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Hands-On With Five Mini-ITX Cases

Antec ISK 310-150

At first glance, the Antec ISK 310-150 looks like an external 5.25” drive clad in black metal. The white front panel and compact height that ducks under 10 cm underscores this impression. You can either operate the case laying flat or stand it up on its side, oriented vertically.

The Antec case fits anywhere thanks to its compact shape, but there are some compromises you have to make. For example, you can only fit a slim optical drive in the case. Furthermore, the Antec ISK 310-150 is the only enclosure in our roundup that will only accept 2.5” hard drives, although you can accomodate two of them. The two USB ports and one eSATA port on the front panel are practical for connecting external drives.

Little Room for Graphics Cards

Antec primarily offers the ISK 310-150 as an HTPC or desktop system case, which is a choice we agree with. The integrated 150 W PSU provides enough power for both tasks, especially when you're using integrated graphics. The 80 mm ventilation fan can be adjusted to spin at three speeds, depending on your acoustic tolerances and cooling needs.

If you want to install an additional graphics card and use the Antec case as a gaming system, things become more complicated. The low-profile expansion slot is a nice touch, but when you use it, the compact case becomes extremely crowded. An additional fan would help handle the extra heat from the graphics card, but Antec only includes one, and so you're going to be prone to overheating.

Tricky Motherboard Installation

Because of the very compact dimensions of the Antec case, we ran into issues when installing the small Mini-ITX board from Gigabyte. The ATX connector on the motherboard interfered with the mount for the second fan, and only after removing the cover did we manage to mount the motherboard. It is possible to remove the mounting frame for the hard drive and the optical drive to free up a little more work room.

Conclusion: The Optimal Frugal Desktop

Fortunately, Antec's ISK 310-150 doesn't promise more than it can deliver. The case works acceptably well in an HTPC environment, so long as you're leveraging integrated graphics and not hoping for too much on the gaming side. Arm it with an SSD and you're looking at a small, quiet desktop workstation. The cramped innards and weak 150 W PSU preclude gaming for the most part. Also, the design can make hardware installation somewhat tricky. Then again, that's the price you pay for smallest dimensions.

Antec ISK 310-150
TypeMini-ITX case
Form factorMini-ITX
Dimensions (W x H x D)328 x 96 x 328 mm
ColorBlack case, white front panel
Connections2 x USB 2.0, 1 x eSATA, Audio in/out
PSU150 W
Support for expansion cardsYes (Low-Profile)
Drives2 x 2.5" hard drives, 1 x 5.25" Slim-line optical drive
Ventilation1 x 80 mm (side), second fan optional
Weight3.8 kg
PriceAround $80
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