Integrated water cooling; screwlessness abounds; styling looks.
Water-cooler gets loud if underfilled. Not much else.
In our last big case roundup (April 2007), Gigabyte’s Aurora 570 earned top marks for its excellent design and convenience as a chassis. But Gigabyte certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels since then—the company’s designers have gone back to the drawing board and given us a case that rivals the coolness of its predecessor. Gigabyte calls it the Mercury Pro; we would have named it the Monstrosity Pro if we were in charge. That’s because this case isn’t just a run-of-the-mill chassis. It’s a fully functional (armed and operational?) water-cooling/case hybrid. Take a moment if you need to collect yourself.
Both the 5.25-inch bay and PCI locking mechanisms are screwless, and they do an excellent job of holding your stuff in check.
At least, that’s how we felt in the presence of this case’s greatness. Typically, when water cooling is involved, we expect high levels of frustration and/or fluid leaking all over our expensive gear. But to our extreme satisfaction, Gigabyte has turned an otherwise irritating process into utter simplicity. For example, the water block stays the same regardless of your computing platform. Just snap a bracket over the top of the block and you’re good to go. It took us about one minute to switch from an Intel to an AMD setup—we spent far more time looking for the mounting bracket amidst the Gigabyte’s many accessories than we spent clamping the block to our motherboard.
|Splitter valves at the top and bottom of the case offer plenty of room for expansion.|
The cooling mechanism itself is Gigabyte’s Galaxy II water-cooling system. Rather than slapping this system to the side of the chassis and calling it a day, Gigabyte went to great lengths to integrate the water-cooling kit into the chassis itself. Ugly tubing runs alongside the framework of the case as much as possible, and we can’t speak highly enough about the six additional splitter valves Gigabyte includes in the case. They make for a stylish and handy way to add more cooling to your rig without having to disassemble the entire kit or, for that matter, spill even a drop of fluid.
|Watch your liquid churn through the Mercury Pro's front panel.|
Performance-wise, the cooler rivals some of the top all-in-one kits we’ve reviewed. It runs on a variable fan-speed dial, and we saw excellent performance on both its low and “cover your ears” setting. The cooler dropped our CPU to 40.5 C and 35.5 C, respectively, during full-burn testing, and 18 C and 15 C, respectively, when idle. Filling the system with fluid is as easy as holding a bottle over the case’s blowhole—a front-panel flow meter and tiny reservoir window show you exactly what’s pumping (and how much is left!).
Believe us, if we could find something about the Mercury Pro to criticize, we would. The Galaxy II does emit a horrible shrieking noise if it’s underfilled, but really, that’s it. This case rocks.