Manufacturer: Phanteks

Introduction and First Impressions

The Enthoo EVOLV ITX it is not a new enclosure, but this striking color scheme - black with a glossy red interior - is. We'll take a thorough look at this mini-ITX enclosure in this review, and see how well it performs enclosing a gaming build.

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The EVOLV series from Phanteks includes ATX, micro-ATX, and this mini-ITX versions; with all three sharing a common design language, though some of the features naturally differ. With this smallest design Phanteks decided to retain enough size to permit the use of standard components, with room for ATX power supplies, full length graphics cards, and liquid CPU cooling with up to a 280 mm radiator.

The EVOLV ATX was my first experience with a Phanteks enclosure, and I was impressed with the build quality and thoughtful design touches. There is a different approach to building with mini-ITX that introduces new elements, including the ability of a system to remain cool and quiet with components in much tighter quarters.

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Continue reading our review of the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX case!!

Author:
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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(Courtesy of EVGA)

EVGA continues to expand their already huge PC power supply line with the introduction of the GQ series, which are aimed at price conscious consumers who want good value while still maintaining many of the performance features found in EVGA’s premium models. The GQ Series contains four models ranging from 650W up to 1000W: the EVGA 650 GQ, 750 GQ, 850 GQ and 1000 GQ. We will be taking a detailed look at the 750 GQ in this review.

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The GQ series power supplies are 80 Plus Gold certified for high efficiency and feature all modular cables, high-quality Japanese brand capacitors, and a quiet 135mm cooling fan with a fluid dynamic bearing. All GQ series power supplies are NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire Ready and are backed by a 5-year warranty.

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EVGA 750W GQ PSU Key Features:

•    Fully modular cables to reduce clutter and improve airflow
•    80 PLUS Gold certified, with up to 90%/92% efficiency (115VAC/240VAC)
•    100% Japanese brand capacitors ensure long-term reliability
•    Quiet 135mm Fluid Dynamic bearing fan for reliability and quiet operation
•    ECO Intelligent Thermal Control allows silent, fan-less operation at low power
•    NVIDIA SLI & AMD Crossfire Ready
•    Ready for 4th Generation Intel Core Processors (C6/C7 Idle Mode)
•    Compliant with ErP Lot 6 2013 Requirement
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    5-Year warranty and EVGA Customer Support

EVGA was founded in 1999 with headquarters in Brea, California. They continue to specialize in producing NVIDIA based graphics adapters and Intel based motherboards and keep expanding their PC power supply product line, which currently includes thirty-eight models ranging from the high-end 1,600W SuperNOVA T2 to the budget minded EVGA 400W power supply.

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(Courtesy of EVGA)

As you can see in the table above, EVGA currently offers seven different variations of 750W power supplies. Let’s get started with the review and see what makes this new 750W GQ model stand out from the rest.

Please continue reading our review of the EVGA 750W GQ PSU!!!

Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and First Impressions

The new Corsair Carbide 600Q and 600C enclosures are the company's first inverted ATX designs, and the layout promises improved airflow for better cooling.

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The Carbide Series from Corsair has encompassed enclosures from the company's least expensive budget-friendly options such as the $59 Carbide 100R, to high-performance options like the $159 Carbide Air 540. This new Carbide 600 enclosure is available in two versions, the 600C and 600Q, which both carry an MSRP of $149. This positions the 600C/600Q enclosures near the Graphite and Obsidian series models, but this is only fitting as there is nothing "budget" about these new Carbide 600 models.

The Carbide Series 600Q in for review differs from the 600C most obviously in its lack of the latter's hinged, latching side-panel, which also contains a large window. But the differences extend to the internal makeup of the enclosure, as the 600Q includes significant noise damping inside the front, top, and side panels. We'll be taking a close look at the noise levels along with thermal performance with this "Q" version of the new enclosure in our review.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair Carbide Series 600Q enclosure!!

Manufacturer: Scythe

Introduction and First Impressions

The Scythe Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000) is the latest model in the Ninja series, and an imposing air cooler with dimensions similar to Noctua's massive NH-D14. But there's more to the story than size, as this is engineered for silence above all else. Read on to see just how quiet it is, and of course how well it's able to cope with CPU loads.

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"The Ninja 4 is the latest model in the Ninja CPU Cooler Series, developed for uncompromising performance. It features the new T-M.A.P.S technology, an optimized alignment of heatpipes, and the back-plate based Hyper Precision Mounting System (H.P.M.S) for firm mounting and easy installation procedure. These improvements and a special, adjustable Glide Stream 120mm PWM fan result in an increased cooling performance while reducing the weight compared to his predecessor. Also the design of the heat-sink allows fan mounting on all four sides. This enables the optimal integration of the Ninja 4 in the air flow of the pc-case and reduces turbulence and the emergence of hotspots."

The Ninja 4 is built around a very large, square heatsink, which allows the single 120 mm fan to be mounted on any side, and this PWM fan offers three speed settings to further control noise. And noise is really what the Ninja is all about, with some really low minimum speeds possible on what is a very quiet Scythe fan to begin with.

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Will a single low-speed fan design affect the ability to keep a CPU cool under stress? Will the Ninja 4's fan spin up and become less quiet under full load? These questions will soon be answered.

Continue reading our review of the Scythe Ninja 4 CPU cooler!!

Author:
Manufacturer: be quiet!

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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Earlier this year we took a detailed look at the Silent Base 600 and found it to be a full-featured mid-tower enclosure that focuses on quiet, virtually silent operation, while at the same time delivering excellent cooling performance, usability and support for high-end hardware. Be Quiet! introduced the Silent Base 800 mid-tower case well over a year ago and later released the Silent Base 600 mid-tower case in 2015. The two cases are functionally very similar with only a few minor changes differentiating the two. Because the two cases are so similar, we are going to highlight the Silent Base 800’s features and specifications and then point out the main differences using the Silent Base 600 as a reference.

Be Quiet!’s Silent Base Series currently includes two cases; the Silent Base 800 and the Silent Base 600. As you might expect, the Silent Base Series is designed for very quiet operation while still offering excellent performance and cooling. Both cases are targeted towards users looking to build a quiet high-end gaming or multimedia system.

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Silent Base 800 Key Features

The Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 ATX Mid-Tower enclosure comes in four different color schemes (Black/Black, Orange/Black, Silver/Black, and Red/Black) and is available with or without a side window. The Silent Base 800 comes with three Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 fans (two 140mm intakes and one 120mm exhaust) pre-installed along with numerous options that support additional fans or liquid cooling if desired.

“The Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 offers the perfect symbiosis of noise prevention and cooling performance, good usability, and an extensive capacity for high-end hardware.”  

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Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 Mid-Tower Case Main Features:
•    Mid-Tower ATX enclosure available in four different color schemes (with or without a side window)
•    Supports ATX, Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards
•    Innovative construction assures excellent cooling efficiency and air circulation
•    Easily removed dust filters on front and bottom panels
•    Sound dampening mats used on front panel and both side panels
•    Anti-vibration decoupling provided for fans, HDDs and power supply
•    Double-glazed side panel window provides superb soundproofing
•    Three included Pure Wings fans: (2) 140mm intakes and (1) 120mm exhaust
•    Removable top panel, with top fan mounts pre-drilled for 240mm or 280mm fans and/or liquid cooling radiators
•    Excellent cooling and low noise levels with up to six fan mounting locations
o    Front: two 140mm fans included
o    Top: Dual 120mm or 140mm
o    Rear: 120mm fan included
o    Bottom: 120mm or 140mm
•    (2) USB 3.0, (2) USB 2.0 and audio jacks on the top panel
•    Seven internal 3.5” hard drive bays
•    Four internal 2.5” SSD mounting locations
•    Three external 5.25” drive bays
•    Tool-free mounting for all 3.5”/2.5” internal drives
•    Up to 290mm (11.4”) clearance for graphic cards
•    Up to 400mm (15.7”) for long graphic cards (with HDD cage removed)
•    Up to 170mm (6.7”) of space for CPU coolers
•    3-Year manufacturer’s warranty
•    MSRP: $149.99 USD ($139.99 without side window)

Please continue reading our Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 case review!!!

Author:
Manufacturer: be quiet!

Introduction and Features

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As you might expect, be quiet! is focused on virtually silent power supplies and they continue to be one of the top selling brands in Europe. The Dark Power Pro 11 Series occupies the top tier in be quiets!’s PC power supply lineup. All of the Dark Power Pro 11 models are certified for high efficiency (80 Plus Platinum) and come with modular cables.  In this review we will be taking a detailed look at the be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1,000W power supply with Cable Management. There are six power supplies in the Dark Power Pro 11 CM Series, which include 550W, 650W, 750W, 850W, 1000W and 1200W models.

be quiet! designed the Dark Power Pro 11 CM Series to provide high efficiency with minimal noise for systems that demand whisper-quiet operation without compromising on power quality. In addition to the Dark Power Pro 11 Series, be quiet! offers a full range of power supplies in ATX, SFX, and TFX form factors.

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(Courtesy of be quiet!)

All of the Dark Power Pro 11 Cable Management Series power supplies are semi-modular (all cables are modular except for the fixed 24-pin ATX cable). Along with 80 Plus Platinum certified high efficiency and quiet operation, the Dark Power Pro 11 1,000W modular power supply features an overclocking key to select between multi-rail and single rail +12V outputs. The power supply uses be quiet!’s latest SilentWings3 135mm fan for virtually silent operation. The fan speed starts out very slow and remains slow and quiet through mid power levels. And the Dark Power Pro 11 power supplies allow connecting up to four case fans, whose speed will be controlled by the PSU.

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be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1,000W CM PSU Key Features:

•    1,000W continuous DC output (ATX12V v2.4, EPS 2.92 compliant)
•    Virtually inaudible SilentWings3 135mm cooling fan
•    80 PLUS Platinum certified efficiency (up to 94%)
•    Premium 105°C rated parts enhance stability and reliability
•    Powerful GPU support with nine PCI-E connectors
•    User-friendly cable management reduces clutter and improves airflow
•    NVIDIA SLI Ready and AMD CrossFire X certified
•    ErP 2014 ready and meets Energy Star 6.0 guidelines
•    Zero load design supports Intel’s Deep Power Down C6 & C7 modes
•    Fully Intel Haswell compatible
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    German product conception, design and quality control
•    Safety Protections : OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OTP, and OPP
•    5-Year warranty
•    MSRP for the Dark Power Pro 11 1,000W CM PSU: $239.00 USD

Please continue reading our review of the Dark Power Pro 11 1,000W CM PSU!

Author:
Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction and Features

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SilverStone recently introduced a new line of Platinum certified PC power supplies, which they claim are the world’s smallest 80 Plus Platinum, full-modular ATX power supplies. The new Strider Platinum Series currently includes three models, the ST55F-PT (550W), ST65F-PT (650W) and ST75F-PT (750W). All of the Strider Platinum Series PSUs are designed to provide quiet, reliable operation in a small package. The cooling fan incorporates Fluid Dynamic Bearings (FDB) for quiet-reliable operation and an intelligent fan control permits fanless operation at low power. While the typical 750W power supply enclosure measures 160mm (6.3”) deep, the Strider Platinum Series are housed in a 140mm chassis (5.5”).

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(Courtesy of SilverStone)

The main focus of this review will be on the 750W ST75F-PT model, but the good folks at SilverStone also sent along one of the 550W (ST55F-PT) models so we will include test results for both units for comparison. It’s always nice to receive two different units in the same series to help confirm operation and performance parameters.

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SilverStone Strider Platinum Series Key Features:
 
•    550W, 650W, and 750W DC power output
•    Compact design with a depth of only 140mm for easy integration
•    High efficiency with 80 Plus Platinum certification
•    100% Modular cables
•    Intelligent semi-fanless operation
•    Quiet 120mm cooling fan with Fluid Dynamic Bearing
•    24/7 Continuous power output with 40°C operating temperature
•    Strict ±3% voltage regulation and low AC ripple & noise
•    Dedicated single +12V rail
•    Conforms to ATX12V and EPS standards
•    Universal AC input (90-264V) with Active PFC
•    Dimensions: 150mm (W) x 86mm (H) x 140mm (L)

 

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Here is what SilverStone has to say about the new Strider Platinum Series PSUs:  "As desktop computers continue to advance toward ever more efficient and smaller designs, SilverStone is helping to drive the efficiency movement by releasing the Strider Platinum Series of power supplies. Created to be the smallest fully modular ATX power supplies with 80 Plus Platinum efficiency, they are also incredibly quiet with the ability to run in fanless mode. If the loading condition is below 20%, the fan in the power supply can remain off for silent operation during idle or low powered computing activities. Other great features inherited from previous Strider series includes ±3% regulation, powerful single +12V rail, 24/7 continuous power output, and multiple PCI-E cables. For those looking to build highly efficient systems in small footprints, the Strider Platinum is definitely the best choice.

Please continue reading our review of the SilverStone 750W Platinum PSU!!!

Manufacturer: EKWB

Introduction and First Impressions

EKWB now has a pair of all-in-one liquid CPU coolers on the market, and today we have the 240 mm variant on the test bench. Long known as a supplier of water blocks (the WB in EKWB stands for water blocks, after all) and other parts for custom liquid cooling, how will EKWB's foray into self-contained liquid CPU coolers fare?

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The Predator 240 take a very different approach to self-contained CPU cooling, being a pre-assembled unit comprised of separate, and removable, parts. Though pre-filled and ready to use as a CPU cooler out of the box, the Predator 240 (and to a greater degree the larger Predator 360) can be expanded to cool additional components, and customized as the user desires.

This versitility doesn't come cheap, but the Predator is actually a pretty good value when you price out the components that make up the whole. Looking through EKWB's site the water block is available separately for $54.99, the radiator is $61.99, the two fans are $17.99 each, and then there's the pump, hoses, fittings, and coolant to buy.

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Still, at $199.95 the Predator 240 is at the top of the heap for price in this category (among 240 mm options), regardless of the apparent quality of the components. And while this may have more in common with a custom loop than your typical all-in-one CPU cooler, the only thing that really matters is performance. To test this I put it to work on the cooling test bench against some of the other coolers I have on hand. We'll see what it can do.

Continue reading our review of the EK-XLC Predator 240 Liquid CPU Cooler!!

Manufacturer: Antec

Introduction and First Impressions

Antec’s P-series enclosures have been around for quite a while, and have been known as quiet, stylish cases for a premium build. It had been quite a while since the last entry in the series as the previous model, the P280, which received our Gold Award when Ryan reviewed it way back in 2011, and this current version hit the market in January of 2015. Needless to say, Antec’s Performance enclosures have some staying power. So how does this latest entry stack up?

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The new P380 carries an MSRP of $229.95, placing it in the higher end of the premium enclosure market. While it can certainly be found for less (around $140 currently on Amazon) the bar is still set pretty high when the price exceeds $100, though the P380 is in a different world than Antec's Signature S10 enclosure, which launched at a mind-boggling $499 (it has since come down considerably). With the highly competitive enclosure market offering a number of spacious and quiet options, the P380 will need to differentiate to succeed.

“When only the best can satisfy your needs, the P380 is the answer. Known for its minimalistic design, the Performance series focuses on delivering the perfect balance between performance and Quiet-Computing. Whether you’re designing your ultimate dream PC or, just creating a monster file server, the P380 should be the choice, without hesitation.”

Antec is obviously confident about this newest P-series enclosure and I’ll be putting it to the test using a new, more stringent enclosure review process. We'll take a look at the case inside and out, and then see how it performs with a gaming build using both a closed-loop liquid CPU cooler, and a conventional air CPU cooler to see how the case airflow affects warm components.

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Continue reading our review of the Antec P380 Full-Tower enclosure!

Author:
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Features

Introduction

EVGA recently introduced three new Platinum certified power supplies in their popular SuperNOVA line, the 650P2, 750P2 and 850P2. All three power supplies are 80 Plus Platinum certified for high efficiency and feature all modular cables, high-quality Japanese brand capacitors, and a quiet 140mm cooling fan (with the ability to operate in silent, fan-less mode at low to mid power levels). And in addition to delivering excellent performance with quiet operation, these new power supplies are backed by a 10-year warranty!

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EVGA was founded in 1999 with headquarters in Brea, California. They continue to specialize in producing NVIDIA based graphics adapters and Intel based motherboards and keep expanding their PC power supply product line, which currently includes thirty-four models ranging from the high-end 1,600W SuperNOVA T2 to the budget minded EVGA 400W power supply.

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In this review we will be taking a detailed look at both the EVGA SuperNOVA 650P2 and 750P2 power supplies. It’s nice when we receive two slightly different units in the same product series to look for consistency during testing.

Here is what EVGA has to say about the new SuperNOVA P2 Platinum PSUs: “The unbeatable performance of the EVGA SuperNOVA P2 power supply line is now available in 850, 750 and 650 watt versions. Based on the award winning P2 power supplies, these units feature 80 Plus Platinum rated efficiency, and clean, continuous power to every component. The ECO Control Fan system offers fan modes to provide absolutely zero fan noise during low to medium load operations. Backed by an award winning 10 year warranty, and 100% Japanese capacitor design, the EVGA SuperNOVA 850, 750 and 650 P2 power supplies offer unbeatable performance and value."

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EVGA SuperNOVA 650W P2 and 750W P2 PSU Key Features:

•    Fully modular cables to reduce clutter and improve airflow
•    80 PLUS Platinum certified, with up to 92% efficiency
•    LLC Resonant circuit design for high efficiency
•    Tight voltage regulation, stable power with low AC ripple and noise
•    Highest quality Japanese brand capacitors ensure long-term reliability
•    Quiet 140mm Double ball bearing fan for reliability and quiet operation
•    ECO Intelligent Thermal Control allows silent, fan-less operation at low power
•    NVIDIA SLI & AMD Crossfire Ready
•    Compliance with ErP Lot 6 2013 Requirement
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Complete Protections: OVP, UVP, OPP, OCP and SCP
•    10-Year warranty and EVGA Customer Support

Please continue reading our review of the EVGA SuperNOVA 650/750 P2 PSUs!!!

Introduction and First Impressions

DEEPCOOL's Gabriel is part of their Gamer Storm series of products, and this low-profile design is rated up to 95 W to keep the latest processors cool under load. So how does it perform? We'll take a close look at the performance of this mini-ITX inspired air cooler in today's review.

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(Image credit: DEEPCOOL)

There are so many inexpensive options for air cooling on the market that it's almost overwhelming. At the top of the list in popularity are low-cost tower coolers from Cooler Master, with the ubiquitous Hyper 212 Evo at around $30, and the slightly smaller Hyper T4 at $25. But with a height of 159 mm for the 212 Evo and 152.3 mm for the T4 these coolers are not going to fit in every situation - and certainly not in a slim enclosure. There are plenty of low-profile CPU coolers on the market, one of the lowest being the Noctua NH-L9i, a $40-ish cooler which stands just 37 mm tall (with the fan!), but the tan and reddish-brown color scheme isn't for everyone, and the ultra-low profile design (which is also limited to a 92 mm fan) won't be required for many builds.

So when I began looking for a low-profile air cooler for my own use recently one of the options that cought my eye was this Gabriel, part of DEEPCOOL's Gamer Storm line.  The Gabriel had the advantage of being just $34.99 on Newegg when I picked it up, making it less expensive (and less tan and brown) than the Noctua. At 60 mm tall with its 120 mm fan installed, the Gabriel should fit in most low-profile enclosures, considering even half-height expansion cards are a bit taller at about 69 mm. The Gabriel also offers an understated look with a grey (well, mostly grey) fan. Of course appearances mean nothing unless it's well made and cools effectively, and for myself the question became, is this going to rival the experience of a Noctua (long my preferred brand) CPU cooler?

Continue reading our review of the DEEPCOOL Gamer Storm Gabriel CPU cooler!!

Manufacturer: Noctua

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Noctua

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Courtesy of Noctua

Noctua is a well respected manufacturer in the highly competitive CPU cooler space, offering products optimized for high efficiency and low-noise. The newest members of their S series coolers, the NH-D15S and NH-C14S, are based on known designs tweaked for maximum compatibility to ensure proper fit on your hot new Haswell, Haswell-E, or Skylake supported motherboard. Both coolers come standard with Noctua's SecuFirm2™ mounting mechanism, ensuring a secure mount between the cooler and CPU.

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Courtesy of Noctua

The NH-D15S CPU cooler is a dual tower cooler with a single fan sandwiched between the two radiator towers. The unit can support a maximum of three fans, but may suffer compatibility issues with certain motherboards when used outside of its default single-fan configuration. Noctua designed the cooler with their typical hybrid approach, combining a copper base plate and heat pipes with aluminum finned cooling towers. The base plate and heat pipes are nickel-plated for looks and to prevent corrosion. At an MSRP of $89.99, the Noctua NH-D15S comes with a premium price to match is colossal size.

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Courtesy of Noctua

The NH-C14S CPU cooler is single radiator cooler in a horizontal orientation with a single fan. The radiator's horizontal orientation gives the cooler a lower height in comparison to a cooler with the traditional veritical radiators while maintaining equivalent cooling performance. In typical Noctua fashion, the NH-C14S combines a copper base plate and heat pipes with aluminum finned cooling towers for an optimal hybrid cooling solution. The base plate and heat pipes are nickel-plated for looks and to prevent corrosion. The NH-C14S also retails at an MSRP of $89.99.

Continue reading our review of the Noctua S series CPU coolers!

Author:
Manufacturer: be quiet!

Introduction and Features

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Be Quiet! is a well-respected brand, particularly in Europe, for PC power supplies and they are continuing to expand their product offering to include high-end ATX mid-tower enclosures. Be Quiet! introduced the Silent Base 800 mid-tower case last year and they have released the Silent Base 600 mid-tower case in 2015. As you might expect, the Silent Base Series is designed for very quiet operation while still offering excellent performance and cooling. We will be taking a detailed look at the new Silent Base 600 Window enclosure in this review.

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The Be Quiet! Silent Base 600 ATX Mid-Tower enclosure isn’t quite as tall as the Silent Base 800 (2.5” shorter). It comes in three different color schemes (Black/Black, Orange/Black, and Siler/Black) like the 800 and is available with or without a side window. Our review sample is the black-on-black model with a window.

The Silent Base Series is targeted towards users looking to build a quiet high-end gaming or multimedia system. The Silent Base 600 comes with two Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 fans (140mm intake and 120mm exhaust) pre-installed along with numerous options that support additional fans or liquid cooling if desired.

The Be Quiet! Silent Base 600 offers the perfect symbiosis of noise prevention and cooling performance, good usability, and an extensive capacity for high-end hardware.”  

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Be Quiet! Silent Base 600 Mid-Tower Case Key Features:
•    Mid-Tower ATX enclosure available in three different color schemes (with or without a side window)
•    Supports ATX, Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards
•    Innovative construction assures excellent cooling efficiency and air circulation
•    Easily removed dust filters on front and bottom panels
•    Sound dampening mats used on front panel and both side panels
•    Anti-vibration decoupling provided for fans, HDDs and power supply
•    Double-glazed side panel window provides superb soundproofing
•    Two included Pure Wings 2 fans (140mm intake and 120mm exhaust)
•    Three-speed fan control switch
•    Removable top panel, with top fan mounts pre-drilled for dual 120mm or 140mm fans
•    Excellent cooling and low noise levels with up to six fan mounting locations
•    Front: 140mm fan included (upgradable to dual 120mm or 140mm)
•    Top: Dual 120mm or 140mm
•    Rear: 120mm fan included
•    Bottom: 120mm or 140mm
•    (2) USB 3.0, (2) USB 2.0 and audio jacks on the front panel
•    Three internal 3.5” hard drive bays
•    Three internal 2.5” SSD mounting locations
•    Three external 5.25” drive bays
•    Tool-free mounting for all 3.5”/2.5” internal drives
•    Up to 294mm (11.6”) clearance for graphic cards
•    Up to 413mm (16.3”) for long graphic cards (with HDD cage removed)
•    Up to 170mm (6.7”) of space for CPU coolers
•    MSRP: $119.99 USD ($109.99 without side window)

Please continue reading our Be Quiet! Silent Base 600 case review!!!

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Four High Powered Mini ITX Systems

Thanks to Sebastian for helping me out with some of the editorial for this piece and to Ken for doing the installation and testing on the system builds! -Ryan

Update (1/23/16): Now that that AMD Radeon R9 Nano is priced at just $499, it becomes an even better solution for these builds, dropping prices by $150 each.

While some might wonder where the new Radeon R9 Nano fits in a market that offers the AMD Fury X for the same price, the Nano is a product that defines a new category in the PC enthusiast community. It is a full-scale GPU on an impossibly small 6-inch PCB, containing the same core as the larger liquid-cooled Fury X, but requiring 100 watts less power than Fury X and cooled by a single-fan dual-slot air cooler.

The R9 Nano design screams compatibility. It has the ability to fit into virtually any enclosure (including many of the smallest mini-ITX designs), as long as the case supports a dual-slot (full height) GPU. The total board length of 6 inches is shorter than a mini-ITX motherboard, which is 6.7 inches square! Truly, the Nano has the potential to change everything when it comes to selecting a small form-factor (SFF) enclosure.

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Typically, a gaming-friendly enclosure would need at minimum a ~270 mm GPU clearance, as a standard 10.5-inch reference GPU translates into 266.7 mm in length. Even very small mini-ITX enclosures have had to position components specifically to allow for these longer cards – if they wanted to be marketed as compatible with a full-size GPU solution, of course. Now with the R9 Nano, smaller and more powerful than any previous ITX-specific graphics card to date, one of the first questions we had was a pretty basic one: what enclosure should we put this R9 Nano into?

With no shortage of enclosures at our disposal to try out a build with this new card, we quickly discovered that many of them shared a design choice: room for a full-length GPU. So, what’s the advantage of the Nano’s incredibly compact size? It must be pointed out that larger (and faster) Fury X has the same MSRP, and at 7.5 inches the Fury X will fit comfortably in cases that have spacing for the necessary radiator.

Finding a Case for Nano

While even some of the tiniest mini-ITX enclosures (EVGA Hadron, NCASE M1, etc.) offer support for a 10.5-in GPU, there are several compact mini-ITX cases that don’t support a full-length graphics card due to their small footprint. While by no means a complete list, here are some of the options out there (note: there are many more mini-ITX cases that don’t support a full-height or dual-slot expansion card at all, such as slim HTPC enclosures):

Manufacturer Model Price
Cooler Master Elite 110 $47.99, Amazon.com
Cooltek Coolcube  
Lian Li PC-O5 $377, Amazon.com
Lian Li PC-Q01 $59.99, Newegg.com
Lian Li PC-Q03 $74.99, Newegg.com
Lian Li PC-Q07 $71.98, Amazon.com
Lian Li PC-Q21  
Lian Li PC-Q26  
Lian Li PC-Q27  
Lian Li PC-Q30 $139.99, Newegg.com
Lian Li PC-Q33 $134.99, Newegg.com
Raijintek Metis $59.99, Newegg.com
Rosewill Legacy V3 Plus-B $59.99, Newegg.com

The list is dominated by Lian Li, who offers a number of cube-like mini-ITX enclosures that would ordinarily be out of the question for a gaming rig, unless one of the few ITX-specific cards were chosen for the build. Many other fine enclosure makers (Antec, BitFenix, Corsair, Fractal Design, SilverStone, etc.) offer mini-ITX enclosures that support full-length GPUs, as this has pretty much become a requirement for an enthusiast PC case.

Continue our look at building Mini ITX systems with the AMD Radeon R9 Nano!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Thermaltake

Introduction and Features

Introduction

Thermaltake is expanding their Digital Power Supply (DPS) lineup with the introduction of the new Toughpower DPS G Series, which includes six models ranging from 450W up to 1050W. We will be taking a detailed look at the Toughpower DPS G 850W PSU in this review. Note: the new DPS G Series is a new line and is different than the Toughpower DPS 750W/850W/1050W models, which use the basic DPS App software. All DPS G Series power supplies support Thermaltakes new comprehensive suite of Smart Power Management (SPM) software. Thermaltake has also introduced four DPS G power supplies in their Smart Series, the Smart DPS G 600W/650W/700W/750W  

Thermaltake’s new DPS G Series power supplies incorporate an embedded digital controller, which enables them to communicate with the Smart Power Management software to monitor and record various functions of the PC and power supply. Some of Thermaltakes competition (notably Corsair) has offered “digital” power supplies for some time. Even though Thermaltake may be coming a little late to the party, they appear to have done their homework and continue to expand the software, which now includes a full suite of digital monitoring, recording and analysis software to support the Toughpower DPS G Series power supplies.

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(Courtesy of Thermaltake)

The Toughpower DPS G 850W power supply features fully modular, flat-ribbon style cables, 80 Plus Gold certification for high efficiency, is Haswell and ErP Lot ready, and supports multiple graphic adapters with six PCI-E connectors.

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Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G 850W PSU Key Features:

•    850W continuous DC output (up to 50°C)
•    Embedded digital controller communicates with Thermaltake’s SPM software
•    80 PLUS Gold certified, at least 90% efficiency under 50% load
•    Fully modular cables for easy installation
•    Flat ribbon-style, low profile cables for a clean installation
•    Single high-current +12V output (70.8A/249.7W)
•    Dual ball bearing 140mm fan for reliability and long life
•    High-quality Japanese made electrolytic capacitors (105°C)
•    ErP Lot and Haswell ready
•    NVIDIA SLI ready with six 6+2 pin PCI-E connectors
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Safety Protections : OVP, UVP, SCP, and OPP
•    7-Year Warranty
•    MSRP for the Toughpower DPS G 850W: $199.99 USD

Please continue reading our review of the Toughpower DPS G 850W PSU!!!

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

New Components, New Approach

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After 20 or so enclosure reviews over the past year and a half and some pretty inconsistent test hardware along the way, I decided to adopt a standardized test bench for all reviews going forward. Makes sense, right? Turns out choosing the best components for a cases and cooling test system was a lot more difficult than I expected going in, as special consideration had to be made for everything from form-factor to noise and heat levels.

Along with the new components I will also be changing the approach to future reviews by expanding the scope of CPU cooler testing. After some debate as to the type of CPU cooler to employ I decided that a better test of an enclosure would be to use both closed-loop liquid and air cooling for every review, and provide thermal and noise results for each. For CPU cooler reviews themselves I'll be adding a "real-world" load result to the charts to offer a more realistic scenario, running a standard desktop application (in this case a video encoder) in addition to the torture-test result using Prime95.

But what about this new build? It isn't completely done but here's a quick look at the components I ended up with so far along with the rationale for each selection.

CPU – Intel Core i5-6600K ($249, Amazon.com)

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The introduction of Intel’s 6th generation Skylake processors provided the excuse opportunity for an upgrade after using an AMD FX-6300 system for the last couple of enclosure reviews, and after toying with the idea of the new i7-6700K, and immediately realizing this was likely overkill and (more importantly) completely unavailable for purchase at the time, I went with the more "reasonable" option with the i5. There has long been a debate as to the need for hyper-threading for gaming (though this may be changing with the introduction of DX12) but in any case this is still a very powerful processor and when stressed should produce a challenging enough thermal load to adequately test both CPU coolers and enclosures going forward.

GPU – XFX Double Dissipation Radeon R9 290X ($347, Amazon.com)

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This was by far the most difficult selection. I don’t think of my own use when choosing a card for a test system like this, as it must meet a set of criteria to be a good fit for enclosure benchmarks. If I choose a card that runs very cool and with minimal noise, GPU benchmarks will be far less significant as the card won’t adequately challenge the design and thermal characteristics of the enclosure. There are certainly options that run at greater temperatures and higher noise (a reference R9 290X for example), but I didn’t want a blower-style cooler with the GPU. Why? More and more GPUs are released with some sort of large multi-fan design rather than a blower, and for enclosure testing I want to know how the case handles the extra warm air.

Noise was an important consideration, as levels from an enclosure of course vary based on the installed components. With noise measurements a GPU cooler that has very low output at idle (or zero, as some recent cooler designs permit) will allow system idle levels to fall more on case fans and airflow than a GPU that might drown them out. (This would also allow a better benchmark of CPU cooler noise - particularly with self-contained liquid coolers and audible pump noise.) And while I wanted very quiet performance at idle, at load there must be sufficient noise to measure the performance of the enclosure in this regard, though of course nothing will truly tax a design quite like a loud blower. I hope I've found a good balance here.

Continue reading our look at the cases and cooling test system build!

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Features

Introduction

Corsair has just expanded their RM Series of PC power supplies to include a third line, the RMx Series, in addition to the original RM and RMi Series. The new RMx power supplies will be available in 550W, 650W, 750W, 850W and 1000W models and are designed by Corsair and built by Channel Well Technologies (CWT). We will be taking a detailed look at the new RM850x 850W PSU in this review.

The RMx Series power supplies are equipped with fully modular cables and optimized for very quiet operation and high efficiency. RMx Series power supplies incorporate Zero RPM Fan Mode, which means the fan does not spin until the power supply is under a moderate to heavy load. The cooling fan is designed to deliver low noise and high static pressure. All of the RMx power supplies are 80 Plus Gold certified for high efficiency.

The Corsair RMx Series is built with high-quality components, including all Japanese made electrolytic capacitors, and Corsair guarantees these PSUs to deliver clean, stable, continuous power, even at ambient temperatures up to 50°C.

Corsair’s new RMx Series power supplies are nearly identical to the current RMi Series units except for these differences:
•    Lower cost
•    No Corsair Link interface
•    135mm fan vs. 140mm fan
•    Additional 550W model

The following table provided by Corsair gives a good summary of the differences and similarities between the RM, RMx, and RMi Series power supplies.  

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(Courtesy of Corsair)

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Corsair RM850x PSU Features summary:

•    850W continuous DC output (up to 50°C)
•    7-Year Warranty and Comprehensive Customer Support
•    80 PLUS Gold certified, at least 90% efficiency under 50% load
•    Fully modular cables for easy installation
•    Flat ribbon-style, low profile cables help optimize airflow
•    Zero RPM Fan Mode for silent operation up to 40% load
•    Quiet NR135L fan for long life and quiet operation
•    High quality components including all Japanese electrolytic capacitors
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Safety Protections : OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OTP, and OPP
•    MSRP for the RM850x : $149.99 USD

Please continue reading our review of the Corsair RM850x PSU!!!

Manufacturer:

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

Water cooling has become very popular over the last few years with the rise in use of the all-in-one (AIO) coolers. Those type of coolers combine a single or dual-fan radiator with a combination CPU block / pump unit, pre-filled from the factory and maintenance free. They are a good cooling alternative to an air-based CPU cooler, but are limited in their expandability potential. That is where the DIY water cooling components come into place. DIY water cooling components allow you to build a customized cooling loop for cooling everything from the CPU to the chipset and GPUs (and more). However, DIY loops are much more maintenance intensive than the AIO coolers because of the need to flush and refill the loops periodically to maintain performance and component health.

With the increased popularity in liquid cooling type CPU coolers and the renewed interest and availability of enthusiast-friendly parts with the introduction of the Intel Z97, X99, and Z170 parts, it was past time to measure how well different CPU water blocks performed on an Intel X99 board paired up with an Intel LGA2011-v3 5960X processor. The five water blocks compared include the following:

  • Koolance CPU-360 water block
  • Koolance CPU-380I water block
  • Swiftech Apogee HD water block
  • Swiftech Apogee XL water block
  • XSPC Raystorm water block

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Technical Specifications (taken from the manufacturer websites)

Water Block Specifications
  Koolance Swiftech XSPC
  CPU-360 CPU-380I Apogee HD Apogee XL Raystorm
Block Top Material Nickel-plated Brass POM Acetal
Base Plate Material Nickel-plated Copper Copper
Water Inlet Jet Impingement Plate Straight Pass-Thru Jet Impingement Plate
Pass-Thru Channels Micro-channels Micro-pins Micro-channels
Coolant ports 2 4 2

Continue reading our CPU Water Block Comparison on the Haswell-E article!

Manufacturer: Phanteks

Introduction and First Impressions

The Enthoo Pro M is the new mid-tower version of the Enthoo Pro, previously a full-tower ATX enclosure from the PC cooler and enclosure maker. This new enclosure adds another option to the $79 case market, which already has a number of solid options. Let's see how it stacks up!

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I was very impressed by the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ATX enclosure, which received our Editor’s Choice award when reviewed earlier this year. The enclosure was very solidly made and had a number of excellent features, and even with a primarily aluminum construction and premium design it can be found for $119, rather unheard-of for this combination in the enclosure market. So what changes from that design might be expect to see with the $79 Enthoo Pro M?

The Pro M is a very businesslike design, constructed of steel and plastic, and with a very understated appearance. Not exactly “boring”, as it does have some personality beyond the typical rectangular box, with a brushed finish to the front panel which also features a vented front fan opening, and a side panel window to show off your build. But I think the real story here is the intelligent internal design, which is nearly identical to that of the EVOLV ATX.

Continue reading our review of the Phanteks Enthoo Pro M enclosure!!

Manufacturer: Antec

Introduction and First Impressions

The Antec Signature Series S10 is the company's new flagship enclosure, and it looks every bit the part. A massive full-tower design with seemingly no expense spared in its design and construction, the S10 boasts many interesting design details. So is it worth the staggering $499 price tag? (Update: A day after our review was published Newegg cut the $499 MSRP by $150, taking the S10 down to $299 after a $50 rebate.) 

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The Signature S10 is an interesting product to be sure. Antec, long renowned as a maker of premium cases has in recent years lost some of the cachet that they once had with enthusiasts. This is no reflection on Antec and more a result of the industy's flood of enclosures into the market, with virtually every brand filling all price segments. Corsair, SilverStone, Fractal Design, Lian Li, Cooler Master, In Win, NZXT, BitFenix, Phanteks, and the list goes on and on...

So where does the new S10 enclosure fit into this market? Antec made the daring move of placing the Signature enclosure directly at the top with a shocking $499 retail price - which subsequently dropped to $449 and then again to $349 before a $50 rebate. I can think of no other recent enclosure this expensive at launch other than the In Win S-Frame, and it positioned the S10 as an unattainable object for most builders. So was Antec successful in creating an aspirational product - even before the recent price cuts?

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Is that... Batman??

Continue reading our review of the Antec Signature S10 enclosure!!