Over the years I have come to appreciate the art of building a small format PC (SFF), which requires a little more planning and patience than building a desktop system inside a huge chassis, or even all from the typical middle tower enclosure. It's a potentially fun and rewarding challenge to face. If you're ready, watch out New mini-ITX Z5i chassis from G.Skill. I'm sure I will be.
It is supposed to be available in early July, they tell me. Meanwhile, G.Skill shared a handful of renders and some interesting information about his latest compact case, which features an “elegant pentagonal prism” design and some unique features. The main one is a set of curved tempered glass side panels.
They are 4 mm thick and surround a frame that has been precisely molded from a single piece of aluminum. An articulated design allows them to open like wings to access both cameras: a motherboard facing the bottom and a power supply mounted on the top are in the left chamber, while the graphics card is located vertically in the right chamber.
Although short, G.Skill says you can include powerful hardware inside the Z5i, including a three-slot graphics card up to 330 mm (12.99 inches) long.
Enough space to fit the best graphics cards, including Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition (three slots and 313mm long) or, if you prefer what AMD has to offer, the Radeon RX 6900 XT (slots 2, 5, which is effectively three slots), and 267 mm long). Many custom-cooled GPUs should also fit, though you'll need to check the dimensions to be sure.
You can also jam a reputable all-in-one CPU cooler. Specifically, G.Skill says the Z5i has room to accommodate up to a 280mm radiator or a pair of 140mm box fans if you prefer to follow the air cooling route. Either way, a magnetic mesh dust filter on top should prevent dust bunnies from docking inside. That said, I wonder about the overall cooling potential, in the absence of a front intake fan or ventilation at the front of the chassis.
For storage, there are two 2.5-inch unit mounts and a 2.5-inch / 3.5-inch convertible mount. Most motherboards also offer at least one M.2 slot, so for a typical version, you want to install at least four storage units in a compact c version based on the Z5i. Not bad.
The case is on a base with addressable RGB lighting. They don’t make me special jazz about the illuminated “G.Skill” brand, but the low brightness looks neat, at least from what I can see in the pictures. And in terms of connectivity, the case offers a pair of USB 3.0 type A ports and a USB 3.1 type C port on the front panel.
Paint me intrigued. While not mentioned in the press release, G.Skill tells me that Amazon will bring the Z5i early next month, with prices set at around $ 199.