This year’s Computex featured the usual mix of concept and prototype cases, some of which will never make it to market (or some which will be several thousand dollars, like the WinBot). We particularly liked the “Wheel of Star” mod at Cooler Master, the “Floating” from In Win, Level 20 from Thermaltake, and Concept Slate from Corsair – but none of those are really meant to be bought in large quantities. This round-up looks at the best cases of Computex that are in the category of being purchasable, keeping cost below $400. We’ll be looking primarily at ATX form factor cases, with one Micro-STX co-star, with a few “needs work” members in the mix.
This case round-up won’t include everything we saw at the show and will exclude the more exotic cases, like the Concept Slate and the In Win WinBot, but still has plenty to get through. Before getting started, here’s a list of the relevant coverage of individual products and booths that are discussed herein:
Maligned as they are by gamers, rubber dome keyboards have one great advantage (other than price): they’re hard to get dirty and easy to clean, thanks to the eponymous rubber membrane, which usually keeps dust and liquid away from the underlying contacts. Corsair now intends to correct this with their new extra-durable K68 keyboard.
Corsair imagines a horrifying, over-the-top scenario:
When we made our “how air coolers work” video, a lot of viewers were interested in the inner workings of copper heatpipes and their various means of facilitating capillary action. Today, we’re revisiting our TLDR series with a video on how closed-loop liquid coolers work. We’ll be talking about permeation, air pockets, stators, impellers, coldplates, and chemical composition of the coolant.
This content has custom-made animations that we rendered specifically for explanation of how CLCs work. GN’s Andrew Coleman modeled and animated a closed-loop cooler for the piece, referencing NZXT’s Kraken X52. Because of the level of detail and custom animations of this content, NZXT sponsored GN to put this piece together. The content applies to all liquid coolers, but particularly focuses on closed-loop products; all concepts herein can be applied to CLCs across the industry from various suppliers and manufacturers. Our technical deep-dive for today serves as a means to fully detail liquid cooling and how it works, drilling down to piano-wire granularity (literally).
Corsair’s SPEC-04 ($50) is a new mid-tower aimed squarely at the budget market. The case shares its price and much of its hardware (and tooling) with the aged SPEC-01, but with the alien, angular appearance of the SPEC-ALPHA, channeling the aesthetics of the once-$80 case into an affordable $50 package.
Borrowing tooling from its predecessors, the SPEC-04 is able to ship with a lower price-point, aided further by a stripped-down set of interior accoutrements. The SPEC-04 is a small case, but capable of supporting ATX form factor components. This makes the unit deployable for ultra-budget machines, theoretically perfectly fitting for G4560 users.
Today’s review will heavily analyze the thermals, acoustics / noise levels, and build quality of the Corsair Spec-04 case. We test for thermal throttling and additional fan installation, wherein some time is spent adding +1x 120mm fan to multiple positions in the case.
Corsair has jumped headlong into the ever-crowded gaming chair market. Initially announced at CES 2017, the prototype wasn’t quite ready as Corsair was still selecting what kind of casters to use. As of now, Corsair’s T1 Race is available.
“Inspired by racing, built to game” is the chosen mantra for the T1 Race, and hence its namesake, the T1 Race draws inspiration from bucket-seat, racing style chairs. The T1 Race is comprised of a streel frame, dressed in dense foam cushions and PU leather. PU (polyurethane) leather, also known as bicast leather, offers an affordable alternative to authentic leather and is generally considered easier to clean and maintain. Also included with the chair are PU pillows for neck and lumbar support, in clone-like fashion to the many other gaming chairs on the market (see: Vertagear, Dx Racer, HyperX chairs). Carbon fiber-esque adornments can be found upon the flanks of the seat and armrests.
Corsair has freshly launched their new K63 Compact Mechanical Keyboard and is available on Corsair’s website as well as Amazon. The K63 keyboard is a tenkey-less design and features Cherry MX Red switches (linear), per-key red LED backlighting, full key rollover, and dedicated media keys. The K63 appears to be based off the Corsair Vengeance K65; however, the K63 is built on a plastic body instead of the aluminium chassis on the K65. Both feature dedicated media keys, although the K63 does add a bit of functionality not found on the K65 with Stop/Start, Fast Forward, and Rewind keys on the top-left side.
Corsair recently released their Lighting Node Pro RGB LED kit, because no product line in 2017 is complete without RGB LEDs. The Corsair Node Pro is a dual-channel RGB LED controller that comes with four individually addressable RGB LED strips. Corsair’s Node Pro RGB LEDs will be controllable through Corsair’s LINK software via a USB 2.0 header on the motherboard, while the Corsair’s external peripherals will still be handled through their CUE software.
The Corsair Node Pro RGB will compete with the likes of the NZXT’s HUE+, which we reviewed here. Both the Node Pro and NZXT HUE+ serve the same basic function, in that they provide control and customization of lighting effects via RGB LED strips.
EVGA’s closed-loop liquid cooler, named “Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler,” will begin shipping this month in 280mm and 120mm variants. We’ve fully benchmarked the new EVGA CLC 280mm versus NZXT’s Kraken X62 & Corsair’s H115iV2 280mm coolers, including temperature and noise testing. The EVGA CLC 280, like both of these primary competitors, is built atop Asetek’s Gen5 pump technology and primarily differentiates itself in the usual ways: Fan design and pump plate/LED design. We first discussed the new EVGA CLCs at CES last month (where we also detailed the new ICX coolers), including some early criticism of the software’s functionality, but EVGA made several improvements prior to our receipt of the review product.
The EVGA CLC 280 enters the market at $130 MSRP, partnered with the EVGA CLC 120 at $90 MSRP. For frame of reference, the competing-sized NZXT Kraken X62 is priced at ~$160, with the Corsair H115i priced at ~$120. Note that we also have A/B cowling tests toward the bottom for performance analysis of the unique fan design.
Relatedly, we would strongly recommend reading our Kraken X42, X52, & X62 review for further background on the competition.
CORSAIR today announced updates to their flagship K95 keyboard and their SCIMITAR gaming mouse (the CORSAIR marketing department really likes capital letters). The Scimitar Pro is out now and the K95 Platinum will be available sometime later this month, but both are at Corsair’s CES exhibit. We’ll also be covering Corsair’s RGB Vengeance memory and, albeit briefly, new “gaming” chair.
The K95 Platinum starts at $200 and has already replaced its non-platinum predecessor on the Corsair products page. For comparison, Newegg is selling the older version with Cherry MX Brown or Red switches for $170 (with some extra keycaps thrown in).
Hardware news has, somewhat surprisingly, maintained its pace through the late months of the year. We normally expect a slowdown in December, but with AMD’s onslaught of announcements (Instinct, Ryzen, Vega), and with announcements leading into CES, we’ve yet to catch a break.
This week’s hardware news focuses on the RX 460 unlocking discovered by Der8auer, new SSDs from Corsair (MP500) and Zadak, and TSMC’s fab expansion.