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Looking for some case feedback

Last response: in Components
July 5, 2007 1:03:04 PM

Hi everyone,

New poster here ... currently speccing out a system to build and looking for some feedback on what case to choose. First and formost here is the system I am looking to build right now:

CPU: E6600
Cooler: Thermalright Ultra 120
Vid: 8800 GTS (640)
PS: Corsair 620HX
RAM: 2GB DDR-800

I am pretty much decided on everything above except for the case. I have a few hesitations about 1) fitting the Ultra 120 into a case (read a lot of reviews on it just being too big) and 2) being able to expand eventually to SLI.

That being said here are the cases I have been drawn to. I want something that will obviously fit everything I have planned, allow me to expand to SLI in the future, and something that air cools really well. I would prefer not to have a full tower but if its the best option I will not have a problem getting one (I currently have a TT Xaiser full tower for my current rig). Also would like to keep it under $200 USD if possible.

Ones that have caught my eye:

Antec 900 --- read a lot of great things about the cooling on this one. Downsides are 1) not sure if the Ultra 120 will fit 2) had a design flaw in the upper bay for vid. card but I believe this was fixed 3) dust, dust, dust.

Thermaltake Armor w/side 250mm fan --- Downsides? 1) BIG 2) Aftermarket heatsinks hit side fan 3) stupid front fins that serve no purpose?

Antec P180/P182 --- kind of plain but currently on sale - not as many fans as some others. Construction?

Apevia X-Cruiser - --- not sure i like the look, only 2 fans, problems with GPUs fitting?

I have also read some good things about the Coolermaster Centurion line and the TT Tsunami - but do not know much more about them then the little I have read.

What do you all think? Any others that I should be considering?

More about : case feedback

July 5, 2007 4:43:59 PM

It really depends on your preference. For ease of use and compatibility the TT Armor will be your best bet. It's huge and will has plenty of locations for 120mm for good airflow.

I have the Antec 900 and absolutely love the look and simplicity. The cooling is superior right out of the box. It would fit a Ultra 120 w/o a side case fan. The same applies to the TT Armor, you would have to either mod or remove the side case fan i believe.

The P182 is a great case also, many people like it because it has sound dampening and is very simple yet good looking. I don't think this case will house the 8800GTX very well w/o removal of the HDD cages.

Overall the best size/price will be the Armor. Only downside is it is really big so it will take up alot of space.

I'd probably choose the TT Armor without the side case fan.
July 6, 2007 12:36:54 AM

All the cases that you named are decent. Each has its' own + and -. I just recently upgraded to a Coolermaster Praetorian. TWO WORDS. LOve IT! Deatchable motherboard tray made the build fast and easy. More than enough room for watercooling Crossfired 1950's. Air flow for Northbridge and CPU more than adequate. I got it from the Egg with a 30 MIR AND a free 500W coolermaster powersupply and free shipping. Normally runs approx. 140 got mine with all the freebies for 119.00. Solid Aluminum construction. Just something else to consider. :) 
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July 6, 2007 3:46:50 AM

Overall the best size/price will be the Armor. Only downside is it is really big so it will take up alot of space.

I'd probably choose the TT Armor without the side case fan.

I've got a steel Armor with both doors (no fan and 25cm fan). It's been the main rig that I've used for HSF testing. It has a 4400+ in it currently OC'ed to 2.6GHz, 8 HDs, 2 opticals, etc., so it puts out quite a bit of heat. I've spent a fair bit of time fiddling with high end HSFs in it and in a synthetic testing rig. The best overall combination I've had in the Armor is with a 9700 and the side door. That combo beats the Tuniq, the Ultra Extreme and all the rest, which have only been tested without the door fan. I haven't even checked to see if the Ultras will clear with the door fan on. The thing is, the case is apparently starved of inlet air unless I use the side door, because not only does the CPU temp drop significantly with the door fan, but the GPUs drop 5 to 7C under 3DM06 load. The GPUs are 1900XTs and it's easy to see that their fans kick out more air witht he door fan in. It makes sense, because I've got the blowhole, a 9cm and 12cm rear exhausts, PS exhaust, a slot fan and two GPU exhaust fans and without the door in place, just two 12cm front inlets. Many people recommend having more outlet than inlet fans but the truth is that you need to have the right balance to get a case to work right. The reason I like Lian Lis so much is that they achieve a good balance at a lower total airflow.
July 6, 2007 11:56:51 AM

Thanks for the feedback so far guys - it really helps to have input from those who actually have the products.

Icy - what CPU cooler do you currently use in your 900? Did you add the side mounted fan?

Sci - thanks for the tip on the CM - I'll have to check it out ....

Clue - Thanks for the input as well! I had been considering the 9700 actually (I currently have a Zalman cooling my P4) but had read that the Ultra 120's cooled much better with less noise. I will have to go back and revisit the 9700 if it will enable me to use the side fans in these cases.

I do like the Armor a lot - just wish I wouldn't have to drop close to $200 to get it. I'm not crazy about the weight of the steel case so it would almost make me have to get the silver aluminum one. The 900 is $100 cheaper and seems a bit more compact .... I just don't want to get caught in a position where I can't upgrade in the future by adding a larger HSF or second GPU. It seems that if I want to use the side intakes on either case I'm going to have to go with something other than the Ultra 120 which kind of makes me sad .....
July 6, 2007 12:21:02 PM

well to tell you the truth, all of them are nice, but i actually like the Gigabyte 3D aurora 570, plenty of room in there, only thing i would do is change out the fans, for better ones. but its an extremely nice case in my opinion!
July 6, 2007 12:44:36 PM

I'm using the stock cooler on my 900. I wouldn't be to worried about not using the side fan on the 900 as you can put another fan behind the HDD cages which blows right over the graphics card. There wouldn't be a problem with mounting the Ultra 120. As far as future compatibility, i wouldn't be too worried. There is a form factor size and heatsink manufacturers know which dimensions they have room to work with, if they built a heatsink that could only fit in a few cases then it wouldn't sell very well would it. The 900 is a big enough case so don't worry about that.
July 6, 2007 12:52:25 PM

Cases are mostly an item of preference, but get one that moves air through it.

I like the Antec 900, but I also own three Antec Lanboys, as I say it's a preference, but the Lanboy does move air through it. Currently only available as B stock directly from Antec.

I also have a Coolermaster WaveMaster TAC-T01, but it is poor when it comes to air flow.

I,m a fanboy when it comes to cases with a big fan in front that blows air across the hard drives and a big fan in the back of the case that blows the hot air out the back.

That why I will be getting an Antec 900 as my next case.
July 6, 2007 1:00:53 PM

I am an Antec 900 owner and thought I'd mention my experience. I'm not an overclocker and use the stock CPU heatsink, but I would agree with others that using an aftermarket very large CPU cooler would probably require not using the (optional, not included) side fan. Personally I would opt for using a smaller aftermarket cooling solution WITH the side fan included, I would expect that combination to give better results with this case.

One warning, is that I found this case is a lot more noisy at first than the Antec Sonata I was using previously. You'll hear your hard drives more and hear the airflow as well from the fans, especially if you turn them up. I turned the top fan up to max speed (not noisy) and left the rest at low speed and the airflow is AWESOME. Once you get used to it the volume is very acceptable, I would not leave it on in my bedroom for example though. It IS pretty dusty, but very easy to clean out.

Regarding weight, you mentioned the armor would be heavy well the 900 is probably almost as heavy, you'd be surprised. it's a whole lot heavier with the same components than my sonata. I take it to lan parties anyways. :) 

One final word. I'm still using AGP so your experience will probably differ. Just wanted to warn you that if you want to utilize a lot of those hard drive slots, you might run into issues with video card length and cabling of its power and the hard drive cabling. I found using the two power connectors on my ati 1900pro made one of the hard drive slots unusable, and it was a very tight fit even after moving the hard drive down a slot. I had to rearrange all of them to still have a 1 drive wide gap between them with 3 hard drives installed (better cooling).

I think a pci express power connector is on the top instead of the end of the card? if so, that won't be a concern for you.
July 6, 2007 1:24:29 PM

Hey torque -

Thanks for the thorough input - from all specs that I had read the 900 seemed to be about 12-15 net lbs lighter than the steel armor. The 900 definitely isn't "light" from what I have read but that steel armor is just a beast. I need to try and get out to a local store and see if I can't find them both just to really gauge the weight.

I think that after your feedback and clue's above I am really going to start considering the Zalman 9700 and adding the optional side fan instead of the Thermalright 120. The more I think about it - it does make sense to me that having that side intake and a smaller HSF probably would cool better.

I will definitely be going PCIe with my GPU - though it will be my first PCIe card so I am unsure about the connections that you mention. I do only have 2 HDD so I think based on what you described I should be OK with the connections regardless?

I know that Antec has come out with 1 maybe 2 revisions on the 900 - If I do go with the 900, is there a way to make sure I get the most current revision? Or did they pull the older ones off the shelves? I know its been out for a while so it probably is a non-issue anymore.

Thanks again for all the great feedback everyone - this has been really helpful so far!
July 6, 2007 8:55:43 PM

The antec 900 is going for $90 before shipping at Fry's (no link right now sorry) But its still there! Check into it.
July 6, 2007 9:13:44 PM

The antec 900 is going for $90 before shipping at Fry's (no link right now sorry) But its still there! Check into it.

Antec 900 is down to $70!! How can you pass that up?
July 6, 2007 9:25:25 PM

I'd never put together my own system before, and I bought the P182.

I love it. 3 120mm fans included... nice and quiet... lots of room to work.

The GTX fits without removing the HDD cage... there's some room left over, but not much.

I would get one again in a heartbeat... I'm not regretting the purchase one iota.

That being said, I should tell you I have no experience whatsoever with any of the other cases you're considering.
July 10, 2007 11:51:09 AM

dj_taboo said:
The antec 900 is going for $90 before shipping at Fry's (no link right now sorry) But its still there! Check into it.

Antec 900 is down to $70!! How can you pass that up?

d'oh! looks like i missed it - doesn't seem to be there anymore ....
July 10, 2007 3:41:08 PM

I'm also looking for a case for my entry level PC I'm goin to be buildin. My case budget is right at about $80 w/ PSU. I'd like LED lights but they're not necessary. Any help?
July 10, 2007 6:02:25 PM

To the OP. I just switched from a destop style Lian Li to an ANTEC 900. The destop was just running way to hot cause of the close quarters with PSU etc. The Lian Li was givven to me so I used it. I have to say I really like the ANTEC case but if I had my choice I'd be back in a Lian Li in a flash. I have no distributers for Lian Li in my area.
The quality of the Lian Li cases are un touchable in the industry. The finishing and the material inside and out are superior but my hot running SLI setup just took too much heat in the small case. When I switched to the ANTEC my loaded temp went down 8-10 degrees C. The quality of the ANTEC case is cr*p COMPARED to the Lian Li but it has more than enough room for my 7800GTXs in SLI and more than enough air flow to handle the heat generated by the system. As for dust... it's seriously easy to clean out as the case barely even has anything for the dust to cling to. Think of the ANTEC 900 as a pair of lacey thong panties, it is special purpose, it barely covers anything and it's sexier than hell.
July 10, 2007 6:43:19 PM

ravx said:
d'oh! looks like i missed it - doesn't seem to be there anymore ....

It was still there yesterday. Looks like they took it off the website completely. If they waited another 2 weeks, i was going to get it for my Bday.
a c 121 ) Power supply
July 10, 2007 7:31:51 PM

gr3n4d3g1rl said:
I'm also looking for a case for my entry level PC I'm goin to be buildin. My case budget is right at about $80 w/ PSU. I'd like LED lights but they're not necessary. Any help?

Hmmm, that's tough. I've learned (in one case the hard way) that skimping on the PSU is a bad idea.

I've built 3 systems this year in this case:
COOLER MASTER Elite 330 RC-330-KKN1-GP Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $25 after MIR
It isn't fancy, but it is clean, and has tool-less drive and card mountings. Here's a similar one with a side window if you want to add cold-cathodes or LEDs:
COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW Black/Silver Aluminum Bezel, SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $50

In those three builds, I used this PSU; inexpensive, but from a recommended brand, FSP:
FSP Group (Fortron Source) AX400-PN, RoHS, 12cm FAN, version 2.2, 2 SATA, 20+ 4 pin, PCI Express, 400W Power Supply - $40
This should handle an entry-level PC just fine. If you can stretch your budget a little, I've also bought two of these which I like:
mushkin 550200 ATX12V 550W Power Supply 115/230 V cUL,CE,CB,FCC - $70
They're modular, have enough juice if you decide to upgrade, and they add a nice green glow.

Good luck with your build.
July 11, 2007 2:53:25 AM

I would recommend, Enermax's new Uber Chakra, full tower; plenty of room for third party HSF, It also has the 25 cm fan right above the CPU for extra ventilation and Is same price as antec 900 "In Australia".
Thats the case I gonna grab for my new sys.