Hiper Media Chassis review
At the other end of the scale from Elonex’s huge and luxurious Lumina comes the Media Chassis from Hiper. The impressively tiny dimensions 430 x 266 x 53mm (WDH) make it look more like a standalone DVD player than the basis for a fully fledged PC, but it actually houses a surprising amount of kit.
For your money, you get the micro-ATX case itself, a pre-fitted 200W power supply and two rounded IDE cables. There’s also the attendant cabling for the four front-mounted USB 2 ports and single mini-FireWire port, which are hidden beneath a flap on the right-hand side.
The PSU itself has just a flimsy plastic barrier standing between you and some of the areas dealing with the 240V mains supply, although you’ll need to actively be fiddling with it for this to be dangerous. The 60mm fan certainly isn’t silent, but you’ll have to be within a metre or two to notice it in a living room.
There’s room for a single hard disk at the front-left of the chassis, with a notebook optical drive on top. You’ll only get a single card output on the backplane – an AGP riser is included as standard, and xcase.co.uk also sells them for PCI or PCI Express (£8). However, if you opt for a motherboard with integrated graphics, you needn’t use it all.
It does restrict your options if you’re planning to use a TV tuner, though (the only dual tuner cards are currently analog only), or adding a graphics card for gaming, but it’s an inevitable side effect of its diminutive size. More of a problem is that the risers didn’t keep a tight grip on the card, causing them to come loose over time.
It’s also so tight for space inside that many riser cards will press into the top of the case, although there’s an area of plastic coating on the lid that prevents shorting. Despite our best efforts to keep the internals tidy, it still felt like trying to close a full suitcase when putting the lid back on. We found it tended to buckle without much provocation too and, while the removable bracing bars reinforce the lid, it was tricky to get sitting flush again.
The 12V power connector is also a touch short, so you’ll need to engage in some cable DIY to use motherboards with the connector at the far-right edge. Given that this includes AOpen’s 855GME Pentium M board, which is otherwise a perfect candidate, it’s an oversight, although the new 915 chipset version was fine .
You’ll have to consider your components carefully. We’d avoid hot-running (particularly 10,000rpm models) hard disks for a start, and you’re also slightly restricted by having to find a low-profile heatsink – they’re rarely quiet and won’t always cope with top-end speeds.
Once it’s all put together, though, you’re left with an amazingly tiny case. We’re not crazy about the plastic fascia, but it looks reasonable enough from a distance. All in all, it’s an impressive design with reason to tempt the home system builder. We can forgive the slight flimsiness at this price, although we’d still like to see a little more attention to detail to really steal the show.