The review embargo on Corsair’s new Crystal 280X micro-ATX case lifted during Computex, possibly the busiest week of the year--but since we’ve just started testing small form factor cases, we chose to push back the review another week or two.
The 280X is fairly large to call itself small form factor, and that can be an unfair advantage when comparing performance against truly small mini-ITX cases like the SG13. One justification is that (unlike the Cryorig Taku), the 280X uses its extra room to supports full-size components except for the motherboard, which must be either micro ATX or mini ITX.
Hardware news hasn’t slowed since Computex; in fact, this week has been among the busiest in months, with several news items out of the “Big Three” manufacturers. NVidia has seemingly purchased too many GPUs, according to GamersNexus sources (and verifying other stories), GPU shipments overall are trending downward, Intel’s CEO “resigned,” and AMD is working on Vega 20 and V340 products.
Other news for the week includes smaller items, like Be Quiet! opening a US service center and expanding US operations. Learn more in the video, or find the show notes below:
One of our Computex advertisers was CableMod, who are making a new vertical GPU mount that positions the video card farther back in the case, theoretically lowering thermals. We wanted to test this claim properly. It makes logical sense that a card positioned farther from the glass would operate cooler, but we wanted to test to what degree that’s true. Most vertical GPU mounts do fine for open loop cooling, but suffocate air-cooled cards by limiting the gap between the glass to less than an inch or two. The CableMod mount should push cards close to the motherboard, which has other interesting thermal characteristics that we’ll get into today.
We saw several cases at Computex that aim to move to rotating PCIe expansion slots, meaning that some future cases will accommodate GPUs positioned further toward the motherboard. Not all cases are doing this, leaving room for CableMod to compete, but it looks like Thermaltake and Cooler Master are moving this direction.
Getting this cooler working was a bit of a struggle. It was some parts human error, on our end, and some parts mechanical error. This thing is a $100 cooler from Aliexpress, and it uses both open loop liquid cooling for a few of its pipes while also using traditional air cooling and heatpipes. We had some small (read: significant) leaks during our livestream, and after the stream, we discovered that the screws securing the inlet manifold to the tower were loose, causing significant leakage as the water filled the pipes. After fixing this, we were finally able to fully test this truly unique hybrid water-air cooler.
The cooler is an interesting one. We’re planning a separate tear-down of the cooler to see what’s going on under the coldplate – likely not much – but for now, we’ve done exhaustive thermal testing under various conditions. Some tests were just straight pump/reservoir hookups to the cooler, while others included a 360mm radiator and 3 high-end fans. The W120 has been sitting on shelves for a while, clearly, as it was first shown at Computex 2011, and the box we received had dried thermal paste and yellowing on the product box. We still wanted to test it, as the unique combination of G-1/4” fittings, open loop support through 4 water pipes, and traditional air cooling meant the cooler could perform peculiarly. You’d assume that there’s a reason this isn’t really done, but we still wanted to find out why.
Manufacturing a single case can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to design and develop, but the machinery used to make those cases costs millions of dollars. In a recent tour of Lian Li’s case manufacturing facility in Taiwan, we got to see first-hand the advanced and largely autonomous hydraulic presses, laser cutters, automatic shaping machines, and other equipment used to make a case. Some of these tools apply hundreds of thousands of pounds of force to case paneling, upwards of 1 million Newtons, and others will use high voltage to spot-weld pieces to aluminum paneling. Today, we’re walking through the start-to-finish process of how a case is made.
The first steps of case manufacturing at the Lian Li facility is to design the product. Once this process is done, CAD files go to Lian Li’s factory across the street to be turned into a case. In a simplified, canonical view of the manufacturing process, the first step is design, then raw materials and preparation of raw materials, followed by either a laser cutter for basic shapes or a press for tooled punch-outs, then washing, grinding, flattening, welding, and anodizing.
We visited EVGA’s suite for a look at the new OC Robot and built-in BIOS stress testing update for the X299 Dark motherboards. For the new X299 Micro 2 motherboard, we also learned the following of the VRM spec:
- VCCIN : IR35201(Controller1 - 5PH double to 10PH) + IR3556 x10
- VSA+VCCIO : IR35204(Controller2 - 1+1PH) + IR3556 (1+1)
- VSM+VPP_C01 : IR35204(Controller3 - 1+1PH) + TDA88240 (1+1)
- VSM+VPP_C23 : IR35204(Controller4 - 1+1PH) + TDA88240 (1+1)
After seeing dozens of cases at Computex 2018, we’ve now rounded-up what we think are the best cases from the show, with the most interesting design elements, price points, or innovations. As always, wait until we can review these cases before getting too hyped and pre-ordering, but we wanted to at least point-out the top cases to pay attention to for the next year.
We’re calling this content the “Most Room for Improvement at Computex 2018” content piece. A lot of products this year are still prototypes, and so still have lots of time to improve and change. Many of the manufacturers have asked for feedback from media and will be making changes prior to launch, hopefully, but we wanted to share some of our hopes for improvement with all of you.
Separately, Linus of LinusTechTips joined us for the intro of this video, if that is of interest.
Our Computex 2018 coverage continued as we visited the BeQuiet! booth. This year, Be Quiet! announced the new Dark Rock Pro for socket TR4 (Threadripper), timely for Threadripper 2, and also showed a trio of refreshed cases -- the Silent Base 801, 601, and Dark Base 900 Rev 2.0.
The Dark Rock Pro TR4 is specifically designed with AMD’s Threadripper socket TR4 in mind. The Dark Rock Pro’s only real difference from previous iterations is the new full coverage block for Threadripper. The new cold plate is designed to help ensure full die coverage on Threadripper, which we discussed back in August of last year. We’ve previously found there to be a measurable difference when using TR4 full coverage coolers vs. non-TR4 ones. Price and release date were not available at this time.
Computex 2018 saw the unveil of pro overclocker Der8auer’s phase-change cooling solution, called the Phase-Shift Cooler, using a similar solution to 3M Novec. Novec coolant has been demonstrated before (and was again at Computex) for its low boiling point and ability to cool a system using “only” a condenser and coolant, but is on the restricted substances list in the EU for containing PFCs. This eliminates 3M Novec from the list of products available for consumer retail, and forced Der8auer and Caseking to find another solution. The pair did find another liquid with a low boiling point, but did not share with GamersNexus the specs of the liquid. Regardless, it’s the same idea.
For Der8auer’s Phase-Shift Cooler, about 40ml of liquid sits in a CPU block, attached via (presently) a large hose to a condenser and tank. Atop a 7920X with Prime95 running, roughly creating about a 140W heat load, the coolant evaporates and drafts up the pipe as a gas. As the gas hits the tank, it encounters the condensers and gets cooled by a pair of copper heatsinks and 90mm fans. Once condensation forms, it slowly drips back down the tube and returns to the block.
We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.