NCASE M1: a crowdfunded Mini-ITX case (updates in first post)

Mannymal

Limp Gawd
Joined
Oct 12, 2011
Messages
291
Th
I just read the news. I'm quite disappointed to be honest. I love my V5, I'll keep using it for as long as ITX motherboards exist, it's too bad I won't be able to get spare parts. Would have been nice to get a warning, so I could get a spare front I/O panel and some extra clips in case something in mine breaks, and so people who had been planning on getting a case could get one. One of the PCIe screwholes stripped on mine, now I have to take extra care of it knowing I can't replace any part.

Anyway, based on what read on The Verge, this was done because a new case is in the works that's going to be bigger in order to accommodate bigger graphics cards. I liked the M1 because it was as big as it needed to be to have no compromises, but no bigger. The vast majority of cards still fit. You make a 16L+ case, then you're just like the big manufacturers. It's no longer really SFF, and you lose your competitive edge. The other thing that concerns me is that none of the other NCase projects went anywhere, no offense. Some of W360's did clearly (under different brands), but I much prefer Necere's style, and out of the concepts he showed in his SFF forum idea thread, none went into production. So I'm a bit skeptical of potential future NCase projects or rather I'm skeptical that they will be true to the M1's design language and philosophy.

I think the NCase M1 is the best case ever designed (possibly second to the original IBM PC case). So... this is a little disappointing to see things moving in a more mainstream direction. I have a feeling the successor will be made of steel too, at least the internal chassis, so... yet another distinguishing feature of the M1 will be compromised. If they make it bigger and steel, I hope at least they give it mATX or even ATX support at that point, so at least we have a compelling alternative to Cerberus which I don't like at all. Anyway... RIP legendary M1, all good things must come to an end. As someone with severe OCD, this was the only SFF case I was ever able to find that was truly no compromise, the rest all have major downsides, I hope I get to see another case like this again someday. In the meantime, my V5 and I are in it for the long haul.
The PCIE threads on mine also stripped, and my solution was to buy longer (about 1/2”) screws with a nut on the other side, and it turns out it holds the video card even more securely so I’m happy with the solution.

Now that my NCASE M1 is a rare artifact I feel like I’ll have to baby it even more in order to preserve it. I really don’t think it needs to be discontinued unless the “M2” is gonna be a much improved version of it. I agree that there should have been a few months warning to give everyone a chance to get the latest variant.
 
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Apr 5, 2017
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Thanks, Necere. M1 Classic is just awful imho! And I especially dislike the idea of rebranding a case after it's been discontinued...

I appreciate that you probably won't be able to answer this, but is any new NCase product in the works going to be one of your designs? I only ask because I echo what QuantumBraced said above: I've kept an eye on your concept stuff that you've posted previously and it's just so much nicer than any of the designs that W360 has shown. I kind of feel that the M1 was a bit of a "lightning in a bottle" product and if it's going to be discontinued (which it is) then whatever comes after it will need to be as good if not better.

As an aside, I'm not sure I entirely understand why the M1 has been completely discontinued. I can understand wanting to focus on new products (and will keep a keen eye out for any news) and could see this meaning no further iterations on the M1 design, but surely it's possible to keep producing (or rather, ordering production from Lian Li) the M1 alongside any new products? Or is the fear that people will just continue to buy the M1 rather than whatever new design is released? Apologies if I'm being ignorant here.
Exactly this, every bit of it. It was exactly my thoughts, especially the design elements comments.
 

TheHig

Gawd
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
865
I get that all things must end but totally kicking myself for not buying one a few weeks ago when I had the chance. I have a second itx system that needs a case .. I consider the M1 the OG sff enthusiast case and it will be missed.
 

Rhialto

Gawd
Joined
Feb 23, 2004
Messages
545
I get that all things must end but totally kicking myself for not buying one a few weeks ago when I had the chance. I have a second itx system that needs a case .. I consider the M1 the OG sff enthusiast case and it will be missed.
If you don't mind a little bigger, I've build 2 computers for my twins using NR200P. Fits very well on their desktop. You can add some extras with money saved and there is a huge community on Reddit for help or whatever. At first I wanted to get them a M1 each but shipping was done separatly so it was too expensive. In the end I've got both NR200P for less than a single M1.
 

Necere

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 3, 2003
Messages
2,766
Thanks, Necere. M1 Classic is just awful imho! And I especially dislike the idea of rebranding a case after it's been discontinued...

I appreciate that you probably won't be able to answer this, but is any new NCase product in the works going to be one of your designs? I only ask because I echo what QuantumBraced said above: I've kept an eye on your concept stuff that you've posted previously and it's just so much nicer than any of the designs that W360 has shown. I kind of feel that the M1 was a bit of a "lightning in a bottle" product and if it's going to be discontinued (which it is) then whatever comes after it will need to be as good if not better.

I've been working on my own design, yes. My goal is to realize a logical evolution of the M1, based on all the user feedback I've gotten over the years. Compatibility and features are a higher priority than size this time though, which I know not everyone will like. I'm also moving away from the M1's chamfered front panel look.

W360 is working on his own M1 remake that should be somewhat more true to the original in terms of size and looks, but with upgraded materials based on his experience making the T1.

As an aside, I'm not sure I entirely understand why the M1 has been completely discontinued. I can understand wanting to focus on new products (and will keep a keen eye out for any news) and could see this meaning no further iterations on the M1 design, but surely it's possible to keep producing (or rather, ordering production from Lian Li) the M1 alongside any new products? Or is the fear that people will just continue to buy the M1 rather than whatever new design is released? Apologies if I'm being ignorant here.

So the M1 has been due for a design overhaul for a while because of oversized GPUs, and this year we also saw a big decline in sales. Partly that's due to the GPU shortage, partly stiffer competition from mainstream brands. It's true though that we could've ordered another run (and I fully expected we were - I had completed the revisions for V6.2), but there were unexpected circumstances that arose recently that made it risky to do so. Not much I can say about that - maybe w360 will at some point.
 

Qrash

Gawd
Joined
Oct 9, 2014
Messages
995
I've been working on my own design, yes. My goal is to realize a logical evolution of the M1, based on all the user feedback I've gotten over the years. Compatibility and features are a higher priority than size this time though, which I know not everyone will like. I'm also moving away from the M1's chamfered front panel look.

W360 is working on his own M1 remake that should be somewhat more true to the original in terms of size and looks, but with upgraded materials based on his experience making the T1.



So the M1 has been due for a design overhaul for a while because of oversized GPUs, and this year we also saw a big decline in sales. Partly that's due to the GPU shortage, partly stiffer competition from mainstream brands. It's true though that we could've ordered another run (and I fully expected we were - I had completed the revisions for V6.2), but there were unexpected circumstances that arose recently that made it risky to do so. Not much I can say about that - maybe w360 will at some point.
Thanks Necere for this update. I've always appreciated your willingness to be open with us, to explain the realities of the small case manufacturing world, and especially to seek our opinions and input. These traits made the M1 journey unique and thoroughly enjoyable.

My 3 M1s (revisions 1, 4, and 6.1) are my favourite cases. I enjoy extolling the M1's virtues, spreading the SFF philosophy. I look forward to your next case designing adventure!

Thanks again for all your dedication and efforts!
Kevin
 

Bawjaws

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 20, 2017
Messages
462
I've been working on my own design, yes. My goal is to realize a logical evolution of the M1, based on all the user feedback I've gotten over the years. Compatibility and features are a higher priority than size this time though, which I know not everyone will like. I'm also moving away from the M1's chamfered front panel look.

W360 is working on his own M1 remake that should be somewhat more true to the original in terms of size and looks, but with upgraded materials based on his experience making the T1.



So the M1 has been due for a design overhaul for a while because of oversized GPUs, and this year we also saw a big decline in sales. Partly that's due to the GPU shortage, partly stiffer competition from mainstream brands. It's true though that we could've ordered another run (and I fully expected we were - I had completed the revisions for V6.2), but there were unexpected circumstances that arose recently that made it risky to do so. Not much I can say about that - maybe w360 will at some point.
Thanks again for the response - and not just for your recent replies, but for engaging with us in this thread (and elsewhere) over the years. Really appreciate you taking the time and effort not just to design the M1 in the first place but to keep iterating based on feedback from your users. I would love to know what your planned revisions were for v6.2, if you are happy to share (but no worries if not). Also really appreciate the efforts of wahaha360 in getting the M1 from design to production. What an amazing effort from both of you.

If I'm reading your post correctly then it sounds like we can hopefully expect two new NCases, one a new design from you and the other a redesign of the M1 from W360? Please keep us posted - I can't wait to see what you have planned :)
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
592
I've been working on my own design, yes. My goal is to realize a logical evolution of the M1, based on all the user feedback I've gotten over the years. Compatibility and features are a higher priority than size this time though, which I know not everyone will like. I'm also moving away from the M1's chamfered front panel look.

W360 is working on his own M1 remake that should be somewhat more true to the original in terms of size and looks, but with upgraded materials based on his experience making the T1.



So the M1 has been due for a design overhaul for a while because of oversized GPUs, and this year we also saw a big decline in sales. Partly that's due to the GPU shortage, partly stiffer competition from mainstream brands. It's true though that we could've ordered another run (and I fully expected we were - I had completed the revisions for V6.2), but there were unexpected circumstances that arose recently that made it risky to do so. Not much I can say about that - maybe w360 will at some point.

My guess is the dip is sales has nothing to do with the increase in average GPU size and everything to do with the general increase in cost of PC components, especially GPUs obviously, but also everything else. The pandemic has hit many people economically, so it just hasn't been a good year to build a PC, especially an expensive SFF PC in a $200+ case.

My guess is the availability of larger GPUs now has had a negligible effect on M1 sales. There are still more than enough high-performance aftermarket options, in general the vast majority of GPUs fit in the M1. Even the FTW series fits with some cable extensions. If someone is looking to build a space-optimized SFF PC and is in the know enough to know about the M1 and spend $200 on it, they'll just get a GPU that fits. By making the case bigger, you might get a few more customers who want a giant GPU but you'll alienate at least an equal number of potential customers who just want a no-compromise premium tiny case. Once you start to get into NR200 size/footprint territory, and especially if you make the case out of steel, you'll have trouble competing with the mainstream brands and their prices IMO. Getting rid of the iconic M1 front panel can further hurt the brand imo as it's a distinguishing feature of the M1 that everyone thinks of when they think M1, unless you replace it with something better. So I can't help but doubt that any larger successor will be more successful. The M1 is already no-compromise enough, you can basically do just about any ITX build, cool any CPU and any GPU, have it be near silent, have dust filters everywhere, a 1000W PSU, etc. Unless the successor is of similar size, still aluminum, and the same design language, I don't see it being more successful. And if it is those things, then it should just be the next version of the M1 -- I know you had a rule about everything being backward compatible, but V6.0 already broke that with the side panels, so I don't see a problem with making more fundamental changes and calling it M1 V7. The exception is if you want to have mATX or ATX support, but then it's not really an M1 successor, but rather a new category of product that I would love to see.

Anyway, I hope I'm wrong and the successor does well because I want you to succeed as you did with the M1. I am just bitter about the M1's EOL but I'll get over it. Just calling the new case "NCase" will draw a lot of attention to it, like a sequel of a highly successful film, but you'll have only one chance to capitalize on that, so... no pressure.
 

Necere

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 3, 2003
Messages
2,766
My guess is the dip is sales has nothing to do with the increase in average GPU size and everything to do with the general increase in cost of PC components, especially GPUs obviously, but also everything else. The pandemic has hit many people economically, so it just hasn't been a good year to build a PC, especially an expensive SFF PC in a $200+ case.

My guess is the availability of larger GPUs now has had a negligible effect on M1 sales. There are still more than enough high-performance aftermarket options, in general the vast majority of GPUs fit in the M1. Even the FTW series fits with some cable extensions. If someone is looking to build a space-optimized SFF PC and is in the know enough to know about the M1 and spend $200 on it, they'll just get a GPU that fits. By making the case bigger, you might get a few more customers who want a giant GPU but you'll alienate at least an equal number of potential customers who just want a no-compromise premium tiny case. Once you start to get into NR200 size/footprint territory, and especially if you make the case out of steel, you'll have trouble competing with the mainstream brands and their prices IMO. Getting rid of the iconic M1 front panel can further hurt the brand imo as it's a distinguishing feature of the M1 that everyone thinks of when they think M1, unless you replace it with something better. So I can't help but doubt that any larger successor will be more successful. The M1 is already no-compromise enough, you can basically do just about any ITX build, cool any CPU and any GPU, have it be near silent, have dust filters everywhere, a 1000W PSU, etc. Unless the successor is of similar size, still aluminum, and the same design language, I don't see it being more successful. And if it is those things, then it should just be the next version of the M1 -- I know you had a rule about everything being backward compatible, but V6.0 already broke that with the side panels, so I don't see a problem with making more fundamental changes and calling it M1 V7. The exception is if you want to have mATX or ATX support, but then it's not really an M1 successor, but rather a new category of product that I would love to see.

Anyway, I hope I'm wrong and the successor does well because I want you to succeed as you did with the M1. I am just bitter about the M1's EOL but I'll get over it. Just calling the new case "NCase" will draw a lot of attention to it, like a sequel of a highly successful film, but you'll have only one chance to capitalize on that, so... no pressure.

I don't think it was any one thing that caused a drop in sales, but rather a combination of things over the past 10 months. And the drop was only relative - in fact, 2020 was our best sales year by a wide margin. It's just since the beginning of 2021 we reverted back to the level of our 2018-19 sales. I'm sure people building PCs while working from home and getting stimulus checks drove a lot of the demand last year.

I've also looked up stats, and after growing significantly during 2019-2020, 2021 also saw an overall drop in search volume and website traffic related to SFF (and perhaps PC building in general). Again, combination of factors at play: GPU shortage, high hardware prices, less stimulus money, people already built last year.

With regard to oversized GPUs, anecdotally at least I can say it hasn't helped. A number of times over the last year I've seen someone comment that they were able to snag xyz GPU, and wanted the M1 but the card wouldn't fit, so they have to look at other cases. In a normal market it would be less of an issue, but in this market you're lucky to get any GPU, so people can either get a different case or give up building a new PC altogether. The fact that there are decent cheaper mainstream SFF case options now makes it easier to choose something else as well.

As far as keeping the M1 look, honestly I'm just sick of people calling it ugly and outdated. And I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but too many times now I've seen people say they'd get an M1 except they don't like the front. I just don't want the looks to be a reason someone doesn't want it. And TBH, it doesn't really measure up to my own standards design-wise. It was the first thing I designed "for real," and I feel like I can and should at least try to do better.

I know you had a rule about everything being backward compatible, but V6.0 already broke that with the side panels

V6 panels are backward compatible with all previous versions. I removed two of the studs on each side panel, so it's no problem to use the newer panels on the older cases. It's the the panels from V5 and earlier that won't work on V6+ because they have the extra studs and there are no longer the corresponding clips on the chassis.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 18, 2011
Messages
694
I don't think it was any one thing that caused a drop in sales, but rather a combination of things over the past 10 months. And the drop was only relative - in fact, 2020 was our best sales year by a wide margin. It's just since the beginning of 2021 we reverted back to the level of our 2018-19 sales. I'm sure people building PCs while working from home and getting stimulus checks drove a lot of the demand last year.

I've also looked up stats, and after growing significantly during 2019-2020, 2021 also saw an overall drop in search volume and website traffic related to SFF (and perhaps PC building in general). Again, combination of factors at play: GPU shortage, high hardware prices, less stimulus money, people already built last year.

With regard to oversized GPUs, anecdotally at least I can say it hasn't helped. A number of times over the last year I've seen someone comment that they were able to snag xyz GPU, and wanted the M1 but the card wouldn't fit, so they have to look at other cases. In a normal market it would be less of an issue, but in this market you're lucky to get any GPU, so people can either get a different case or give up building a new PC altogether. The fact that there are decent cheaper mainstream SFF case options now makes it easier to choose something else as well.

As far as keeping the M1 look, honestly I'm just sick of people calling it ugly and outdated. And I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but too many times now I've seen people say they'd get an M1 except they don't like the front. I just don't want the looks to be a reason someone doesn't want it. And TBH, it doesn't really measure up to my own standards design-wise. It was the first thing I designed "for real," and I feel like I can and should at least try to do better.



V6 panels are backward compatible with all previous versions. I removed two of the studs on each side panel, so it's no problem to use the newer panels on the older cases. It's the the panels from V5 and earlier that won't work on V6+ because they have the extra studs and there are no longer the corresponding clips on the chassis.


For what it’s worth, I think the case still looks great. It’s iconic, and I find most flat face cases boring. But as you say, to each their own.
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
592
I don't think it was any one thing that caused a drop in sales, but rather a combination of things over the past 10 months. And the drop was only relative - in fact, 2020 was our best sales year by a wide margin. It's just since the beginning of 2021 we reverted back to the level of our 2018-19 sales. I'm sure people building PCs while working from home and getting stimulus checks drove a lot of the demand last year.

I've also looked up stats, and after growing significantly during 2019-2020, 2021 also saw an overall drop in search volume and website traffic related to SFF (and perhaps PC building in general). Again, combination of factors at play: GPU shortage, high hardware prices, less stimulus money, people already built last year.

With regard to oversized GPUs, anecdotally at least I can say it hasn't helped. A number of times over the last year I've seen someone comment that they were able to snag xyz GPU, and wanted the M1 but the card wouldn't fit, so they have to look at other cases. In a normal market it would be less of an issue, but in this market you're lucky to get any GPU, so people can either get a different case or give up building a new PC altogether. The fact that there are decent cheaper mainstream SFF case options now makes it easier to choose something else as well.

As far as keeping the M1 look, honestly I'm just sick of people calling it ugly and outdated. And I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but too many times now I've seen people say they'd get an M1 except they don't like the front. I just don't want the looks to be a reason someone doesn't want it. And TBH, it doesn't really measure up to my own standards design-wise. It was the first thing I designed "for real," and I feel like I can and should at least try to do better.



V6 panels are backward compatible with all previous versions. I removed two of the studs on each side panel, so it's no problem to use the newer panels on the older cases. It's the the panels from V5 and earlier that won't work on V6+ because they have the extra studs and there are no longer the corresponding clips on the chassis.

Okay, fair points. Thanks for the reply. I look forward to your next project! It has big (or small?) shoes to fill.
 

Mannymal

Limp Gawd
Joined
Oct 12, 2011
Messages
291
I found a package of 10 clips for sale on eBay that claim to be compatible for the NCASE M1, as well as the Lian Li TU150 and PC-Q33 cases. The same search also revealed a free STL file for 3D printing the clips.

FYI, I received these and they don't work with the NCASE M1. The material is not the same, its not elastic enough and seem too tight so the studs don't snap in. Not sure if its worth pursuing a refund for the cheap price, but I may notify the seller or leave a review so as to prevent other people from ordering these for the M1.

I remembered that the new side panels don't use two of the clips on the old V5 NCASE, so I removed those two clips and used them to replace the ones that were missing, and life is good... for now.
 

Bawjaws

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 20, 2017
Messages
462
Necere did an interview if anyone wants to check it out. Link
Good interview, thanks for sharing :) Still quite confused about these "additional factors" that led to the M1 being discontinued, especially as the decision evidently wasn't Necere's.

But every time I read "M1 Classic" I have to fight the urge to throw up a little. I hate it so much 🤣
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2011
Messages
694
Good interview, thanks for sharing :) Still quite confused about these "additional factors" that led to the M1 being discontinued, especially as the decision evidently wasn't Necere's.

But every time I read "M1 Classic" I have to fight the urge to throw up a little. I hate it so much 🤣

Honestly, I hope the next one will be called the M2. Keep it simple. Reminds me of BMWs. Feels right.
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2011
Messages
694
Good interview, thanks for sharing :) Still quite confused about these "additional factors" that led to the M1 being discontinued, especially as the decision evidently wasn't Necere's.

But every time I read "M1 Classic" I have to fight the urge to throw up a little. I hate it so much 🤣

Forgot to mention that I’m waiting on Wahaha to complete his for part 2.
 

Qrash

Gawd
Joined
Oct 9, 2014
Messages
995
FYI, I received these and they don't work with the NCASE M1. The material is not the same, its not elastic enough and seem too tight so the studs don't snap in. Not sure if its worth pursuing a refund for the cheap price, but I may notify the seller or leave a review so as to prevent other people from ordering these for the M1.

I remembered that the new side panels don't use two of the clips on the old V5 NCASE, so I removed those two clips and used them to replace the ones that were missing, and life is good... for now.
Sorry those clips didn't work for you. Seems like false advertising on that eBay listing. I have some clips from my M1s that I can mail you. PM me your full name and address and let me know how many clips you need. I'll send them next weekend (I'm away on vacation now).
 

Mannymal

Limp Gawd
Joined
Oct 12, 2011
Messages
291
Sorry those clips didn't work for you. Seems like false advertising on that eBay listing. I have some clips from my M1s that I can mail you. PM me your full name and address and let me know how many clips you need. I'll send them next weekend (I'm away on vacation now).

That's very nice of you. I don't wanna make you go out of your way to do this since I manage to salvage two clips that were not being used by the newer style side panels, but if I had not been able to do that, I would have taken you on your offer.

It looks like the seller will refund me. He is asking me for help in making the clips better but I'm not sure I have the time to help him iterate.
 

Pillars

Gawd
Joined
Jun 11, 2016
Messages
536
Hit the hardware store with your current screws. I'm sure there is a precision screw that'll work just fine.
 

Epos7

Gawd
Joined
Aug 31, 2015
Messages
842
Sad to hear the news. I'm glad I got my v6.1 at the very end of last year. I previously had the v4 and upgraded for my most recent build.

I like the chamfered front, but I'm excited to see what new designs Necere and wahaha can come up with. I do like the appearance of a few other SFF cases more, but none beat the overall combination of looks, quality, features, and price the M1 offered.

M1 Classic is terrible. Agree with everyone else here.
 
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