Cheap mITX case with PSU

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Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Sun Jun 01, 2014 1:34 pm

Hey gerbils. Someone asked me "what's the cheapest new computer you can reasonably use to run Windows 7" and I thought that was easy:

  • Kabini and mITX board
  • cheap $50 mITX case with 60-200W integrated or external PSU
  • One stick of DDR3
  • A little SSD, since they're cheaper than small mechanical drives at last.

So, I just priced that up quickly and it's £150 ($250) for a quad kabini with 4GB DDR3, a 128GB SSD and a £40 InWin case & 200W TFX power supply. I could maybe shave £20 by dropping to a dual-core and a 64GB SSD or mechanical but that just seems mean.

My question to you guys is "what is your go-to mITX case when cost is the issue?"
Cube/shoebox cases aren't out, but you can usually get an mITX case and 90W power brick for less than any entry level ATX PSU worth using. I suspect anything with a 60W brick or more is going to be fine feeding Kabini's 25W TDP, so really - which of the cheap brick-fed (or integrated brick) mITX case options is worth looking at? Brands available in Europe are things like CIT, Antec, Akasa, Silverstone, InWin, CM, Tt, Bitfenix, Fractal, Cheiftec, Corsair. Rosewill, or other US-store "own brands" don't exist over here :(

Suggestions welcome!
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Sun Jun 01, 2014 2:27 pm

Yeah, same as you, I'd tend towards an InWin MITX case of some sort, if price is a concern. If price isn't a major issue then I'd probably look at one of the little Antec boxes - partial to the ISK300-150 purely because it can take an optical drive, 2x2.5" drives and a small GPU if necessary.
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:14 pm

I was going to suggest the one that Mentawl recommended.
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showprodu ... =CA-209-AN

It has room for a single low-profile PCIe card and a slim optical drive.
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/productli ... &subid=952

You may find that a pre-assembled micro-ATX box (especially a refurbished one) can be cheaper than mini-ITX.
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:15 pm

My firewall machine is an Antec ISK 310 mITX case. After some 'surgery', I love this thing. I don't recall what it cost, but I picked it up on a great sale.

I repowered it with a PicoPSU (160 + 60W Level V brick), and re-fanned it as per the review/recommendations on SilentPCReview.com of this case. Added Duct Tape over any open/needless holes, cut up dust filter foam and taped it over the remaining intake cut-outs. It's currently running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, with Mate 1.8 and VirtualBox running 2 instances of pfSense. Idles at 12-14W. Dead quite when idle, though becomes audible when loaded (but only because the mobo (Supermicro x9scv-q) has a non-standard HSF mount.
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:30 am

MarkG509 wrote:My firewall machine is an Antec ISK 310 mITX case. After some 'surgery', I love this thing. I don't recall what it cost, but I picked it up on a great sale.

Sadly the ISK300 and 310 are relatively expensive over here.
£72 is $120, or the same price as a board, CPU, SSD and RAM combined. I'm looking at the $40-60 options because if it's not cheap, there's no point going with Kabini.

I like the ISK though, we have one here on a glass shelf under a 60" TV, and it existed to perform the role of a NUC before NUCs were on the market ;)

Looking back at the super-cheap options like the InWin or this powercool the real question is "are the power supplies any good, or are they hot/noisy/failure-prone. Normally I'd be worried whether they can handle the load, but at 25W I'm pretty sure even the worst 100W+ PSU should be able to cope!
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:57 am

Zotac has just solved the problem, according to this news article:
http://techreport.com/news/26534/zotac-goes-fanless-with-zbox-c-series-mini-pcs
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 1:09 pm

I'm actually in a similar boat to you in needing a low-power, cheap build. Your needs may differ, but this is my build for a PFSense router/proxy I will be doing soon:

M350 Case - $42 - http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Mini-IT ... pd_cp_pc_0
PicoPSU 80W - $24.50 - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005TWE5E6/ref ... 4352TQ5OQ3
Power Brick - $19 - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000VE7GQQ/ref ... 320A1325DZ

That's the case and power. All in all, it's a little more than you wanted to spend but it's going to meet my needs. I'm putting in a passive GA-J1900N-D3V motherboard. My entire build is just over $300USD with SSD and everything else.
EDIT: Damn work IE not having spelling help.
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 3:49 pm

Mini-Box.com has a kit consisting of M350, PicoPSU-80 and 60W (Level V ~= 80+ Silver) brick, for $69.00 with free US shipping.

I've ordered from them twice, and they were great both times. I bought the PicoPSU 160-XT because I wanted the 24 Pin ATX connector (instead of 20 pin), and the specs seem to indicate that it's ever so slightly more efficient.

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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:00 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:Zotac has just solved the problem
Nice, but for those building firewalls, it looks like 1 Ethernet and no way to add a 2nd (unless wireless is ok).
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:59 pm

Losergamer04 wrote:I'm putting in a passive GA-J1900N-D3V motherboard. My entire build is just over $300USD with SSD and everything else.
EDIT: Damn work IE not having spelling help.

Apologies for going off topic but that motherboard appears to have problems with pfSense at the moment. See here for some examples:

https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=73518

Maybe the situation has improved with the latest F3 BIOS. Still, if it will be a production firewall, going with an older but proven board like Intel's D2500CC(E) might be a better idea.
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:15 pm

Naw, it's a home build. I have not seen anything on the F3 BIOS yet. I do know it has had issues but people have gotten it to work. Maybe another J1900 dual NIC board will come out by then without Realtec NICs. I had also thought of trying to KVM it, but that seems like a lot of work. A Netgate has come out with a similar priced system that is pretty good, too. I'm toying with what to get.
Back on topic, it seems like if mini-box has a Euro option that would be a good choice.
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:58 pm

I'm a bit late to the party, but have you considered the ISK 110? It's £25-30 less than the ISK 300, has room for a 2.5" drive, has an integrated 90W power board (though by some reports it's only capable of up to 80W, either way it's plenty for Kabini).

The M350 from mini-box and a Pico PSU are also a great option, depending on the conversion rates and shipping.

[edit] bah, looks like the seller with the good price on the 110 is out of stock. But still, might be worth a look if you can find it for under £50.
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Re: Cheap mITX case with PSU

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:05 am

Yeah, I've looked at it but it's double/triple the price of cheap options.
Perhaps at £50 it's reasonable, but for the normal price of £75, no way.

If you're shaving no more than £30-40 to downgrade from a socket FM2 solution, you don't want to be wasting £50 on getting a nicer case over some of the £25 options.
At the lowest of the low-ends (Atom/Kabini) £50 spent on a case could instead be used to double the RAM, double the CPU performance and quadruple the graphics horsepower!
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