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Cases How big should a mini-ITX chassis be?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Guest-16, 12 Jan 2014.


How big should a mini-ITX case be?

  1. <10 litres (super-tiny, picoPSU, low profile)

    4 vote(s)
  2. 10-20 litres (CM Elite 110 is 15L, FT02 mini is 17.6L)

    28 vote(s)
  3. 20-25 litres (CM Elite 130 is 19.6L, InWin 901 is 24.2L)

    10 vote(s)
  4. 25-30 litres (BF Prodigy is 26.35L, Fractal Node 25.5L)

    5 vote(s)
  5. >30 litres (Basically will fit ATX kit + many hardware)

    0 vote(s)
  1. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Let's settle the argument with a vote; how big should a mini-ITX chassis be?
    > Everyone has their personal choice and there are is a very vocal "small as possible" group
    > However, going by sales statistics the Bit Fenix Prodigy is the best selling chassis out there

    > Or, is it down to price (not covered in this vote) - Will the CM 110 at 35 quid be the next
    big(small) thing?
    >Does it have to be box-like, not low profile? I've been having trouble looking for Valve-prototype style SteamBox chassis honestly.
    > Or is it down to design: simply what looks good?

    This is not a survey cause ASUS is making cases(again) it's just curiosity as I've been reading the CM110 thread and also talking to some case people in Taipei recently that tell two/three different stories.

    More chassis people mention:
    EVGA Hadron: 15.9L
    Last edited by a moderator: 12 Jan 2014
  2. Lance

    Lance Ender of discussions.

    6 May 2010
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    For me it's about space vs looks vs where it's going to go. I like the idea of the hadron air because it's small enough to go on my desk behind my screens or to the side meaning I have more space under my desk.

    But I do think that the prodigy is a very good looking case and I really like the handles as a way of keeping it off the carpet when in use on the floor.
  3. 13eightyfour

    13eightyfour Formerly Titanium Angel

    9 Sep 2003
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    10-20L for me.

    The actual design is very much a personal thing, but I would rather have a lower profile case with a horizontal GPU to keep the height down whilst keeping a standard PSU in there.

    Something like this with space for a GPU would do nicely.
    Credit for the case/build goes to Marcus Venturi of the Media Portal Forums.
  4. Shirty

    Shirty Time travelling rogue Super Moderator

    18 Apr 1982
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    Tough call. If I was building a lower power rig for fileserving, an HTPC or just to fit on a really small desk, then the smaller the better. Once it's built it's unlikely to be opened up again for a long time.

    However, I favoured the Prodigy for easy access, great air/water cooling support, looks. Size just wasn't s big factor.
  5. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Updated first post with EVGA (sorry can't delete this one anymore :()

    13eightyfour - I very much like that design! I wish it was wider to accommodate a GPU. Got a link to that build?

    Shirty - Finding low pro for 4HDD+SSD is super difficult though :/ Currently I'm using a Lian A04
  6. 13eightyfour

    13eightyfour Formerly Titanium Angel

    9 Sep 2003
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    The build log is here Media Case and although it's mATX I think It would scale down well as there's a lot of stuff in it that I personally wouldn't need.
  7. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Swinging the banhammer Super Moderator

    18 Sep 2010
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    My thoughts are - as small as possible whilst still able to fit in full-size hardware (ATX PSUs, full-size optical drives, a 3.5" hdd or two) as any smaller than that you're left paying massively over the odds for sff versions of all of the above.
  8. Cei

    Cei pew pew pew

    22 Mar 2008
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    10-20L, smartly configured.

    For me, ITX is about performance in a tiny box. You wouldn't go ITX if you were building a 'normal' system, because the boards cost more (see Asus Impact vs mATX Gene), so you must be valuing the size aspect of the board.

    Therefore it makes no sense to install an ITX board, prizing size over features, in a case that is large enough to fit mATX boards if they could be bothered to design it properly (see the Prodigy turned in to the Prodigy-M).

    If size is your priority, it also means the manufacturers should be making size savings where they can. So ditch the 5.25" optical drives and put in slimline laptops drives. Rip out the full size ATX PSUs and go for SFF or EVGA's route of the server design. Space saved = a smaller box.

    The last bone of contention is hard disk bays. The industry/consumer expects nice tool-free sleds these days, which take up space. Yet how many of them do you need?
    Media PC - SSD and single HD?
    Gaming PC - SSD and single HD? All SSD?
    Server - Four? Six? Eight?

    So really, the only one that clashes with the concept of tiny is the server. However, ITX is a bad fit anyway due to the limited number of SATA ports on the boards, so you're better off going mATX anyway.

    Ergo, in my mind, an ITX case needs a mere two bays. I'd even be overjoyed to see a case that has zero HD sleds, but has a pair of SSD mount points. Of course, the fly in the ointment is those people who want to bring a pile of HDs over from previous builds...but to be honest, dump your motley collection of low capacity drives and get a single new larger one.

    My issue with the case industry is that there seems to be an odd point in case design. The Prodigy is a prime example - it's the size of an mATX case, but takes ITX components. It sells because it's designed well and looks good. BitFenix, should, however, have two cases; namely the Prodigy and a smaller version that is actually designed around making it as small as possible. That way you can accommodate both people like myself who want a small system, and those who want to stuff extra bits in or don't want to shell out for a SFF PUS/slimline optical drive.
  9. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

    19 Apr 2008
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    It's an odd question.

    Mini-ITX is ultimately just a smaller than average motherboard form factor. So you can:

    - Make the system as small as possible using SFF components.

    - Take advantage of the extra space afforded to give you more room for fullsized hardware/cooling.

    - Or somewhere in between.

    All are equally valid options and there should be a variety of cases on the market to cater to most people's specific requirements, as opposed to all mini-ITX cases being a certain size just because they are mini-ITX.
  10. David

    David Take my advice — I’m not using it.

    7 Apr 2009
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    The Hadron is a good example of what's possible - but building a tidy system inside one will be a challenge.

    I'm forever tinkering with my PC so ~15-16 litres would probably annoy me, due to lack of space to work inside. However, as much as I like it, I think the Prodigy is far too big for ITX builds. I'd say low 20s litres, but I'd rather go mATX anyway. Having said that, some mATX cases are stupidly big (Corsair, I'm looking at you).

    BTW Bindi, I thought the Prodigy was well over 30 litres?
    G0UDG likes this.
  11. Parge

    Parge the worst Super Moderator

    16 Jul 2010
    Likes Received:
    If I'm buying a ITX motherboard I'm buying it because its small and I'm choosing to sacrifice features and expansion for that advantage. If I then go out and buy a 28L case - I lose that advantage and then I have a system that is bulky, heavy, has less features than a mATX equivalent and has less expansion. That is why for me, an ITX case should be compact (though if people want to buy and build bigger ITX chassis that is fine!).

    My perfect ITX Case would be:

    Small enough to fit in my backpack (so about 15L)
    Have support for a 120mm AIO
    Use an SFX PSU
    Have a window (less important but the P8Z77-I Deluxe looks so gorgeous).

    Sadly this case doesn't exist. The Hadron Air comes closest, but is about £50 too expensive in my eyes, and has poor GPU cooling.
  12. mrbungle

    mrbungle Undercooked chicken giver

    20 Sep 2004
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    Depends doesn't it? Like your choice of MATX and ATX case.

    If it is under your telly and for media stuff then you can get away with no expansions if its a ITX for gaming then you have to allow for cards, a psu and cooling.
  13. Cei

    Cei pew pew pew

    22 Mar 2008
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    But the Hadron Air, on the smaller side on an ITX case, fits a GTX780/Titan and a tower air cooler. Literally no compromise.
  14. AlienwareAndy

    AlienwareAndy New Member

    7 Dec 2009
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    TBH it doesn't really matter, we're all well looked after and there are plenty of cases around for every one.

    If I were to go ITX (hint I won't because there are no AM3+ boards for it) then I would need 35cm or more for a GPU. So that would kinda screw the cases that don't even allow for a GPU.

    There are two audiences here it seems. One want ITX cases for media PCs and smal APU systems, the other actually have some hardware to think about.

    Why all of this head butting is happening over it is a mystery to me. You won't talk a gamer out of his GPU, and you won't talk a media PC builder out of wanting something as tiny as possible.
  15. mrbungle

    mrbungle Undercooked chicken giver

    20 Sep 2004
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    Wouldnt fit under my telly though :p

    Is a nice case though, minding the price.
  16. jrs77

    jrs77 Well-Known Member

    17 Feb 2006
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    As said allready. The reason to buy a mITX over a µATX is the small size really, as the µATX-boards are usually the better and cheaper choice, when we compare the specs.

    A mITX-case with room for a standard-sized ATX-PSU, 10" dual-slot GPU, a 120mm AIO for the CPU and two 2.5" SSD/HDD can be easily done within 15 liters without sacrificing good cooling. I've shown various designs for that on multiple occasions.

    PC-cases other than storage-servers don't need lot's of room for HDDs and even an optical drive isn't required. Storage and optical drives are allways better to have an external solution for, which you can access from multiple PCs. A NAS with an optical drive is the way to go here really.

    If we talk about HTPCs, than you can easily squeeze the required hardware into a box of under 8 liters without problems and there's lot's of good cases with even smaller dimensions. I'm running my HTPC within an Antec ISK100 for example, with room for two 2.5" SSD/HDDs in just 4 liters, and it runs totally silent with it's single lowprofile 120mm fan and the passive 90W PSU.
    The soon to be released Kaveri will be exceptional for such tiny HTPCs on a small budget.

    Cases like the Prodigy, the Colossus or the likes are µATX-cases, which is evident by the fact that these cases are available with µATX-layouts. This cannot be denied. And a case like the Silverstone TJ08e or the Sugo SG03 are just as small as the above mentioned ones and you can shove a full custom watercooling-setup into them even when using a µATX-board.

    The main-reason to buy a Prodigy is to have a case where you can show off your hardware, but that's for 12yo imho, and a decent testbench would do the trick way better anyways. Look at the current worklog from Bill (MNPC) in that regard.

    However, it's all personal preference in the end, and if I you would've ask me the same question 10 years ago my answer would've been a different one.
  17. Arboreal

    Arboreal Well-Known Member

    21 Jan 2011
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    That's a timely thread...after reading the CM110 review yesterday I was left thinking that the ITX case situation is an odd one.
    I plumped for 10-20L [Cei put it really succinctly]

    The Prodigy IMHO is too big (as large as my mATX LAN box...) but the CM110 potentially too small.

    That said, it's good to have a choice of sizes and shapes to play with.

    I have loved ITX since the first Atoms appeared as an alternative to the VIA models.

    I has a tiny weedy box, with external PSU, which was fun and then a unique board with mobile core duo mobile CPU with a PCI and PCIe 16x slot onboard! A good board, but non standard IO fit.
    My Zotac 775 ITX board died, leaving the lovely but poorly ventilated Lian Li Q07 case unoccupied.
    Currently my H55/i3 LAN machine in SG05 had been commandeered for home duty.

    I agree that ITX is small, so should make use of the reduced sizes of case, it does bring problems as already discussed (PSU, cable origami, cooling etc).

    The thing I find difficult about the Prodigy (IMVHO) is that it is as big as my TJ08 Lan rig that I'm working on, and is no smaller than mATX with the advantage of more room, better cooling and more choice of PSU. It offers more room at 28L, but I do miss the utter portability of the SG05.

    The controversial SG09 shows how much you can squeeze mATX into higher ITX territory, so there's a fair crossover.

    Again, there is no perfect case (we all have different requirements), but the Hadron is a good intriguing as a compact solution with its unusual space saving PSU.

    JRS has it right about making it compact and I do like the designs he's circulated.

    If I had the ability to make my own kit, I'd be working on something SFX like JRS has proposed, but modding is as much as I can manage with my skills.
  18. IvanIvanovich

    IvanIvanovich будет глотать вашу душу.

    31 Aug 2008
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    For me it depends a lot what kind of build I am doing.
    For a basic office type PC, I like to go for vesa mountable that is basically no bigger than the motherboard.
    For HTPC I like compact slimline but big enough for an optical drive, something like A-Tech Heatsync2500 or Wesena FC5.
    For a home server it needs more space to have at least 6 HDD, something like Lian Li PCQ-08 or Fractal Array.
    If I was going to do a gaming build I would go straight for the EVGA Hadron.
  19. MSHunter

    MSHunter Well-Known Member

    24 Apr 2009
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    For me there are two separate functions:

    1) As small as possible for non GPU intensive work.

    2) Tiny gaming rig small as possible but can fit and power a full size GPU and best then with build in SFF PSU @ at least 600 watts like: silverstone-sg08b but it is a bit pricey sadly. :(
  20. bdigital

    bdigital Is re-building his PC again

    10 Aug 2010
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    Surely its down to function??!

    What are the requirements (what will it be used for, where, how, by who, why etc).

    The answers to those questions dictate the design decisions behind the build which includes what type of case is required.

    Thats how I look at things anyway!

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk

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