Conclusion: Good Deal, If You Need It

When you're talking about the Antec ISK 110 VESA, it's important to note-and I've stressed this over and over-what you're giving up. Even for a Mini-ITX system, you're sacrificing a lot to hit a form factor this small. That's not necessarily a bad thing; the ISK 110 VESA isn't intended for full-powered or even compact-powered systems and Antec makes no bones about it on their product page. It's meant for kiosk and basic lightweight corporate and personal use.

I'd argue that for those purposes it's actually more than adequate. It's very easy to make it a quiet system (just use a quiet heatsink), and as long as your expectations are properly adjusted, you should be perfectly happy with it. Antec charges a competitive price for it, too.

With all that said, though, there are still definitely a few places where Antec could improve the design. Ease of assembly is always going to be an issue with a case this small, but the ISK 110 VESA is more difficult than it needs to be. While I'm not an electrician I find it hard to believe that the power board needs to be laid out as clumsy as it is; the caps are just too tall, and the precarious way it's mounted makes it needlessly difficult to remove and replace. The power leads on the separate cable are fine for the most part (a sheath around the cables would go a long way), but the AUX 12V line is just plain too short.

Antec could also make plugging headers into the motherboard easier by employing completely removable cables similar to how BitFenix handles them in the Prodigy. These wouldn't actually take up much more space than the existing black plastic box, either, but would again go a long way towards making the case easier to assemble.

Finally, the panel on the underside just plain needs to be ventilated better. As the case is designed it does run the risk of cooking 2.5" drives housed there, and there's no reason not to increase the ventilation.

Whether or not USB 3.0 connectivity should be added in an update (or a reset button for that matter) is going to be a matter of some controversy. I see the pros and cons for going either way, so I can't hold it as a strike against the ISK 110 VESA. I'm also wondering just how difficult it would be to switch to a 120W power adapter instead of the existing 90W; the case has enough thermal headroom to it that I don't think it's out of the question to try putting a standard 95W processor inside.

All of that essentially leaves us with a case that's pretty good at what it does, but definitely has room for improvement. This is a fairly old design from Antec, too, so it's ripe for updating. Let's hope they do it.

Noise and Thermal Testing
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  • bobbozzo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    On page 1, "drive moderate-to-low voltage hardware" should probably be changed to "drive moderate-to-low wattage hardware". Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    My (fanless) firewall is an Atom motherboard running in a Morex T3310 case, which appears to be about the same size.
    It comes with a 60 or 80-watt external power brick and 80-watt internal DC-DC power supply.

    It only holds one 2.5" drive.

    It does not VESA mount.

    From your description of the Antec, the Morex may be easier to assemble, and may be a little better looking.

    The grill mesh is very fine on the Morex, so it's possible airflow would be worse.
    Reply
  • Belard - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    The photos show a VESA mount and a dual drive cage.

    But the heat is enough of a problem with just a single drive.

    It would be better to make it slightly bigger to have proper cooling.
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I was talking about my Morex case. Reply
  • londiste - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    i could get a fairly busy itx motherboard (based on the pictures, at least as busy as yours) into the case without taking out the power circuitry board.

    however, when trying to hide as much cables as possible away from the perforated side, and trying not to cover the ventilation slits in the side at the same time, i did have some trouble getting the side panel back on.

    i have to say that the power brick gets uncomfortably warm after heavy load already with my puny g620. i used to run the same system with a 80w picopsu and 60w brick which stayed considerably cooler...
    Reply
  • nethermancer - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I have one of these attached to the back of a 22" monitor and I cannot see the enclosure during normal use. This makes it like an All-in-one PC and my daughter really likes the small footprint in her room. I used an AMD A6-3500 triple core CPU and it really flies with an SSD and 4GB RAM. Could have done with a beefier PSU and allowed me to use a decent quad core CPU though. Antec managed a tiny 350W PSU on their minuet 350 case so why not here? Reply
  • Lonyo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Well I would expect they should be able to get a 150w PSU in there, but then what exactly are you going to do with a 150w system in such a small case? It would probably burn up.
    Plus 90w is probably actually enough for a quad core CPU, as long as you aren't running it with any other hardware (which you can't).
    Reply
  • MrMilli - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Why does something like this need to be this expensive? There's barely any use of material, especially compared to full size towers. Reply
  • SodaAnt - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    It includes VESA mounting hardware and a power supply. Reply
  • MrMilli - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    VESA mounting kit: $5
    Delta PSU: $15

    So that doesn't explain the cost.

    You can buy decent mini towers including PSU for less than $50. Why does this need to be $80?
    Reply

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