Akasa Euler Fanless Thin ITX Case

Cases|Damping | Cooling
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There are only two components the Euler is designed to house: One or the other of the Intel Thin mini-ITX boards, and a 2.5" form factor drive. The latter can obviously be a notebook drive, or more ideally, an SSD. Both the Intel DQ77KB and the DH61AG, are fitted with mini-PCIe slots that can support mSATA SSDs, similar to the Intel NUC, where mSATA is the only storage option. The 180GB Intel 525 mSATA SSD which came with our sample of the NUC was pulled and used for this review. A Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB 2.5" SSD was also tried. In practice, both a 2.5" SSD and an mSATA SSD could be used. Or for someone wanting more value storage, an mSATA SSD for the operating system and programs, and a 1TB or bigger 2.5" HDD. The latter would spoil the no-moving parts status of the system, though.

Components for System in Akasa Euler case

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The Intel DQ77KB board is packed with goodies, including two mini PCIe slots (one half, one full/half), dual gigabit ethernet ports on separate controllers, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 4 SATA ports, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, etc. Power comes from any 19V DC source with the right connector (typical notebook power adapter) and power for peripherals comes via a SATA power jack on the board (from which sprout those cables in the pic above). All caps look solid state. For full details, please check out the link to the Intel board page.

The Pentium G2120 came in a retail box with low profile heatsink. Its basics: 3.1 GHz, dual-core, no hyperthreading, HD Graphics @ 650 MHz defaul and 1.05 GHz max, 55W TDP.

The Intel 525 mSATA 180GB 6GB/s SSD is tiny, just 5x3 cm.

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB 2.5" alternative to the mSATA SSD.


It starts with pulling two screws from each side of the Euler case. This releases the bottom panel. The 2.5" drive and the motherboard both screw into the underside of the top panel, which is the primary heatsink for both CPU and drive, though even a HDD only dissipates 1W on average, and perhaps 2.5W max. An SSD runs a bit cooler.

Two aluminum bars are affixed to the SSD, then the protruding tabs are used to screw down the SSD to the case. Cables from the drive and case power switch/LEDs get connected to the board. Of course, the CPU is in place by now. A generous dollop of TIM (about the size of a BB) is placed atop the aluminum heat block. Then the board is positioned so the four standoffs on the CPU heat block fit into the heatsink mounting holes in the board. This automatically lines up the four board mounting holes around the perimeter.

I chose to affix the nuts for the CPU heat block first, to ensure best tightness between CPU and heat block. The supplied round nuts are tiny and require a flat blade screwdriver to tighten. This, to me, is a bad decision on a part that probably costs less than a cent. The nuts have tiny slots, and the screwdriver blade slipped once — but once is all it would take to destroy one or more of the trace-side components on the motherboard and make it useless. It didn't happen to me, but a nicely designed low profile thumbscrew with a center Phillips head would have been so much better. The four corner screws to secure the motherboard went in without issue.

A flat blade screwdriver is needed to secure the nuts around the CPU.

Those are lousy nuts.

After the motherboard was installed, I removed it immediately to examine the imprint of the thermal goop. As you can see in the above pic, the contact was decent, but perhaps it could have used a tiny bit more goop.

Here's a wee bit more TIM for the CPU. The Kingston SSD was secured with only two screws; the others weren't needed.

The board ended up being installed w/o the I/O cover -- oops! -- but I figured it wasn't a big deal, a little more venting would not hurt, and there's no dust issue with no forced airflow.

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit was installed from a USB key without issue, and we were up and running 20 minutes after the case was closed up.

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