When it comes to technology, we have a tendency to want to make everything smaller and 2016 seems like one of those years where this is the case for PC systems. The mITX-based small form factor PCs are making a large entry on the market thanks to new high-performing motherboards and graphics cards in this size. The new Dune Case takes the same route, but it cuts the corners of the case and presents itself as a cylindrical PC chassis.
This is a chassis shape that we previously only have seen on Apple’s Mac Pro and I really hope that Apple won’t come after these guys on that basis. Enough doomsday thinking and back to the case in question, the Dune Case. The new cylindrical PC chassis is being launched on Kickstarter to get the whole thing off the ground with a full retail launch planned once successfully through the Kickstarter campaign.
The Dune Case is built with a simplistic design and out of aluminium. The inside is composed out of three chambers where there is room for an mITX motherboard on the one side and a graphics card or other add-in card with a length up to 185mm on the other side. This sets some limitations, but the creators used some innovative ideas to make the best of the available space. The graphics card is mounted on a swing-out door and connected with a custom riser cable. This allows for easy access to the middle chamber where you can mount two 2.5-inch drives and tuck away all the hideous cables that could interfere with the airflow in the small chassis. The PSU option is limited to standard SFX PSUs, but there are quite a few good one of those on the market too.
The cooling is handled by a 140mm fan mounted at the top for a natural upwards airflow. There is no mention of how high the CPU cooler can be and this could be an issue. From the looks of it, you don’t have much more space for the motherboard and CPU cooler together than a normal 2-slot graphics card would take up. The only mentioning of the cooler height is that they used an Intel stock cooler for testing.
The front IO is actually located on the rear where you’ll find four USB 3.0, one headphone, and one microphone port next to the two HMI 1.4 ports and the RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN port. These are connected to an internal PCB that then again is connected to the actual ports on your motherboard and graphics card.
Now that we have covered what it is, let us get to what I see as some serious issues with this and why I changed my mind about backing this – at least for now. The way the motherboard is mounted in the chassis and the fan being located at the top, you miss any ability to connect anything extra here. You are limited to the front-IO ports that you have forwarded internally when setting it up. The limitation to HDMI 1.4 is another serious issue as it removes any ability for 4K 60 FPS output – unless you want to use both ports and trunk the signal.
Overall the project seems hurried. The idea is great and the basic version stands, but it feels more like an alpha version than a finished product. It also feels a lot like an Apple imitation, both with the design, serious limitations, and slogans like “build outside the box” and “think outside the box”. The specifications lack in basics such as available CPU cooler height and overall the presented information and pictures look more like an idea proposal than a finished product. There are still 35 days left on the Kickstarter campaign, so there’s still time for them to fix some of these things. The campaign goal is set to $130,000 and at the time of writing, it has gathered $18,926 from a total of 142 backers.
The first 100 backers were able to secure themselves a Dune Case for just $129, but they are all gone. Normal early bird offers are still available for $159 and once they are gone you’ll have to pledge $169 to get one of these cases. Once it goes retail, it’s planned for a $189 MSRP. There’s an additional $11.50 shipping fee for the NA area while international backers will have to find that out later. It’s unspecified for now. The postage part is a little weird considering the campaign is launched out of Germany – but it might be where they cases will be manufactured.
Is this a PC chassis that you could be interested in or does it have too many issues to be an option? What about the design, do you like it? Let us know in the comments. I for one will wait for the next version. I like the idea, but not the execution.