DAN Cases A4-SFX Crowdfunded Mini-ITX Case Review
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.
Specifications from DAN Cases:
- Product: A4-SFXv1
- Material: 1.5 mm aluminum, brushed exterior
- Colors: Anodized black or silver exterior, matte black painted interior
- Sidepanels: Easily clippable with Lian Li Push Pin technology
- CPU Cooler: up to 48mm high
- Graphic cards: Dual-Slot up to 295 mm length
- Motherboard: Mini-ITX
- Power Supply: SFX, SFX-L
- Drives: 3 x 2.5" HDD/SSD
- Front ports: 1 x USB 3.0 (internal 20pin plug)
- GPU riser card: 3M Twin Axial 300 mm riser
- 3M item No. 8KC3-0726-0300
- Speed: PCIe 16x Gen3+
- Case Size: 200 (H) x 112 (W) x 317 mm(D)
- Overall Dimensions: 205 (H) x 112 (W) x 327 mm(D) / including feet and rear protrusions
- Case Volume: 7.25 L
- Case Weight: 1.25 Kg
- Pricing and Availability: €230 (~$244 USD), Kickstarter
For information on future availability visit the DAN Cases product page.
Packaging and First Impressions
Inside the box the enclosure is well protected with clear plastic and thick styrofoam, and with the packaging removed we are left with a shockingly small case.
This case is the size of a shoebox. Seriously, my last pair of dress shoes came in a box slightly larger than this.
Looking at it from the outside it almost seems impossible that a full gaming system can fit in here, but that's what it is designed for.
The aluminum exterior of the A4-SFX has a black, brushed finish; with separate panels for each side and one larger L-shaped panel for the front and top. Each of these panels is vented, which is absolutely going to be required to keep a system cool in these cramped quarters.
Around back we see that the GPU sits parallel to the motherboard, as this case does not have anywhere near the depth to house a video card in its default position on the motherboard's PCI Express slot. A riser card and flexible cable are used to reorient the GPU in this design.
The bottom of the case offers a storage mount with an optional dual 2.5-inch bracket pre-installed, and the enclosure sits on four rubbery feet.
Next we'll take a look inside the A4-SFX and cover the build process with this incredibly compact enthusiast case!