Week in Tech: The Case for a New PC

By Jeremy Laird on November 29th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.


Today, gentlefolk of RPS, I intend to make a case for a new PC. Case for a new PC, geddit? Sigh. Anyway, the other day I was aboard the good ship PC Format Magazine, still steering a firm and true course through the marketing-infested waters of PC hardware and gaming and like all worthy vessels, er, unapologetically made of wood. Or maybe it’s pressed peanut sweepings these days. Whatever, I happened upon none other than the latest revision of BitFenix Prodigy, the Prodigy M, a PC case I’ve always liked the look of but never had the chance to poke around. Turns out it’s a very nice little item indeed. There’s been plenty of talk about Steam Boxes and ultra small-form-factor rigs round these parts, but less on the arguably more practical topic of cases in general and what makes for the best compromise in terms of form factors. So, let’s talk.

What I’m not going to do is review some cases. That would be duller than a console-port press launch and if you want to read a 63-page review of a PC case, that dubious desire is already well catered for. Instead, let’s chuck a few ideas around and hopefully light the touch paper for a discussion below. Between you and we, the force should be strong in terms of collective real-world experience with cases.

Size matters
Keeping the feeble pun theme alive, the biggest issue for me is size. Niche variations aside, there are three basic options that derive from motherboard form factors. Full ATX, microATX and mini-ITX. The first is just your vanilla tower PC, the second a sort of tweener that fits more neatly on a desk but isn’t trying to be uber teeny. The latter is all about crushing your PC down to Lilliputian proportions.

From a purely technological perspective, mini-ITX is the sexiest. That’s probably why I liked the Intel NUC despite it not actually being hugely plausible as an all-round PC. The sense of high-density tech is tangible and seductive.

A powerful PC in my clammy palm. But far too pricey, too inflexible and ultimately no gaming rig

But for me, there are simply too many compromises with going that small. Sure, you can have a mini-ITX rig with proper discrete graphics and all that noise. But you’re often painting yourself into a very tight corner regards spec and expansion. And to what end?

In the context of microATX systems, to no terribly compelling end as far as I can see. Certainly, nothing beyond a little less desktop space consumed.

I do actually like the idea of having my desktop PC actually on my desktop. It’s probably pure fancy, but it feels like it will stay cleaner and take less abuse up top than on the floor at boot-bothering level. And there are plenty of microATX cases that are small enough for reasonable desktop deployment.

Aerocool Dead Silence Cube: Looks like an interesting microATX option

They also feel about right in terms of the balance between practicality and component density. Full ATX rigs are big, clunky and mostly air, mini-ITX gives you too few options, microATX is the Goldilocks rig.

Bigging up the BitFenix
And what of the BitFenix Prodigy M? Well, its physical bearing doesn’t quite pay out on the promise of its mini PowerMac G5 looks in PR pictures. It’s clad in plastic and painted pressed steel, not Appley anodised alloy, after all. This particular example appears to have been studiously colour-matched with a ’90s 286 corporate PC, which doesn’t help much, either.

The worst possible colour for the BitFenix Prodigy M. Possibly

But it’s not half bad, even so. It’s plastered in neat little touches, like the re-routing of the kettle socket on the power supply to allow for reorientation of same, multiple mounting points for SSDs and an easy-access pop-open grille up top.

Generally, it gives the impression of being designed by people who want the same things we do from a PC case. PC Format’s Dep Ed Dave James has had a closer look at the Prodigy M and given it the thumbs up, (full review for those interested in the next issue of PC Format). He reckons it’s nice to work with when doing a rig build and has good airflow for cooling.

Full-sized graphics stick and 240mm rad inside. Nice

Inevitably, you’ll have to make a few compromises compared to full ATX. If you want to fit a 240mm water cooling rad, you can kiss goodbye to the optical drive. Ditto if you want to run dual graphics cards. That said, you can have a 120mm water cooler and an optical drive or dual graphics, so there are still options.

Oh, and those PowerMac-aping hoops are a bit, well, spongey, which means you’ll probably want to remove the bottom pair to aid stability, only to find the exposed chassis bottom could do with some rubber feet. But it’s not a deal breaker.

Neat touches include the SSD / 2.5-inch drive mounts

Nor is the BitFenix the only option, which is where you guys come in. What weird and wonderful cases are you running? Let’s spread the wisdom around.

Jobs would have disembowelled an entire subdivision for this

In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see how the PC case market develops over the next year or so. I’ve always been a little disappointed by the quality of the available options. Frankly, a rather adolescent undercurrent has usually infused the design ethos for most cases over the years. That or simply cheapo shonkiness.

I suppose ye olde Shuttle PCs were are fairly grown up, but they also always felt expensive for what they were. But now we have Valve pimping the Steam Box thing and Nvidia putting some cash into the smaller form factor market with its Art-of-Gaming initiative, maybe we’ll see a little innovation and some more cases worthy of desktop pride.

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106 Comments »

  1. Tiax says:

    I actually *like* the rubber parts on my Prodigy, even if my first reaction to them was akin to “Wtf is this sh** ?”.

    • spleendamage says:

      I’ve got a Prodigy and it’s okay. Since it just sits under the desk, I really have no reason for this smaller than average setup. If anyone is thinking about giving it a go after reading this article, appropriate power was the main issue I had with my build, since the space is a bit cramped. I ended up using a Seasonic 850 (SS-850KM) which fits without modifying the case, but just barely.

    • stahlwerk says:

      I can not think of the engineering or design problem those foot-handles are actually supposed to solve besides “symmetry”.

  2. GROM says:

    just build a new pc since I don’t game at my desk anymore and I’ve got a laptop for all office needs. So I went with a mini atx board, 8 gigs of ram, 250 samsung ssd, a 1tb 7200rpm hd an I5 cpu and a cheap secondhand ati 6950, lumped it into a fractal node 304 case and put it next for my tv. still pretty damn big damned. but 800 euros for system that can play most games on high or better on my full hd tv is pretty sweet.

  3. Boozebeard says:

    On the note of the aesthetic and build quality of the case:

    My current case is a mini tower Lian Li (still atx, just compact sized case). It’s a very simple but sleek design and the quality is excellent, notably nicer than any of the antec, fractal or even corsair cases I’ve worked with in the past. It did in fact remind me a lot of the mac pro cases but it also cost nearly £200. Made me realise that you aren’t necessarily just paying for a brand name when you buy a mac.

  4. Ergates_Antius says:

    I’ve been using an Akasa Eclipse 62 for years. Can’t really fault it.

  5. shlork says:

    I think the idea behind the bendy rubber handles around BitFenix is that it would help dampen a fall if dropped accidentally. Might be a good feature for people who take their desktops to LAN parties.

  6. Dhruun says:

    Personally I’m not keen on the bulky aesthetic of the Prodigy or the DS, and much prefer other cases such as the Silverstone FT03, TJ08-e, or SG08 (for those of you who want mITX). I appreciate the watercooling options provided by the cases in the article, but I prefer a more subdued aesthetic, as well as great build quality. In that respect Lian Li and Fractal Design are pretty good, though as you can probably tell I’m pretty taken with Silverstone cases.

    I’m running a TJ08-e, great airflow and expansion options as well.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Seconding the tj recommendation, although assembly was a bit of a hassle, but that seems to be the case with all silverstone uh cases.

    • clom says:

      FT03 mini here and quite happy with it, even though it was harder than I thought it would be to get everything in there that I wanted. If you have a little experience with building your own PC I can recommend it, just be sure to read up on this case before purchasing all your parts.

    • Lev Astov says:

      Silverstone is the only PC case manufacturer who truly innovates. Every generation has a couple cases with really unique and beneficial design changes from the standard case layout. I’ll stick with them until they stop innovating.

  7. amateurviking says:

    I have a Lian Li PC-A05FNB which is a bit bigger than the Prodigy but still pretty compact. Tucks the PSU under the drive bays at the front and runs the whole mobo upside down (CPU at the bottom, PCI slots at the top). It’s fits nicely in behind my monitor on the desk and is uniformly anodised black brushed aluminium. Classy.

  8. helicomatic says:

    I have a Fractal Design Node 304 as a second case for LAN gaming. The main attraction for me was that it can hold 4 hard drives at the same time as a full-size video card, so a mini-itx gaming computer could also be the fileserver. It’s also small enough that when I’m not using it, I can stick it on a bookshelf behind a door and pretend that my living room doesn’t look like a LAN party half the time.

  9. Napalm Sushi says:

    Is it a sign of pathological paranoia that I like to go for the bulkiest, heaviest case I can find as an anti-burglary measure?

    If it’s at all relevant, I live in a ground floor council flat in downtown Stoke-on-Trent.

  10. fish99 says:

    Love my Antec 300. Plenty of room inside, it looks discreet, and it’s got good airflow. It has 3x12cm and 1×14 cm fans, all with speed switches, so I can run them slowly, get good airflow and minimal noise. Likewise it has room for a custom CPU cooler which means lower temps than a stock cooler and much less noise. And the most important component of all – it has a washable dust filter.

    Minimal noise and it looks after all the components inside it. Best of all it only cost £45.

  11. USER47 says:

    Fractal R4 anytime. It’s just big, black, solid (12,5kg) lownoise box with great internal layout and no eyecandy bullsh*t.

    • bakelite says:

      Fractal R4 here. Flawless except for the blue power LED, the worst possible color.

      • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

        Came here to +1 the Fractal R4, leaving happy. Quietest PC case I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a few), great layout, great aesthetics, solid build quality. Their HTPC case is very nice too, except the optical media drive mount, but who uses physical media any more?

      • USER47 says:

        The color is fine for me, but the intensity is a bit too much…It can illuminate half the room when my lights and monitor are off.:-D

      • jrodman says:

        I wish the blue LED era would end.

      • XDeus says:

        Fractal R3, love it but same LED problem. On the bright side, it alerted me to my computer’s “I don’t really turn off if you click ‘Hibernate’ and no I don’t mean hybrid sleep” problem. On the other hand: In student digs, I did/had/will be sleeping right next to it (hell-oo) so if it’s on overnight, I need some way to cover it. Also the intensity isn’t far off my monitor’s LED. They’re all shit, to be frank. Bring back crappy lights.

    • Erroneous Drake says:

      completely missed this before i posted my own praise for the R4 below, anyhoo +1 for this case, it is amazing!
      I agree on the power Led intensity tho, and the best bit is that it pulses when the PC is in sleep mode, very fun when you have a studio flat with the office in one end and the bed in the other.
      I ended up using black permanent marker to darken the power led ring a bit, and it helped substantially.

    • nil says:

      Another +1 for the Define R4. The most salient feature for me, however, is the filtered air intake. Cat hair is not kind to moving parts (kill count on my last case: one 90mm case fan, one GPU cooler.)

  12. Stirbelwurm says:

    This post made me realize, that I’ve been using the same case for about 8 years now. But then again, why would you change your case, if you don’t want to change to another form factor?

    http://support.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1433&ID=1461

    That’s the one. The front is completely made out of metal. Looks quite nice and still does what it is supposed to do. It might as well last another 8 years.

    • thedosbox says:

      I can think of a few reasons. USB3 support. “HD Audio” support. Better acoustics. Better aesthetics (X-shaped windows only look cool to a teenager) for domestic harmony.

      Anyhow, that Aerocool Dead Silence looks intriguing.

  13. Amstrad says:

    I’m a big fan of my Antec P180, it’s discontinued though so finding one could be tough. That said the current version the P183 or even a P280 is a good buy. Roomy, easy to work with, extremely quiet and the anodized aluminum finish is classy.

    • malkav11 says:

      The P183 is what I’m working with. It’s huge, but sleek, attractive, spacious, has pull-out enclosures for drives, a separate PSU space with passthrough for cables, etc and washable dust filters for up front. It’s pretty neat. It is a couple years old, though, and it sounds like there have been advances in case technology since then, so another comparable Antec model that’s more up to date might be better for people looking to upgrade right now.

      • Grey Poupon says:

        Got a p193 when they came out myself. Wanted a big case with good ventilation and decent damping materials that still looks good. Needless to say the side fan doesn’t. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better of with a p183. If I’d be buying a case now, I’d probably go for a Fractal though.

    • jrodman says:

      My p183 is pretty awesome in the quiet department. I haven’t had to work with the interior much because I got it custom-built by these guys: http://www.pugetsystems.com/serenity.php
      Playing a game at full bore I still can’t hear it, even if I turn the game audio off.

  14. povu says:

    You can screw the bottom handle off? I didn’t even know. Nice case.

    I have an Antec 300 right now, which is full ATX. It has 1 graphics card, 1 HDD and 1 SSD inside it. Decent case, but a waste of space. I’m definitely switching to a MATX case next, I already switched to a MATX size motherboard when I upgraded my CPU earlier this year.

  15. melnificent says:

    I’m just about to start my second stealth build PC. I’ve been eyeing up one of these http://www.petsathome.com/shop/aquanano-22-litre-tank-by-aqua-one-(available-in-store-only)-108505 with mineral oil and the obvious bits like castle, fake fronds, etc.

    • instantcoffe says:

      This sounds fishy.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      You can get cheap ones off Ebay second hand. Look or call the supplier for ones without the pumps/fish stuff. Tell them your looking for seconds and/or replacement parts only, they might do a discount. :)

      (You might want the lamp, but the pump/filter would probably be redundant, so could save there)

      • melnificent says:

        Thanks, for some reason eBay completely slipped my mind.

        After suffering a burglary recently I’ve decided my new PC won’t be immediately obvious or easy to move :)

  16. steves says:

    “…doesn’t quite pay out on the promise of its mini PowerMac G5 looks…”

    You can say that again. That thing is awful.

    Why doesn’t anyone make a decent-looking aluminium Mac Pro rip-off? Whatever you think of Apple, you can’t deny their old-school tower cases are ace.

    I guess I could just buy a broken old one off eBay and make a PC out of it. Except that looks like a ridiculous amount of work, with a high chance of breaking something:

    http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1552968

    I think the least obnoxious looking big tower case I’ve found so far is this one:

    http://www.quietpc.com/na-ds5

    and at least it’ll be quiet, which is almost as important as looking nice! Any other suggestions?

  17. mLocke says:

    I bought a Ncase M1 from the second funding campaign but I don’t use it, yet. Already have a machine put together inside a Silverstone TJ08. Lian Li PC-V2000 holding 6x2TB WD Red’s in RAID-Z makes for a nice media server.

    • brilebe says:

      If you are willing to sell the case, I am definitely willing to buy it. It was unfortunate that I was not able to purchase one in time, and I was really hoping to get one in before Christmas. If you have steam, add me @ mmmasquerade and we can talk over it. If you do not, I will reply/edit with my email unless you would like to post yours. I just hate leaving my email in a public comment like this.

      Cheers,

      Bri

  18. granderojo says:

    Most of the time I honestly tell people just to upgrade when they need to upgrade but when new video cards and CPUs just around the corner in a few months, this is literally the worst time to upgrade.

    If you’re coming from a position of no PC, may be but even if you have a mediocre rig, it’s best to wait.

    • phuzz says:

      But there’s always new graphics cards and CPUs due in a few months, anyway, AMD just released their new range of graphics cards, so now is quite a good time to buy.

  19. optimus_hippo says:

    My case is a SilverStone SG05 (http://www.anandtech.com/show/6167/). It’s super small but still fits (some) GPU’s. I have an i5 CPU, GTX760, and 2 HDDs in there, just using the stock fans for cooling, and it runs great!

  20. Fitzmogwai says:

    Bought a Thermaltake Kandalf about eight years ago. It’s had three sets of guts inside it since but I’ve never had any need to buy a new case. Great look, fantastic airflow and easy to work inside (taking in to account that I’m a traditionalist and believe in the PC build blood sacrifice),

    Just a great case.

  21. Arglebargle says:

    I like to fiddle around with and replace stuff inside my computer, so the small motif stuff doesn’t cut it for me. I have a 2001 era Alienware branded Chieftec Dragon in basic black for my tower-ethos case. Fairly easy to work inside, lots of space, few compromises. Also have a secondary computer in an Antec Solo+, which, while more cramped, exhibits some very good design chops.

    • Prokroustis says:

      Plenty of room to fiddle is quite important for me as well. My CoolerMaster Cosmos RC-1000 and CM Storm Trooper can attest to that.

      • OscarWilde1854 says:

        I’ve always been a big fan of Cooler Master cases.. I have an HAF Advanced 932.. all steel; huge interior; 5 fans… What more could you ask for?
        I could kick it in the face and i’d hurt myself more than anything inside of it! And i’ve never had any issues with space for organizing cables; adding new parts… etc.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Yeah, I go for big cases usually and have even sized them up over time (I went from an Antec 900 first gen to a NZXT Phantom first gen). I like space, I have fairly big hands and I’m awfully clumsy so the extra space is very welcome. Also lets you hide all the cables behind the back panel so you don’t clutter your main airflow area too much.

      Plus, this thing’s a beast, it should look like one!

      • wcaypahwat says:

        Nice to see some NZXT love. I had the original Lexa case from them for almost 10 years, and just recently upgraded to the H630.

        It’s huge, and weights a tonne, But its also whisper quiet and stays very cool.

  22. Erroneous Drake says:

    The problem with small form factor cases like the ones listed is that they have very limited airflow, which means limited cooling and dust buildup, which means excess heat, which means less room for overclocking, which can usually squeeze another 10-20% performance out of your hardware for no extra cost.
    If you want a good neat case without all the bells and whistles, something like theFractal Design Define R4 is something to consider. Elegant, spacious and silent, and there’s space behind the motherboard attachment plate to run wires and even attach some SSD drives. Best case i ever bought, and well worth the money.

    • wiper says:

      Yep, the Define (albeit the R3) is the best case I’ve ever had, having been PC gaming since 1994. No exciting gimmicks, just a well thought-out case which gives you plenty of options and allows you to focus on cooling or silence in whatever quantity you fancy, has plenty of room to grow and allow airflow, and is just generally a lovely piece of kit.

      Full ATX of course, so very much an under-the-desk job, but as someone living in a small flat with limited room that’s the only place I’d ever have considered anyway (the desktop itself is valuable storage space for items that can’t live on a floor!). Highly recommended.

  23. Benkyo says:

    Shuttle. Third shuttle I’ve bought, still use the second for media in another room. In Japan they are no more expensive than any other brand, probably cheaper in fact, so it’s always been an easy decision for me.

  24. MerseyMal says:

    In my lounge, I currently have a Bitfenix Prodigy (Mini-ITX version) with a Asus P8H77-I, Intel G2020 Pentium, 8GB DDR3 RAM, XFX HD 6870 Black Edition (recycled from another PC) and a 250GB Seagate HDD (unneeded drive from another pc) plus I replaced all of the fans with much quieter ones. I plan to upgrade it at a future date depending on how well Steam’s in-home streaming works over the network.

  25. Awesumo says:

    Cooling and noise reduction are far higher on my list than ‘size’ – I can see a benefit in getting it down to the size of, say, an old VHS player, but beyond that, well there isn’t much difference between one box under the desk and a smaller one.

  26. huldu says:

    I don’t care about my computer case, anything goes. Tho, these days the chassis are a lot lighter than they were back in the 90′s, that’s for sure. The ones I have around I’ve found in dumpsters, thrown away by their owner. Just clear out the old crap and sell it on auction sites and use the chassis yourself. Recycling, that’s the way of the future.

  27. dorn7 says:

    This is an interesting topic, with regards to the Steam Box. Mini-ITX really is questionable for a “console”. Micro-ATX is probably a little too big on the other hand. Price-wise we’ll probably only see a decent box with an inbetween form factor.

  28. SuicideKing says:

    HAF 912 Advanced from Cooler Master + Full ATX motherboard.. And yup, i like keeping the case on the desk too!

    I prefer a mid-tower + ATX combo simply because it provides great thermals and ample working space.

  29. drewski says:

    Still got my steel full tower case I bought in 2001.

    Haven’t turned it on for about 18 months given I do everything on my laptop now as it’s faster, but it remains, sitting next to my desk, brooding.

    I will buy a new proper gaming rig eventually. Maybe.

  30. uh20 says:

    i just came back from a mission to make a mini-itx gaming rig for someone elses christmas.

    mini ITX takes your options down, its impossible to get a gaming rig that fits in a slim itx tower, unless you want to use the AMD APU’s (shitty linux performance)
    going to itx mid-tower, i went with this, but i had to CUT OUT my own 2nd expansion slot because none offer 2 slots (for double wide graphics cards) at that size
    then theres the cooler masters which (although very nice) should not be called itx because you can find a micro-atx for smaller than that size.

  31. obd2 says:

    oh yeah
    MaxiCheck Pro, based on Autel’s latest diagnostic platform, is simple, easy to use, and has been designed for professional technicians and body shops to service individual specialized systems. These include Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Supplemental Restraint System (SRS), Electronic Parking Brake (EPB), Climate Controls, Steering Angle Sensor (SAS), Oil light resets, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The MaxiCheck Pro provides a quick and easy solution to everyday tasks in the workshop that cannot be completed without a diagnostic tool. The MaxiCheck Pro is perfect for technicians and garages, as they are so easy to use and affordable.
    http://www.obd2works.com/autel-special-application-diagnostics-maxicheck-pro-p-1966.html

  32. Muzman says:

    I had a fairly decent case for my old PC. When I decided to upgrade a year so back I couldn’t really be bothered doing the switcheroo so I just built a whole new one. But I wanted another one with this nice case (I think it’s an antec. Can’t remember). So the day all my parts arrived I went back to the shop to get another case like that, but they didn’t do them anymore. All they mainly had was differing tiers of bullshit gamer bling models filled with lights. Thee hell with that.
    So I got a quite nice case I’d given to my mum back again (she’d got something new), but it had these weird modular fixtures that had all broken or been lost. I went to another store nearby that does a lot of old PC parts to see if they had any. And nope, no one really cares about these parts anymore (in fact the whole case world had gone away from this attachment method).
    So I was in the bargain basement store and desperate to start building. I just bought whatever they had lying around.
    So my old AMD XP workhorse that basically just surfs the web has this big sturdy shiny case where everything fits nicely, has lots of great ventilaiton.
    My beasty new Intel Win7 that runs all the scary video software and games is in the rickety little $30 piece of crap. You know the kind that’ll bite you on its less than perfectly finished edges? Where if you tighten a screw just a little too tight you’ve now got a hole instead of a thread? The kind where if you take the panels off the frame will start buckling if you look at it funny?
    Yeah, one of those.

    • Guvornator says:

      There is a section of PC case design which seems to think that gamers are, essentially, 14 year old Jeremy Clarkson clones. A case doesn’t look better if it’s florescent red, has a grill like an old Ford Edsel and a side window through which a variety of chintzy LED spin and flicker like the neon windows of a red light district. Stop it.

      Rule of thumb. If the angles of one side of your case, added together, equal more than 360 degrees thanks to all the odd flanges and wings attached, you’re probably a colossal dick…

  33. Zyrxil says:

    My current case, which I love, is a Silverstone Fortress FT02. It’s most unique selling point is that the motherboard mount is rotated 90 degrees, so all wires come out of the top of the case, and then are ‘channeled’ to a slot in the rear. This little feature is actually quite amazing for making things neater. The internal wiring management is also quite good. Its main downsides are that it’s gdamn heavy due to its roomy size, and it’s also damn expensive.

  34. nrvsNRG says:

    Thanks a lot for pointing me in the direction of the Aerocool Dead Silence cases.

    I’ve actually been trying to decide on a case for the last couple of weeks. I recently purchased the new Asus Gryphon Z87 (Micro ATX version of the Sabretooth), for my i5 4670K and its currently sitting in my ATX case.
    Its only going to be used with a single SSD (250GB EVO) and a single GPU (GTX 760) and no optical drive.

    I had 99% decided on a Corsair Obsidian 350D, but for a change I really would like something different from your standard shaped cases, and that Aerocool range of Micro ATX cases looks just the thing. Ordering now!

  35. Taverius says:

    Normal non-M Prodigy here with GTX 780, i7 4770K, 16GB and 512GB SSD + 3TB HD.
    Maximus VI Impact.
    Corsair H80i CPU cooler.
    Corsair AX760i PSU.

    Heartily recommended single-GPU alternative.

    One thing about the mini-itx prodigy: absolutely do get the mesh front and a Bitfenix 230mm fan for the front – PWM version if your motherboard supports it for case fans. Even having it run on low speeds will make everything else in the case run cooler and quieter. The mesh panels were in backorder when I got mine so I was running without for a month, temps dropped 10c across the board when it finally got installed.

    Also, when running such a small case blower coolers for the GPU are way, way better than non-blower double fans. If going for NVidia GPUs, try to get one with the Titan Cooler. If going for AMD CPUs, don’t, go NV.

    Finally, the top fan slots cannot be used if you have an optical drive in there; if you want to use them (I don’t find it necessary) get a USB3 or eSATA external drive.

  36. TechnicalBen says:

    I want to make a build to go into a cereal box. With GPU too! :D
    But will have to wait for the pennies for that rig.

  37. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Anyone ever try the Thermaltake Level 10 Case? It always looked rather clever and sexy, but more expensive than the Apollo Missions.

  38. trjp says:

    I have to say that I find these mini cases to be a pain-in-the-arse – after years of fighting with badly designed cases or too-short cables or too-long cards, the idea of trying to cram stuff into ever-smaller spaces just leaves me thinking “why?”

    I don’t want my PC on display and I don’t carry it around so a big case under the desk with loads of space for anything I might fancy to jam-into-it is fine!

    If I did want my PC on display – then, well, this

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://techgage.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Show4Pro-Wall-Mounted-PC-680×453.jpg&imgrefurl=http://techgage.com/news/this-liquid-filled-wall-mounted-pc-is-jaw-dropping-probably-prettier-than-your-pc/&h=453&w=680&sz=90&tbnid=dDQ7lrkHnGZrwM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=135&zoom=1&usg=__of77R3fOB7gOdsYPbna3tioRczA=&docid=59kwigv-TViQ9M&sa=X&ei=rcCZUoq5CJOO7QbKyoGYCg&ved=0CEwQ9QEwAQ

    For the record, it cost the same to put it together than the parts cost tho – so it’s not a cheap option!

  39. mda says:

    Just got an NZXT Switch 810… thing is massive, but awesome.

    (not my pic) http://gamerfront.net/wp-content/gallery/nzxt-switch-810/nzxt-switch-810-9.jpg

    Wanted to dip my toes into water cooling (OMG A PUN), this thing is perfect, I have a 360mm rad in the top with no modding: (my pic): http://imgur.com/a/394tc#1

  40. soldant says:

    I have limited space so I tend to go with micro ATX builds, but they all suffer from the same problem – space and cable management. They’re a nightmare to cram everything into unless you carefully research the hardware to see what will or won’t fit, and once it’s in there you’ll spend hours pulling it all apart to change something. I’m using this case right now and it’s one of the better micro ATX cases but it’s still a pain to get everything set up, particularly if you have bulky power cables like my PSU does.

    • trjp says:

      Some modern PSUs are a nightmare of fat/stiff/pointless cabling.

      Even some modulars are more work than they should be – designed so that you need ALL the cables anyway and would be better-off without the modular bit!!

      Research is essential if you’re doing this stuff – you often won’t be able to get the things you really want and it WILL run hotter than you’d like.

      It will be cute tho and people seem to like that.

  41. Megakoresh says:

    Computer case you say? Well, there’s nothing more PC than HAF X.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Now you talking. HAF X or nothing.

      I’ve got mine strung with USB-powered Christmas lights right now. It’s the biggest thing in my space, so I figure I might as well make it look a little jolly.

      • Megakoresh says:

        They say that when Mongolians stormed China in 11th century, they used HAF X PCs to break the Chinese wall. It used to be twice as long as it is now…

  42. PopeRatzo says:

    I believe that a proper gaming PC case, after being filled with components, including great big video cards, should have enough room left over to store my cat.

    I live in a part of the world where space really isn’t a problem. In other words, I live on the surface. I suppose those of you who live in bunkers deep below need to squeeze your precious gaming machine into something the size of a toaster, but I have no such limitations.

    And on the colder days in my city on the Northern Plains, the same gaming rig that swells my heart with pride and red blood can warm my feet.

  43. DanMan says:

    I’ve got a Silverstone Raven 2 case. Mostly for it’s novel idea to have the mainboard rotated by 90°, so the connectors are sitting conveniently at the top of the case. 3x 180mm fans at the bottom of the case (dust filters? check.) make for very good air flow.

  44. hurrakan says:

    I love my Silverstone Fortress FT02B!

    • Lev Astov says:

      I’m seriously considering buying two more of those for future builds when they no longer build it. I can’t even imagine what they’ll improve upon in future revisions!

  45. RPSRSVP says:

    HAF X or bust. I bought a refurbished one a while ago and they sent me TWO. I was intrigued by a small case like most of you and about a year ago, built my temp rig (a $700 build to hold me over until I build a “real” one)
    I5-2400-INTEL H67-2x4GB 1333MHz RIPJAWS-128GB Crucial M4
    Antec520W HCG-MSI 7950 TWIN FROZR III-Q270 Catleap-MX Revo-WIN8 64

    All of it, including a “tiny” case fit the $700 budget (MS had a really cheap win7 to win8 promo)

    Ultimately, you want a full sized tower like the HAF X for gaming. If you opt for small, noise and cooling will be an issue and you will cringe every time you opt for a non reference GPU.

  46. Grey_Ghost says:

    Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Mid-Tower ATX Computer Case. The dust filters are so very easy to clean, which was a must for me. It’s meant to be silent, but I don’t run it that way specifically. It’s still my quietest PC in long while, despite the removed front door/cover and upgraded case fans. Damn fine case indeed.

  47. strangeloup says:

    I’ve never really seen the point of buying a case that’s more than basically functional (you know, the £15 or £20 type ones) as I’m never going to look at it and it’s just going to sit in a corner. Then again I’ve never been interested in overclocking or running two graphics cards or any insane cutting edge stuff, so perhaps I don’t really need it.

    I am considering having a bit of an upgrade with some Xmas pence, as it’s been a couple of years since I built this machine for a fairly-budgety price. Still runs everything fine, but I’m running into some limits as the motherboard can only take 8GB of RAM, for instance.

  48. Svardskampe says:

    The bitfenix case looks madly portal like. Stick a vinyl aperture logo on the side to finish it off.

    I’ve got myself the Nexus Edge case. Its massive, and it ought to be big enough to last forever and to house any component I’d like in the future without making compromises. It does lack in features though.
    My brother just got a corsair vengeance c70,gunmental Black, and I must say it’s very convenient, the pc builds like a charm and has such good cable management. It’s also pretty stylish I must say. It does need some slight alterations though; I added a large dust filter on the top on the inside because that was completely open… Not something you’d want from a PC at that cost.

  49. Frank says:

    Totally thought you were going to argue the case for getting a new pc. oops

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