Introduction and Features
Courtesy of MSI
Micro-Star International, better known as MSI, has been busy little bees in 2011 to fend off fierce competition from ASUS, Gigabyte and other motherboard vendors. This year's launch of the Z68 chipset from Intel combined the capabilities and features from the H67 and P67 chipsets, and MSI capitalized on this when they joined forces with LucidLogix to include their Virtu technology in their latest Z68A-GD80 motherboard. Lucid's Virtu tech provides users with switchable graphics, which allows users to enjoy both graphics power of integrated GPU and discrete GPU.
Courtesy of MSI
MSI also used the Z68A-GD80 as their first motherboard to support PCI Express 3.0, which boosts 32GB/s of transfer bandwidth and makes this mobo a bit more future proof for users looking for their next hardware upgrade. MSI also upgraded their BIOS system to ClickBIOS II, which provides a consistent user interface both in the UEFI BIOS and in Windows. Users can control their system settings directly from Windows and the GUI also supports touchscreen controls.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 12, 2011 - 06:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mid tower, chassis, bitfenix, atx
Gaming hardware designer BitFenix recently announced two new computer chassis. Named Merc Alpha and Merc Beta, both enclosures are of the mid-tower ATX design and deliver gaming features for budget prices. Product Manager David Jarlestedt stated confidently that “gamers will be hard pressed to find a better value enclosure in this segment.”
The differences between Merc Alpha and Merc Beta are subtle but important for cooling potential. Specifically, Merc Alpha is able to accommodate up to eight 120mm fans (including two on top) while the Merc Beta eschews the two top 120mm fan grills in favor of a flat surface and a total of six fans.
Features shared between both models include an all black interior and exterior coating, black cabling for the front ports, cable management features, CPU cooler motherboard cut-out, four USB 2.0 front panel ports, and easy to use thumbscrews to secure the case door and internal drives. Further, the cases support three 5.25” optical drives, seven 3.5” hard drives, and one 2.5” drive bay for an SSD.
Both Merc Alpha and Merc Beta will be available in stores starting August 2011 with an MSRP of $39. You can see more photos of the budget gaming cases here.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 1, 2011 - 07:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thermaltake, level 10 gt, full tower, atx
Thermaltake recently unveiled a new update to its popular Level 10 GT full tower chassis. The new case has been dubbed the "Level 10 GT Snow Edition," likely to due to its glossy white exterior finish. Weighing in at 28 lbs, just under 2 ft tall, 11” wide, and 2 ft deep the new case packs plenty of drive bays, air and water cooling options, LEDs, front port IO, and most importantly for enthusiasts support for extra long graphics cards up to 14” in length and motherboards up to Extended ATX (E-ATX) size.
More specifically, the Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition maintains the same build material and general design and layout of the older dark Level 10 GT chassis; however, it brings a few tweaks to the table in the aesthetics department. While the interior of the case remains black, the exterior features a glossy white finish over most of the case, which is then accented by various black mesh inserts that serve as drive bay covers and cooling fan intakes/exhausts. (Personally, I find the new black and white look very classy and well designed.) On the Interior, not much has changed compared to its predecessor, however. There are still a total of 10 drive bays, including five 3.5” or 2.5” hard drive hot swap bays, four 5.25” optical drive bays, and one front facing 3.5” bay. The water cooling ports and five cooling fans remain the same (intakes: two 200mm fans and one 120mm fan, exhausts: one 200mm fan and one 140mm fan) as the standard Level 10 GT as well.
The bottom line is that if you already own a standard Level 10 GT, this is not a must-have upgrade; however, for those in the market for a well designed high end full tower chassis it is certainly worth a look as the new aesthetic design only serves to improve upon the Level 10 GT’s pedigree. The case is available for purchase now through various retailers and is going for around $290 USD at the time of this writing. For further information and photos, please see the Thermaltake website.
What are your thoughts on the new chassis, do you like the new design?
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 14, 2011 - 03:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: full tower, atx, spire
Spire, The Netherlands-based supplier of enclosures, cooling solutions, and power supplies announced the availability of a new PC case aimed at gamers and overclockers. Dubbed the Epoxi rev. 2, the ATX full tower enclosure is constructed from .8mm SECC steel and aluminum front panels. Accommodating ATX motherboards, up to five 5.25” and six 3.5” tool-less drive bays, and six 120mm fans, Spire claims that the case is perfect for use with high wattage devices and water cooling components through the use of two rubber grommets providing exterior access. Thumb screw secured panels, anti-vibration mountings, front port eSATA, and a sleek design are all nice touches. Further, the case features rotating feet and a bottom mounted PSU design.
On the inside, the case features the same dark design as the exterior in addition to a CPU back plate cut-out and wire routing holes that provide access to the area between the motherboard tray and side panel to hide PSU and other cables. From the image above, it is apparent that this case has no shortage of available drive bays! Weighing in at 13.5kg, it wont be easily toted around to LAN parties; however, it will gladly house all your components at home and keep them nice and cool- perhaps even when bitcoin mining ;).
Spire lists the new case as having an MSRP of 139.95 USD (108.95 EURO) and is now available from their European distribution center in The Netherlands. More photos of the case are available here.