Assembling the Antec ISK 110 VESA

Given that there isn't a whole lot to the Antec ISK 110 VESA, you'd think assembly would be simple and straightforward. While it's straightforward, simplicity unfortunately isn't part of the equation; cramped quarters are never good for getting a system put together, and the ISK 110 VESA is incredibly cramped.

What you'll find very early on is that while it was nice of Antec to include motherboard standoffs (in Mini-ITX cases especially I'm mystified when a vendor doesn't), that power circuitry board is going to have to come out. The height and placement of the capacitors on the board ensure that the already tough squeeze caused by the bundles of cabling and the size of the case itself make it nigh impossible to actually get the board in. Thankfully the board is secured by two screws.

Unfortunately, this also means you're going to have to jimmy it back into the case after the motherboard has been installed. Because of the way the power board sits on the two mounting posts, it's incredibly easy to knock it off center and mess up trying to mount it again. If you're not steady, this could get frustrating in a hurry.

Connecting cables has almost never been as trying as it is in the ISK 110 VESA, either. You're going to be squishing and squeezing them around corners, over DIMMs, and pretty much just wherever you can get them, and this is all before you connect the internal power headers. That breakout cable is for the most part up to the task, but the four-pin AUX 12V header is way, way too short. It was designed for Mini-ITX boards with that connector in the top left corner, behind the I/O cluster, not in the top right like our testbed board. A visit to NewEgg reveals that there's no standard placement for this header on Mini-ITX boards; they're pretty much all over the map. As a result, I had to use an extension cable.

Thankfully all the excitement is happening on this side of the case; you can connect the needed SATA power and data leads and then jam them through the single gap left between the motherboard and the chassis to route them to the underside. Installing a 2.5" drive or two to the removable bracket is a breeze, and connecting the leads to the drive doesn't require too much finesse.

Where I'll admit to being surprised is that after looking at the cable spaghetti (and be absolutely certain there are no wires obstructing the fan on the heatsink) I wasn't sure I'd even be able to jam the top of the ISK 110 VESA back on. The bottom went back on easy enough, but there isn't a whole lot down there. The extruded ventilation of the top panel is much more spacious than it appears, though, and closing up shop proved to be much easier than I had anticipated.

A finished system in the ISK 110 VESA just isn't going to be that attractive; even Puget Systems had a hard time keeping the cabling straight and clean with the two Echo systems they sent us for review. What matters most is just keeping the fan blades on the heatsink clear, since that's the only active cooling your entire system is going to have.

In and Around the Antec ISK 110 VESA Testing Methodology
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  • bobbozzo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    On page 1, "drive moderate-to-low voltage hardware" should probably be changed to "drive moderate-to-low wattage hardware". Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    My (fanless) firewall is an Atom motherboard running in a Morex T3310 case, which appears to be about the same size.
    It comes with a 60 or 80-watt external power brick and 80-watt internal DC-DC power supply.

    It only holds one 2.5" drive.

    It does not VESA mount.

    From your description of the Antec, the Morex may be easier to assemble, and may be a little better looking.

    The grill mesh is very fine on the Morex, so it's possible airflow would be worse.
    Reply
  • Belard - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    The photos show a VESA mount and a dual drive cage.

    But the heat is enough of a problem with just a single drive.

    It would be better to make it slightly bigger to have proper cooling.
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I was talking about my Morex case. Reply
  • londiste - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    i could get a fairly busy itx motherboard (based on the pictures, at least as busy as yours) into the case without taking out the power circuitry board.

    however, when trying to hide as much cables as possible away from the perforated side, and trying not to cover the ventilation slits in the side at the same time, i did have some trouble getting the side panel back on.

    i have to say that the power brick gets uncomfortably warm after heavy load already with my puny g620. i used to run the same system with a 80w picopsu and 60w brick which stayed considerably cooler...
    Reply
  • nethermancer - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I have one of these attached to the back of a 22" monitor and I cannot see the enclosure during normal use. This makes it like an All-in-one PC and my daughter really likes the small footprint in her room. I used an AMD A6-3500 triple core CPU and it really flies with an SSD and 4GB RAM. Could have done with a beefier PSU and allowed me to use a decent quad core CPU though. Antec managed a tiny 350W PSU on their minuet 350 case so why not here? Reply
  • Lonyo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Well I would expect they should be able to get a 150w PSU in there, but then what exactly are you going to do with a 150w system in such a small case? It would probably burn up.
    Plus 90w is probably actually enough for a quad core CPU, as long as you aren't running it with any other hardware (which you can't).
    Reply
  • MrMilli - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Why does something like this need to be this expensive? There's barely any use of material, especially compared to full size towers. Reply
  • SodaAnt - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    It includes VESA mounting hardware and a power supply. Reply
  • MrMilli - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    VESA mounting kit: $5
    Delta PSU: $15

    So that doesn't explain the cost.

    You can buy decent mini towers including PSU for less than $50. Why does this need to be $80?
    Reply

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