Mini-ITX: Two Cases And Four Motherboards Compared

Case: Antec's ISK 300-65

Antec’s ISK 300-65 is the only mini-ITX desktop offering from this chassis specialist. The case is made of solid metal and comes in black. Dimensions of 295 x 380 x 195mm are roughly as small as a shoe box, but still large enough to accommodate necessary system components, including a low-profile expansion card. The second enclosure in this review, SilverStone’s SG-05, is twice as tall, but can host a full-height expansion card, like a mainstream graphics card.

The ISK 300-65 is, in fact, so small that it can’t fit a 3.5” hard drive internally. But it will take up to two 2.5” drives. Also realize that the chassis will only fit a slim optical drive, which could put a dent in your Blu-ray burner plans. System ventilation comes courtesy of an 80mm, side-mounted fan. This is actually a smart choice, since the fan will point upward if you install the case vertically using the included pedestal mount. 

Apart from that, there isn’t any room left in the rear of the case to install another fan. The back part of the enclosure is mostly consumed by the connector panel, expansion card slot, power jack, and fan control. Size is also minimized through the use of an external power supply. Be sure that the 65W output is sufficient to run your processor and system components. Typically, this will limit the Antec case to an entry-level Core 2 Duo, Atom, or similar low-power AMD solution.

All of the common interfaces are located at the front of the ISK 300-65 case. You’ll find two USB ports, audio jacks, power and reset switches, and an eSATA port, which is useful if you want to attach fast external storage devices. Since you only have two 2.5” HDD bays with which to work, this may come handy. The cage holding the optical drive and two hard drives has to be removed for motherboard installation or maintenance.