In 2012, tired of the deplorable state of small form factor (SFF) computer cases, two users of the HardOCP community forum decided to create their own. Wahaha360 and Necere offered the Ncase M1 for $ 200 +, a 12.7-liter wonder designed to use every cubic inch of that space wisely. Surprisingly, they managed to get the attention of famous PC maker Lian-Li to make small batches of their crowdfunded case from high quality aluminum, and the result was praised with rave reviews.
Nine years later, however, Ncase announced that it was discontinuing the M1 for good.
It is a strange situation. Yesterday the company announced that it had ditched the M1 altogether – but overnight the post was updated to say it’s just the current “classic” design that’s gone for good.
Ncase tells The edge it is because there is a successor on the way. “I can say that what we are working on will follow the formula the M1 has developed, updated and modernized to better reflect today’s hardware market,” Ncase said, adding:
Video cards, in particular, have grown significantly on average over the past couple of years – a fact that has taken a toll on the compatibility of the M1, which was previously very good for its size. The M1 was already highly optimized in terms of space, so it was not possible to accommodate such large cards under the current design. Hence the need for a more in-depth redesign from scratch, which also allows us to explore alternative manufacturing methods, visual design updates and additional features.
This makes sense: it’s not a product that is particularly outdated or for which demand has suddenly dried up. While there are plenty of worthy imitators out there like the Cooler Master NR200 or Lian-Li’s own TU-150 – with a neat integrated carry handle – the Ncase M1 is always widely regarded as one of the best cameras on the market. Potential buyers were eagerly awaiting another batch, which was tentatively scheduled for November.
But it is true that some of the oversized coolers in the latest generation of graphics cards prevent many of them from fitting well into the M1. (Still, you can easily fit an RTX 3080 Ti Founder’s Edition into it if you have enough airflow and a powerful power supply. I certainly did!)
It should be noted that the founders of Ncase are also working on other PC cases. For example: The Meshlicious 14.7-liter SSUPD, a consumer case that SFF specialist YouTuber Optimum Tech called “the ITX 2021 case to beat,” is also a Wahaha360 product made by Lian-Li. (The same goes for the 9.5-liter FormD T1, another case that is produced in small batches.) Ncase also collaborated on a design called Mach One – and if you told me their LRPC concept inspired the Microsoft’s Xbox One S, below, I wouldn’t blink.
Seems premature to me to pour one out for the best computer case I’ve ever owned, one that I plan to continue using for years to come, and one that will likely make an appearance in even more. Edge reviews than those you may have already recorded. But even if we do get a Ncase M2 someday, I don’t mind pressing F for the legacy this brand has built. Ncase has helped change the face of SFF enclosures, and whether you buy your next one from them or someone else, our desks are better for it.