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Posted (edited)

 

The idea of a modular case would be to allow the consumer to assemble (or purchase a pre-assembled) system using various modular cases that interlock.  This would allow the consumer to build a computer / server in the base unit, another computer in a separate interlocking unit, and (potentially) NAS in a third.

 

The front panel would slide off as long as the side panel has been removed.  This would allow for easier access to a panel inside of the case that the motherboard is mounted to.  The panel in question would either slide out or lock in so can attach the motherboard to the panel itself.  The idea behind a removable panel inside the case is to make the installation of the motherboard, memory, CPU, and CPU cooler easier since it’s easier to deal with a panel than the entire case.

 

While the panel has been removed, you can take that opportunity to install your power supply and run your cable management from the power supply, hard drives, optical drive(s), etc.  Once that work has been done, you can simply slide and/or lock it into the case and attach your cables to the board.

 

Once you have assembled the PC, you would slide the front panel in and lock in place when you attach and secure the (up facing) side panel.  As you probably can imaging, this design would require the case to fit on it’s side instead of the standard design where the system is standing.

Looking down at the top of the case, there will be a smooth panel that slides and secures to two sets of rollers much like you would see installed in drawers and file cabinets.  With those exposed, you can take another of the same case, unscrew the feet (which extend past the height of the sliders to help protect the integrity of them), and slide the second unit on top of it.  The second unit would also have those same slider on the top of the case, and for the convenience of the consumer they can be removed with a simple screwdriver.

 

With two sets of sliders, you can also set two smaller (slightly less than half the width of the base case) cases onto the top of the base unit.  One of those small units could be a small form factor (micro ATX or mini ITX) equipped with a capture card and a cheap Xeon, i5, or i7 processor specifically designed as a streaming PC, an array of network attached storage, a server for your home automation projects, etc…

 

These unit would not connect to each other by sliding connectors together when you slide and secure the cases in place.  They would instead attach via (easily replaceable) ribbon cables.  This may not be a convenient solution, however it would be significantly easier to repair cable damage by simply replacing the cable instead of replacing broken hardware.

 

In the example of a second smaller case equipped with an array of hard drives, the motherboard in the base case would connect a “relay”.  From that relay a ribbon cable would connect to the relay installed on the case with the HDs installed.  From that relay the hard drives would connect to that relay.  I’m sure there’s a better way to achieve connectivity to all of your potential builds, but this is a viable solution as a first draft.

 

There is also the issue of power management to the other installed cases, but you can use the same relay solution that Phantek implemented with their Exthoo Mini XL DS case as long as you have a powerful enough power supply.

 

With modular cases, pre-assembled builds can be sold to accommodate the consumer's need(s).  This would potentially allow companies to quality test those builds and ensure they're fully functional with their other builds.

 

This is something I've been tossing around in my head for a while and have a few things drawn out.  Do you have any recommendations or critiques of this idea?

 

EDIT:

 

Another though came to me regarding modular parts for this case concept.

 

You could also make various modular front and side panels for the purpose of aesthetics or design.  For example, you could get a front panel with LED light colors of your choice, or maybe a side panel that allows you to install a 13" or 15" screen.  Maybe you could use a side panel screen to monitor your Twitch stream assuming that kind of setup is convenient for your unique setup.  This would save you some desk space.

 

You could also make 3.5 and/or 2.5 hard drive mount racks modular.  Let use a small form factor case as an example.  Let's say you want to modify a case that has hard drive racks equipped for your NAT solution, but you want to remove some so you can install a couple hot swap bays in the front for work or recreational purposes.  You could remove an HD rack towards the front of the case and install another (modular) rack that allows you to install a couple hot swap bays or optical drive (whatever you want to put in the 5.25 slot).  You can remove that little rack, place another one in there that allows you to install devices that fit in 5.25 slots, and slide in a new front panel that supports the new drives.  No case modification necessary to accommodate the new solution.

Edited by Matthew Stoddard

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