Enclosure Need help finding an ultra-cheap ultra-barebones ITX case

sard

Cable Smoosher
Original poster
Dec 14, 2018
11
1
(New user, found this forum after a bunch of googling. Not sure if I should be posting this here or the 'General' section or the 'Custom cases' section. Feel free to redirect me).



I have an ancient ITX board I'm repurposing as a headless controller for a project. I need a small cheap case to throw it in which needs exactly zero features. In particular, it DOESN'T need space for:

- a power supply (I already have a working pico)
- any drives (this board will boot off a USB stick)
- any PCI cards
- fans (the heatsink fan is plenty)
- any front ports, jacks, lights, windows, VESA mounts, or other extras

I literally just need a bare metal box with standoffs inside and a power button. I've looked high and low, on Amazon, Newegg, Aliexpress, and even used cases on eBay but I can't for the life of me find an ITX case under $40 shipped (most are $50+). I don't understand why brand new ATX towers can be had for $25 but an ITX with 1/5 the metal suddenly is twice the price.

I'm on a tight budget for this and I just can't justify paying like 300% what the guts are worth on a case, especially given that my requirements are effectively non-existent. Does anyone know of a bare bones literally-just-a-box case than can be had for like $15 (or less)? I'm totally fine buying used.
 

NateDawg72

Master of Cramming
Aug 11, 2016
391
283
$25 - I know this isn't as low as you're looking for but I thought I'd mention it just in case there aren't better options. I found this on ebay, looks like the seller has a few of them, though it may have scratches.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/In-Win-BQ6...h=item2eebd94215:g:iTEAAOSwB4NWxO0a:rk:4:pf:0

I saw some really cheap cases from china but sadly shipping kills the deal, costing more than the case, which I'm sure you've seen already.

Edit: When it comes to the price of ATX / ITX chassis, often the big cost to a case isn't the amount of metal but all the work that needs to be done to form it: cutting, bending, stamping, holes, etc. Another issue is volume, the more cases they make the cheaper they get and unfortunately the smallest cases don't seem to be made in as much volume.
 

tinyitx

Shrink Way Wielder
Jan 25, 2018
1,749
1,598
As your requirement is zero feature, maybe you can DIY one yourself.
Use an used metal biscuit box or even a plastic sandwich box (eg Rubbermaid) and cut some holes for ventilation.
No need to use standoffs to support the motherboard. Use some doublesided tapes to fix the motherboard in place.
And get a cheap (US$ 1?) power button and you are ready to go.
Say, total cost should be less than US$ 10?
 
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sard

Cable Smoosher
Original poster
Dec 14, 2018
11
1
I found this on ebay

I saw that one. It's probably a good deal for what it is but I really don't need a freaking slimline DVD drive slot and all that jazz for this build. I was hoping to find something more primitive for cheaper.


I saw some really cheap cases from china but sadly shipping kills the deal, costing more than the case, which I'm sure you've seen already.

Yeah unfortunately. Aliexpress looks awesome until you realize that that $13 case needs $20+ worth of shipping and import tariffs to get here.


Edit: When it comes to the price of ATX / ITX chassis, often the big cost to a case isn't the amount of metal but all the work that needs to be done to form it: cutting, bending, stamping, holes, etc.

... right, but that's all the same work that would go into ANY case. In fact it's often less of it since there's no external drive bays or PSU mounts or anything in these smaller designs.


Another issue is volume, the more cases they make the cheaper they get and unfortunately the smallest cases don't seem to be made in as much volume.
I'm not even sure that's true. Stuff like the Minibox M350 or the Morex 557 seem to be pretty popular, and ITX in general is getting big (lol). I could understand volume issues making them the same price as a larger ATX tower, but ITX stuff seems to have a premium for no real reason other than 'because FU that's why'.
 

sard

Cable Smoosher
Original poster
Dec 14, 2018
11
1
maybe you can DIY one yourself.
Believe me I've thought about that a lot, but I don't think I have the equipment to do it properly. The computer does need to survive being knocked around for a year or two so just zip-tying it into a cigar box isn't really an option (or at least, not one that will last). I don't have any metal containers of the right size and shape, and cardboard/wood/plastic has all sorts of issues with EMI.
 

Choidebu

"Banned"
Aug 16, 2017
1,150
1,134
Get the inWin linked up there and freaking remove the freaking slimline drive. DIY one yourself is the other best bet you have. Maybe in the process you can appreciate how these stuff costs in people, actual humans, time.
 
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el01

King of Cable Management
Jun 4, 2018
770
587
(New user, found this forum after a bunch of googling. Not sure if I should be posting this here or the 'General' section or the 'Custom cases' section. Feel free to redirect me).



I have an ancient ITX board I'm repurposing as a headless controller for a project. I need a small cheap case to throw it in which needs exactly zero features. In particular, it DOESN'T need space for:

- a power supply (I already have a working pico)
- any drives (this board will boot off a USB stick)
- any PCI cards
- fans (the heatsink fan is plenty)
- any front ports, jacks, lights, windows, VESA mounts, or other extras

I literally just need a bare metal box with standoffs inside and a power button. I've looked high and low, on Amazon, Newegg, Aliexpress, and even used cases on eBay but I can't for the life of me find an ITX case under $40 shipped (most are $50+). I don't understand why brand new ATX towers can be had for $25 but an ITX with 1/5 the metal suddenly is twice the price.

I'm on a tight budget for this and I just can't justify paying like 300% what the guts are worth on a case, especially given that my requirements are effectively non-existent. Does anyone know of a bare bones literally-just-a-box case than can be had for like $15 (or less)? I'm totally fine buying used.
Why don't you literally just use a box?

Either way, I don't think you have many options from now on. ITX cases are still lower in volume, so they won't be produced much at all. With ITX cases, people are spending MORE time designing the case since they need to actually think about hardware fitting. In an ATX case, slap a box together, sure, since tower coolers will probably be smaller than the size of the case. In ITX, coolers can be very slimline or very large (relatively), so finding a right fit is more painful. Couple along volume considerations for drives, power supplies, and you've got quite a bit of R&D cost.

Additionally, most companies make the "dirt cheap" cases, and then they make more innovative cases. Those cases take time and human power to lay out. Would you think to indent the metal on a drive bracket to accommodate for the SATA power cable? The research and development cost is quite high on these SFF cases since they haven't been around for as long as ATX or MATX.

I understand your sentiments, but frankly, DIY is basically the best option I can think of for you. If you use the effort that the industrial engineers at, say, In Win use, you could paint the inside of a wood box with glossy finish to create an anti-ESD surface. Small crates and wooden boxes are cheap and have what you need, minus a power button and maybe front I/O.

Finally, I literally searched "Cheapest ITX case" and the wonderful algorithm got me this:
https://www.neweggbusiness.com/Prod...SuyXaBQTKkCb7mI_y_MaApb6EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

There.
 

yensteel

Caliper Novice
Aug 10, 2017
30
29
You can look up how cryptocurrency miners set up their computers. As long as the surface is not conductive you can just place the motherboard flat.

I did a budget setup before by getting standoffs for motherboard, and hot gluing them to a box. Makeshift testbench. Definitely would not mount it vertical though, has to be flat.
 
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sard

Cable Smoosher
Original poster
Dec 14, 2018
11
1
Thanks guys for the thoughts on a testbench frame but I can't use that. I need something that fully covers the board. (Otherwise I would've just gone dumpster diving and grabbed the motherboard tray out of someone's ATX tower). I live in a small city apartment and don't have a bunch of drills and saws and stuff so I don't really have the ability to be cutting up and making boxes myself.

Those cases take time and human power to lay out. Would you think to indent the metal on a drive bracket to accommodate for the SATA power cable? The research and development cost is quite high on these SFF cases

I think people are missing the point here and getting hung up on the idea of 'new' and 'quality', neither of those are important to me for this project. I'm NOT demanding a cutting-edge shiny case that had a ton of R&D dumped into it. I don't need something with thoughtfully engineered drive brackets, I don't even need drive brackets at all, I just need a box with standoffs. Some no-name Chinese reseller that makes crappy commodity stuff thrown together using generic molds is totally fine. I'm not looking for a hipster artisan quinoa luncheon, I'm looking for McDonalds dollar menu.

Again, I'm OK buying used too. Does anyone have an old beat up case they'd be willing to let go of on the cheap? All I care about is that the outer shell is intact and it has a working power or reset button.
 

el01

King of Cable Management
Jun 4, 2018
770
587
Thanks guys for the thoughts on a testbench frame but I can't use that. I need something that fully covers the board. (Otherwise I would've just gone dumpster diving and grabbed the motherboard tray out of someone's ATX tower). I live in a small city apartment and don't have a bunch of drills and saws and stuff so I don't really have the ability to be cutting up and making boxes myself.



I think people are missing the point here and getting hung up on the idea of 'new' and 'quality', neither of those are important to me for this project. I'm NOT demanding a cutting-edge shiny case that had a ton of R&D dumped into it. I don't need something with thoughtfully engineered drive brackets, I don't even need drive brackets at all, I just need a box with standoffs. Some no-name Chinese reseller that makes crappy commodity stuff thrown together using generic molds is totally fine. I'm not looking for a hipster artisan quinoa luncheon, I'm looking for McDonalds dollar menu.

Again, I'm OK buying used too. Does anyone have an old beat up case they'd be willing to let go of on the cheap? All I care about is that the outer shell is intact and it has a working power or reset button.
Older cases require R&D too...
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BQY2DYG/?tag=theminutiae-20

Check the links I sent before.

If all else fails, get access to a laser cutter/acrylic and I can hopefully design something for you... for free. Material costs are on you. No profit for me, happiness for you.
 

Re-l124c41

Chassis Packer
Oct 27, 2017
17
10
Last edited:

rfarmer

Shrink Way Wielder
Silver Supporter
Jul 7, 2017
2,093
2,106
Keep your eye on ebay and get something like this, not sure if you are going to be able to manage $20.
 
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Solo

King of Cable Management
Nov 18, 2017
726
1,212
Damn, finding the perfect dumpster fire case is just as hard as finding the perfect premium one.
 
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sard

Cable Smoosher
Original poster
Dec 14, 2018
11
1
There are some more options from aliexpress under 40$:
Only barely under $40, and while they may have free shipping to the US I'm pretty sure I'd still have to pay the import tarrifs. And honestly, if I'm going to go for a ~$40+ case I'll just get an M350 locally.

Keep your eye on ebay and get something like
Yeah I know about the M350. If there was a cheaper version that didn't have the drive brackets and "hidden usb" double-front gimmick I'd probably go for it. I've been trawling eBay and Amazon but it seems the used ITX case market is nearly nonexistent.