Mini-ITX Hi-Fi case anyone?
Posted on 31st May 2010 at 02:49 by Richard Swinburne with 18 comments
One of the nicest - and smallest mini-ITX cases we've seen comes from Taiwanese company Lutec's retail brand, SEED.
SEED is a shoehorned acronym of "Saving Energy Efficiency Directly" - the brand promotes mini-ITX and low power chassis, as well as a few 80Plus ATX PSUs and some laptop accessories too.
Our interest was perked with the MU-380: a gently rounded and elegant aluminium mini-ITX case. It measures a very tiny 315 x 215 x 63mm, which also limits its compatibility to Atom-esq products under 6cm tall.
There's an SD card reader and USB port on the side, and it'll handle a slimline optical drive and 2.5in hard drive too.
It can sit on some HTPC style feet, or comes with a pair stands so it can be sat on its side and is available in both black and silver, but the silver is the one you want.
If you want something more 80s tape-deck (and who wouldn't?!) then the smaller MA-280 is it. The "B" model has space for three 2.5in hard drives, or two and one optical, and the "S" model has space for an inverted PCI/PCI-E card as well. Again, due to the small capacity, there's a limitation of what motherboards can be used, but SEED does at least throw in a 100W DC-DC PSU.
We've saved the best 'til last though; SEED's awesome concept case is the TWINSYS, a stackable, modular mini-ITX case set that looks like a combination of its MU-380 and a modern Hi-Fi rack.
The main case is 4.8L and is tall enough to house a full height PCI card and it has space for two hard drives, or one drive and one optical. It also includes a 90W DC-DC PSU, but the modular options include a 250-350W PSU option as well. There's a "Blu-ray" case which is basically a box with a "Blu-ray" sticker and a 5.25in space to add your own, and finally a "NAS" case with space for two 3.5in hard drives.
We love the concept - the idea of complete customisation which is so rare in small form factor cases - however the cabling worried us. It's not that it would be too long, it's that it'll be untidy. The connectivity is external only so you'll have to use USB, eSATA or an external ATX power cable. On being told about the case we envisioned discrete and clever cable routing between foot and roof, but it doesn't seem to be the case. Or cases.
We finished our visit to SEED think it was a brand with potential, but that needed to be bolder with its designs. Still, we'll be looking out for them at Computex to see what else they have on offer.