Luxa2 LM100 Mini: "Exquisite & Desirable" m-ITX HTPC Case

Cases|Damping
Viewing page 8 of 8 pages. Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Remote/ Software

The included remote and software are basically the same as that which shipped with the MonCaso 301. Overall the remote is very capable with superb range. It's powered by 2 x AAA batteries and the receiver is built into the circuit board behind the front display. For more details, read our MonCaso 301 review.

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Luxa2 LM100 Mini is a great looking case that's built like a tank — its aesthetics and construction quality are beyond reproach. However, when it comes to practicality, the case fails in several aspects. The case's size and the 200W power supply suggests it is suitable to house a fairly powerful mini-ITX system, but its design is not optimized for proper cooling. The case's only intake vents are at the bottom of the case, much of which is covered by the motherboard tray and its short stubby feet do not lift the the chassis enough off the ground. Planting the Flex ATX power supply inside the case with no direct intake or exhaust is one of the most foolish things we've seen. Not only does it increase the heat and noise of the system, it complicates cable management. This type of placement is only suitable for a picoPSU or other DC/DC power supplies with an external AC/DC adapter.

Enthusiasts with deep pockets will no doubt wish to pair the case with a powerful mini-ITX motherboard like the Zotac GeForce 9300 board we used in our testing. However, if the GPU is highly stressed, maintaining a low noise level without letting the components cook is a real challenge. The lack of ventilation and the small, inefficient case fans makes creating a quiet system with such a configuration next to impossible. A good aftermarket heatsink in this case is an absolute must. If the system has a less powerful GPU or is intended to playback media only, then cooling it quietly becomes easier.

Swapping out the 50mm fans for quieter ones is also a major challenge. There are very few small fans marketed as being quiet, and none have been tested by a reliable third party. It's tough enough to find any online retailers for such fans, About the only vaguely hopefully possibility is offered by Scythe, but the Mini Kaze 50mm may only be available in the EU and in Japan, and it has an SPL rating of 26 dBA, only marginally lower than the 28 dBA of the stock fans.

Though the case height allows for CPU coolers that are 10 cm tall, anything above 8.4 cm or so will likely interfere with the power cable or the optical drive. The case's footprint is also larger than the Sugo SG05/06, presumably to accommodate a side-mounted 3.5" drive and the power supply. It seems most of the design decisions were made to keep the body solid, and that is ultimately its undoing. If the designers were adamant about keeping the unibody appearance, heatpipes connected to the sides of the case for thermal dissipation would have been far more suitable — after all, its thick aluminum sides remind us of the fanless Coolermaster TC-100 or mCubed HFX Micro S13. It would also have been far more practical to punch a large ventilation grill on the right side, and possibly equip it with a 80 or 92 mm fan.

As pure home theater machine, the LM100 Mini is a good, but pricey option. It comes with a versatile remote and software, and it looks fantastic— a finer looking HTPC you will not find. The only flaw in its appearance is the poor quality display — its almost monocromatic and the viewing angles leave a lot to be desired. In a typical home theater setting, 6-8 feet away from the user, the noise level of the system should be fairly low, especially if the fans only have to combat the heat generated from 2D usage. As a small general purpose desktop, it can probably be tweaked to be suitably quiet, depending on what it will be used for and the components inside. In the end, despite the undeniably good looks of the LM100, it's diffcult to muster up much enthusiasm given its US$270~$300 price and its thermal and acoustic challenges.

Luxa2 LM100 Mini
PROS

* Exquisitely desirable
* Solid construction
* Versatile remote
* 200W power supply
CONS

* Poor ventilation, can become very hot
* Small, loud case fans
* Terrible PSU location
* ODD power cable may interfere w/ heatsink
* Subpar LCD screen
* Can't fit full-sized expansion card
* Price

Our thanks to Luxa2 for the LM100 Mini system sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
Cases: Basics & Recommendations
Silverstone Sugo SG05 and SG06: Gaming mini-ITX cases?
Antec ISK 300-65 mini-ITX case
Moneual MonCaso 301 Desktop HTPC Case
Coolermaster's Fanless TC-100 mini-ITX case
Apex MI-008: A Cheap Quiet mini-ITX Case?
Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi

* * *

Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.



Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Cases|Damping - Article Index
Help support this site, buy the Luxa2 LM100 Mini HTPC Case from one of our affiliate retailers!