Introducing the Antec ISK 110 VESA

We've been having a good run of Mini-ITX cases lately, but most of those cases are designed to still be able to support what are essentially fully-powered systems: standard voltage CPUs, dedicated graphics cards, an optical drive and multiple storage drives. Yet part of the charm of Mini-ITX is that it's capable of fitting into a much smaller space than even a Micro-ATX board theoretically could. If you're gunning just to produce a system that's very small and very efficient, but you don't want to just use someone else's build, a Mini-ITX board and the right enclosure can have you covered.

That's where the Antec ISK 110 VESA comes in. This case is about as small as it gets, and includes the necessary hardware to actually mount it to the back of a monitor. Antec has trimmed about as much fat as you could conceivably hope to trim; there's enough room for a Mini-ITX board, two 2.5" drives, and that's it. It includes an external 90-watt power supply and just enough internal power circuitry to drive low-to-moderate power hardware. With so little room to work in, did Antec make the right decisions, or was there still more they could do?

A few months back we were able to review two complete designs from Puget Systems that employed the ISK 110 VESA, and those systems proved you could still install a formidable machine in the tiny space. Yet there are very real limitations in getting a desktop this small, as well as certain trade-offs that Antec made. Just because there isn't much to pack in the ISK 110 VESA doesn't mean there isn't much to say about it or consider in its design; when you're drilling down this far, real choices have to be made.

Antec ISK 110 VESA Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External -
Internal 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front -
Rear -
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots -
I/O Port 4x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Included external 90W
Clearances HSF 40mm
Dimensions 8.7" x 3.1" x 8.4"
222mm x 78.6mm x 212mm
Weight 2.9 lbs / 1.3 kg
Special Features External 90W 92% efficiency PSU
Price $84

I wasn't kidding when I said this is about as barebones as it gets, but the price is reasonable at least considering you're getting a fairly specialized case, the necessary mounting brackets for placing it behind a monitor, and a power supply.

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

    Well, the mac min has a different set of design criteria. Apple doesn't have to fit a specific form factor, so they can mount pretty much everything on the board itself and do away with most of the cables. When you realize that you can get the same power as the $600 mac mini in a laptop $200 cheaper, you also realize how much more expensive it is.If antec were designing something like the mac mini, they could mount all the power hardware on the board, have a direct connection for the power, hdd, and fan. Further, the mac mini doesn't support two hard drives like this case does.
  • sligett - Monday, September 3, 2012 - link

    Apple will sell you a Mac Mini with two drives:

    750GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm + 256GB Solid State Drive
  • deruberhanyok - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    a mini ITX motherboard with a pair of mini PCI Express slots. One for wifi and one for an SSD.

    You'd have less cabling and the SSD would get cooling from airflow off the CPU heatsink.

    Unfortunately, it seems mini ITX boards with mini PCI Express slots usually only have one. Still, better to put the SSD there and use a USB wifi dongle, I'd think.
  • drfish - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I'm hoping to put an AMD A300 APU in one of these things. We don't need much power for the Solidworks models we produce but we do need the BS certified drivers so I'm hoping this will make a solid tiny workstation, err, a tiny Solidworkstation I guess.
  • Termie - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Thanks for covering this hot new area of case design. I think ITX is really the way a lot of people will be going.

    While this case is smaller than I'd consider reasonable or necessary, it's definitely interesting to read about.

    I'd be very curious, however, what your opinion would be of two cases I recently considered for an ITX build:

    (1) The Antec ISK 310-150, the big brother to the ISK 110 (which has that extra PSU headroom you're wishing for).
    (2) The Bit Finex In Win BP655, which is just slightly larger than the ISK 310, and which I ultimately chose for a recent ITX build.

    The Antec is slightly smaller (in one dimension only - height (in the long direction), and also has venting for a PCIe video card. The Bit Finex is much cheaper, has more PSU headroom, takes a 3.5" drive and a full-size optical drive, and has just a bit more room to work in.

    Again, thanks for covering this area of case design!
  • Termie - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Sorry, I mean In Win BP 655, not Bit Finex.
  • Zap - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I'm using the ISK 300-150 (different face than the ISK 310-150, all black with flip-down)

    In Win traditionally has somewhat mediocre PSUs. At least Antec's is somewhat known, as a review site used a load tester on it (hardwaresecrets?) and found it does put out what it claims without issues, other than lower efficiency than what is now considered normal. Only redeeming part of In Win's case is that it uses a standard TFX PSU, unlike Antec's proprietary PSU. Seasonic makes 80Plus Gold PSUs in the TFX size up to 350W. Good luck fitting 350W worth of parts into such a small case!

    I believe Antec uses slightly thicker steel than In Win for the case panels.
  • AssBall - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    "...while it relies solely on the heatsink/fan combo to actively cool the system, it also relies solely on the heatsink/fan combo to actively cool the system."

  • Termie - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I think that was an attempt at humor.

    One fan means it runs hot, one fan means it runs quiet...
  • Lonyo - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Do you have any alternative PSUs to hand? Might be interesting to see if something like a PicoPSU would make the entire job any easier than dealing with the built in one (as odd as that sounds).
    The main issue would be the fact there is only one SATA connector on that specific model, but you could get an adapter (although it would take up a little extra space), or re-wire a SATA connector instead of second PATA.

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