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Casetronic's Travla C137 Mini ITX enclosure

Mini ITX's little black dress

ModelTravla C137
Price (Street)$167

SIX MONTHS ago, VIA's miniscule EPIA-M10000 sold me on the Mini-ITX platform. Since then, a dearth of appropriate Mini-ITX enclosures has forced small form factor enthusiasts to cram Mini-ITX boards into everything from old Nintendo consoles to mini beer kegs. Ok, so maybe all those wacky EPIA mods were driven more by creativity than a lack of available Mini-ITX enclosures, but the Mini-ITX cases are still pretty scarce. Considering the platform's potential, that's really a shame.

To give enthusiasts an alternative to enclosing their EPIA boards in discarded 1980s game consoles, Casetronic has come up with a full line of "Travla" Mini-ITX cases. Today we'll be looking at the Travla C137, a sleek enclosure built for home theater PCs and stealthy desktops. Does the C137 fit the Mini-ITX platform like a glove, or are EPIA boards better off in beer kegs? Read on to find out.

From the outside
To get things started, here's a glamor shot of our black C137 review sample. The case is also available in silver if that's more your style.

Better aesthetics than a hacked up Nintendo. More ventilation, too.

Measuring just 2.7" x 12.7" x 10.5", the C137 is 30% smaller than Shuttle's tiny SV24 cube and can easily be tucked away in a home entertainment center. The C137's anodized aluminum face plate should blend in nicely with DVD players, hi-fi stereo components, and other consumer electronics devices, too.

For optical drives on a diet

With such a slender profile, the C137 is really too small to accommodate a standard 5.25" drive bay. Instead, the case is designed to work with the same slim optical drives found in laptop computers. Unfortunately, slim optical drives are quite a bit pricier than their 5.25" desktop counterparts. Happily, though, slim optical drives are almost overwhelmingly available in black, which nicely matches our C137's exterior. However, it looks like silver C137s are out of luck, because I've yet to see anyone selling silver slim optical drives online. The C137 doesn't have a hinged or sliding door to camouflage clashing optical drives, either.

Sorry, Compact Flash only

The C137 doesn't have an external 3.5" drive bay, but it does have a handy slot for an optional Compact Flash memory card reader. Integrated memory card readers aren't exactly "must have" features for home theater PCs, but it's nice to be able to view digital camera pictures instantly on a TV. Just think of how many excruciating wedding, vacation, and birthday picture slide shows you can torment guests with.

Unfortunately, the C137's optional card reader is Compact Flash-only, which is a little surprising since 6-in-1 card readers seem to be all the rage these days.

Bonus points for thumb screws

Around the back, the C137 has a couple of openings for PCI cards and a gaping hole for a motherboard's port cluster. The case doesn't actually ship with an I/O port shield, but since no one can seem to agree on a standard port configuration these days, motherboards tend to ship with their own port shields, anyway.

Let's pop those thumb screws and see what the C137 has to offer under the hood.