The Lope I-Tee computer case is, well, shaped like a T.
When David Huff e-mailed me about it, he called it interesting. I’ll certainly agree with that.

Here’s the idea: You mount the motherboard up against the back plane of the case and put the drives and the power supply up front, yielding a case that’s not as deep as a conventional case and cools better. Allegedly.

I hesitate to write about it because I haven’t worked with one, I haven’t tested one, and I haven’t even seen one. Hmm. I really don’t know anything about it but of course I have an opinion about it. I feel so Slashdotty.

One big advantage of a layout like this is that all the ports are on the side where you can see them and get to them easily. The biggest disadvantage of a layout like this is that all the ports are on the side where you can see them, and depending on the way your desk is set up, they might be on the wrong side.

USB peripherals and front-mount USB ports are the usual cure for fumbling around the back–you can plug your digital camera or other things that move around a lot up there–but plugging your other peripherals in the back hides the cables and prevents things from getting too unsightly. Let’s face it, plugs and cables don’t fit traditional, conventional ideas of a thing of beauty.

On the plus side, cases that disassemble easily are always nice, as are cases that take up less space. But a couple of minutes with my ruler and my ATX cases shows this case isn’t any less deep than most of my mainstream cases, and due to its shape, it is considerably wider. I’d love something that genuinely took up less space on or under my desk, but this case won’t be it.

This case won’t flop on the marketplace though. They claim it improves cooling. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. People buy aluminum cases because they supposedly conduct heat better. The reality is the difference in heat conductivity between expensive aluminum cases and cheap steel cases is nearly zero, and what difference you can measure is more likely due to aiflow than its material. Enthusiast overclockers still buy them anyway, hoping to get an extra 5 MHz out of their overclock. The same kind of people who buy aluminum cases for overclocking will go for the I-Tee, especially if the I-Tee’s cost is close to that of a mainstream case.

I can’t make any recommendations for or against it, based on not seeing it. But I’m willing to go out on a limb and say this–or a design like it–will survive at least as a niche product.