I'm considering trying out the Micro-ATX form factor for my next computer. This isn't necessarily going to replace my current box listed in my sig, I don't really feel the need to upgrade. I just want something fast that I can take to college easier.
The dorms are small, and I'm worried that the Lian Li would get scratched or dented. Plus, there's the Lan Party scene to consider, and depending on the building being used I don't really have a good way to lug my ATX desktop. This is where the Micro-ATX comes in.
It'd be a Core 2 Duo e6600,
eVGA 8800 GTS,
2GB of either Super Talent or Corsair DDR2-800,
OCZ 700W PSU,
74GB Raptor main OS, 400GB data/Linux drive
You know, typical hardware for the enthusiasts here. This would probably also be my Vista b1tch, 'cause there's a DX10 card going in there.
But the hardware inside isn't the issue, it's the case. I just read some reviews of Thermaltake's LanBox, and it looks...well...good. I'm not a huge fan of the look of Thermaltake cases (gasp), but this one appeals to me for some reason. Can't tell why, just does. Maybe it looks like the best SFF case I've seen so far.
It's bigger than most other SFF cases, in particular the X-Qpack and the Ultra Microfly. This way, it can accommodate 3 hard drives, 2 opticals, a full-length PSU, a Zalman cooler, and an 8800 GTS at the same time, assuming a short optical drive is used. Not bad for Micro ATX, since there are mid-sized cases that can't hold them.
Anyone here experimented with this case? Ninja, maybe you'd care to do a review on it? Who knows, maybe some enterprising worker at DFI will read your review, decide that Micro-ATX is cool, and make a board that can actually overclock well...just a thought.
Have you seen it in real life? It is bigger than I expected. I haven't heard anything but good about it though, the other two I would suggest, you already mentioned.
Really though, don't worry about dorm life. I have my wood case safely in the dorms, and my room has a ton of traffic. Usually 3-5 people in here and people generally respect your desk area. What college are you going to be attending?
Nothing constructive here I wouldn't hesitate to get the case though, I played with one a bit in the store and it felt pretty solid.
Now you're talking about like the shuttle barebone's kits? Or perhaps the Northwest Falcon Fragbox?
I've built 3 of these. However, all 3 were the Shuttle barebones kits. I have to admit they are awesome. I love the little buggers . Easier to build than you would think. Only downside to putting them together, is that there are usually on enough slots for 1 hard drive and 1 optical drive. That's enough I suppose, but the cage that holds them sits right on top of the memory (depending on the model) and unless you have extremely nimble fingers, it's hard without removing the cage completely. Which I suppose isn't bad, but it's definately not a tool-less design .
I had one of these Shuttles for my Barton 2500 that I had overclocked to 3200. Wasn't bad, the fact that the case was the size of a toaster didn't really have an effect on the CPU temperature, everything was rock solid. I ended up giving the computer to my grandma who needed one.
My friend built one and added his own 120mm fan into the side to keep it cool. Not a bad idea.
Some more things I thought of:
Video cards... A lot of your favorite ones are A) not going to fit or B) will not have the power going to it that it needs.
When I had one of my shuttles I didn't have the power that I needed for my 6800, so I started building a new box. I would say that is the biggest hurdle to overcome with the SFF systems.
The box is a little bit below 12" x 17" x 9" (WxLxH - handle). Not that big really. I think it'd be real nice for a dorm room. After lugging a starts with d and rhymes with hell atx mid tower around after 4.5 years of college, and 10 TEN moves, I would have loved to have something like the lanbox. Trust me, it will make moving back and forth a lot easier.
Even now that i'm out of school I'm in an apartement, but only for a year or so, so my moving days aren't over. I'd definatly consider sff in the future, and the thermaltake looks pretty nice IMO.
Only other consideration, the Black version, is aluminum front, steel chassis, 16.7 lbs.
The Silver is all aluminum and less than 10 lbs. Probably worth the $20 extra if it retains the rigidity.
I own a Lanbox Lite, same interior as the lanbox (same caase really). One thing I want to note, you can not fit a large video card AND 3 hard drives. If you are puting a larger vid card in this you will sacrafice the hard drive cage at the bottom of the case (not that big of a problem for me). I do love the case though! I just ordered another for a Bedroom htpc!! These are well constructed, easy to assemble cases!
I use a thermaltake lanbox, the black one w/ steel front [brushed aluminum]. It sure is heavy once filled. But it is nice. However, do not overclock! The cooling solution is simply not enough, and that Asus mobo u were talking about is pretty much the one I am using, except mine has the G35 chipset.
I used a E3110 [a xeon version of e8400] [thermaltake blue orb II cooler]
G35 chipset asus, Matx mobo
2 gb of crucial tracer, the lights can be a little over the top though, but micron makes some damn good memory.
8800gts, G92 core, BFG tech version, [I live in IL, so I try to support local business when I can]
 raptor x, just b/c I've always wanted to see the rotating disque! [OS, and other Apps]
 raptor WD1500ADFD, reg. 150gb version [Game drive!]
 seagate ES.2 basically a server edition of the 7200.11 version, nice b/c single platter & 32 mb cache [250GB] [storage]
Asus x2 xonar, PCI-e sound card, simply amazing, but again the lights are a little over the top, but it's great.
a sata DVD burner, lite-on i think
 Cold cathode's i think 12", barely fit but I got it to work. usually I don't bother w/ such things, but I have put cathode's in so many other customer's pc's that I figure wth, why not try it. I used a white color though, and the dust is now visible!
Silverstone 500w, extremely efficient, w/ the Sc, short cabling version. Checked it with kill-a-watt meter, neede less than 359ish wats at full load.
the cooling though isn't enough...
 80 mm fan in front....
 60 mm fans in back
 expansion slot to put another 60mm fan in [rumored that u can use a fan adapter to put in an 80mm fan], but I'm not to excited, b/c it still isn't enough...
It works great stock, but start to overclock and the machine is simply too unstable so I just don't bother w/ it, not on this machine anyways. love the case though.
One other side not I run the fan speed for the GPU at 100% b/c the cases cooling solution isn't enough. So even though ambient air moves in thru the vents on the sides, you still need more cfm coming in.