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Hands-On With Five Mini-ITX Cases

Luxa2 LM100 Mini

Brushed aluminum, an engraved manufacturer's logo, hex key screws on the cover, a VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) and remote included: there can be no doubt that the Luxa2 LM100 Mini is a Mini-ITX case aimed towards the HTPC crowd. The Thermaltake-based chassis vendor markets the LM100 Mini as an elegant entertainment system, and it comes with a matching price tag, of course. At around $270 it is by far the most expensive Mini-ITX enclosure being tested.

Small and Flexible

The LM100 Mini lives up to its name. With dimensions of 24.2 x 12.5 x 30.6 cm, it is the smallest case we have on-hand that allows for the installation of a 3.5” hard drive. There is no room for a regular 5.25” optical drive, so you have to use a slim-line version. The adapter for connecting it to the SATA connector on the motherboard is included. Hidden beneath a panel on the front we find two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, and HD audio.

The motherboard installation was smooth and hassle-free thanks to the easily accessible connections. The LM100 Mini offers the possibility of a low-profile graphics card upgrade, and the 200 W PSU should be able to handle it without any problems (as long as you don’t go for high-end graphics). Two 50 mm fans are used for ventilation. They are very quiet, but air circulation isn’t substantial either.

HTPC for Beginners

The Luxa2 LM100 Mini's biggest selling point is its 7” display, along with the iMon remote control and iMedian HD software. This makes the test candidate an interesting media center platform. The display’s small font and single line keeps the information it relays within narrow limits, though.

While the remote control looks good, the software is not completely satisfying, especially since it offers nothing that cannot already be found in Windows Media Center. If you are going to install Windows 7 on this Mini-ITX system, we recommend leaving the iMedian HD software in the box and just manage the LM100 Mini with Windows Media Center instead.

Conclusion: Living Room PC Suitable For Multimedia

With its infrared receiver and remote control, the Luxa2 LM100 Mini is a good candidate for building an HTPC. The small and somewhat limiting display is somewhat inconsequential given its compact size. But taken as a complete package, the LM100 Mini is a good choice for a small living room PC with multimedia capabilities. Be prepared to shell out serious cash for the handsome case; at $270, most enthusiasts will probably look to something a bit less expensive.

Luxa2 LM100 Mini
TypeMini-ITX case
Form factorMini-ITX
Dimensions (W x H x D)242 x 125 x 306 mm
MaterialAluminium
ColorSilver colored case, black front panel
Connections2 x USB 2.0, 1 x IEEE 1394 (Firewire), 1 x HD-Audio
PSU200 W
Support for expansion cardsYes (Low-Profile)
Drives1 x 3.5” hard drive, 1 x 5.25” optical drive (Slim-line)
Ventilation2 x 50 mm (back)
Weight4.35 kg
PriceAround $270
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  • 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.
    Reply
  • doomtomb
    Lian Li PC-Q08 is my pick everytime but why did you guys not look at the SG07?
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • gti88
    Please, do something with picture gallery.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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,

    Sharro
    Reply
  • gti88
    MataskI7 860 at 3,5ghz with the H50 cooler i5 2500@3.5GHz can be really cool with Big Shuriken@800rpm.
    Reply
  • 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.

    http://www.chenbro.com/corporatesite/products_detail.php?sku=167
    Reply
  • 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..
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply