Want to Build Two Systems in One Case? Then You Need the Phanteks Enthoo Mini XL

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 12, 2015 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: phanteks, mini-itx, micro-atx, Enthoo Mini XL, enclosure, dual-motherboard, cases

Phanteks has introduced a computer enclosure with a new form-factor they are calling “super micro ATX”, a large alternative to standard mATX designs that has the advantage of supporting two complete systems within a single case.

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The second motherboard is supported via their ITX upgrade kit, and as the name indicates the second system must be built on the mini-ITX platform. While this might appeal to a very small market there is a need for running discrete systems for some users, and this design is certainly an interesting alternative to running two boxes. How it handles heat dissipation is a good question, but considering the “extreme cooling” capacity of the case - with up to 14x 120mm or 8x 140mm fan mounts - there would be plenty of room for a pair of AIO solutions to keep the CPU heat outside of the enclosure.

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The mini-ITX board is installed at the top (Image credit: cowcotland.com)

The enclosure’s dimensions are (WxHxD) 260mm x 550mm x 480mm (10.24” x 21.65” x 18.90”), and the feature list includes:

  • Dual removable hard drive cages
  • 2x removable Drop-N-Lock SSD brackets
  • Fully equipped with dustfilters (1x top, 1x front, 2x bottom)
  • Removable top panel for easy fan installation and dust filter cleaning
  • Compartment for fan installation in top panel
  • Clean cable management using Phanteks' preinstalled Hoop-N-Loop cable ties
  • Mod friendly structure uses screws NOT rivets
  • 10 color abient lighting controller
  • 2x USB 3.0, microphone, 3.5mm audio jack

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Two backplates! (Image credit: cowcotland.com)

For full specs see the product page at the Phanteks site. Pricing is not listed and searching for the product at the usual places doesn’t turn up any listings as of this morning.

Source: Phanteks

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January 12, 2015 | 11:38 AM - Posted by Chaitanya Shukla

Only if the cables supplied with SFX power supply are long enough to reach the mini ITX system. I can see one system as a home server and other one as a gaming rig. also compared to Thermaltake X, Coolermaster HAF stacker this system is compact while enclosing two PCs.

January 12, 2015 | 12:28 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

You're right about the SFX power supply. The photos of complete systems I've seen with this case are using PSU extension cables.

January 12, 2015 | 11:55 AM - Posted by obababoy

That PSU on top of the Video Cards is a no no...It needs to go somewhere else like to the left of the M-atx mobo! Other than that this is pretty cool.

January 12, 2015 | 12:26 PM - Posted by Buyers

I think this layout would be better suited as a home server box. Mini ITX board as a diy router with pfsense or something and the mATX board as a NAS system. PSU selection and layout may hinder a gaming setup some, assuming you're going to put two systems in it as it was designed.

January 12, 2015 | 06:02 PM - Posted by MikeKV (not verified)

In my opinion, that is a silly use of hardware. If you're wanting NAS / router, then an ESXi box with a C2D (or higher) and a PCI/PCIe NIC with multiple ports would be much more appropriate, *and* less expensive.

January 12, 2015 | 12:28 PM - Posted by MRFS (not verified)

Having a hot backup system is extremely useful
for power users of modern workstations e.g.

We have always enabled 2 or more OS partitions
with the same software: when the primary
OS partition gets into trouble, we run GHOST restore
from the secondary OS partition and overwrite
the primary partition with the latest drive image.

While that task is running, it is useful
to revert to a backup system to continue
normal work e.g. Internet access, email etc.

(This task was necessary just the other day,
because a new printer driver hosed the OS
in one of our production workstations.)

Some Windows tasks prefer to run stand-alone.

MRFS

January 12, 2015 | 01:44 PM - Posted by nathanddrews

Looks like bacon.

January 12, 2015 | 04:26 PM - Posted by Stealthgyro

I didn't know I did until right now!

January 12, 2015 | 04:28 PM - Posted by Rantor (not verified)

I'd defintely interested in this for a NAS type set up with two systems. Could put a 4in3 hotswap dock in the optical bays, so 10 drives plus the 1 3.5 side mount and I think I saw 3 ssd mounts total?

January 12, 2015 | 07:24 PM - Posted by collie

So it's rather unique, but I have a real life usage for this case, and the "customer" (a friend who pays me to build his rig for him) has asked me to order this case as soon as it becomes avaliable for the planed build.

Here is the senario, They are young, early 20's, they have been maried for almost 3 years, on their wedding day they both left moved out of their parents homes and had their honeymoon in their new apartment. (I hope to fuck i'm using the right spelling of "their", I've never been able to spell and spell check sometimes fucks me)
She is a mild gamer, he is a heavy gamer.

Now here is the important bit, they have one very long desk with 4 monitors on it. 3 21" 1080p monitors for him, one 27" 1440p for her, side by side. Lots of cables, lots of power bars, lots of kayos underneath. I called him 20 mins ago, I told him about this case, I said that for the cost of this case and 2 new mother boards we could pack both systems in one case. His responce "Do it the second you can, txt me the cost before you buy but yes, I want, do it"

So there ya go, it's not a main-stream thing but there is one real life senario where this product is perfect.

Just one question. I cant tell from the picture, is there room for 2 full atx PSUs or is one of them smaller form factor?

January 12, 2015 | 08:53 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

One has to be the smaller SFX power supply. So you'd have to add $100 or so to the build price unfortunately.

January 12, 2015 | 09:22 PM - Posted by collie

Fair enough, probably not a deal breaker, still a very cool concept case

October 26, 2016 | 01:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Actually no, you do not have to have the SF PSU, there is a splitter on the back near the PSU that can split out the power between the two system, both systems have their own power button, and will draw power based upon their systems needs.

Granted now you are looking at a 600-1000w PSU but still worth it in the end.

January 12, 2015 | 07:40 PM - Posted by Terje (not verified)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CEB71nZRPQ#t=406

Someone reviewed the case already.

January 12, 2015 | 11:20 PM - Posted by Dood (not verified)

Since I currently run 2 systems sitting on my desk side by side, a gaming system and a HTPC in a pair of NCases M1, this is the sort of product I could have used about a year ago.

My brother is also along the way of building his own duel system, modifing a 900D to run a Haswell E system for the main system and a Mini-ITX system along side as a NAS. Pity he has already got parts otherwise I would have pointed him towards this.

January 13, 2015 | 10:46 AM - Posted by Daniel (not verified)

Am I the only one who hates backplates and routinely leaves them off? I put them on for customer's PCs, but on my own I can't stand fussing with them.

January 13, 2015 | 11:43 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I'm too obsessive to leave them off. Even if no one ever sees the back of the system it would bother me, plus I rationalize that I'm helping keep dust out :)

January 13, 2015 | 01:40 PM - Posted by collie

way back in the day I was told they provide some shielding of some kind, some static or some shit, not sure if thats true, infact almost certain it isn't I just keep putting them on, pure habit.

January 13, 2015 | 06:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This can get rather interesting. Since two pcs are in the same housing, I wonder if we can toy around with switching internal hdds, odds, and possibly video cards. For what reason, I don't know, but internal switching is possible since they have the same case.

January 13, 2015 | 10:58 PM - Posted by MerlintheSage (not verified)

Watercooling would be cool on this case but this screams use kinetic cooler on it. And I would do mini itx nas with micro atx htpc. so you have all you media in one case, use backups people, and you have your htpc that you can stream stuff from and watch with.

January 13, 2015 | 11:01 PM - Posted by MerlintheSage (not verified)

other thing is great LAN computer. You and your buddy can play at a lan party with only 1 tower, by the way I have been thinking of that for a long time. Sadly LAN parties are not what they used to be.

January 14, 2015 | 07:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have been waiting for something like this.
I want to have a single power supply for 2 mobs, Linux and Windows
and need space for more than 3 SSD, does this Case solve my needs?
I do not see enough room for water cooling ?!

January 15, 2015 | 08:02 PM - Posted by collie

no. One psu for 2 motherboards is a no-go. with the 2 psu's it may be perfect, plenty of room for cooling

April 19, 2018 | 12:14 AM - Posted by LandyVlad (not verified)

not strictly correct, Phanteks power splitter works very well for this usage.

October 8, 2017 | 02:51 AM - Posted by Zachary (not verified)

Do you think that you could put the innards of an xbox in there?

April 19, 2018 | 12:12 AM - Posted by LandyVlad (not verified)

I have built a dual system in one of these cases. A Gaming/Office PC (i7 6700K, 2xSSD, 1HDD) and a FreeNAS PC (i3, 1xSSD, 6 x HDD)
The gaming./office system is cooled by an AIO with rad at top of case. Standard intel cooler on the FreeNAS system

The big issue I am struggling with.. case cooling.. You see, in practice its not always that both systems will be on. It could be one, or the other, or both. The issue, then, is how to control the CASE FANS.

Currently I have the 2 front fans powered direct from the CPU so they spin constantly. The rear case fan I haven't been able to get working properly at all.... If I have these controlled by the gaming/Office (windows) computer it would offer a lot of control with speeds, LED colours etc BUT it would require that the windows system run 24/7 and never sleep. Which of course takes power / costs money..
.
AFAIK there's no effective way to control the case fans from a FreeNAS system built on FreeBSD OS) and I don't know what is or isn't possible from the Supermicro motherboard BIOS on the FreeNAS.

Anyway this leads me to the question to those who have built a dual system in this (or any) case.... how did you manage the CASE FAN issue?

I somehow need to have the case fans come on when system 1 OR system 2 or both are turned on. But the fans to be off when both systems turned off.

This obviously is for case fans only not CPU fans/coolers.If you can offer some how-to's to accomplish this, that'd be awesome :)

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