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Need Advice on Choosing a Full Tower ~ Filters and Such

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February 28, 2012 3:31:55 PM

I have owned an Antec 900 Two case for about a year, and just recently spent a couple hours doing actual cable management when I installed a new PSU for an upcoming SLI card.

In the process of doing this, I noticed many things that bothered me about my case, and upon further research, I saw many of these issues are corrected in a large majority newer cases by companies like Corsair, Cooler Master, and Lian Li.

I would like to ask for the Sage Advice of Tom's Hardware for assistance in choosing my next case.

I have found about 4 cases that I really like and are in my price range, but none of them have all of my "must have" features. I am willing to comprise if such a case does not exist, I am just so out of the case market that I really don't know.(the last case I shopped for was Thermaltake Tsunami, like 6 years ago)

The Cases I found that I really liked but had tiny issues were the NZXT Phantom (dont like doors), Corsair 600T (no bottom intake), Corsair 500R (my favorite case by far expect its not much bigger than my Antec), and the Cooler Master HAF X (not sure about the filters and dust issues). I have been having heat issues with my single GTX 470 and want this next case to play nice with an SLI setup of 470's. Hopefully I missed some cases and you guys can introduce me to some awesome ones.

Price Range - Hopefully under $200

Must Have Features
-Full Tower Size or Large MidTower ~ My Antec 900 Two is just too tight for me
-External Dust Filters ~ I hate having to remove 16 thumbscrews to clean 2 fans filters
-Good Space for Cable Management and Rubberized Grommets
-Hard Drive Bays that are perpendicular to the 5.25 bays, with access to opposite side panel for CM
-Ability to mount PSU upside down so it doesn't disrupt airflow, hopefully filter for PSU intake
-Bottom Intake Fan ~ would really like this feature but its pretty rare, also filter
-CPU cutout for AfterMarket Coolers
-As much Tooless Features as possible

Would Like but not Deal Breaker
-Internal Header For USB 3.0 on Front Panel I/O
-Drive Docking Bay, seems really cool but by no means a needed feature
-Fan/Fan Mounting on CPU cutout, seems pretty rare but sounds good
-Direct or Unimpeded airflow to GPU
-Mesh side panel for mounting more than 1 fan
-Integrated Fan controller, or if anyone knows of a good aftermarket Dual-Zone controller(for intake and exhaust control)
-Mounting for Radiators(like H80 or H100)
-LED lights, lolz

I will post some pics below of my cable "situation" before and after my feeble attempts at management.

Thanks for any help on the matter :) 

Here is my case before:


Here is it afterwards:
a b ) Power supply
February 28, 2012 3:57:22 PM

coolermaster storm trooper ticks all your boxes

mines arriving tommorrow :D  :D  :D 

had haf x and this is even better
a b ) Power supply
February 28, 2012 5:42:10 PM

I'm a big fan of my Raven 3 ( or the black/silver model. ) Great case with excellent cooling and acoustic damping. Ticks off a lot of your boxes.

MUST HAVES
Full tower - Check
External dust filters - Check, both on the bottom with magnetic mounts.
Cable management - Indeed. Check mine here. ( No grommets around the holes, unfortunately, but the edges aren't really sharp. )
HDD Bays - No, they do not point to the side. However, it does have six mounting bays directly accessible from the right panel ( they sit "below" the mboard. )
PSU Mount - Sits sideways at the bottom front. I find it puts the cables within easy reach of the mboard and all drives.
Bottom Intake - How about TWO massive bottom intake fans?
CPU Cutout - Check
Tooless - For basic install, yes. If you want to add more than a single 5.25" drive, you'll have to break out the screwdriver.

EXTRAS
Front Panel USB 3.0 - Yes, but they're leads intended to plug into the rear I/O. However, on mine I used the header bay from my ASRock mboard and routed the leads to the internal board header.
Drive Docking - No. However, with the I/O panel on the top of the box, I leave an 18" eSATA cable plugged in and ready for drives. Not as slick, but usable.
Fan/Fan Mounting on CPU cutout - Not sure what you mean here.
GPU Airflow - And HOW!! My bottom fans run right past my GPU and exits out the top.
Side Fan Mount - Has a mount on the top back and under the CPU for additional fans, but I find them superfluous.
Integrated Fan Controller - It does have two switches on the top for high / low fan speed on the two bottom fans. I suppose those could be reworked with some creativity.
Radiator Mounting - It's got grommets for liquid tubing.
LED Lights - No.
Related resources
February 28, 2012 7:19:15 PM

What about Thermaltake Overseer RX-1?
February 29, 2012 1:57:30 PM

Thanks for your suggestions so far :) 

Storm Trooper fits the bill, however I don't know if I can reconfigure the side HDD fans to a front intake directed at the GPU.

I like the Thermaltake Overseer RX-1, it seems pretty cool, reminds me a lot of the Thor case. It has almost all of features I want - I'm not a big fan of its look, but I can deal with that.

I had looked at the Raven - I have never owned a 90 degree mount before (every case I've ever had has used traditional mobo mounting), so I wouldn't know the first thing about them. Also, does the bottom to top airflow really help cooling?
a b ) Power supply
February 29, 2012 2:39:52 PM

Tom's Raven review here. Here's the cooling and noise comparison.

This is the first rotated case I've had too, but it's not drastically different. The board is rotated, the I/O panel is on the top, and the PSU is in the bottom front. Everything else is largely the same. Also, I've never been a big overclocker so I've never had thermal issues with any case using stock cooling. I will say that from a physics standpoint, the stack effect makes perfect sense. Instead of directing air in through many different panels and directions, almost all the air is entering in from the bottom and exiting the top. You don't have to worry about stagnant air or eddies anywhere, not that they happen much in normal cases either.
a b ) Power supply
February 29, 2012 3:29:51 PM

KwisatzHaderach said:
Thanks for your suggestions so far :) 

Storm Trooper fits the bill, however I don't know if I can reconfigure the side HDD fans to a front intake directed at the GPU.

I like the Thermaltake Overseer RX-1, it seems pretty cool, reminds me a lot of the Thor case. It has almost all of features I want - I'm not a big fan of its look, but I can deal with that.

I had looked at the Raven - I have never owned a 90 degree mount before (every case I've ever had has used traditional mobo mounting), so I wouldn't know the first thing about them. Also, does the bottom to top airflow really help cooling?


yes you can rotate both hard drive cages to point the air towards the gpu in the storm trooper

i have a raven rv02 at the moment (storm trooper just arrived and still in the box)

the top to bottom airflow keeps my gpu really cool and i do like the 90 degree rotation as plugging stuff in

the top instead of the rear suits me--its a very good case--but think the storm trooper is going to be even

better--will find out in a couple of hours once i unbox it :D 
February 29, 2012 6:54:30 PM

mcnumpty23 said:
yes you can rotate both hard drive cages to point the air towards the gpu in the storm trooper

i have a raven rv02 at the moment (storm trooper just arrived and still in the box)

the top to bottom airflow keeps my gpu really cool and i do like the 90 degree rotation as plugging stuff in

the top instead of the rear suits me--its a very good case--but think the storm trooper is going to be even

better--will find out in a couple of hours once i unbox it :D 


Let me know how you feel about it. I am beginning to like the idea of this new case design, but I want to exhaust some other traditional options before making the plunge. Thanks :) 
a b ) Power supply
February 29, 2012 7:10:27 PM

KwisatzHaderach said:
Let me know how you feel about it. I am beginning to like the idea of this new case design, but I want to exhaust some other traditional options before making the plunge. Thanks :) 


just started unboxing it now :D 

looks better than my haf x did

the top of the case and handle has a nice rubber coating so no fingerprints--and the handles really handy

been automatically grabbing it by the handle just to turn it round or turn it over

it came with more spare screws and thumbscrews than i know what to do with--enough for 3 or 4 cases

i have rotated the top hard drive cage to blow towards the gpu and left the bottom one as it was so the

drive cables will tidily go behind the motherboard

stuck 2 silverstone air penetrator fans in the side panel--never seen a fan like these before--spinning it by

hand lights up the leds so they dont need power to light up???-- and a nzxt fan controller in just in case the

built in fan controller not precise enough

just about at the point where i will shut down this pc and transfer all the parts

so far not found anything to fault it--will update once all the parts are in it

and theres already a windowed side panel if you like to see all your gear

http://www.overclock.net/t/1206617/ocn-cm-storm-trooper...

quick edit before i shut down--there were 4 fan filters--2 on bottom 1 on top 1 on side--i dont mind the dust

as i clean my case regularly so i removed them all for even more airflow

have also got another 2 air penetrators for the top just in case i decide to remove the 200mm fan

last quick edit or i will never get started--1st case i have had with 4 usb ports where they have actually
spaced them far enough apart that you can use all of them even with fat flash drives at the same time
a b ) Power supply
February 29, 2012 10:39:50 PM

sorry it took a while something else came up

only bad point from the whole install is having to remove the ssd tray to screw in the ssd

and that the silverstone air penetrator fans have a much better red led than the coolermaster ones--really

spreads across the whole fan--in fact its the best looking led fan i have used--think its because the leds are

in the hub of the fan not the frame

and that i seem not to have wired the 200mm into the built in fan controller :fou: 

at full rpm its very loud--but will sort that tomorrow--thats not a fault to the case thats down to me

absolutely unbelievable that the back side panel would go back on with the sheer amount of cables i stuck

back there--totally gobsmacked--i would have bet money that panel would never go on as i just crammed all

the cables in there with no attempt to tidy them--and the new side panels have an even bigger protrusion

will try to post some photos later :D 
a b ) Power supply
February 29, 2012 10:52:02 PM

quick photos of the difference between default coolermaster fans and silverstone air penetrators--the two on

the left are the penetrators one one right coolermaster

and the single fan on the front as well is penetrator

http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z330/mcnumpty23/air...

http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z330/mcnumpty23/air...

http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z330/mcnumpty23/air...

not very clear as my camera battery is flat so did on mobile phone--but definately shows a big difference

cpu temperatures are also lower than the rv02 was--but to be fair i wont be leaving the 200mm running at full

speed as its driving me crazy already :fou: 
a b ) Power supply
February 29, 2012 11:15:12 PM

So in short, just get the CM Storm Trooper because it has dust filters all around and it's the only case that can fit a full 240 rad.
Replace the top fan with CM fans

It's basically a better HAF X with a lot more features and a better price.
March 1, 2012 1:02:56 PM

I don't know why I passed over the CM Storm Trooper before, it seems to be the best case for what I need. I will look at some detailed photo reviews to make sure it has room/can do everything I want but I feel pretty much sold on it.

Thanks everyone. :) 

Feel free to keep posting to continue the discussion for others.
a b ) Power supply
March 1, 2012 7:38:31 PM

now i have sorted out the 200mm fan to the fan controller its far quieter

other than having to remove the ssd bay to screw the ssd in cant really find anything to fault other than the

xdock could have been made to fit 3.5 hards drives as well

so overall would have to rate this case at 96 out of 100--better than my haf x and raven rv02

very highly recommend it if you are looking for a new case :D 
March 2, 2012 1:15:08 AM

mcnumpty23 said:
now i have sorted out the 200mm fan to the fan controller its far quieter

other than having to remove the ssd bay to screw the ssd in cant really find anything to fault other than the

xdock could have been made to fit 3.5 hards drives as well

so overall would have to rate this case at 96 out of 100--better than my haf x and raven rv02

very highly recommend it if you are looking for a new case :D 


Can you link some day time pics of your build? I am interested in how you set things up
a b ) Power supply
March 2, 2012 8:08:20 AM

theres a few photos here

will do you some of the inside when i get home later

these show the sheer amount of cables you can get behind the motherboard tray

i am seriously bad at cable management--the inside of this case is the tidiest build i have ever done so the

cable management grommets are great

http://www.filefactory.com/file/c34a8b0/n/new_case.rar

and heres one to show how bad my cabling was in the raven rv02

http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z330/mcnumpty23/rav...

some photos of inside

http://www.filefactory.com/file/c346c50/n/new_case_2.ra...

and one more tiny fault--the case feet are fine on a desk but dont really lift it high enough if sitting on carpet--so if you fitted fans or a 2nd radiator in the bottom of the case--which it is capable of doing then the air intake from underneath may get blocked on a carpet with a thick pile
!