Akasa Max S Passive Cooled Max S NUC Chassis Review

Introduction


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.

Akasa Plato X Slim Fanless Chassis i5/i7 NUC Chassis Review

Introduction


We’ve got a great change of pace for you today, as we’ve broken away from the standard motherboard form factors for something a little more compact. I am of course talking about the Intel NUC motherboards, which may be tiny, but still pack a huge range of features, high-end processors such as the i5 and i7 ranges and enough connectivity to satisfy the needs of a whole range of usage scenarios.

Akasa are the masters of integrated systems and their range of NUC products is virtually unmatched by their chassis making rivals. The model we have in today, the Plato X, is super slim and despite its completely fanless design, it has enough cooling potential to chill a 5th Gen Core i7 NUC board.

• Aluminium fanless CPU cooling design
• Stylish front panel diamond effect
• Support one serial port
• Support IR remote function
• Compatible with the following Intel® NUC Board
NUC5i7RYH / NUC5i5RYH / NUC5i5RYK / NUC5i3RYH / NUC5i3RYK
NUC5i5MYBE / NUC5i5MYHE / NUC5i3MYBE / NUC5i3MYHE

In terms of spec, this little chassis is well equipped, with room for a single 2.5″ HDD/SSD, but you can squeeze some M.2 drives on your compatible NUC board should you need to.

The chassis is constructed from aluminium, which not only looks stunning with its black finish and silver time highlights on the edges of the front panel, but it also doubles up as the heatsink for the CPU. The entire chassis is designed to provide passive cooling for the internal hardware and that’s why the length of the chassis is so much longer than the 4-inch motherboard, to help better handle the heat of a high-end chip, such as the i7.

The right and left side of the chassis as the same; black aluminium from front to back.

The front panel is gorgeous, good enough to look at home as part of a sleek HTPC setup without being distracting while you’re watching a movie. It’s well equipped too, with a pair of high-speed USB 3.0 ports, an HD audio jack and the usual power buttons.

Around the back, you’ll find the motherboard I/O ports and two rubber pegs that can be removed to allow you to use Wi-Fi antenna.

There’s even a second backplate included in the box for i5 NUC boards, as well as offering support for COM port, something that’s still very widely used for a lot of industrial applications.

The top panel is held in place with four small screws, running down the middle of the top of the chassis.

The base of the chassis is nice and simple, but if you look closely you’ll see a few screw holes. There’s a mounting kit included, perfect for stealth mounting the unit or fitting it to a compatible VESA bracket.

Akasa MAX MT Fanless NUC Chassis Review

Introduction


Big chassis get all of the fame and glory, but there are a lot of cool things happening in the world of ultra-compact chassis. Akasa is one of the biggest names when it comes to the smallest products and their range of NUC chassis is virtually unmatched. With Intel offering up some truly incredibly NUC motherboards, packing many of the latest Intel Core products, M.2 memory support, USB 3.0 and so much more, there’s now a huge range of applications for this type of system, at home in the workplace and beyond.

• Aluminium fanless CPU cooling design
• Stylish front panel diamond effect
• Two bay 2.5″ SATA mobile tray
• Support one serial port
• Support IR remote function
• Compatible with the following Intel® NUC Board
NUC5i5MYBE / NUC5i5MYHE / NUC5i3MYBE / NUC5i3MYHE
NUC5i5RYH / NUC5i5RYK / NUC5i3RYH / NUC5i3RYK

With full aluminium construction, support for a range of NUC boards, a compact form factor, dual 2.5″ drive trays and more, the MAX MT is certainly appealing, but let’s dive right in and take a closer look at what this chassis has to offer.

There are all kinds of accessories included in the box, included a second backplate to expand the motherboard compatibility, a pass through cable for COM connectors, a short and slim SATA cable and more.

The chassis is made from thick and beautifully machined aluminium, with a sleek black finish. While this does add to the aesthetics, the construction is incredibly practical too, as it is durable and the whole bulk of the chassis acts as a passive heat sink for the CPU, allowing it run completely silent.

Down each side of the chassis, you’ll see a fin array, this gives us a greater surface area to help dissipate heat.

The front panel is certainly interesting. As much as this chassis is designed to be tucked out of the way, it’s still very attractive and I’d have no issues have it out on show as part of my desktop setup or a home AV setup and the trimmed silver edges of the front panel certainly add to the appeal.

Aside from the IR port, the power button, USB and the HD audio, you’ll also notice the most important feature of this chassis; dual 2.5″ drive bays. These can be opened at the front, allowing for easy hot-swapping of 2.5″ drives, making this a great option for a compact NAS, workstation or HTPC.

around the back, you’ll find a com port, motherboard I/O, two rubber pegs which can be removed to mount WiFi antenna and a Kensington lock fitting. Of course, you can also swap this backplate for the other included in the box, which offers support for some other NUC motherboards.

across the top, even more thick fins in the aluminium, which will help improve the cooling performance even more, but also keeps the design uniform with the sides of the chassis.

The base of the chassis is compatible with VESA mounting kits, meaning you can easily install it on a bracket, on the back of a compatible monitor or TV and a whole host of other places. There are four screws here too, as the base is the only access point for installing your hardware.

Thermal Grizzly Thermal Paste Vs 6 Major Brands Review

Introduction


Finding the right thermal paste for your system is no easy task, as there are quite a lot of brands out there and from my experience, one person says “X is better than Y” the other says “Y is better than X”. In all honesty, pretty much any thermal paste on the market will likely be “enough” or give you reasonable performance, but that’s not what we’re looking to find out today. When it comes to squeezing every drop of performance out of your system, a few degrees can be the difference between a failed or a successful overclock. It can also be the difference between your PWM fans running in low or high RPM mode and a whole host of other factors.

We’ve been told that Thermal Grizzly was to up and coming king of the thermal paste market, and I’ve been a loyal user of the mighty Gelid GC Extreme for a long time now, so I’m eager to see if this new kid on the block can really perform better. Although, if it’s just as good as Gelid, I will not be disappointed. Putting one thermal paste head to head with another wouldn’t make for an interesting review though, so I’ve picked up some other popular favourites, from budget friendly to the premium choices; let’s find out which one is king!

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaugt

The newest thermal paste brand on our list and also one of the most expensive, clocking in at £15.95 for 11.1g. This brand is targeted at the enthusiast/overclocking crowd.

Akasa Pro-Grade 460

Akasa is a common choice for a lot of system builders and with just 3.5g in the tube and an average price of £6, it’s still expensive, but appeals to those building a few systems or for maintaining their own.

Noctua NT-H1

Notcua is known for their high-end engineering and their NT-H1 thermal paste has proven many times before that I can offer exceptional performance. It’s obviously targeted at the high-end and enthusiast market and will cost you around £7-10 for a small 3.5g tube.

Gelid GC Extreme

The popular choice for enthusiast overclockers around the world, Gelid is highly regarded for being able to deliver lower temps with their GC Extreme. You can pick up a smaller 3,5g tube for around £8 and a 10g mini-tub for about £22, making it noticeably more expensive than Thermal Grizzly.

Arctic Silver 5

This is one of the go-to brands of thermal paste for many system builders, it’s not “the best” but it’s still very good and has been on the market for many years. More often than not, you can pick up a 3,5g tube of this for just £5, making it very appealing to a lot of people.

EK Ectotherm

This one is new to me, I have heard of it, but I’ve never used it. It’s surprisingly affordable and will set you back about £5 for a 5g tub, making it a very attractive option and EK have a rock solid reputation in the cooling industry already.

Artic MX-4

Another budget friendly option from the legendary Arctic, costing just £6 for a 4G tube and much like Arctic Silver, it has long been a popular choice for system builders.

So there’s the competitors, a nice range of budget friendly options from a wide range of manufacturers,  some new, some old, some that have been around longer than time its self. There’s going to be some interesting competition here in terms of performance and prices, so there’s only one thing left to do, let’s fire this up on our eTeknix test bench and see who takes first place!

Latest Akasa Products on Display @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015: Akasa has a huge product range, something that was immediately apparant when we arrived at their booth. It would seem that there isn’t a connectivity solution that Akasa don’t make, with everything from USB hubs to mass storage solutions being made available. Of course, we also saw their current range of PSUs, coolers and most importantly their latest chassis products, all very nice looking stuff!

Akasa is a popular choice for integrated systems and HTPC users, and with their sleek looks, rock solid build quality and multiple passively cooled solutions, that’s hardly surprising. We’ll bring you more information on their latest products very shortly.

Do you use any Akasa products?

akasa Showcase Cobra and Venom Power Supplies @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – During our travelling between meetings, we stopped by the akasa stand where they have a staggering range of power supplies on display. All that we currently can see are from the enthusiast lines of Venom (Yellow) and Cobra (Blue).

These come in a range of power outputs up to 1000W, cable design including fully modular and efficiency ratings up to 80PLUS Platinum. Akasa have covered a huge part of the mainstream enthusiast market with these power supplies.

We are looking forward to bringing you more information about these power supplies in our upcoming reviews. We will keep you updated with the news and events from the rest of Computex 2015.

Akasa Announced Newton S Chassis for Broadwell NUC

Intel’s NUC series are pretty cool devices and they can be used for a lot of different things and usage scenarios. Such a device also needs a fitting enclosure and Akasa thinks so too and expands their Newton series with a new mini chassis.

Akasa has introduced a new chassis for the Broadwell version of the Intel NUC called the Newton S (model number: A-NUC15-A1B). The tiny chassis has fanless cooling thanks to the aluminium it is built from and the included heatsinks that connects the chassis directly to the vital parts, making the whole thing one ‘giant’ heatsink. The compact sized chassis easily fits anywhere and also comes with VESA compatible mounting holes for mounting it directly to a monitor, monitor stand or arm, or other VESA compatible device.

The compact sized chassis easily fits anywhere and also comes with VESA compatible mounting holes for mounting it directly to a monitor, monitor stand or arm, or other VESA compatible item.

The aluminium chassis only measures 176.5 x 200 x 53.5mm and adds a few things to the package. It comes with extra serial port, two antenna fitting holes for wireless connections, USB 3.0, IR receiver opening and space for one 2.5-inch HDD or SSD up to 9.5mm.


You also get an alternate backplate in the package and everything else to fit any of the following NUC models inside: NUC5i5MYBE, NUC5i5MYHE, NUC5i3MYBE, NUC5i3MYHE, NUC5i5RYH, NUC5i5RYK, NUC5i3RYH, and NUC5i3RYK.

Akasa Introduce Euler T and Euler M Chassis

Akasa has just revealed two great new additions to their chassis’ lineup, the Euler T and the Euler M.

Both of the new chassis’ have been built completely out of thick aluminium panels, that not only look fantastic, but also act as built-in heatsinks for your CPU, allowing your system to run passively. The passive cooling design can handle a TDP of up to 35W, making these great options for HTPC style builds, as they can run fanless and completely silent.

The Euler T is actually the latest incarnation of the Euler S. The redesign creates room for three 2.5″ drives, giving your lots of extra SSD storage space that further strengthens their position as HTPC ready units. The Euler T measures in at 245 x 215.5 x 68.5mm and weighs 2.5KG.

The Euler M is a little larger at 245 x 274.5 x 68.5mm and weighs 3KG, comes equipped with an 80W PSU, room for four 2.5″ drives and can house a regular thickness mini-ITX motherboard, standard RAM modules.

The chassis aren’t cheap, but their exceptional build quality and lashings of aluminium help justify their $250 retail price.

Akasa Euler Mini-ITX Thin Fanless Chassis Review

Introduction


We kick things off today with a look at one of the latest chassis designs from Akasa. Akasa have established a solid reputation for themselves over the years as a cooling manufacturer, and while the Euler mini-ITX Thin chassis I’m reviewing today may not sound like their typical product range, its passive cooled design certainly does.

The HTPC market has great demand for silent and compact chassis designs that not only perform great, but also look great. Of course this being a small form factor chassis means that it’s a prime choice for HTPC loving consumers, but there will no doubt be interest from the digital signage market, or those who are simply limited on space in general.

There are two models of the Euler available right now, one with a 120w power adapter suitable for mini-ITX slim motherboards, and one without, for those who many have already gotten a PSU supplied with their motherboard. The model we have here today is the AK-ITX05-BK12, the model with the DC power pack included.

The small form factor design of this chassis warrants the use of a mini-ITX slim motherboard, the type that use SODIMM memory and other low profile components to reduce their overall height clearance, a full list of confirmed compatible items are detailed below.

The packaging is pretty straight forward, with a nice high contrast image on the front and the main features listed down the right side.

Around the back you’ll find a quick run down of the main specifications (see above).

In the box you’ll find a collections of screws and bolts, a VESA lock, SATA connector, some 3M rubber pads, SSD mounting bars and a packet of thermal grease.

Akasa Reveals Fanless Newton V Case Series For Intel’s NUC

Akasa has unveiled its Newton V series of passive cases for Intel’s NUC platform. Akasa first showed these all aluminium cases at Compute 2013 and we know that they will be available in black, silver and gold. The passive cooling solution works by drawing heat from the processor, chipset and other hot components towards the body of the case. This means the case doubles up as a large heatsink.

Akasa have stated that this particular case is designed for Intel’s D53427RK NUC motherboard only. The Intel D53427RK features a Core i5 3427U 17W dual core. The Akasa Newton V measures in at 150 x 150 x 47mm and weighs 950g. There are VESA wall mounting holes and two holes for WiFi or Bluetooth Antennae. The front panel includes three USB ports of which one is USB 3.0. Pricing is TBA, availability should follow within a month.

Image courtesy of Akasa

Akasa Integral S 3.5″ External USB3.0 Hard Drive Enclosure Review

External storage as we all know is a quick and cost effective solution to boosting the storage capacity of any system, especially small form factor systems, games consoles and laptops. On the market there is a whole array of solutions available from the likes of Akasa, Icy Dock and Silverstone, to name but a few. On top of the mainstream manufacturers however there is an array of cheaper solutions that don’t quite cut the mustard when it comes to giving the same performance that they get from the drive, and quite often you’ll see these enclosures at a cheaper price than those that not only look good, such as the Integral S we have here today, but perform as they say on the tin.

Akasa is one such company that falls into the quality group and this lies not only with their enclosures, but also with their cooling solutions, cases, power supplies and cables. Some people out there may not know of Akasa, and to some that have heard of them, they seem to be a bit of a dark horse, but this is because they don’t just serve the consumer segment of the market. A number of their products find their way into the electronics industry along other paths such as OE and contract manufacturing, so this could mean that without knowing, you’ve used something in the past of even now that has a little bit of Akasa inside it.

I’ve personally used a variety of their products across the years, including a notebook cooler that was purchased nearly 10 years ago and works just as well as the day I bought it, which is an impressive feat, especially considering its been running 24/7 for most of that time – that goes to show that their products are more well built than meets the eye. Hopefully the Integral S steps upto the same mark and theres only one way to find out, lets get on and delve into the Inegral S 3.5″ external USB3.0 drive enclosure.