Just a few months ago, we took a look at the rather fantastic and affordable Antec ISK-110, which features a 90w built-in PSU and room for a mini-ITX motherboard. It was perfect for mounting on the back of your monitor, making it a very compact and space-saving desktop system that is ideal for offices; I should know, I’m using one for my spare workstation and it’s brilliant! Today we’ll be taking a look at something a little higher up the price and specification range, the Antec ISK 310-150, much like its little brother, it comes with support for a mini-ITX motherboard and it’s fairly small, although still bigger than the ISK110. It also features a built-in PSU, but the maximum power has been upped to 150w, giving you much more headroom for a high-end CPU or APU based system.
“Mini-ITX is the next “big” thing. And now, Antec introduces the ISK 310-150, designed exclusively for Mini-ITX motherboards. With three drive bays, a quiet 80mm TriCool™ fan, and a 150-watt power supply, the ISK 310-150 can handle many of the tasks of a traditional PC, in a fraction of the space. Plus, its stylish, silver front bezel will fit in perfectly with your existing multimedia components. From petite desktop options to silent home theater, Antec’s ISK 310-150 is an epic case of mini proportions.”
As you can see from the specifications, it’s not the most capable chassis in the world, but it is quite a compact design after all. There’s room for a few hard drives, a slim ODD and you’ll certainly want a low-profile (or stock) CPU cooler.
The chassis comes bundled with quite a few accessories to get all your components installed, with screws, cable ties, power cable and one of the cooler parts, a vertical desktop mount.
The ISK310-350 is pretty heavy, that much is immediately apparent when you take it out of the box and this is due in no small part to the built-in and pre-installed PSU. There’s a good amount of ventilation down the left side, and even a little extra on top to help keep things cool.
Down the right side, we’ve got even more ventilation, as well as a pre-installed 80mm TriCool fan. This fan is connected to a three-speed fan controller on the rear of the chassis.
The front panel is easily the star of the show, a thick piece of aluminum and while that does add extra weight, it adds a lot more to the overall appeal. There’s a range of connectors on the front, covering all the basics, a nicely designed power button and a slim ODD drive bay (drive not included) with a flip down front, helping to maintain those clean front panel looks.
To the rear, you’ll find that three-speed fan controller, with room for another should you install an additional TriCool fan (sold separately). There’s a 3-pin power connector for the included power cable and of course, the motherboard I/O cut-out, with room for a half-width expansion card.
The top panel is held in place by three thumbscrews, so it’s pretty easy to remove it and get access to the interior. The top, left and right panels are a single U-shaped metal part.
The chassis isn’t much of a looker on the interior, it’s more practical than stylish, but it certainly has everything you would need.
The built-in PSU is located near the front, helping to keep the motherboard area free and it comes hard-wired with all the cables you’ll need to saturate the chassis drive mounts.
The upper brackets are easily removed with a few screws, but it looks like there may be enough room to install our test motherboard without having to remove them, which would certainly speed up the install process.
There’s room towards the front, just above the ODD drive bay for two 2.5″ drives, with an additional 3.5 further back; more than enough storage for a chassis of this size.
The TriCool fan may be small, but it’s perfectly located to help pull heat away from the motherboard. Small fans can get noisy at high RPM, but that’s why Antec has included a three-speed fan controller at the back, helping you tailor the noise/cooling to suit your needs and preferences.
There’s another fan behind the PSU, which is perfect for keeping those vital power components from overheating.
Need more cooling? There’s room for another 80mm fan on the side and there’s a plastic guard over the hole for now to help keep things neat and tidy, keep dust out, etc.
Building inside this chassis is certainly a tight fit, the motherboard drops right into place with relative ease, but don’t expect an easy task when it comes to routing the required power cables, as you’re going to need a little patience and nimble fingers. The USB 3.0 cable is especially tricky and as you can see, the cables may cause more headaches for those using a small expansion card. It’s not impossible, but it is pretty tight overall, so take your time with the build.
The slim design of the chassis does limit you to low-profile or stock CPU coolers. You’ll also need to take advantage of a few cable ties to prevent any cables from moving and getting stuck in the fans within the chassis, but again, this isn’t the hardest task in the world and keeping cables out of the way will also help with airflow.
As I was saying, routing those cables is hard work, so small expansion cards will only add to the issues, perhaps Antec should have used a shorter or flat-cable USB 3.0 connector to make this easier.
There are quite a few cables here, but there’s still enough room to allow air to pass through the PSU near the front.
The hard drive trays are easy enough to work with, just remove the bracket, screw your drives into place and remount the tray. Some tool-free clips would have been nice, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to swap drives that often in a chassis of this type anyway.
All panels back in place and the chassis mounted on the vertical mount, and it certainly looks cool. This setup is certainly beneficial to having the chassis on top of your desk, as it’ll free up some space for other desktop hardware. Of course, if you’re using this as an HTPC, it may look better horizontal, the choice is yours.
The Antec ISK310-150 is available from Overclockers UK for a very reasonable £64.99, which is incredible value for money given the design, the built-in PSU and the fact that the MSRP is very close to £100! Readers in the US can find the ISK310-150 at Newegg for just $74.99.
I really liked the Antec ISK-110, so much so that I decided to get one for myself for use in my spare office. The ISK 310-150 offers many of the same features of the smaller model, but also offers room for those that needs a little more from their system. Compared to the 110 model, the 310 features an optical drive bay, a lush aluminium front panel, a more powerful PSU, room for a 3.5″ drive (110 only supports 2 x 2.5″). That’s a pretty huge improvement on features and while the chassis is a little bigger, and a fair bit heavier, it’s still small enough to sit comfortably on your desktop alongside your monitor, speakers and peripherals.
The ISK 310-150 is well suited to office spaces, plus the integrated PSU and competitive price makes it an attractive solution for those who need a system, but don’t need a dedicated GPU. Of course, work computers aside, the front panel is also rather sexy, giving this chassis great appeal for use as part of a home AV setup, and there’s certainly enough hard drive mounts to build a competent HTPC-style system within it.
There’s a lot of great chassis in this price range, but you’ll struggle to beat the price once you factor in a dedicated PSU. 150w may not sound like much, but you’ll struggle to find a CPU that will max that out anytime soon and even if you do, it’s likely to be overkill for the kind of build this chassis is designed for anyway. A mid-to-high power APU or a low powered Intel CPU such as the G3258 would be fantastic in this chassis.
- Gorgeous front panel
- ODD bay
- Room for three hard drives
- Built-in three-speed fan control
- Dual front-panel USB 3.0
- Built-in 150W PSU
- Vertical or horizontal mounting
- Amazing value for money
- Limited to stock or very low-profile cooler
- Cable routing is tricky
- Cables may limit expansion card size
Thank you Antec for providing us with this sample.