Lian Li PC-M25: mATX Enclosure with 5 Hot-Swap HDD Bays

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 9, 2016 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, PC-M25, micro tower, mATX, Lian Li, hot-swap, enclosure, case, aluminum case

The PC-M25 is Lian Li’s latest enclosure; a small micro-ATX tower with an emphasis on storage.

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“The PC-M25 includes a hot-swap HDD rack where users can conveniently install and remove up to five 3.5” drives with rubber suspension and without needing tools. The bottom HDD tray can mount an additional three 2.5” or two 3.5” drives. This makes a total of as many as seven 3.5” hard drives for advanced RAID storage applications.”

While a small form-factor design (all aluminum, of course), there is still room for a full system including long graphics cards and power supplies; though you’ll want a lower-profile CPU cooler as there is only 80 mm of clearance above the processor. Fans are included, with 140 mm intake and 120 mm exhaust pre-installed, though there is only a screen filter on the bottom intake (below the PSU).

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Specifications:

  • Model: PC-M25 A/ B
  • Case Type: Mini Tower Chassis
  • Color: Silver, Black
  • Material: Aluminum
  • M/B Type: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
  • Expansion Slot: 4
  • Storage:
  • HDD rack: 3.5" HDD x5 (Hot-swap)
  • HDD tray: 2.5" HDD x3 or 3.5" HDD x2
  • System Fan (Front) 140mm Fan x1; System Fan (Top) 120mm Fan x1
  • I/O Ports: None
  • Maximum Compatibility
  • VGA Card length: 410mm
  • PSU length: 230mm 
  • CPU cooler height:80mm
  • PSU Type: ATX
  • Dimensions (W x H x D) 199 x 322 x 441 mm (7.83 x 12.68 x 17.36 in)
  • Net Weight: 3.74 kg (8.25 lbs)

storage_options.jpg

Storage options for the PC-M25

The PC-M25 will be available this month with an MSRP of $169.

Source: Lian Li
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS X99-M WS is an mATX version of their workstation line board for the Intel X99 chipset with enhanced support for USB 3.1-based devices. The board features full support for all Intel LGA2011-v3 processors paired with DDR4 memory operating in up to quad channel configuration. Priced at a reasonable $279.99, the X99-M WS/USB 3.1 board is priced competitively considering the feature set and performance designed into the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

The X99-M WS motherboard features an 8-phase digital power system with high efficiency Beat Thermal chokes, Dr. MOS MOSFETs, and 12k rated solid capacitors. Additionally, ASUS integrated their CPU OC Socket into the board's design, ensuring board's overclocking potential. ASUS chose to integrate the following features into the X99-M WS/USB 3.1 board: eight SATA 3 ports; one M.2 PCIe x2 capable port; Intel I218LM and I210-AT Gigabit NICs; tri-port 802.11ac WiFi adapter; three PCI-Express x16 slots; a PCI-Express x1 slot; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, MemOK!, and BIOS Flashback buttons; TPU, EPU, Dr. Power, and EZ_XMP switches; Crystal Sound 2 audio subsystem; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A port support.

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Courtesy of ASUS

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS X99-E WS/USB 3.1 motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-PK motherboard is the company's mATX solution for their Intel Z97 Express chipset-based product line. Similar to other boards in their Z97 series, the Z97-PK is simplified to include what you need for a working mATX system without compromising on component or build quality. With an MSRP of $79.99, the Z97-PK is a very approachable solution for any use, including those budget-constrained HTPC builds.

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-PK motherboard was designed to be an affordable solution packed with lots of performance potential. ECS constructed the board with around a 4-phase digital power deliver system and high quality solid capacitors to keep the board running stable. The Z97-PK board offers the following in-built features: six SATA 3 ports; a Realtek GigE NIC; one PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slot; one PCI-Express Gen2 x16 slot (x4 maximum bandwidth); Realtek audio solution; integrated VGA, DVI, and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z97-PK motherboard!

Thermaltake's new Core X2 mATX case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 10, 2015 - 08:49 PM |
Tagged: mATX, thermaltake, Core X2

mATX is becoming more popular as it becomes possible to fit high end components into a smaller case than was previously possible.  This has also lead companies to start producing a wide variety of these cases for users to choose from.  [H]ard|OCP recently reviewed one of these cases designed by Thermaltake, the Core X2.  The case is 18.3"H x 12.6"W x 21.3"L (465x320x541mm) and all of the intakes have removable filters as well as numerous other features including the ability to be stacked in multiples for better cooling.  The side panels can be swapped as can the location of the housing for the USB 3.0, microphone, power and reset buttons giving you a lot of flexibility on how you set up your system.  Check out the full review to see what else Thermaltake's chassis can do.

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"While you may or may not be in the market for a mATX sized computer case, the Thermaltake Core X2 mATX Cube Chassis has some interesting features for those looking to do custom water cooling and wanting to have some easy ways to show it off. All that aside, just how good of an mATX case is it?"

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Various

Big Power, Small Size

Though the mindset that a small PC is a slow PC is fading, there are still quite a few readers out there that believe the size of your components will indicate how well they perform. That couldn't be further from the case, and this week we decided to build a small, but not tiny, PC to showcase that small can be beautiful too!

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Below you will find a complete list of parts and components used in our build - but let me say right off the bat, to help alleviate as much vitriol in the comments as possible, there are quite a few ways you could build this system to either get a lower price, or higher performance, or quieter design, etc. Our selections were based on a balance of both with a nod towards expansion in a few cases.

Take a look:

  MicroATX Gaming Build
Processor Intel Core i7-4790K - $334
Corsair Hydro Series H80i - $87
Motherboard Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 - $127
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws X 8GB DDR3-2133 - $88
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW - $399
Storage Samsung 250GB 850 EVO - $139
Western Digital 2TB Green - $79
Case Corsair Carbide Series Air 240 - $89
Power Supply Seasonic Platinum 860 watt PSU - $174
OS Windows 8.1 x64 - $92
Total Price $1602 - Amazon Full Cart

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The starting point for this system is the Intel Core i7-4790K, the top-end Haswell processor for the Z97 chipset. In fact, the Core i7-4790K is a Devil's Canyon part, created by Intel to appease the enthusiast looking for an overclockable and high clocked quad-core part. This CPU will only lag behind the likes of the Haswell-E LGA2011 processors, but at just $340 or so, is significantly less expensive. Cooling the 4790K is Corsair's Hydro Series H80i double-thickness self contained water cooler.

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For the motherboard I selected the Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5, a MicroATX motherboard that combines performance and features in a mATX form factor, perfect for our build. This board includes support for SLI and CrossFire, has audio OP-AMP support, USB ports dedicated for DACs, M.2 storage support, Killer networking and more.

Continue reading our build for a MicroATX Gaming system!!

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!!

Colorful New BitFenix Prodigy M Cases With Optional Side Windows Coming Soon

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 23, 2014 - 01:03 AM |
Tagged: prodigy m, mATX, bitfenix

In response to customer feedback, BitFenix has announced new color options and optional windowed side panels for its Prodigy M chassis. New versions of the Micro ATX case will be available later this month in Fire Red, Atomic Orange, Vivid Green, and Cobalt Blue with or without a case window (which can also be available separately). The new color choices join the existing Arctic White and Midnight Black Prodigy M cases.

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The Prodigy M (including the new color versions) is essentially a larger version of the Prodigy chassis intended to support Micro ATX motherboards and dual graphics cards. BitFenix's steel and plastic Prodigy M chassis measures 250mm x 404mm x 359mm (~9.8"x15.9"x14.1") and features the company's "FyberFlex" flexible carrying handles on the top and bottom (the bottom handles do double duty as case feet) and SofTouch exterior finish. Two audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, and a single externally-accessible 5.25" drive bay round out the external I/O.

The case comes bundled with two 120mm Spectre fans installed in the rear and bottom fan mounts. Beyond that, users can add a slim 240mm radiator (27mm thick with a single GPU installed) up top and swap out the included rear fan for a larger 140mm model.

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The Prodigy M supports Mini ITX and Micro ATX motherboards, a bottom mounted power supply up to 160mm long, CPU coolers up to 160mm tall (with the storage rack installed), and graphics cards as long as 320mm (there are five PCI slots in total). Using the bottom case mounts, users can have two 3.5" drives and two 2.5" drives. Additionally, users can install the removable storage rack (which mounts above the motherboard for an extra two 3.5" drives and three 2.5" drives. There is also a 5.25" drive bay which could house additional storage drives with the right adapter.

BitFenix also announced the availability of windowed side panels that come in each of the six case colors. The windowed side panels will be sold along with windowed versions of the Prodigy M case or as a separate purchase that customers can add to their existing black or white Prodigy M.

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The new Prodigy M Color cases will be available later this month for around $100. There is no word on pricing for the individual windowed side panels, however. 

It is nice to see BitFenix responding to customer feedback, and the new colorful cases seem to be a welcome update to the series.

Source: BitFenix
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!!

Get a little GAMING done with MSI

Subject: Motherboards | January 9, 2014 - 12:32 AM |
Tagged: msi, Z87M GAMING, mATX

If you like the size of the smaller Gabecubes but want to build it yourself then you need a powerful mATX board.  The aptly named MSI Z87M GAMING is a good choice with an impressive amount of slots, a pair of 16x PCIe 3.0 and a pair of 1x PCIe 2.0 as well.  It also has 4 DIMM slots and six SATA 6Gbps ports which is an impressive array for such a small form factor and that doesn't even count the variety of input and output ports on the back.   [H]ard|OCP were of two minds when it came to this board; the first reviewer encountered numerous issues installing the OS and drivers while Kyle found his to work perfectly out of box.  This board has a lot of potential but you might want to wait for a BIOS update in the hopes that you too will have a smooth setup.

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"We take a look at another offering in MSI’s "GAMING" series. This time the M-ATX form factor Z87M GAMING caught our eye. Is this a case of good things come in small packages? Based on our experiences with the rest of the series, this is one you won’t want to miss if you’re looking for an M-ATX based motherboard."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Launches Six New H81 Motherboards For Budget Haswell Systems

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2013 - 10:32 PM |
Tagged: H81, haswell, mini ITX, mATX, atx, motherboard, asus

ASUS recently announced six new Haswell-compatible motherboards using Intel's budget H81 chipset. The new motherboards come in full ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX form factors. The new boards include the ATX H81-Plus, the Mini-ITX H81I-Plus, and four Micro ATX boards: the H81M-Plus, H81M-A, H81M-C, and H81M-E. 

All of the boards have two DDR3 DIMM slots, a LGA 1150 CPU socket, and four SATA ports (two SATA III 6Gpbs and two SATA II 3Gbps). Aside from the physical dimensions, the boards vary in the number and type of PCI-E 2.0 connectors and rear IO port selection. Further, the motherboards feature ASUS' DIGI+ VRM and 5X protection (eg. overcurrent) technologies.

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The H81-Plus features four PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots and two PCI-E x1 slots. Rear IO includes:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 1 x COM
  • 1 x Parallel
  • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN
  • 3 x analog audio ports

The Micro ATX H81M-Plus has a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot and three PCI-E x1 slots. It does not inlclude the parallel or COM ports on the rear IO, and instead provides digital video outputs. Specifically, the H81M-Plus provides the following rear IO.

  • 2 x PS/2
  • Video:
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DVI-D
    • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN
  • 3 x Analog audio ports

The other micro ATX boards are variations of this design with slightly different IO and PCI-E .1 configurations. The ASUS H81M-A has the same rear IO as the H81M-Plus but has only two PCI-E x1 slots. The H81M-E is nearly identical to the H81M-Plus above except that there is no HDMI video output on the back panel. Finally, the H81M-C features two PCI-E 2.0 x 16 slots, two PCI-E x1 slots, and switches out the HDMI port for a LPT parallel port stacked on top of the DVI and VGA ports on the rear IO panel.

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In addition to the ATX and Micro ATX motherboards, ASUS is launching the H81I-Plus, which is a Mini ITX motherboard for Intel Haswell processors and using the budget H81 chipset. The board has a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 connector and four SATA ports (two SATA 6Gbps). Rear IO on the Mini ITX H81I-Plus includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Video
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x VGA
    • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN
  • 3 x Analog audio jacks

ASUS has not released official pricing or availability information, but expect the boards to be available soon for under $100.

Read more about H81 motherboards at PC Perspective.

Source: ASUS