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How Small Is It, Really?

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: The $400 Spirit Of Mini-ITX

Photo Gallery of Relative Size

Before digging into the performance-related strengths and weaknesses of this build, let’s take a closer look at where it shines most brightly: small size.

For starters, our sub-$400 gaming PC is downright puny compared to more conventional gaming enclosures, such as the eight-slot Rosewill Blackhawk or seven-slot Antec Three Hundred Illusion mid-tower cases.

Three ISK300 enclosures stacked up would occupy approximately 1280 cubic inches, falling in between the pictured $650 gaming machine I built for this quarter's competition and the $1300 enthusiast PC in overall volume. This bonus build occupies less than 20% of the space consumed by the BitFenix Prodigy used in Thomas' high-performance build, assuming the upper and lower handles remain attached.

Unfortunately, fractional size also translates to a lot less performance, particularly in games. It's already maxed out when we install a Radeon HD 7750.


It’s wider and deeper, but quite a bit shorter (while standing) than the Xbox 360 gaming console. If we cropped Microsoft’s huge power brick in half and added it to the Xbox, the combination would equal the same volume as Antec’s ISK300, which of course includes an internal power supply.

When it comes to mini-ITX, one size does not fit all. Pictured from left to right: Antec ISK110 VESA, this quarter's $400 bonus build (Antec ISK300-150), SilverStone SG05BB-450-USB3.0, this quarter's $650 PC (Cooler Master Elite 120), DIYPC V3Plus-B.

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