NCASE M1: An Ambitious Attempt to Mold a Mini ITX Case for Enthusiasts

Paul Lilly

What started off as a two-man pipe dream is now a crowdfunding campaign with backing from Lian Li.

Desktop PCs are shrinking, and if you need evidence of that, just take a look at Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) to see where mainstream systems are ultimately headed. Where does that leave power users and gamers? Well, there still exists a healthy array of full tower desktops and enthusiast-grade components, but for those who want to venture into smaller territory, the next frontier might be the mini ITX form factor. Dell's already gone there with its Alienware X51 PC , but why stop there? Two guys from [H]ardOCP's forums asked themselves the same question, and the answer they came up with is that if they want a mini ITX case intended for PC enthusiasts, they'd need to design it themselves. And so they did.

Based on feedback from the forum community and input from Lian Li's team of engineers, they came up with the NCASE M1 , a prototype mini ITX enclosure that supports 12.5-inch graphics cards and water cooling radiators up to 240mm.

"We believe the potential of the mini-ITX form factor has been stunted by the lack of high performance cases currently available for the platform," the NCASE team explains. "We also share a dissatisfaction towards the overuse of plastic, mediocre aesthetics, bloated case dimensions and lack of watercooling support common to many mini-ITX cases. So we did the logical thing...we designed the product we wanted to buy - the NCASE M1."

The NCASE M1 only exists as a concept at this point, so they've gone to Indiegogo raise $3,000 in funding. They're more than a third of the way there with 29 days left to go, and if they get the necessary funds, they'll have Lian Li build a prototype.

"Once we've tested the prototype and made the necessary revisions, the next step will be a limited production run - funded via a second crowdfunding campaign. The retail price of the M1 is projected to be between $160-$200," NCASE says.

In its current form, the M1 would feature three expansion slots, three 3.5-inch HDD mounts, three 2.5-inch SSD mounts, a slim slot-load optical drive mount, two USB 3.0 ports, support for CPU coolers up to 105mm tall, and support for 120mm and 240mm radiators. The case would also accommodate either an ATX or SFX power supply.

Check out NCASE's Indiegogo page for tons of renderings and an FAQ.

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