We're still fans of hulking computer cases that are big enough to qualify as a studio apartment, but we're also willing to concede that not everyone needs or even wants a large computer case. Small form factor (SFF) enclosures are growing in popularity, and riding the wave is Lian Li, which today announced its new PC-V360, a slim, brushed aluminum mini tower designed for micro ATX setups.
Prodigy chassis reborn as Prodigy M for slightly bigger builds
The boys and girls at BitFenix claim the hardware community has been clamoring for a version of the Prodigy that supports micro ATX motherboards rather than limiting support to mini ITX builds, and so the company answered their collective call with the Prodigy M. The new Prodigy M is a reimagined and reengineered version of the original with the same svelte dimensions, only now you can squeeze a micro ATX motherboard inside and even run with dual graphics cards in CrossFire or SLI, if that's what floats your gaming boat.
Size matters, which is precisely why Corsair went small with its latest computer case.
It's not the size of your computer case that matters, but how you use it, right? Well, not exactly. If you're building a small form factor system and don't want to waste a ton of space, size is most certainly a factor, followed closely by features. Corsair hopes to impress on both fronts with its new Obsidian Series 350D case. Like its larger Obsidian brothers, the 350D is made from black, brushed aluminum and has an optional side window, but is intended for micro ATX and mini ITX motherboards, the two sizes it supports.
Thinner motherboards translate into slimmer all-in-one desktops.
Sultan of Star Trek knowledge and Maximum PC Deputy Editor Gordon Mah Ung had an opportunity to see a pair of thin motherboards at Gigabyte's suite at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Gigabyte's GA-H77TN and GA-B75TN are built around Intel's new thin mini-ITX form factor, and as you'll see in the video, they're much slimmer than standard motherboards.
MSI today announced its first motherboard based on AMD's A55 chipset for Llano. The A55M-P35 is a micro ATX motherboard with an FM1 socket, two DDR3-1600 DIMM slots, six SATA 6Gbps ports, a single PCI-Express x16 slot, GbE LAN, 7.1 channel audio, all solid capacitors, and a handful of overclocking friendly features.
Boutique system builder Digital Storm says you can throw overclocking caution to the wind with its new pint-sized Enix system built around Intel's Sandy Bridge platform.
"By disregarding the common wisdom that bigger is better, the Enix's small profile takes full advantage of the Micro ATX format," Digital Storms says. "Overclocks of 4.7GHz and above are easily achieved thanks to the Enix's vertically cooled chassis and Intel's new powerful Sandy Bridge architecture."
Further helping your overclocking adventures, Digital Storm says the motherboard is rotated 90 degrees, aiding heat's natural tendency to rise.
"Enix's design is a dramatic departure from any system we've ever built in the past. By rethinking conventional PC design the Enix provides our customers with every imaginable advantage over other machines," said Rajeev Kuruppu, Digital Storm's Director of Product Development. "Accessibility to all the components is unparalleled and the vertically designed chassis keeps everything cool and quiet. Couple that with an outrageously overclocked Sandy Bridge chip and you have one of the most efficient and powerful machines on the market."
Pricing starts out at $1,132 and includes an Intel Core i3 2100 (3.10GHz), 4GB DDR3-1600 RAM, Asus P8P67-M motherboard, 750W power supply, 1TB 7200RPM hard drive, DVD writer, GeForce GT 220 graphics, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Digital Storm also says it will overclock the processor to between 3.6GHz and 3.9GHz at no charge, between 4.0GHz and 4.7GHz for $49 (cooling upgraded recommended), and between 4.7GHz to 5.2GHz for $99 (liquid cooling upgrade recommended).
Power users rarely consider a micro ATX case because of the space constraints for high end hardware, but with the introduction of NZXT's Vulcan chassis, perhaps it's time to rethink that philosophy. This thing was built with the LAN gamer in mind, and as such, it comes ready to house not only one, but two full-sized ATI Radeon HD 5970 videocards.
"Most Micro ATX cases currently on the market make a lot of sacrifices to save space" said Johnny Hou, Chief Designer at NZXT. "With Vulcan, we’re making a huge statement by empowering gamers with a portable solution that is 40% more compact than ATX full towers that still offers superior cooling and space for larger heatsinks and the most demanding graphics cards like the Radeon 5970 in CrossFire."
The Vulcan retains NZXT's flair for gaming oriented designs and shares similar traits with full-sized ATX enclosures. Features include an all-black interior, two 5.25-inch and four 3.5-inch slots, non-slip finish, dual 8W fan control, watercooling cutouts, two top mounted 120mm fans with support for a 200mm side fan, routing holes for easier cable management, removable hard drive cage, and thumbscrews for all drives.
NZXT tells us the Vulcan will be available by the end of the month for $70.
Not everything being shown off at CeBIT will actually make it to retail, so we may never actually see Lian Li's PC-T1R chassis. Judging by the pictures, that might not be a bad thing.
Lian Li certainly found itself thinking outside the box on this one, perhaps a bit too far. At first glance, the PC-T1R looks like a gigantic metal spider, but that's not even the quirkiest part. What we can't wrap our heads around is why the oversized contraption only accommodates micro-ATX motherboards. The whole point of building a mATX system is to save space, but good luck stuffing the PC-T1R into your home theater cabinet or any other tight squeezes.
Misgivings aside, the PC-T1R also makes room for a hard drive, optical drive, and power supply. There's an on/off switch, and according to news and rumor site Fudzilla, should this make it past CeBIT, you'll be able to buy it in red or black for about $225.
Alienware updated its Area-51 case for the new ALX line of desktop systems. The new ALX line itself features beefy specs for a micro-ATX system, but the craziness doesn’t end at a blazing fast GPU or speedy i7 processor. This machine features…fins. Not just any fins, motorized fins.
The new cooling technology in use in the ALX works in tandem with the Command Center to open and close the vents according to “thermal values.” Unfortunately, those are the only details listed on the site regarding Active Venting. As a part of the Command Center software, you can change the lighting styles on various parts of the case as well as tweak thermal controls.
EVGA set out to prove it's not the size of the motherboard that matters, but how you use it. And with the release of the X58 SLI Micro, you can use any speed grade Core i7 processor you want along with a pair of Nvidia graphics cards all in a micro-ATX package.
In addition to 2-way SLI support, the new mobo also crams 6 DDR3 memory slots (supporting up to 12GB of triple channel DDR3-1600MHz+) and 6 SATA II 3GB/s ports onto the mATX board. Other features include 100-percent solid state capacitors, VDroop control, an onboard temperature monitor, support for up 12 USB ports, a single LAN port, a passive heatsink for cooling the chipset, RAID 0/1/0+1/5 and JBOD support, and 8-channel onboard audio, all decked out in a red and black color theme.