Fractal Design has reduced their excellent Define S enclosure all the way down from ATX to mini-ITX, and the Define Nano S offers plenty of room for a small form-factor case.
Large mini-ITX cases have become the trend in the past year or so, with the NZXT Manta the most recent (and possibly the most extreme) example. Fractal Design's Nano S isn't quite as large as the Manta, but it is cavernous inside thanks to a completely open internal layout. There are no optical drive bays, no partitions for PSU or storage, and really not much of anything inside the main compartment at all as Fractal Design has essentially miniaturized the Define S enclosure.
We have the windowed version of the Define Nano S for review here, which adds some interest to a very understated design. There is still something very sophisticated about this sort of industrial design, and I must admit to liking it quite a bit myself. Details such as the side vents for front panel air intake do add some interest, and that big window helps add some style as well (and builders could always add some increasingly ubiquitous RGB lighting inside!).
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 1, 2016 - 11:38 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: enclosure, Dark Base 900 Pro, Dark Base 900, computex 2016, computex, case, be quiet!, atx case
A pair of enclosures from be quiet! have been announced, with the Dark Base 900 and Dark Base 900 PRO, and both models offer modular construction for greater build flexibility.
Here are some of the specs and features from be quiet!:
- High flexibility through high modularity
- Modular motherboard tray can invert and also slide vertically to make space for radiators, etc.
- Motherboard tray is decoupled to avoid vibrations
- Removable motherboard tray can be used as a test bench, or install system completely outside the case first
- Separated HDD cages for maximum flexibility - each holds one 3.5” or two 2.5” drives
- Removable ODD cage
- Standard storage support: 2x ODD / 7x HDD / 15x SSD
- Highest compatibility to water cooling
- PWM fan control
- 3x SilentWings 3 PWM 140mm fans pre-installed
- Aluminum finish on top and front
- 4mm tempered glass side panel
- LED strips with 5 colors
- QI charger for mobile devices
The system looks spacious, and offers removable cages for storage drives:
The motherboard tray is removable, and it can also be inverted if desired for an alternate internal layout:
And what premium enclosure would be complete without LED lighting? The PRO version of the Dark Base offers LED strips with your choice of 5 colors:
The Dark Base 900 has an MSRP of $199, and the Dark Base 900 PRO is $249, with availability set for June 28.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 23, 2016 - 11:50 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: tempered glass, steel, SECC, mid-tower, In Win 303, in win, enclosure, case, atx case
In Win's 303 enclosure has been released, and this mid-tower offers a very clean, simple look, and provides the option of a tempered glass side panel to show off your build.
"The IN WIN team presents the 303, a simple, yet elegant computer chassis crafted from steel and tempered glass. The distinctively clean front panel is complemented with a bright LED design to balance the overall appearance.
The IN WIN logo is highlighted “Neon” as well as the lucent stripped I/O front panel. These gorgeous LEDs also have the purpose of indicating when the PC is activated."
The In Win 303 is available with a white or black finish
The 303 is constructed primarily of SECC (electrogalvanized steel), which should help them keep costs down versus aluminum designs at the expense of some added weight.
The 303 offers buyers a choice between a pair of side panel styles, with both tempered glass and solid aluminum options. As to the former, the company states you are "able to remove the beautiful 3mm tempered glass side panel by just pressing the handle," while the aluminum panel is affixed with thumbscrews.
In Win 303 interior
While officially released with a product page up on In Win's site, actual retail availability in the U.S. might have to wait until after Computex, as listings have yet to appear on Newegg or Amazon for the new 303 (at time of publication).
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 19, 2016 - 10:43 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: steel, matx case, Lian Li, enclosure, case, atx case
Lian Li is now producing steel enclosures (gasp), which translates into some more affordable options on the market from this venerable brand that typically produces products from aluminum and glass.
(left to right) Lian Li PC-K5, PC-K6, and PC-K6S
“Lian Li has been known for its signature brushed aluminum aesthetic for decades. For many years, a number of customers have requested more affordable alternatives. The Ebonsteel series is intended to provide this option for those who seek the best value in PC cases. While these chassis are built with steel rather than aluminum, they are still very much Lian Li cases – tool-less building features, grommeted panel cutouts for cable management, vibration-dampened PSU mounts and drive cages, removable mesh filters on fan mounts – they include many of the bells and whistles of a typical Lian Li case!”
The three new enclosures Lian Li is featuring in their news release include the mid-tower PC-K5 and PC-K6, and a silent version of the latter named PC-K6S. Of these the PC-K5 is a budget-minded option, with an MSRP of $56 for the standard version, and $60 if you'd like a side panel window. The PC-K6 is a more premium offering, with an MSRP of $93, with the silent version at $109.
As to availability, I'll quote the press release here: "The Ebonsteel cases will be available in mid June for K5, and late June for K6, K6S."
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 2, 2016 - 09:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: side window, P9 Window, mid-tower, Full-Tower, fan controller, enclosure, case, atx case, antec
Antec has listed a new P9 Window tower enclosure on their site ahead of Computex, and while it's listed as "not available" at the moment, that should change by the end of the month.
So what is this P9 Window? It's a straightforward case with a big side window, excellent storage and cooling support, and dual onboard fan controllers.
"Don’t let the sleek, understated exterior fool you. The P9 Window is loaded with builder-focused features that deliver performance, Quiet Computing, and future-proof expandability right out of the box. The interior volume, the variety of cooling options, and the modular HDD cages are just a few of the features that make the P9 Window stand out in the Performance One series."
- Motherboard Support: ATX, micro ATX, mini ITX
- Expansion Slots: 8
- 13 Total Drive Bays:
- 3 x Tool-less 5.25” ODD Bays
- 8 x Tool-less 3.5” HDD trays (each compatible with 2.5” SSD)
- 1 x 3.5” HDD (inside the 5.25” drive cage)
- 2 x Tool-less 2.5” Dedicated SSD Bays
- Cooling System:
- 2 x Front 120mm (included) fan
- 1 x Rear 120mm (included) fan
- 3 x Top 120mm or 2 x 140mm fan mounts (optional)
- 1 x Bottom 120mm (optional)
- 2 x 120mm HDD cage fan mounts (Optional)
- Water cooling support:
- Front: Supports 240mm radiator
- Top: Supports240/280/360 mm radiator
- Pump / Reservoir mounting brackets included
- Removable / Relocation of HDD cages for water cooling pump
- I/O Ports:
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Fan controls
- Audio In/Out
- Washable air filters (front intake and PSU)
- Supports up to 430 mm VGA cards
- Bottom mounted ATX PSU (not included)
- Dimensions: 22.44” (W) x 23.50 (H) x 11.26” (D)
- Weight: 20 lbs
Pricing shown in Antec's listing is a reasonable $109 for a full-tower design like this, and we'll doubtless get a chance to see how its performing soon enough as reviews start coming out.
Introduction and First Impressions
The NZXT Manta is a mini-ITX enclosure that boasts better than average room for components and cooling, and is packaged in a rather unusual, rounded design.
There is a reason for the Manta's somewhat bulbous appearance, and it's part of a recent trend in mini-ITX enclosure design; bigger is better. While you might think that mITX is all about fitting components into the smallest enclosure possible, there have been some recent examples of cases which expand the chassis to micro-ATX sizes (or above).
The Manta from NZXT is actually large enough to be a micro-ATX case, and its total volume exceeds their S340 enclosure; a full ATX design (!). So why on earth would you want a mini-ITX enclosure with that much volume? Three words: cooling, cooling, and cooling.
As you can see from NZXT's graphic above, the Manta's protruding top and front panels provide a the additional space needed to allow for thicker cooling setups.
Before we dive in for a closer look at the new Manta enclosure, let's take a look at the full specs from NZXT:
- Motherboard Support: mini-ITX
- Expansion Slots: 2
- Drive Bays
- Internal 3.5”: 2
- Internal 2.5”: 3
- Cooling System
- Front: 2 x 140/120mm (2 x 120mm included)
- Top: 2 x 140/120mm
- Rear: 1 x 120mm (Included)
- Radiator Support
- Front: Up to 280mm
- Top: Up to 280mm
- Rear: 120mm
- CPU Clearance: 160mm
- GPU Clearance: 363mm
- PSU Length: 363mm
- Power Supply Support: ATX
- External Electronics:
- I/O Panel LED On/Off
- 1x Audio/Mic
- USB 3.0
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 245 x 426 x 450mm (9.65 x 16.77 x 17.72 inches)
- Weight: 7.2 kg (15.87 lbs)
Our thanks to NZXT for providing the Manta enclosure for our review.
At first glance the Manta is a departure from the typical enclosure design. The rounded panels are built around a standard rectangular frame, so it's really quite conventional underneath.
The look from the front of the enclosure really shows off the rounded sides, and this will certainly not be everyone's favorite look - but anything beyond the norm tends be divisive in this market.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 20, 2016 - 10:20 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: standing desk, Lian Li, enclosure, DK-04, desk enclosure, case, aluminum
Lian Li has officially announced their standing desk shown at CES 2016, and the DK-04 offers variable (powered) height adjustment.
The DK-04 in standing position
"Standing desks aren’t just fashionable, they’re proven to be beneficial and healthy in multiple ways. Lian Li sought to design a new computer desk chassis in this spirit. Users can configure up to four different height settings, from 67.5cm to 116cm, for the desk to automatically adjust to at the press of a button. The DK-04 can serve as a standing desk for work and switch to a sit-down gaming desk in an instant!"
The DK-04 lowered to sitting position
I had a chance to check out the DK-04 in person at this year's CES, and it was an impressive piece of hardware. My first question? How much will it cost, of course! Lian Li didn't have an answer for me back in January, but official pricing was included in today's annoucement.
The cost? MSRP is $1499, and the DK-04 will be available on May 10, 2016.
If you've priced ergonomic office furniture the $1499 price tag won't seem quite so shocking, especially for a powered sit/stand design made entirely from aluminum (don't forget this is also a PC enclosure).
The DK-04 is also a full-sized PC enclosure under the glass top
Of course, in the world of PC components it's obviously going to require a specific use-case to justify an enclosure that costs as much as a fairly high-end gaming PC.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 8, 2016 - 03:09 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: mid-tower, enclosure, corsair, case, Carbide SPEC-ALPHA, atx case
Corsair has officially released the Carbide SPEC-ALPHA case they were showing off at CES 2016, and this mid-tower is a striking design that offers an alternative to more traditional look of the company's recent Carbide offerings.
The White/Red SPEC-ALPHA at CES
"With its modern, angular appearance, the SPEC-ALPHA really stands out in a crowd. But its looks aren’t all that are modern – the SPEC-ALPHA features native USB 3.0 support, room for up to four SSDs, and a three-speed fan controller for the three included 120mm fans. A large window shows off internal components and the Direct Airflow Path layout, which provides superior cooling by getting rid of unnecessary drive bays."
The inclusion of a 3-speed fan control is definately welcome at this price, which is an attractive $79.99 MSRP. We'll have to wait until we get one in to test to see how it performs, but at first glance it looks promising. Doubtless the look won't be for everyone, but if you look at a lot of enclosures (like someone I know) unusual designs are always welcome!
Inside the Black/Red version
Technical specifications from Corsair:
- Expansion Slots: 7
- 5.25” Drive bays: N/A
- 3.5” Hard Drive Bays: 3
- 2.5” Drive Bays: 4
- Cooling Layout:
- Front: 2 x 120mm (2 x 120mm LED included)
- Top: 2 x 120mm
- Rear: 1 x 120mm (included)
- Radiator Compatibility:
- 240mm: Front only
- 120mm: Front, or Rear
- Integrated dust filters for front and bottom intakes
- Front I/O Panel includes:
- USB 3.0 port (x2)
- Three-Speed Fan Controller
- Headphone and Microphone jacks
- Power on and Reset buttons
- Dimensions (LxWxH) 518 x 220 x 474 mm (20.39 x 8.66 x 18.66 inches)
- Maximum GPU Length: 380 mm
- Maximum CPU Cooler Height: 156 mm
- Maximum PSU Length: 190 mm
- 2 Year Warranty
(Image credit: Corsair)
As stated above the Carbide SPEC-ALPHA retails for $79.99 and is available now.
Introduction and First Impressions
Today we’re looking at an enclosure from VIVO, a new company on the scene who has created their new Titan mid-tower enclosure to enter the enthusiast case market. We’ll see how it stacks up in an already crowded market.
A search on Amazon for enclosures will turn up the usual suspects, from Antec to Thermaltake (with BitFenix, Corsair, In Win, NZXT, Lian Li, Phanteks, SilverStone, and others in between). And right there in those search results is VIVO. Their Athena mid-tower is a nice-looking budget enclosure that sells for only $54.99, and with the Titan VIVO offering a more understated design, and some modern conveniences.
The Titan is spacious, with an open internal layout that places drive storage behind and below the motherboard tray, a common trend (Corsair’s Carbide 400C and the NZXT H440 have similar layouts). The cost of such a design (as with the aforementioned competitors) is a reduction in drive support, as only two 3.5-inch and a single 2.5-inch drive bay are included (with support for an addition pair of SSDs inside the case). This trend has its detractors, to be sure, but if your needs are limited to an SSD and a pair of hard drives, you’ll be just fine - and the Titan offers a pair of 5.25-inch bays, if desired.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 12, 2016 - 07:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, NCASE M1, Kimera Industries, enclosure, crowdfunding, Cerberus, case
Micro-ATX offers a compelling option for smaller system builds without the limitations inherent with the mini-ITX form-factor, and a new company aims to offer one of the smallest micro-ATX enclosures possible while still supporting full-size components. That company is Kimera Industries, a newcomer (founded in 2014) that will be turning to Indiegogo to fund the Cerberus mATX enclosure, to be built right here in the United States.
Known previously as Project Nova, the Cerberus is reminiscent of the NCASE M1, a crowdfunded mini-ITX design that is ridiculously small even for mITX. In addition to supporting the larger mATX form-factor motherboard, the Cerberus is constructed from steel (rather than the M1's aluminum), and boasts an extremely compact size for an enclosure that can easily house a dual-GPU gaming setup.
“At just 18.2L, Cerberus is smaller than nearly all mATX (and many mITX) cases in industry today, yet supports flagship graphics and high-end PC components, making it a potent enclosure for hardware enthusiasts that want a compact and portable computer without compromises on performance.”
A look at the interior with a complete system installed shows just how much can be crammed into this small space, just as with the NCASE M1. The inclusion of a hinged bracket for a liquid cooler (or other components) is a nice touch that should aid in system building with the Cerberus.
So, just how small is the Cerberus? A look at the full specs (available here) reveals dimensions of 320 mm height, 170 mm width, and 364 mm depth (12.60 x 6.69 x 14.33 inches). The enlosure, made from 20 gauge steel internally with 18 gauge steel panels on the outside, weighs in at 11.68 lbs.
Here’s a list of the features of the Cerberus enclosure from Kimera:
- Size: At just 18.2L, Cerberus is smaller than some of the most popular mITX cases on the market, from Fractal Design’s Node 304, or BitFenix’s Prodigy. When compared to most mATX cases, Cerberus typically bests the competition by 10L or more - a whopping 40%+ volume reduction.
- Quality: Made entirely of powder coated steel, and assembled in the United States, Cerberus is built to last for the long haul, with thoughtful features such as user-replaceable parts, durable metal hardware, and all-steel panel clips and pins.
- Design: Cerberus embraces a minimalist, refined aesthetic, with a luxurious matte finish and industrial design that embraces clean edges and understated features over bright lights and garish plastic accents.
- Customizability: With multiple colors on offer, additional colors available as stretch goals, and the option to add an optional metal handle and/or plexiglass window, Cerberus is engineered to be customized to enthusiasts’ exact preferences.
- Flexibility: From SFX and ATX PSU support, to the hinged side bracket, to the innovative Infinite Vent system, Cerberus retains some of the most diverse hardware support in industry, and can comfortably contain systems as simple as HTPCs and as sophisticated as water-cooled, multi-GPU gaming powerhouses.
- Craftsmanship: Through a unique partnership with Sliger Designs, every Cerberus is built by trained and talented engineers on Sliger’s production floor, located in Sparks, Nevada, USA. By manufacturing enclosures domestically, instead of through nondescript factories in China or Taiwan, Kimera Industries is able to maintain strict quality controls, communicate constantly with engineers on the floor, and greatly expedite production and shipment of units to backers - all while supporting local workers, businesses, and communities.
The Cerberus is also available in white, shown with optional handle
The Indiegogo campaign launches March 1st, and additional information can be found at the Kimera Industries site.