Finally, here’s a 3D gaming solution that doesn’t send us headfirst into a vomit bag. GeForce 3D Vision is Nvidia’s attempt to revive stereoscopic 3D, a century-old technology that has never been implemented successfully in PC gaming (despite many headache-inducing efforts in the late ’90s). Along with wireless shutter glasses and an IR emitter, this $200 kit comes with the promise that you’ll be able to enhance your existing library of DirectX games by turning them into true 3D experiences—if you’re running a GeForce 8800 GT or better videocard. And for the most part, the promise is delivered —but not without some serious issues.
The Thermaltake Spedo is big and bold, with gray plastic trim and black honeycomb mesh running up the front of the case and the top plate. It sounds awkward, but it mostly works, just like the mishmash of features inside.
The 21.1x24x9.1-inch Spedo starts strong with seven external 5.25-inch slots and two removable hard drive bays with three slots each, all completely screwless. Add in two low-rpm 23cm fans (one on top and one on the side), and six smaller, faster fans, including a red LED fan in front of one of the hard drive bays, and airflow is great.
The Spedo ships with an array of flimsy plastic panels billed as the “Advanced Thermal Chamber 3,” which separate the PSU area from the PCI cards from the CPU cooler. In our experience, removing and installing the panels is more trouble than it’s worth; after our initial install we just left them outside the case.
Installing a system in the NZXT Zero II is like taking a trip back to the first half of this decade. Although the front panel cover is nice—all smooth, curved lines and blue lighting, with a handy magnetic clasp—the interior of this 21x21.1x8.2-inch case seems downright primitive and unfinished compared to the other cases in this roundup. The five 5.25-inch drive bays as well as the two external and six internal 3.5-inch HDD bays are toolless, albeit utilizing old-fashioned clip-in rails rather than an in-case mechanism or fancier bracket.
The case comes with three fans and slots for six more—four on the door, one on the bottom, and one on the top—but the net effect is that it looks incomplete. The Zero II is built of flimsier metal than the rest of the cases covered here, although the Zero is roughly a third of the price of Cooler Master’s offering, and less than a sixth the price of the ABS Canyon.
At 26x17x9 inches, the ABS Canyon 695 is a tall and svelte aluminum “supertower,” and its design is certainly striking. Remove the smooth front-panel cover and you’ll find the entire front of the case taken up by three 14cm intake fans, with a sliding lint-trap-like dust filter in front of them. This means the optical drive bays are rotated 90 degrees to accommodate the fans; they actually open into holes in the case’s side panels, giving the exterior an unusual look.
Inside, the case is separated into three “thermal zones”—the PSU, two 5.25-inch bays, and one external 3.5-inch bay reside at the top; the middle section holds the motherboard, PCI cards, etc.; the bottom can accommodate six SATA drives and even includes a hot-swappable backplate. Airflow is great, thanks to a generous array of fans—six in all.
We loved the features of Cooler Master’s HAF case but weren’t thrilled with its looks. Now comes the ATCS 840, billed as a “classic” model by Cooler Master. It combines the useful amenities we’ve come to expect from Cooler Master with a sexy brushed-metal, no-window, no-nonsense exterior, and nary an LED to be seen.
The roomy (22.8x24.8x9.8 inches) ATCS 840 is packed: removable dust filters on its intake ports, the sturdy slide-out motherboard tray with CPU-backplate cutout (so you don’t have to remove the motherboard to switch CPU coolers, even those that require a backplate). The tray even includes the full rear I/O area, so your PCI cards can come too! There’s even space for a second PSU or water-cooling reservoir up top. Three 23cm, 700rpm fans—one in front, two on the top—provide big airflow with little noise. There’s a 12cm output fan in the back, too.