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CaseLabs Merlin SM08

Best Of The Best, Part 2: Who Makes The Most Elite PC Case?
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CaseLabs is one of the few build-to-order case vendors able to achieve production-class consistency thanks to interchangeable parts. You can, for example, order the case either with or without vents on the top panel, drive covers, and left side panel. Constructed of 1.6 mm-thick aluminum panels over a 2.3 mm-thick aluminum frame, our test sample arrived with all three of those options.

It also showed up with protective paper on the optional side window, which can only be peeled after removing the window. We left it there until the final step of hardware installation.

I was even jumping ahead with the lead photo, since the case ships without its feet attached. The standard rubber feet screw into any of the four caster-supporting holes in each of the bottom panel’s corners. That panel also accommodates up to a quad-120 mm-fan radiator, but only if you move the power supply to its secondary mount.

From the back, we can see that secondary power supply mount, which is covered by default (to the left in the image above). The motherboard tray features quick-release screws and a handle that's also not factory-installed.

Other features you can choose to use (or not) include a smaller set of feet labeled “Tech station kit” for using the motherboard tray as a standalone open platform, along with a set of eight front-panel brackets that support four 5.25” external drives and/or bay devices. Eleven pairs of bracket mounts along the front-panel edges give builders a wide variety of external bay and/or radiator mounting options, a feature CaseLabs calls “Flex Bays”.

With the case standing and the tray handle installed, it’s as easy to see the optional side-panel vents in the above photo as it is to understand the challenge of photographing an arctic-white case. Even a 15 W fluorescent bulb is bright enough to make the thing glow.

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  • -3 Hide
    blackmagnum , July 22, 2014 12:12 AM
    Answer (YMMV): Thermaltake Level 10 GT.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 22, 2014 12:32 AM
    Quote:
    Answer (YMMV): Thermaltake Level 10 GT.

    You know the original Level 10 was probably "more elite"

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/level-10-fortress-2,2594-5.html
  • 3 Hide
    vertexx , July 22, 2014 4:16 AM
    Hope the Phanteks Enthoo Primo is part of the final - will we have to wait another 2 months for that?
  • 0 Hide
    ykki , July 22, 2014 4:48 AM
    I wish that they would use the new powercolor devil 13 290x (their version of the 295X2) for their tests
  • 1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , July 22, 2014 5:48 AM
    Who makes the most elite cases? Corsair and NZXT, no need for investigation :)  Still, a nice roundup.
  • 0 Hide
    Drejeck , July 22, 2014 6:12 AM
    There are some cases CNC made, you should talk about this indipendent manufacturers. On SweClockers I saw the best mini ITX computer ever made, with 2 ssds, 2 fans, a picopsu and a discrete graphic card with riser card.
  • 0 Hide
    Drejeck , July 22, 2014 6:24 AM
    Anyway my guess was Lian-Li and Silverstone
  • 3 Hide
    eklipz330 , July 22, 2014 6:42 AM
    isn't this a purely subjective article? how can this be quantified?
  • 0 Hide
    Neve12ende12 , July 22, 2014 7:28 AM
    I don't know much about cases, but I have an Azza Hurrican 2000 and I think it is pretty badass
  • 0 Hide
    firefoxx04 , July 22, 2014 8:19 AM
    Phanteks Primo plz
  • 2 Hide
    firefoxx04 , July 22, 2014 8:22 AM
    ID like to see these cases fitted with large radiators.. that is what the case labs is geared for after all.
  • 1 Hide
    xenol , July 22, 2014 8:26 AM
    CaseLabs is just one of those companies I don't get. Sure they give you a ton of customization options but I don't know, for $300 on a case like that?

    At least the $210 I spent on a Silverstone FT02 was worth it.
  • 0 Hide
    beoza , July 22, 2014 9:34 AM
    For the price of that CaseLabs case I'd rather get the CM Cosmos II, and save about $60. Sure it's an older design but it just looks so much better to me. The only downside with the Cosmos II is it's big and bulky weighing at just over 47lbs empty.
  • 0 Hide
    whiteodian , July 22, 2014 10:00 AM
    Quote:
    There are some cases CNC made, you should talk about this indipendent manufacturers. On SweClockers I saw the best mini ITX computer ever made, with 2 ssds, 2 fans, a picopsu and a discrete graphic card with riser card.
    Links please : D

    Here is a link to something similar I won at a LAN party. Comes in a badass briefcase. http://nfc-systems.com/mini/
  • 1 Hide
    Electromikey , July 22, 2014 10:18 AM
    Without having used any of the other cases, I can say that I had the pleasure of building a system in the 760T recently (a friend had me build him a monster rig), and it was one of my favorite builds I've ever done. The case looks freakin' gorgeous under his desk, too.
  • -1 Hide
    TheMentalist , July 22, 2014 10:58 AM
    Every time i see articles like this one, it kinda bugs me that the Vengeance C70 is so underrated, damn love that case, even though it's old. Not saying that these cases aren't good.
  • 0 Hide
    redgarl , July 22, 2014 2:20 PM
    Fractal Design R2 XL... best Full Tower case for 100$. Nothing came close.
  • 0 Hide
    redgarl , July 22, 2014 2:21 PM
    Phantek Enthoo Luxe, Pro and Primo should be part of your next article.
  • 0 Hide
    Karsten75 , July 22, 2014 2:41 PM
    the TL;DR - we have an unrealistic benchmark, got some sub-par cases and non should be worthy of an award? Next time do't specify a price as cut-off.
  • 0 Hide
    Phillip Wager , July 23, 2014 3:51 AM
    out of these the thermaltake would take my money but i think phanteks has the best "elite" case on the market right now.
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