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Last response: in Systems
January 9, 2008 3:18:02 PM

Hello, I'm new to the Tom's forums. I have been checking out a new system based on SFF cases. But I'm having quite a bit of problems choosing the right one. I'm hoping people here might have some insight on wich offers the most cooling and aftermarket Cpu Cooler option.

currently I checked out
the Apevia Q-Xpack2
Thermaltake Lanbox
Sivlerstone sg03 (just saw a preview of the sg04 not sure what's new inside)
Qmicra v2 ( 319$ is quite expensive but seems to be the best )
NZXT Rogue ( keeps hearing About how hard the installation can be)
Lian-li V350

Checked out quite a few reviews but none seem to tackle the aftermarket Cpu cooler issues or even the possible modifications that can be done to accomedate one?

I will be overclocking the system but only with the Ai options from Asus nothing to fancy

Mobo: Asus p5e-vm-hdmi
Vid card : bfg 8800gt + Zalman Vf1000 led
Ram: 4 gigs of pc 8500 Corsair XMS
Hdd : Seagate 500gb sata 2 16mb cache
Sound Card : most likely a version of X-fi
Cpu : new line of 45nm quad cores
DVD : 2x LG DVDrs
CPU cooler : undecided

Any info would be greatly appreciated


More about : small form factor case

January 10, 2008 5:59:57 PM

Still hoping for some insight
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January 10, 2008 6:34:51 PM

Personally I like Lian Li for aestetic and aluminum reasons. I'm also a fan of Silverstone designs. I think all the other ones look cheap and plastic-y.
January 10, 2008 7:13:54 PM

apevia x-qpack 2... make sure you get the 2, not the first one. anyway, I didn't buy one, but i did mess with one down at the local pc shop, they're pretty sweet looking, and have 2 5.25 bays and i think it'll still fit that card... if the local pc shop didn't suck balls i'd bust out a massive video card and check to see if that'd fit for you today, but they don't carry anything good... let alone let me touch it. haha. I dunno, 100 bucks and a pretty hardcore psu all in one for 100 bucks... it's a sweet deal. well, the best one i could find when i was looking for sff cases. :-p
January 10, 2008 8:05:33 PM

About a year ago, I built my office pc on the Thermaltake Lanbox (without handle). No plastic on this guy and actually a nice case. It is well vented, perforations on all sides and back so plenty of air. Plus you can add a additional fan which I did. Takes a full size PSU I put in a Silverstone with the short modular cable package.
For my next build I was looking at that Lain -Li case. Looks sweet! But I'm guessing it may run warmer then the Thermaltake.
If you have an idea on what cooler your leaning toward and have a height on it I can give you a measurement. The case actually has a lot of room.
And if you plan on just using AI overclock you maybe fine with the stock cooler specially on a 45nm core.
Good luck. :D 
January 10, 2008 8:59:31 PM

i actually have the silverstone sg01evolution. it's a great looking case, and has some nice cooling options with the optional silverstone cpu cooler which uses my enermax psu exhaust fan to remove hot air. however, the very nature of sff make it a pain to troubleshoot problems or upgrade since tough to get to certain components. i think the newer sg0's have a more open design so that may help to aleviate this issue. as far as craftmanship and overall quality, silverstone is great. as one of the other poster said, some cases can look cheap and plasticy, but not these. it really looks great on my desk and was a pretty sweet gaming rig in it's hey-day.
January 10, 2008 10:34:48 PM

Wow thanks guys, this is very informative. The Sg01 looks like a good case as well. Well since alot of the SFF don't allow high mounted coolers. might go with the thermaltake Blue orb. only 66mm high and a full 120mm fan so cooling would be much improved over the stock cooler.
January 11, 2008 1:08:00 PM

one last thing, definitely look at getting a modular psu for sff. being able to remove some of the extra cables will not only neaten up the interior which should have very little free space, but will also promote better air flow and keep your pc cooler.

good luck and enjoy!
January 11, 2008 1:16:39 PM

you could just do like all the pc manufacturers and just jam everything in the case cables all tangled and not worry about leaving it upgradeable. hahah. or the psu not crapping out after a year due to the natural decline of a psu. anyway. if you do that, sell it as soon as you buy it for more than you paid. :-p

but in all seriousness, this is one of the only reasons i frequent local shops... sometimes they give you a good idea of what a case looks and feels l ike, unfortunately, the sff cases are even harder to find out in the wild. :-p i thought the x-qpack 2 was decent feeling/looking. and that link i posted does include the microfly with the 600watt psu, and is about the same layout as the x-qpack 2. with some asthetic differences
January 11, 2008 1:59:37 PM

Have you considered a Micro Tower instead of a cube or are you pretty much set on the cube style? The reason I ask is because some micro towers have some really good air flow and cooling options and they would also be much eaiser to work on.

Heres one example

One Feature I really like about this Centurion micro tower is the backwards layout which displays the video card nicely esspecially if you add a window. It looks to have great airflow for cooling the whole system except for the hard drives, thats really the only flaw in the design of this case.

I almost went with this case myself but went ATX in the end cause it has so many more options for upgrades and good OCing boards.
January 11, 2008 8:50:54 PM

Well for most SFF cases the micro towers are usually a bit bigger then the cubes or have something lacking. but I'll admit the Centurion is nicely done. could always add the handles to it as well to make it that much easier to transport.

I'm narrowing it down to, Thermaltake Lanbox, Lian Li v350 or maybe the Coolermaster centurion
January 11, 2008 9:39:58 PM

Hey, I have a TT Lanbox with the handle and it seems alright. Granted, haven't used that PC for the past 5 months since I started college, but it works. ONE NOTE: With all my components, the things is a ***PAIN*** to move long distances.... It's probably over 15lbs all together.

I cramped all this into it:

TT Toughpower 700W PSU
AMD Athlon X2 4400+ with TT Max Orb HSF
2Gb (2x1 sticks) G. Skill RAM
2 WD 80Gb HDDs in RAID 0
2 slot coolers
Creative Fatal1ty X-Fi Sound Card
2 DVD/CD-ROM Drives
Additional 60mm Vantec Fan

Temps are acceptable with just 1 slot cooler but the X2 runs warm (around 55C on load...)
January 12, 2008 11:59:07 AM

Davefroti said:
Well for most SFF cases the micro towers are usually a bit bigger then the cubes or have something lacking. but I'll admit the Centurion is nicely done. could always add the handles to it as well to make it that much easier to transport.

I'm narrowing it down to, Thermaltake Lanbox, Lian Li v350 or maybe the Coolermaster centurion

Ya the cubes tend to be alittle more compact but because of that they restrict airflow and dont allow for big CPU coolers. Alot of cubes these days can fit large graphics cards thou which is nice. I suppose it all comes down to whats more important to you or anyone else considering SFF, performance or as small of a PC as possible. My mid tower with a standard atx mobo is just alittle bit bigger than the centurion so not much is really gained in going micro tower vs some mid tower ATX anyway.

Centurion 15.4" x 7.1" x 16.6" (H x W x D)

My rosewill 7.3" x 14.2" x 17.8 (W x H x D)

My case is just a cheapo but it has a good layout, it's pretty compact and I wanted to do some crazy modding and not worry about screwing up a premium case.
February 26, 2008 5:10:09 PM

i see that no one's vouched for the sg03 yet. i own an sg03. best affordable sff case in my opinion. qmicras are awesome, but cost a pretty penny. i spent months comparing cases. went to frys just to compare them, but although light they always seemed like aluminum chassis with cheap plastic slapped on. one day though as i was admiring the slick look of the lanbox lite with the various shuttle cases, x-qpack2, sg01 evo, lanboxes, and the microfly; some sleek brushed aluminum caught my eye.

i took a gamble and chose the sg03 because i looked at measurements and found that it just might fit a coolermaster geminII, which was free after mir at the time. it kind of limited my ram as i couldnt buy the reapers, but my gamble paid off. the geminII fit. works very nicely. get two 120x20mm yate loon fans on the front for the most compatibility /w video cards. i've shoved in all kinds of video cards into this sucker too. evga 8800gt, evga 8800gts, sapphire 2900pro, galaxy 8800gt (aftermarket cooler), x1800gto, x1900 all in wonder (very long card), and an ecs 8800gt /w an accelero S1.

aside from limited choice of coolers, short ram, i've never really been dissapointed by this little guy. haven't made a mod to it yet, and it's done all i ever wanted it to do. well except sli... yah... two 8800gt's sitting in my lap and i can't use them because no one wants to make an sli motherboard. that's why i'm goin crossfire next... wooohoo! the sg04 at CES showed a system using a ga-g33m-ds2r (my mobo! woohoo!) with crossfire enabled. similar to what the sg02 was to the sg01, the sg04 is based on the same chassis as the sg03, but supposedly has a few improvements. aside from the good idea of an ugly front power button, these improvements are yet to be seen in my view. sg04 info

in the case:
e6550 /w geminII
Gigabyte G33M DS2R
4gb Crucial DDR2 667 D9FTB
ECS accelero S1 8800GT
used to have an x-fi plat card too (no front panel as i'd sacrifice optical)
abit airpace
Seasonic M12 700w
250gb seagate 7200.10 sata
Silver NEC 3550a
three yate loon 120x120x20mm fans

i've owned a lian li v300 and those things are bulky, and hard to work with. i take my time with installs as to avoid knicked knuckles and what not, but i got quite a few. the psu was a p.i.t.a to install as the wires were always wanting to bump uglies with the 5.25 bays. i bought from someone else on a different forum, and it came pre modded so that it would fit the newest 8800gts video cards. many cards with aftermarket coolers won't fit if they make the card any taller, as they'll hit the top collide with the case if you install them from outside. most times you have to slide them in after you've gotten the mobo tray inside (i remember having to put my drive on uppermost rack so that it would interfere with the video card below. i've had one hard drive get stuck in the case and had to almost rip it out. pretty much stripping the threads on the hdd.

from what i can tell the only big changes on the v350 are the mobo tray includes the whole back side so that pre installed cooler height wouldn't be an issue, people still have problems with it nonetheless (aah, remember all the painful memories of trying to install an aftermarket hsf with the mobo partially in the case). PSU still sits right above the cpu so cooler height is still an issue (same as the sg03, but much bulkier in my opinion). they also made the front prettier. i guess they didn't need all that mesh in the front anyways.

love the sg03 though. come on, who wouldn't love to play with something taller, lighter, slimmer, and far more elegant (still fits almost whatever you want to shove into it too).
sized up comparison between antec p180, sg03, lian li v350, microfly mx6, and shuttle p2
other good links:

ahh yes, and don't count out the nzxt rogue. :)