Sunday, September 5, 2010

Antec ISK 310-150 mini-ITX case review

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Today we'll be taking a closer look at the Antec ISK-310 150 mini-ITX case.

We'll start off with some specs taken from the Antec ISK-310 product page at

Power supply150-watt power supply
Cooling system1 x side 80mm TriCool™ 3-speed exhaust fan
3 drive bays
  • External 1 x 5.25" slim optical bay
  • Internal 2 x 2.5" HDD bays
Expansion Slots1 half-height expansion slot
Form-factorMini-ITX 170mm (W) x 170mm (L)
Convenient front ports
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • Audio (AC'97 and HDA compatible) In and Out
Case dimensions
  • 96mm (H) x 222mm (W) x 328mm (D)
  • 3.8" (H) x 8.7" (W) x 12.9" (D)
Packaging dimensions
  • 295mm (H) x 380mm (W) x 195mm (D)
  • 11.6" (H) x 15" (W) x 7.7" (D)
Net weight5.5 lb / 2.5 kg
Gross weight8.3 lb / 3.8 kg

The case is enclosed in a simple box. Most ISK products from Antec come in similar cases.

Inside the box, we have a little box with accessories.

These include :
  • A power cable
  • A stand to place the case in a vertical position
  • A bag of screws
  • Cable management helpers
  • Anti-vibration pads

The case has a nice look to it. What stands out is the silver front bezel. Unfortunately, it also contains one of the major pain points of this case, but we'll get to that in a minute.

On both sides of the case we have ventiallation grills (used as exhausts). The main air intake grill is at the top of the case.

On the front we have :
  • 1 eSata connector
  • 2 USB connectors
  • Audio input & output
  • A reset switch
  • A power switch

A view from the side also reveals sufficient air vents on the side of the case.

On right side of the case we have 3 80mm fan compartements out of witch 2 are already taken up. On the left, you have the exhaust fan of the 150W PSU. In the middle we have an empty compartment. On the right, we have an Antec TriCool exhaust fan with 3 speed levels.

The back of the case features :
  • room for a DC input (for example a picoPSU)
  • fan speed switches
  • main power input.

As already mentioned, the top of the case also has an air intake grill.

Thumb screws are used for take the cover from the case.

As you can see, there are several ventiallation grills in the case, providing for sufficient air-flow in the case when fans are properly setup.

Once we remove the lid of the case, we get to see this. Notice how the PSU is sitting at the front, with it's exhaust fan. Next to it we have the empty compartment, and next to that we have the Antec Tricool fan.

A nicer look from the side.

Here's a close-up view of the Antec Tricool fan.

Despite it being a Double Ball-Bearing edition, you can still hear the Antec Tricool fan spinning, even at the low setting.I doubt it will be much of an issue for most users. However, if you want to make it really quiet, you'll need to replace it with a different fan.

The exhaust fan can also be heard, especially when the system is under load, and more hot air needs to be moved away from the PSU. If you have the option of running this with a DV converter (like the Antec ISK-300 65 edition), or with a motherboard that has a built-in DV converter (like the Asus AT3IONT-I),

The other side will be primarily used to cable management. The PSU comes with a huge amount of connectors. Combine that with some long SATA cables and you have a serious cable management challenge. This however is inherit to the size of these cases.

The PSU comes with :
  • 1 x mainboard connector (Molex Mini-fit Jr 20 + 4 pin)
  • 3 x Molex 8981 connectors (4-pin)
  • 3 x SATA connectors
  • 1 x ATX +12 volt connector (4 pin)
  • 1 mini Molex connector for floppy
  • 1 mini SATA connector for slim optical drive

Most people will probably only use the main board connector, and 1 or 2 SATA connectors here. There is a connector provided to power a slim dvd/blu-ray drive. Keep in mind that when running this case without the CPU to ensure that you have some way of attaching the slim optical drive.

The drive case can be removed from the case using 3 screws, and is used to store up to 2 2.5inch hard drives, and a 5.25inch slim optical drive.

With the drive cage and PSU cables out of the way, we begin to see where our mainboard is going to be placed.

When installing the motherboard, the plastic cover between the 2 fans turned out to be a pain. It was pushing the CPU fan connector on the motherboard, preventing me to position the motherboard correctly. I had to remove the plastic cover in order to fit the motherboard correctly. This was also the case for the previous ISK models, I'm surprised Antec didn't fix this with this version. It is a pain, as you need to remove the PSU before you can remove the chassis containing the fan & the plastic cover. Just as we thought we were making progress :)

Here's another close-up of the issue at hand :

The case actually looks rather spacious with the PSU out of the way.

The PSU is a 150W Antec power supply, custom built for this case. You won't be installing this into another case anytime soon I think.

Included here are the specs from the PSU :

Sliding in the mainboard is a breeze with the PSU and the case fan chassis removed. Unfortunately, we'll need to put them back in in a while. The board that is used here is a Asus Atom AT3IONT-I

With the PSU back in , things are getting a bit more packed.

Notice how close the edge of the motherboard is towards the PSU.

When all cables are attached to the motherboard, the drive cage can be placed back on top.

All cables are nicely tucked away on the left-hand side of the case.

This completes the build. Apart from the issue with the fan container blocking the PSU fan connector of the motherboard, it was a fairly smooth build. There is sufficient space above the CPU for air flow, and cable management was manageable. The Ante Tricool fan should be quiet enough for most people in low setting. Anything higher then that, and you will hear the unit running, even when not standing next to it.

I've hooked up my Kingston SSD and I'm going to place it under my television set tomorrow. I'll publish some temperatures, power consumption and conclusions on noise this weekend, so stay tuned.


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