The Little One - Antec ISK300-65 Mini-ITX Casing


Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia

How can the Antec ISK300-65 be so small, you may wonder. The answer becomes apparent once you peel away the casing and look into its belly. Soon, it becomes obvious that the ISK300-65 cannot accommodate 3.5-inch hard drives and normal 5.25-inch optical drives. Instead, its drive cage is big enough only for 2.5-inch hard drives and the slimmer variety optical drives more commonly found in notebooks. Additionally, instead of a traditional PSU, it uses a 65W external AC-to-DC power adapter as its power source and a DC-to-DC ATX power distribution module affixed within the chassis. And lastly, the ISK300-65 only has space for half-height expansion cards. Little wonder then it is small.

Piecing the system together was easy enough, but trying to stow the cables away was a different story. They were bulky and some, like the 24-pin ATX power connector, was obviously too long and too bulky to be stowed or stuffed away neatly.

Also, we must note that with a PSU component that is rated at a measly 65 watts, which means there's little hardware you can pair with it. In fact, there are really only two setups you can readily 'choose' from:- Intel's Atom motherboard kit (Intel D945GCLF2 ) or NVIDIA's Ion platform (which also use the Intel Atom processor).

You can try mating the Antec ISK300-65 to an enthusiast class mini-ITX board like the Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi we've reviewed, but that would be pushing the limits of the ISK300-65's puny PSU, considering that we measured the Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi to have an idle power draw of 56W when equipped with a fairly capable but still dual-core based Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 processor. Moreover, that figure rises to 86W when running graphically intensive applications. Of course you could opt for a very low end Intel processor like the E5000/7000 series or the Pentium Dual-Core series to bring down the power levels, but this will still push the supplied PSU to its limits.

Ultimately, the choice of providing the Antec ISK300-65 with a lowly 65W PSU is puzzling given that it is possible to squeeze even a full height cooler into the case to tame more powerful processors and it can even be outfitted with a half-height discrete graphics card as we attempted to outfit the chassis to test its limits. Of course we don't expect users to actually squeeze it with a full height Intel cooler like in our trials, but given that even the standard half-height Intel coolers can accommodate entry-level quad-core processors, it clearly shows that the Antec ISK300-65 has a lot of untapped potentially held back by the PSU choice.