Introduction and First Impressions

Supermicro recently entered the consumer space with a new line of enthusiast motherboards and today we’re looking at a gaming enclosure from the well-known enterprise manufacturer.

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While many component manufacturers have diversified their product offerings to include everything from cooling fans to thumb drives, Supermicro is not a name that anyone familiar with the company would have likely suspected of this trend. With recent Z97 and X99 motherboard offerings Supermicro has made an effort to enter the enthusiast market with boards that don’t exactly look like gaming products, but this is to be expected from a company that specializes in the enterprise market.

It was something of a surprise to hear that Supermicro had created a new enclosure for the consumer segment, and even more so to hear that it was to be a gaming enclosure. And while the term “gaming” gets thrown around quite a bit the new enclosure does have the look we tend to associate with the moniker, with flashy red accents and a brushed aluminum front panel to go along with all-black steel enclosure.

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Continue reading our review of the Supermicro SuperChassis S5 enclosure!!

Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction and First Impressions

The Define S from Fractal Design is a mid-tower enclosure based on the company’s excellent Define R5, and this version has a new interior for enhanced cooling support with an innovative approach to storage.

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Introduction

I've mentioned before that the PC enclosure market is crowded with options at every price point, but this can actually be a good thing because of the high level of individual preference this permits. Selecting a case is a multi-faceted thing, and while they all (well, mostly) keep components safely housed, once that need has been met there's a lot more to consider. Let's face it, aesthetics are important since the enclosure is the outward-facing representation of your build (and personal style). Support for your preferred type of cooling, storage, and future expandability are high on the list when selecting a finalist as well, and then there's the thermal/noise performance element to consider. It was Fractal Design's own Define R5 (review here) which offered a balanced approach to these needs, and while not looking especially flashy with understated style and a standard ATX layout, the R5 was an exceptionally well-done effort overall. Now, months later, enter the Define S.

With the Define R5 offering a solid combination of silence, expandability, and build quality, why would Fractal Design create another very similar case right on its heels? It’s all about giving people choice, and that’s something I can certainly stand behind - even when it means further segmenting a market that seems almost impossibly crowded now. And when we dive deeper into the Define S we see what is essentially a companion to the Define R5, and not a replacement. At first glance this might appear to be an identical case, but the interior layout clearly separates the two. In summary, the Define S loses 5.25” storage support found in the R5, and while that previous model had no less than 8 hard drive trays the S employs a novel approach to HDD support, but cuts the drive support from 8 standard 3.5" drives to just 3 in the process.

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

NZXT Announces the Noctis 450 Gaming Mid-Tower Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 28, 2015 - 09:29 PM |
Tagged: nzxt, Noctis 450, mid-tower, enclosure, case

NZXT proclaims that “bold is back” with their new enclosure design, a striking-looking case based (at least internally) on the popular H440.

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The Noctis 450 takes the H440 and combines it with an angular external construction that looks similar to the company’s Phantom enclosure series. As the interior is identical to the H440 this new enclosure features the spacious interior and excellent cooling support from the previous model. As a nice addition the Noctis 450 adds a PWM fan controller (and includes 4 fans), further simplifying cooling for a build with this case.

NZXT has created a product video to showcase the new design:

In the appearance department the Noctis 450 really does look good (although style is always a personal thing), with dramatic black/red and the familiar NZXT white/black color schemes available to help accent the interesting angles, and there is an adjustable LED lighting system as well.

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Plenty of storage room (unless you're Allyn) with 5 slide-out HDD trays

The MSRP is set at $139.99 and the Noctis 450 is currently available for pre-order on the NZXT site.

Source: NZXT

In Win Announces the Affordable 503 Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 15, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: mid-tower, In Win 503, in win, enclosure, case

In Win has announced an affordable new mid-tower option with the 503, and there is no shortage of the company's trademark style even at this low price point.

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A steel enclosure is to be expected for the $49.99 asking price, and though the company is known for its aluminum construction there is enough tempered glass to keep In Win fans happy. In fact, not only is the front of the In Win 503 made from glass, but it slides down to reveal a 5.25" optical drive bay. To say this is unexpected in a $50 case is a severe understatement.

In Win has posted a short product video which touches on the basic features of the 503:

Drive bays are toolless, and there seems to be a lot of room inside the case. The enclosure will be available in both black/red and white/black color schemes. I personally can't wait to get my hands on one of these and see if it lives up to the lofty standards of prior In Win cases, or if more was compromised than just material selection to meet the low price target.

Source: In Win
Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction and First Impressions

The Fortress FT05 is the fifth iteration of SilverStone's Fortress series of enclosures, and, like the latest Raven case, this leverages the complete removal of 5.25" bays to reduce its overall size. We've seen this before as the FT03 completely removed optical support, but this enclosure is related far more closely to the current Raven enclosure than any of its predecessors.

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Introduction: The Heart of a Raven

If you're familiar with SilverStone's product lineup you'll know about the Fortress and Raven enclosures which both currently feature an unusual 90° motherboard orientation. This layout places I/O on the top of the case, and helps expel warm air straight up. The Fortress was originally a more conventional design with a standard motherboard layout, but SilverStone switched this to mirror the Raven series with the second version, the FT02. However, just as the Raven series diverged from the original design language and layout of the RV01 with later versions, the Fortress series has undergone some radical changes since its introduction. With this fifth version of the Fortress SilverStone has converged the two enclosure lines, and the FT05 is essentially a more businesslike version of the Raven RV05 - though the design's more conventional exterior also contains noise-dampening material which helps to further differentiate the two enclosures.

Much as the current Raven owes much of its design to an earlier version, in that case the RV01, this new Fortress is a return to the design of the FT02. That earlier Fortress was a large (and quite expensive) case that combined great expandability with excellent cooling, taking the RV01's 90° layout and opening up the interior for an expansive, easy-to-manage interior. A considerable amount of the second gen's interior was devoted to storage, and the front of the case was dominated by 5.25" drive bays.

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The second-generation Fortress FT02 interior

Continue reading our review of the SilverStone Fortress FT05 enclosure!!

CES 2015: Corsair Carbide 100R and 100R Silent Enclosures Announced

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 6, 2015 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: micro-ATX case, enclosure, corsair, ces 2015, CES, case, Carbide 100R, atx case

Corsair is announcing the newest members of the Carbide Series family of enclosures, with the 100R and Carbide Series 100R Silent mid-tower cases.

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The Carbide 100R standard edition with side window

The Carbide Series 100R and Carbide Series 100R Silent will be among Corsair's lowest-cost enclosures at $49.99 and $59.99 each, but they are attempting to avoid "the look of many low-cost PC cases, instead offering an elegant aesthetic that will appeal to gamers, hobbyist PC builders, and system integrators". Along with expected features such as SSD mounts and front-panel USB 3.0, the enclosures also feature tool-free drive mounts (four 3.5" drives and four 2.5" drives), up to five fan mounts (and two included fans), and support for long graphics cards.

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Inside the Carbide 100R

While the standard version of the Carbide Series 100R features a side panel window and upper fan vents, the 100R Silent version features sound dampening with no opening on the top, and no window on the side panel to further reduce noise.


Specifications:

  • Tool-free mounting of hard drives and optical drives
  • Dual USB 3.0 front panel ports
  • Direct airflow path to top GPU
  • Plenty of room for large graphics cards and power supplies
  • Cable routing channel behind motherboard tray
  • Up to five fan mounts
  • Front: 2 x 140/120mm
  • Top: 2 x 120mm
  • Rear: 120mm (included)
  • Two 5.25” drive bays
  • Four 3.5”/2.5” drive bays with trays that support hard drives and SSDs
  • Seven expansion slots
  • Supports ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX motherboards and ATX power supplies

The Carbide Series 100R and Carbide Series 100R Silent PC cases have an MSRP of $49.99 and $59.99, respectively, and will be available in Q2 2015.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Corsair

Cooler Master's Silencio 652S is a Roomy Mid-Tower Case with Silent Aspirations

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 28, 2014 - 11:15 PM |
Tagged: silent case, silencio, mid-tower, matx case, enclosure, cooler master, case, atx case

Sometimes you don't want your system to sound like a clogged vacuum cleaner, and that's where a silent case can help. To be fair, all cases are silent until there are running components inside (it's been scientifically proven), but with enough insulation and some quiet fans a case can provide virtual silence with a system installed and running.

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The Silencio cases from Cooler Master have been around for a while, and the current iteration comes in both mid and mini tower versions. The mid-tower Silencio 652S was just reviewed over at The Tech Report, and it looks like a solid option for a quiet case without being too expensive at around $119.

The features and price tag of this case compare favorably with Fractal Design's Define R5 enclosure - recently reviewed here at PC Perspective. The 652S boasts massive storage capacity for up to 9 hard drives or 10 SSDs, along with support for long GPUs and liquid cooling, making it a nice option for quiet cooling depending on performance.

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Pretty clean looking build you have there, Cooler Master

The case looks good if you like a minimalist design, though the review did find the included fans to be a bit loud. Check out the full review over at The Tech Report for a detailed look at the Silencio 652S.

Manufacturer: BitFenix

Introduction, Specs, and First Impressions

BitFenix has been making enclosures for the PC market since 2010 (with the massive Colossus E-ATX case), and came to prominence a couple of years later with the introduction of the Prodigy enclosure. While the company has expanded to produce power supplies and peripherals they are still primarily a case manufacturer, as evidenced by the now 31 different models on their product page. Not content to iterate on their existing designs, BitFenix has consistently introduced new chassis ideas for different form-factors and needs.

We reviewed the Colossus Micro-ATX case back in March, and it is again an enclosure built for the venerable micro-ATX form-factor that we’re looking at here. Quite the opposite of the Colossus Micro-ATX's squat design, the Pandora is smooth and very slim.

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In the world of computer cases there are many variations, but they are mostly boxes with splashes of style and the occasional window. Companies like In Win are at the opposite end of the spectrum, but the design choices for a case with commitment to artistic intent often entail a considerable price tag, and In Win consistently prices itself out of the mainstream market. So what about the middle ground? Enter the BitFenix Pandora. It boasts eye-catching looks, a slim design that seems even more so given the curved panels, and even has a color LCD screen that can be programmed with the image file of your choice!

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The Pandora features a programmable color LCD display, to which I affixed this incredible logo

I don’t want to dissolve into meaningless superlatives, but the Pandora is a striking design. When it was shown at Computex earlier in 2014 it was listed as a mini-ITX enclosure, and while it definitely supports mini-ITX motherboards it is the final product’s micro-ATX support that we focus on in this review. And while it would have been large as a mini-ITX enclosure the Pandora is fairly small as an mini-ATX case, most notably due to that slim profile. This comes at a price, as there won’t be as much room for storage with such a narrow width (and those looking for any optical drive support must look elsewhere). And speaking of price, while the "core" version of the case starts at around $110, this version with programmable display is currently selling for just under $160. Steep, but not outrageous either.

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Continue reading our review of the BitFenix Pandora micro-ATX enclosure!!

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!!