway Crowd-Funding Success

Image: YetAnotherTechChannel

Imagine a tiny computer that could out-perform Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft's Xbox One S when it comes to playing 4K games. Imagine a desktop PC that you could carry around like it was a 17-inch laptop, but with the power and cooling of a high-end gaming rig.

This actually exists. Two years in the making, this console-sized PC case has already netted over $120,000 in preorders a few hours after launching on crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

The Sentry PC case by Dr Zaber started its life in September 2014 in a post on the [H]ardOCP forum, with the guys behind it looking to design and manufacture in small volumes a case that could take the compact gaming fight to consoles.

Measuring under 7 litres in volume -- by comparison, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 displace 6.5 litres, while a heavily 6.5-litre customised gaming machine like MSI's Vortex G65 costs upwards of $5000 -- the Sentry has a layout that accommodates regular PC components that can be bought at any computer store, and has the space to fit high-end parts that output plenty of heat.

The two guys behind Dr Zaber in Poland are actually engineers, working in heavy-duty gear like wind turbines, but turned their attention to creating the Sentry after unsuccessfully searching for a small form factor PC case that could rival current gaming consoles -- their benchmark in 2014 was the Xbox One -- in size, but with all the power of a high-end gaming PC.

The internal space of the Sentry fits in a mini-ITX motherboard with a CPU cooler up to 47mm in height, a full-size graphics card up to 305mm in length -- meaning something gutsy like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, a compact SFX-L internal power supply, and space for 2.5-inch internal hard drives.

With estimated shipping by April, nearly 500 cases have already been pre-ordered by fans and enthusiasts that have followed the case over the two and a half years of its development in the first 12 hours of the Indiegogo campaign going live, exceeding the inital goal by 500 per cent. With an entire month left to run, it looks almost certain that Dr Zaber will sell out of its initial production run long before then.

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    Doesn't fit STRIX cards :(
    Damn fine looking case though.

      Exactly. How useful is it. But if it has one of those external video card ports... Might be a thing.. but that makes it oversize.

    I'm so happy we're seeing more small footprint beasties come on the scene. I say this as I have to wind down my large footprint PC because it's not helping the room temp in this heat!

      It'd make around the same heat regardless the case size.

    The only thing that ever gives me pause when it comes to small form factor PCs is the heat. So many hot components, so much hot air, so little room for it to go.

    Maybe I'm just being overprotective of my PC, but I just have the irrational fear that a small form factor PC wouldn't perform properly because it's dying under its own heat generation.

      This is my concern too. Even if it fits a full sized GPU you'll need a robust cooling system, and even then if it sounds like a jet engine it's not something you want in your living room.

      You're thinking of it the wrong way IMO, for 2 reasons:

      a) The need for huge cooling systems in powerful PCs is often hugely over-stated. Advances in chip and heat-pipe technologies mean that modern CPUs and GPUs don't create anywhere near the amount of heat that older generations did, and their cooling requirements are nothing like what a lot of people assume.

      Take a look at the GPU cooling systems in a modern high-end gaming laptop as an example - the fans and heatsinks used in those designs are far smaller and less efficient than the large items used in desktop designs, but they're quite capable of removing heat from a powerful over-clocked processor. It's just a matter of having a well designed airflow that makes the most of the cooling available.

      Which brings me to Point B....

      b) In a massive case that's mostly empty space, there's plenty of areas that aren't in the airflow between intake and exhaust - those spaces are "dead" air that slowly warms up, swirling around and circulating. That air is not helping cool your components - it's doing nothing at all

      In a properly designed SFF case, the entire volume of the case is part of a single, well-defined airflow and all of those empty spaces are eliminated, but the end result is the same - those big empty spaces weren't doing anything anyway.

      Of course, you need to be a little more careful about part selection with a SFF case - a blower-style card is generally a good idea to ensure air that has cooled the GPU is immediately removed from the case to avoid adding heat load to other components, and your CPU cooler choices are limited by the available height. But unless you're using crazy high end components, or doing silly levels of over-clocking, it's perfectly possible to make a very competent and powerful desktop fit in a case like this.

      See here for a video of a Titan X and 18-core CPU in an 11L case, as an example of how it can be done:

      Last edited 12/01/17 8:23 am

    It looks like it might be a hair smaller than what I can get at the local computer store right now. But... Nothing special. I guess if you have more money than time and don't care about your component quality it's an easy route. I've never had a space problem and enjoy the space that a 2 compartment case offers.

    Come to think of it. Other than aesthetics, is there anyone who's ever "needed" a small form gaming PC? Travelers I suppose. Hard core gaming road salesman. In which case I'd even more strongly advise self built as when the bumping around inevitably jars something, you know where to look.

      "It looks like it might be a hair smaller than what I can get at the local computer store right now"

      Which local computer store sells a Mini ITX case that can accommodate a full size desktop GPU and is less than 7L? I look forward to seeing it.

      Also, this is a 2 compartment case. The GPU lives in a seperate compartment from the rest of the components, to isolate its heat from the CPU and motherboard.

      "other than aesthetics, is there anyone who's ever "needed" a small form gaming PC?"

      You could equally ask "who needs a 50L case for a gaming PC?" You can easily make them much more compact and space efficient without sacrificing performance, and this means they can happily live in your TV cabinet or behind your monitor, rather than taking up a massive chunk of space under your desk.

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