Apex MI-008: A Cheap Quiet mini-ITX Case?

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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

Comparable System sound files:

FINAL THOUGHTS

While not the fanciest, or sturdiest mini-ITX case, the Apex MI-008 represents an excellent value. For $45 US you get a nice looking enclosure that can, with a few modifications, house a very quiet low-end system. It is an attractive, and cheap alternative to a Shuttle or a luxury product like the mCubed HFX Micro. The machine we built runs only 1 dBA higher than the HFX Micro and can be built for a little over $200 (not including the operating system). As a bonus, everything inside is built from off-the-shelf parts — if you've ever been in the position of needing to find a replacement for a proprietary Shuttle motherboard, you'll know that this is a good thing.

For those hoping to get a bit more computing power by using an AM2 or LGA775 board with a more capable CPU, the MI-008 still has some potential if the power supply is replaced with something like a picoPSU with an external power brick. This opens up a lot of space — enough to house a moderately sized, quiet CPU cooler. You won't be able to fit a monsterous tower cooler inside, but a modest heatsink like the Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 Pro or something similar should do well, especially if you add a side fan.

All in all, if you're willing to experiment just a bit, the Apex MI-008 is a surprisingly effective case for silent mini-ITX system.

PROS

* Very affordable
* Quiet power supply
* Small
* Potential for a quiet system

CONS

* inefficient power supply
* light/flimsy construction
* 4cm CPU cooler clearance


Recommended by SPCR

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