Review of NOX IT’X Fantastic Mini-ITX case

Summary: NOX has a new little beast in their catalogue: the very small NOX IT’X Fantastic case for Mini ITX systems.


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The available standards for smaller PC cases such as the Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX and Mini-DTX standards are nothing new, but lately things have started to happen in this segment. Previously VIA was more or less the only manufacturer for CPUs and motherboards for the ITX standard. However, the last year or so, we have seen new low powered (but powerful) CPUs coming out from Intel and new powerful integrated graphics chips from NVIDIA have also been released.


There are also many other recent shifts in technologies which have led to an increasing demand for good looking, slim, yet powerful media PC systems, suitable for the living room. The High Definition (HD) standard, flat screen TVs and Media Center software are examples of fairly new innovations which have pushed the PC into our living rooms.


It’s not until recently it has been possible to build a really small PC with enough power to play 1080p HD content. Today I will be taking a look at a nice looking case from NOX, the IT’X Fantastic Mini-ITX case



INTRODUCTION

The last couple of months, I have seen new cases with included power supplies, specifically designed for small dimensions living room PCs. NOX is one of the more prominent manufacturers in this segment and they have been getting a lot of attention for their new cases. Let’s take a look at the specifications of the IT’X Fantastic:



NOX IT´X Fantastic

Standard

Mini-ITX

Dimensions

70 (height) x 290 (length) x 268 (width) mm

Materials

Steel SECC 0,7mm
Front made of plastic/steel combo

Compatible motherboards

Mini-ITX

Expansion bays

1×3,5” internal
1×5,25” internal (only format slim)

Expansion slots

N/A

External ports

2 USB 2.0
3.5mm Microphone
3.5mm audio output (Audio AC97 and HD)

Cooling system

Hole for a 60mm fan

Power supply

Flex ATX
160W of power
EMI Protection
1 SATA connector

Extras

Feet for vertical installation

Anti dust filter



FIRST IMPRESSIONS

If you are used to handling normal ATX cases, you will be surprised by the small size and low weight of this package. The IT´X Fantastic comes in a regular cardboard box which you can see in the pictures below.


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As you can see from the image above, the case is available in black or white. Surely the Apple lovers will be drawn to the white box, I rather like the black finish though and that was the color of the model I tested.


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When I opened the box, I noticed that the case was even smaller than I had expected. In the image above you can see the case between the white foam which secures the case from the crazy postal service people. As you can see, the case is also enveloped in a plastic bag to protect it from scratches.



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The accessories included in the bundle are nothing special, a power cord, some mounting screws, two plastic feet for vertical placement of the case and a SATA power and data converter adapter cable.




NOX IT´X FANTASTIC IN DETAIL

When I took out the IT´X Fantastic case from its box I noticed that NOX has placed a plastic film to protect the front even further from scratches, a nice detail.


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I found the design to be quite sober and attractive with not too much extra details. I looks like something I could easily place in my living room. Of course design is something very much personal, but I like my living room to be clean from too much technology, I don’t want the technology gadgets to take up too much space or attention. Thus for me, the design of this case is perfect.



As you can see from the images, the front has a 5.25” bay for a DVD/blu-ray drive (slim standard, like the ones in laptops). In the front panel I also found 2 USB 2.0 ports and connectors for audio (headphones and microphone). The power button is located to the right side of the front panel below the LEDs for the power and the hard drive.


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The cooling system seems to be well thought through and well distributed but there is only room for a single 60mm fan. This fan is directed towards the hard drive which normally is a big heat generator within any system. The other openings seems to be placed smartly and should allow the flow of air to circulate nicely.



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As you can see from the image above, the back side of the IT´X Fantastic is not much to talk about. There’s a hollow where the panel of connectors from the motherboard will be placed and to the right of that, the PSU is placed with a tiny 40mm fan and the power cord connector.


The underside of the case has 4 small rubber feet which have two functions; to lift the case about 2mm from the surface and also to absorb any micro vibrations from the case fans and thereby eliminate unnecessary noise.


I opened the box by removing 3 screws and then I just lifted the top cover away. The first thing that caught my attention was the anti dust filter seen on the images below. The inner structure of the case is divided in 2 main sections, one for the power supply and another one for the motherboard, hard disk and optical unit.




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As the specifications say, the power supply offer 160W and below is a few more specifications unique for the PSU.


NOX-160SA-2FX (model of the PSU)

Power input

100/240Vac  
2,2A 
50/60Hz

Power output

+3.3V

16,7A

+5V

12A

+12V1

10A

-12V

0.3A

+5VSB

1,5A

Combined maximum power

+3.3V, +5V

61W

Total

160W

Connectors

20 connector ATX pin
4 connector ATX 12V pin
3 4 connectors molex pin
1 connectors SATA



The power supply is well equipped with many connectors considering that it is not possible to use PCI-E graphics cards in this case. But for mounting a system based on the NVIDIA GeForce 9300-ITX chip or an Atom or ION system the power should be enough.



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In the second zone, there is enough space for a 3.5” hard drive and an optical 5.25” slim drive. The wiring in this case looks alright but the wires are a little shorter than normal which should be expected since everything about the Mini-ITX standard is smaller than normal.



MOUNTING THE COMPONENTS

The components I used for this review was a ZOTAC GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi motherboard, an AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition CPU, 4GB of Kingston HyperX DDR2 1066 T1 Series and lastly a Seagate 320GB SATA hard drive. As you can see from the image below, I was left with a true case of cable hell after having assembled the system. I managed to hide some of the cables in the space behind the PSU but because of the short length of some of the cables I never managed to clean it up entirely.


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Beacuse I didn’t have access to a low profile cooler at the time of this review, I wasn’t able to analyze the temperatures with the top cover on, I’m sorry for that guys. But at least I was able to measure the voltage levels from the power supply which you can see in the graph below.


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As you can see the power output was very stable both in idle and full load, so as I said previously, this power supply should have no troubles to support a high range system. In operation the 40mm PSU fan is a bit noisy.



CONCLUSIONS

NOX has managed to produce a high quality case at a good price level at around 50€ (only available in Europe at the time of this review I’m afraid). Considering that it includes a good power supply, this is really a good price.  I found the design of the case very attractive, especially the front panel with its sober and elegant look. Something I would have liked to see is anti dust filters for all the ventilation openings.



The interior of the system is well distributed, it was easy to mount the components but I never really managed to arrange the wiring as I wanted, mainly due to the cables from the PSU. So, all in all, NOX has created a case of high quality with a built in and stable PSU that makes a tad too much noise for my likings. Overall this is a great buy for most of you looking for a Mini-ITX case for the living room.


Strong points

Weak points

Sober and elegant design

Cable management

High quality materials an nice finish

A little too noisy PSU fan

High quality PSU included


Icluded SATA cable for slim optical units


Small size


Price



NOX IT´X Fantastic

Packing

0,5/0,5

Accessories

1/1

Quality and finish

1,5/1,5

Special characteristics

0,75/1

Near space

2/2

Loudness

1,5/2

Price

2/2

Total

9,25/10


The final score is 92.5 out of 100 owls, and we give the “NOX IT´X Fantastic” our Editor’s Choice Award.



TestSeek Labs Editor's Choice 2009 Award



Thanks goes out to NOX for letting me review this case.



Author: Manuel González Fernández

Translator: Vince Emiloz Sanderson



  1. Matt
    January 6th, 2010 at 20:15 | #1

    Wow. This looks exactly the same as the HEC case I got over at Newegg. The power supply died just after 30 days.

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