Preorders are now open for the iBUYPOWER “Snowblind” system we’ve been covering for the past few months, most recently at CES 2017. The most notable aspect of Project Snowblind is the modified NZXT Noctis 450 enclosure, which uses an LCD side panel in place of a traditional clear window.
To be clear: although the buzz surrounding Project Snowblind is generally about the side panel, Snowblind systems are complete prebuilt machines and their enclosures are not available separately at this time (see our Noctis 450 review for details on the non-LCD version). As such, there are three SKUs available for preorder: Snowblind, Snowblind Pro, and Snowblind Extreme, for $1500, $1800, and $2500 respectively, with monthly payment plans optional. Additional components can be added for additional cost, but only white or silver varieties are allowed in order to give the panel maximum contrast.
This year’s case manufacturers will primarily be focused on shifting to USB Type-C – you heard it here first – as the upcoming trend for case design. Last year, it was a craze to adopt tempered glass and RGB LEDs, and that’s plainly not stopped with this year’s CES. That trend will carry through the half of 2017, and will likely give way to Type-C-heavy cases at Computex in May-June.
For today, we’re looking at the best PC cases of 2017 thus far, as shown at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Our case round-ups are run every year and help to determine upcoming trends in the PC cases arena. This year’s collection of the top computer cases (from $60 to $2000) covers the major budget ranges for PC building.
We just published our final video walkthrough of iBUYPOWER’s ongoing “Project Snowblind” enclosure, which uses an NZXT Noctis 450 and custom LCD side panel assemblage. The setup has been in our coverage for several months now, starting with PAX Prime in September, followed by an office visit in October (with several upgrades), and now concluding with CES 2017.
In its simplest form, the Snowblind enclosure offers an LCD side panel (rather than traditional case side panel) which is capable of graphics playback or Rainmeter overlay. Really, it can do anything that an extra monitor could do, it’s just limited by visibility and contrast. The Snowblind uses all white/black internals to ensure the side panel’s output remains as legible as possible, and further uses ultra-bright LEDs along the inside wall of the side panel to provide the effective “backlight” for the display. iBUYPOWER is using an expansion slot in the case to host a small card that bridges comms between a DVI link (from the GPU), but the card does not use any motherboard slots. A simple DVI pass-through runs from the video card to the expansion card, which then runs the wiring to the LCD side panel.
Deepcool has made their mark on the PC hardware industry by including liquid cooling solutions in their cases. Deepcool’s Genome cases had a helical reservoir built into the front of the case. At CES 2017, Deepcool unveiled three new liquid-cooled cases, a show case, and two similar RGB fan sets.
The MF120 and MF120GT are the two new fans. The MF120GT uses a traditional housing design with the LEDs in an “X” pattern across the middle. The MF120 housing implements a frameless design with the RGB LEDs running nearly parallel through the middle. Both models share several properties: the housings are aluminum, the blades have a unique design meant to improve air pressure, they rotate on FDBs, and the fans are PWM adjustable between 500 and 2200 RPM. The plan is to sell 3 fans and a controller for $100 USD, and the system will be controlled through an Android or Apple mobile app. Unfortunately, there are no plans for a Windows desktop control app at the moment.
At the tail-end of our CES 2017 coverage, our visit to the Thermaltake showroom provided a look at upcoming cooling products – as the name might suggest – alongside some spin-offs of existing product lines. The more playful side of the room was outfitted with an original Donkey Kong arcade cabinet look-alike, a case mod by “Thermal Mike” for which we’ll post a separate video, while the rest of the room featured liquid and air cooling products.
Today's focus is on the Thermaltake P1 TG mini-ITX wall-mount enclosure, the Rainbow AIO CLC, and the Engine 27 Sandia-style ($50) cooler.
EVGA’s CES 2017 suite hosted a new set of 10-series GPUs with “ICX” coolers, an effort to rebuff the cooling capabilities of EVGA’s troubled ACX series. The ACX and ICX coolers will coexist (for now, at least), with each SKU taking slightly different price positioning in the market. Although EVGA wouldn’t give us any useful details about the specifications of the ICX cooler, we were able to figure most of it out through observation of the physical product.
For the most part, the ICX cooler has the same ID – the front of the card is nigh-identical to the front of the ACX cards, the LED placement and functionality is the same, the form factor is effectively the same. That’s not special. What’s changed is the cooling mechanisms. Major changes include EVGA’s fundamentally revamped focus of what devices are being cooled on the board. As we’ve demonstrated time and again, the GPU should no longer be the focal point of cooling solutions. Today, with Pascal’s reduced operating voltage (and therefore, temperature), VRMs and VRAM are running at more significant temperatures. Most of the last-gen of GPU cooling solutions don’t put much focus on non-GPU device cooling, and the GPU cores are now efficient enough to demand cooling efforts be diverted to FETs, capacitor banks, and potentially VRAM (though that is less important).
Enermax , known for PSUs, cases, and CPU coolers, brought a mix of their products to Gigabyte’s suite at this year’s CES 2017. Most notably, their PSU line will add some variations on old units, alongside a recently announced unit and at least one brand new unit. The company also had one new prototype case on display that could be promising.
The already known Platimax PSU, which was Enermax’s main offering in the 80+ Platinum category, now has a new variant called the Platimax D.F. The D.F. comes in 750W, 850W, 1050W, and 1200W power output and slightly smaller dimensions than its counterpart (15-20mm, depending on which models are being compared). Together, these specs make this the most compact kilowatt PSU on the market. The D.F. also uses the new Enermax sleeving system, SLEEMAX (yes, really), a tightly fitted sleeve that reduces the amount of space consumed when compared to custom sleeving. Finally, like several of their other models, Enermax’s D.F. supports semi-fanless operation below 30% load.
The RGB illumination of the 805 Infinity first mounted its pedestal at CES 2016, where we showed that the then-prototype case would be adorned with an ‘infinity mirror’ effect for the front panel. The case didn’t even have a name, and In Win asked us to pass along the message to our readers and viewers that they needed to see interest to make the product a reality.
There was interest – a lot of it, actually. The 805 Infinity was eventually introduced to the production line (which we toured), and is now available for a staggering $250. The enclosure is based on the normal In Win 805, a case which vacillates between $150 and $200, depending on how retailers feel that day, but exchanges the front panel for the LEDs.
The In Win 805 is available in four options: Black, for $180, or about $150 after rebates and discounts; gold, which has a gold strip on the front and is priced the same; red, again the same, but with a red strip; and Infinity, which is a name that I actually came up with at CES – to be fair, it’s also not all that unique.
As its Xmas present to the world, In Win has now finalized its X-Frame 2.0 case that we saw during our factory tour. Part of that exchange, though, is that they want $1500 for the unit.
The enclosure is effectively an open air test bench, but made with aluminum and some allowance for modularity. In Win’s X-Frame 2.0 can be deployed vertically or horizontally atop its stand, includes an In Win-made 1065W PSU, and… there’s probably something else to justify the cost, but we can’t much find it. It’s an artsy thing, as In Win seems to like, and that’s not as easy to quantify in price.
Official product video:
NZXT’s S340 Elite builds upon the S340, but has retooled a couple of components. Most apparent, its inclusion of tempered glass means the S340 Elite now aims to adopt an industry trend, with NZXT already invested in 2016’s other trend (RGB) through the HUE+.
The refreshed S340 Elite is priced at around $100, with the S340 non-Elite still at ~$70. This makes the Elite one of the cheaper tempered glass cases on the market, coming under the new Corsair 570X by $80, the 460X by $40, and under the Cullinan by $30. Three color options are available for the S340 Elite: Flat black, black with red accents on the cable management bar, and white and black. This is a place where NZXT excels; its designers know how and where to apply accents, and they help differentiate the options so that users can feel more unique in their system builds.
In this review of the NZXT S340 Elite, we’ll be looking at thermal performance, acoustics (noise levels), cable management, and overall quality.