The original Sandia & Coolchip style coolers spiked interest in a market segment that’s otherwise relatively stagnant. With a whirling aluminum block serving as both the fan and the heatsink, the cooling concept seemed novel, dangerous, and potentially efficient. That’s a mix to cause some excitement in CPU coolers, which are otherwise the expected mix of metal and air or, if you wanted to get really crazy, liquid, metal, and air.
That concept largely vanished. We haven’t heard much about the use of Sandia-inspired designs since 2014, and certainly haven’t seen any majorly successful executions of either Sandia or Coolchip coolers in the CPU cooling space. Nothing that took the market by force and demanded eyeballs beyond initial tech demos and CES showcases.
Thermaltake decided to take its own stab at this type of cooler, working with Coolchip on technology implementation and execution of the Engine 27 unit that was at CES last month.
Thermaltake’s Engine 27 is $50. It’s a 27mm form factor cooler, meaning it’s one of a select few that could fit in something like a SilverStone PT13 with its 30mm requirement. The direct competition to the Engine 27 is SilverStone’s NT07 and NT08-115XP, the latter of which we’re also testing. This Thermaltake Engine 27 review looks at noise and temperatures versus the SilverStone NT08-115XP & Cryorig C7.
We've made it a habit to cover the best gaming cases at every CES show for a few years now, but our (first ever) visit to Computex has revealed something: Computex is a huge show for PC hardware; bigger than CES, in many ways, and that includes new case unveils.
Following our coverage for Computex 2016, this gaming case round-up highlights some of the best PC towers of the year. Several of these cases aren't yet on sale – and some may never be – but the majority of manufacturers are targeting a 2H16 launch for their enclosures. For this best cases of Computex 2016 round-up, we look at SilverStone, Lian-Li, In-Win, Be Quiet!, Corsair, Thermaltake, and Rosewill. Other manufacturers were present in droves – Nanoxia, Cooler Master, Deep Cool, and others – but these were the stand-out cases of booths we visited.
No particular order to the below listing. "HM" stands for "Honorable Mention."
Years ago, at one of our earliest CES shows, we covered the SilverStone-ASUS external graphics enclosure. It was a joint-venture that never made it to production, a result of licensing issues relating to Intel and Thunderbolt. Now, with the market flooding with external dGPU enclosures, SilverStone has resurrected its killed product from the dead.
SilverStone is responsible for the chassis and power supply – a 450W, bronze-rated PSU housed in an aluminum tower – and Gigabyte is helping with the logic connecting the VGA to the laptop. The enclosure is fully made of aluminum and can fit effectively all video cards (as long as they're two-slot cards or smaller), and has two thunderbolt outputs for communication with laptops.
SilverStone acts like somewhat of a boutique manufacturer within the US market. The products are often unique or risk-taking, sometimes bench-topping or just plain competitive – but the brand also has lower visibility when compared against US juggernauts Corsair or global market contenders Cooler Master.
One of the newest SilverStone cases competes in the ~$70 price-point, directly matched against recently reviewed cases (Phanteks P400, Rosewill Gungnir, Corsair 400C). The SilverStone Kublai KL05-BW is on bench for review today, including case walkthrough, thermal / temperature benchmarking, cable management, and build quality analysis. The enclosure diverges from recent trends by opting-out of a PSU shroud, it's kept the optical drive bays, and has taken a minimalistic-but-effective approach to cooling. More on that below.
Back in the day – cue black-and-white flashback – computers used to take up entire rooms. Gradually, this has changed. Personal computers have become smaller and smaller, and now the SFX form factor allows PCs that are the size of consoles. The SFX PSU form factor was originally used for HTPCs, made possible by SilverStone’s high-wattage SFX PSUs; SFX options have evolved, and now SFX form factor cases like Fractal Design Node 202 and SilverStone RVZ01 support SFX PSUs and full-length GPUs. GPUs are placed horizontally to reduce the vertical height of the case and allow for small form factor gaming PCs that don’t have to compromise between high-end components or a small size.
Unfortunately, there are few SFX power supplies with enough wattage to comfortably run a system with both a high-end GPU and high-end CPU.
The mid-tower ATX market seems like it's burgeoning with options right now. Everyone's got some kind of mid-tower-with-shroud available, and those who don't already have one on the way. Of late, we've looked at the NZXT S340 (arguably the start to all this), the Corsair 400C – a good progression, Phanteks' disappointing P400, and we'll soon look at SilverStone's RL05B.
All of these cases seem to fall within the $60 to $100 range, too: The NZXT S340 is $60-$70, the Corsair 400C is $90-$100, the Phanteks P400 is $60-$90, and the Gungnir is a flat $65. SilverStone's forthcoming RL05B will land at about $60.
For today, we're reviewing and benchmarking Rosewill's own mid-tower gaming case, the “Gungnir.”
Phanteks' Eclipse P400 is immediately reminiscent of the NZXT S340 enclosure, which we've pinpointed as the origin of the industry's obsession with PSU shrouds and limited drive support. That's not to say there can't be multiple products in the category – it's good to see continual innovation atop well-founded concepts, and new competition drives development further.
The Phanteks Eclipse P400 ($70 to $90) first entered our lives at CES 2016, where we got hands-on with its significantly larger convention sibling, the Project 916. The Phanteks Eclipse P400 review benchmarks cooling performance, looks at thermal walls, ease-of-installation, cable management, and overall value of the case.
CES serves as a means to introduce some of the year's biggest product announcements. At last week's show, we saw new GPU architectures, virtual reality 'jetpacks,' Star Wars Destroyer case mods, and a dozen or more cases. Although by no means a definitive listing of all the year's cases, CES 2016 offers a look at what to expect for the annual computer hardware and technology trends and announcements. In the world of cases, it seems that's the trend of power supply shrouds.
This round-up lists the best gaming cases of 2016, including products from NZXT, Corsair, In-Win, Thermaltake, Phanteks, EVGA, and SilverStone. We look at the top PC cases from $50 to $400+, all shown at CES 2016, to best span all major budget ranges for PC builds.
SilverStone’s CES 2016 product arrangement illustrated the company’s preference shown toward function. The company’s cases largely consisted of improvements upon existing designs – like the SFF Raven series – with one new mid-tower landing at the ~$60 price-point.
The SilverStone RL-05-B is progressing through final prototyping stages and will enter market availability shortly. SilverStone’s annual cooler showcase had thinner pickings than usually, but still had a set of four CPU coolers that we briefly discussed on camera.
The recent banishment from US markets of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers has inspired us to research and document major CLC suppliers. In most industries – automotive, technology & computing, bike components – suppliers build a base product, receive input from a manufacturer, and then produce a slightly modified version of their core offering. Liquid coolers are the easiest example and the one about which we are talking today. This topic came about following some readers stating that they'd never seen an “Asetek” or “CoolIT” cooler on sale before.
Corsair, NZXT, SilverStone, Enermax, Fractal, and others sell liquid cooling products. These companies buy the pump, radiator, tubing, and liquid in an AIO (all-in-one) package from suppliers who specialize in the making of such items; the brands we know then provide varying degrees of product input to differentiate amongst themselves. NZXT, for instance, sells the NZXT X41 liquid cooler, a product sourced from Asetek but customized by NZXT. In this case, that customization includes software integration and variable pump speed control, alongside an RGB LED in the pump's faceplate. Even the CLC OEMs will source some of their components from the outside, like radiators.
First, a simple table to reveal suppliers of known liquid coolers in the industry, then we'll talk about how companies differentiate themselves. At the surface, all of this can look like a “sticker operation,” by which I mean it may look as if manufacturers put their “sticker” (logo) on a cooler and then sell it – but most folks do more than that when designing their variant of a product.