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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  • DanNeely - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I'm a bit surprised they didn't go with something more like a pico-psu in general. Just using 12V in instead of 19V would allow for a significantly smaller board since you'd only need to make small amounts of 3.3/5V internally and not large amounts of 12V as well. Dropping the additional conversion should also boost total system efficiency and lower wall power as a result. Reply
  • Lonyo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Yeah, the power circuitry based on the pics looks like a lot more than I would expect to be necessary given the size of a PicoPSU (I'm using on on an ITX system with G620T and HD6450, as well as 3x3.5" HDDs with no problems).
    If it's an ITX system with just 2.5" drives, there should be no issues with a low power PicoPSU instead of whatever they went with.
    Reply
  • Alex_N - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I built three identical systems using this case, used i7 3770S (65W quad core) for the CPU and Intel's reference mini-ITX ivy bridge motherboard. I use them for a small CPU-heavy compute cluster.

    Pros:
    -assembly was pretty easy. I was able to fit the motherboard in without removing the PSU.
    -very low power (I can run them all off one power strip)
    -very low noise... can't hear them running over the AC and my desktop, even with my head next to the case and at full load (obviously depends on your CPU fan, I'm using the stock cooler fan)
    -very space efficient (the other mini-ITX cases are 3X as large)
    -CPU runs cool at load

    Cons:
    -PSU runs very hot at load. Could be partially due to the tough cable management.
    -one of the PSUs was dead out of the three. Replaced it with a PicoPSU, which was much smaller (and maybe runs cooler, too, but haven't checked closely)

    It's been about 4-5 months and I'm very happy with them. Quiet compute cluster, low cost, low noise, low power consumption, fast boot times (SSD + new style BIOS - UEFI?). I'd consider building these for friends/relatives who need a non-gaming PC, as well.
    Reply
  • fic2 - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I am curious as to what PicoPSU you replaced the PSU with. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I love these things, but I don't understand why they can't do proper length cables, or include cables that would just fit well, as opposed to something at standard length. Furthermore, why cant' they make some custom connectors or adapters. It must be possible, for them to create maybe even a new standard to keep cables to a minimum size and length in these type of cases. The power is only going to so few devices that it should warrant custom cables perhaps? The ease of assembling and better airflow would be worth the marginal extra cost, surely? Reply
  • jhoff80 - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    ...but with most new mITX boards having a mSATA slot, I'd absolutely love to see a case with 0 drive bays but that still has two PCI expansion slots (preferably with a riser) to support a dedicated GPU. Reply
  • Wardrop - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Just a shame that Antec cases are always so ugly... or maybe out of date is a better description. Would have looked awesome back around the turn of the century, but otherwise, I think Lian Li are the only one's making attractive cases of this size (or a little larger). Reply
  • Scannall - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I agree, it really does look bad. I used a Wesna case for my HTPC.

    http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/HTPC-ITX2-B...

    Looks far better.
    Reply
  • Wardrop - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    That Wesna case is pretty nice. Thanks for the link. Reply
  • Anosh - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    Expect it gets to warm Reply

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