Apex MI-008 mini-ITX Case Tear Down

 

 

Front of Apex MI-008 showing door openings
Front of Apex MI-008 showing door openings

Our next steps will be to disassemble the Apex MI-008 case to the bare metal.  This will allow us to take measurements and expose possible locations for modification.

Let’s get started.  Unscrew the four screws on the back of the case and pull slightly to the rear, lift up and away the cover from the body of the case.

Okay with the cover off we can get a first look at the backside of the front of the case.  Note the standard 5.25″ and 3.5″ drive bays.  The XF551 original drive mech will fit and probably most other 5.25″ drives.  But it’s obvious though that some modification will need to be done to the front bezel as the opening for the CD cover is narrower and shorter than the drive bay itself.  If you are planning to use a 3.5″ drive instead, you may also have to make some modification to the front, but for different reasons.  At this time there does not seem to be any issues with the 3.5″ drive bay or front bezel opening.

View of inside front of the case.
Looking at the inside front of the case.

Now let’s look at the bottom inside of the case. This picture is actually looking at the right side of the case with the front on your left.  The ruler gives a measurement of the height/width of the free space right behind the front grill.  The length measured slightly more than 8 1/2″ from side to side of the inside of the case.  That comes out to a free space of 8.25″ x 4.5″ or 209.5 x 114.3 mm.  Impressive!

View of the empty space just behind the front grill
Seems we have a massive amount of space on the floor of the case just behind the front grill.

This is looking at the left inside space on the front grill. The oval hole already there is a good sign.  Perhaps there will not need to be much modifications to place external indicators/controls on the front left side of the bezel.  The oval is about 5/8″ x 1.5″.

Inside view of the left side behind the front grill

Okay, turning our attention to the back of the case.  This is one of the smallest power supply I’ve seen in a computer case.  It only measures 4″ x 4.75″.

View of the size of the power supply unit
Small size of the power supply unit

It may not look like it at first blush, but there’s actually room for a second external slot.  With some cutting of the grill work and some bending/welding of metal tab on the slot plate I think it’s doable.

Rear view of the case

View of the measurement of the left rear section

View of inside left side rear

Now we really start taking the case apart.  We move our attention back to the front of the case, to the front plastic bezel.  We need to take it off.  It’s actually a double layer.  So we need to detach the whole bezel first.  On the inside front of the case you should see and be able to push in the tabs holding the bezel to the case.  Note the red circles for location. Carefully pull the bezel module from the front of the case.

Left inside view of front bezel release tabs
View of the release tabs for the front bezel

Right inside view of front bezel release tabs

You should see the naked front of the case. One thing to note about the audio/USB cage…. it sticks out from the front grill about 18 mm.  Unscrew the audio/USB cage and shift and pull it carefully from the front of the case.  Set the audio/USB cage aside as we will not be using it again. I suppose you could keep it for some other project though.

View of the front of the case without the front plastic bezel
No more front bezel
View of front without the audio/USB cage
No more audio/USB cage

Okay now we can get a clearer idea of what space and dimensions we have to work with on the front.  The area we have to work with is the left side to the right most side of the 5.25″ drive bay.  For now we will leave the right side alone as the power button and led seem to occupy a large portion of that side.  Assuming we don’t modify the oval below the 3.5″ drive bay, the existing size is 1.75″ x .8″ .  Remember the audio/USB cage stuck out about 18mm and the connectors just barely cleared the plastic cover behind the hidden drop down door.

View of the left front oval hole.

View of middle oval hole for the audio/USB cage.

Finally let’s turn our attention to the front bezel. Pardon the finger marks, this kind of black plastic apparently hoovers up any fingerprints that exist in the air or on the surface for full display.  The front bezel is actually a sandwich of two plastic pieces. We’ll start with the smaller front most piece.  So there are two ‘drop down’ doors so to speak on it.  As mentioned before the flip down CD door is narrower than the actual 5.25″ drive bay opening on the case itself, which means that if you are going to use a 5.25″ drive mech we are going to have to widen/loose the flip down door.  As a consolation the press close door below the 3.5″ drive bay appears to be perfectly usable with appropriate face plate modification behind it.

View of front bezel now removed from case.

Now we turn to separating the two piece front bezel. Turn the bezel over and locate the four tabs that will release the two halves.  Push up/down/left/right to pop the two pieces apart.

View of the four inside tabs of the front bezel.
Tab locations for the first bezel part. Note the stem on the right side. That is going to be a problem.

Once the tabs are released and the two halves are partially separable, we get a better look at possible options.

The Front Most Piece:  As expected the 3.5″ cover is the standard pop out cover.  Below it is the audio/USB section that appears to be molded as part of the front most piece.  Above the 3.5″ cover we see that there is no block to extending the height of the 5.25″ opening.  On the left side no obstruction seems to exist to prevent modification.

View of the front facing second bezel part.
Except for the section housing the power button and led, the front facing second part of the bezel is very clean. But it is hiding the stem on the other side of the left portion.

So now we’ve completed a tear down of the case.  We have measurements and awareness of obstacles to modifications that will help us determine placement and size of accessory boards and access.  The next phase is making minor modifications, starting with reducing the cable rat’s nest of the power supply.

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