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.
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.
The second-generation Fortress FT02 interior
Introduction and First Impressions
The Lian Li PC-Q33 is a mini-ITX enclosure with a cube-like appearance and a hinged construction that makes it easy to access the components within.
When a builder is contemplating a mini-ITX system the primary driver is going to be the size. It’s incredible that we've reached the point where we can have a powerful single-GPU system with minimal (if any) tradeoffs from the tiny mITX form-factor, but the components need to be housed in an appropriately small enclosure or the entire purpose is defeated. However working within small enclosures is often more difficult, unless the enclosure has been specifically designed to account for this. Certainly no slouch in the design department, Lian Li is no stranger to small, lightweight mini-ITX designs like this. The NCASE M1 (a personal favorite) was manufactured by the company after all, and in some ways the PC-Q33 is reminiscent of that design - in build quality and materials if nothing else. The Q33 features aluminum construction and is very light, and while compact the design of the enclosure allows for effortless component installation. The secret? A hinged design that allows the front of the enclosure to swing down providing full access to the interior.
This approach to accessibility with a small enclosure is a welcome one, and especially so considering the price of the PC-Q33, which retails for $95 on Newegg and can be found for around $105 on Amazon as well. This is still a high cost for many considering a small build and enters the premium price range for an enclosure, but remember the Q33 features an aluminum construction which typically carries a considerably higher cost than steel and plastic. Of course if the case is frustrating to use or has poor thermals than the materials used are meaningless, so in this review we’ll look at the build process and thermal results with the Q33 to see if it’s a good value. My initial impression is that the price is actually low, but that’s coming from someone who looks at a lot of cases and develops a familiarity with the average retail prices in each category.
Introduction and First Impressions
The RV05 is the current iteration of SilverStone's Raven enclosure series, and a reinvention of their ATX enthusiast design with a revised layout that eliminates 5.25" drive bays for a smaller footprint.
Return to Form
The fifth edition of SilverStone's Raven is a return to form of sorts, as it owes more to the design of the original RV01 than the next three to follow. The exterior again has an aggressive, angular look with the entire enclosure sitting up slightly at the rear and tilted forward. Though the overall effect is likely less visually exciting than the original, depending on taste, in its simplicity the design feels more refined and modern than the RV01. Some of the sharpest angles have been eliminated or softened, though the squat stance coupled with its smaller size gives the RV05 an energetic appearance - as if it's ready to strike. (OK, I know it's just a computer case, but still...)
The Raven series is important to the case market as a pioneer of the 90º motherboard layout for ATX systems, expanding on the design originally developed by Intel for the short-lived BTX form-factor. In the layout implemented in the Raven series the motherboard is installed with the back IO panel facing up, which requires the graphics card to be installed vertically. This vertical orientation assists with heat removal by exploiting the tendency of warm air to rise, and when implemented in an enclosure like the RV05 it can create an excellent thermal environment for your components. The RV05 features large fans at the bottom of the case that push air upward and across the components on the motherboard, forcing warm air to exit through a well-ventilated top panel.
And the RV05 isn't just a working example of an interesting thermal profile, it's actually a really cool-looking enclosure with some premium features and suprisingly low price for a product like this at $129 on Amazon as this was written. In our review of the RV05 we'll be taking a close look at the case and build process, and of course we'll test the thermal performance with some CPU and GPU workloads to find out just how well this design performs.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 12, 2015 - 11:22 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: phanteks, mini-itx, micro-atx, Enthoo Mini XL, enclosure, dual-motherboard, cases
Phanteks has introduced a computer enclosure with a new form-factor they are calling “super micro ATX”, a large alternative to standard mATX designs that has the advantage of supporting two complete systems within a single case.
The second motherboard is supported via their ITX upgrade kit, and as the name indicates the second system must be built on the mini-ITX platform. While this might appeal to a very small market there is a need for running discrete systems for some users, and this design is certainly an interesting alternative to running two boxes. How it handles heat dissipation is a good question, but considering the “extreme cooling” capacity of the case - with up to 14x 120mm or 8x 140mm fan mounts - there would be plenty of room for a pair of AIO solutions to keep the CPU heat outside of the enclosure.
The mini-ITX board is installed at the top (Image credit: cowcotland.com)
The enclosure’s dimensions are (WxHxD) 260mm x 550mm x 480mm (10.24” x 21.65” x 18.90”), and the feature list includes:
- Dual removable hard drive cages
- 2x removable Drop-N-Lock SSD brackets
- Fully equipped with dustfilters (1x top, 1x front, 2x bottom)
- Removable top panel for easy fan installation and dust filter cleaning
- Compartment for fan installation in top panel
- Clean cable management using Phanteks' preinstalled Hoop-N-Loop cable ties
- Mod friendly structure uses screws NOT rivets
- 10 color abient lighting controller
- 2x USB 3.0, microphone, 3.5mm audio jack
Two backplates! (Image credit: cowcotland.com)
For full specs see the product page at the Phanteks site. Pricing is not listed and searching for the product at the usual places doesn’t turn up any listings as of this morning.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 9, 2015 - 04:02 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: mini-itx, enclosure, Deepcool, ces 2015, CES, cases
Deepcool has announced a couple of new mini-ITX enclosures, and they are anything but average.
The Deepcool Tristellar (Credit: Legit Reviews)
First we have one of the wildest looking enclosures at I’ve ever seen (other than the In Win D-Frame mini), and it looks very much like an Imperial shuttle (ROTJ, anyone?). With three sections connected to a central hub, the Tristellar has the look of some sort of spacecraft, and would appear at first glance to be rather complicated to build in (though I'd love to find out first-hand).
Exploded view of the Tristellar (Credit: Legit Reviews)
The enclosure was featured as the basis of an upcoming gaming system from CyberPower, and it would indeed house a capable gaming machine with support for mini-ITX motherboards, full-size graphics cards, and standard ATX power supplies.
The second case is a little more conventional on the surface, but again we have a design that is quite a departure.
The Pentower enclosure (Credit: Legit Reviews)
The upright Pentower enclosure seems to borrow from the design of the latest-gen Mac Pro (albeit in a less cylindrical fashion), but is not built upon the Mac’s cooling design (in which the CPU and GPU are directly connected to the large central heatsink). Such a design seems ideal for this enclosure shape, but Deepcool has implemented their own air cooling system here.
The Mac Pro’s thermal design (Credit: Apple, Inc)
With the Pentower standard components can be used and installation should be relatively easy since “after the shell is removed, all of the panels and trestles are exposed (and) users can install units directly without uninstall(ing) any other part of the case“, according to the press release.
There is no listing for the Tristellar or Pentower cases on the Deepcool website as of today, and naturally pricing and availability have not been announced.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 6, 2015 - 12:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 28, 2014 - 11:15 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 22, 2014 - 08:16 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: wall mount, Steam Machine, PC-05S, mini-itx, Lian Li, enclosure, cases, aluminum case
Techspot posted a review of the unreleased Lian Li PC-05S case over the weekend, and as you can see it’s a lot more interesting than the generic name might suggest.
The case features aluminum construction (of course - it’s a Lian Li!) and a tempered glass side to showcase the build. And what better way to show off a build than hanging it on the wall like a picture? Well, the reviewer didn’t show this but the case is described as a “wall mountable open-air chassis” by Lian Li on their site. Overall, Techspot liked the PC-05S and called it “a beautiful case that is well-designed inside and out”.
Looks great on a desk!
At just over 14 lbs (without components) this will require some planning to mount on a wall. The dimensions (WHD) are 15.1” x 18.3” x 5.8”, and it has a similar layout to Steam Machine cases like the SilverStone RV01 which we reviewed back in January. Like the RV01, the PC-05S requires a mini-ITX motherboard and orients the GPU at a 90° angle (via an included ribbon adapter) to fit in such a slim enclosure. The PC-05S also requires an SFX power supply (such as the SilverStone SX600-G we reviewed recently) and supports 240mm radiators.
Many more photos and full specs are available on the main product page, and the Lian Li PC-05S is slated for a February 2015 release. The cost? $319.
Introduction and Internals
We've seen USB 3.0 in devices for a few years now, but it has only more recently started taking off since controllers, drivers, and Operating Systems have incorporated support for the USB Attached SCSI Protocol. UASP takes care of one of the big disadvantages seen when linking high speed storage devices. USB adds a relatively long and multi-step path for each and every transaction, and the initial spec did not allow for any sort of parallel queuing. The 'Bulk-Only Transport' method was actually carried forward all the way from USB 1.0, and it simply didn't scale well for very low latency devices. The end result was that a USB 3.0 connected SSD performed at a fraction of its capability. UASP fixes that by effectively layering the SCSI protocol over the USB 3.0 link. Perhaps its biggest contributor to the speed boost is SCSI's ability to queue commands. We saw big speed improvements with the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX and other newer UASP enabled flash drives, but it's time we look at some ways to link external SATA devices using this faster protocol. Our first piece will focus on a product from Inateck - their FE2005 2.5" SATA enclosure:
This is a very simple enclosure, with a sliding design and a flip open door at the front.