Version 3 of the NCASE M1 Crowdfunded Mini-ITX Case up for Pre-Order

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 15, 2014 - 08:36 PM |
Tagged: small form factor, SFF, ncase, mini-itx, m1, enclosure, case, aluminum case

The NCASE M1 once famously posed next to a can of soda, and the rest is (unlicensed) history...

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The M1 next to a can of some mystery drink that I've never seen before

Now the M1 is back for another round of pre-orders, with the price set at $185 for the microscopic, all-aluminum enclosure. The catch is that once again the enclosure ships directly from the OEM (Lian Li) in Taiwan, which means that import duty and taxes will be extra. Shipping this writer's abode in the province of the USA known as "Michigan" ranged from $30 for the slowest imaginable ocean freight, to a (comparatively) reasonable $55 for much faster air shipping.

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Christmas is coming... Why not order 2? Or 5?

You may have been one of the (approximately) millions who read our review of this fantastic little enclosure, but just for old time's sake you can always read it again! The review features many photos of the case interior and exterior, as well as a some build examples to give readers an idea of what to expect before committing to the case sight-unseen.

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Exploded view of the aluminum (or aluminium for our readers in the UK) construction

So what's different with the 3rd version? Here's the official change log from the hardforum page:

  • Braces added to bottom corners of chassis for increased rigidity/decreased probability of wobbling
  • 0.3mm decrease in side and front panel height
  • Extra QC for wobbling & panel uniformity
  • Changed model ID plate to read "V3.0" in place of "V2.0"
  • SFX bracket raised 2mm and flange trimmed for better SFX-L support
  • Additional motherboard standoffs added for compact mATX boards (226x173mm max w/SFX bracket)
  • Slightly increased CPU cutout size

The M1's dimensions are just (HxWxD) 240mm x 160mm x 328mm, which translates to 9.45" x 6.30" x 12.91". The pre-order is currently open, but no offical word on when the newest production run will be finished and shipping just yet.

Source: NCASE
Manufacturer: NZXT

Introduction

In the last few years NZXT has emerged as a popular choice for computer builds with stylish cases for a variety of needs. The newest member of the H series, the H440, promises quiet performance and offers a clean look by eliminating optical drive bays entirely from the design. While this might be a deal-breaker for some, the days of the ODD seem to be numbered as more enclosures are making the move away from the 5.25" bay.

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Image credit: NZXT

But we aren't looking at just any H440 today, as NZXT has sent along a completely custom version designed in alliance with gaming accessory maker Razer to be "the ultimate gamer's chassis". (This case is currently available direct from NZXT's online store.) In this review we'll look at just what makes this H440 different, and test out a complete build while we're at it. Performance will be as big a metric as appearance here since the H440 is after all an enclosure designed for silence, with noise dampening an integral part of NZXT's construction of the case.

Green with Envy?

From the outset you'll notice the Razer branding extends beyond just special paint and trim, as custom lighting is installed right out of the box to give this incarnation of the H440 a little more gaming personality (though this lighting can be switched off, if desired). Not only do the front and side logos and power button light up green, but the bottom of the case features effects lighting to cast an eerie green glow on your desktop or floor.

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Image credit: NZXT

Continue reading our review of the NZXT H440 Designed by Razer!!

Introduction: Defining the Quiet Enclosure

The Define R5 is the direct successor to Fractal Design's R4 enclosure, and it arrives with the promise of a completely improved offering in the silent case market. Fractal Design has unveiled the case today, and we have the day-one review ready for you!

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We've looked at a couple of budget cases recently from the Swedish enclosure maker, and though still affordable with an MSRP of $109.99 (a windowed version will also be available for $10 more) the Define R5 from Fractal Design looks like a premium part throughout. In keeping with the company's minimalist design aesthetic it features clean styling, and is a standard mid-tower form factor supporting boards from ATX down to mini-ITX. The R5 also offers considerable cooling flexibility with many mounting options for fans and radiators.

The Silent Treatment

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One of two included 1000 RPM hydraulic-bearing GP-14 silent fans

There are always different needs to consider when picking an enclosure, from price to application. And with silent cases there is an obvious need to for superior sound-dampening properties, though airflow must be maintained to prevent cooking components as well. With today's review we'll examine the case inside and out and see how a complete build performs with temperature and noise testing.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Define R5 enclosure!!

Manufacturer: In Win

Introduction: Caged Beast

The D Frame Mini from In Win is a wild-looking, wildly expensive case that defies convention in many ways.

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First of all, calling the In Win D Frame mini an enclosure is a bit of a stretch. The design is part open-air case, part roll cage. Of course open air cases are not a new concept, but this is certainly a striking implementation; a design almost more akin to a testbench in some ways. When installed the components will be more open to the air than otherwise, as only the sides of the frame are covered (with panels made of tempered glass).

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The most noticeable design aspect of the D Frame mini are the welded tubes that make up the frame. The tubes are aluminum and resemble the frame of an aluminum bicycle, right down to the carefully welded joints. Around the perimeter of the frame are rather sizable soft plastic/rubber bumpers that protect the enclosure and help eliminate vibrations. Due to the design there is no specific orientation required for the enclosure, and it sits equally well in each direction.

There is support for 240mm radiators, virtually unlimited water cooling support given the mostly open design, and room for extra-long graphics cards and power supplies. The frame looks and feels like it could withstand just about anything, but it should probably be kept away from small children and pets given the ease with which fans and other components could be touched. And the D Frame mini is extremely expensive at $350. Actually, it’s just kind of extreme in general!

Continue reading our review of the In Win D Frame mini enclosure!!

Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction: The Core Series Shrinks Down

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Image credit: Fractal Design

The Core 1100 from Fractal Design is a small micro-ATX case, essentially a miniature version of the previously reviewed Core 3300. With its small dimensions the Core 1100 targets micro-ATX and mini-ITX builders, and provides another option not only in Fractal Design's budget lineup, but in the crowded budget enclosure market.

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The price level for the Core 1100 has fluctuated a bit on Amazon since I began this review, with prices ranging from a high of $50 down to a low of just $39. It is currently $39.99 at Newegg, so the price should soon stabilize at Amazon and other retailers. At the ~$40 level this could easily be a compelling option for a smaller build, though admittedly the design of these Core series cases is purely functional. Ultimately any enclosure recommendation will depend on ease of use and thermal performance/noise, which is exactly what we will look at in this review.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Core 1100 case!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Puget Systems

Clearly a contender

Open air cases are a pretty niche market. The number of DIY users that are interested or willing to have their components fully exposed need to have some specific goals in mind. You could be a full time overclocker, looking for easy access to the CPU socket for LN2 or to hit that BIOS reset button. You could also be an enthusiast that is always swapping out components so the ability to bypass getting under a desk and removing a door makes things faster. Or you could just be a show off and want to be certain your friends and family see the gear you have purchased to power your PC gaming.

Just don't be someone with curious cats. 

Puget Systems is a high end system builder based in the north west United States and though they don't plan on making a living selling these open air cases, called the Puget Systems EATX V1 Test Bench, they decided if they were making it, they might as well sell it too. Used primarily for the company's own internal testing and evaluation, the open air test bench is an acrylic structure that holds the power supply and storage on a bottom level along with the motherboard and other components up top, totally open to the elements.

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It is expensive though, at $170.

The stand out features include support for a 120mm or even 240mm water cooler mount, triple GPU support and of course, as the name implies, the capability to hold EATX motherboards. Check out the full video review above and if you just want to see some more photos, click the link below!

Continue to see some more photos of the Puget Systems Test Bench EATX Version 1!!

NCASE M1 Crowdfunded Mini-ITX Case Now Available for Pre-Order

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2014 - 10:42 AM |
Tagged: ncase, mini-itx, m1, Lian Li, case, aluminium

The NCASE M1 - that impossibly small crowdfunded Mini-ITX case -  is now available for pre-order at the company’s website in both silver and black styles, and it will set those of us in the U.S. back $185 plus shipping and import charges (they are being shipped directly from Taiwan upon fulfillment).

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Ah yes, that famous Coke can photo…

Those who have had the privilege of hands-on experience with this micro-sized enclosure (myself included) come away highly impressed with not only its impossibly diminutive size compared to the component options, but to the high build quality as well. Manufactured by Lian Li, it is of all-aluminum construction and very lightweight.

Our review of the case here at PC Perspective showcases some of the build options to give a prospective buyer ideas about the flexibility of the design, but the “no compromises” approach with the M1 does command quite an investment for an enclosure. Still, if you’re looking at an ultimate-level Mini-ITX system and don’t mind spending some of that hard-earned green (on an already expensive form-factor, let's not forget), you’d be hard pressed to find a better option at this size.

Source: NCASE
Manufacturer: BitFenix

Introduction, Packaging, and Specifications

The BitFenix Colossus has grown into a family of enclosures, from the massive E-ATX original all the way down to their diminutive mini-ITX version. But somewhere in between there lies a case offering some impressive flexibility, while still retaining a small footprint.

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As the PC industry has evolved over the last decade, the days of high-performance rigs requiring large towers and full-size ATX and E-ATX motherboards are gone. Of course there is still a market (and need) for full tower systems, and the majority of enthusiast motherboards available are still full ATX. But the evolution in process technology and platforms has allowed for more and more to be done within a smaller footprint, and the micro-ATX form factor has emerged as a solid option for anything from budget systems to extreme multi-GPU gaming powerhouses. Regardless of the path you choose, all of those sweet components need a home, and finding the right computer case has long been a very personal odyssey.

BitFenix entered the PC enclosure market in 2010 with the original Colossus, and since then they have grown into a respected brand with a large and differentiated product offering. From that first massive Colossus to the popular Prodigy mini-ITX, they have created an enclosure for just about any build. And while many cases specialize in one or two particular areas, once in a while you will find an enclosure that just begs for experimentation. The micro-ATX variant of the Colossus from BitFenix is just such a case. Every aspect of this small enclosure has been given a close look by BitFenix, and there are options galore for a variety of builds.

Continue reading our review of the BitFenix Colossus Micro-ATX Case Review!!

Podcast #266 - Corsair Air 540 Case, MSI GTX 780 Lightning, hUMA in the PS4, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2013 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, video, ps4, podcast, msi, hUMA, hsa, gtx 780, corsair, case, amd, air 540, 780 lightning

PC Perspective Podcast #266 - 08/29/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair Air 540 Case, MSI GTX 780 Lightning, hUMA in the PS4, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:12:24

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Samsung 840 EVO pricing was definitely not kidding!
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

Fractal Design Launches ARC XL and ARC Mini R2

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 5, 2013 - 07:47 AM |
Tagged: XL-ATX, fractal design, computex 2013, computex, case, arc xl, arc mini r2

Fractal Design is using Computex 2013 to launch two new cases, called the ARC XL and ARC Mini R2. As their names suggest, the ARC XL is a massive brushed aluminum case capable of supporting motherboards up to XL-ATX in size while the ARC Mini R2 is a Micro ATX case that is compatible with Micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboards.

Fractal Design ARC XL

The ARC XL chassis measures 232 x 572 x 552mm and weighs 13.8kg. The full tower case features a texturized aluminum exterior with a clear side window and top-mounted IO panel. The front of the case holds a large mesh grill with white Fractal Design logo. Above the front intake are four 5.25" drive bays. The front IO panel is mounted on the top of the case and includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, audio in/out jacks, and power/reset buttons.

Fractal Design ARC XL.jpg

Internally, the ARC XL chassis supports motherboards up to XL-ATX in size, up to eight 3.5" hard drives, and space for two 2.5" solid state drives behind the motherboard tray. In total, the case supports seven 140mm fan positions. Fractal design includes three Silent Series R2 case fans with the chassis. Dust filters in the front, top, and bottom fan vents. Water cooling enthusiasts will be pleased to know that they can install 360mm radiators on top and 240mm radiators in the front of the case (with the hard drive cages removed). Other features include 9 PCI expansion slots, space for a bottom mounted PSU, integrated 3-fan 3-speed fan controller, and space for cable routing behind the motherboard tray.

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Fractal Design's ARC XL case will be available in July or early August with an MSRP of $129.95 USD (119.95 EURO).

Fractal Design ARC Mini R2

The ARC Mini R2 is a miniature version of the ARC XL suitable for smaller systems using Micro ATX or Mini ITX motherboards and either water or air cooling.

The Mini R2 has a large mesh grill on the front panel as well as two optical drive bays. The front IO includes two USB 3.0 ports, audio in/out, power and reset buttons, and the fan controller switch. The case measures 210 x 405 x 484mm and weighs 9kg.

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Internally, the ARC Mini R2 supports Micro ATX or Mini ITX motherboards, up to six 3.5" hard drives, two 2.5" SSDs (behind motherboard tray), and 4 PCI expansion slots. Graphics cards up to 260mm are supported with the hard drive cage installed, or 400mm with it removed. There is space for cable routing behind the motherboard and water cooling grommets on the back of the case to support external radiators.

Cooling is handled by three bundled Silent Series R2 fans controlled by an included fan controller. The case can support a total of seven fans, including:

  • Front: 2 x 120mm (1 included)
  • Rear: 1 x 120mm (1 included)
  • Top: 1 x 120mm plus 2 x 140mm (1 included)
  • Bottom: 1 x 120mm

Watercooling support includes the ability to mount a thin 360mm radiator on top as well as a 240mm radiator over the front intake (with the optical drive and hard drive bays removed respectively). Fractal Design includes removable dust filters over the front, top, and bottom vents.

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The Micro ATX ARC Mini R2 will be available for $89.95 (79.95 EURO) in August or early September.

In all, they look like decent cases, though I would have loved to see some additional color options on the ARC Mini R2! (heh).