Early beginnings & Our vision

Denize, one of the founders of THOR ZONE

Since the day we started our mission has always been to create minimalistic — but not boring — PC Tech, with a strong emphasis on the "not boring" part. We feel that too many companies today focus solely on minimalism, i.e. designing clean products that don't stand out. For us, the real challenge is designing something that looks both clean, memorable and like something straight out of the future — it's not always easy but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Once a design is finished, it's time to build it; which brings us to another aspect we hold dearly — investing in quality materials. We love the robustness of freshly milled aluminum, the mirrory look of polished stainless steel and the ultra-smooth feel of a bead-blasted and anodized surface. While it's hard to make a product completely indestructible — it doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

MJOLNIR

THOR ZONE MJOLNIR SFF mini-ITX Case

While technically not our first attempt at a product (that being THOR eGPU), MJOLNIR was the first time we successfully shipped a product to thousands of people around the world. Our goal was to make a small form factor case that fit full-sized PC hardware at a volume of just below 10 liters. The main inspiration for the design came from jet engines — our goal being to make it look super sleek yet really aggressive. However, none of us had any prior PC building knowledge, nor did we know which aspects of case design that were important to focus on.

Luckily, not long after we found the SFF forum, where all our questions were answered and the MJOLNIR project developed into a serious contender for the SFF crown. The only thing that was left was to launch our Kickstarter campaign and make it reality.

Kickstarter

THOR ZONE MJOLNIR SFF mini-ITX Case Kickstarter campaign

Our launch went off with a BANG, fully funding the campaign in less than 6 minutes and unlocking all stretch goals in the first few days. We were all set on starting production until the news of a global pandemic started circulating the news — it was the start of covid-19. Not long after, pretty much all our suppliers closed shop and told us they would be back again once the pandemic situation had eased up. With production being in limbo, we used the following 6 months to carefully go over each part of MJOLNIR and try to improve everything we could.

Once production resumed, things went pretty smoothly, considering this was our first time running mass production and world-wide shipping. The MJOLNIRs turned out better and smoother than we'd hoped for — and while there certainly were things that could have been handled a lot better (more on this in the next section) — we were very proud of what we were able to achieve. Last but definitely not least, MJOLNIR wouldn't have been possible without all the people that believed in us, stuck around and pushed us to complete the project.

Making mistakes

The biggest mistake we made during the MJOLNIR project was not making the necessary adjustments as the project grew and got bigger and bigger. Even at the peak, when we were shipping thousands of MJOLNIRs worldwide, our core business was still handled more like a DIY project. As a results, order fulfillment was often much delayed, our customer support suffered and replacement parts took way too long to get sent to the affected customers. It became clear that in order to continue with our mission of creating minimalistic — but not boring — PC tech, we had to pretty much tear everything down and rebuild it much stronger from the ground up.

Making improvements

The first thing that we did was to adopt a new mindset — that building a great product is simply not enough. The supporting framework around the product has to be equally great, otherwise you will inevitably run into problems further down the line. Secondly, we also knew that we had to directly improve two critical aspects of our business, delivery times and customer support.

Let's start with delivery times. Improving this begins all the way down in the design phase, where we go over every aspect of our product and eliminate everything that could cause trouble during manufacturing and assembly. We call this designing with robustness in mind. To give you a couple of examples, meshes and dust filters are no longer glued but attached with high-quality magnets. The magnets themselves are adhered with 3M tape that has been calculated to withstand usage for many years to come. Bubble wrap packaging for internal components is completely replaced by die cut inserts, meaning we can package everything much faster in the exact same way every single time. Last but not least, all moulds and tools required to start manufacturing have been created in advance.

Now onto customer support. The first thing that we did was to rewrite our Sales and Refunds policy to allow anyone to cancel their pre-order at any time, meaning that if you think the wait is too long you can immediately get a full refund, no questions asked. Additionally, we created comprehensive compatibility lists that will greatly aid you when choosing hardware for your NANOQ build. Last but not least, after placing a pre-order you will be able to log in and get the latest news about your order, update your address and check tracking information.

We have also completely overhauled our warranty management; starting with the NANOQ project we'll make sure to create replacement parts well in advance, not after the fact. For MJOLNIR we only did this after reports of damage came in, meaning we had to re-manufacture the parts and then send them out to the affected users. Our failure rates are very low and creating even 1% extra parts in advance will cover all replacements — the best thing is that this doesn’t even increase costs, since we can use the remaining replacement parts in our next batches.

We believe that these changes will not only dramatically decrease the number of delays, but also provide a much better customer experience.

NANOQ

THOR ZONE NANOQ SFF mini-ITX Case

For our next big project we wanted to design something that incorporated both everything we liked about the MJOLNIR, as well as everything that it was missing. Our goal was to make a product that was unfathomably robust, beautiful and versatile — and in our humble opinion, the NANOQ is precisely that and more.

Starting off, we removed all panels and replaced them with a beautiful concave unibody shape that can withstand anything. The ventilation pattern was redesigned and expanded to allow for larger open-area over the hardware, then CNC:d directly into the unibody shell, meaning NANOQ is vastly more breathable than MJOLNIR. Our Handles addon enables you to set it down in any orientation you like, be it horizontal or vertical, as well as carry it around by grabbing one of the handles. In addition to being able to fit pretty much any GPU on the market, NANOQ has up to 4x the cooling capacity of MJOLNIR for the CPU. It also features a standalone core; however, this time with vastly superior design built on top of a reinforced stainless-steel structure. Last but definitely not least, we are releasing this project in two small form factor sizes — 11 and 16 liters — meaning we have something for everyone, regardless if you're trying to build something tiny and portable or just plain powerful.

Now we could talk about it all day, but here's a much better way to experience the NANOQ.

NANOQ