Akasa Euler Fanless Thin ITX Case

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Akasa Euler
Product
Euler Thin ITX Fanless Case
(AK-ITX-05BK)
Brand
Akasa
Street Price
£61.95 w/o VAT (w/120W power adapter)

Thin mini-ITX is an Intel variant of the mini-ITX form factor, a variant that first appeared in the Mini-ITX Addendum Version 2.0 to the MicroATX Motherboard Spec v1.2 in Oct 2010. The first Thin-ITX (as its is often called) was Intel's popular D945GSEJT ("Johnstown") Atom-embedded board, which allowed the creation of very low profile cases barely larger than the mini-ITX board itself, with the CPU cooled passively. The more recent Intel DN2800MT "Marshalltown" board with the Cedarview Atom processor prompted Logic Supply to create a case designed specifically for it; regular readers will likely recall my review of the Logic Supply LGX AG150 system. The primary difference between thin and standard mini-ITX boards is height: The standard mini-ITX boards typically have components up to 44mm tall, while the thin ones are just 25mm, or an inch tall.

Thus far, Thin-ITX boards and fanless cases for them have been mostly Atom-based. The recently introduced Intel DQ77KB is one of the few retail Thin-ITX boards to feature a regular socket which allows different CPUs to be installed. It's a board that supports the latest socket 1155 Ivy/Sandy Bridge processors.

In the OEM, industrial and commercial markets, there appear to be a few more Thin-ITX boards. Intel envisions a mini-computer world dominated by the Thin-ITX form factor, which is their specification. The web page, Thin Mini-ITX-based Computing is Intel's portal to its extensive vision for the platform. Several Intel documents spell out the minutae of the specification (such as Thin Mini-ITX Based All-In-One PC Compliance Requirements, Aug 2012, rev 1.1, a PDF found cached on the web).

Based on boards shown in their Thin Mini-ITX Component Catalog (Q3, 2012), socket 1155 and the precise position of the CPU socket on the Intel DQ77KB is part and parcel of the current Thin Mini-ITX form factor: Photos of partner offerings of boards by Gigabyte, ECS, and Wibtek all show the same layout. It is not clear whether this means earlier Atom-based Thin ITX boards are no longer complaint with the current spec. I did not examine the board layout of the Atom-based DN2800MT in Logic Supply's AG150 system that carefully, but I believe that board also has the same layout.

In any case, all of this Thin-ITX development is aimed mostly at system integrators to build All-in-ones and PCs for home entertainment, surveillance, digital signage, point of sale and industrial applications. The enthusiast builder is not high in Intel's ecology of Thin ITX. But there are always exceptions.

Some recent buzz in the SPCR forums identified an unlikely source for a fanless case for the DQ77KB and one other Intel board, the older DH61AG, which has the same layout. The source? Akasa, known mainly as a cooling accessories and component brand, with little presence in North America.

As expected of a fanlessly cooled case, the oddly named Akasa Euler is a 7 liter case featuring a ribbed, heatsink-like top and side panels, and it is low profile, though not quite as slim as Logic Supply's offering for the Atom-based boards. This is not surprising, as there will be more heat with a non-Atom CPU, even with Intel's applauded advances in lowering the thermal envelope of its latest socket 1155 processors.

The interest in the Euler and these Thin-ITX boards has probably been spiked by the market appearance of the Intel NUC super-tiny computer, which we reviewed last month. Even though the NUC is a very competent modern computer with a mobile Ivy Bridge processor at its core, you pay a premium for its size and its fan does make some noise when pushed really hard. The improved price/performance/value equation, and additional features in the mini-ITX form factor boards with the extra power of a desktop processor in a bigger but still small — and fanless! — package is obviously compelling to some DIY enthusiasts.

AKASA UK, INTEL USA

It took some time and effort, but with some help from forum member Delta_42, I managed to contact Alex at Akasa UK who eventually rewarded my persistence with a sample of the Euler case. Thank you Alex and Delta_42! In preparation for this case review, I also contacted Daniel at Intel, who said initially that the DZ77KB board was not being sampled (to reviewers), but then came up with what must have been a non-retail, wholesale or system integrator sample — the board came complete with parts but without a retail box. Then there was an Intel Pentium G2120 55W Sandy Bridge sample slipped to me at IDF San Francisco in September, a CPU which hasn't been formally examined at SPCR yet. Thank you Dan! The 55W G2120 is somewhat higher than the 35W TDP CPU that Alex recommended for the Euler case, but given how cool most Sandy/Ivy Bridge processors run, I doubted it would pull much past 40W anyway. More on that later.


The Akasa Euler came in a small modest box, packed well enough, with a rather large AC/DC 19V, 6.32A (120W) power adapter.


The Akasa Euler case, next to an ordinary ball point pen for perspective. There's nothing on the front panel other than the power button and bright blue LEDs for power and HDD activity. The fins protrude up about 10mm, measure 2mm wide, and are spaced about 4mm apart. The fins and grooves are designed to increase surface area without tight gaps so convection can do its rising thing without forced airflow, i.e., a fan.

One problem was getting the screws, brackets, other hardware accessories and installation sheet in a plastic ziplock bag out of the case, which was sealed up tight. The four side-mounted screws were well hidden, or perhaps I was being obtuse, but I didn't find out about them until after I yanked the plastic bag through the tight rear I/O panel opening and read through the installation sheet. It was a tight squeeze, but no harm was done.


Here's a photo that shows better the height of the ribs or fins... and the position of the two screws on each side that hold the bottom panel in place.

Akasa says about the Euler:

  • Solid crafted aluminium case
  • Fanless CPU cooling design
  • Designed for thin mini-ITX motherboard
  • VESA mountable
  • Compatible with the following thin mini-ITX motherboard
    • Intel DQ77KB Ivy Bridge
    • Intel DH61AG Sandy Bridge

The specifications are minimal, too.

Akasa Euler Specifications
Material Aluminium with anodized black
Panel material Aluminium
Motherboards types Thin mini-ITX with DC onboard
Dimensions 228 x 187 x 61.5mm (WxDxH)
Weight 2200g
Internal bays 1 (for 2.5” HDD)
Product code AK-ITX05-BK


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