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Hands-On With Five Mini-ITX Cases

Conclusion

This hands-on test clearly shows that Mini-ITX cases cannot be generalized, and that their individual strengths should be matched to your individual applications for best results. Thus, consumers looking for a gaming system might not be too happy with the Luxa2 LM100 Mini, which was designed with HTPC use in mind. On the other hand, SilverStone's SG05, with its 300 W PSU and dual-slot graphics card support, might be simply too large for simple desktop use and tight space constraints.

Users generally looking for a general-purpose Mini-ITX case should consider the Lian Li PC-Q08. Sure, it's the largest Mini-ITX case in this test, but it has the most flexible configuration options. It is also good for anyone who wants to use standard-size components instead of specialized hardware, such as slim-line optical drives or low-profile graphics cards.

For budget-minded customers, the Chieftec BT-02B is the best choice. You have to accept some compromises when it comes to looks and configuration flexibility. There is not much space for large (high) CPU coolers, and graphics cards have to stay within a maximum length of 19 cm.

Users looking for the smallest possible Mini-ITX case should take a look at the Antec ISK 310-150. The size inevitably means that there are some restrictions when it comes to flexibility, but it is suitable for office desktop use. Despite its compact dimensions, the enclosure accommodates low-profile graphics cards, though you should invest in proper ventilation if you go down this road.

The SilverStone SG05 is an excellent Mini-ITX gaming case with dual-slot graphics card support and a powerful 300 W PSU.

Multimedia enthusiasts who can see themselves investing a little more money in a smart HTPC system and who want to control the device with a remote control should consider the Luxa2 LM100 Mini. However, it is not a fully-fledged HTPC, given the small display and limited expansion possibilities.

  • 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