Introduction and First Impressions
The A4-SFX takes the minimalist, full-length GPU capable mini-ITX chassis design down to stunningly compact dimensions, and does so with a precise all-aluminum build and refined industrial design. Created by the one-man company DAN Cases and funded on Kickstarter, the A4-SFX share the spirit of the crowdfunded NCASE M1 that preceded it, but takes even that tiny enclosure's dimensions down considerably. It is, as the company puts it, "the world's smallest gaming tower case".
What was omitted to bring the size down this far? Comparing the A4-SFX to the aforementioned NCASE M1 (an inevitability as both were crowd-funded and manufactured by Lian Li), the A4-SFX drops support for compact ATX power supplies in favor of SFX/SFX-L units, and CPU cooling is limited to a height of 48 mm, with no liquid cooling support. Many low-profile CPU coolers - including Intel’s stock design - fit this description, but the cooling limitation suggests stock CPU speeds are the tradeoff for such a compact case design.
So how compact is this case, exactly? The A4-SFX has a volume of just 7.25L compared to the NCASE M1 at 12.6L. Yet the A4-SFX can still house a powerful, gaming-ready system with standard components including a full sized GPU (up to 295 mm in length) and any mini-ITX motherboard and CPU.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 16, 2017 - 09:34 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, SFX, SFF, Portal, mini-itx, enclosure, case, bitfenix, aluminum
BitFenix has announced the Portal, which is one of the more interesting-looking chassis designs to hit the market in recent memory. Available in both black and white, and with or without a top-mounted window to show off your GPU (thanks to the inverted motherboard layout), the Portal is a sleek mini-ITX enclosure with a smooth, rounded aluminum exterior that is certainly a departure from typical case designs.
One of the design concepts made possible by SFX power supplies is a slimming down of the standard tower concept, which leaving component layout identical. In the case of this mini-ITX mini tower case from BitFenix, you might at first think you are looking at a larger case, but that PSU opening is in fact SFX, and the case is just wide enough to accommodate a standard PCIe graphics card.
A smaller mini-ITX case is often more challenging to work in, but here BitFenix has a clever solution with their dual-frame design:
"Designed for ITX Motherboards, the striking key component of the interior is the Dual Frame Design for easy access and quick installation. The inner chamber, equipped with enough space for high-end components, slides into the housing via a ball bearing runner design."
The external housing slimply slides off to reveal a standard chassis frame, allowing for easy component installation. Beyond the requirements of mini-ITX motherboard and SFX power supply, the Portal allows for CPU coolers of up to 125 mm, and full size graphics cards up to 300 mm long.
- Chassis Type: ITX Chassis
- Colors: Black | White
- Materials: Aluminum | SECC Steel | ABS | Transparent acrylic
- Motherboard: Mini-ITX
- CPU Cooler: Up to 125mm height
- Graphic Card Length: Up to 300mm
- Power Supply: SFX Form Factor
- Storage Capacity: 3.5" HDD x2, 2.5" HDD 1+2
- Cooling Capacity: Front 120mm x1 (included), rear 80mm x1 (included)
- Radiator Capacity: (Front) Up to 120mm x1
- Front I/O ports: USB 3.0 x2 | HD Audio Mic & Headphone
- Dimensions (with stand): (WxHxD) 247 x 395 x 411 mm (9.72 x 15.55 x 16.18 inches)
- Weight: 5.81 kg (12.81 lbs)
Cooling is another area that has received BitFenix's attention, as they have implemented what they call their "intelligent cooling solution" with the Portal:
"To cool the built-in hardware, the portal is equipped with air inlets at all four corners and the bottom of the housing. The air-permeable inner chamber is further equipped with included 120mm intake and 80mm exhaust fan, for a stable airflow for basic Office and Home Theater PCs."
The BitFenix Portal is available now for $139.99 with your choice of color and window option (product pages already up on Newegg.com).
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 20, 2016 - 10:20 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: standing desk, Lian Li, enclosure, DK-04, desk enclosure, case, aluminum
Lian Li has officially announced their standing desk shown at CES 2016, and the DK-04 offers variable (powered) height adjustment.
The DK-04 in standing position
"Standing desks aren’t just fashionable, they’re proven to be beneficial and healthy in multiple ways. Lian Li sought to design a new computer desk chassis in this spirit. Users can configure up to four different height settings, from 67.5cm to 116cm, for the desk to automatically adjust to at the press of a button. The DK-04 can serve as a standing desk for work and switch to a sit-down gaming desk in an instant!"
The DK-04 lowered to sitting position
I had a chance to check out the DK-04 in person at this year's CES, and it was an impressive piece of hardware. My first question? How much will it cost, of course! Lian Li didn't have an answer for me back in January, but official pricing was included in today's annoucement.
The cost? MSRP is $1499, and the DK-04 will be available on May 10, 2016.
If you've priced ergonomic office furniture the $1499 price tag won't seem quite so shocking, especially for a powered sit/stand design made entirely from aluminum (don't forget this is also a PC enclosure).
The DK-04 is also a full-sized PC enclosure under the glass top
Of course, in the world of PC components it's obviously going to require a specific use-case to justify an enclosure that costs as much as a fairly high-end gaming PC.
Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 04:00 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: stainless steel, racing wheel, racing pedals, racing h-gear shifter, logitech, leather, G920, G29, G27, force feedback, aluminum
PC peripherals are a fickle market for companies. Some products get replaced and updated in a very short period of time, while others remain relatively stable and the product line lasts for years. Logitech has laid claim to one of the longest serving products in the peripheral field with the G27 racing wheel. This product has proven to be a popular accessory for those wishing to race on a variety of platforms with a clutch, stick shift, and a force feedback wheel. For the time it was a rather expensive part that reached the $400 mark at introduction, but has eased down to the mid-$250US range. Five years is a long time for such a product, but the overall design and quality of the G27 has insured its place as one of the better buys of this decade.
The G29 has a unique layout of buttons, d-pad, and a 35 position rotary knob.
Time passes and all things must change. The G27 has lost some of its luster as compared to some of the latest products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec. We are now in the midst of a resurgence of racing titles from a variety of sources, some of which are emerging from relatively unknown developers and veteran studios alike. Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, DiRT Rally, and F1 2015 plus a variety of paid and F2P titles are vying for racer’s attention in this very verdant environment of software titles. We must also not forget the new marketplace opened up by the PS4 and Xbox One. Logitech, in their quest to gain the hearts and loyalties of gamers has renewed their push into this marketplace with a variety of Gaming products. Today we get our first look at the two latest entries from Logitech into the racing wheel world.
Today Logitech is announcing their latest two editions to the high end racing accessory market. The G29 has been leaked and covered, but the G920 is a new revelation to the world. The G29 is aimed at the PS3 and PS4 market and will be available for purchase in early July of this year. The G920 is the Xbox One and PC model that will be released this Fall. The models differ with their button layout, but they are both based on a lot of the same technology that powers the force feedback experience in modern racing games.
The pedals are not as colorful as the G27 (it had red accents), but it looks nearly identical to the older part. Stainless steel pedals plus a clutch.
The base unit features a dual motor design with helical gears rather than belt driven. The helical gears should result in less backlash as compared to a belt design which can stretch and distort the feeling of the wheel. The shaft of the wheel features solid stainless steel bearings so that wear and tear should be kept to a minimum. The shifters and pedals are also made of stainless steel so that these high-wear parts will work for years without issue.
The wheel itself is made of hand-stitched leather over a plastic and aluminum framing. The wheel also features a LED light rev indicator that reports to users when to shift at redline. The clamping system allows the wheel to be used on desks as well as driving stations through either a clamp or bolts. The three pedal stand is of a decent weight and of course features a clutch pedal that many competing products do not have.
The G920 is a bit more minimalist in terms of button layout. This wheel does not feature the rev/shift LEDs that the G29 has, and this is due to how the consoles address hardware. Apparently it is just not feasible for the XBox One to do this.
The G29 and G920 differ in their button layout, but both feature the three pedal set and paddle shift setup. As compared to competing products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec at this price point, there is no ability to swap out wheels with the base unit. For example both Thrustmaster and Fanatec offer a variety of wheels that can be interchanged with the hub with the gearing and force feedback hardware. Both of those companies have a great amount of flexibility with accessories that can be swapped in and out. This of course comes with a significant price. The competing Thrustmaster set has F1 and other wheels that cost anywhere from $150 to $250, while Fanatec will allow a user to customize their setup for the low, low price of $1,000US plus.
The G29 and G920 include the wheel and three pedal setup as stock at $399.99. If a user wants to include a 6-speed manual shifter, then it will cost an extra $59.99US. That particular product is configured as an H pattern shifter, but it is not included in the base package for the G29 or G920.
The G920 pedals are essentially identical to the G29 unit.
It is great to see the G29 available in an early July timeframe, but it is slightly disappointing that the G920 will not hit the market until this Fall. As a die-hard PC gamer it will be a few months before I can get hands on the G920 and put it through its paces. The racing wheel market is not overly large as most users rely on gamepads, joysticks, and keyboards for their racing needs. As such, we do not see refreshes on a regular basis as compared to keyboards, mice, and other devices. It is great to see Logitech addressing this market with new products that bring new features.
Edit: According to the Logitech website, the G29 CAN be used with a PC as long as the users has the Logitech Gaming software installed.
Introduction, Specs, and First Impressions
BitFenix has been making enclosures for the PC market since 2010 (with the massive Colossus E-ATX case), and came to prominence a couple of years later with the introduction of the Prodigy enclosure. While the company has expanded to produce power supplies and peripherals they are still primarily a case manufacturer, as evidenced by the now 31 different models on their product page. Not content to iterate on their existing designs, BitFenix has consistently introduced new chassis ideas for different form-factors and needs.
We reviewed the Colossus Micro-ATX case back in March, and it is again an enclosure built for the venerable micro-ATX form-factor that we’re looking at here. Quite the opposite of the Colossus Micro-ATX's squat design, the Pandora is smooth and very slim.
In the world of computer cases there are many variations, but they are mostly boxes with splashes of style and the occasional window. Companies like In Win are at the opposite end of the spectrum, but the design choices for a case with commitment to artistic intent often entail a considerable price tag, and In Win consistently prices itself out of the mainstream market. So what about the middle ground? Enter the BitFenix Pandora. It boasts eye-catching looks, a slim design that seems even more so given the curved panels, and even has a color LCD screen that can be programmed with the image file of your choice!
The Pandora features a programmable color LCD display, to which I affixed this incredible logo
I don’t want to dissolve into meaningless superlatives, but the Pandora is a striking design. When it was shown at Computex earlier in 2014 it was listed as a mini-ITX enclosure, and while it definitely supports mini-ITX motherboards it is the final product’s micro-ATX support that we focus on in this review. And while it would have been large as a mini-ITX enclosure the Pandora is fairly small as an mini-ATX case, most notably due to that slim profile. This comes at a price, as there won’t be as much room for storage with such a narrow width (and those looking for any optical drive support must look elsewhere). And speaking of price, while the "core" version of the case starts at around $110, this version with programmable display is currently selling for just under $160. Steep, but not outrageous either.
Introduction: Caged Beast
The D Frame Mini from In Win is a wild-looking, wildly expensive case that defies convention in many ways.
First of all, calling the In Win D Frame mini an enclosure is a bit of a stretch. The design is part open-air case, part roll cage. Of course open air cases are not a new concept, but this is certainly a striking implementation; a design almost more akin to a testbench in some ways. When installed the components will be more open to the air than otherwise, as only the sides of the frame are covered (with panels made of tempered glass).
The most noticeable design aspect of the D Frame mini are the welded tubes that make up the frame. The tubes are aluminum and resemble the frame of an aluminum bicycle, right down to the carefully welded joints. Around the perimeter of the frame are rather sizable soft plastic/rubber bumpers that protect the enclosure and help eliminate vibrations. Due to the design there is no specific orientation required for the enclosure, and it sits equally well in each direction.
There is support for 240mm radiators, virtually unlimited water cooling support given the mostly open design, and room for extra-long graphics cards and power supplies. The frame looks and feels like it could withstand just about anything, but it should probably be kept away from small children and pets given the ease with which fans and other components could be touched. And the D Frame mini is extremely expensive at $350. Actually, it’s just kind of extreme in general!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 28, 2013 - 04:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Lian Li, Lian Li PC-A79, full tower, e-atx, XL-ATX, hptx, aluminum
Lian Li recently showed off a new full tower case -- clad in the company’s traditional brushed aluminum -- called the PC-A79. The PC-A79 measures 24.3” x 9” x 23.4” and offers up ample space for high end PC components.
On the outside, the Lian Li PC-A79 is covered in dark brushed aluminum. It has two front case feet and two rear wheels to make transporting the system easier. The front of the case hosts 12 individually filtered mesh 5.25” bay covers. There are also two LEDs for power and HDD activity in the top right corner of the front panel. The bezel surrounding the bay covers can be removed with needing tools to allow for easy removal of the bay covers and hard drives (depending on which way you install the hard drive cages). The left side panel comes with two pre-installed 120mm fans. Interestingly, Lian Li has designed a connector and routed the fan wires such that the side panel can be removed without needing to worry about disconnecting the fans. Additionally, the top of the case has a filtered vent that can hold up to two 140mm fans (or a 280mm radiator). The fans get screwed into a bracket which in turn is screwed into the top panel, making installation a bit easier.
Front IO on the PC-A79 is hidden under a cover on the front edge of the top panel. IO options include two audio jacks, four USB 3.0 ports, and a single eSATA port.
Rear IO includes six water cooling grommets, a single 120mm exhaust fan, a bottom-mounted PSU, and 11 PCI slots. There is a filter for the bottom mounted power supply that can be removed from the side of the case which is a nice option to have.
Internally, the full tower supports motherboards up to HTPX, E-ATX and XL-ATX in size, graphics cards up to 350mm (13.78”) in length, and CPU coolers up to 165mm (5.7”) tall. The PC-A79 comes with three hard drive cages, each of which can hold three 3.5” hard drives and two 2.5” solid state drives. In addition to the drive cages, users can mount two 2.5” drives on the bottom of the case for a total of nine 3.5” drives and eight SSDs. The drives mount into the cages using brushed aluminum brackets that double as handles. The drives slide into the cages and are locked in place by a thumbscrew latch. The case features a removable motherboard tray with a large CPU cutout and eight rubber grommets that allow for routing cables behind the motherboard tray.
The case supports up to seven total fans (not counting the PSU fan), including:
- 2 x 120mm side panel fans
- 3 x 120mm front panel fans (mounted on hard drive cages)
- 2 x 120 or 140mm fans on top panel
The massive full tower case will be available in September with an MSRP of $389. While PC gamers may opt for more sylish cases, the Lian Li PC-A79 would be a good fit for workstation builds.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 25, 2013 - 06:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC-Q33, mini ITX, Lian Li, aluminum
Lian Li recently posted information about a new prototype chassis on the Xtreme Systems forum. The new case, called the PC-Q33 is a Mini ITX chassis with a unique hinged front panel that allows unfettered access to the internal hardware. Coming in bare aluminum or black brushed aluminum, the case supports Mini ITX or Mini DTX motherboards, 220mm long graphics cards, 200mm long power supplies, and 180mm tall CPU coolers. The PC-Q33 itself measures 229mm (W) x 330mm (H) x 248mm (D) which works out to approximately 9” x 13” x 10”.
Silver case feet hold up the case which has mesh grills on the front and both side panels. There is a mesh vent for a 120mm fan on the back of the case along with a vent on the bottom of the case for the bottom mounted power supply. Lian Li has stated that a removable dust filter may be added to the case if there is enough interest. Users can unscrew the side panels to access the hardware or additionally unscrew two thumscrews to release the top and front panels which open on a hinge to make installing all of the components easier.
Internally, the case supports three 2.5” drives and two 3.5” drives. Drives can be installed in a cage below the motherboard or on the inside of the front panel. The back of the case features two grommets for water cooling tubes (for external radiators) along with a removable PSU bracket and two expansion slots (ie for a graphics card).
Lian Li has asked enthuiasts to comment on the new prototype case, which you can do here.
Personally, I think the PC-Q33 looks great and I hope that it comes to fruition as a real product. The hinged front panel is a neat idea and should make it extremely easy to work on the PC. I could definitely see myself using a case like this for my next Mini-ITX build along with a card like the ASUS GTX 760 Direct CU Mini. I’m also interested to see what the modders and water cooling enthusiasts are able to do with the new case!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 24, 2013 - 02:17 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mid-tower, gamescom, cosmos se, cosmos, cooler master, aluminum
At GamesCom in Germany earlier this week, Cooler Master showed off an updated mid-tower version of its Cosmos S: the Cosmos SE. This new case was on display at the company's GamesCom booth and is an aluminum mid-tower clad in all black. The Cosmos SE shares a similar outward appearance and form factor to the existing (full tower) Cosmos S, except it is shorter and features a redesigned front bezel. The side panel window shape is the same on the two Cosmos S-series cases. The new Cosmos SE does keep the solid aluminum handles and raised legs, however. The front IO is located above the 5.25" bays on the top edge of the case and includes two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, and two audio jacks.
Internally, the case can accommodate ATX motherboards, three 5.25" drives, and at least five 3.5" or 2.5" hard drives or SSDs. A bottom mounted power supply sits below the motherboard, but with enough room for two dual slot graphics cards.
As far as cooling, the Cosmos SE can fit a 240mm radiator on the top of the case and a 360mm radiator with the front hard drive bays removed. Cable management has reportedly been tweaked as well.
The case looks nice but the ability to mount a 360mm rad (even at the cost of removing the 5.25" bays) to the top of the case would have been a welcome feature.
Unfortunately, beyond the photos coming out of GamesCom, details on the new case are scarce. Pricing and availability in particular are still unknown.
Are you excited for the Cosmos SE?
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 13, 2012 - 04:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thin itx, mini ITX, Lian Li PC-Q05, Lian Li, case, aluminum
Lian Li, a case maker specializing in sleek brushed aluminum computer cases showed off (video link) several cases at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a few months ago. One of the cases they touted was an extremely thin aluminum case that conforms to Intel's Thin Mini-ITX form factor. The super small case employs indirect cooling much like that found in laptops and utilizes Mini-ITX motherboards that use laptop style ram. As far as physical dimensions, the chassis measures 284 mm (W) x 47 mm (H) x 307 mm (D) according to the product page.
The silver version PC-Q05 Chassis
The new product page further details that the aluminum case has a gross weight of only 1.5 KG (about 3.3 lbs) and, in addition to housing the Mini-ITX motherboard, will hold up to two 2.5" hard drives (or SSDs). The skinny case will further be available in either silver or black colors. The front of the case is a curved piece of brushed aluminum interrupted by two status LEDs on the right of the panel (but no drive bays or buttons to speak of). The right side of the case houses the power button, and the sides and bottom of the case contain plenty of ventilation holes.
A top down view of the internals
I have to say that this PC-Q05 case would make for a sexy home theater PC (especially the black brushed aluminum case), though the case is certainly going to limit the amount of hardware you can have at your fingertips. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.