Cheap desktop case that will fit supermicro E-ATX 12 x 13 motherboard

Ixian

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Oct 26, 2018
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Another alternative for the SM EATX boards is to just use plastic (nylon, actually) motherboard standoffs for the 2 or 3 holes that don't line up.

The last time I did one of these in a cheap case I was able to get 6 out of 9 regular standoffs lined up, which holds the board securely, and then just used nylon standoffs to support the rest. With these boards the top left corner is usually the one that throws everyone off because it's right in the corner, where no case other than SuperMicro puts a standoff mount, but is still vitally important to support because it's next to the I/O inputs.

These are an example of what I'm talking about. They used to be common with older motherboards, you may even have some hidden away. If not they are pretty easy to find for a couple bucks at most computer stores.
 
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itronin

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Nov 24, 2018
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with my NZXT H500 build I thought about using the nylon standoffs and you are spot on with the issue in the upper left corner. Its a bugger.
The GA-7PESH2 had 6 of 11 standoffs line up with existing positions, 2 top center, 2 left side in the card bay, and 2 bottom center. The SM board I have had 5 I think.
I've got about 7 or 8 small baggies of brass and plastic standoffs from building PC's for folks back in the 90's. I went back and forth on the nylon standoffs. they were definitely an easier route to go.

But I really wanted the entire top row to be fixed to the tray as I was worried about the weight / stress of the board on only two upper standoffs.

I was not really able to correctly get a drill bit in the upper left and tapping the hole using a hand-tap just didn't work there so I ended up drilling two adjacent holes and filing a short slot for the standoff to "find the right position" and then I put a nylon jam nut on the back of the standoff to hold in place. I was very pleasantly surprised by the rigidity of the other hand tapped holes given the thickness (or lack thereof) of the motherboard tray's steel, I still used jam nuts on every single one of them.

I had added a couple of stand offs before in the old days but never 5 in 1 case. Biggest challenge for me was I *knew* I wasn't going to be perfect, eyes too old, measurements just a little inconsistent so trying to fudge enough play in the process was key.

If you make mistakes hopefully they will cancel out but really they're more likely to add up and leave a standoff totally out of alignment.

The nylon standoff solution avoids that.

Ultimately I used a very old spare x16 GPU to help line up the motherboard when I marked the holes for drilling and REALLY took my time, agonized and measured and mark I eyeball'ed in between despite the risk of pulling and putting the motherboard in repeatedly. I still made a mistake but not fatal.

if I get some time and there is interested I'll put up a post in the DIY workstation on the process I used which is really an amalgamation from lots of other folks - so nothing original. Inspiration came from from the SZ340 build here and ThomasZ's SZ340 build and the fact that I like small mid-towers.
 
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BLinux

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with my NZXT H500 build I thought about using the nylon standoffs and you are spot on with the issue in the upper left corner. Its a bugger.
The GA-7PESH2 had 6 of 11 standoffs line up with existing positions, 2 top center, 2 left side in the card bay, and 2 bottom center. The SM board I have had 5 I think.
I've got about 7 or 8 small baggies of brass and plastic standoffs from building PC's for folks back in the 90's. I went back and forth on the nylon standoffs. they were definitely an easier route to go.

But I really wanted the entire top row to be fixed to the tray as I was worried about the weight / stress of the board on only two upper standoffs.

I was not really able to correctly get a drill bit in the upper left and tapping the hole using a hand-tap just didn't work there so I ended up drilling two adjacent holes and filing a short slot for the standoff to "find the right position" and then I put a nylon jam nut on the back of the standoff to hold in place. I was very pleasantly surprised by the rigidity of the other hand tapped holes given the thickness (or lack thereof) of the motherboard tray's steel, I still used jam nuts on every single one of them.

I had added a couple of stand offs before in the old days but never 5 in 1 case. Biggest challenge for me was I *knew* I wasn't going to be perfect, eyes too old, measurements just a little inconsistent so trying to fudge enough play in the process was key.

If you make mistakes hopefully they will cancel out but really they're more likely to add up and leave a standoff totally out of alignment.

The nylon standoff solution avoids that.

Ultimately I used a very old spare x16 GPU to help line up the motherboard when I marked the holes for drilling and REALLY took my time, agonized and measured and mark I eyeball'ed in between despite the risk of pulling and putting the motherboard in repeatedly. I still made a mistake but not fatal.

if I get some time and there is interested I'll put up a post in the DIY workstation on the process I used which is really an amalgamation from lots of other folks - so nothing original. Inspiration came from from the SZ340 build here and ThomasZ's SZ340 build and the fact that I like small mid-towers.
there are a couple of techniques to keep in mind:

1) use a sharp punch to give yourself an indent to keep the drill bit from walking.
2) start with the smallest drill bit you have / less chance of walking bit
3) then start using larger bits to enlarge the hole
4) keep in mind, the mounting holes in motherboards have some tolerance, so it doesn't have to be machine precise; you can probably be off my 1mm or so and still be okay.

if precision isn't your thing, or you have shaky hands or any other reason, a "workaround" is to use standoffs with longer machine threads and use a nut on the backside to hold the standoff threads. Then just drill a hole that is larger than the threads. even if it is off center, since you are not threading into the sheet metal but the nut behind it, you give yourself a lot of "play" room to move the standoff into a good position.

as for hard to reach locations on the board, a lot of times the motherboard mounting surface can be removed from the case, or you can disassemble the rear window. there are also tools to help get into tight spaces.
 
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itronin

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Nov 24, 2018
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No punches and the tray a was NOT removable from this case. looked riveted to me. I did some mods a long time ago on a Lian-Li case and the tray was removable - don't know if that extends through the whole product line or currently.

Yep on 2 and 3 and it worked well. instead of an indent I went VERY slowly with the drill speed and I used low adhesive tape as a surface for the target. At low speed the tape also helped keep the bit in alignment (maybe in my imagination) and I was able to clearly see shifts if the bit walked.

I did stupidly try a Dremel in the upper left corner figuring I could muscle that in place. uh no. Maybe a pilot or a punch would have helped there but hard to get good low speed control with the cheap one I own.

very much so on 4. Ideally you want to minimize the need for it though.

My backup plan was to go to 1/8 with the holes if I could not get resolution with the play in the standoff holes. Both the nut and the standoff are slightly large than that. What I did on the mistake I made and upper left corner hole to let the standoffs move back and forth to find the right spot.

I think you also have to keep in mind though that the play with the motherboard holes does affect card placement and in some instances usability. I know on my build I'm within play of the standoff holes but then had to adjust the seating of cards. I have a 1 slot 4 DP graphics card and a 1 slot 5 usb 3.0 card (+2 FP) and so if the cards just sit in there at rest and not tightened the cable fit is just a teensy bit off and so the cards have to be adjusted just a little bit for "squareness". Both of those cards are I guess "high density" and do not protrude from the card bracket so an issue is a bit more pronounced. I will note that you have to be careful adjusting the cards because it does affect their seating in the pcie receiver and adjusting too much may put some unwanted torque there and even given you a poor connection on some pins in the slot.

I appreciate the shared experience here as I am likely to build something like this again!
 

Ixian

Member
Oct 26, 2018
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When I've done screw taps for other projects I've always used a combo tap/bit for small threads, along with a drop of drill oil. You can get the latter at Amazon or most hardware stores cheap - it makes a huge difference for precise drilling metal. Cutting it too for that matter (i.e. a jigsaw with thin sheet metal). Helps the blade/tap bite and stay straight. You'd be surprised at how much quicker a small tap goes with it. Other than that the trick for any tap is to be perfectly straight/perpendicular to the surface, which is fairly difficult with a hand drill.

When it comes to case mods for motherboard mounting I avoid all that; if I can get at least 2-3 corners and 1 or 2 in the middle with regular standoffs I've always found even bigger EE-ATX boards stay in place quite securely and the nylon standoffs - which in some cases you might need to trim a smidge - take care of the rest. No tapping/drilling required. YMMV of course, not like I've done dozens of these, just a couple.
 
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Mishka

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Apr 30, 2017
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Fractal design XL R2's here in my servers, which are SSI EEB boards, most of the mounting holes married up so board is secure even with 1-2 holes not used but you do lose some of the cable tidy kinda hole bits unless you route thin cable through them before putting mobo in if you are OCD cable tidy wise.
 

Sergei

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Dec 25, 2018
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Fractal design XL R2's here in my servers, which are SSI EEB boards, most of the mounting holes married up so board is secure even with 1-2 holes not used but you do lose some of the cable tidy kinda hole bits unless you route thin cable through them before putting mobo in if you are OCD cable tidy wise.
Yeah, most of them, but not all of them. I’m thinking about drilling holes for all of MB’s mounting holes.
 

kidgloves

New Member
May 27, 2020
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I know I'm resurrecting an old thread, but I needed did this recently with Supermicro X9 E-ATX boards and went with Deepcool Matrexx 55 MESH. The standoffs were _exactly_ right for the SM board, no drilling needed.

In my case I also needed to remove the HDD cage as I had a very big power supply (chisel the rivets off), and this meant mounting the SSD behind the motherboard and putting electrical tape on the opposite side (motherboard underside) to get things to work, but that was more self inflicted.

Seems most of the Deepcool Matrexx series is workable. I added some low voltage adapters to the fans and some Noctua's inside and it's super quiet too! Very cheap case.
 
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