Lian Li just announced that it will be previewing two new mobile PC cases at the Computex exhibition in Taipei next week -- and by mobile, we mean actually moving. The company will be showing off both the aforementioned steam engine, complete with smoke, and an SUV-look-alike dubbed the PC-Q15. Both will be doing laps around the Lian Li booth.
NZXT’s Switch 810 is aptly named: This toolless steel chassis is an excellent choice whether you’re indulging in extreme air cooling, radical water cooling, or near-silent running. It’s beautiful to behold no matter how you set it up, with white plastic panels that can be removed with a simple press of your fingertips.
The 22.3‑inch‑long by 23.5‑inch‑tall by 8.5‑inch‑wide chassis supports multiple platforms including ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX, E-ATX, XL-ATX, and Flex ATX mobo configurations. There’s plenty of room inside, with nine PCIe slots running in parallel with four tube cutouts, and plenty of convenient cable‑routing options. The Switch 810’s motherboard tray features 10 rubber-grommeted cutouts and an oversize 8-pin cable-routing hole. There’s enough room at the top of the case to fit a 60mm thick, 360mm radiator with push-pull fans. If you opt for a quiet configuration, you can slide the top-panel fan vents closed to reduce noise.
EVEN HIGH-END gaming rigs, believe it or not, can get pretty rote. In the parlance of our times, it’s what’s called a “first-world problem.” It’s a bit like being bored because you want to drive something other than your Ferrari or Lamborghini.
The solution to this problem in PC terms is CyberPower’s Fang III Black Mamba box, which is anything but ordinary. The machine is literally a high-end gaming box with a second PC grafted on top of it. This is done using an Azza Fusion 4000 case that’s big enough to take an XL-ATX board down below and a Mini-ITX board up top. Down below, CyberPower installs an Intel Core i7-3960X, 16GB of DDR3, an Asus Rampage IV Extreme board, and two overclocked EVGA GTX 590 Classified Hydro Copper cards. All this is cooled with a custom cooling solution, to boot. Storage is handled with a 2GB HDD and a pair of 120GB OCZ Agility 3 drives in RAID 0. RAIDed SSDs aren’t new, but the case’s support for four SSDs in quick-release trays, is, um, très cool.
CyberPower takes advantage of the cooling to overclock both the CPU and the GPUs. The CPU goes from its stock speed of 3.3GHz to a nice 4.5GHz, and the Hydro Copper cards are also clocked up enough to give the dual 590s a healthy speed advantage.
Cooler Master’s Storm Trooper is trimmed with a light-gray, rubber-coated plastic liner that covers the front and top of the case, creating a nice contrast with the black steel frame. It looks even better once its red fan LEDs switch on. It’s smaller than both NZXT’s Switch 810 and Xigmatek’s Elysium, measuring 23.8 inches high by 9.8 inches deep by 22.8 inches long and weighing 31.7 pounds. But this enclosure has plenty of room, boasting nine PCIe slots and space for even the longest consumer videocards.
Nine 5.25-inch drive bays occupy the front of the chassis, with a hot-swap 2.5-inch drive bay at the top of the stack. Two hard-drive cages with toolless trays can accommodate 2.5-, 3.5-, or 5.25-inch drives, and a second drive cage at the bottom of the chassis can handle four additional 2.5-inch drives. The trays aren’t shoddy, but they do feel less sturdy than what we’ve come to expect from Cooler Master.
Xigmatek’s Elysium is fricking huge. At 24.3 inches tall, 9 inches wide, a whopping 26.1 inches deep, and weighing more than 34 pounds, this monstrous full-tower enclosure is among the largest we’ve seen. Its cavernous interior can accommodate HPTX, XL-ATX, E-ATX, ATX, microATX, and Mini-ITX mobo configurations—and you can mount a second PSU at either the top or bottom for those power-hungry HPTX builds. The Elysium has 10 PCIe slots, and you can fit a 12.2-inch GPU with room to spare. But all that interior vertical space is a double-edged sword: We had to mount our PSU in the top bay, because its 8-pin ATX 12V cable wasn’t long enough to reach the motherboard from the bottom.
Twelve 5.25-inch drive bays adorn the front of the case. Two four-bay drive cages in the lower half are secured with thumbscrews and can be moved or removed, but the two 12cm front fans mounted to them must go along for the ride. Drives must be secured inside the cages with screws, and all the bays are secured using finicky plastic mechanisms. The case weirdly lacks any 2.5-inch drive mounts, so you’ll need to spring for your own adapters if you’re using SSDs.
SILVERSTONE'S TEMJIN TJ08-E is a microATX chassis that strikes a nearly perfect balance between practicality and performance. The TJ08-E is fabricated primarily from steel, but its front panel is brushed aluminum, with two USB 3.0 ports (with an internal header), a mic input, a headphone output, and power and reset switches. The front I/O ports are located beneath the two 5.25-inch drive bays and above the chassis’ only fan, an 18cm Air Penetrator concealed behind a large mesh cover. The fan features an on/off switch built into the side of the case, and there’s a large removable dust filter between the mesh cover and the fan.
The TJ08-E is surprisingly roomy for a small form factor chassis. Although it measures just 8.26 inches wide, 15.2 inches long, and 14.7 inches tall, it provides enough interior space to accommodate a GTX 590 videocard without having to move anything. The TJ08-E also provides four internal hard drive slots, a single 2.5-inch mounting bracket, and a dual-purpose 3.5-inch drive bay. We had no problem popping our full-size drives into the bays and securing them with screws, although the backs of the drives protrude from the rear of the hard drive cage. The hard drive cage can be completely removed, in case you need extra room, and a CPU-cooler support at the bottom of the case will prevent a large heatsink from banging against its floor.
IT'S BEEN five years since the debut of Cooler Master’s wildly popular Cosmos chassis, and its successor is finally here. The Cosmos lineage is strong with this one—from the hinged side panels, to the top carrying handles, to the slide-out hard drive trays—but the Cosmos II is a thoroughly modern product with massive cooling potential, strong cable-management chops, and wide-open spaces. The chassis frame is steel, while the shell is plastic, with aluminum cladding on the panels. Our review unit is matte black, but Cooler Master also offers a silver model.
The whole point of building a mini-ITX system is to have something with a small footprint that you can tuck inconspicuously out of the way or plop on your desk without having it dominate your work/play environment. And that's well and good, but it typically means making sacrifices in your component selection. What if you didn't have to? That's the question BitFenix asks with its new Prodigy, "the first mini-ITX chassis designed with enthusiasts in mind."
According to NZXT, fans of the company's Switch 810 chassis have practically been begging and pleading for more color options, and specifically, they want to see the enclosure dressed in Matte Black and Gunmetal. Well, you apparently asked, and NZXT has responded by releasing a 'Special Edition' version of the Switch 810 in what NZXT claims are "two of the most demanded color palettes."
A kick-ass case mod makes for a kick-ass PC. It's that simple. No matter whether you're rocking a Sandy Bridge-E or a Celeron, a water-cooled, LED-lit, hand-tailored and custom milled chassis stops traffic and sets lips a-whistlin' like nobody's business, proverbs about books and their covers be damned.
The past six months have seen a flood of truly outstanding case mods hit the Interwebz. So we decided to take the time to showcase the best of the best in recent memory -- with a little extra help from master modder Bill Owen of MNPCTech, Case Mod Blog, Mod Men and Maximum PC Star Trek PC fame. Because who knows the cream of the crop better than one of the cream of the crop?