Akasa Newton JC Fanless Case for Gemini Lake NUCs

We all know Akasa makes fanless cases for Intel NUCs but how many of you have really seen one live? I certainly hadn’t and I always somehow thought that Akasa NUC cases are expensive and difficult to obtain. It seems they’re neither. When the helpful guys from Akasa’s UK office contacted me and offered a Newton JC fanless case for Gemini Lake NUC for review, I immediately jumped on the idea.

Specifications

  • Material: Aluminium
  • Supported motherboards: NUC7CJYH, NUC7PJYH, NUC7PJYB
  • Drive bay: Single 2.5″ SATA slot
  • Front panel: Microphone, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 3.5 mm audio jack, IR receiver opening, power button
  • Back panel: 2 antenna holes, power jack, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 HDMI ports, Ethernet port, audio jack, Kensington slot
  • Dimensions: 140.6 x 111.5 x 51.3 mm

Overview

Who would not like a totally silent PC? If your NUC doesn’t have a mechanical hard drive the Akasa Newton case will turn it totally silent. In addition it will remove the last moving parts from the unit, which again should increase the reliability of the unit.

The case itself contains just the case and not much else. You’ll need to buy the Gemini Lake motherboard separately or more likely buy a NUC7CJYH or NUC7PJYH and pull out the mainboard from the case. When doing that, just be careful and don’t break the WiFi antenna connectors like I managed to do for the other one. They’re pretty fragile. The case itself is a couple of centimeters wider than the original NUC case, a tiny bit deeper and the same height. All external connectivity and ports on the NUC are supported with the exception of the SD card reader – there’s no slot in the case for that.

The case is manufactured completely of black anodized aluminium. The case consists of one massive aluminium block that acts as a heat sink as well and a couple of panels that are attached with screws. When you pick it up you’ll immediately notice the weight of it. It’s almost 1 kg in weight. The machining work seems good and the few parts of the case line up as the should. The top and the sides of the case have fins to increase the surface area and improve cooling. I certainly don’t have anything to complain about the build quality but the design could be a bit more spiced up. There’s nothing wrong it, but it seems to me that the designers had Louis Sullivan’s famous words “form follows function” in mind when sculpting this thing out of aluminium.

Assembly

The Akasa Newton JC comes with a few little plastic bags containing the necessary hardware to install the mainboard and the SATA drive to the case including the cables and some thermal paste. In addition a VESA mount is provided that can be used to attach the case behind a TV or a monitor. The supplied instruction contains easy to understand pictures that made it easy to install the mainboard into the case. Just take your time and pay attention to the pictures. It took me maybe 15 minutes to assemble the NUC in the case.

You start by unfastening a few screws to remove the bottom and rear panels.

Then you add a bit of thermal paste on the CPU and attach the motherboard to the case with 4 screws.

The 2.5″ SATA drive is fastened to two rails with four screws…

… and attached to the case with four more screws. The supplied SATA cables are a bit long so I just had to stuff them into the space between the drive and the mainboard. After fastening the read and bottom panels back in place you’re done.

Here’s a comparison of the Akasa and the original Intel NUC case. As you can see, the Newton JC case is a little bit larger than the original case.

Cooling Performance

It seems the large aluminium case is a pretty effective heat sink. Akasa claims it will cool the NUC better than the stock fan, and my tests seem to confirm that. When I left the NUC7PJYH running Prime95 for the whole night from 2:30am until 9:30am the temperature rose slowly during the first hour until it reached 67 degrees Celsius. You can see from the graph below that the temperature never rose above 67 degrees.

I also compared this to the stock cooling setup of the NUC. With the standard NUC fan as soon as I started Prime 95 the CPU temperature jumped to 80 degrees Celsius in a few seconds and the fan started to spin in a rather audible way. The performance of the NUC was throttled to keep the 80 degrees CPU package temperature. Quite a significant difference vs. the Akasa case!

Conclusion

Even if the design is unlikely to be awarded a Red Dot Design Award the case does what it should do: provide good cooling for the Gemini Lake NUC and be completely silent. The cooling performance was much better than I expected as the big chunk of aluminium keeps the CPU temperatures at bay much better than the stock cooler of the NUC. I also was positively surprised to see that my local supplier had listed the case for €49 and I found a UK supplier that had it for £40. Certainly less than what I expected.

The installation is pretty easy but I’d like to point out that the case does not come with WiFi antennas included, so if you intend to use the WiFi or Bluetooth you’ll need to get the antennas separately.

The first time you boot up a totally silent PC feels a bit eerie even. Then you get used to it up to a point that you get annoyed when the fan kicks in on a laptop you’re using to type the blog article in a quiet hotel room late in the evening.

The original fan on the Gemini Lake NUC is not noisy by any means, but if you really want to turn your NUC completely silent the Akasa Newton JC case is a good way to do it.

Pros: Good cooling, completely silent, well machined, not too expensive
Cons: SD card reader unusable, no WiFi antennas included, spartan design

8 Responses

  1. Wesker says:

    Would you please share where can I buy the NUC7PJYH motherboard instead of the whole NUC?

    • Olli says:

      Good question! Traditionally that has been only through specialized Intel resellers and the price has been higher than the whole kit at other retailers. In practice most of the people buy the NUC from their preferred vendor and pull out the board from the case. It’s only attached by two screws. Then you need to disconnect SATA, microphone and WiFi antenna cables.

  2. Joe Merchant says:

    If you do source the bare board, remember that you will also need a power supply, and perhaps some hardware that might not come with the bare board or the case…

  3. Harry C says:

    Hi Wesker You can buy the board from Scan computers + the PSU @ a competitive price !!
    Speak to Chris in sales.

  4. Padaung says:

    I have my NUC in an Akasa case and it is wonderfully silent. I think it is 5-6 yrs old now (i5 3rd gen cpu – I can’t remember the NUC designated name) and still in daily use for work.

    You definitely need to get external wi-fi+bluetooth antennas to get any sort of reception.

    The case is built like a tank, and it can help keep your mug of coffee warm in the winter 🙂

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