Hands-On With Five Mini-ITX Cases

Chieftec BT-02B

With a width of 13.5 cm and a height of 30 cm, the Chieftec BT-02B is a PC tower in miniature form. The case can be operated horizontally or vertically. With its black cover and front panel it does not have much to offer in the way of looks, at least not compared to the other test candidates. The cheap and brittle plastic front panel certainly does nothing to hide the fact that this is by far the cheapest case in the test, with a price of around $60. But then you have to take into account the additional cost of a fan as well, since none is included.

Like most of its competitors, the BT-02B also offers support for regular size 3.5” hard drives and 5.25” optical drives. The two USB ports and audio in/out are pretty much the bare minimum when it comes to connections, but at least they are easy to access at the top of the case. The case comes with a 180 W PSU called Chieftec PSF-180MP.

Motherboard Barrier

Considering its width of 13.5 cm, the BT-02B sure gives the impression of a case well prepared for the installation of Mini-ITX boards with large CPU coolers. However, a quick look inside reveals that even the standard Intel cooler just barely fits. The huge stabilization bar is the problem, as it cuts off some of the available height and makes the installation of hardware more difficult. Mini-ITX motherboards with slightly larger heat sinks cannot fit inside the Chieftec BT-02B. And if you are going to equip the system with an additional card (graphics for example), you must make sure that they do not exceed the maximum length of 19 cm. That is as much space as you get with this case.

Conclusion: Inexpensive, No Configuration Options

The Chieftec BT-02B has its strengths and weaknesses. It costs just $60 and its 180 W PSU is properly dimensioned, but it takes last place among the tested cases in terms of exterior design. Using a Mini-ITX motherboard with a big heat sink is impossible due to the stability bar inside the case. Apart from that, you get a proper and solid case for little money.

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Chieftec BT-02
TypeMini-ITX case
Dimensions (W x H x D)135 x 295 x 240 mm
MaterialSteel, front made of plastic
Connections2 x USB 2.0, Audio in/out
PSU180 W
Support for expansion cardsYes, maximum length 19 cm
Drives1 x 3.5" hard drive, 1 x 5.25" optical drive
VentialtionNo fans installed, 1 x 80 mm (front) und 2 x 60 mm (back) optional
Weight2.85 kg
PriceAround $60
  • rohitbaran
    Q08 supports expansion cards of length upto 300mm. It is mentioned on the Lian Li website and prople have built systems with cards like Radeon 5870 in it.
  • doomtomb
    Lian Li PC-Q08 is my pick everytime but why did you guys not look at the SG07?
  • jeraldjunkmail
    I (custom) build an element Q with an H50 water cooler. I had to (custom) move the PSU to the front of the machine under the 5.25" drive bay. This involved drilling out the rivets and reriveting them in order to hammer the pieces into shape. It also can fit a large video card in there (but this is not a gaming rig). There is a 6 2.5" hard drive software raid array in it and it is running Debian 6.0... Smallest water cooled rig in the world? Maybee.... Sorry if double post... Not sure...
  • gti88
    Please, do something with picture gallery.
  • Matask
    Perhaps its worth mentioning that you can get the SG05 with silverstone 450watt SFF psu instead allowing a bit more power. My current setup consists of the same Motherboard as used in this test Zotacs gtx460 AMP edition, an 0verclocked I7 860 at 3,5ghz with the H50 cooler and 4 gigabytes of 1333mhz 8-8-8-21 memory. Runs like a dream. And temps are actually quite good as the gfx card blows the heat directly out the side, and the push-pull airflow works very satifactory. Only thing to beware of is cable clutter as it can really mess up the airflow in these small cases.
  • Sharro
    I've been buying Shuttles for the last 10 years and I feel sad for not seeing any model included in this review.

    They are reliable little boxes :-)

    All the best,

  • gti88
    MataskI7 860 at 3,5ghz with the H50 cooler i5 2500@3.5GHz can be really cool with Big Shuriken@800rpm.
  • I love the Chenbro ES34169. You can find it for under $100 and quality is great. The only thing I would change is the stock fans, which are too loud on full speed.

  • Matask
    gti88i5 2500@3.5GHz can be really cool with Big Shuriken@800rpm.
    Yeah prob would have gone another direction than the H50 should i buy something now since performance pr dollar isnt that high. However the new SB cpu's do overclock better than my 860..so its really no suprise you get good temps at 3,5 ghz with your I5..you prob would with stock cooler as well..at least from what i have read around the interwebs..
  • dogman-x
    The Silverstone SG05 only accepts a slim optical drive, which really limits you for BluRay burners.

    I ended up buying the Shuttle SH55-J2. This is a Mini-ITX case plus an ITX motherboard for an Intel LGA1156 processor. The case accepts a double-slot graphics card and a standard optical drive. And unlike past Shuttle products, you can upgrade the system with any standard ITX motherboard. It's also very quiet, which is a big plus for home theater.