Some of the best ideas are born out of necessity because they are needed but don’t exist yet. The same goes for the 17-liter chassis currently known as Project NOVA. Aibohphobia wanted to add more RAM to his system built-in a Mini-ITX NCASE M1, but there wasn’t any room to add more. Disappointed with the available mATX cases, he set out to design his own and it looks amazing so far.
Project NOVA is designed to be as small as possible and still have a maximum of flexibility and space for high-end hardware. This easily goes beyond what has been seen before, at least when we don’t count specialized systems with specially designed hardware components. The Project NOVA can do all this with default hardware.
The NOVA is only 300 mm high, 170 mm wide, and 333 mm deep. It is built from 20 gauge steel panels and frame while the handle on the top is machined aluminium. It is however currently unknown if the handle will make it to the final version. In my opinion, it isn’t needed and the case would look better without it. It could also save some costs.
Speaking of costs and the actual reason for this post, the case that started out as a project for a single system will turn into a commercial product. We don’t have the final details yet as they won’t be revealed until the 11th February, so in three days. We do however already know that it will be launched as a crowdfunding campaign which I have no doubt will be successful. It looks amazing while the design has been finalized and the prototype stands, so all that is missing to get it off the ground is some funding.
So, how much can you actually fit into this tiny chassis? The answer is a lot. It comes with 5 expansion slots and room for an mATX motherboard. There is clearance for 113mm CPU cooler height when we assume it will use a 25mm thick fan and side bracket left in. The side bracket can hold a 120mm or 140mm AIO cooler support while the PSU area supports both normal SFX and the longer SFX-L PSUs.
The above specifications allow for the basic hardware parts such as motherboards and graphics cards, but there also needs to be space for all our files. The NOVA has a dual 2.5-inch drive tray and you can also place a 3.5-inch sized drive instead of using the 5th expansion slot. That coupled with the available M.2 storage these days should be more than enough for most users.
As previously mentioned, the NOVA allows for AIO cooling solutions to be mounted on the side bracket, but the rest of the system also needs some cooling. For this, you can mount a 92mm fan at the rear and a 120mm fan at the front. The bottom allows for either two 120mm fans or a 92mm fan when a 3.5-inch drive is mounted there. Every little bit of space has been used and optimized for the best possible hardware support.
The top mounted slim fan seen in the image below has since been removed as testing showed little to no difference whether it was mounted or not.
The finished product as seen here is built with an i7 5930K, two GTX 980 in SLI, Gigabyte X99M Gaming 5 motherboard, 32GB Crucial 2400MHz DDR4 memory, a Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD, an NZXT X41 CPU cooler, and the SilverStone SX600-G PSU.
A system that can kick some serious butt and when you take the size into consideration, it’s mind-blowing. Here’s a comparison that shows just how small it is.
I’ve attached a few more images below, but I can also highly recommend the official build log that takes you on a trip from the start of the project and into its final stage, that is if you got a couple hours spare as you’ll quickly loose yourself in it. There is a lot to view and read.