Fractal Design Node 202 mini-ITX Chassis Review

Introduction


Fractal Design are one of the best chassis manufacturers in the world, having created a stunning range of products over the years, as well as branching out into the world of PSUs, CPU coolers and more. Today they look set to dominate the living room, with the release of their Node 202 mini-ITX chassis. What makes this one so special is that it is designed to house a high-end system, but maintains that slim form factor, allowing you to put it under your TV or on your desk with ease; perfect for a gaming system/steambox or a HTPC configuration.

“The Node 202 is the ultimate PC case for those looking for a beautifully designed, compact chassis that can house a capable gaming build. This small footprint is an intelligently built unit where extreme detail was placed into the design phase to get every line and spec in perfect harmony. With both horizontal and vertical orientation possibilities, the Node 202 can be placed anywhere in the house. The sleek design makes it very attractive next to the TV in the living room or on your desk in the office.”

With a small footprint and a volume of just 10.2 liters, it’s hard to belive that this chassis can house a pair of 2.5″ hard drives, motherboard, CPU cooler, PSU and more impressive of all, a pretty large graphics card.

Specifications

  • Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
  • 2 – 2.5″ SSD unit positions
  • 2 expansion slots
  • 2 – 120mm optional fan positions in graphics card chamber
  • CPU coolers up to 56 mm in height
  • PSU compatibility: SFX PSUs up to 130mm long
  • Graphics card compatibility: Maximum dimension of graphics card is 310x145x47mm (LxHxD)
  • Can be placed both vertical and horizontal position
  • 3 dust filters included (for CPU, GPU and PSU)
  • Case volume: 10.2 litres
  • Colors available: Black
  • Case dimensions – Horizontal (WxHxD): 377 x 82 x 330 mm
  • Case dimensions – Horizontal, with feet/protrusions/screws (WxHxD): 377 x 88 x 332 mm
  • Case dimensions – Vertical, with feet/protrusions/screws (WxHxD): 125 x 385 x 332 mm
  • Net weight: 3.5 kg
  • Package dimensions (WxHxD): 145 x 463 x 388 mm
  • Package weight: 5.2kg

To make the build even easier, the model we have today comes with that rather fantastic Integra SFX 450W 80 Plus Gold power supply pre-installed, meaning that you can get your system up and running a lot quicker, and that 450W delivery is going to be more than enough for even the most demanding CPU/GPU combinations.

“The Integra SFX 450W PSU that comes inclusive with the enclosure provides stable power to the most demanding systems. It comes with customized connectors and tailored cables perfectly fitted for use within the Node 202, contributing to hassle-free installation and cable management.”

  • 80PLUS® Bronze certification
  • 80mm, temperature controlled fan
  • Maximum operating temperature at full load: 50°C (50°C @ 100%)
  • Fully Intel Haswell C6/C7 compliant
  • 3 years warranty
  • Taiwanese capacitors
  • OPP / OVP / UVP / SCP / OCP Protection
  • Can be placed both vertical and horizontal position
  • 100,000 hours life expectancy (MTBF)
  • SFX 3.3 PSU specification compliance
  • ErP 2013 compliant (<0.5W system power draw)
  • Colors available: Black
  • Unit measurements (WxHxD): 125 x 64 x 100 mm
  • Net weight: 1.0 kg

So specs and things aside, let’s move on to the actual hardware. First up, we can see the packaging is fairly simple, with a big sticker on the front letting us know we’ve got the Integra SFX 450W included in the chassis, as well as a handy 3-year warranty.

Around the back, there is a fantastic technical breakdown of each component, showing you exactly which features you’re going to get from this build.

First things out of the box, a simple user guide, warranty booklet and general product information.

You’ll also find a nice little box of accessories.

This includes a bundle of cable ties, all the usual fitting screws, and some stick-on rubber feet.

One of the most important components is this adaptor for the PCI-E slot, allowing the GPU to lay parallel to the motherboard, allowing for a slimmer chassis design.

Finally, there’s a slot-in vertical mount, giving you another great way to display your system.

It’s very sturdy and comes with four rubber grip feet on the base to prevent it from sliding around.

Now onto the best part, the chassis its self! It’s certainly nice and slim, and should blend easily into your AV setup; if that’s where you wanted it at least. There’s a little bit of ventilation down the left side, giving some extra airflow to the graphic card area.

Down the right side, a lot more ventilation, giving air intake to the motherboard and PSU mounting area, with even more ventilation on the top for heat exhaust from any CPU cooler you’re using.

The finish is sublime, a mostly plastic exterior, but with a soft matte finish that gives it a premium look and feel.

Aside from the subtle Fractal Design logo, you’ll also find all the usual ports and controls down here. One little touch that I very much like is the black USB 3.0 ports, as they’re visually less distracting than the usual blue ones, and that can’t be understated for those wanting a clean-looking HTPC build.

Around the back, we’ve got the motherboard I/O cut out, two expansion slots, and the PSU pass through port.

The PSU actually mounts on the front right corner, but an internal cable means you only have to connect the PSU power at the back, where you can easily hide the cables out of sight.

On the base of the chassis, a lot more ventilation. There’s a small vent on the right, allowing airflow to the PSU, as well as a long vent on the left for the PSU air intake.

QNAP SilentNAS HS-251+ 2-Bay Passive-Cooled NAS Review

Introduction


The first NAS that I reviewed after I joined eTeknix was QNAP’s amazing HS-251 NAS, so it is a real pleasure today as I have the upgraded model in the testing area. I will take QNAP’s SilentNAS HS-251+ for a thorough spin in my testing area and check on its performance as well as show you the latest version of the QTS operating system that was released recently.

The HS-251+ NAS retains the same basic design that provides you with a completely silent NAS. There are no fans or other parts that can generate any noise apart from the storage drives you’ll be using. This design adds another bonus which is a dust-free inside. This is made possible because the entire chassis is used as a heatsink for the entire unit and inserted drives. There are no fans to draw dust and other unwanted dirt into the system. That makes it very easy to maintain, but it also means that it should be placed on top of a shelve rather than in a tight spot where it could have trouble getting rid of the excess heat.

QNAP’s HS-251+ is powered by a quad-core Intel Celeron processor and while some might take a step back here, it’s a great chip for the system. You get four cores that run at 2.0GHz and with a burst speed up to 2.4GHz, it consumes very little power, which also helps with the cooling, and it has more than enough power to drive a system like this. The CPU is backed by 2GB DDR3L RAM and the NAS has a 512MB DOM for the basic system.

Whether you want to mount 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, the HS-251+ can take both. We only got two bays at our disposal here, so most people will probably choose the larger 3.5-inch drives that provide up to 8TB capacity for consumers at the time of writing. Smaller 2.5-inch drives do however run more silently and it produces less heat, so it’s something that is worth to consider in a system like this. The drive bays themselves are hidden behind a removable front that further helps to keep dust out while it also gives the NAS a sleeker appearance.

Connection wise we find two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports next to the two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Sadly none of the ports are located on the front or front end of the sides, but it isn’t a big issue with a flat NAS like this. You can easily both reach and view behind the unit. The NAS supports both printer and storage sharing through the built-in USB ports and over the network, which is a thing that can make the household IT-setup a lot easier.

You can also expand the HS-251+ through the use of QNAPs expansion enclosures UX-800P and UX-500P with 8 and 5 drives respectively. This can provide you with up to 80TB raw storage capacity in the HS-251+ using 8TB drives.

Next to those more normal connections, the QNAP HS-251+ also has an HDMI port from which you can connect it directly to your TV and use it for media playback and even run other operating systems in a virtual environment directly from the NAS. The QNAP QvPC technology is awesome and I’ll be showing you some of those features on the following pages. The HDMI connectivity supports 1080p video playback and the NAS also comes with hardware transcoding capability, making the HS-251+ is an ideal companion at home for multimedia entertainment.

Included with the QNAP HS-251+ is also a remote control that makes the usage from the couch a lot easier, more convenient, and in a fashion one is used to from TVs, DVRs, CD players, etc. With this, it is easy to control the playback and navigate the menus without the hassle of a keyboard and mouse.

The newest QNAP operating system, QTS 4.2, brings an even smoother experience than the predecessors with its flat and modern design. QNAP have streamlined loading times and added an intelligent desktop and multi-window operation that makes controlling every aspect of your HS-251+ fully accessible and easy to use.

It’s easy to centralize your all your files and backups in one place with this NAS, as it allows you to create backup jobs to and from the NAS, sync with computers, tablets, and mobile devices as well as the cloud. The real-time and offline HD video transcoding allows smooth playback of all your files no matter what the connection is like and file formats that might not be supported.

You naturally also get all the other great features such as the headless 24/7 download center, surveillance station with up to 40 channels, official mobile apps for all key functions and management, app center with official and third-party apps to increase the functionality even more, alert functions via SMS and Email services, web server, FTP server, Radius server, VPN server, print server, Plex media server, and much more.

The QNAP HS-251+ also supports the Qsirch function that is a QNAP exclusive. It is one of the best search function available that will find anything that you’re looking for on your NAS with ease and a lot faster than any traditional method will. Simply type in as much as you know about what you are trying to find, including bits of the file name or even words/phrases in the document, and Qsirch will display a list of matches, complete with thumbnails, as you type.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine
  • Your personal cloud with centralized management, file storage, sharing and backup
  • Real-time & offline HD video transcoding for your mobile devices, PCs, and Smart TVs
  • Supports file synchronization between multiple devices to have most up-to-date files
  • Modern set-top design for your digital lifestyle
  • Storage is expandable through extra units

Packaging and Accessories

QNAP’s HS-251+ comes in a plain brown box with a sticker that shows us what is inside. We get all the details we need on the sticker itself, from hardware specifications to features, so it has everything it needs to have.

Next to the NAS itself, we find a Quick Installation guide, the remote control, a power adapter and power cable from the region where it has ben bought as well as two RJ45 LAN cables inside the box.

EVGA Launches GT 710 Range

The majority of media attention and interest from enthusiasts revolves around higher-end graphics card solutions and observing the horsepower improvements between each generation. As a result, it’s quite easy to overlook cheaper models designed for the casual gaming market or media applications. Today, EVGA unveiled their new range based on NVIDIA’s GT 710 chip. The GPU features a base clock of 924MHz, 64-bit memory interface with a clock of 1800 MHz and total bandwidth reaching 14.4GB/s. Additionally, the GT 710 contains 192 CUDA cores and comes in either a 1GB or 2GB configuration.

While the GT 710 is fairly weak compared to other discrete GPUs, it still manages to outperform integrated graphic chips by a decent margin. Here we can see the 3D gaming performance in 3DMark compared between the Intel HD Graphics on a G3220 CPU, and GT 710. Clearly, it’s not going to run anything demanding at high resolutions, but there is a noticeable boost.

EVGA is producing a total of 6 models to suit various chassis designs and user preferences:

2GB Memory:

  • 02G-P3-2717-KR = EVGA GeForce GT 710 2GB (Single Slot, Dual DVI)
  • 02G-P3-2713-KR = EVGA GeForce GT 710 2GB (Single Slot, Low Profile)
  • 02G-P3-2712-KR = EVGA GeForce GT 710 2GB (Dual Slot, Low Profile, Passive)

1GB Memory:

  • 01G-P3-2716-KR = EVGA GeForce GT 710 1GB (Single Slot, Dual DVI)
  • 01G-P3-2711-KR = EVGA GeForce GT 710 1GB (Single Slot, Low Profile)
  • 01G-P3-2710-KR = EVGA GeForce GT 710 1GB (Dual Slot, Low Profile, Passive)

The passive cooled options will be an excellent choice when creating a silent HTPC build. Also, I quite like the overall design, and support for DVI-D, D-Sub and HDMI 1.4a. Sadly, there’s no information regarding pricing and I expect it to be in line with other manufacturers creating custom GT 710 GPUs. I’m intrigued to see how it copes with certain 3D games when the graphical details are kept to a minimum. Whatever the case, it’s an interesting launch and we might consider reviewing one of the cards very soon

Please let us know if a review of the GT 710 would be of some interest to you.

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.

Silverstone Milo SST-ML08B Mini-ITX Gaming Chassis Review

Introduction


Are you ready to take your big screen gaming to the next level? The desktop gaming market may be booming, but there’s a big demand for the something small, systems that is. Having a high-end gaming PC under your TV is very much a possibility, but few make compact cases as well as Silverstone and their new Milo ML08 looks set to dominate those smaller spaces. Under your TV, perhaps you’re limited on desktop space, or you want something portable for LAN gaming, this chassis is just the right size for all of them, but more importantly, it doesn’t compromise on the size of the GPU.

“Based on the excellent RAVEN Z RVZ02 chassis, the Milo ML08 is a super slim Mini-ITX console case with highly capable accommodations. With a volume of only 12 liters, this case is small yet easy to assemble when compared to other slim cases in the same class. There is plenty of room for a powerful graphics card up to 13 inches in length while tool-less drive cages make assembly quicker than ever.” says Silverstone.

As you can see, it’s pretty well equipped, but the most important aspect is the fact that despite only being 87mm deep, this chassis can house a full-size graphics card of up to 13″ long, which is pretty amazing; you’ll see how it does that in a moment.

We’ve seen impressive mini-ITX chassis from Silverstone in the past, and it’s no secret that the Milo is based around a very similar interior design as their popular RVZ02, but with a much less aggressive exterior design.

“With clever space utilization and engineering, two major heat sources are separated via the chassis’ main chamber so CPU and graphics card can each have their own airflow path. Despite its diminutive size, the ML08 is a remarkably versatile case that can be used anywhere from being a compact desktop workstation (in vertical orientation) to a living console or HTPC (in horizontal orientation). There are even optional models of ML08 with integrated handle, making them effortlessly portable and perfect for any slim PC build.” says Silverstone.

In the box, you’ll find a nice selection of bits and bobs, such as the user manual, fitting components, vertical stand and the riser cards.

There two adaptors are what allow the GPU to fit in such a slim chassis, by allowing the GPU to lay parallel to the motherboard, helping save a huge amount of space.

First impressions of the Milo are very promising, a powder black finish gives it an almost stealthy quality, which is good when you’ve got it sitting under your TV, as a bright chassis could be visually distracting. There’s a huge ventilation panel on the left side, with a clip-on cover/dust filter for easy maintenance.

A similar story on the other side, with another large cover for ventilation. This is a slim chassis for high-end hardware, so airflow is very important.

The covers pop off easily enough, giving you a quick and easy way to clean the filters.

There’s extra ventilation on the narrow side of the chassis.

And there’s even more around the other side.

The front panel is nicely designed with a subtle, yet rather stylish cover and a sliding port cover in the center.

Slide the cover over and you’ll find a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HD audio jacks, as well as the power and reset buttons.

Around the back, you’ll find even more ventilation on the top edge, as well as a little more below the AC power pass-through connector. There’s the usual motherboard I/O cut-out, but you can now also see how the GPU is going to be situated next to the motherboard.

MSI Unveils Cubi N Mini-PC

Modern PCs come in many sizes from huge full size ATX towers to tiny cases which can fit into the palm of your hand. In the last few years, ITX motherboards and efficient low power processors have helped to make downsize HTPCs and LAN rigs. As a result, companies are moving towards smaller solutions to try to enter the living room space.

MSI has just announced the Cubi N which is the smallest mini PC of its kind. The system supports Intel’s Braswell family of CPUs and utilizes a fanless design. In terms of dimensions, the chassis measures 112mm x 116mm x 45mm (HxLxD).

The Braswell architecture is built on a 14nm manufacturing process and consumes less than 15W, a 30% reduction compared to the previous generation. On another note, the system is capable of outputting 4K video content and utilizes a modular design to house an optional 2.5″ disk drive; in the default setup, there is an integrated mSATA drive.

Other notable mentions include a 3 in 1 card reader, Intel® 3165 802.11AC, optional BT 4.0, four USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI output, and D-Sub out. The basic setup contains 4GB DDR3L which can be upgraded to a maximum of 8GB, and an Intel® Celeron N3150 Processor.

The MSI Cubi N will be globally available by the of October 2015.

Silverstone SG12 Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


Silverstone is one of the most recognisable chassis brands on the market, which comes as no surprise given that they seem to launch more products per year than virtually any other manufacturer. The Sugo series of chassis has long been a success, something that’s no doubt obvious given that the model we have at our disposal today is the twelfth iteration, the Sugo SG12.

The SG12 keeps many of the design features and specifications of its more recent siblings, with a newly revised front panel that’s more practical than most, room for large graphics cards, an optical drive, an incredible amount of storage drives and a full ATX PSU; this may be a fairly small chassis, but it’ll give some mid-towers a run for their money in terms of specifications.

In the box, you won’t find a huge amount of extras, but there is enough screws to get all your hardware installed, a few cable tidies and a handy owners manual to guide you through the chassis’ capabilities.

Now onto the good stuff! The chassis comes with plenty of ventilation for your components, vital given it can hold so much in a compact space. There’s a long ventilated section on the left, which would be idea for feeding your GPU with cool air, although there’s no dust filter, so you may need to give it a clean a little more often.

The right side panel also has a long ventilated section, but also a slightly large bit towards the front, behind which you’ll find a 120mm fan for cooling the many hard drive bays at the front.

Since it’s the front of the chassis you’ll likely be viewing the most, I’m happy to see that Silverstone have treated it with a brushed aluminium front panel, as well as a very sturdy blue aluminium handle.

The handle isn’t just for show either, you can easily pick up the system with it, meaning lugging it from one LAN party to the next can be done with one hand. The front panel has all the usual power buttons, as well as a pair of USB 3.0 and audio ports. You’ll also find a 5.25″ drive bay, handy for use with an optical drive, fan controller, card reader, etc.

Around the back, you’ll notice that the left, top and right side panels are infact a single piece, which is held in place by three screws at the back of the chassis. There’s an ATX PSU mount at the top, as well as room for a mini-ITX or Micro-ATX motherboard in the bottom.

There’s not much to see on the top, other than the two bits of ventilation for the optional 80mm fans.

There’s not really a lot to see on the base, but there’s four firm rubber grips that will prevent it sliding around your desk or AV stand.

Streacom ST-F12CS Aluminium ATX HTPC Chassis

Introduction


Streacom may not be a name you hear every day in the chassis business, but it’s one that always puts a smile on my face. Their products are well-known in the industry for extremely high build quality and super-sleek designs. They’re a popular choice with the enthusiast HTPC market and even just from the image above, you can no doubt guess why. Of course, premium build quality and design don’t come cheap, so expect to pay triple figures, even for some of their smaller chassis designs.

The model we’re looking at today is huge, as it’s the first Streacom chassis that will support ATX hardware, which means it’s going to be well suited to a gaming build; a pleasing thought for those who loved their HTPC designs and are planning an HTPC style gaming system or Steambox build.

“The F12C is our first case designed to accept all standard ATX hardware, but of course being Streacom, the design is anything but standard. The ultra-minimalist exterior is made from 4mm thick premium grade extruded aluminium panels which are sandblast finished to create this simple but timeless design. The unique design isn’t just skin deep, we have developed a new drive and fan mounting system that does away with traditional fixed location bays, making this case incredibly adaptable and configurable. Drives and fans can be mounted anywhere along both sides of the case and at virtually any orientation. This allows you to mix, match and perfectly position drives and fans for optimal cooling and hardware compatibility.”

The chassis is made from 4mm thick aluminium, which plays no small part in the £190 price tag. There’s room for a full ATX motherboard, long graphics cards, a large PSU and much more!

Chassis Material: Premium Grade (6063) All Aluminium, 4mm Thick Extruded Panels
Available Colours: Silver / Black – Sandblast Finish
Motherboard Support: Full ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Capacity: MAX 24 x 2.5″ or 12 x 3.5″ (with ITX), MIN 2 x 2.5″ + 5 x 3.5″
Front Ports: None
Expansion Slot: 7 x Full Height Expansion Cards (MAX 310mm)
Cooling: Multiple 80, 92, 120 & 140 Fans (Not Included)
Max CPU Cooler Height: 135mm
External Dimensions: 440 x 320 x 184mm (W x D x H, Including Feet)
Internal Dimensions: 432 x 310 x 168mm (W x D x H)
Power Supply: Full ATX, no Length Restrictions(Not Included)
Remote Control: FLirc or IRRC Solution (Not Included)
Net Weight: 4.4KG

First impressions of the chassis are just… wow! This is one gorgeous looking box! The use of 4mm thick aluminium makes it look and feel stunning and that’s going to be a big selling point for anyone looking for a sleek HTPC design. Of course, it’s also available in black, so don’t be put off if you think this version is a little bright looking. Down the left side, you’ll find two air vents with magnetic dust filters.

The front panel is very minimalist, there’s the power button and a tiny LED in the bottom left and a small IR section in the bottom right, that’s it.

The right side panel has two more large magnetic dust filters.

Around the back, you’ll find support for an ATX PSU, the motherboard I/O and seven expansion slots, so more than enough room here for a multi-GPU configuration.

There are no screws for the top panel, kind of, instead you get these two dials at the back which can be turned to tighten or release the panel; a very nice tool-free solution.

The top panel has three more large dust filters, combined with the two on each side, airflow is certainly not going to be a problem for this chassis. The filters are nice and secure, but you can pop them off with your fingers for quick and easy maintenance.

The filters are a two-part design, the washable mesh and a magnetic outer strip.

There are four feet on the bottom, with tough rubber trips and in the middle, a little more ventilation.

AMD May Launch R9 Nano for $649 Today

Later today, AMD is expected to finally launch their much-anticipated R9 Nano GPU. Based off of the full Fiji die, the small form factor card will be a sure hit with the HTPC crowd. Having already had some of their slides with benchmarks and images of the card leak, we’re now getting word on the pricing situation. According a report, AMD is setting the price pretty high, with the Nano set to launch with an MSRP of $649 USD. Keep in mind that this is still unconfirmed right now and AMD may yet launch the card at a different price.

To put that in perspective, the R9 Fury, with a slightly higher clocked but gimped Fiji comes in at $549 while the full Fiji flagship R9 Fury X costs about $649. This puts the R9 Nano in a tough spot despite having a full Fiji. Even with similar top clocks as the Fury X, the Nano is still limited by its cooling, 42dB sound rating and its 75C temperature target. This means the Nano will probably perform closer to the vanilla Fury. Against the green side, the Nano does offer 30% more performance than the competing SFF GTX 970, but will set you back double the price.

With those numbers in mind, it really seems that AMD wants to maintain their margins on the Fiji die and HBM. The serious binning they are doing to get such efficient chips also means the Nano is a rarity. The biggest question is whether or not users are willing shell out top cash to get the fastest and most efficient mini-ITX card on the market or will they simply settle for something else. At this price though, there is little chance the Nano will cannibalize the Fury’s so AMD has at least got that covered.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information 

Antec ISK 310-150 Mini-ITX Chassis With Built-in 150w PSU Review

Introduction


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.

AMD R9 Nano Confirmed to Have Full 4096 Core Fiji at 1000mhz

With AMD virtually confirmed to launch their SFF R9 Nano tomorrow, we’re getting word that the Fiji GPU onboard won’t be cut down. Unlike the R9 Fury, the Nano will be like it’s older R9 Fury X sibling and feature the complete Fiji die. This means that the Nano will have the same 4096 shader cores, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and 4GB HBM as the full fledged Fury X flagship. The Nano may also feature HDMI 2.0 which will allow 4K 60hz for TVs, something the Furys lacks and great for a card that is perfect for high-end HTPC gaming

What is even better news for SFF fans is that the Nano will feature a top speed of 1000Mhz on the core, giving it the potential to nearly match the Fury X. If the card manages to somehow not throttle (ie under water probably), the performance should be pretty much on par with the Fury X, in a much more compact form factor. The card also features the same display setup as it’s Fury siblings, all in a row which can allow for a single expansion card slot under a watercooling. Stock cooling probably is a combination vapor chamber and several heatpipes though we’ll know more once the card arrives.

The biggest question though is how the stock power limits, the 8pin connector, and the heat sink will impact the card. While the 8pin connector in tandem with the PCIe slot should allow plenty of power, the stock power limits may serve to limit the speeds you’ll get at full throttle. Another issue is whether or not the cooling system can keep up with a full Fiji, keeping in mind that AMD went with watercooling for the Fury X which also features full Fiji at similar speeds. Some sources are saying that at full load the card will usually throttle to about 800mhz with the peak speed only being seen in some lighter loads. Noise levels will also be interesting to see. AMD did run into some serious problems with the stock cooling for the R9 290X, leading to heavy throttling. Hopefully, the lesson has been learned.

With a full Fiji core, AMD can’t afford to sell the card too low but it also somehow has to fit in with the Fury siblings. Given that performance should hover around that of the Fury, AMD will have to price the card carefully to ensure that it does sell, but also preventing it from cannibalizing the rest of the lineup too much. With just a day to go, we hope to bring your more information as it arrives.

Thank you Videocardz for providing us with this information

Report Suggests AMD to Launch R9 Nano on August 27th

Small form factor fans should block off some time on August 27th because AMD is set to launch their R9 Nano on that day. We’ve long known that the R9 Nano would arrive before September so August 27th next week isn’t too much of a surprise. The biggest question is whether or not supply will turn the hard launch into a paper one.

Being such a tiny card, SFF aficionados will be sure to love it given that it will probably offer GTX 980 level performance in an efficient and tiny package. At only 175W, the Nano should offer 2x the power efficiency of the R9 290X, making it one of the most efficient cards AMD has in their lineup; this is what allows AMD to pack a full Fiji die under such a tiny cooler.

Hopes are high for the card and hopefully the supply situation will be better than its other siblings which have been severely supply constrained. AMD needs this card to perform and sell well if they are to hope to regain some marketshare. No word has been released about pricing, but it should fall near the R9 Fury given that the Fiji die and the HBM don’t come free. Hopefully, the card will deliver on the high expectations many are holding.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information

SilverStone Announced Milo ML06-E Premium Mini-ITX HTPC Case

SilverStone’s newest chassis isn’t really a new case but rather a rearrangement of a previous model. The Milo ML06-E is an evolution and variation of the premium mini-ITX HTPC case Milo ML06. It still keeps the same external dimensions and an unchanged volume of 7 liters, but the internal layout has been redesigned and now provides the crucial second expansion slot, allowing users to use dual slot low-profile graphics and expansion card.

The ML06-E is a great starting point for users that wish to build a system in a console/DVR-like form factor with a more robust GPU or tuner card with a length up to 175mm for gaming or for multimedia content recording.

The ML06-E has a surprising amount of expansion options for its size. Besides the two low-profile expansion slots, it also features a full-size utility expansion and rear I/O slot. The PSU is limited to SFX size and by now there is a good amount of choices on the market in that segment. You’re sure to find one that fits with the specifications you want.

The internal top piece can be used in several ways. You can either mount a 9.5 or 12.7mm slim slot-loading optical drive, one 3.5-inch HDD, two 2.5-inch HDDs, or a 120mm fan for extra cooling.

 

The left side, seen from the front, features the front panel connections which on this case are two USB 3.0 ports and headset jacks. You can mount two 80mm fans on this side to keep your graphics or expansion cards properly cooled with a really direct air-flow.

Besides the drives mountable in the top-piece, you can mount four 2.5-inch SSDs or HDDs in this chassis. With the 3TB 2.5-inch hard drives arriving very soon, you’ll have up to 12TB raw capacity right there in this tiny chassis.

Logic dictates that the CPU cooler can’t be the biggest type in this chassis, there simply isn’t room. With the multi-purpose bracket installed you’re limited to 37mm height and you can go up to 70mm without.

Special Features:

  • Super small at only 7 liters
  • Aluminum front panel with premium styling
  • Includes one 120mm fan and support up to two 80mm fans
  • Supports dual slot low-profile graphics or expansion card
  • Supports Mini-ITX motherboard and SFX power supply
  • Supports four 2.5-inch HDD/SSD

The brand new SilverStone Milo ML06B-E Mini-ITX HTPC chassis should be in stock and available now and it comes with an MSRP of $90.60 USD.

Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200 Review

Introduction


Today we are taking a look at Gigabyte’s Intel i5 5200U powered BRIX. Gigabyte has an impressive array of BRIX models that come in at all different performance levels with many CPU options and even options with discrete GPUs. The small form factor computer business has been exploding the last few years due in part with parts shrinking and their abilities skyrocketing. Many people have been buying small form factor units deciding to use them as business or daily workstations due to the low power consumption, helping to lower costs. Others love these small boxes for use as home theater PCs (HTPCs) since they can be tucked out of the way and will generally not be heard over ambient sound in the home theater. The specs for this BRIX look promising for use in both situations so let’s take a closer look and see just how well it would perform in these tasks.

Specifications
  • Name: Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200
  • CPU: Intel i5 5200U (2C/4T, 2.2 GHz w/ 2.7 GHz Max Turbo, 14nm, 15W)
  • RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v 
  • SSD: User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
  • GPU: Integrated – Intel® HD Graphics 5500
  • LAN: Realtek RTL8111G 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini isplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, RJ-45/GbE LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $364.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials and hardware that the BRIX comes with. You will get a power adapter and power cord to hook up the BRIX as well as all the screws that you will need to mount your SSD or HDD and use the VESA mount if you wish. The DVD and printed materials are toss away materials in my opinion since the most up to date drivers and materials can be downloaded from the support website.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

AMD Showcase Project Quantum @ E3

With the upcoming launch of the Fiji processors, AMD have designed an inhouse media PC that is poised to be the most powerful unit on the planet. This little unit hosts not one, but two GPU cores and they are both Fiji units. Thanks to the HBM memory, AMD managed to squeeze all of this power into such a small package.

We will update you as we get the information.

Corsair Announce a 4K HTPC

The market for a compact computer to place under your TV is growing. Mini PC’s are ideal for just watching that one TV season or a quick look on the internet, but lack the grunt for gaming like a large desktop does. On the other hand, a large desktop would look silly placed next to a TV; although some would say otherwise.

ITX has taken the world by storm, offering full sized ATX performance in a petite 17cmx17cm form factor. Cases for this motherboard come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, the most iconic likely being the Bitfenix Prodigy. Corsair has a case for the ITX market, the Obsidian 250D and it is a nice solid case, but it is a little…..square.

Corsair has now announced a brand new HTPC called Bulldog. This is a radical take on the HTPC, cramming powerful components in one of the slimmest, non-passive, cases I’ve seen.

To achieve this, Corsair has had to design a few new key products, such as a new power supply and AIO CPU cooler.

Bulldog Features:

  • Bulldog DIY kit:
    • Chassis – Provides a highly ventilated, stylish, compact console design that enhances the living room and keeps PC components cool.
    • SFX power supply – Offers high-efficiency 600 watts of power in the standard SFX12V form factor that runs  smooth and quiet.
    • Mini-ITX motherboard – Supports the latest multi-core desktop PC CPUs.
    • Hydro Series H5SF small form factor liquid CPU cooler– Quietly cools the fastest CPUs while exhausting heat from the chassis.
    • MSRP: $399
  • Optional: Drop-in ready liquid-cooled graphics cards will be announced soon. Upgrade kits with a Hydro Series H55 liquid cooler and HG10 graphics card cooling bracket will be available for $99.

For more information regarding the Bulldog computer, click here!

Zotac CI321Nano Barebones System Review

 

Introduction


Today we are taking a look at one of Zotac’s latest ZBOX CI321 nano barebones system that is packing a dual-core 2961Y CPU. Something that makes this CI321 nano stand out of the crowd is that it carries dual Gigabit LAN and is completely silent with its passively cooled design. With the inclusion of an onboard IR receiver, this makes it an interesting option for a silent HTPC. With it being a barebones kit, you can use some memory or 2.5″ drives that you have on hand to keep the final build costs down. There has been a lot of growth in the mini PC market and Zotac has been in it for a long time with its ZBOX lineup.

Specifications
  • Name: ZBOX CI321 nano
  • CPU: Intel Celeron 2961Y (2C/2T, 1.10 GHz, 22nm, 6W)
  • RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v 
  • SSD: User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
  • GPU: Integrated – Intel HD Graphics
  • LAN: dual 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, 2x 1Gb LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $149.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials that the CI321 comes with

The hardware that you get with the CI321 allows you to mount the unit via the VESA mount of a monitor or TV. You also get an optical audio adapter for use with a Toslink connection, a dual band WiFi antenna, and screws to mount your 2.5″ SSD or HDD.

 

CPU-Z

 

GPU-Z

QNAP’s Compact TS-453 Mini NAS Now Available

It’s only been about a month since QNAP introduced us to their new top loading 4-bay mini NAS. Now it has been officially released, has arrived at stores, and can be yours.

The system is built around a quad-core processor and offers a lot of storage options at a tiny footprint. The vertical design allows it to take less space and fit into smaller areas, making it perfect for non-spacious office environments, dorm rooms, and similar.

It is available in two models, one with 2GB and one with 8GB memory pre-installed. Upgrading memory is a piece of cake on this unit as it’s conveniently accessible from the bottom. No need to take the entire unit apart anymore.

Despite the smaller size and the mini name, the TS-453mini offers all the things you want and expect from a QNAP devices. You get dual LAN, USB 3.0 connectivity, and direct HDMI out.

QNAPs QPvC technology allows you to use the NAS as virtualization station and install other operating systems such as Linux, windows, or android directly on the NAS. Connect a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and pack away that old HTPC. Direct media playback and other HTPC functions are equally supported just as remote controls are.

You still get 24TB raw capacity with the four drive bays at your disposal and the 6TB hard disks that more or less has become the norm these days.

The Intel Celeron 2GHz processor is able to deliver up to 220MB/s transfer throughput and can be expanded all the way up to 96TB by the use of the UX-800P expansion enclosure and 8TB hard drives – because they are equally supported.

Business users don’t miss out either as it supports VMware, Microsoft and Citrix virtualization solutions, cross-platform sharing, Windows AD, LDAP and ACL, Rsync, RTRR, and cloud backups.

TS-453mini Key specifications

  • vertical design, 4-bay
  • Intel Celeron 2.0GHz quad-core processor (burst up to 2.41GHz)
  • 8GB/2GB DDR3L RAM (max. 8GB)
  • 3.5”/2.5” SATA HDD/SSD support, hot-swappable
  • 3 x USB 3.0 and 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x Gigabit LAN ports
  • 1 x HDMI v1.4a output
  • IR sensor

The 2GB RAM model currently costs £481.00 on Amazon UK while the 8GB RAM model will set you back £601.89. We are currently in the process of reviewing just this unit and I can already reveal that it’s an awesome unit.

Silverstone SUGO SST-SG11 Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


Silverstone are the masters of small form factor chassis designs, we’ve seen time and time again that they can deliver competitively priced products that meet consumer demands and in many cases, exceed them. Their SUGO series is one of their most popular series and as we’ve seen in previous reviews, it’s not hard to understand why. They often pack lots of high-end hardware, with little or no compromise, into a tiny form factor that makes them suitable for a wide range of applications. Naturally, I’m hoping and more so expecting a repeat of their past successes with the SUGO SST-SG11 which we are reviewing today.

The SG11 is one of the slightly larger chassis in the small form factor category, but it still carries that classic shoe-box style shape and its slightly larger size is for good reason; the SG11 is capable of housing a micro-ATX motherboard, as well as a full ATX PSU and plenty of other hardware. As you can see below, the long shape of the chassis provides us with space for lots of ventilation down the side; perfect for any long graphics cards. The SG11 will support cards as long as 368mm; very impressive for something of this size.

The right side features even more ventilation, the front most section for a pre-installed 120mm fan that will keep your hard drives cool and provide some air intake for the rest of your components, which the ventilation next to that is passive and will allow airflow to your motherboard and CPU components.

The front panel is really nicely finished. A pair of mirror finish strips give it a nice premium look and also give you a lovely look at the purple carpet I have in my office. This design is nice, as it’ll look great in the office, but also as part of your AV setup if you’re planning a HTPC-style build.

Tucked away at the top of the front panel, a rubber cover protects/hides the dual USB 3.0 ports and HD audio jacks. This is nice as it keeps the front looking smart when you’re not using them, but also helps keep dust and debris from gathering in the ports.

Around the back, you can see even more ventilation, there no doubt that you’ll have little issue getting air in and out of this chassis! There’s an ATX power supply mount with the motherboard mount directly below it. On the right, you’ll find four expansion slots, perfect for those wanting a dual-GPU setup and a Micro-ATX motherboard.

On the top of the chassis, you will find two more vents, behind which you can see mounts for two optional 80mm fans that would be situated directly above your expansion cards; this could be perfect for keeping your graphics cards cool.

There’s very little to see on the base, but what is nice is that the four feet have been treated with a rubber ring, which will help keep the chassis from sliding around on your chosen surface.

SilverStone Announced Fortress Z SFF Chassis

A little over a year ago, Silverstone introduced the revolutionary slim form factor case RVZ01 that was created by SilverStone’s RAVEN team, a case that exceeded and refined what a slim HTPC or console-styled PC could do.

Now Silverstone is ready with a follow-up chassis and the new line is called the Fortress Z and it is designed for enthusiasts that want a great looking small form factor chassis made of first class materials.

The FTZ01 utilizes a PCI-E riser and custom designed fans that in return allow you to use the biggest consumer graphics cards on the market and still maintain a superb air cooling. The case even supports liquid cooling, but you should pick the cooler with care as it won’t be all that fit.

The FTZ01 could be the perfect choice for those looking to build a premium, all-metal slim form factor PC with high-end components.

It will come as both a black and silver version, but people who are after the Silver need a little more patience. The Black FTZ01 will be available in stock on the 26th of May and the Silver version will be available on the 10th of July.

Designed for use in either vertical or horizontal orientation, it can be placed comfortably in any space-constrained environment that requires a powerful PC.

Special Features

  • Classic exterior built from aluminum unibody frame
  • Supports graphics card up to 13 inches
  • Mini-ITX motherboard & SFX PSU compatible
  • Maximum performance in slim form factor with support for liquid cooling*
  • Positive air pressure design for excellent cooling/quietness and dust-prevention
  • Fits in nearly any environment with horizontal or vertical orientation

Arion Bluetooth Mini Keyboard with Speakerphone Review

Introduction


Touch screen devices can be a pain to type on, although admittedly the issue isn’t as bad as it used to be as many of us have had a good few years practice now and screens, as well as keyboard applications, have improved greatly over the years. Then you’ve got PlayStation, where entering data to the on-screen keyboard via the controller can be a very tedious process. To solve any issues, or at least mitigate the issues a little, you can invest in a separate keyboard, such as the Arion KB100B-BK which I have with me today.

This little keyboard isn’t nothing too fancy, but for a small keyboard, it does pack an interesting feature set into such a small device. You’ve got a QWERTY keyboard, all the major functions you would expect to need on your mobile device, desktop OS or console and even a built-in speaker phone. It uses Bluetooth to connect to iPads, Android devices, smart TVs, consoles and pretty much everything with Bluetooth support.

The keyboard comes bundled with a mini-USB to USB charging cable, as the device has an internal rechargeable battery.

It’s pretty simple in terms of design, with a durable yet lightweight plastic body and rubberised keys that are clearly labeled with all their major functions. To cram as many features in as possible, almost every key has an Fn-Shift function.

On the underside of the keyboard, you’ll find a small microphone and speaker setup, which can be used to hands-free calls. Not much use to smartphones which already have this function, but it could be useful for some tablets, smart TVs and consoles for services such as Skype.

The super slim design means it’s a very manageable device; it’ll fit in your pocket or bag easy enough.

Around the back, you’ll find the mini-USB charging port, as well as a master power switch to help conserve the battery.

It is quite small, so touch typing with all of your fingers isn’t going to be possible, but you can still type fairly confidently if you’re writing a quick email, although perhaps not suitable for writing your dissertation.

When powered up, there’s a small blue LED in the top right, which blinks red when the battery is running low.

As you can see, it’s really not too big, clocking in a little smaller than my Xperia Z3.

Here it is next to an iPad Air, although admittedly the unit is better designed to type using your thumbs while holding it in your hands, it wouldn’t be impossible to use it while sat at a table.

Reeven BRONTES (RC-1001) Low Profile CPU Cooler Review

Introduction


Reeven is still a fairly new company based in Asia that focus on cooling products and also fan controllers. It’s hard to find any Reeven products in the UK as they don’t seem to have any resellers over here, which is a real shame. The products really do look very nice and I think there is certainly a place for them here. We have been sent three coolers that Reeven are looking to push into the UK market, last month we showed you the Reeven Justice and we are going to look at the second one, the Reeven Brontes. The Brontes is a compact low profile CPU cooler, these are for people who are looking for a small office PC or a HTPC rather than a fully kitted out gaming rig or a benching build.

The box for the Brontes is quite simple and as you would expect for such a small unit, rather small. It has all the information you need about the cooler such as which sockets it fits and some nice pictures showing you what to expect inside.

Here is a bit more about the specification of the Reeven Brontes. As you can see, it supports all the popular socket types from both Intel and AMD. As with a lot of low profile coolers though, there is no support for 2011.

Inside the box we get a nice bunch of brackets and fittings to allow us to mount the CPU cooler, the fittings are for both AMD and Intel. One of my pet hates with certain manufacturers is giving a sachet of thermal paste rather than a syringe. The sachet can only be used once, meaning if you need to re-attach the cooler to upgrade the CPU or anything else, then you will have to purchase more separately. Ok, it’s nice that they provide the thermal paste in the first place but syringes are far more usable.

The fan for the Brontes is really quite unique. It is tiny measuring only 100mm x 100mm in diameter an only 12mm wide. The fan comes pre-attached to the cooler so you are ready to go straight out of the box so there is no fiddling around with fan brackets. As you can see, they use the usual colours for Reeven which is black and yellow. I do like how the company sticks with the same two colours all the time, however it could put people off if they are trying to colour match with the fan with the rest of the system, yellow and black is a lovely combination, but there is only a fraction of the market that uses it.

With the fan back on the Brontes you can see how the cooler looks as a whole. I really like the sleek look and it’s great to see that they have sleeved the cable also. The cooler has 4 nickel-plated copper heat pipes to ensure that the heat from the CPU travels to the fins effectively

With a side profile, we can see just how low profile this cooler is. It is 59mm in height so it is perfect for your ITX systems.

One thing I do always love about Reeven products is the way they create their heat sinks. The larger units are works of art and its great to see they have used the same design on their smaller low profile units. The Brontes has a really nice quality feel to it and the last fin of the cooler has the Reeven logo cut out of it giving this really nice finish.

The underside is nickel-plated copper, which ensures the best possible thermal conductivity, as well as a little more eye candy. You can also see that it is actually off centre, this helps you when it comes to installing as if it was central it might foul your RAM. This is a really nice idea to give the user optimal choice.

Installation for the Reeven Brontes couldn’t be easier, it’s simply a case of attaching either the AMD or Intel brackets to the cooler and lining up the holes with the ones on the motherboard, obviously applying the thermal paste first.

Then, simply screw the 4 screws (with rubber washers) through the back of the motherboard to hold the cooler in place.

When the cooler is in place there is plenty of space in between the RAM and the Brontes meaning you can use RAM with large heat sinks if you like.

So, we have seen how this product looks, let’s see how it performs!

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.

NZXT DOKO Remote Desktop Gaming Review

Introduction


NZXT already has a rock solid reputation with the PC gaming community. They’ve created some of the best gaming chassis on the market, such as their stunning H440, they’ve created some of the best coolers, such as the X61 and their CAM software is great for keeping your system running smoothly. However, they’re now pushing further into the world of PC gaming with the release of the DOKO. The DOKO is the latest device to follow the game streaming trend, with Steam and other gaming platforms such as the Nvidia Shield allowing you to stream games from your PC to your big screen TV, NZXT think they can compete in this market too.

The DOKO simply connects to your network and software will stream your PC game to the DOKO, which connects to another display, such as the TV in your living room. This means that you can break away from your desk and enjoy your games, or any other media, on the big screen, without the need for a second gaming PC, or HTPC style system. What we have here then is essentially a remote desktop client, but it has a few extra features on board that certainly help it stand out from the crowd.

In the box, you’ll find the DOKO unit its self, as well as a high-quality RJ45 cable and the power cable. Unfortunately for myself the plug is a US plug, but the unit will be getting a UK/EU release in March this year; so for now I’ll have to use a US to UK adaptor to be able to use the device.

The unit is quite small, so there should be no issues in finding a comfortable home for it under your TV. This is great for people like me, who already have four consoles, a cable box and an AV receiver crammed under the TV as I could easily tuck this in between other devices.

Around the front of the device, you’ll find four USB ports, which are perfect for connecting a keyboard, mouse, control pads, headsets or any other USB device you may need. There’s also a large power button, giving you the option to power off the device with ease when not in use.

Around the back, you will find a power jack, a single HDMI, a 3.5mm audio jack and the RJ45 network port.

It’s a pretty simple looking unit overall, but NZXT have given it a funky style thanks to some smooth rounded edges on one side.

While the other side has a slight overhanging panel. It’s not much in terms of design, but it’s enough to keep this simple box from looking boring.

On the base of the DOKO, you’ll find four small rubber feet; just enough to keep it from sliding around on your surface of choice. Also, looking at the design, there are no air vents, as the device is passive cooled and runs completely silent.

Xigmatek Aquila Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


It’s rare we see a Xigmatek chassis roll through the eTeknix office, but it’s certainly always a pleasure when one does. Xigmatek has a good reputation for creating uniquely designed chassis, with good build quality and competitive prices and it looks like they’re above to tick all those boxes once agin. The Aquila is a Micro-ATX cube type chassis, perfect for those who want a big system in a small box; perfect for LAN gaming, a HTPC setup or for those who are just short on space.

Cube style chassis are a big hit right now and virtually every major manufacturer has launched a new product in this category over the last couple of years. The biggest, or should that be the smallest, innovation in this part of the market is that the smaller chassis have been crammed full of high-end features that make them very competitive when compared to their mid-tower and even full-tower counterparts; a smaller chassis no longer means smaller performance.

The Aquila comes loaded with all the features you could need for a good gaming chassis. You’ll find USB 3.0 support, room for a Mini-ITX or micro-ATX motherboard, a full-size ATX PSU and graphics cards of up to 330mm; more than enough room for many of the biggest cards on the market.

The chassis has a really funky design that means that chassis is slightly raised at the front. The cube form factor is kept nice and level by the sloped handles on the top and bottom of the chassis. The side panel has a tall window that gives you a view of much of the chassis interior.

The right side of the chassis is a similar design to the left, this time of course, skipping the window panel; both side panels are held in place by a pair of thumb screws.

The chassis has a very bold design from the front, with the thick borders on the left and right side formed from the upper and lower supports, giving the chassis the appearance of being suspended between them. There’s a single 5.25″ drive bay at the top and the rest of the front panel is ventilated to allow air flow to any front mounted fans.

Around the back, you’ll find a pre-installed 120mm fan, although the mount will support a 140mm. On the right you’ll find four expansion slots, perfect for those running a multi-GPU setup. There’s a PSU mount at the bottom, with options for regular or inverted mounting, and there’s also a little extra ventilation in the bottom left corner; this is just behind the dedicated 2.5″ drive mounts on the interior of the chassis.

There’s a full-length lift-up dust filter and cover on the top panel, this is to provide airflow to any top mounted cooling such as radiators.

On the top of the chassis, you will find a power button. The button is quite large and contrasts nicely with the black panels of the chassis.

There’s a dust filter for the PSU mount, with benefits from excellent ground clearance thanks to the chassis full-length feet.

The Best Chassis for Steambox/HTPC Style Gaming Systems

Introduction


Steambox is certainly grabbing a lot of headlines throughout 2014, with system integrators (such as CyberPower) creating their own custom Steambox style systems, and chassis manufacturers creating new cases that are suitable for the job. Of course, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors surrounding Steambox, but we’re going to blow away any doubt and get you up to speed on what a Steambox is and how you can do it.

First thing is first, Steambox is a PC, nothing less and nothing more. What we’re really looking at here is a clever rebranding by Valve to make HTPC gaming sound cool. Of course, it really is cool and credit goes to Valve for creating something that is appealing to both mainstream console gamers, as much as it is PC gamers. The major difference for Steambox is the introduction of SteamOS, which is still in beta, but once again all that really is a Linux distro designed to launch Steam as the native desktop. This may sound a little complicated for some, but don’t worry as I’ll be revisiting this subject over the next couple of weeks to bring you up to speed on how it all works, how you can build your own, set everything up and more.

While much of the fun stuff is certainly contained within the games you’ll be playing, let’s start things off nice and easy and find out about the chassis you’ll be using. There are lots of great PC chassis’ on the market, but I’ve picked up a bunch that I thought would be ideal for the job and today I’m going to put them to the test. I’ll be looking for several key factors from each chassis, their price, form factor, hardware/component compatibility, built quality, acoustic performance and thermal performance.

The chassis’ I’ve picked are quite varied, and I’m hoping to find something suitable for each budget from each of these.

  • Silverstone GD05
  • BitFenix Phenom Micro-ATX
  • Corsair 250D
  • Thermaltake Urban SD1
  • Silverstone SG09
  • Cooler Master Elite 130

I’ll also be using my Lian Li test bench to get open-air results of the thermal performance on our CPU and GPU.

Lian-Li PC-05S Wall Mountable Mini-ITX Chassis Review

Introduction


Lian-Li is a master of aluminium chassis design. Time and time again they’ve created incredible chassis that are works of art as much as they are practical, high-performance juggernauts. Today is a pretty special day for Lian-Li as it marks the launch of their latest fanciful chassis, the PC-05S, which is rather unique in the sense that it can be used as a horizontal HTPC style chassis, mounted vertically on a special stand for desktop use, or even more special than that, you can mount it on a wall!

The chassis modding scene has seen wall mounted chassis already, as there are a lot of people out there who love to show off their rigs and what better way than putting it right up on display where everyone can see it. Of course, this is a pretty specialist product, which isn’t going to appeal to everyone out there, but for those that want to take a break from the standard chassis form factors that sit under your desk, the PC-05S is certainly a breath of fresh air.

The PC-O5S is one of four chassis in the wall-mountable range from Lian-Li, of which there will support for different hardware, including water cooling support with the 05S, 06S and 07S models. The chassis I have at my disposal today is the mini-ITX model, which comes with support for a slim optical drive, removable hard drive bays, room for many of the largest graphics cards on the market, an SFX power supply and more.

Included in the box, you will find everything you need to get your rig put together. There’s a bundle of high-quality screws and fittings, an adaptor bracket, a high-quality aluminium vertical mount and four screw on feet for horizontal mounting.

First impressions of the PC-05 are very good; this is without a doubt a great looking combination of black brushed aluminium and tempered glass.

The top of the chassis is a thick piece of real glass, held in place by four large thumb screws; giving you an uncompromised view of the chassis interior. Down the right side of the chassis you’ll find a 240mm fan vent, behind that you’ll also find a slide out filter and a pair of 120mm fans.

The front panel is a nice mixture of funky shapes. There’s a lot of ventilation on the top half, while the lower section features the HD audio jacks, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, the power switch and further over from that, the slim optical drive bay.

The rear panel design is very similar to the front, but the top ventilation part is now the motherboard I/O cut-out and the rear exhaust for any expansion cards. In the bottom right corner you’ll find two cut-outs, these are used for routing any cables to the interior of the chassis; such as the PSU power cable.

On the bottom of the chassis, you’ll find a couple of screws on the left side, allowing you to take off the side panel and access the fan mounts. Then there’s four more screws for removing the large base panel, this gives you access to the area behind the motherboard, as well as an optional rear 120/140mm fan mount; which also comes fitted with a dust filter.