Apex MW-107 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside

Apex incorporates a relatively simple and clean front face for the MW-107 mini-ITX chassis, as shown in our photo above. The front bezel makes a 90 degree corner with the rest of the case on the left side, but rounds off on the right for a sleek and stylish asymmetrical design. Measuring in at 2.8" (7.1cm) in height, 8.7" (22cm) in length, and 7.3" (18.5cm) in width excluding the front bezel, the Apex MW-107 is certainly one of the most compact mini-ITX cases in the market today. The Apex MW-107 is designed for users who are not looking to incorporate any desktop components into their mITX build for maximum portability and minimal size. The uniquely shaped silver colored faceplate features two plastic doors to hide a slim optical drive at the top, followed by two USB 2.0 ports and two 3.5mm audio jacks grouped behind the bottom cover. Both plastic doors are bottom hinged; and are held in the closed position by small magnets. While the covers are very lightweight, its plastic door and hinge construction makes it feel flimsy and cheap; creating limited durability perception to the end user -- not a good thing. Other than that, the rest of the MW-107 is black in color, which will appear shortly on the subsequent page of this review with a photo showing the doors in open position. Between the upper and lower section on the right hand side of the chassis is a blue power LED and red hard disk activity LED, hidden behind a darkly tinted window to look uniform with its adjacent panels. It also doubles as the power button. A silver colored strip extends around the lower perimeter of the aforementioned. The brand name is not found anywhere on the chassis.

The left and right side of Apex's MW-107 mini-ITX case are both identical. A large matrix of circular openings takes up most of the room on both sides; these holes create a large air ventilation mesh integrated into the chassis for reduced heat congestion. Due to very limited internal space in the ultra compact Apex MW-107, this is extremely crucial as heat is easily trapped without properly implemented thermal management. A single 40mm fan with a 3-pin wire to connect to your motherboard is included out of the box. The fan can be installed anywhere, because the ventilation holes double as screw sockets as well. Personally, I would appreciate it if Apex included at least one more fan for more optimized cooling performance.

To give you an idea of how small the Apex MW-107 is, our photo above should do the job clearly, haha. If you disagree with my assertion, please keep it quiet, because you know you are wrong and I am right (Just kidding!). Anyway, it is interesting to point out that the entire rear panel of the case is actually not significantly larger than the rear I/O panel of a mini-ITX motherboard itself -- which is the same as a standard ATX motherboard -- this itself is pretty awesome in my opinion. However, due to limited height of the MW-107, it has no room to accommodate any expansion cards. On the right of the I/O panel opening is a DC power input jack, routed to the DC to DC converter board located inside the chassis. As mentioned earlier in this review, a 60W power brick is included out of the box. Two thumbscrews secure the top cover in place; with a protruding handle integrated into the center of the upper panel to allow easy release by the end user. Meanwhile, the left and right side panels are permanently secured by rivets during manufacturing. Installation only requires removal of the upper panel, making the Apex MW-107 simple and intuitive to use to the end user.

A shot at the top of the Apex MW-107. The top cover is constructed out of black painted SECC (Steel, Electrogalvanized, Cold-rolled, Coil) as the rest of the panels, which is a very popular metal in building computer cases thanks to its excellent durability and low manufacturing cost. While it does not have the same thermal conductivity performance and low weight properties of aluminum, the weight savings is negligible in such a small case; not to mention that the design of this type of cases probably would not benefit significantly from increased thermal conductivity when heat congestion is the main issue. Users would certainly benefit more from better chassis rigidity.

A small matrix of circular openings is found in the right shifted center of the upper panel, aligned near the edge of the MW-107. These are the same type of holes found on the left and right side of the case; unfortunately the internal optical drive/hard disk drive frame prevents the user from installing an overhead fan in this area. This mesh of ventilation holes are used for the sole purpose of, well, ventilating hot air, haha.

While bottom of cases usually aren't particular exciting things to discuss, the Apex MW-107 has a few features that are certainly worth mentioning. The most obvious being the metal VESA mounting brackets -- the MW-107 can be attached to the back of your computer monitor to save space. That said, the MW-107 can still be easily detached from your monitor at any time by sliding the chassis in the opposite direction of the clip locking position. Apex also includes four self-adhesive rubber feet out of the box for the user to install as they wish; their designated positions are marked by four engraved corner brackets on the bottom panel, which can be seen in the picture above. The rubber feet are tall enough to prevent the chassis VESA bracket from touching its residing surface, but short enough so that it does not interfere when attached to its corresponding mounting bracket. It is quite convenient, and well designed by the manufacturer.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion