Kloss KL-I915B SFF barebones PC

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The Kloss is quite large for a SFF system, and its boxy design makes it look larger than it is. While most SFF systems are wider than they are tall, the dimensions of the Kloss make it almost a perfect square. Personally, I prefer the aesthetics of a rectangular design, but the dimensions of the Kloss are governed by more than just aesthetics. The tall design of the case is necessitated by the double-decker chassis.

The fascia looks quite clean, thanks to the location of the drive bays at the bottom of the case. The LEDs and the buttons are located in a vertical line in the center of the fascia where they are easily found but visually unobtrusive. The power LED is a small but very bright blue that is blinding to look at even from a distance. The red LED for hard drive activity is much less intense, but still visible enough to be easily seen.

Drive bays are located at the bottom of the case.

The external design is most easily understood by looking a what's going on inside the case. Most SFF systems place the motherboard at the bottom of the case, and fill in the space above it with whatever drives and cards will fit. The Kloss puts the motherboard in the middle of the case, while the drives and the power supply occupy the bottom of the case. The important thing to realize is that this effectively separates the case into two independent chambers that must be cooled separately. Cooling will be most crucial in the top chamber where the CPU and VGA card are located.

Independent chambers separate the motherboard, CPU, and VGA card from the drives and the power supply.

The optical drive door does not provide the usual pass-through button to open the drive, which makes for an extra-stealthy look since no external button gives away the position of the drive. The eject button is located just below the power button, and works by sending an electronic signal rather than mechanically pressing the button on the drive itself. This slightly restricts the choice of drive, as not all drives support the open command (notably, slot-loading drives). It may also lead to situations where the drive cannot be ejected when the drive has stopped responding.

The floppy bay, a Firewire plug and two USB plugs are located behind a discreet door. The headphone and mic jacks are not behind the door.

There are two main sources of exhaust: The power supply and a smallish vent along the left side.

Ventilation is excellent for a SFF design. Each side features two large intake vents, one for each internal chamber. The intakes for the top chamber are located at the front of the case, which should ensure that there is airflow across the whole length of the motherboard. The airflow exhausted from a 70 mm vent at the back of the case that is stamped in a hexagonal pattern and should should not impede airflow much.

Further ventilation for the top chamber is provided by a "blowhole" on top of the case, which guarantees a source of fresh air for the CPU, located directly below it. The downside of the blowhole is that it will let the noise from the CPU fan out while it is letting cool air in. Because it provides the only source of air for the CPU, it is vital that it is never blocked off. Those who have a habit of covering every flat surface with papers and books would be advised to put the case out of reach to ensure the intake is never blocked. Ditto those who might feel the impulse to place a mug of hot coffee within spilling distance of the blowhole.

The placement of the intakes for the lower chamber are less crucial, as drives do not need as much cooling, and the fan in the power supply ensures that it is at the end of the airflow path. The side intakes are logically placed near the rear of the case where they will not be impeded and air will be drawn in across the hard drive. Some air should also be drawn in through a modest intake vent on the rear panel, as well as a small 40 mm fan vent (no fan is installed).

A warning sticker warns against placing objects around the blowhole.

The back panel makes the double decker design of the case obvious. The I/O shield is located in the middle of the panel instead of the bottom, and the expansion slots are located above the power supply.

The variety of rear ports is quite impressive. Trigem managed to squeeze in the parallel port that is so often missing from SFF systems as well as SPDIF in and out. Almost every major port is supported; the only one missing is the game/MIDI port that has been obsolete for some time anyway. There is no support for 7.1 or 8.1 home theater setups, but very few people have setups of this type, and those that do are more likely to use the SPDIF connection to hook up a dedicated home theater amplifier.

Despite appearances, there are only two exhaust fans: a 70 mm fan for the top chamber and a 40 mm fan inside the power supply.

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