A Mini-ITX Case for Enthusiasts, by Enthusiasts, Crowdfunded

We're not trying to get you to read an article about a so called "high-end" HTPC case, what we have here is a community designed and crowdfunded project to make a mini-ITX enclosure that will house the most powerful CPUs and hold the most brutal graphics cards. Combine this with the the capacity for internal watercooling and it's clear that the NCASE M1 prototype is something that PC enthusiasts can and should get properly excited about.

The folks behind this are two enthusiasts from Hardforum who designed this enclosure due to their belief that "the potential of the Mini-ITX form factor has been stunted by the lack of high performance cases currently available for the platform. We also share a dissatisfaction towards the overuse of plastic, mediocre aesthetics, bloated case dimensions and lack of watercooling support common to many Mini-ITX cases".

The case measures in at 240 mm by 160 mm by 328 mm and obviously the weight is unknown since no prototype has been built yet. The case supports both mini-ITX and mini-DTX motherboards, along with graphics cards that eat up up to three expansion slots. Graphics cards with two-slot coolers can be up to 12.5" long, and with three slot coolers up to 11-inces long. The CPU cooler can be up to 105 mm tall and the enclosure can support both 120 mm radiators along with 240 mm radiators in multiple positions.

Also included are up to three 3.5" HDD mounts, three 2.5" drive mounts and one mount for a slim optical drive. The power supplies that will fit include SFX and ATX form factors, the former giving a bit more room for expansion or water cooling. Front I/O features two USB 3.0 ports along with a headphone and microphone jack.

The NCASE M1 has already reached its $3,000 funding goal on Indiegogo and has announced that the chassis will be built by none other than Lian Li and is expected to have a market price of between $160 and $200. If you'd like to contribute to the project, $10 will get you on the early shipping list (delivery by April 2013) and $2,000 will get you the actual prototype after testing is complete.

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Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • master_chen
    Whoah...that looks even more interesting than BitFenix's Prodigy...can't wait to get my hands on this baby.
  • freggo
    With Lian Li behind it this could be a sweet little quality case.
    Not sure if $160 is a bit on the high side, will have to see the details when it is actually available.
  • foxmulder_ms
    Like it.
  • back_by_demand
    I like the idea, the only issue that I can see is that exhausting lots of heat outside the case is not as good as not producing lots of heat to begin with
    If this was to be used as a HTPC, for example, it could potentially be placed in an enclosed cupboard with a glass front so IR remotes can be used, but heat exhausted from the case would just build up in the cupboard and the ambient temperature would overwhelm whatever cooling solution you used
    Sat on a desk, fine, sat in a cupboard, not fine
  • truprecht
    This is clearly intended for high-performance graphics (3-slot cards) and overclocking (240mm radiator), not an HTPC. There are already plenty of similar HTPC-appropriate cases, for example:


    That said, I don't know why Lian-Li wouldn't just make the case without the kickstarter rigmarole. There don't appear to be any radical new features that aren't already included in some existing Lian Li case.
  • Non-Euclidean
    I really wonder why it needs watercooling. Arent we getting away from CPUs that produce prodigious amounts of heat? If so, then wouldnt fans be sufficient for the graphics card? Or is the driving force behind this to have a small case for you to burn up overclocked AMD CPUs in?
  • truprecht
    Non-EuclideanOr is the driving force behind this to have a small case for you to burn up overclocked AMD CPUs in?
    The intent is to sell them in colder climates with AMD CPU's as combination gaming computers / space heaters.
  • Cazalan
    The airflow doesn't look very good.

    3 - 120mm in, 1 80mm out.
  • Onus
    Too expensive. If one can buy a modest, but decent, ATX or mATX case for $60-$70, why not mini-ITX at that price? Is engineering and construction that much more difficult?
  • MrSlavw
    160 - 200$ ... ? I think the main concept of "mini " is lost.