Hardware

This review has been a long time coming, since testing coincided with the busiest part of our office move. We last mentioned the Ophion (and the larger Ophion Evo) in our June roundup of the best cases at Computex. The impression we got back then was that the tempered glass was for show and that Raijintek was considering better-ventilated side panels for the release version. There have been some changes made, but they’re not quite what we expected.

Today’s review looks at the Raijintek Ophion mini-ITX case for build quality, form factor / usable area, thermals, and cable management.

Fractal’s newest case officially released under the name of “Define S2,” but our review has been slightly delayed by the office turning into an overclocking war zone. Fractal has hit a comfortable stride with their cases. The S2 is a successor to the Define S, but to all appearances it’s almost exactly the same as the Define R6, which we reviewed about a year ago. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though: the R6 is a good case and received praise from us for its high build quality and stout form factor.

The Fractal Define S2 case is the R6, ultimately, just with a lot of parts removed. It’s a stripped-down version of the R6 with some optional reservoir mounts and a new front panel, with rough equivalence in MSRP and ~$10 to ~$50 differences in street price. The R6 and S2 are the most direct competitors for each other, so if choosing specifically between these two, Fractal can’t lose. There are, of course, many good cases in the $150 price range, but the R6 and S2 most immediately contend with one another.

We reviewed the behemoth Cooler Master Cosmos C700P almost exactly a year ago, and now CM is back with the even heavier 51.6lb C700M. Like the H500M versus the H500P, this is a higher-end and more expensive model being added to a family of cases rather than replacing them. The new flagship has a few upgrades over the original, but it retains the same basic look with pairs of big aluminum rails at the top and bottom and dual-curved side panels.

Cooler Master’s C700M is very much a halo product, but our review of the C700M will focus on build quality, thermals, acoustics, and cable management. Ultimately, this is a showpiece -- it’s something one might buy because they can afford it, and that’s good enough reason. We will still be reviewing the Cooler Master C700M on its practical merits as an enclosure, as always, but are also taking into consideration its status as a halo product -- that is, something from which features will be pulled to the low-end later.

It’s more “RTX OFF” than “RTX ON,” at the moment. The sum of games that include RTX-ready features on launch is 0. The number of tech demos is growing by the hour – the final hours – but tech demos don’t count. It’s impressive to see what nVidia is doing in its “Asteroids” mesh shading and LOD demonstration. It is also impressive to see the Star Wars demo in real-time (although we have no camera manipulation, oddly, which is suspect). Neither of these, unfortunately, are playable games, and the users for whom the RTX cards are presumably made are gamers. You could then argue that nVidia’s Final Fantasy XV benchmark demo, which does feature RTX options, is a “real game” with the technology – except that the demo is utterly, completely untrustworthy, even though it had some of its issues resolved previously (but not all – culling is still dismal).

And so we’re left with RTX OFF at present, which leaves us with a focus primarily upon “normal” games, thermals, noise, overclocking on the RTX 2080 Founders Edition, and rasterization.

We don’t review products based on promises. It’s cool that nVidia wants to push for new features. It was also cool that AMD did with Vega, but we don’t cut slack for features that are unusable by the consumer.

The new nVidia RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti reviews launch today, with cards launching tomorrow, and we have standalone benchmarks going live for both the RTX 2080 Founders Edition and RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition. Additional reviews of EVGA’s XC Ultra and ASUS’ Strix will go live this week, with an overclocking livestream starting tonight (9/19) at around 6-7PM EST starting time. In the meantime, we’re here to start our review series with the RTX 2080 FE card.

We last saw the Level 20 VT a couple months ago at Computex, alongside the Level 20 GT and XT. The VT is an mATX case, the smallest of the three.

Inside and out, the VT is similar to the mini-ITX Thermaltake V1 we reviewed, and even more so to the micro ATX V21. The major difference is the use of tempered glass, which could be a sign of Silverstone Syndrome, or following up a well-ventilated case with a sealed box; however, as we pointed out at Computex, the Level 20 cases are being sold alongside the older mesh-fronted V1 and V21 rather than replacing them. In addition, Thermaltake has also earned the benefit of the doubt with cases like the View 71 and View 37 that appear sealed but still manage to keep temperatures reasonable.

Lian Li’s Lancool One is a case we’ve seen multiple revisions of, first at CES (under the name Fusion Elite) and then again during our pre-Computex factory tour. “LanCool” is/was a subsidiary that was treated like a distinct brand for selling cases which were less exotic and more affordable than Lian Li’s standard fare. This is the first use of the name in several years, and it’s now more of a prefix than a separate entity. The version we were sent for review was the Lancool One Digital, which has a few minor differences from the base model as seen below.

The Lancool One ships at $90 for the non-”Digital” version, with the Lancool One Digital offering addressable RGB LEDs for an extra $10. Our Lian Li Lancool One review works with the Digital version, but the cases are the same aside from lighting changes.

Corsair’s H100i Pro is the third Corsair product to use Asetek’s 6th Generation pump solution. Asetek didn’t push performance in significant ways with 6th Gen, but instead focused on endurance improvement and reducing hotspots that encourage permeation of the tubes. This time, just to keep things sort of interesting, we’ll talk about how pump speed impacts the performance of this particular cooler – a topic we’ve explored with Gen5 coolers in the past.

We originally detailed Gen6 in this H150i Pro review, if you’re a bit behind. On the whole, Asetek’s sixth generation pump isn’t all that different from its Gen5 pumps. Performance is marginally worse, if anything, as almost all changes were focused on slimming down the CPU block and improving endurance. Asetek looked at key hotspots in its Gen5 pumps and rerouted flow to reduce strain and failure potential. Liquid should still remain below 60C at all times, but Gen6 will now better enable this than Gen5. Don’t expect better performance, though. Despite improving the impeller quality significantly, overall performance remains unchanged at best, if not slightly worse.

We’ve been following the In Win’s A1 since CES 2017, where we saw it in a trio of cases with wood accents. The final version was at CES this year, now with some slightly different specs and no wood (although it’s still a possibility in the future).

In Win describes the A1’s design as “modern Scandinavian style,” which might be an attempt to say “Ikea-ish” without attracting litigious attention. It looks unique even without the wood veneer: the base and legs are made of clear acrylic, ringed on the inside with RGB LEDs. It doesn’t really create the illusion of “floating in A1r” as In Win says, but it does make the case stand out.

Our review of the In Win A1 mini-ITX case looks at overall build quality, ease-of-installation features, and temperature results in various tests. The case is presently ~$170 via Amazon, and includes a 600W 80 Plus Bronze PSU.

Fake "GTX 1050 1GB" Scam GPU Benchmark & Review

By Published July 06, 2018 at 2:19 pm

It’s hard to intentionally get scammed – to set out there and really try to get ripped-off, outside of maybe paying AT&T or Spectrum for internet. We still tried, though. We bought this GTX 1050 “1GB” card that was listed on eBay. At least, that’s what it was called. The card was $80 and was advertised as a new GTX 1050, and even came with this definitely-not-questionable CD and unbranded brown box. Opening up GPU-Z, it even thinks this is a GTX 1050, and knows it has 1GB of RAM. Today, we’ll benchmark the card and explain how this scam works.

We’ll keep this one short; despite benchmarking a full suite of games, you really sort of get the point after 3-4 charts. The more important thing – the only important thing, really – is what’s under the cooler. We’ll take the card apart after a couple of charts and talk about what’s really in there, because it sure doesn’t behave like a GTX 1050 would (not even one with “1GB” of VRAM, which doesn’t exist).

A quick note: There is no officially sanctioned or created GTX 1050 “1GB” card, and so the usual board partners (and nVidia) have no part in this. This is sold as an unbranded, brown box video card on eBay.

Lian Li O11 Air Case Review & Benchmarks

By Published July 05, 2018 at 9:19 pm

Lian Li’s O11 Air is one of the most awaited cases this year, first shown at CES in January. The O11 Air is advertised as an airflow-focused case, the counterpart to the O11 Dynamic (~$130). This is done by removing the tempered glass on the O11 Dynamic (reviewed here), and instead opting for two intake fans and a grill. Our performance test results for the O11 Air might surprise you, though.

The Lian Li O11 series uses the same tooling for both the O11 Dynamic and O11 Air, with some subtle changes to tooling on the O11 Air. Other primary changes include, obviously, the inclusion of fans and front/top-panel grills for airflow, contrary to the Dynamic’s glass focus.

A quick outline of the differences between the O11 Air and O11 Dynamic are below:

  • Mostly the same core tooling, but there are some new screw holes in the back (to support 2x 80mm or 1x 92mm rear fans)
  • 2x80 or 1x92mm rear mount (noise is an issue)
  • Adds 3x120mm or 2x140mm front fan mounts
  • Includes 2x 120mm fans at 1500RPM max
  • O11 RGB includes 2 1500RPM 120mm fans and 3 Bora Lite fans to install wherever you want, but costs an extra $20-$30 (which isn’t bad, really).

Most of the build quality and ease-of-installation features remain the same, and our analysis and review of those features also remains the same. We’d encourage you to check our “The Build” section of our Lian Li O11 Dynamic review for more thoughts on overall quality.

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