We’re back once again with another entry in the NUC chassis series from Akasa, but this one, like the others we’ve previously seen has a neat trick at its disposal that makes it stand out from the crowd. The Akasa MAX MT and the Plato X both won awards from us recently and for good reason too, they’re both exceptional products full of innovative and practical features, so we’re hoping to see a similar performance from the Max S.
Equipped with support for many great NUC motherboards, the Max S comes will a passive cooling design, support for slim and slot loading ODD drives and more, making it a versatile unit for digital advertising, multimedia systems and even desktop use.
• Aluminium fanless CPU cooling design
• Stylish front panel diamond effect
• Support both Tray loading / Slot loading slim ODD
• Support one serial port
• Support IR remote function
• Compatible with the following Intel® NUC Board
NUC5i5MYBE / NUC5i5MYHE / NUC5i3MYBE / NUC5i3MYHE
NUC5i5RYH / NUC5i5RYK / NUC5i3RYH / NUC5i3RYK
Everything you need to get your hardware installed is included in the box, so the setup process should be nice and straight forward.
First impressions of the Max S are very promising, as you can immediately tell the build quality is nothing short of exceptional. It’s made from a thick piece of aluminium with a fin array on the sides and top, which will help dissipate heat, as the chassis is used to passively cool the CPU.
The same design on the right, giving it a nice uniform appearance.
The front panel looks stunning, with a brushed aluminium finished and trimmed edges giving them a little bit of silver flair. There’s a pair of USB 3.0 ports, IR pass through, HD audio jack and the power button, so that’s all the basics covered. What’s really important is the slot loading optical bay, a great tool if you’re using this for video displays, HTPC or even desktop use. Even better, there’s a second front panel included to add support for slim tray loading drives, giving you even more flexibility.
Around the back, all the usual cut-outs for NUC boards, as well as two rubber grommets for WiFi antenna should you need them. There’s a Kensington lock hole in the bottom corner too, always a nice thing to have for such a small system. The alternative backplate which is included in the box also adds support for NUC boards with Com ports, something that’s still widely used for a whole host of commercial and industrial purposes.
The base of the chassis has four small feet, giving a little ground clearance to the unit. These screws/feet also hold the base plate on the chassis and need to be removed to install your components. There’s a set of four holes on the base too, which are used for mounting the chassis on a VESA or similarly compatible solution.
With the top panel removed you can see there’s a comfortable amount of space in here for our motherboard, but since this chassis is quite large compared to the NUC board, some pass-through cables are pre-installed to enable all the usual ports to reach the front panel.
There are USB ports, audio, power and even a little clear rod to allow IR pass-through.
Here you can see a raised section of the aluminium base of the chassis, this acts as the heat sink for the CPU hardware, which then passes the heat through the entire chassis housing to cool the system; very clever and completely silent cooling.
A special bracket attached to the optical drive, allowing for easy installation, here you can see we’ve got a slim slot loading drive, so no need to change the front panel for this build.
Of course, if you do need to swap that panel, it’s just four screws on the front, so it’s an easy job to do.
The drive then mounts into the top of the chassis using four screws. There’s also a sneaky 2.5″ drive mount on the bracket too, handy if you need that extra storage.
Back to the main components for a moment, you can see the pass through cables look a little cramped, but in reality they were very easy to connect. The motherboard dropped into place with minimal effort too, this really is a straight forward build to do, something that will no doubt appeal to the less skilled system builders out there.
Drop the optical drive back in place and we have a complete system.
With all the panel back in place, the chassis is as sleek as it was when we took it out of the box. Of course, the passive cooling is going to mean this system is silent, but even the noise of the optical drive is heavily suppressed due to the enclosed nature of the chassis and its thick aluminium panels.
The Akasa Max S Fanless Case for Intel NUC is priced at £95.78, which seems a little expensive, but given the overall build quality, features and, of course, the passive cooling design, this is really excellent value for money.
The latest NUC chassis from Akasa has a lot to offer to a wide range of markets. Intel pushed their NUC hardware as the next-generation of compact systems and they certainly delivered on that promise, with a range of motherboards offering everything from low-power efficient systems, right up to powerful Core i7 solutions that are versatile enough for demanding applications such as video rendering. The Akasa Max S ticks all the right boxes for so many applications and I can see it appealing to home AV users who want a HTPC/Smart TV setup, as much as it could be used in placed like hotels, retail, offices and industrial spaces.
The inclusion of two front panels, giving you added support for both slot loading or slim tray loading optical drives is most welcome, as it’s easier to find a drive that better suits your requirements when the chassis supports both types. The inclusion of two back panels is a huge bonus, as it means that the chassis supports more motherboards and features, without the need to go shopping around for more than one variant of the same chassis.
The build quality is as good as it gets. The main bulk of the chassis is milled from premium quality aluminium, which naturally looks stunning, but it’s also a damn fine material to act as a heat sink for the passive cooling features. Being able to run your system constantly without the whine of a fan is a welcome bonus, especially so for HTPC users, as any ambient noises from a system can be quite distracting while watching a movie, even more so in industrial scenarios where noise sensitive equipment is being used.
It seems then, that the Max S, much like the other Akasa chassis’ we’ve reviewed, has done everything right, making this another incredible asset to the NUC systems market.
- Exceptional build quality
- Passive cooling design
- Dual front and rear panels for expanded compatibility
- 2.5″ drive support
- Easy to use/install
- VESA mountable
- Competitive price
- Support for slot/slim ODD drives
“If you’re looking for a passive cooled NUC chassis with a broad range of features, you would be crazy not to check out the Akasa range. The Max S is one of the best looking, performing and most feature packed NUC chassis you’ll find on the market!”
Thank you Akasa for providing us with this sample.