Antec ISK 100 Mini-ITX Case

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The Antec ISK 100 provides enough power (90W) and cooling for a typical mini-ITX dual core desktop processor combination (or even a low power quad core). A low noise level can be achieved but only with additional fan control, as the fan's low speed setting is a bit too high. Lower power configurations like those based on Atom, ION, CULV, or Fusion should do very well as they require only minimal amounts of cooling. On the down side, there is no option for an expansion card, or an optical drive, and not much clearance for a CPU cooler, although our solution of yanking the fan off a stock heatsink is easy enough for anyone to use.

The basic design is simple and effective, but the quality of execution is wanting. Our overall impression is a case slapped together with not enough attention to detail. The screws for the hard drives being too long and the apparently misaligned back panel are simply unacceptable — these are basic, essential requirements. The interior provides just enough room for the board and cables with no extra breathing room at all, making it a pain in the ass to assemble. The plastic covers don't fit quite right with little gaps visible at the back, and once screwed in the stand cannot be mounted.

The hard drives need more ventilation, and the mesh panel on the other side needs to be stronger to be a stable base for the fan. Finally, given its central role in both cooling and noise (or quiet), the fan should have been more carefully selected. It certainly does not have to be capable of ~2,000 RPM; 1,500 RPM would be good enough for any CPU that is likely to be used in this case. A smoother sounding fan with a more suitable speed range would have made the ISK 100 a much better product. We think a centered 120 mm fan would make it more suitable with a wider variety of mini-ITX boards.

As it stands, the ISK 100 is an adequate but not exceptional product. If you need a very small desktop case for a specific must-use mini-ITX board, it is one of the few choices available. On the other hand, similarly small (or even smaller) pre-packaged mini systems from Zotac, Asus, Acer and others enerally offer better integration of the components, and they can be just as quiet.

Our thanks to Antec for the ISK 100 case sample.

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