The Mini-ITX platform has a delightfully small footprint that's spawned all sorts of tiny chassis. Unfortunately, building systems inside those cases can be a royal pain. The internals are always cramped, and even if your components fit, your hands are inevitably too large to place the parts easily. Lian Li's latest Mini-ITX prototype aims to address that problem with a unique hinged design. After the side panels have been removed, the whole front and top of the case flip forward to expose the internals.
Nifty. The PC-Q33, as it's called, offers plenty of access to motherboard and the ATX power supply below it. Everything is packed in tightly, with dual 3.5" drive bays next to the PSU and three 2.5" mounting points on the front face. But it looks like you can get at all the components without too much trouble.
The PC-Q33 is nice and compact, measuring 9" x 13" x 9.7". Those dimensions limit the hardware that can be squeezed inside; the case can only accept graphics cards and PSUs up to 8.7" and 7.9" long, respectively. The maximum CPU cooler height is 7.1", and there's no room for a 5.25" optical bay.
There are also limitations attached to cooling. The chassis has room for only one 120-mm fan, though there are cut-outs for water-cooling tubing at the rear and support for 120-mm radiators. Perforations pepper the left and right pannels, which should provide plenty of opportunity for passive airflow.
From the outside, the PC-Q33 looks great. I really like the brushed aluminum face, and there are loads of thumbscrews around the back. What do you think of the case? Seriously, Lian Li wants to know. The company posted pictures of the PC-Q33 in the XtremeSystems forums, and it wants folks to chime in with their opinions on the design.