Small form factor cases and the push to Mini ITX designs took a dramatic journey during 2013 as the popularity of the smaller PC once again became a popular trend. Though a company like Shuttle, that hardly exists in the form it did in 2004, was the first PC hardware company to really drive home the idea of an SFF system design, many other players have released compelling products helping to strengthen it as one of the unique possibilities for enthusiast PCs.
Even better, though a Mini-ITX based platform could mean limited options for hardware and performance, with companies like ASUS, EVGA, BitFenix and others in the mix, building an incredibly fast and powerful gaming machine using small hardware is not only easy but can be done at a lower price than you might expect.
One entry that found its way to our offices this December comes from Silverstone in the form of the Raven Z, RVZ01 case. This case includes unique features and capabilities including the ability to support nearly any high end graphics card on the market (dual slot or single), space for larger heatsinks and even liquid coolers along with a home theater friendly look and style. Oh, and it's
the same almost the same design that Valve used for its beta Steam Machines as well. (Update: Turns out the size of the Steam Machine is actually a fair bit smaller than the Silverstone RVZ01.)
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Phanteks
A relative new comer in the enthusiast space, Phanteks has taken the hearts and minds with their high-performance and innovatively designed thermal cooling solutions. The PH-TC12DX cooler features a massive dual-radiator tower actively cooled by two 120mm fans with a copper, nickel-plated CPU base plate. The cooler cines packaged with support for all current Intel and AMD CPU socket offerings. To properly gage the PH-TC12DX's performance, we put it up against several similarly-classed air and water-based cooling solutions. At a retail price of $54.99, the Phanteks PH-TC12DX offers you solid performance without busting your bank.
Courtesy of Phanteks
Courtesy of Phanteks
Courtesy of Phanteks
The Phanteks PH-TC12DX cooler consists of a single tower radiator with four U-shaped heat pipes intersecting the its cooling fins. The cooler uses nickel-plated copper heat pipes to transfer the heat from the copper CPU base plate to the fins of the aluminum radiator for optimal heat transmission and dispersal. The tower is sandwiched by two high air flow 120mm fans for heat dispersion from the radiator. Phanteks went to great lengths to make sure the PH-TC12DX kept a sleek looking appearance from the black coloration of the radiator to the branded top-plate to hide the heat pipe termination points.
Courtesy of Phanteks
Phanteks includes everything you need to get the cooler up and running in your system: mounting kits supporting both Intel and AMD-based systems, dual PH-F120HP 120mm fans, fan mounting kits, a sleeved dual-ended fan power cable, and Phanteks PH-NDC thermal paste.
Introduction and Features
We have been reviewing Seasonic power supplies for over ten years here at PCPerspective and they have never failed to impress us. Seasonic is also one of the few companies that actually builds their own power supplies (along with supplying units to numerous other big-name brands). Seasonic has built a stellar reputation for producing some of the best PC power supplies on the market today. In their ongoing pursuit to continuously improve their products, Seasonic has recently introduced the S12G Series, which includes four models: S12G-450, S12G-550, S12G-650, and the S12G-750 that we will be taking a detailed look at in this review. Here are a few of the highlights offered by the new S12G Series power supplies.
• 80Plus Gold certification
• Standard all in one, flat black cabling
• High +12V Output
• Smart and Silent Fan Control (S2FC)
• S12G-750/650: PCI-E 8P/6P x 4, SATA x 10, 4P Molex x 4, FDD x 1
• S12G-550/450: PCI-E 8P/6P x 2, SATA x 8, 4P Molex x 3, FDD x 1
• Worldwide 5-Year Warranty
The S12G Series is targeted towards gamers and PC enthusiasts who want solid performance at a user friendly price. To accomplish this Seasonic has designed the S12G Series on the same basic platform as many of their premium products but has forgone a few features like modular cables and fanless operation for price conscious consumers. Retail prices are currently ranging from $79.99 USD for the S12G-450 to $109.99 USD for the S12G-750 (newegg.com, November 2013).
Here is what Seasonic has to say about the new S12G Series: “The S12G Series is the newest addition to Seasonic’s families of award winning retail products, representing the latest innovation of our engineering team. To meet the demands of users who are looking for reliable 80Plus Gold performance for gaming and overall usage, the S12G Series is designed to support Intel’s Haswell processors, features more SATA cables and is an affordable solution for a wide range of applications.”
Seasonic S12G Series Key Features:
(Courtesy of Seasonic)
EVGA Enters the Chassis Market
Cases are a funny thing. Some people spend more time fretting over the chassis of their new system than any other component while some builders simply could not care less about what "box" is holding the carefully selected components that power their gaming rig. While I can see both points of view, I think it is a shame to completely ignore the "look" of your system as it will be the one part of your design choices that you'll see on a daily basis.
EVGA has a great reputation in the enthusiast market thanks to its top of the line graphics cards and the emphasis of the company on enthusiast level products, water cooling and more. In recent years EVGA has branched into motherboards (again), power supplies and now cases. But rather than target a market that was saturated and dominated by a few big players, they decided to target the Mini ITX form factor. Having just recently released the Z87 Stinger Mini ITX motherboard, EVGA has created an ecosystem that allows a builder to use exclusively EVGA components with the new Hadron Air case.
In our video review below you'll see our overview of the design, the positive and negatives of the design and of small cases in general and my final thoughts on this rather impressive mITX design. After you are done watching it head down to the collection of photos below for a written analysis of the Hadron Air.
If you have never worked in a small form factor PC before, let me warn you up front - this is not as simple of a process as building a computer in a standard ATX case. Space is tight and doing simple things like routing cables from the motherboard to the hard drive can be a 10 minute ordeal. Additionally, sometimes the ORDER of installation can make a HUGE difference in the ease of the entire process so pay attention to other users that might have used your particular chassis.
Don't let its small size fool you though, the EVGA Hadron Air can pack a lot of punch. Using the latest mITX motherboard and graphics cards from EVGA's lineup you can literally build one of the most powerful gaming systems around in its small 6x12x12-in space!
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | December 19, 2013 - 03:42 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller
The Steam Controller is a gamepad where touch replaces analog joysticks. Developed internally at Valve, its design focused on being a comfortable gaming accessory which did not compromise on the accuracy allowed by an absolute position-based input device (ie: a mouse). Velocity-based inputs, such as thumbsticks, have the hand-eye and/or timing problem where we need feedback to know when to cease giving input to actually stop. It is a lot easier to make a good estimate of how far to move your hand (or finger, or eye) and perform that action without further feedback necessary.
It is just how we behave.
Valve is very confident in their design and believes that it is accurate enough to emulate a mouse. In fact, most games (if and until the Steam Controller gains traction) will be operating in "Legacy Mode" which emulates a mouse and keyboard. They are requesting that the community develop many shared profiles, on a game-by-game basis, to give a large catalog of known configurations by the time the device ships publicly.
But what about the not "Legacy Mode"? The main announcement is that Valve has shipped the controller's Steamworks API to allow developers direct access to its hardware. In other words, rather than emulate a mouse and keyboard, the developer can use the hardware in the way they see fit. Of course this will be most useful for the touchscreen (if a blank 4-quadrant button is insufficient) and the haptic feedback but can also mean new methods of emulating the velocity-based input of a gamepad.
Remember, I said velocity input is less accurate for things like rapid rotation between randomly oriented targets. Flight games often prefer long continuous input which are great for joysticks and thumbsticks. Simply put, traditional gamepads are "better" at certain things (driving games, flight games, third-person games where accuracy is not important but quickly pressing one of four-or-so commands is, etc.). Many developers will want this controller to solve those problems, too.
Keep an eye out at Steam Universe for more updates like these; they occur rapidly as of late.
Introduction and Features
Be Quiet! has been a market leader for PC power supplies in Germany for seven years straight and in 2013 they are continuing to expand their PC power supply lineup into North American markets. Earlier this year, we reviewed Be Quiet!’s top-of-the-line Dark Power Pro 10 850W PSU and the value-minded Pure Power L8 Series with very good results. Now we are going to take a look at the new Power Zone Series, sprecifically the Power Zone 1000W PSU. The Power Zone Series features a 135mm Be Quiet! SilentWings fan, are certified for 80Plus Bronze efficiency, come with all-modular cables, and are backed by a 5-year warranty.
Be Quiet! is targeting the Power Zone Series towards discerning gamers and PC enthusiasts seeking high power, top performance and great features.
Here is what Be Quiet! has to say about their Power Zone Series: “The Power Zone Series provides the winning combination of superior performance, rock-solid stability, and advanced cooling. Whether you are assembling a high power PC or multi-GPU gaming system, your build will benefit from the Power Zone features. The Power Zone 1000W hits the sweet spot with granite stability, advanced cooling features, low noise and great value.”
Be Quiet! Power Zone 1000W PSU Key Features:
• 1000W of continuous power output @ 50°C
• Massive +12V rail design is ideal for overclocking
• Full cable management supports maximum build flexibility
• Quiet operation: 135mm SilentWings fan with 6-pole motor
• COOL*OFF feature runs fans for 3 minutes after system shutdown
• Connect up to three case fans for optimized system cooling
• 80Plus Bronze certification (up to 90% power conversion efficiency)
• Meets Energy Star 5.2 Guidelines
• Fulfills ErP 2013 Guidelines
• Supports Intel’s Deep Power Down C6 mode
• Sleeved cables for improved cooling and more attractive looks
• NVIDIA SLI Ready and AMD CrossFireX certified
• Up to six PCI-E connectors for multi-GPU support
• 5-Year warranty
• German product conception, design and quality control
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 13, 2013 - 02:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: modular psu, 750w, silencer mk III, pc power & cooling
PC Power & Cooling have been providers of high quality PSUs for a long time and are keeping up the pace, recently with the updated 750W Silencer Mk III. They have a unique style, black and white colouring and a proprietary connector for their modular cabling that both looks and connects better than some of the recessed plastic connectors seen on other models. Unfortunately since OCZ purchased the company they have gone from being the PSU all other companies try to match to a mid-range supplier that provides decent PSUs but lack the incredible quality they once possessed, as you can see by [H]ard|OCP's Pass marking without an award. This may well be one of the last models you see labelled PC Power & Cooling, with OCZ's bankruptcy the continuation of the PSU business is in doubt.
"PC Power & Cooling is back on our test bench today and it has been a while. Today it is promising "industrial-grade performance and stability," with "ultimate efficiency," and "ultra-quiet operation" with its Silencer Mk III 750 watt PSU. We put it to the test to see if OCZ has done anything to return its PSUs to your next build."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Fractal Design Integra R2 750W Power Supply Review @ Legit Reviews
- Cooler Master G550M 550 W @ techPowerUp
- Cooler Master GXII 550W Power Supply Review @HiTech Legion
- Fractal Design Tesla R2 650W Power Supply Review @ Legit Reviews
- Antec High Current Gamer 750W Semi-Modular Power Supply @ eTeknix
- Corsair RM Series 650 W @ techPowerUp
- NZXT Hale82 V2 550W White PSU Review @ Legit Reviews
- Fractal Design Integra R2 750W @ Kitguru
- Be Quiet! Power Zone 650W / 750W @ Hardware.info
- Corsair CS650M @ Kitguru
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 12, 2013 - 04:03 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, nzxt, kraken, gpu cooler
NZXT has a new cooling product coming out next week that caught my attention recently. Called the KRAKEN G10, it is a bracket and fan assembly that allows users to attach All In One (AIO) water coolers – those traditionally aimed at CPUs – to graphics cards. The Kraken G10 consists of a steel bracket with a CPU waterblock mounting hole, 92mm fan, and water tube routing space.
The Kraken G10 is a stylish approach to pairing cheap sealed water coolers to graphics cards with reference PCBs – a feat that has traditionally been limited to adventurous enthusiasts armed with zip ties and a good deal of patience. The bracket is compatible with many recent GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA, and it allows enthusiasts to mount AIO water coolers from NZXT as well as other manufacturers. The water cooler is then able to efficiently cool the GPU while the pre-installed 92mm fan works to keep the VRM and memory areas of the graphics card cool. The G10 bracket measures 177 x 32.5 x 110.6 mm (WxHxD) and comes in white, black, or red with white fan blades and NZXT logos on the side and fan.
Specifically, the KRAKEN G10 supports the following graphics card models (with reference PCBs only).
Further, users can use the G10 to mount the waterblocks of the following sealed loop water coolers.
|KUHLER H2O 920V4||H110||KRAKEN X60||Water 3.0 Extreme||LQ-320|
|KUHLER H2O 620V4||H90||KRAKEN X40||Water 3.0 Pro||LQ-315|
|KUHLER H2O 920||H55||Water 3.0 Performer||LQ-310|
|KUHLER H2O 620||H50||Water 2.0 Extreme|
|Water 2.0 Pro|
|Water 2.0 Performer|
It is a niche, but useful, product that can allow users to more easily upgrade the cooling of their graphics cards to allow for higher overclocks and/or quieter operation. The NZXT KRAKEN G10 will be available on December 16, 2013 for $29.99 from NZXT’s website. Update: It appears the first batch of G10 brackets has sold out already. Fret not, a second batch of Kraken G10s will be available towards the middle of next month according to NZXT. (End of update.)
Are you planning to unleash the Kraken G10 on your GPUs (I expect crypto currency miners might be especially interested in this product heh).
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 10, 2013 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: enermax, iVektor, atx case
The Enermax iVektor is an ATX case with quite a few drive bays, all tool-less installation and space at the top of the case for a radiator if you prefer watercooling. Three 5.25" bays and seven 3.5" of which four can be converted to 2.5" for SSDs ought to give you enough space for storage and controllers. Up to six 120mm fans can be installed, that number drops to four if you install a 240mm radiator at the top of the case. [H]ard|OCP were impressed with both the thermal performance and low noise of the case as well as the with customization possible, earning this ~$80 case a Gold Award.
"Enermax has long been an enthusiast brand associated with some of the best computer power supplies made in the industry. Over the last couple of years it has also developed a very strong following in computer case arena with DIYers. Today we look at the iVektor case designed by Enermax and it looks to be a strong contender for your next build."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Enermax iVektor Casemod @ Hardware Asylum
- Cooler Master Cosmos SE Case Review @ Modders-Inc
- SilverStone Fortress FT04 @ Phoronix
- BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX Case @ SPCR
- Chenbro SR30169 Mini-ITX Server Chassis @ SPCR
- Fractal Node 304 White Computer Case Review @ Madshrimps
- CaseLabs Mercury S5 Case Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Corsair Graphite Series 230T @ Kitguru
- Fractal Design Define XL R2 Computer Case @ NikKTech
- Corsair Graphite 230T Battleship Grey Mid Tower Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- BitFenix Prodigy M mATX Case @ Benchmark Reviews
- Aerocool GT-S Black Edition @ techPowerUp
- 120mm Water Cooler Round Up w/ Cooler Master, Scythe and Zalman @ Legit Reviews
- 120mm Water Cooler Round Up Part 2 - Looking Inside @ Legit Reviews
- Scythe Kaze Chrono @ Funky Kit
- Noctua NH-U14S Heatsink Review @ Frostytech
- Noctua NH-U14S @ [H]ard|OCP
- Scythe Mugen 4 @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | December 4, 2013 - 03:52 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, corsair, Cherry MX, cherry, CES 2014
The three little letters that instill fear in tech journalists (and vendors) right around the holiday season: CES. This will be the first of many news posts coming out of that event -- it is still a month away! Companies are already preparing for what will come after the holidays. Brace yourselves!
Corsair and Cherry have just released a preview of their upcoming CES announcement. Mechanical keyboards (at least those based on Cherry MX switches) were only rarely backlit. Pretty much every model of Cherry MX-based keyboard with per-key LED lighting was, at one point, developed by iOne (they produced the XArmor line of backlit keyboards and collaborated with Razer on the BlackWidow). I am not particularly sure what the difficulty was from an engineering standpoint but I do know it was rare.
Cherry, themselves, are assisting the next evolution of this technology. The company has developed a special version of their MX Red-class switch with built-in RGB illumination. The mixture of these three colors allows for a key to be lit by any color in the visible spectrum (up to the precision allowed by hardware and software). Their press release suggests 8-bit per channel control (~16.7 million colors). Their exclusive launch partner for this 2014 debut will be Corsair.
Clearly their K-series keyboards sold well.
If you want to learn more about the Cherry MX switches, be sure to check out our overview from 2012. Also, check out the Cherry website for a ridiculously informative breakdown of the switch all each of its components. Seriously, this puts my animation to shame; it is kind of depressing.
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