Introducing the Antec ISK 110 VESA

We've been having a good run of Mini-ITX cases lately, but most of those cases are designed to still be able to support what are essentially fully-powered systems: standard voltage CPUs, dedicated graphics cards, an optical drive and multiple storage drives. Yet part of the charm of Mini-ITX is that it's capable of fitting into a much smaller space than even a Micro-ATX board theoretically could. If you're gunning just to produce a system that's very small and very efficient, but you don't want to just use someone else's build, a Mini-ITX board and the right enclosure can have you covered.

That's where the Antec ISK 110 VESA comes in. This case is about as small as it gets, and includes the necessary hardware to actually mount it to the back of a monitor. Antec has trimmed about as much fat as you could conceivably hope to trim; there's enough room for a Mini-ITX board, two 2.5" drives, and that's it. It includes an external 90-watt power supply and just enough internal power circuitry to drive low-to-moderate power hardware. With so little room to work in, did Antec make the right decisions, or was there still more they could do?

A few months back we were able to review two complete designs from Puget Systems that employed the ISK 110 VESA, and those systems proved you could still install a formidable machine in the tiny space. Yet there are very real limitations in getting a desktop this small, as well as certain trade-offs that Antec made. Just because there isn't much to pack in the ISK 110 VESA doesn't mean there isn't much to say about it or consider in its design; when you're drilling down this far, real choices have to be made.

Antec ISK 110 VESA Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External -
Internal 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front -
Rear -
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots -
I/O Port 4x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Included external 90W
Clearances HSF 40mm
PSU -
GPU -
Dimensions 8.7" x 3.1" x 8.4"
222mm x 78.6mm x 212mm
Weight 2.9 lbs / 1.3 kg
Special Features External 90W 92% efficiency PSU
Price $84

I wasn't kidding when I said this is about as barebones as it gets, but the price is reasonable at least considering you're getting a fairly specialized case, the necessary mounting brackets for placing it behind a monitor, and a power supply.

In and Around the Antec ISK 110 VESA
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  • sligett - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Well, there's an optimal size for anything. It costs more to make it larger, and it costs more to make it smaller. It also costs more to make something with non-standard parts. Sure, an ATX power supply is cheaper - they make them by the bazillions. And finally, if you *need* an enclosure this size, then you will pay to get it.

    That's life.
    Reply
  • plext0r - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I've been using the M350 case from mini-itx.com with my Zotac IONITX (Atom + Nvidia) motherboards and it's a great little case (MythTV). It includes the VESA mounting holes on the back (no bracket needed). I ended up sandwiching a Scythe 100mm x 12mm fan into the case since 40mm fans are too loud and I couldn't run fan less. Reply
  • Geraldo8022 - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I too think that is a nice little case (M350) with one exception; the power button is over the ATX connector. Makes for a barely doable installation. I use Sapphire E350 (Zacate). I have an SSd and a 500G 2.5 inch HD. I use the integrated graphics and it works for me. I also would like to see Express Mini PCI utilized more. I use a PICO and prefer it to what Antec has implemented. I plan on moving mine into some kind of flat bottomed duffel bag and start taking it into cafes rather than my laptop. This ITX system is mounted on the back of a 24in Asus IPS monitor. Involves a powerstrip and, of course, has no battery. I think someone is missing an opportunity by not making a specialized bag for something like this. I see these people with their little tablets and I will sit here with my 24 incher. Course I will just pack it from car so weight is not that big of a deal. We'll see. Reply
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, September 05, 2012 - link

    That last part, about taking your 24" monitor + attached case out-and-about, is hilarious. Kind of like going back to the early suitcase-style computers where the top lid was a keyboard.

    Personally, I'd take one of the many cheap, lightweight, E350 powered laptops over your suitcase style E350 system, but I'd be amused if you actually did this.
    Reply
  • Seraphimcaduto - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I have this case as well, mine has a llano A8-3820, 8gb of ddr3 ram, a crucial m4 64GB and a 250GB WD HDD. I have to say that I love this case for its portability and power, but I had to mount an internal (low profile) 100mm processor fan to cool it better; the cooling was adequate before, but i was pushing the onboard graphics more than most (sane) people would. After using this case for several months, I can say a slightly larger power supply (even 120w) would be appreciated. Currently you are limited on your processor/main board selection and the extra 30w would greatly expand what you could use. Reply
  • Seraphimcaduto - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Forgot to say that I needed an extension cable for the 4-pin power connector as well and I used the asrock A75-itx. Only some of the asus mini-itx motherboards seem to have the 4-pin power socket close enough... Reply
  • coder543 - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    isn't the A8-3820 a mobile APU? how did you manage that? Reply
  • Seraphimcaduto - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Fusion#section_...
    http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/processors/...

    Actually the A8-3820 is a revision of the A8-3800 CPU. Both processors are 65W desktop socket FM1 but are next to impossible to find, as mentioned in the review here of the Pudget AMD system with the same case. Both have the 6550D graphics, which means my little guy quite the portable LAN box.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Looking at the way wires end up jammed into every open space above the board it seems a pity none of the even smaller board sizes have gained any traction outside of with VIA. Using a slightly smaller board would allow for routing all of the thinner wires behind the board and then just having them pop up around the edges; leaving only the fat power cables clogging things up on top. The case doesn't have support for even a half height expansion card, which eliminates the main restriction against going smaller. Reply
  • Belard - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    They could have made it slightly bigger... making better airlflow perhaps as well as more room to hide some wiring. Since it has a power adapter, they could have made all the wires BLACK, including the USB to help make them disappear... actually, the inside should be painted black as well.

    This also shows how well the Apple MacMini is well designed, eh?
    Reply

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