New Components, New Approach
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)
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)
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.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 5, 2015 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: air cooling, enermax, ETS-T40F-W
Have you recently bought a white motherboard and a matching case to go with it? Are you now bemoaning the fact that your cooler just isn't matching rhe Storm Trooper vibe that you have going on in your case? Enermax has a solution, the ETS-T40F-W cooler, 610 grams of glowing white cooling standing 139x93x160mm (5.5x3.7x6.3"). The Thermal Conductive Coating does seem to work effectively, though the cooler is not among the best that [H]ard|OCP has reviewed. They also recommend running the fan at low speed as high speed does not increase the cooling as noticeably as it increases the fan noise. Then again, at $50 and being the only coloured cooler on the market does place it in an interesting niche market.
"Enermax comes to us with its new compact size model, the ETS-T40F-W CPU air cooler also referred to as the "Fit" series cooler. This model is decked out in its best Storm Trooper white garb which is actually what Enermax calls its "Thermal Conductive Coating." Do the Fit's dual 12cm fans have what it takes to make a good CPU air cooler?"
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Building your first Custom Designed Watercooled PC: KitGuru TV
- EKWB EK-XLC Predator 240 Pre-filled CPU Xpandable Liquid Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX @ Modders-Inc
- Silverstone SG12 Micro-ATX @ eTeknix
- Antec GX505 Window SC Mid-Tower @ Benchmark Reviews
- Streacom ST-F12CS Aluminium ATX HTPC Chassis @ eTeknix
- StarTech 25U Open-Frame Server Rack Cabinet @ Phoronix
Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 5, 2015 - 09:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: wall mount, thermaltake
Personally, I would like to see at least an option for plexiglass on the perimeter. I feel like some might want a bit of protection from things like sneezes, or rogue squirt-gun blasts. The “case” is basically a plate with a clear acrylic pane in front of it. It can stand upright, be rotated horizontally, or even screwed into a wall if you want to show off a custom liquid coolant loops or something.
Interestingly, Thermaltake is providing “3D Printing Accessory Files”. I somehow doubt that this will be the CAD files required to lasercut your own Core P5 case, but it's designed to allow makers to create their own accessories for it. As such, this sounds more like guides and schematics, but I cannot say for sure because I haven't tried it... and they're not available yet.
The Thermaltake Core P5 will be available soon for an MSRP of $169.99, although it's already at a sale price of $149.99. This could be just a pre-order discount, or a sign of its typical price point. We don't know.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 2, 2015 - 03:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: PSU, modular psu, coolermaster, V750W, 80+ gold
Cooler Master's V750W PSU is fully modular and comes with a nice selection of cabling including four PCIe 6+2 connectors and eight SATA power connectors. At 150x140x86mm (5.9x5.5x3.4") it also takes up less space than many PSUs, though not enough to fit in a truly SFF case. A single 12V rail can provide 744W at 62A which is enough to power more than one mid to high range GPU and Bjorn3D's testing shows that it can maintain that 80+ GOLD rating while it is being used. The five year warranty is also a good reason to pick up this PSU, assuming you are not in the market for something in the kilowatt range.
"One available option soon to be available on the market for <179$, and our specimen of review today, is the CoolerMaster V750. CoolerMaster has partnered with Seasonic to produce the high quality compact “V” series PSUs which made a huge statement for CoolerMaster and told the world they were ready to push some serious power."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Corsair RM1000x @ Kitguru
- Corsair RM750x @ Kitguru
- Antec HCP Platinum Continuous Power 1000W @ eTeknix
- Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1000W Power Supply Unit Review @ NikKTech
- Cooler Master V Series 550W @ Kitguru
- be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 550W @ eTeknix
Introduction and Features
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.
(Courtesy of Corsair)
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
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | September 26, 2015 - 10:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qotom, fanless, Broadwell, SFF
FanlessTech found quite a few models of small form factor PCs on Amazon and, while it's not listed in the specifications, some of the manufacturer Q&A responses state that they are fanless designs. Each of these devices are built around the Broadwell Core i7-5500U, but that might not even be the best part. Each PC has 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, and 2x Gigabit Lan. Dual LAN and Dual HDMI opens up quite a few possibilities for a cheap, silent PC, especially since it has a relatively high-performance processor.
Prices range from $360 to $444 for 2GB of RAM and 8GB up to 256GB of SSD storage (with several models between). A single 8GB RAM model, with a 256 GB SSD, is also available for $483. They also found one with an i3 processor, but you need to bring your own RAM, SSD, and WiFi. It does have the same port layout, four USB 3.0, two HDMI, and two gigabit LAN, but might make more sense to grab the Core i7 versions unless you already have DDR3L RAM and an SSD hanging around (or 2GB is insufficient and the 8GB model is out of your price range). At $221 USD plus these components, you probably will not be saving much to compensate for the drop in performance. You can also find some Core i5 models, too.
Quite a bit to consider, but I think that many would benefit from the thought.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 24, 2015 - 06:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: CRYORIG, H7, air cooling
[H]ard|OCP just strapped another of CRYORIG's coolers to their test bench, this time the H7 CPU Air Cooler. This model is smaller than the one they previously reviewed, a mere 711g in weight and 98x123x145mm (38.5x48.4x57") which offers more compatibility with cases but is not quite in the SFF category. It will fit modern AMD sockets as well as LGA 115X and while it is nowhere near the most effective cooler [H] has reviewed it is the most cost efficient making it a great choice for a gamer looking for something better than stock cooling which won't break the bank. See the CRYORIG H7 in action right here.
"CRYORIG mates its Hive Fin Technology with a smaller design that allows for better RAM module fitment without interference with its H7 CPU Air Cooler. Its "compact" 145mm tall design, excellent mounting configuration, and dollar value are winners for sure. Its new Quad Air Inlet fan design gives us high hopes about its performance."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX SE White Case Review @ Hardware Asylum
- SilverStone CS01B-HS Mini-ITX Case @ Benchmark Reviews
- Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX SE Case @ Benchmark Reviews
- Cooler Master Nepton 240M Review @ Hardware Secrets
- XSPC RayStorm D5 RX360 V3 WaterCooling Kit @ Techgag
- EKWB EK-XLC Predator 240 @ Modders-Inc
- EKWB EK-XLC Predator 240 @ techPowerUp
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 19, 2015 - 06:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: cooler master, PSU
Cooler Master has "announced the availability of" six power supplies in their “V” series. They are high efficiency products that are fully modular with flat cables for routing. They each use “100% high quality Japanese capacitors” and introduce “exclusive 3D Circuit Design”. Models are available in 550W, 650W, 750W, 850W, 1000W, and 1200W. The highest-end one was announced a while ago, back in 2014, but the line is now available and larger.
The V550, V650, V750, V850, and V1000 each carry an 80PLUS Gold certification for efficiency, while the V1200 is rated at 80PLUS Platinum. Cooler Master claims that their 3D technology, which uses full, separate circuit boards to distance noisy circuits from each other, provides three benefits. First, it reduces heat and improves heat dissipation. Second, it reduces inefficiency that could be introduced by signal noise, which sounds a bit weird for direct current but makes a bit of sense. Third, the reduced ripple and noise can lower long-term stress on the capacitors, which definitely does make sense to me.
Five of the six power supplies come with five-year warranties (the 1200W has a seven-year one). They are available now and range from around 90$ USD to around 300$ USD. The V1200 is currently 30$ off at 270$ USD on Amazon.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | September 19, 2015 - 05:34 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: arbor, fanless, ruggedized
This is an interesting product for a couple of reasons. First, it uses the fourth-generation Haswell processors, rather than the newer Skylake or Broadwell components. On the other hand, it uses LGA-1150 components up to the 45W Intel Core i7-4770TE, which explains the lack of Broadwell and Skylake, because only Core i3 Skylake processors fit both of those constraints currently.
The device is rated for -4F to 131F and an undisclosed amount of shock and vibration. They support 2.5” drives, but the site only lists Intel SSDs. You would probably not want a spinning hard drive in a PC that you are concerned about shock and vibration tolerances. It also supports up to 16GB of DDR3 (again, Haswell) RAM, which should give you a fairly robust system to leave running in the middle of nowhere.
Like other systems that we've seen earlier, the case itself acts as a heatsink, which brings the product's weight up to 14.1 pounds. When you deal with these types of cooling solutions, it's difficult to tell whether they are rated with still air, or a sufficient breeze to carry the heat away from the case fins. It's not something that's advertised.
No pricing or availability is listed.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
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
Technical Specifications (taken from the manufacturer websites)
|Water Block Specifications|
|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|