NCASE M1: The original crowdfunded computer case
The story of the M1 started with a simple idea: motivated by the shortcomings of what had come before, we set forth to do better. The road would be winding, with many paths explored, and abandoned. A grassroots effort from its inception, the design process involved the community of PC enthusiasts at every step of the way. From the overall aesthetic design, down to the smallest detail, every facet was subject to the scrutiny and feedback of hobbyists, DIY'ers, and average users alike.
Through the support of the community, the project successfully raised funds to have a prototype built and tested. This paved the way to a second crowdfunding campaign for a full production run, contracted to the respected case manufacturer, Lian Li. Nearly one thousand first edition M1s were successfully delivered to people all around the world.
The road has been long, but the end result speaks to the passion, dedication, and support of the community and everyone involved. We'd like to offer our sincerest thanks to all of our supporters that have stuck with us and helped to bring this project to fruition.
Minimalist in size and style
The M1 sets itself apart with its unique combination of high performance capability and exceptional flexibility, in a deceptively small and appealingly understated package. Coming in at a svelte 12.6 liters in volume, the all-aluminum chassis has the proportions - and features - of a much larger case. Looking like a conventional tower case, but on a much reduced scale, the M1 has a footprint smaller than many "cube"-style small form-factor cases. It's compact enough to pack into a carry-on, while the featherweight, yet sturdy, aluminum construction makes it easy to travel with.
Small case, big performance
Designed for the mini-ITX motherboard form-factor for maximum space savings, the M1 nevertheless sports big-case features. Support for a dual-slot video card up to 12" is possible by utilizing the full length of the case; a specially designed opening at the front of the chassis allows long cards to be installed with ease.
While other cases in this size class place strict limits on CPU cooler size, the M1 is able to accommodate 120mm- and 140mm-fan top-down coolers of up to 130mm in height. Thanks to the innovative dual side 120mm fan bracket, a single 120mm or 240mm all-in-one water cooling radiator can also be mounted internally.
Custom water cooling
For the truly hardcore, the M1's dual side 120mm fan mount allows for custom water cooling loops using a slim 240mm radiator. Kits such as Swiftech's H220 and Cooler Master's Glacer 240L make it easy, and include everything needed for fully internal water cooling. They can even be expanded to include the GPU in the loop, for greatly reduced noise under load, or for more overclocking headroom. Never before has this level of capability been possible in a case of this size. With properly set up water cooling, high performance, low noise, and small size is no longer a "choose two" proposition.
With its sleek, subtly-faceted brushed aluminum front panel, the M1 presents a refined, minimalist face to the world. An angular, arched cutout exposes the front USB 3.0 and HD audio ports, flanking the central power button, whose two-color LED glows crisply - but not overly bright - when powered. Side and top panels are perforated with symmetrical ventilation areas, ensuring both visual harmony and proper system airflow.
Fully toolless exterior panels allow easy access to the interior, while keeping the clean, smooth surfaces free of the visual clutter of screws or fasteners. The simple upward-facing slot at the front of the top panel provides discreet access to the neatly integrated mount for a slim slot-loading optical drive.
Whether at a lan party, or entertaining guests in the living room, the M1's refined looks are eye catching in any setting.
A multitude of possibilities
The M1 was designed with flexibility in mind, so while long video cards and water cooling support are great features, not everyone needs them. If 240mm radiator support isn't required, a pair of 3.5" drives can be installed on the side bracket. At the front of the chassis, either an upward-facing slim slot-loading optical drive or a 2.5" drive may be mounted.
The fully ventilated case floor presents further configuration options, featuring a total of six different mounts for a combination of drives and/or fans. A single 3.5" drive plus an 80 or 92mm fan, or a 2.5" drive plus a 120mm fan are just two of the possible combinations. Utilizing the included stacking bracket, two 2.5" drives may be used on any of the 2.5" mounts. In total, between the side bracket and chassis mounting, up to three 3.5" drives or five 2.5" drives may be mounted, depending on other components.
The M1 is designed primarily to use an SFX power supply, for which it is best suited. However, if the dual 3.5" HDD cage or 240mm radiator support aren't needed, and a short GPU under (195mm long) is used, then an ATX power supply can be installed with an included bracket.
Dimensions (H x W x D): 240 x 160 x 328mm, 12.6L (250 x 160 x 338mm overall)
Motherboard support: Mini-ITX, Mini-DTX
Liquid cooling support: Single 120mm or 240mm slim radiator
Power Supply support: SFX, ATX (limited; see compatibility section)
- 3 x 3.5" Mounts:
- 1 on case floor
- 2 in removable side bracket (cannot be used with dual radiator)
- 3 x 2.5" Mounts:
- 1 inside chassis front
- 1 behind front panel (in place of optical drive)
- 1 on case bottom (in place of 3.5" drive)
- Included double-stacking bracket allows 2 x 2.5" drives on one mount (depending on drive thickness)
Disc Drive: Slim slot-load optical drive bay
- 4 120mm fan mounts
- 2 on side bracket
- 2 on case bottom (in place of 3.5" drive)
- 1 x 80/92mm fan mount (bottom)
- 1 x 80/92mm fan mount (rear)
Front ports: 2 x USB 3.0, HD Audio
Power button: Red/blue power/drive activity LED
Material: 1.5mm aluminum construction, anodized brushed exterior, painted interior
- Top-down coolers are recommended.
- Height restriction: 130mm
- Cooler cannot extend past the top of the board by more than 10mm. For many larger coolers, this limits motherboard choice to those with centrally-located sockets.
- Large coolers that extend past the front of the board will prevent the 3.5" HDD cage from being used.
- Sealed liquid coolers or integrated pump/block and radiator/res recommended.
- Single 120mm or 240mm radiators only.
- Thinner radiators only (under 40mm).
- Fans in push/pull are not recommended due to space constraints.
- Rear exhaust cards recommended.
- Max length: 12.5" (slots 1 & 2), 11" (slot 3)
- Max width:
- For cards up to 12.5" or cards in the third slot: 4.4"
- For cards up to 11.5" in the first or second slot: 5.5" (4.7" at the PCIe power connectors)
- SFX PSU support is standard
- ATX PSU support is possible using the included bracket with the following limitations:
- Cannot be used with the dual 3.5" HDD cage or 240mm radiator mounted to the side bracket (120mm radiator is still possible over the motherboard area)
- Up to 160mm modular PSUs may be used with short GPUs (under 195mm long)
- To use an ATX PSU and GPU over 195mm, the PSU can not be longer than 140mm and must be non-modular (but this is not recommended unless shortening/removing excess cables)
- The AC inlet orientation on some ATX power supplies may prevent the angle plug from fitting, please check carefully. See this image. Note: the included AC cable has been changed from right-angle to left-angle for V2.
For specific components, the community has created a user-contributed spreadsheet (be careful! Edits are open and shared with everyone). Other sources of information include the M1 picture and build thread on [H]ardforum, as well as the original project thread.
How can I order an M1?
If everything is working properly, you should see a big red "preorder" button somewhere on this page. That should take you to the order page.
What's this preorder thing about?
Ordering the M1 works very much like a crowdfunding campaign: once we've received enough preorders to meet the our goal - the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) - we'll place a production order with Lian Li. After manufacturing has been completed, cases will be shipped directly from Taiwan to customers around the world. In the unlikely event that we don't receive the necessary preorders to meet the MOQ by a predetermined date, full refunds will be issued. Update: MOQ has been reached as of June 1st. Production order is scheduled to be placed later in the month.
This is the approach we currently have to take, because we're still just a tiny, two-man operation, without the resources and distribution network of a large company.
How long will it take to receive my M1?
This depends on how quickly we reach the MOQ, and when your order is placed. Once the MOQ has been met and we've placed the order, production will take several weeks, depending on the size of the order and Lian Li's manufacturing schedule. In addition, shipping method and destination country factor into delivery time.
What's included with the M1?
The M1 comes with the following: screws for drive and fan mounting, rubber softmounts for drive mounting, 2.5" stacking brackets, ATX PSU bracket, 4x 120mm fan filters, 4x 120mm metal fan grilles. No fans or paper manual are included.
What's the difference between M1 V1 and V2?
V2 has a few minor changes. You can see a list here.
Can I turn the optical drive slot version into the no-ODD slot version if I get the slotless top panel?
Yes, both versions of the chassis are identical. The only difference is the top panel, which is easily replaced.
Can I cancel my order?
Yes, but only up until we've placed the production order with Lian Li.
Do you offer refunds or replacements?
We offer replacements for defective parts or shipping damage. We do not offer refunds.
Can I buy extra case panels or other parts?
We do plan to offer certain parts (extra panels, etc.) for sale through our website at a later date.
There's no manual! What do all the screws do?
See this image.
How do I remove the side panels?
The side, top, and front panels require no tools to remove. Using your fingertips, simply pull them away from the case by the edges.
How do I mount drives in the case?
There are two types of drive mounting:
- For the rounded keyhole mounts (2.5" mounts, one bottom 3.5" mount), attach the rubber softmounts and screws to the drive first, then slide the drive into the keyholes.
- For the spade-shaped keyhole mounts (on 3.5" HDD cage and one bottom 3.5" mount), insert the rubber softmount into the keyhole first, then screw the drive in.
Additionally there are small brackets included which allow 2.5" drives to be installed together in a stacked fashion.
Will x fit in the M1?
Please see the compability tab for size restrictions and links to more information.
A 450W SFX power supply can't possibly be enough power for a high end system, can it?
It most certainly can. Power requirements are often greatly exaggerated, by manufacturers and users alike. There are numerous examples
of people running GTX 780s and R9 290Xs on Silverstone's 450W SFX PSU with no issues - even with overclocked CPUs and watercooling! In
practice, such systems rarely exceed 350W.
For those who really want to push mini-ITX to the absolute limit, a 600W SFX from Silverstone has been announced for release later this
A 240mm radiator can't possibly be enough to cool both a high end CPU and GPU, can it?
It most certainly can. Radiator requirements are often exaggerated, but this also has to do with expectations and what your goals are.
A 240mm radiator and full water loop in the M1 can significantly lower the noise of the GPU, while keeping temperatures below stock.
Are there any accessories designed for the M1?
Yes! Demciflex offers magnetic filters specially designed for the M1. They can be purchased directly from their site, or from FrozenCPU or Performance PCs.
Additionally, other members of the community have spearheaded the development of the following accessories for the M1:
Please note NCASE has no affiliation with any of these individuals or companies.
Why isn't the M1 microATX? All you have to do is add a slot!
One of the primary design goals of the M1 was to be able to house, power, and cool high performance components, while being as small as reasonably possible. Mini-ITX is the smallest motherboard form-factor capable of supporting such a build, and is actually considerably smaller than mATX. In particular, the short length of mini-ITX is what allows the front-mounted power supply, and by extension, the side-mounted dual radiator. Keeping the same layout with mATX would result in a a significantly larger case.
MicroATX also has a higher set of requirements in regards to cooling and power delivery, necessitating a move to larger components (ATX PSUs) and less compact layouts to ensure good airflow.
Silent PC Review recommends the NCASE M1
"Any trained eye can see that the NCASE M1 is a passion project even without knowing its origin story. It's absolutely gorgeous and surprisingly compact considering the components it supports. The well-conceived design is so detailed that everything fits with very little room leftover. The vertical slot-loading 5.25 inch drive in particular was ingenious as it hides the increasingly unpopular optical drive option without using up much space. It's also clear that usability was a key factor. Every panel pops-out easily, giving users unfettered access to every corner of the chassis during assembly, while the alternate drive/fan placements allow for some nice flexibility."Full review @ silentpcreview.com
NCASE M1 awarded PC Perspective's Editor's Choice
"The NCASE M1 is a beautifully simple enclosure that accomplishes the goal of creating a fantastic mini-ITX solution. It’s styled with a minimalist approach, and small enough to be unobtrusive just about anywhere. The quality of the case is high, and it certainly feels like a premium part - especially with its ultra-light aluminum construction. If these become widely available the M1 would make a solid recommendation for someone looking to go all-out on a mini-ITX build."Full review @ pcper.com