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Introduction: A Crowded Market
The case market is not only saturated at every conceivable price point, but there is enough of a builder’s DNA in their enclosure selection that making recommendations in this area can be a galvanizing undertaking. The enclosure with less usefulness can have perceived deficiencies mitigated by style, and vice versa. For some, style is the most important attribute. But functionality alone, when unnecessary elements are stripped away, can be attractive as well. Here we have a bit of both.
Fractal Design is a Swedish company specializing in computer enclosures, though much like Corsair (which started life as a memory company) they have diversified their product offerings with a line power supplies and all-in-one liquid CPU coolers, as well as case fans and accessories. The company cites Scandinavian design as the influence behind their aesthetic, with the minimalist approach of 'less is more'. With the “Core” series Fractal Design has just what that nomenclature indicates. An entry-level offering that still provides the essentials for a solid build.
With the Core 3300 ATX case the basics are all represented, and it seems that nothing has been included for artistic reasons alone. The Core 3300 does not have a side window, and inside you won't see convenience features like toolless drive bays. Ultimately it’s a rather nondescript matte black case that’s mostly steel, but there are touches that help it stand out in this particular segment of a crowded market.
Introduction and Features
EVGA continues to raise the bar with the introduction of two new power supplies in their popular SuperNOVA line, the 1000 P2 and 1200 P2. Both new power supplies are 80Plus Platinum certified and feature all modular cables, high-quality Japanese brand capacitors, a single high-power +12V rail, and a 140mm dual ball bearing cooling fan (with the ability to operate in silent, fan-less mode at low power levels). The 1000 P2 and 1200 P2 are also backed by a 10-year warranty (with registration). And last but not least, many PC PSU enthusiasts will be happy to know the new 1000 P2 and 1200 P2 are being supplied by Super Flower; the same OEM that EVGA has been using for many of their higher output, premium PSUs!
EVGA was founded in 1999 with headquarters in Brea, California. They continue to specialize in producing NVIDIA based graphics adapters and Intel based motherboards and keep expanding their PC power supply product line, which now includes seventeen models ranging from the high-end SuperNOVA 1600 G2 to the budget minded EVGA 430W power supply.
In this review we will be taking a detailed look at the EVGA SuperNOVA 1200 P2 power supply.
Here is what EVGA has to say about the new SuperNOVA P2 Gold PSUs: “Introducing the EVGA SuperNOVA 1200 P2 power supply. This power supply raises the bar with 1200W of continuous power delivery and 92% (115 VAC) / 94% (220~240 VAC) efficiency. A fully modular design reduces case clutter and 100% Japanese Capacitors ensure that only the absolute best components are used. What does that mean? The best stability, reliability, overclockability and unparalleled control. The EVGA SuperNOVA 1200 P2 is the ultimate tool to eliminate all system bottlenecks and achieve unrivaled performance."
EVGA SuperNOVA 1200 P2 PSU Key Features:
• 10-Year Warranty and unparalleled EVGA Customer Support
• 80PLUS Platinum certified, with up to 92~94% efficiency under typical loads
• Tight voltage regulation (2%), stable power with low AC ripple and noise
• Highest quality Japanese brand capacitors ensure long-term reliability
• Fully modular cables to reduce clutter and improve airflow
• Quiet dual-ball bearing fan for exceptional reliability and quiet operation
• ECO Intelligent Thermal Control allows silent, fan-less operation at low power
• NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire Ready
• Intel 4th Generation CPU Ready (Haswell, C6/C7 idle modes)
• Compliance with ErP Lot 6 2013 Requirement
• Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
• Heavy-duty Protections: OVP, UVP, OCP, OPP, and SCP
• MSRP for the 1000 P2 PSU : $219.99 USD (181.99 after mail-in rebate, Amazon.com)
• MSRP for the 1200 P2 PSU : $269.99 USD ($225.99 after mail-in rebate, Amazon.com)
Little. Yellow. Different.
Corsair just can't help themselves, they just can't stop building new cases. Obsidian, Carbide, Graphite; the obsession is never ending it seems. That's good news for enthusiasts though as Corsair's entries to the case market have almost always been high quality. Today's official launch of the Graphite 380T, available in yellow, black and white color schemes, brings yet another entry to the Mini-ITX form factor. It's a market that has been getting a lot of attention lately and one that requires more careful thought in design.
With a price of $139-149 depending on color, the Graphite 380T isn't a cheap case by most users descriptions but it is quite unique - both from the look and style as well as the implementation of components. You get a 3-speed fan controller as well as an interior dome light that adds a little character to an exterior that will already get a lot attention. And maybe some comparisons to a Dewalt portable worksite stereo.
The front panel removes with a simple spring-loaded click release and acts as both air inlet and filter for the large 140mm fan included up front.
Welcome Back to Part 2
(Courtesy of Cooler Master)
Welcome back to the second part of our Cooler Master HAF Stacker Series case review. In Part 1 we took a detailed look at the construction, specifications, and features of the HAF Stacker 935 and HAF Stacker 915R/F enclosures.
HAF Stacker 935 Mod-Tower Enclosure
Cooler Master’s new HAF Stacker modular cases offer great flexibility and expandability. You can easily build a dual system in one enclosure by installing a full-size ATX system in the lower mid-tower section with a complete, self-contained mini-ITX system in the HAF 915 chassis up top. The HAF Stacker modular design offers tremendous room with virtually unlimited options for serious water-cooling. And if you want even more room, you can stack HAF case modules on top of each other in a virtually endless combinations!
Dual Peltier Water Chiller
Now in Part 2, we are going to complete our review by checking out component installation, building two complete systems in the Stacker cases (full ATX gaming rig and a mini-ITX based system), and look at various cooling options including the potential to house a full-blown water-cooling system with a Thermoelectric (TEC) water chiller.
HAF Stacker 915R/F Stackable Enclosures
Since the introduction of the Haswell line of CPUs, the Internet has been aflame with how hot the CPUs run. Speculation ran rampant on the cause with theories abounding about the lesser surface area and inferior thermal interface material (TIM) in between the CPU die surface and the underside of the CPU heat spreader. It was later confirmed that Intel had changed the TIM interfacing the CPU die surface to the heat spreader with Haswell, leading to the hotter than expected CPU temperatures. This increase in temperature led to inconsistent core-to-core temperatures as well as vastly inferior overclockability of the Haswell K-series chips over previous generations.
A few of the more adventurous enthusiasts took it upon themselves to use inventive ways to address the heat concerns surrounding the Haswell by delidding the processor. The delidding procedure involves physically removing the heat spreader from the CPU, exposing the CPU die. Some individuals choose to clean the existing TIM from the core die and heat spreader underside, applying superior TIM such as metal or diamond-infused paste or even the Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra metal material and fixing the heat spreader back in place. Others choose a more radical solution, removing the heat spreader from the equation entirely for direct cooling of the naked CPU die. This type of cooling method requires use of a die support plate, such as the MSI Die Guard included with the MSI Z97 XPower motherboard.
Whichever outcome you choose, you must first remove the heat spreader from the CPU's PCB. The heat spreader itself is fixed in place with black RTV-type material ensuring a secure and air-tight seal, protecting the fragile die from outside contaminants and influences. Removal can be done in multiple ways with two of the most popular being the razor blade method and the vise method. With both methods, you are attempting to separate the CPU PCB from the heat spreader without damaging the CPU die or components on the top or bottom sides of the CPU PCB.
Introduction and Features
Today we are going from one extreme to another. Two months ago we took an in-depth look at Cooler Master’s Elite 110 enclosure, which is a compact small form-factor case designed to house a mini-ITX system. Now we are going to the opposite end of the spectrum and will be taking a detailed look at the largest case Cooler Master (or most anyone else for that matter) has released to date, the HAF Stacker 935 Modular-Tower Case. In addition, the good folks at Cooler Master sent along a HAF Stacker 915F to show off how easy it is to expand a HAF Stacker system by adding one or more HAF Stacker case modules.
(Courtesy of Cooler Master)
Because this case is so large (we will actually be reviewing three different cases together: HAF 915F, 925 mid, and 915R) we are going to split the review into two parts. In Part 1 we are taking a detailed look at the three chassis (features, specifications, etc.) and the in Part 2 we will start installing parts and build a full-size ATX system along with a mini-ITX system and also look at various cooling solutions.
CM HAF Stacker 935 (HAF 925/HAF 915R) (3) HAF 915s Stacked
The Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 case consists of two pieces: a HAF 925 Mid-Tower enclosure and a HAF 915R mini-ITX case stacked together. The HAF 935 comes with the 915 mini-ITX chassis mounted on top of the HAF 925 Mid-Tower case but you can swap them around if you like because all of the HAF Stacker Series cases are interchangeable. This offers great flexibility for building multi-PCs in one chassis and provides a large amount of room for mounting all sorts of components like high-end water cooling systems, huge HDD arrays, etc. The HAF Stacker series can provide an excellent base system for some extreme case modding if desired.
It's so cool, and so tiny
Corsair continues to march down the path of making a PC case for just about every user imaginable. At Computex this past June, Corsair announced the Carbide Air 240 case, which is a smaller version of the very popular (and well reviewed) Carbide Air 540. These unique cases include two separate compartments: one for the motherboard, CPU, and graphics card and another for the power supply, storage, and miscellaneous cable clutter. The result is a sleek cube-shaped form factor that is easy to build inside.
Available in both black and white (with UV resistant paint), the $89/99 case fits both Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX motherboards allowing quite a bit of component flexibility.
A quick look at the front of the case shows the cube-like shape that both the Air 540 and Air 240 share, a form factor resulting from the dual-compartment design. The Corsair logo in the center can actually be rotated depending on the orientation of the case which itself can be rotated to allow the windowed case door to be the top of the case rather than the side.
Introduction and Features
Seasonic is a well known and highly respected OEM that produces some of the best PC power supplies on the market today. In addition to supplying power supplies to many big-name companies who re-brand the units with their own name, Seasonic also sells a full line of power supplies under the Seasonic name. The new XM2-1250 is the latest addition to the X-Series and features an improved Hybrid Fan control circuit and upgraded copper conduction bars on the main PCB, which together increase efficiency and performance.
The new XM2-1250 is a second generation X-Series power supply that comes with fully modular cables and a 120mm Sanyo Denki cooling fan. It is designed to provide ultra-tight voltage regulation along with high efficiency (80 Plus Gold certified).
Seasonic X-Series XM2-1250 Special Features
Ultra Tight Voltage Regulation Improved load voltage regulation keeps the voltage fluctuations on the 12V output within +2% and -0% (no negative tolerance), and on the 3.3V and 5V outputs between +1% and -1%, which (under 80 Plus load conditions) results in smooth and stable operation.
Seasonic Hybrid Silent Fan Control The industry first, advanced three-phased thermal control balances between silence and cooling. The Hybrid Silent Fan Control provides three operational stages: Fanless, Silent and Cooling Mode. In addition, a selector switch is provided to allow for manual selection between the Seasonic S2FC (fan control without Fanless Mode) or S3FC (fan control including Fanless Mode).
Reduced Cooling Fan Hysteresis is achieved by a new fan control IC, which optimizes how frequently the fan switches on and off. At 25°C ambient temperature the fan turns on when the load rises above 30% (±5%) and turns off when the load drops below 20% % (±5%). Due to this lag in response the fan switches on and off less frequently, which reduces power loss in Fanless and Silent Mode.
Dual Copper Conduction Bars on the power supply PCB help reduce impedance and minimize voltage drop, which further improves efficiency and performance.
80Plus Gold The XM2-1250 power supply is certified in accordance to the 80PLUS organization's Gold standards, offering performance and energy savings with up to =90% efficiency and a true power factor of greater than 0.9 PF.
Full Modular Design (DC to DC) The Seasonic X-Series power supplies feature an integrated DC connector panel with onboard VRM (Voltage Regulator Module) that enables not only near perfect DC-to-DC conversion with reduction of current loss/impedance and increase of efficiency but also a fully modular DC cabling that enables maximum flexibility of integration and forward compatibility.
Seasonic XM2-1250 PSU Key Features:
• High efficiency, 80Plus Gold certified
• 7-Year manufacturer's warranty worldwide
• Fully Modular Cable design with flat ribbon-style cables
• Seasonic DC Connector Panel with integrated VRMs
• Hybrid Silent Fan Control (3 modes of operation: Fanless, Silent and Cooling)
• High-quality Sanyo Denki San Ace dual ball bearing fan with PWM
• Ultra-tight voltage regulation (+2% and -0% +12V rail)
• Dual copper conduction bars on PCB for improved efficiency and performance
• Supports multi-GPU technologies
• Conductive polymer aluminum solid capacitors
• High reliability 105°C Japanese made electrolytic capacitors
• ErP Lot 6 2013 compliant and Intel Haswell processor ready
• PCI-E 8/6 pin x 10, EPS12V/ATX12V x 2, SATA x 14, 4-pin Molex x 5, FDD x 1
• High current Gold plated terminals with Easy Swap connectors
• Active PFC (0.99 PF typical) with Universal AC input
Features and Specifications
Corsair is on a roll in 2014 as they continue to expand their PC enclosure lineup. Today we are taking a detailed look at Corsair’s new Graphite Series 760T Arctic White Full-Tower Windowed case (the 760T is also available in black). In addition to the 760T, the Graphite Series currently includes the 730T Full-tower, the 600T Mid-Tower, and the 230T Compact Mid-Tower cases. And Corsair continues to offer one of the largest selections of memory products, SSDs, power supplies, coolers, gaming peripherals, and PC accessories currently on the market today!
760T Arctic White (with white LED fans) 760T Black (with red LED fans)
The new Graphite Series 760T is a large full-tower enclosure that supports numerous motherboards ranging in size from mini-ITX up to Extended ATX and XL-ATX form factors. Corsair states the 760T is a visually stunning case and we have to agree; it made an outstanding first impression, which continued as we spent more time working with the case.
The Graphite Series 760T Arctic White Full-Tower Windowed case features two swing-out side panel doors that can be easily removed when working on the case. The left side panel incorporates a large smoked-acrylic window. The 760T offers internal storage locations for up to six 3.5”/2.5” HDD/SSDs with four more locations for 2.5” SSDs. The case comes with three Corsair AF140L fans pre-installed and provides mounting locations for up to eight fans total. And if you want to include water-cooling in your build, the 760T supports numerous options for mounting different fan/radiator combinations in single, dual and triple 120mm and single or dual 240mm sizes.
Key Features for the Corsair Graphite Series 760T Full-Tower Windowed Case:
• Stylish, elegant design with swing-out side panel doors
• Large full-tower enclosure with smoked acrylic side window
• Supports mini-ITX, micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX, and XL-ATX motherboards
• Two 140 LED intake fans and one 140mm exhaust fan included
• Built-in two speed fan controller
• Locations for up to eight total case fans
• Supports 120mm, 240mm, and 360mm radiators for water-cooling
• Modular drive cage system for highly customizable layouts
• Three external 5.25” drive bays
• Six internal 3.5”/2.5” drive bays
• Four internal 2.5” SSD drive bays
• Removable mesh dust filters on front panel and under PSU
• External I/O panel with two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports
• Excellent cable routing with rubber grommets around cutouts
• Designed for fast and straight forward builds
Clearly a contender
Open air cases are a pretty niche market. The number of DIY users that are interested or willing to have their components fully exposed need to have some specific goals in mind. You could be a full time overclocker, looking for easy access to the CPU socket for LN2 or to hit that BIOS reset button. You could also be an enthusiast that is always swapping out components so the ability to bypass getting under a desk and removing a door makes things faster. Or you could just be a show off and want to be certain your friends and family see the gear you have purchased to power your PC gaming.
Just don't be someone with curious cats.
Puget Systems is a high end system builder based in the north west United States and though they don't plan on making a living selling these open air cases, called the Puget Systems EATX V1 Test Bench, they decided if they were making it, they might as well sell it too. Used primarily for the company's own internal testing and evaluation, the open air test bench is an acrylic structure that holds the power supply and storage on a bottom level along with the motherboard and other components up top, totally open to the elements.
It is expensive though, at $170.
The stand out features include support for a 120mm or even 240mm water cooler mount, triple GPU support and of course, as the name implies, the capability to hold EATX motherboards. Check out the full video review above and if you just want to see some more photos, click the link below!
Introduction and Technical Specifications
XSPC Raystorm D5 Photon RX480 V3 WaterCooling Kit
Courtesy of XSPC
XSPC is well known in the water cooling community for their high performance, yet affordable cooling product design. XSPC's latest release comes in the form of their Raystorm D5 Photon RX480 V3 WaterCooling kit, featuring a massive 480mm (4 x 120mm) radiator, a Photon 170 Reservoir with integrated D5 pump, and a Raystorm CPU block. They were kind enough to provide us with a sample of this kit to see how it stacks up against other liquid and air coolers we've tested previous. With a retail price at $314.99, the kit comes at a premium price, but remains a fair price considering the components included in the kit.
D5 Photon 170 Reservoir/Pump Combo
Courtesy of XSPC
D5 Photon 170 Reservoir/Pump Combo with LED
Courtesy of XSPC
RX480 Quad Fan Radiator V3
Courtesy of XSPC
Raystorm CPU Waterblock
Courtesy of XSPC
XSPC bundled in many of their high end components into the Raystorm D5 Photon RX480 V3 kit, including the Raystorm CPU block, the RX480 quad fan radiator, the D5 Photon 170 reservoir / pump, two meters of 7/16" inner diameter / 5/8" outer diameter clear tubing, black chrome compression barbs, four 1650 RPM 120mm fans, four fan guards, both Intel and AMD bracket/mounting kits, LEDs for both the reservoir and CPU block, and all the hardware necessary to put it all together. The Photon 170 reservoir is capable of holding up to 410mL of liquid, direct feeding the inlet of the integrate D5 pump. XSPC's D5 pump can process up to 1200 lph (liters per hour) of fluid, translating to a US-style flowrate of about 5 gpm (gallons per minute). All components are copper, brass, Acetal, or glass to minimize the possibility of mixed-metal corrosion occurring in the loop.
Introduction, Hardware, and Subjective Feel
This review comes before the end of the pre-order period. The reason why I targeted that deadline is because the pre-order perks are quite significant. First, either version of the mouse is listed for about $50 off of its MSRP (which is half price for the plastic version). EVGA also throws in a mouse pad for registering your purchase. The plastic mouse is $49.99 during its pre-order period ($99.99 MSRP) and its carbon fiber alternative is $79.99 ($129.99 MSRP). EVGA has supplied us with the plastic version for review.
Being left-handed really puts a damper on my choice of gaming mice. If the peripheral is designed to contain thumb buttons, it needs to either be symmetric (because a right hand's thumb buttons would be controlled by my pinky or ring finger) or be an ergonomic, curved mouse which comes in a special version for lefties that is mirrored horizontally (which is an obvious risk, especially when the market of left-handed gamers is further split by those who learned to force themselves to use right-handed mice).
Introduction and Features
SilverStone was one of the first PC power supply manufacturers to design and market a fanless power supply for silent operation. While many of their competitor’s fanless products have come and gone, SilverStone continues to build on their reputation and recently added the SST-NJ520 520W fanless power supply to the Nightjar Series, which currently includes three models: NJ520, ST50NF, and ST40NF. The Nightjar 520W PSU incorporates premium quality components and a state of the art design to deliver high efficiency (80 Plus Platinum certified), tight voltage regulation (±2%), and clean DC outputs. The new NJ520 fanless power supply comes with fully modular, flat ribbon-style cables that provide 4+4 pin ATX12V/EPS and 6+2 pin PCI-E connector support.
Here is what SilverStone has to say about their new fanless 520W PSU: “SilverStone’s Nightjar NJ520 is a fanless power supply that offers a whole new experience of quietness and stability. Its premium components and engineering helped it achieve 80 Plus Platinum level of efficiency, reducing wasted heat and enabling reliable operation without a fan. This noiseless performance can be maintained with stringent electrical characteristics even in 40°C operating environments.
As a versatile power supply, the NJ520 has a powerful +12V output of 43A for high-end system usage and its flexible, flat modular cables make assembly easy for improved case airflow. For professionals looking to build PCs or workstations for specialized settings such as recording studios or sound-optimized laboratories, the Nightjar series PSUs with their consistent emphasis on quality, stability, and reliability, are sure to satisfy.”
SilverStone Nightjar NJ520 Power Supply Key Features:
• Fanless thermal solution, 0 dBA acoustics
• High efficiency with 80 Plus Platinum certification
• 100% Modular cables
• Strict ±2% voltage regulation and low AC ripple & noise
• Class leading single +12V rail, up to 43A (516W)
• Four PCI-E 6+2 pin connectors
• Protections: OCP, OVP, OPP, OTP, UVP, and SCP
• Universal AC input and Active PFC
• MSRP $149.99 USD
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Noctua
Noctua is well known among enthusiasts for their high performance and sonically tolerable processor cooling solutions. Their U-series coolers combine unrivaled cooling performance with an innovative design to ensure quiet operation and motherboard compatibility. The NH-U12S is composed of a single aluminum-finned radiator with five nickel-plated copper heat pipes seamlessly integrated into the copper base plate. For performance testing of the NH-U12S cooler, we put it up against other high-performance liquid and air-based coolers. With a retail MSRP of $69.99, the NH-U12S CPU cooler is an affordable solution offering superior cooling potential.
Courtesy of Noctua
Courtesy of Noctua
Noctua construct the NH-U12S cooler for optimal heat transfer between the processor and its 125mm wide aluminum radiator. The NH-U12S contains a total of five heat pipes directly integrated into the copper base plate, terminating on each side of the aluminum-finned radiator. The use of copper heat pipes allows for optimal heat transfer of heat from the processor to the aluminum radiator fins and ultimately the air medium. To facilitate this transfer, Noctua paired the NH-U12S with their NF-F12 120mm, 1500RPM fan. The fan features rubber cover plates on all four corners to minimize fan vibration and vibration transfer to the radiator, further reducing fan noise. The CPU base plate is seamless and polished to a mirror finish, ensuring an optimal mating surface.
SecureFirm2™ LGA115x mount kit
Courtesy of Noctua
Noctua bundles their SecureFirm2™ mounting kits for using the NH-U12S with any current AMD or Intel socket motherboard. Also included are the Noctua-branded NF-F12 120mm 1500RPM fan, NT-H1 thermal paste, a PWM power splitter cable, and two sets of fan mounts (four mounts total) for use with up to two fans with the unit.
Features and Specifications
As the popularity and availability of small form factor PC components continues to grow, more companies are coming out with new enclosures that support this expanding market. Today, we are taking a detailed look at Cooler Master’s latest entry into the mini-ITX arena; the Elite 110 case. It’s amazing just how powerful a PC can be built around one of the latest mini-ITX motherboards and how much hardware can be stuffed into a small cube. In addition to basic computing needs, the Elite 110 enclosure offers a great many expansion options, with support for overclocking, a high end graphics adapter, up to four HDD/SSDs, a full size ATX power supply, and even water-cooling; all inside a small ~10” cube!
Cooler Master Elite 110 mini-ITX case key features:
• Small footprint: 280 x 208 x 260 mm (11.1 x 9.2 x 10.3”)
• Supports mini-ITX motherboard
• Front mesh panel with vents on both sides and top
• One 120mm intake fan in front (included) or one 140mm fan (optional)
• Two 80mm fans on the side (optional)
• Supports a 120mm radiator in front for water-cooling
• Supports a standard length ATX PSU (up to 180mm)
• Supports one dual-slot graphics card (up to 210mm length)
• Supports up to three 3.5” HDDs / four 2.5” SSDs
• External I/O panel with two USB 3.0 ports
• Blue LED On/Off switch on front panel
Specifications for the Elite 110 case (Courtesy of Cooler Master):
Introduction: The Elements of (Life)Style
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...
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.
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.
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.
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
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!
The M1 next to a BitFenix Prodigy: It's tiny!! (Image credit NCASE)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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)