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Topic Title: Building your own computer case
Topic Summary: Anybody here done that before?
Created On: 02/05/2010 10:51 AM
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 05/05/2010 09:48 PM
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PorscheRacer14
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Because the motherboard would drawf the insides. I want this build to be trouble-free as much as possible and easy to work on. Tired of cramped workspaces. A bigger box is easier ventilate and not warm up the components next it as much. I pretty much want access to the motherboard from at least 3 sides. I want to be able to mount full tower heatsinks if I choose.

I picked up an old AT Tower a long time ago for $20 and still have it for an old Pentium MMX setup. I tossed a bunch of old hard drives and optical drives in there and it's been fun to use and runs really cool.

I'm going to take a look at some government auctions coming up and see if I can't find something similar to yours, or at least some leads.

Thanks for the links, I'm going to open up some tabs here and go window shopping... Haha, nice pun!

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 05/05/2010 09:49 PM
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MU_Engineer
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A HAF 932 may or may not fit a 16x13" four-socket board. The board may be too tall to fit in the case. A 4P board is an extra four inches taller than an ATX board and the space above the MB tray may or may not be large enough. Also, the tray has large holes in it where a 4P board would need to have a solid tray with standoff holes tapped. You'd have a CPU heatsink or two hanging off unsupported flexing the board unless you modified the MB tray.

So while one might be able to fit a 4P board in an HAF 932, it would be a tight fit and would likely need some modifications. Apparently one variant of the CM Stacker 810 (NOT the ATCS, the "other" Stacker 810 with the larger PSU bracket , or any of the other Stackers) will also fit 4P boards with minimal modifications, but it's tight. The guys who did it had to nibble away some of the flange at the top of the case to get capacitors to clear. The Chenbro unit has a solid MB tray that's 16x13 and there will be no problems with clearance. Plus, it's not going to be a tight fit in the least.

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 05/11/2010 06:30 PM
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MU_Engineer
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I came home today to find an abnormally huge package sitting just inside the door:



Whew, it was a pain to carry that around my house and down the stairs as it weighed 87.2 pounds! I needed a drink! The can is also to give you an idea of just how big the box is.

All right, time to get out the box cutter!



Uhp, it looks like a breech delivery with intact membranes. One BIG pull and it's out. The thing is almost entirely constructed of 1.2 mm-thick steel, and it sure feels like it.



Boy, that's one enormous case! After getting the leaf-bag-sized cover off the case, it's time to take a better look at it.



Looks nice! The LED display panel has enough indicator lights for nine HDDs



The door is solid steel. The only plastic parts in the case are the right front vent panel, a couple of fan shrouds, the casters, and the MB tray handles. That's it. The 5.25" tray spacers are even made out of steel. It feels like a bank vault and weighs like one. One curious omission here is a power and reset button. The case simply lacks them. It won't be hard to put some in there (that little open spot next to the 3.5" bays will work well for installing switches) but it's a very odd omission.



These are the 5.25" drive carriers. The case uses detachable steel drive rails, which you can see on the side of the carrier. These carriers also have holes to mount a 3.5" HDD to the carrier, which is a unique touch. I'll probably get some proper drive cages, but it is neat that I do not need to get them.



Yup, it's a big old-school server case. No lights, no window, no side air intake. The other side looks identical to this one.



This is an interesting view. If you look closely at the rear I/O panel, you see punch-out grommets below it for external SCSI cabling connectors. The PSU mounting bay is unique as well. It holds two ATX/EPS PSUs, except they're facing laterally (the "bottom" of the PSU faces to the side panels) instead of vertically like every other case I've seen. The four fans are 92 mm units, in case you were wondering.



This is the business end of the case. The motherboard tray is mounted in a removable carrier unit that has two large handles that are used to pull it out of the case. The carrier locks into the case by rotating the handles inward. There are four additional 92 mm fans blowing over the motherboard carrier. The fans are wired two fans per Molex connector with a wiring harness (the fans have a 3-pin motherboard fan header connection right on the shroud.) I plugged one into an external HDD power brick with a Molex connector to fire a couple of the fans up. The fans all work, but they're typical old-school higher-RPM units with no speed control so they're a lot louder than I am used to. Fortunately, it shouldn't be too hard to slip a resistor into the detachable harness and bring the fans down to reasonable RPMs and noise levels. The ribbon cable is for the HDD indicator lights.



The case is supposed to fit a quad-socket SWTX/SSI MEB motherboard. That's pretty much the reason I bought this particular case. All of the 4P Opteron boards I know of will fit in this case as the carrier is 16.5" by 13" (yes, I measured it myself just to make sure!) I will need to tap the tray for the additional standoff holes needed to mount a 4P board as this case is tapped for micro ATX to EATX boards, but that's a teeny tiny modification compared to people doing major surgery on full tower cases like CM Stacker 810s to fit 4P boards.



Speaking of CM cases, here is the motherboard carrier set next to my HTPC's CM Cavalier mid-tower ATX case. The carrier is about the same size as that entire case!



Here is my file server's original AOpen micro-ATX PIII board resting in the MB tray for kicks. It looks lost in that massive sea of steel! Note the MB carrier handles are turned inward, locking the carrier to the case.



The case is nice and open with the MB carrier removed. There should be plenty of room for good cable management and airflow.

So all in all, I am very happy with this case and it should an excellent platform for my upcoming 4P build. It was one of a handful of cases I found that could fit a 4P board without massive modifications and the only one under $500. If any of you are wanting to get one of these cases, it's a Chenming ATX-801F file server case. I ordered mine through the only reseller I could find, which was (GeoData Systems Management, Inc.) for $289 plus $55.50 in shipping. They had the case drop-shipped directly from Chenming's California warehouse the afternoon I ordered it. I was impressed with the whole deal and would recommend it to anybody wanting to take advantage of AMD's very favorable Opteron 6100 pricing and put together a 4P machine.

I will have to wait a little bit to start my 4P build, but I got the hardest part out of the way. I'll let you know when I start that. Ooooooh, I am sure looking forward to it, though!

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 05/12/2010 02:05 AM
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PorscheRacer14
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Let me start off by bowing down. You, sir, have picked on excellent case! That is one behemouth of a case. It definietly looks well suited for the task, and I love the solid feel and look of the whole case. I'm guessing because it was a server case, maybe that's why no power or reset buttons. The switches on the power supply would determine if it's on or off. Tres, old-school.

I've been mucking about lately with Ubuntu 10.04 trying to wrap my head around things. So far I've got everything stable, bootable and even compiled my first kernel. Much farther than I got with Gentoo and Turbo Linux. I'd like to actually run Linux and Windows Server on it. Unfortunately, I still like to game, so I will need Windows, and I think only server edition can run 4 CPUs or more as per the license.

Anyways, I really love that case. I'll see how well my welding has held up over the years and tackle the frame this weekend. If I can't geet what I want with my skills, I may just go this route. I'm really impressed with the case. Then again, availability may be an issue with where I am.

Thanks for all the pics and attention to detail. I can't wait to see some Opty's working hard in there!

****May I suggest this for some fan controlling work?

Scythe fan controller.

Too bad it's in black, but it does look pretty and seems to have everything you could want in one sleek unit.

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Edited: 05/12/2010 at 07:01 PM by PorscheRacer14
 05/12/2010 08:13 PM
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MU_Engineer
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Originally posted by: PorscheRacer14

Let me start off by bowing down. You, sir, have picked on excellent case! That is one behemouth of a case. It definietly looks well suited for the task, and I love the solid feel and look of the whole case. I'm guessing because it was a server case, maybe that's why no power or reset buttons. The switches on the power supply would determine if it's on or off. Tres, old-school.


I guessed as much. It won't be hard to use that little empty area to the right of the 3.5" bay carrier for a power/reset switch plate. I have an old decrepit case in the closet that I'll sacrifice a panel from to make the plate. The area is even tapped for two sheet metal screws, so this should be a cinch to do. I'll just have to see if my sheet metal working skills are up to the task

I've been mucking about lately with Ubuntu 10.04 trying to wrap my head around things. So far I've got everything stable, bootable and even compiled my first kernel. Much farther than I got with Gentoo and Turbo Linux. I'd like to actually run Linux and Windows Server on it. Unfortunately, I still like to game, so I will need Windows, and I think only server edition can run 4 CPUs or more as per the license.


Correct, you will need Windows Server Standard or better to use all four CPUs. However, you don't necessarily need to have all four CPUs visible to Windows just to game. You could just boot into Windows when the need arises to game and run Linux and fully utilize your hardware all of the rest of the time. Or, you could just get a cheap Athlon II CPU and AM3 MB and game on that. Magny-Cours CPUs aren't really made for gaming as most games don't really get much of benefit from >4 cores, but they certainly do like clock speed. A $100 Athlon II X4 630 would be a much, much better gaming chip than any Magny-Cours setup would be.

Anyways, I really love that case. I'll see how well my welding has held up over the years and tackle the frame this weekend. If I can't geet what I want with my skills, I may just go this route. I'm really impressed with the case. Then again, availability may be an issue with where I am.


I don't know if they ship to Canada, you could always call them and check. I'd imagine it might cost more than $55 to ship it to you and you'd have duty and crap to deal with, but I betcha you just might be able to get it if you wanted to. Good luck with the welding this weekend, let us know how it goes.

Thanks for all the pics and attention to detail. I can't wait to see some Opty's working hard in there!


Yeah, I can't wait either. I just have to wait and see when I can buy some and put them in the case. I got the case now as opposed to when I am actually starting the build because I didn't want to risk not being able to get it later when I did start my build due to being out of stock or other reasons.

****May I suggest this for some fan controlling work?

Scythe fan controller.

Too bad it's in black, but it does look pretty and seems to have everything you could want in one sleek unit.


I planned on getting something like that to slow down the fans. The black color is not a problem. That big steel door closes over the bays and will hide the fan controller from view. It should even hide the intensely-bright LEDs that a lot of people put in parts today

The fans are going to give me some trouble with noise. I pulled one out of the hot-swap fan cage (very nice design touch!!) to pick its brains this afternoon. The fans are a typical old sleeve-bearing design and aren't very quiet. They have a bit of clicking when slowed down to slow speeds with a Zalman Fan-Mate. Okay, I thought, it's not great but it's far from bad. So I made up a 3-pin to Molex adapter out of old cables lying around, put the fan back in the cage, and hooked the Fan-Mate up to one of the two-fan Molex adapters. Apparently the cage assembly amplifies the clicking a great deal. It's not loud enough to be much of an issue, but you can certainly hear it if the room is quiet. I could remove the nice hot-swap cage and just screw the fans to the case with some nice sound-absorbing gaskets between the case and fan (the holes line up correctly). But, the fans have a thin 3-pin connector like you see on PSU fans rather than the normal fan connector plug, so I would need to get 8 new 92 mm fans to use them outside of the cage assembly. I probably will just get a fan speed regulator and put up with a little noise from the system. I'm betting the CPU heatsink fans won't be overly quiet as the best G34 heatsink out there from a noise standpoint is the Dynatron A6, which uses the exact same 77 mm fans as my file server's H66G heatsinks. They aren't all that loud, but they're far from silent even when turned down to a minimum RPM with a fan controller (at full 5500 rpm roar, they are moderately annoying.) All in all, I think the noise won't be a big issue, but this machine will be louder than my current machine.

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 06/16/2010 01:52 PM
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fid
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Mu, I've just run across your thread and wanted to thank you for the detail you've captured. It is an awesome case. Like noted before, I remember quite a few cases like this years ago and had an ugly, little brother myself. If I didn't have kids, I'd be playing in this sandbox. Until then, I have to live through your work...
 06/16/2010 05:37 PM
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LudricousMaximus
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I really like the wooden case
 06/16/2010 09:01 PM
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MU_Engineer
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Originally posted by: fid

Mu, I've just run across your thread and wanted to thank you for the detail you've captured. It is an awesome case. Like noted before, I remember quite a few cases like this years ago and had an ugly, little brother myself. If I didn't have kids, I'd be playing in this sandbox. Until then, I have to live through your work...


Well, right now it's just the case. I found out I'll have to wait awhile to fill it with new parts due to a tuition break that didn't end up happening, but I don't regret getting it now since it was ridiculously hard to find and I didn't want to let the chance to get it slip away. It currently houses my dual Xeon file server as I couldn't stand to see it sit empty in my closet. It's pretty funny as the Xeon board is an EATX board and this case makes it look small I'll be able to put real new parts in there next year as then I'll be finally working a real job and making a real paycheck. Well, there will be a little bit left over after taxes and loan payments, so I'll at least be working in the right direction!

I did do some more work on this case in fashioning a bracket to mount the power supply securely in that large hole in the bottom of the case. I cut a piece of thick sheet steel from part of an old IBM computer case (it was about 1/8" thick sheet steel!) down to size and painstakingly cut and drilled it to fit an ATX PSU. I also mounted a 120 mm fan next to it to exhaust hot air because the P4 Xeons run a bit warm. I'll take a picture of it sometime when the server needs rebooted and I can disconnect the power cable because I forgot to take a picture before installation (d'oh!)

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 06/17/2010 04:42 PM
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fid
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Well, its more than just that. You provided a link to others wanting to do the same and some very GOOD pictures of the case after your research.

What kind of board are you thinking about for this case?

I just like having the open space to work (and mod) to hearts content.
 06/17/2010 04:59 PM
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MU_Engineer
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Thanks. I got such a large case mainly because I wanted to be able to fit a quad Socket G34 motherboard like the Supermicro H8QG6-F. I do a lot of work with compiling code and encoding video, and AMD pricing the 4-way-capable 8- and 12-core Opteron 6100 CPUs at a very low price make getting a quad-socket setup a logical choice. The extra space from the massive size and twin-compartment design is also very welcome as I also hate to fight with a small case.

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 06/17/2010 05:24 PM
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I3r0k3n7FEET
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i would suggest that making your own case from scratch isnt all that prolematic. you could use pre made hdd cages from the likes of lian li or the such, and use a mix of materials such as wood, acrylic, steel mesh. if you have the money you can get some good results and i have designed a few things.. i did a case but its not amazing. i would definately consider making a case myself.

this is what i made for my current case











and these are some images from a case design








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Edited: 06/17/2010 at 05:36 PM by I3r0k3n7FEET
 06/17/2010 05:34 PM
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I3r0k3n7FEET
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oops... i couldnt find the image of the finished insides... lol

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 06/18/2010 12:11 AM
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fid
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Well Death, That pretty friggen nice work, both the real and virtual. Keep it up. I like the case design a lot.


MU, if you intend on building a 4-way Magny-Cours, I'll just go ahead and bow in respect. But as impressive as this would be (my lord, up to 48 physical cores), I've never been enthralled with the performance/speed those run (unlike their Xeon counterparts). I also would love to build/assemble a 'smaller' version of what you intend but this is one of the issues holding me back. Maybe I'm wrong...
 06/22/2010 01:28 PM
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fid
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Hey MU, I REALLY like that you've done your homework on this. I know it will be a while before you start your project but can you answer a few questions?

- I love the motherboard carrier compared to most out there.
Is it also made of steel?
Does it just sit on a ledge?
Do you think you will have any problem mounting a non-standard MB in it?

- Do you think there will be enough airflow from the these fans? Will you add more or water cool?

- Do you think there will be any problem with your power supply mounting?

Thanks for your thoughts...
 06/22/2010 02:25 PM
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MU_Engineer
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Originally posted by: fid

Well Death, That pretty friggen nice work, both the real and virtual. Keep it up. I like the case design a lot.


Yeah, that's pretty neat you were able to make up a design in a 3D CAD program and then make it out of steel and acrylic.

MU, if you intend on building a 4-way Magny-Cours, I'll just go ahead and bow in respect. But as impressive as this would be (my lord, up to 48 physical cores), I've never been enthralled with the performance/speed those run (unlike their Xeon counterparts). I also would love to build/assemble a 'smaller' version of what you intend but this is one of the issues holding me back. Maybe I'm wrong...


I'll very likely be building a four-way G34 setup, although it very well may be Interlagos/Bulldozer-based instead of Magny-Cours by the time I get to actually do it. The clock speeds are not that great, but they are not bad when compared to Intel's equivalent Xeon 7500 series CPUs. Their fastest 8-core unit is rated at 2.26 GHz and hits a maximum of 2.40-2.53 GHz when lightly loaded. An 8-core Opteron running at 2.40 GHz on all cores at all times doesn't sound that bad in comparison to that, neither does a 2.30 GHz 12-core. The Xeons that are highly-clocked are the 4- and 6-core 2-way 5500/5600 series units, and AMD's equivalent Socket F Shanghai/Istanbul (soon to be Socket C32 Lisbon) CPUs are fairly close in clockspeed. The Xeon 5500s and 5600s may be a better choice for poorly-threaded Windows programs compiled with Intel's ICC compiler, but I run Linux and AMD CPUs perform quite a bit better on that OS relative to the Xeons than on Windows. Threading is also more prevalent as well. My biggest, ugliest tasks are video encoding, code compiling, and file compression/decompression- all of which can utilize a ton of cores. That's why I am after a very heavily-threaded setup. Also, the AMD gear is actually affordable (2.0 GHz 8-core Opteron 6128s cost $266 each), while good Intel gear is obscenely expensive (the 2.26 GHz 8-core is over $3800) or terribly crippled (Intel's $270 chip is the 2.27 GHz quad-core Xeon E5507 with an IMC limited to DDR3-800, QPI limited to 4.80 GT/sec, and only 4 MB of L3 cache.)

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 06/22/2010 02:38 PM
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MU_Engineer
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Originally posted by: fid

Hey MU, I REALLY like that you've done your homework on this. I know it will be a while before you start your project but can you answer a few questions?

- I love the motherboard carrier compared to most out there.

Is it also made of steel?


Yes. The only plastic parts on the entire case are the handles on the MB case, the casters wheels and shrouds, the fans, and the front grille to the left of the drive bay door. Everything else is steel.

Does it just sit on a ledge?


It has four casters underneath and I have it sitting on the floor. It is almost as tall as the desk next to it

Do you think you will have any problem mounting a non-standard MB in it?


I will likely have to drill and tap a few holes for standoffs, but I don't anticipate any large issues. It does fit EATX/SSI EEB boards without any trouble, though.

- Do you think there will be enough airflow from the these fans? Will you add more or water cool?


There were some hot-swap fans in cages there initially, which I replaced with quieter and higher-flow 92 mm Panaflo H1As ($0.99 each ) on a fan controller. The fans generate a good amount of airflow when at full RPM, although they are noisy. The four that exhaust the HDD chamber do an excellent job at a quiet low RPM, but the four that provide intake air to cool the motherboard won't be adequate for cooling off four CPUs quietly. They need to be turned up to about 40% to keep a ~220-watt dual NetBurst Xeon unit at a Tcase below 40 C full-load, and they are a little noisier than I like in doing that. I'll probably disconnect those and install a large 250 mm or 360 mm side intake fan to blow over the board when I put four G34 CPUs in there, and that will be more than adequate.

- Do you think there will be any problem with your power supply mounting?


Nope, I fashioned a mounting bracket out of a piece of sheet steel to serve as an adapter between the case's PSU hole and an ATX PSU. That plate also holds a 120 mm exhaust fan. I should take a picture of it to show you.

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 06/22/2010 03:04 PM
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fid
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Awesome!


Originally posted by: MU_Engineer


Does it just sit on a ledge?




It has four casters underneath and I have it sitting on the floor. It is almost as tall as the desk next to it ...


I meant the motherboard tray, though. Does it sit on a ledge to slide in and out of the case?

What kind of code (compilation) work do you do? I'm a developer myself, just curious. It should be a fun build and like you wrote, no problem for work space...
 06/22/2010 03:19 PM
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MU_Engineer
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Originally posted by: fid

Awesome!



I meant the motherboard tray, though. Does it sit on a ledge to slide in and out of the case?


It has a couple of brackets at the corners that the tray sits on and slides in and out of the case.

What kind of code (compilation) work do you do? I'm a developer myself, just curious. It should be a fun build and like you wrote, no problem for work space...


Most of my compilation is because I run Gentoo Linux as my OS and everything is compiled from source. I do code some in C for various little utilities and such, but to be brutally honest, the stuff I compile takes literally no CPU power to compile. It does take some to test the stuff I've cross-compiled for my armv6 handheld in a CPU-emulated qemu emulator and to build and update the cross-compile toolchain.

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 08/17/2010 02:35 PM
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hyperion007
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Can anyone please check to see how much it would cost to have that case shipped to Sweden? I can't get a hold of the company who sells it. They don't reply on my emails. I really can't find ANY case that will fit the same mobo MU_Engineer is using (I am going that route too) I need help BAD!
 08/23/2010 01:41 AM
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hyperion007
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MU_Engineer: Have you bought the Supermicro motherboard yet? I have given up on buying a large case due to shipping and decided to build a case myself. I do however need the exact locations of the mounting holes on the motherboard and would really appreciate it if you could take some accurate measurements for me. Would you?

I don't want to start buying hardware before the case is complete.

Thanks a lot!

/Dan
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