DAN Cases A4-SFX Crowdfunded Mini-ITX Case Review
Interior and Build Process
Step one in building with any computer case: remove the side panels!
These aluminum sides are each connected with two screws on the bottom, and the rest of the panels are held in place with Lian Li's push-pin connectors. The screws are an interesting addition, but do make the case feel quite solid when it is assembled.
Inside the A4-SFX features a dual-chamber design, which makes the ultra-small size of the A4-SFX all the more impressive. On this side the motherboard and SFX power supply are attached, and you will notice the PCI Express riser card cable already installed (protected with bubble wrap from the factory). CPU cooler height is limited to 48 mm, which still allows for quite a few options from various vendors.
And around back we see the space for the graphics card behind the system components, with the PCIe slot installed and ready for the GPU.
The primary storage location is on the case floor beneath the PSU, though the use of an SFX-L unit limits this to a single SSD or 2.5 inch hard drive, where shorter SFX PSUs allow a dual-drive stack with the included aluminum bracket.
Building the System
I'll get right into the build here, first mentioning that the top panel also needs to come off. This is a large, L-shaped panel held in place with screws, and once removed we have the full access needed for this very tight build.
The motherboard is installed in an inverted orientation, which actually works perfectly for managing cables with so little space, given the placement of motherboard power connectors in relation to the PSU. My SFX-L power supply is a modular design with flat, ribbon-style cables that are fairly short, and I had no trouble connecting everything.
Looking at the other side we see the largest GPU I had on hand, an aftermarket AMD Radeon R9 290X from XFX that features a longer (and taller) cooler than the reference card. The 295 mm GPU length limit is more than sufficient, and I had a little more vertical space than I needed as well.
If needed, a drive could be mounted directly to the floor of the case, rather than using the bracket; but I proceeded with the bracket in place.
A pair of SSDs can be installed on the floor of the case if a shorter SFX power supply is used
One more storage option is available, as the front panel can be removed to reveal mounts for another 2.5-inch drive up front.
I was concerned about a fully-modular SFX-L PSU fitting properly, and while it was a little snug it did work with the drive bracket installed. (This would have been a non-issue without the bracket.) This is good to know, considering the benefits of a modular SFX-L PSU, with their typically quieter fans and reduced cable mess.
Next we'll have a look at the finished build, and then check out thermal and noise performance.