Introduction: Defining the Quiet Enclosure

The Define R5 is the direct successor to Fractal Design's R4 enclosure, and it arrives with the promise of a completely improved offering in the silent case market. Fractal Design has unveiled the case today, and we have the day-one review ready for you!

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We've looked at a couple of budget cases recently from the Swedish enclosure maker, and though still affordable with an MSRP of $109.99 (a windowed version will also be available for $10 more) the Define R5 from Fractal Design looks like a premium part throughout. In keeping with the company's minimalist design aesthetic it features clean styling, and is a standard mid-tower form factor supporting boards from ATX down to mini-ITX. The R5 also offers considerable cooling flexibility with many mounting options for fans and radiators.

The Silent Treatment

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One of two included 1000 RPM hydraulic-bearing GP-14 silent fans

There are always different needs to consider when picking an enclosure, from price to application. And with silent cases there is an obvious need to for superior sound-dampening properties, though airflow must be maintained to prevent cooking components as well. With today's review we'll examine the case inside and out and see how a complete build performs with temperature and noise testing.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Define R5 enclosure!!

Manufacturer: In Win

Introduction: Caged Beast

The D Frame Mini from In Win is a wild-looking, wildly expensive case that defies convention in many ways.

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First of all, calling the In Win D Frame mini an enclosure is a bit of a stretch. The design is part open-air case, part roll cage. Of course open air cases are not a new concept, but this is certainly a striking implementation; a design almost more akin to a testbench in some ways. When installed the components will be more open to the air than otherwise, as only the sides of the frame are covered (with panels made of tempered glass).

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The most noticeable design aspect of the D Frame mini are the welded tubes that make up the frame. The tubes are aluminum and resemble the frame of an aluminum bicycle, right down to the carefully welded joints. Around the perimeter of the frame are rather sizable soft plastic/rubber bumpers that protect the enclosure and help eliminate vibrations. Due to the design there is no specific orientation required for the enclosure, and it sits equally well in each direction.

There is support for 240mm radiators, virtually unlimited water cooling support given the mostly open design, and room for extra-long graphics cards and power supplies. The frame looks and feels like it could withstand just about anything, but it should probably be kept away from small children and pets given the ease with which fans and other components could be touched. And the D Frame mini is extremely expensive at $350. Actually, it’s just kind of extreme in general!

Continue reading our review of the In Win D Frame mini enclosure!!

Corsair's Carbide Series Air 240, dual chambered to reduce heat and increase free space

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 18, 2014 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini-itx, micro-atx, corsair, carbide series air 240

Corsair's new Air 240 is a decent choice for a high end Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX system as it is 15.6" x 10.2" x 12.6" (397 x 260 x 320 mm ) which is enough to squeeze in a larger sized GPU although not deep enough for most high end air coolers.  A self contained LCS is not a bad idea as the case ships with three 120mm fans and can fit another three 120mm fans and a pair of 80mm fans for air coolers, or up to a 240mm radiator instead if that is your preference.  The drive cages are all tool-less and strategically placed to give you more room for other components, it will be a tight squeeze for your hands while installing your system.  The Tech Report were impressed with the case and while it did lack some extra features like a fan controller it is worth the impressively low price, currently $90.

Ryan did a video review of this case back in August if you want a more visual overview.

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"The Carbide Series Air 240 is a small-form-factor case with an interesting dual-chamber design. We loaded it up with our Casewarmer system and took it for a spin."

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

CASES & COOLING

When a kilowatt won't do, Thermaltake's Toughpower 1200W Gold

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 17, 2014 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, ToughPower 1200W Gold, kilowatt, modular psu

The Thermaltake Toughpower 1200W Gold is an almost fully modular PSU built by Enhance which runs about $200 though [H]ard|OCP has linked to a rather nice deal on the PSU at NewEgg right now.  The PSU is for high end builds, the eight PCIe 6+2 connectors are backed by a single 12V rail capable of providing 100A, in other words every bit of power the PSU can offer.  The overall impression that [H] had of this PSU once the testing was completed was that it was good, but not amazing.  It did not fall short on performance but at the same time did not stand out in the crowd, if you can get this PSU on special it is certainly worth adding to your short list especially if you are sensitive to noise.  It is not the most quiet kilowatt class PSU they have tested but the 135mm fan keeps the decibels reasonable.

For a completely different high end PSU, make sure to check out Lee's review of the fully modular High Power Astro GD 1200W.

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"Thermaltake has traditionally shined when it comes to computer power supplies in excess of 1000 watts. But in the past these power supplies have often been very costly. Today we cover Thermaltake's new 1200 watt power supply that is currently selling for $139 after $30 MIR. Is it worth your hard earned dollars?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Manufacturer: High Power

Introduction and Features

Introduction

In this review we will be taking a detailed look at High Power’s new Astro GD 1200W power supply. All of the power supplies in the Astro GD Series are fully modular, have a single +12V output, and are 80 Plus Gold certified for high efficiency. There are currently sixteen different power supplies in the Astro Series and nine models in the fully modular Astro GD Series. The new AGD-1200F is king of the hill with the highest rated output of 1,200 watts.

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Along with 80 Plus Gold certified high efficiency, the Astro GD1200W power supply has been designed for quiet operation. It uses a dual ball bearing 135mm fan and a smart fan speed control, which automatically switches between two operating modes: silent mode and cooling mode. Unlike some other power supplies that keep the fan turned off during low output, the AGD-1200 fan spins all the time. The Smart Fan Control adjusts the fan operation mode automatically according to the system loading and ambient temperature for quiet operation. The fan speed starts out slow and quiet and gradually ramps up as the load increases. The PSU also incorporates an off-delay fan feature that keeps the fan spinning for a few seconds after the system is turned off.

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High Power Astro GD-1200W PSU Key Features:

•    1,200W continuous DC output
•    80 PLUS Gold certified (87%~90% efficiency at 20-100% load)
•    Silent Design (automatically adjusts between silent and cooling modes)
•    Advanced DC-to-DC converters (3.3V and 5V)
•    Fully modular cables for easy installation
•    Flat ribbon-style, low profile cables help optimize airflow
•    High quality components including all Japanese made capacitors
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Safety Protections : OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OTP, and OPP
•    MSRP for the Astro GD-1200W PSU: $239.99 USD

Please continue reading our review of the Astro GD 1200W PSU!!!

Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction: The Core Series Shrinks Down

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Image credit: Fractal Design

The Core 1100 from Fractal Design is a small micro-ATX case, essentially a miniature version of the previously reviewed Core 3300. With its small dimensions the Core 1100 targets micro-ATX and mini-ITX builders, and provides another option not only in Fractal Design's budget lineup, but in the crowded budget enclosure market.

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The price level for the Core 1100 has fluctuated a bit on Amazon since I began this review, with prices ranging from a high of $50 down to a low of just $39. It is currently $39.99 at Newegg, so the price should soon stabilize at Amazon and other retailers. At the ~$40 level this could easily be a compelling option for a smaller build, though admittedly the design of these Core series cases is purely functional. Ultimately any enclosure recommendation will depend on ease of use and thermal performance/noise, which is exactly what we will look at in this review.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Core 1100 case!!

She's a big one, check out the Corsair Graphite 780T

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 7, 2014 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Graphite 780T

The Graphite 780T stands 689 x 332 x 670 mm (27 x 13 x 26") which gives you a lot of space to install your system.  The cooling options are similarly impressive, you can install up to six 140mm fans or nine 120mm or for watercoolers you can install up to a 360mm rad on the top or front, 240mm on the bottom or a 140mm rad on the back.  In addition to the drive cages with tool-less installation on the front of the case, you can also install three 2.5" drives on the back side of the case.  If you want to build a system with an XL-ATX motherboard, the biggest CPU cooler you can get your hands on an several of the largest GPUs on the market this case will take them all and still leave you with plenty of space.  Check out the full review at Overclockers Club.

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"To follow up, the Graphite 780T has many positive things making it well worth the asking price. I don't have time to write out each in detail or this would go on forever, so I'm just going to cover the things that make it stand out. First up, having support for every aftermarket CPU cooler is a major advantage. When I say every single one, it's because nothing has topped 200mm yet and that would just be purely insane."

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CASES & COOLING

Thermaltake Launches Liquid Cooling Friendly Core V41 Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 7, 2014 - 12:45 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, thermaltake, mid-tower, liquid cooling, core v41, atx

Thermaltake added a new mid-tower case to its Core series this week that is well-suited to water cooling systems. The new Core V41 is the smallest chassis in the family which includes the full tower Core V71 and the Core V51 mid-tower. Thermaltake's new case is a slightly more compact version of the Core V51 that maintains the curved metal mesh design. The Core V51 supports full ATX motherboards, multiple graphics cards, tool-free storage, and a large acrylic window.

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The Core V41 has a full mesh front panel with two externally-accessible 5.25" drive bays, two audio ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. The case has eight PCI expansion slots on the rear. It supports up to ATX motherboards, 170mm processor heatsinks, 275mm long graphics cards, and 180mm power supplies. Thermaltake includes a massive CPU cutout that should accommodate installation of just about any CPU backplate without needing to remove the motherboard. There are four large cable routing cutouts (sans grommets) around the motherboard tray as well as three water cooling grommets to allow external radiators and up to 1/2" diameter tubing.

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Storage consists of two 5.25" drive bays, six 3.5" bays, and two stealth 2.5"/3.5" bays behind the motherboard tray. In a neat twist, all three tool-free bays are removable to allow for longer graphics cards and top-mounted liquid cooling radiators.

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The case supports a wide range of cooling configurations with vents along the top, front, rear, and bottom of the case (the Core V41 has rather tall feet which should make a bottom-mounted fan actually useful). Thermaltake includes magnetic dust filters on the top and front of the case, and it has been designed with front-to-back intake/exhaust airflow in mind. Thermaltake bundles the case with a single 120mm front intake and one 120mm rear exhaust.

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For air cooling, users can add two 120mm fans to the bottom and two 200mm fans to the top of the case. Alternatively, water cooling radiators can be set up as follows:

  • 1 x 360mm radiator in the front
  • 1 x 360mm radiator up top
  • 1 x 120mm radiator (common for sealed loop CPU coolers) in place of the rear exhaust fan.

There are some minor compromises, but overall the Core V41 looks to be a decent case with some useful features for its price range. Thermaltake has not yet revealed pricing or availability, but it should hit below the $100 mark at retail. For reference, the Core V51 retails for just under $110 USD and you are getting slightly less case with the V41.

Also read: 

Source: Thermaltake

Introduction: The HTPC Slims Down

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There are many reasons to consider a home theater PC (HTPC) these days, and aside from the full functionality of a personal computer an HTPC can provide unlimited access to digital content from various sources. “Cord-cutting”, the term adopted for cancelling one’s cable or satellite TV service in favor of streaming content online, is gaining steam. Of course there are great self-contained solutions for streaming like the Roku and Apple TV, and one doesn't have to be a cord-cutter to use an HTPC for TV content, as CableCard users will probably tell you. But for those of us who want more control over our entertainment experience the limitless options provided by a custom build makes HTPC compelling. Small form-factor (SFF) computing is easier than ever with the maturation of the Mini-ITX form factor and decreasing component costs.

The Case for HTPC

For many prospective HTPC builders the case is a major consideration rather than an afterthought (it certainly is for me, anyway). This computer build is not only going into the most visible room in many homes, but the level of noise generated by the system is of concern as well. Clearly, searching for the perfect enclosure for the living room can be a major undertaking depending on your needs and personal style. And as SFF computing has gained popularity in the marketplace there are a growing number of enclosures being introduced by various manufacturers, which can only help in the search for the perfect case.

A manufacturer new on the HTPC enclosure scene is a company called Perfect Home Theater, a distributor of high-end home theater components. The enclosures from P.H.T. are slick looking aluminum designs supporting the gamut of form-factors from ATX all the way down to thin mini-ITX. The owner of Perfect Home Theater, Zygmunt Wojewoda, is also the designer of the ultra low-profile enclosure we’re looking at today, the T-ITX-6.

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As you can see it is a wide enclosure, built to match the width of standard components. And it’s really thin. Only 40mm tall, or 48mm total including the feet. Naturally this introduces more tradeoffs for the end user, as the build is strictly limited to thin mini-ITX motherboards. Though the enclosure is wide enough to theoretically house an ATX motherboard, the extremely low height would prevent it.

Continue reading our review of the P.H.T. Ultra Slim Aluminum HTPC enclosure!!

Fractal Design's Integra M series, coming soon

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 4, 2014 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: PSU, modular psu, fractal design, Integra M, 650W

Fractal Design is releasing a new series of PSUs, the Integra M series, to compliment the already available Integra R2 series.  They have kept to the slightly smaller sizing of 150mm x 86 mm x 140 mm with a 120mm fan that Kitguru found to operate quietly, only hitting 37.2dBA at full load with temperatures not exceeding 60C.  The efficiency ranged between 81-85% and ripple stayed within specification, it was perhaps not as solid as some units but decent for the price point of this PSU.  With 648W at 54A it is capable of handling multiple mid-range GPUs and has the PCIe plugs to handle the cards, though the cabling choice is a little odd.  Two of the 6+2 PCIe connectors are modular but there are two more connectors which are hard wired into the PSU along with the ATX power.  For those hoping to build a system on a budget with an eye for possible upgrades you should read the full Kitguru review and keep your eye out for the release of the Integra M series.

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"Today we take a look at the latest power supply from Fractal Design, the Integra M 650W – released to target the budget enthusiast audience. This semi modular design has achieved 80 Plus Bronze Certification and will hit retail for around £55 inc vat. Is it worth shortlisting if you are working with a restrictive budget?"

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Source: KitGuru