Generally speaking, all mini-ITX system cases, however different they may be, fall into two main categories. The first and more popular category covers flat desktop cases designed mostly for compact components such as low-profile expansion cards, slim optical drives, 2.5-inch hard disks, miniature power supplies, etc. You cannot expect such a computer to be anything more than a home multimedia center that takes as little desk space as possible. A system case of this kind cannot accommodate top-end components. And even if it does, there are going to be serious problems with their cooling and power supply.
The second large category of mini-ITX enclosures is more interesting for users who are willing to replace their bulky full-size computer with something smaller, yet comparable in performance. We mean tower-design mini-ITX products. They are not as small as their flat desktop counterparts but instead offer better compatibility with standard components as well as broader cooling and expansion opportunities. Of course, a devoted gamer will hardly choose a mini-ITX case, even though some models do allow to install a serious graphics card. But a tower-design mini-ITX computer is surely an attractive option if you want to combine compactness with high performance.
We are going to cover products from both abovementioned categories in this review. One of the Chenbro system cases is a typical representative of the first category. It is a small multimedia center for compact components. The other Chenbro is a rather original miniature enclosure that allows building a high-capacity network attached storage device. The “towers” from Lian Li represent the other approach, offering you the opportunity to assemble a compact but high-performance system out of standard components.