In and Around the Antec ISK 110 VESA

Given just how small it is, even compared to lightweight heavy hitters like SilverStone's Sugo SG05, you'd think there wouldn't be much to the Antec ISK 110 VESA. That's not quite true, though; just like good game design, what's not included is often just as important as what is.

Even before you get to the enclosure itself, there's a decent amount of extra kit that comes with the ISK 110. Antec includes a bracket for mounting the built system behind a monitor, the external power supply, and a snap-on stand that allows the case to stand vertically. The external AC adapter is a stock Delta Electronics unit similar to what you might find with a notebook, which means that some of the power circuitry still has to be included in the chassis. We'll get to that in a second.

The styling for the ISK 110 VESA is pretty simple; since there isn't any room to include fans, most of the case is ventilated in some way. In fact the only face of the enclosure that doesn't have ventilation is the front, which features the power button, indicator LEDs, and four USB 2.0 ports. You can argue for or against USB 3.0 in an enclosure this small; internal USB 3.0 headers and their cables are pretty substantial, and a quick jaunt to NewEgg reveals only a handful of Mini-ITX boards that feature them.

Antec's two-toned design relies on a silver band encompassing the front, rear, bottom, and top of the case; the side panels are black. The left or "top" panel of the ISK 110 VESA is entirely mesh and it's worth mentioning that the slight extrusion gives the interior a bit more space than it would initially seem to have. Unfortunately the right or "bottom" panel isn't ventilated anywhere near as much, and you'll see later on that's to the case's detriment. There's very little reason not to include better airflow through this side, since it's where the two 2.5" drives are kept.

Opening up the ISK 110 VESA is actually easier than it looks. On the back of the case, the two side panels are each held in place by a pair of screws, and Antec actually includes thumbscrews you can replace these with if you're so inclined. Once the screws have been removed, the two side panels just snap off and back on. They're secure without being too difficult to deal with, but it's also clear that Antec didn't design the ISK 110 VESA to be regularly tweaked.

The interior of the case reveals the thick cable bundles you've come to expect. It's only when you're dealing with a case this small that you realize just how much space all these headers can really take up, but I'm not sure there's a better way for Antec to handle these. Draw your attention to the board on the right side of the photo, though; since Antec is using a stock AC adapter to power the ISK 110 VESA, they have to supply the necessary power circuitry to separate the individual rails. There's also a proprietary connector on the board where a cable that branches off to the individual leads is connected; since the ISK 110 VESA can support such a limited number of components, though, Antec only has to include what's absolutely necessary.

On the opposite side is a removable tray that includes mounting holes to install one 2.5" drive laterally or two next to each other. It's a nice touch on Antec's part to include an alternative mounting orientation for systems that are only going to use a single drive, but also note that this means the drive is butting up against the underside of the motherboard...and the CPU.

Antec's design is really about as bare essentials as it's going to get, and with the cooling needs of the ISK 110 VESA coupled with the size constraints of a Mini-ITX board (both in terms of how small it can get but also how big it still needs to be), I don't know that they could've really done too much to deal with the needed cabling and power board. This does mean that you're always going to be able to see the inside of the system, for better or worse, and dust is liable to be a bigger issue with the ISK 110 VESA than it might be with a larger case. It also means that whatever cooler you use on the CPU is going to basically define the sound profile of the case; there just isn't anything muffling it or any directed airflow.

Introducing the Antec ISK 110 VESA Assembling the Antec ISK 110 VESA
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  • Anosh - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    *except Reply
  • MadAd - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    When do you think we might get a SFF forum to chat about all this?

    Laptops are so not SFF material and they drive out SFF chat.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Would the SSD have been a bit happier had it been mounted the other side and not directly under the CPU plate? Reply
  • mariush - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Where are the close up pictures of the power supply, both the external one and the internal board?
    Where are the close up pictures of the case, without anything shoved into it?

    Oh there's two galleries...why the hell two separate galleries?

    Why so much suck usability wise?
    If I'm opening a gallery in a new tab, I get no link to go back to the article and I can't tell if there are other galleries. Luckily this is a fresh article so I clicked "Galleries" I saw the other gallery but if this was an older gallery I would have no way to tell if there are other galleries.

    The external power supply one is made by Delta so that somewhat guarantees it's a quality one but the internal board is also important to see for some people.

    I can barely see from the picture it's a 19v adapter - what's the point of large pictures if you don't get more information from it than what you can see in a thumbnail?

    Why no close-up pictures of the actual pcb - that's the real power supply (well, dc-dc converter) !.. Why no test of what they say, is it really 92% efficiency? I doubt it, 92% efficiency is probably just for the external adapter.

    Very long USB and sound cables... I can't figure out why they have to be so long in such case.
    Reply
  • mariush - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    I apologize. There IS a link back to article in the galleries, called "Back to post" ... but it's positioned in such a way that I confused it to a "Previous picture" , "Next picture" type of link. Reply
  • twinclouds - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    I have been using the case of Shuttle X27 for some time. I took out the original board and added a more powerful ITX board. The size of the case is 2.9"x7.2"x10.5". It is actually smaller than the Antec case mentioned here in volume. It is narrower and longer and looks better for me when in horizontal position. In addition it has the space for a slimline CD/DVD drive. The only inconvenience is that it does not have a flash card reader. I wish someone can build such a case for retail. Reply
  • herrdoktor330 - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    Here's a thought: packing a bigger AMD APU (think the upcoming Trinity A10-5800K) into this size case and doing a modest overclock to the APU's GPU. You could do some modest gaming @ 720p on a rig like that in a profile smaller than the Xbox 360. The only bottleneck is the external power supply. So I started looking at the manufacturer's website of the power brick and model number (delta electronics - adp-90CB(?)-AB). I couldn't seem to find anything on the delta electronics website matching the CB part of the model number. That designation doesn't seem to match any of the laptop or mini-pc brick model numbers. So here's my questions:

    1) Is there any information on the output connections on the adp-90CB(?)-AB vs the ADP-150BB B. I'm still googling up information on the topics of outputs, allowable voltages, and such to answer my own question. But maybe someone here knows the answer?

    2) Assuming you could jimmy up a compatible brick, could the internal PCB handling power in the ISK-110 be able to handle the extra 60w and 2.6 times the amps a bigger brick would offer?

    for reference:

    http://www.delta.com.tw/product/ps/adapter/adapter...
    Reply
  • mariush - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    The delta brick is a 19v 4.77a or something, for a total of 90 watts. You can see the rating (barely) in one picture.

    The case has internal dc-dc converters that generate the 3.3v , 5v and 12v out from that 19v with about 90% efficiency, so the system sees about 85 watts in total on those 12v, 3.3v and 5v outputs.

    I already complained about no close-up pictures of that dc-dc converter inside the case, and this is one of the reasons: I can't see what ICs are used, how the voltages are generated.

    The most used voltage will be 12v so the internal board probably is configured for 12v @ 8A max (12v x 8a = 96 watts), 3.3v @ 4 A, 5v @ 4A or something like that.... but all added up can't exceed 90w, the external brick's rating.

    You may be able to replace the brick with one rated for more current as long as it's still 19v (for example use a 120w brick with 19v output) but in the end it depends on the circuit on the board inside the case if the chips can output more current on 12v.

    They may be unable to output more than 6-8A or they may be locked to a maximum value to keep the board cool. But if you're lucky, they may be able to output 10-12a reliably on 12v alone, possibly with a heatsink applied on them.

    There's no overload test on the power supply, no information in this review. Which sucks.
    Reply
  • herrdoktor330 - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the feedback. Good thought on the locked amp values too. I didn't think about that.

    Again, I'm still doing my own research into the matter. But you're right... it'd be cool if the Anantech crew looked into mods like that. But maybe there's some other group that may try this.

    I guess if one was inclined, this thing COULD take an A10-5700 when they get released without any power brick mods. But still, it'd be nice if you could work with this form factor but have a little more power at your disposal.
    Reply
  • Manyak - Thursday, September 06, 2012 - link

    I just got done building 12 systems for an office using this case. They're using i3-2100's, ASUS P8H77-I motherboards, 2x4GB DDR3-1600, and Crucial M4 SSD's.

    1: It is possible to install motherboards without removing the PSU. You have to put the right side of the motherboard in first (the part closest to the front of the case), and kind of squeeze it in under the front panel USB block as much as possible. Then lower the back end down into the case. If the I/O plate has tabs sticking out into the case it'll make it hard, but you can just bend it outwards a bit with your finger while pushing the motherboard down. It's tricky, but it works.

    2: You installed the SSD in the slot that sits directly behind the CPU, and there's no insulation between it and the motherboard. If you install it in the other slot I think it should run a little cooler.

    Also, you should take a look at the Morex M350 case. In theory it's a similar design to this one - completely minimalistic, with nothing but mesh - but it's even smaller. Yet it manages to give you a much neater build, and HDD airflow is a lot better.
    Reply

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