One thing you have to know about Teenage Engineering: It. Does. Not. Miss.
When the Swedish design studio isn’t making wonderfully niche gadgets, such as the Pocket Operators or the OP-1 synthesizer, it’s lending its talents to brands like IKEA to design lamps, or Panic to design the crank-operated Playdate, or Carl Pei and the Nothing Ear (1) wireless earbuds. Teenage Engineering’s next conquest: PC cases.
If you’ve built a PC case in the last few years, you know that choices are limited. Though plenty of brands, such as Razer, make PC cases, they all look the same: black, rectangular, and with a glass side panel. It’s boring! The computer-1, Teenage Engineering’s first PC chassis, is anything but.
For starters, the case’s flat-pack design means you have to build it yourself. And it stands out — the case is painted in a vibrant orange RAL 2004 powder-coated finish. The other thing: the PC case is small, built for mini ITX motherboards.
Tiny PC — The computer-1 is only available in the mini-ITX form factor. If you’re eyeing this case for your PC build, you’ll need a mini-ITX motherboard. To achieve such a small size, the motherboard typically sacrifices extra RAM slots, PCIe connectors, though that depends on the motherboard. The other thing about mini-ITX builds is that they’re incredibly cramped to build in, making it harder for first-time PC builders. If you already have a PC with a larger ATX or micro-ATX motherboard, your only option is to buy a mini-ITX motherboard to fit this case. That being said, the smaller footprint and unique design has us beyond excited. Just look at it!
To get an idea of how small this case is, these are the dimensions: 170mm width, 190mm depth, 322mm height. On the inside: 164mm width, 189mm depth, 275.5mm height — 147mm between mobo and case. Since it’s small, it can be easily carried around using its chrome handles.
The case is compatible with small form-factor SFX power supply units, and it has space for dual-slot GPUs no larger than 180mm. That means beefier GPUs with two or three fans may be out of the question, so you’ll have to look around to find the right GPU for the case. In some cases, GPU manufacturers make low-profile versions of popular cards that are slimmer and shorter, though the GPU does sacrifice performance to achieve a smaller form factor.
Unorthodox design — So why did a design studio that primarily makes audio devices, such as speakers and synthesizers, decide to make a PC case? It turns out that employees at Teenage Engineering have been using a variation of this case since 2014 because they couldn’t find a PC case that fit their needs. The original design was held together by wooden plugs and definitely wasn’t ready for public use. After several iterations, the team decided to use aluminum for the chassis, which is what we’re now looking at.
Teenage Engineering says it will “always continue to iterate on the design.” The company also mentions that the computer-1 is not a “ground-breaking PC case,” and while that’s true in regards to functionality, it is groundbreaking in the way it looks. It’s colorful, small, minimal, and DIY. It’s Teenage Engineering through and through. And if I didn’t have a large motherboard or GPU, I’d be all over this.
Try again — In typical fashion for a Teenage Engineering product, the computer-1 PC case sold out in minutes — less than 20 minutes or so. But you can get it for $195 whenever it’s back in stock.