Manufacturer: IN WIN

Introduction: The Elements of (Life)Style

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If this review began by describing this mini-ITX enclosure's all metal and glass construction, its rounded corners, and the premium price tag, it might easily start to sound like it came from that company in Cupertino. Come to think of it, this case would look right at home in a lifestyle magazine photo shoot...

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Living the IN WIN 901 lifestyle?

The 901 is definitely stylish, and this is in keeping with the design philosophy of a company that promotes the aesthetics of products first and foremost. So where does this design merge with functionality? This question is a fundamental part of industrial design (ID as it's known in the industry), and in our look at this striking enclosure we'll see how much substance there is to go along with all of that IN WIN style.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Computer cases are a personal thing, which is why we hesitate to make recommendations in this area. Within a certain price point there might be dozens of options for just about any need. But whether or not you're a fan of the sleek styling of a product like the 901, it's different beyond that first impression. The case starts with an aluminum quasi-unibody construction with tempered glass panels on both sides. There is a rather complex structure within this simple exterior, but it is well organized with some thoughtful (and some really smart) design choices.

IN WIN says the 901 mini-ITX case is an example of “precision craftsmanship with no compromises”, and an initial inspection would leave one hard pressed to disagree. It's apparent that some serious engineering has gone into this enclosure, and there is a high level of quality befitting something with this price tag. At $179.99 this is geared toward the high-end enthusiast community, and even a smaller subset considering it is only compatible with mini-ITX motherboards. And while mini-ITX is the supported form-factor, this is definitely not a SFF case. In fact, it’s almost big enough to be a micro-ATX enclosure, but this isn't a complaint. The size of the 901 allows it a unique internal layout.

Continue reading our review of the IN WIN 901 Mini-ITX Case!!

Introduction

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Typical Flow Diagram for Single Block Loop

All-in-one liquid coolers seem to be all the rage with several companies introducing expandable systems for integration of a system chipset or graphics cooling block to the loop. We will be exploring the performance of two of our previously reviewed coolers to see just how well those liquid coolers can handle the addition of an additional in-line graphics card block. Both the Koolance EXT-440CU Liquid Cooling System and the Cooler Master Glacer 240L Liquid CPU Cooler were used with the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 graphics card placed in-line for testing.

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Typical Flow Diagram for Multi-Block Loop

Several key factors come into play in a liquid cooling loop that the addition of a second block effects including:

  • heat dissipation capacity of the radiator
  • flow rate of the system
  • resistance of the system components

Basically, additional liquid cooling blocks add more heat and longer tube runs to the system. This increases the amount of heat that the system must dissipate and introduces increased flow resistance to the system because of the increase of the loop size as well as the internal makeup of the added cooling blocks. The increase resistance and loop size directly effects the system flow rate and how hard the pump must work to keep the coolant flowing through the system.

For the purpose of this testing, we did not measure the liquid flow of the system directly. Rather, we measured the temperature of both components (the CPU and GPU) which directly correlates to the flow and heat dissipation capacity of the system. The ASUS Poseidon block adds little resistance to the system, besides the added length of the liquid channel, because of its simple U-loop channel internal to the block.

For additional information about the components used for this article, please see our review of the Koolance EXT-440CU Cooling System here, the Cooler Master Glacer 240L Liquid CPU Cooler here, and the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 graphics card here.

Continue reading our analysis of Cooling capacity in a Multi-block Liquid Cooling loop!

Noctua Announces Some New Fans - During a Brownout?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 13, 2014 - 11:05 PM |
Tagged: noctua, fans, cpu cooling, case fan

Noctua, well-known Austrian maker of high-performance fans and CPU coolers, announced two new fan product lines today – and there’s something very different about them.

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Do not adjust your monitor. These fans are in full color (or lack thereof)

Of some interest here is the “redux” line. True to its name, “redux” is a reissue of some of Noctua’s best-know models but with a very different look. Gone is the trademark brown and tan! Noctua also plans on selling these for “3/4 the price” of the standard models.

According to Noctua’s official statement, “the introduction of the two new product lines allows us to respond to the recurring demands for Noctua fans in different colors." So the voices have been heard. (While I personally don’t mind the old color scheme there are certainly people who do!)

The “redux” lineup will include PWM and 3-pin versions of the existing NF-P14, NF-S12B, NF-B9 and NF-R8, in a gray/darker gray color scheme.

So what of this second new product line? That would be the “industrialPPC” fan lineup with high speed offerings for use in “challenging environments” – and Noctua makes mention of “PC enthusiasts striving for extreme performance”. Sounds like these might warrant some overclocking trials...

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The industrialPPC lineup consists of “ruggedized” 2000 and 3000rpm versions of the NF-F12 and NF-A14 fans, and they feature an all-black color scheme.

Competition is a good thing, and it’s nice to see Noctua diversify their offerings and offer some lower pricing (with the redux line) in this market, though their fans will still demand a premium price.

Check out Noctua’s official announcement for more information including MSRP’s.

Source: Noctua

The beautiful and talented Corsair Graphite 760T Full Tower

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 7, 2014 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: graphite series, corsair, 760T Arctic White

Corsair's Graphite 760T is a metal case with a huge window to show off your components and a front panel that is secured by magnets as opposed to plastic tabs.  For pet owners and clean freaks there are two filtre panels, one for the front and one that slides out of the bottom to discourage a systems natural tendency to act as a vacuum cleaner.  The dimensions of 22.2"H x 9.7"W x 22.4"L allow for a triplet of 120/140mm fans to be installed at the front and similar single fan at the back of the case, with the PSU being inserted at the bottom.  [H]ard|OCP were more than impressed with this case, its aesthetics and performance for both cooling and acoustics put it among the best cases on the market with the icing on the cake being a price tag under $200.

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"Corsair's new Graphite Series 760T Arctic White Full Tower Windowed Case is extremely easy on the eyes and as the name implies it allows us to see in, but with the 760T it is a full clear panel that gives it an elegant look. There is room for plenty of fans with speed controllers to keep it cool as well, plus a host of other features."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Manufacturer: NCASE

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

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Image credit: NCASE

The NCASE M1 Mini-ITX case has been lusted after for about a year now by those of us interested in small form-factor (SFF) computing, ever since it made the news last spring by making its initial goal on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo. The last campaign to raise funds ended in August of last year, and not leaving anything up to chance the creators of the M1 contracted none other than Lian Li to make their dream a reality. Today, we have the privilege of seeing the finished product!

Making things happen

We’ve all talked about changing some existing product to fix problems or just add features that we’d like to have. But most of us probably wouldn’t take our idea to a public funding site to actually make it happen, and that’s exactly why the story of NCASE and the M1 is unique. The creators were members on hardforums, and the original thread for the M1 is now well over 500 pages long.

The story began with conversation about improving an existing mini-ITX design, with the SilverStone SG05 the original topic. (It's fascinating to watch the design evolve on the thread!) Two forum members joined forces and started creating designs, and ended up with the blueprint for an incredibly small case that still supported large GPU's and 240mm radiators. Then, it was on to Indiegogo to see if the interest was high enough to get this case built.

Judging by the results starting with that initial round of prototype funding, there has definitely been interest in this design! Lian Li's prototype case was a success, and the initial production run funding campaign quickly raised more than double the goal again… Fast forward to spring 2014, a black M1 case was delivered safely, and I for one can’t wait to get started building up a system with it!

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The M1 next to a BitFenix Prodigy: It's tiny!! (Image credit NCASE)

Continue reading our review of the NCASE M1 Mini-ITX Crowdfunded Case!!

Introduction: Budget Cooling Options and the Seidon 120V

The Seidon 120V is Cooler Master's newest 120mm all-in-one liquid CPU cooler, and its affordable price adds another option to anyone looking for an aftermarket cooler on a budget. But when we start comparing low-cost options it's valid to wonder just how much better a liquid cooler in this price range might perform over air. To find out we'll test the Seidon 120V against a popular budget air solution, and see how these aftermarket coolers compare against the stock solutions from AMD and Intel.

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Image courtesy of Cooler Master

Cooling on a Budget

When you’re pricing out a new computer build these days it’s pretty easy to put together a solid group of components for $500 or so, and these will get you going on all the latest games at HD resolution. Sounds awesome! Of course, within that tight budget certain things are going to have to wait, and right up there on the list is probably some better cooling. It’s easy enough to change out a CPU cooler later, but if the stock cooler is doing the job within the thermal specs of the processor is it really needed? Clearly, AMD and Intel are not going to ship a cooler with their product that can’t keep it cool enough under stock workloads, but having better cooling can allow for overclocking as well as extend the life of not only the CPU, but the components around it on your motherboard. Aftermarket coolers are often able to cool more efficiently as well, producing less noise.

So...many...options...

The selection of aftermarket coolers available is, well, ridiculous. As easy as it is to get lost looking at, say, every virtually identical stick of DDR3 memory, scrolling through product pages for CPU cooling is on another level entirely. Liquid cooling systems are much easier to navigate, as there are not only fewer of them, but the pricing segmentation allows for easier selection if you’re on a budget.  For instance, the Seidon 120V at around $50 was the least expensive AIO option on Amazon when this review was started (actually coming in at 47.99 shipped, though this has been fluctuating quite a bit lately). Finding a suitable budget air cooler was not so easy, and it needed to be at least comparable to the performance of a liquid cooler, while coming in at or below the $50 mark of the 120V. (This might take a while…)

On the air-cooling side of things narrowing the selection to $50 or less doesn’t help much, as there are still (roughly) 50 million to choose from in that price range. There are going to be so many different preferences and opinions on these, so an easier alternative would be to simply follow the consensus pick, e-tail style. This intensive research project involved visiting Amazon and typing “cpu cooler” into the search box. (OK, that was pretty easy!) The plan was to put whatever came up first under $50 in the cart. Turns out the most popular air-cooler is also under $50 (not surprising). This top result was also from Cooler Master, their Hyper 212 EVO which was selling for under $34 shipped. Done.

Continue reading our review of hte Cooler Master Seidon 120V Liquid Cooler!!

BitFenix Releases Their "Fury" on the Power Supply Market

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 30, 2014 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: Power Supplies, modular psu, bitfenix

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BitFenix, well known among system builders for their sizeable lineup of enclosures, today announces a new line of power supplies. The “Fury” PSU’s are will be offered in 550W, 650W, and  750W versons, and feature 80 PLUS Gold certification. What’s special about them? They come pre-sleeved with braided cables for a custom look.

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TechPowerUp has a review of the 750 watt model up, and though the power supply performed respectably they had reservations on the reported MSRP of $169 (though no official prices have been released). BitFenix says the PSU’s will carry a 5-year warranty, which should make investing in the Fury a bit more palatable.

Not interested in shelling out for a fancy-looking PSU just yet? The folks at Performance-PCs.com are already offering a giveaway on their Facebook page.

The Fury line is set to be released in May, and we’ll see soon enough what kind of demand there is for a PSU with a premium on style in a very crowded market.


From BitFenix:

The BitFenix Fury Power Supply Series delivers a trifecta of performance, reliability, and aesthetics like no other PSU before it. From the brushed aluminum accents and stamped BitFenix logos, to the metallic fan grill and powder coated exterior, Fury is the first PSU designed to not be hidden away, but shown off. The semi-modular design allows for better cable management, and the cables themselves are sleeved with Alchemy sleeving for a premium look. Beyond good looks, Fury delivers the performance and reliability demanded by today's modern hardware with 80Plus Gold certification, single-rail power delivery, and active power factor correction. Equipped with exclusive BitShield™ Six-Point Protection and a five-year warranty, users can count on Fury to power their systems day-in and day-out.

Nanosleeve™ Braided Cables

With an ultra-dense weave and superb flexibility, the Nanosleeve braiding found on our Alchemy cable extensions is the premier choice of the world's top modders. The cable that come with Fury are pre-sleeved with this exact sleeving - no more voiding your warranty and spending hours sleeving cables yourself. With Fury, you get that premium modded look straight out-of-the-box.

Source: BitFenix
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Features

Corsair announced their latest flagship power supply, the 1,500 watt AX1500i Digital ATX PSU earlier this year at CES. We recently received a retail unit to review and have spent the past week putting it through our suite of tests. The new AX1500i Digital proved to be a very interesting power supply and brings not one, but several outstanding features to the high-end enthusiast market. Over time, we all grow numb to marketing terms like “most technologically advanced”, “state-of-the-art”, “ultra-stable”, “super-high efficiency”, etc., but in the case of the AX1500i Digital PSU, we have seen these claims come to life before our eyes.

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Right out of the box, the AX1500i Digital power supply is capable of delivering up to 1,500 watts of continuous DC power (125 Amps on the +12V rail). If that is not impressive enough, the PSU can do it while operating on 115 VAC mains and with an ambient temperature up to 50°C (internal case temperature). This beast was made for multiple power-hungry graphic adapters and overclocked CPUs.

The Corsair AX1500i is one of the very first power supplies to obtain 80 Plus Titanium certification, which requires a PSU to operate with at least 90% efficiency between 10% and 100% load, and with at least 94% efficiency at 50% load.

The AX1500i is a digital power supply, which offers two distinct advantages. First, the AX1500i incorporates a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) to provide digitally-controlled power. This enables the PSU to deliver extremely tight voltage regulation over a wide range of loads. And second, the AX1500i features Corsair Link, which enables the PSU to be connected to the PC’s motherboard (via USB) for real-time monitoring (efficiency and power usage) and control (over-current protection and fan speed profiles).

Silent operation (zero-rpm fan mode up to ~30% load) might not be at the top of your feature list when shopping for a 1,500 watt PSU, but the AX1500i can do it thanks to high efficiency.

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(Courtesy of Corsair)

Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX PSU Key Features:

•    Digital Signal Processor (DSP) for extremely clean and efficient power
•    Corsair Link Interface for monitoring and adjusting performance
•    1,500 watts continuous power output (50°C)
•    Dedicated single +12V rail (125A) with user-configurable virtual rails
•    80 Plus Titanium certified, delivering up to 94% efficiency
•    Ultra low noise 140mm double ball bearing fan
•    Silent, Fanless mode up to ~30% load (~450W)
•    Self-test switch to verify power supply functionality
•    Premium quality components
•    Fully modular cable system
•    Conforms to ATX12V v2.4 and EPS 2.92 standards
•    Universal AC input (100-240V) with Active PFC
•    Over-current, over-voltage, over-temperature, and short circuit protection
•    Dimensions: 150mm (W) x 86mm (H) x 225mm (L)
•    7-Year warranty and legendary Corsair customer service
•    MSRP: $449.99 USD (available in Q2 2014)

Please continue reading our review of the AX1500i Digital PSU !!!

Corsair's H75, you pay for the miniaturization

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 28, 2014 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Intel, H75, corsair, amd

Corsair's H75 has a smaller footprint than previous models, the radiator of 120 x 152 x 25mm should fit inside even smaller cases, allowing you to reduce the noise produced in the smaller case.  As well they have dropped support for LGA775, the change in mounting hardware should make it easier to install on both AMD and Intel systems.  While Morry was quite pleased with the performance of this cooler considering it's size; [H]ard|OCP had a slightly different take.  When they looked at the cooler in terms of price for performance they felt that there are better values on the market but do still recommend it for those who need a small, powerful cooler and are willing to shop around to find it on special.

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"Corsair has been in the liquid CPU cooling game for over 10 years now. As sealed system liquid CPU coolers have become the norm among hardware enthusiasts, the competition has gotten stiff to say the least. Another thing that has changed over the years is that many DIYers are going to smaller cases for their systems; the H75 looks to address this."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Seasonic's high quality, low power G-450 PSU

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 25, 2014 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: PSU, seasonic, Seasonic G-Series, 450W, g-450

The Seasonic G-450 is still more power than Josh's latest build requires but is perfect for powering a SFF system as the unit is a mere 6.25" in length.  With a pair of 6+2 PCIe power connectors and 37A on the 12V rail you will be somewhat limited in your choice of discrete GPU, reasonable consider it is a 450W PSU.  [H]ard|OCP found the quality on this unit to be good overall and excellent compared to other lower powered PSUs but found the pricing somewhat confusing as the G-550 is a mere $10 more.

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"Seasonic is continually short on marketing but long on performance, and we are good with that. Today's 450 watt G Series computer power supply makes more sense in this new world of lower power desktop CPUs and GPUs. Does the G-450 give its users solid power in this lower end of the spectrum range at the right cost?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP