‘Dune Case’ Brings Mac Pro Styling to Mini-ITX PCs

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.

NZXT Introducing the Manta mITX case

During our visit to CES in Vegas earlier this month, NZXT invited us and a few other partners to have a look at their brand new chassis and there were no doubt that we liked what we saw when presented with the new Manta PC chassis. At that time we were told that it would be officially released today and NZXT were true to their word.

The new NZXT Manta mITX chassis is a unique enclosure for your PC with its soft and round corners. The bold outsides are matched with a level of elegancy thanks to the curved steel panelling. Inside it features double the cable management space usually found in mITX cases, it has support for a dual 280mm liquid cooling setup in the front, and comes with an integrated PSU shroud to hide the things away that you don’t want to show off.

The 245mm wide, 426mm high, and 450mm deep Manta chassis can hold an mITX motherboard as well as a few internal drives. As we can see on the picture below, the front is entirely used by the two 140mm fans which eliminate the option of external 5.25-inch drives for once. But internally you can mount more than enough storage as the case supports two 3.5-inch and three 2.5-inch drives. With the increase in storage capacity, those bays can hold a lot of raw storage capacity.

Even in an mITX chassis you need room for a dual-slot graphics card, at least most of the time. The NZXT Manta can easily fit most graphics cards with a clearance for cards with a length of up to 363mm. That is quite a bit more than the 170mm that the mITX motherboard is sized. The PSU maximum length is set to the same as the graphics card, which should eliminate any possible bottlenecks in that area. Should you go for air cooling rather than liquid cooling of your CPU, than the maximum clearance for that is 160mm.

The front panel ports and buttons are located at the top front of the chassis. On larger chassis this can cause trouble when they’re placed on a desk because they get too far away from your sitting position or be tough to use when placed under a desk because it is so close to it. On an mITX chassis like the Manta, this isn’t a problem. You find two USB 3.0 ports here as well as the obligatory audio and microphone ports.

Within the NZXT Manta you’ll also find other NZXT ideas and features such as rear I/O lighting, integrated PWM fan hub, and SSD display. The new case will be available in several colour options: Matte White/Black, Matte Black/Red, and Matte Black with or without a windowed side panel. A model for every build and personal taste.

The new Manta will be available for pre-order for £99.99 or €139.99 +VAT and the stock is expected in February. The current UK estimate is set for the third February which is very soon.

Rumors Point To a New Samsung Windows Phone Coming This Year

After Sony was reported to be in talks with Windows for a new Windows Phone, it seems that even Samsung is planning to release another one this year. Not to mention the announcement of Archos about releasing one themselves too.

When you hear about Samsung, all you can see is Android and more Android. Form Galaxy series, to Note and possibly Gear, but that is debatable. But most of us forgot about the Ativ S, the Odysseey, or even the Neo version of Ativ S. Though Samsung did not release any other Windows Phone model recently, it is rumored to release one soon enough.

.”https://twitter.com/evleaks”>@evleaks is yet again ‘responsible’ , claiming that the smartphone might bear the codename ‘Huron’ and can have a model number similar to the following: “SM-W750V”. There are not a lot of details to go on, but @evleaks points to it resembling the late Galaxy S handset model, having round edges and being made out of a plastic shelling.

There has been no word about a possible release date, nor an estimated price. What is know however, as a rumor as well, is that Verizon is teaming up with Samsung to release a new Windows Phone handset in the US. This might be something else, but it might very well be the handset in question. In time, we will know more about it and its specs.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of GSM Arena