We’ve been hot and cold on Fractal over the past couple years. Their whole lineup has had consistently high build quality, but our opinions have ranged from the highly-rated Meshify cases that have excellent cooling potential (with some aftermarket fans added in) down to the highly-priced and unexciting Define S2 Vision RGB. Today we’re reviewing the Define 7, successor to the Define R6, a case that fell on the positive end of that scale in our review. We’re sure there’s some reason for Fractal dropping the “R,” but we neglected to ask.
As soon as the Define 7 was out of the box, we noticed how lightly tinted the glass was. The Define 7 TG comes in both dark tint and light tint versions, and the light tinted version with a white interior is a stark contrast to almost every other tinted glass case we’ve reviewed. For whatever reason, case manufacturers have tended towards extremely dark glass tints for years, which is a step back from the transparent plastic windows that were more common in the olden days (a decade ago). The choice is there for customers who want the dark tint, but we much prefer clear glass that lets the white interior shine.
We've decided, clearly, to cancel the China leg of our upcoming factory tour series as a result of the Coronavirus, which is a word that YouTube is currently demonetizing for being "controversial" (working around that one is fun). That said, it has enabled us to extend our Taiwan trip, and we've found new factories we didn't know even existed. More on that in the news video, if interested, but rest assured that we'll be safe in Taiwan as it has very few cases and, despite being a neighbor to China, seems to have things under control. We're greatly looking forward to visiting power supply factories, supply chain factories, raw metal factories, and more in Taiwan in March.
In the proud tradition of the Phanteks P400A, the Lian Li PC-O11 Air, and the entire Cooler Master HAF family, the Corsair iCUE 220T RGB Airflow is another case that has the bravado to put “airflow” right in the name. As we’ve seen in the past, though, sometimes a name is just a name, and it’s our job to put that to the test. The original H500P was an example of this, and it tucked its tail between its legs and released a fix later. The 220T comes in black and white and in two variants, “airflow” and “tempered glass,” of which we’ve received the former for review. The tempered glass version is $10 more and has a glass front panel rather than a steel one. We’re more interested in this one, clearly, and so we’ll be reviewing the 220T Airflow today.
We've received a loaner AMD Threadripper 3990X to work with for an upcoming review, but we also will be streaming with the CPU for multiple overclocking efforts. In the meantime, hardware news is still pushing ahead. News on Intel CPU refreshes, AMD x86 marketshare reports, market analysis on AMD's positioning, and more.
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The last case we reviewed from Antec was the P8, so we started out with very low expectations for the P120. The P8 performed badly, but its greatest offense was being a boring version of the same chassis everyone was selling that year. It had the feel of a cheap rebrand from an old company (by PC hardware standards) that was unwilling or unable to keep producing the weird concepts that they did in The Old Days, like the Skeleton or the Razer Cube. The P120 Crystal we’re reviewing today is a mixture of solving and doubling down on that problem, by making a relatively exotic chassis that just so happens to look the same as an existing one.
The Antec P120 Crystal takes some obvious inspiration from the Lian Li O11. That’s the first thing we noticed when we saw this case, and that’s why we bought one to review. It doesn’t use the same tooling, it doesn’t even use exactly the same layout, but one glance is all it takes to reveal the inspiration. We regard the original O11 Dynamic and the O11 Dynamic XL highly--check our reviews for more in-depth analysis--which makes it hard to accept a design that borrows so freely from them. That doesn’t make the P120 a bad case, and we’ll do our best to give it a fair shake.
Hardware news is busy this week. We've been in the throes of planning a trip to China for several months now, including a leg to Taiwan to visit several HQs, but may have to postpone due to the recent Wuhan flu outbreaks near some of the regions we were scheduled for. We're also talking about RDNA2, AMD's quarterly earnings and YOY reports, Intel's CacheOut vulnerability, and people who want Windows 7 for free.
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The DIYPC Zondda-O is a Newegg sort-by-lowest-price staple. It currently costs $34, falling in a price bracket that’s almost entirely occupied by other cases from DIYPC, but the price fluctuates constantly by $1-$2 in a way that suggests it exists on the razor’s edge of profitability. The most expensive enclosure they have for sale directly from Newegg is only $80, for an obviously HAF-inspired “full tower” called the Skyline 06. We’ve never mentioned DIYPC before this month, but over the years we’ve watched them quietly refining the art of selling cases that look twenty years out of date for alarmingly low prices.
We should note that we copied the below spec sheet directly from DIYPC’s website, so we can’t vouch for the “radiation protection design, safe and environmental.” Use with radioactive material at your own risk.
All the classic news staples appear in this recap: Vulnerability and exploit patches, earnings information, shortages and price cuts, and fake products. One of the more interesting stories was a last-minute addition about counterfeit AMD Wraith coolers that AMD has now publicly commented on, but there's plenty else going on. Show notes continue after the video embed.
The AMD RX 5600 XT Jebaited Edition video cards launched yesterday, and the company created a mess by completely changing what the video card was meant to do before launch. Basically, it initially shipped as more of a 1660 Super competitor, but ended up being overhauled to become a 2060 competitor. This is overall a good thing from a price competition standpoint, but a horrible mess for buyers and manufacturers of the cards. The update came in the form of a VBIOS flash that can increase performance upwards of 11%, but not all the shipped cards have the VBIOS applied, meaning customers will be buying cards that perform worse than what reviews show. Worse still, some cards will never have that VBIOS available, with some partners splitting their 5600 XT into two SKUs. It’d sort of be like if the 1660 and 1660 Super were sold under a single name, but with two completely different performance classes. In today’s content, we’re going to help you flash 5600 XT cards to unlock the full performance, assuming your card has made such a VBIOS available. This will also apply to other AMD video cards.
In this hardware news episode, we're announcing our charity drive to support Australian wildlife affected by bushfires, including a special charity auction modmat, and we're also covering notable topics in the industry. Cyberpunk 2077 gets coverage, X670 / 600-series chipsets for AMD Ryzen 4000 CPUs are up for discussion, big Navi rumors are debunked, Microsoft is going carbon negative, and more.
Show notes continue after the video.
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