Noah 3988 ITX case

I finally picked up my new ITX case from the courier yesterday and started putting all the hardware together yesterday evening.

This is the Procase Noah 3988 ITX case that I purchased from http://mini-itx.com It’s a very compact but despite it’s size theres plenty of room to fit a 3.5″ hdd & slim optical drive or 2.5″ drive PCI riser card. With a little creative cable management, I’d say that it might be possible to fit two 3.5″ which is something I might try later. Having an external laptop style mains adaptor helps to reduce noise on this otherwise very quiet/fanless ITX motherboard.

I’m glad to see that the front panel is brushed aluminum rather than plastic. It does add a little to the overall weight but it looks much nicer than say silver coloured plastic. The bottom flip down bezel hides the audio/mic jacks, x2 USB ports, reset switch and firewire port.

Another suprising bonus is the sheer number of connecting cable, converters & fittings that’s included which should cater for lots of motherboard/hardware configurations.

Included are the following parts –

  • PCI Riser card
  • x2 slim IDE ribbon cables
  • 20 pin to 20 pin ATX power cable plus 4 pin 12v supply for those motherboards that require it (mine doesn’t)
  • 3.5″ to 2.5″ IDE cable with 4 pin molex power connection
  • 4 pin molex to Sata power cable
  • Slim optical drive converter board
  • Molex to molex, floppy/opticial drive power cable
  • Mains adaptor and mains lead (UK plus European included)
  • Tool-less case screws
  • Adhesive rubber feet for case
  • Small cable ties and cable tie hooks
  • Lots of screws including those for mounting the motherboard.
  • Case diagrams/instruction sheet
  • PC caddy to allow for the case to be positioned vertically if required (not pictured).

Attached to the internal power supply main board are usual assortment of motherboard header cables and front panel cables.

With case lid off, you can see where the optical drive would be mounted at the front. The hard drive is mounted upside down and attached the plate on the left of the picture below.

First things first, get everything installed to ensure that everything is working and  worry about tidying up the cables later. The hdd/cd mounting bracket is easily removed by unscrewing five screws. With the plates removed, the ITX motherboard is easily placed onto the bottom case standoffs and screwed in place. I connected all of the motherboard header cables, power connections and case fan (the case contains an 8cm stock case fan, I’m not expecting this to be silent therefore I have a replacement if required…or I’ll disconnect entirely).

As you can see, with the cables loose, it looks a very tight fit and very messy but once the cable ties are used, there should be plenty of room and increased airflow.

Apart from O/S installation, I won’t be needing a permanent CD drive attached therefore a 2.5″ hdd should fit in its place.

Transferring the case to my study, I plugged it in and hit the power button. If it wasn’t for the HDD activity light i would have thought it wasn’t switched on. Even with the stock case fan attached, the only noise produced was the occasional click of the hard disk…perfect!

Freenas was installed, configured and accessible via web gui

I spotted that the power light wasn’t lit and on re-checking the cable connections, i’d noticed that I’d mistakenly got the header cables the wrong way around.

That’s much better! (the light isn’t that bright, it just my camera on a slower shutter speed!).

Happy that everything is working now, I can  tidy up those internal cabling now.

I’m really happy with this case. It’s stylish, fairly inexpensive (£70), compact, silent with lots of cables & extra’s included. The more I look at it the more I’m thinking about swapping out my existing mATX based HTPC in favor of a fast ITX motherboard installed into another NOAH 3988 case.

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12 responses to “Noah 3988 ITX case

  1. This is a great review stiggyworld – really appreciate that you did a step-by-step guide with pictures (something that I’m far too lazy to do!)

    Despite the new mac-mini coming out recently, I’m still committed to buying and building my own htpc and this guide again hightlights how easy it is – it’s more rewarding too (and cheaper!)

    I had never heard of FreeNAS before now so thanks for that and keep up the good work.

  2. Many thanks for the feedback, great to hear from you.

    If you have any question regarding your HTPC build feel free to post your questions.

    I’ve actually pre-ordered the new Mac-Mini myself. The only other Mac i have is very old Macintosh Classic II, so this will be the first Mac I’ve brought for nearly twenty years!

    Kind regards

    StiGGy

  3. Hi StiGGy, few quick questions that I hope you have the time to answer.

    1) What board are you running on this?

    I’ve been considering the Asus M4A88T-I DELUXE pairing it up with an AMD Athlon II X2 processor (2.9Ghz)

    2) Do you have issues with overheating? I noticed you’re running a 3.5″ drive but I’m looking to get a SSD 2.5″ and a slim line optical drive (for the times when someone brings over a DVD) – you mentioned the stock fan cools things over enough and it’s not ‘too’ noisy I guess…

    3) I’d really want to stream movies, pictures and watch tv on the htpc. I want an all-in-one solution and I don’t know if XBMC or Boxee are up to the task. I’ll need to get an additional wireless adapter for the above m/b and potentially a tv tuner but I’m unsure…

    Thanks in advance, how’s the ol’ mac mini working out for ya?

  4. Hey there, I am familiar with that board and coupled with an Athlon II x2, i don’t think you’re going to have any difficulties using it as a HTPC. I’d look again at the specs for the m/b because I’m pretty sure this has wireless built in (wireless B, G & N).

    So far i haven’t had a single issue with overheating at all and still continue to use the 3.5″ HDD. I’ve recently replaced the stock fan, but this wasn’t because it was noisy or inadequate, i just fancied one that emitted a blue light through the vents 🙂

    If your planning on install a TV tuner via PCI card, I’d check the overall height when fitted to the m/b before buying an ITX case just to be sure it’ll fit o.k. Or, you could always buy a PCI express riser card or riser flexible ribbon…..or maybe an external USB plugin tuner?

    I’m not familiar with SSD read/write times, so I’m not sure how these cope when recording live TV via the tuner to the SSD. You might want to research into that a little more? – Certainly with a SATA or IDE 2.5″ HDD, you shouldn’t have any problems…and probably a little cheaper/more storage too 🙂

    XBMC is a really nice media centre frontend and runs and looks stunning on my HTPC. It’s very easy to set up is able to access a host of databases to download movie/tv/music covers/artwork etc. My only initial problem I had was getting all the buttons on my HTPC remote control to function correctly. I played around with a HID button remapper but in the end I purchased a genuine Microsoft MCE remote with XBMC appears to support 100%

    I’m loving the Mac mini although at first, being a Windows/Linux user, it took a little while to get used to. I mainly use it for Photoshop/Lightroom and despite it’s specs, is actually quite a nippy little thing!

    Best wishes

    StiGGy

    I’ve not used Boxee so

  5. Hi There,

    You basically hav ethe setup I am trying to put together.
    I am also looking for a setup to run Freenas, after looking at Synology 210 and QNAP 219 and testing Freenas on vmware I decided to go with a Atom based Freenas (this way I can also try WHS when I feel like it).

    I am now in between the In-win BM639 and this case you just reviewed.

    But I have a different question, which Atom combo did you use and how is the performance and power consumption with Freenas?

    Are you suing ZFS with Zraid or a raid controller with normal raid?

  6. Hello there and thanks for your comments.

    I’m not actually using a Atom based combo but and old Epia ITX board. I believe the CPU is a very low 800mhz but it appears to be more than ample for ruuning Freenas and haven’t had any performance issues reading or writing data/webgui etc.

    I’d have to check the power consumption as i have no idea to be honest – The brick style laptop PSU that came with the Noah 3988 case is 65w if that helps? It certainly seems fine when running the PC, case fan, two HDD’s and RAID controller card. I removed the optical drive because i didn’t need it after the initial freenas installation, but again it seemed to run fine when was attached.

    A few months ago, i removed the case fan and kept an eye on the temperature. So far so good and it’s usually running 24/7.

    Hope this answers your questions? If i get time i’ll post a screen shot from the freenas status screen so you can see the various stats if you wish.

    Kind regards

    StiGGy

  7. Hi,

    Thank you for getting back to me, I guess the Atom should perform slightly better then the VIA EPIA so performance should not be a problem.
    However you are using a dedicated RAID adapter board as I want to go with the ZRAID wich is a software raid and therefore more CPU intensive.

    Anyway, cant imagine the performance being worse then my D-LINK dns323 nas that I use now.

  8. Yes, i’m using an older board with Freenas so yours should fly! Also, forgot to mention that I am using a dedicated RAID board. However, I pretty sure you’ll still be o.k. with a software RAID but you can always try it and install a card if required at a later date.

    Hope all goes well with the build. My next ITX project is transforming a vintage Commodore C64 into a PC. Why?…i have no idea 🙂 …but, it’ll be fun!

    Best wishes

    StiGGy

  9. Hi,
    -A late response-
    Did you manage to fit a second HDD in this case? And if so, how did you do it?
    I’m planning to do the same because i don’t use the DVD-player.
    Maybe you have some pictures?
    Kind Regards,
    Daniel
    The Netherlands

  10. Hey there, yes i did. In addition to the 3.5″ HDD I also fitted a but it was a 2.5″ drive where the slim dvd player would go.

    I don’t have any pictures but i plan to change a few things around this weekend so will post some then.

    Kind regards

    StiGGY

  11. Ok, I was hoping you had found a way to fit in two 3,5” drives. A second 2,5” drives fits in the slimdrive’s place pretty easy, I think.
    Anyhow, i’m going to have a look inside my case too, this weekend…
    Thanks&regards,
    Daniel

  12. Well, i’d guess it’s probably possible to fit another 3.5″ if you’re a little creative with the cabling keep an eye on the cpu temp etc.

    Because my ITX board has a very low profile i’d probably have enough clearance to attach another 3.5″ to the existing drive by using velcro strips or something similar.

    I’ll have a look this weekend.

    Kind regards

    StiGGy

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