2003 Winter Case Review Part 1: MicroATX Case Madness

Sample Testing Setup For MicroATX Case Testing, Continued

The second situation that we encountered was that not all of the cases support the use of a full-height PCI/AGP card without removing the standard bracket. Several of the cases elected to use small form factor slots in the rear of the case, which means that not every case was able to utilize our ATI Radeon All In Wonder 9800 Pro test card. We chose this card originally because we felt that this was a good choice as the card does generate some heat, it is ¾ of slot length, it does require additional power, and it would be a clear choice for those looking to integrate a MicroATX case into their home theatre, PC TV or DVR applications. We were forced to elect to not use this card in cases that could not support it. You will note this in the reviews by the indication that the case did not support the use of full-height PCI or AGP cards. In these situations, we used the integrated graphics supported by the nForce 2 chipset on our Biostar M7NCG 400 motherboard.

As we have explained in previous reviews, due to the increased popularity of rounded cabling we used both rounded floppy and IDE cables during our testing. Each system was pushed for a continuous 8-hour period, running 3DMark 2003 in a loop to make sure that the system and the case were up to proper temperature. All of the cases reviewed passed this test setup. However, we did maximize the number of fans by adding fans to the cases that did not include all of the fans in their shipping configuration.

Temperatures for the CPU were within a range of 47°C/116°F to 50°C/119°F. The ambient temperature within the case ranged from 35°C/95°F to 40°C/100°F. These measurements are based on the information provided by the hardware monitoring that is built into the Biostar M7NCG 400 motherboard, and these temperature ranges are well within acceptable limits. All cases were tested with an ambient temperature from about 70°F to 75°F. None of these cases failed due to a cooling issue, even when the system was at its hottest. These temperature measurements were taken several times during the 8-hour test period.

In cases that could support the ATI Radeon All In Wonder 9800 Pro we also made a few captures using the ATI Radeon All In Wonder 9800 Pro and the included Pinnacle Studio 8 software bundled with the card. We elected only to capture one hour of video from our Tivo, just to get a feel for how noisy the case was when the hard disk was being thrashed heavily during a video capture. While we didn't offer a specific grade for these results, since not every case was able to support the 9800 Pro AIW, impressions about the ambient noise of the case and fans were gathered during this phase of the testing.

In all, each case was tested for almost 10 hours prior to writing our final review and the comments for each case.

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