Over the years I have come to appreciate the art of building a small form factor (SFF) PC, which takes a bit more planning and patience than constructing a desktop system inside a hulking chassis, or even your typical mid-tower enclosure. It’s a potentially fun and rewarding challenge to tackle. If you’re up for it, keep an eye out for G.Skill’s new Z5i mini-ITX chassis. I certainly will be.
G.Skill has not yet announced a price or release date, but it did share a handful of renders and some intriguing information about its latest compact case, which offers up a “sleek pentagonal prism” design and some unique features. Chief among them is a set of curved tempered glass side panels.
They are 4mm thick and wrap around a frame that has been precision molded from a single piece of aluminum. A hinged design allows them to swing open like wings to access the dual chambers—a bottom-facing motherboard and top-mounted power supply reside in the left chamber, while the graphics card sits vertically in the right chamber.
Though small in stature, G.Skill says you can pack some powerful hardware inside the Z5i, including a triple-slot graphics card up to 330mm (12.99 inches) in length.
That’s enough room to fit the best graphics cards around, including Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition (three slots and 313mm long) or, if you prefer what AMD has to offer, the Radeon RX 6900 XT (2.5 slots, which is effectively three slots, and 267mm long). Many custom-cooled GPUs should fit as well, though you’ll need to check the dimensions to be sure.
You can jam a respectable all-in-one CPU liquid cooler in this thing as well. Specifically, G.Skill says the Z5i has room to accommodate up to a 280mm radiator, or a pair of 140mm case fans if you prefer to go the air cooling route. Either way, a magnetic mesh dust filter on top should keep dust bunnies from squatting inside. That said, I do wonder about overall cooling potential, in the absence of a front intake fan or ventilation on the front the chassis.
For storage, there are two 2.5-inch drive mounts and a convertible 2.5-inch/3.5-inch drive mount. Most motherboards offer up at least one M.2 slot as well, so for a typical build, you’re looking at being able to install at least four storage drives in a c compact build based on the Z5i. Not bad.
The case sits on a base with addressable RGB lighting. I’m not especially jazzed about the lit up “G.Skill” branding, but the under-glow looks neat, at least from what I can observe in the renders. And as for connectivity, the case offers up a pair of USB 3.0 Type-A ports a a USB 3.1 Type-C port on the front panel.
My interest in this case will largely depend on price. To that end, I’ve reached out to G.Skill for information about how much the Z5i will cost and when it will be available, and will update this article when I hear back.