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Test Results

DTX Lives! Four Double-Slot Cases For ITX Gaming Machines
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We arranged our results by lowest average temperature, but we have to admit that some readers might not think this is fair. The reason is that our graphics driver would kick the card into thermal-protection mode whenever the GPU exceeded 95° Celsius.

That means a room temperature of only 21° would cause the graphics card to kick down in the “leading” configuration, and that the only two acceptable cases were Lian-Li’s PC-Q08 and SilverStone’s tiny SG06B. But how could this be?

Our test card is a dual-fan design that feeds half of its exhaust out the back of the case and the other half into the case. Because the second fan is completely shrouded by the side panels of the SG07B and Mini-Tank, it received only pre-heated air from the first fan. Ouch. Size was not even an issue here, as proximity to an unvented portion of the side panel made all the difference.

Yet, not all cards have dual fans, so we went on to retest the SG07B and Mini-Tank with an equally-challenging card that used a single-fan, blower-type cooler. While blower-type GPU coolers are ideal for reducing case temperature, power-throttling on current models like AMD’s Radeon HD 6950 and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580 would have made consistent results almost impossible to achieve. Finding a blower-type card without this limitation forced us to step back to our older samples.

The card we chose, Gigabyte’s 2 GB GeForce GTX 285, runs around 5° hotter, yet has around 5° more thermal headroom before it kicks into a lower-performance mode.

The results are pretty impressive, as the SG07’s GPU temperature rises to only 4° over the open platform (using the same GeForce GTX 285), while the Mini-Tank is only 6° warmer than the open platform. We credit SilverStone’s foam air duct for the case’s 2° advantage over the larger competitor, and case fan speed didn’t affect GPU temperature with that duct in place.

Getting back to our original tests, SilverStone’s SG07 has the lowest average noise level, while Lian-Li’s PC-Q08 did the best job of hushing our noisy graphics card. This result also makes sense, because the graphics card cooling fans faced the PC-Q08’s bottom, rather than side-panel vents.

An intake fan that blows directly on the CPU, along with the lowest average noise, gives SilverStone’s SG07B the highest cooling-to-noise ratio, but only when its fan is in low-speed mode. Lian-Li follows with a close second-place finish, and is the quietest case that properly supports the thermal design of our original graphics card.

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  • -4 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , March 16, 2011 5:35 AM
    the silverstone sg06b is the only one that looks any good (not great though). the rest are just plain ugly.
  • 0 Hide
    Darkerson , March 16, 2011 5:39 AM
    iam2thecrowethe silverstone sg06b is the only one that looks any good (not great though). the rest are just plain ugly.

    Opinion = Fact?

    Anyway, I actually like Cubitek's case. Sure, it looks like it would be a pain to make changes to when doing upgrades or whatnot, but nothing is perfect. If it had a handle on top or something, Id probably use it for LAN parties and the such.
  • 1 Hide
    hmp_goose , March 16, 2011 6:17 AM
    Pst: Guys! Ya' flip the plexglass vent on the SG07! http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/how_build_ultimate_small-form-factor_gaming_pc?page=0,1
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 16, 2011 6:36 AM
    hmp_goosePst: Guys! Ya' flip the plexglass vent on the SG07! http://www.maximumpc.com/article/h [...] c?page=0,1
    Thanks! But if you're building a new system...better still, use a single-fan GPU cooler and the foam air guide! Imagine this beast with a GTX 580!
  • 1 Hide
    gti88 , March 16, 2011 6:44 AM
    Nice article. Very informative.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , March 16, 2011 8:34 AM
    Oh wow, lets reinvent a box that holds computer parts, accomplishing the exact same thing all other computer cases before it did, only this version will suck a little bit harder.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 16, 2011 9:09 AM
    m84092Oh wow, lets reinvent a box that holds computer parts, accomplishing the exact same thing all other computer cases before it did, only this version will suck a little bit harder.
    So, you're saying you'd have preferred an AT desktop case roundup?
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , March 16, 2011 9:16 AM
    I would like to have seen the PC-Q08 tested with the blower-style cooler. I cannot imagine how that could have been omitted.
    Otherwise, it was an interesting read.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , March 16, 2011 9:36 AM
    jtt283I would like to have seen the PC-Q08 tested with the blower-style cooler. I cannot imagine how that could have been omitted. Otherwise, it was an interesting read.
    The PC-Q08 didn't fail.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 16, 2011 12:54 PM
    and the advantage of any of these over a "lunchbox" style mATX case is?
  • 1 Hide
    K2N hater , March 16, 2011 12:54 PM
    These rigs aren't only way better to carry around but also look awesome on the table. Wondering if the noise is bearable with a 6990 installed...
  • -1 Hide
    stingstang , March 16, 2011 1:04 PM
    It doesn't matter how small the case is for desktop portability. Put a handle on any ATX case and there ya go. What matters is all the cables, monitors, and speakers, keyboards, and mice you have to lug around with it. If there's a better solution for cable management then zip ties around, these cases would be more useless than they already are. Better looking, too.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , March 16, 2011 1:12 PM
    With some tweaks you can get a Geminii S(you have to re-drill the mounting bracket on some, not others) with a low profile fan and 2 3.5 inch drives :) 

    Or 1 drive and a normal fan(take a bit of work.)

    http://img842.imageshack.us/img842/1414/dsc0348n.jpg
  • 0 Hide
    pletopia , March 16, 2011 1:20 PM
    whats the largest video card that will fit in the SG07? The website says 5970 will fit but i'm more interested to know which 6xxx radeon i'd be able to stuff in there. Have been planning on building a rig with that case since Sandy Bridge came out, only the chipset snafu has me waiting on the sidelines atm.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 16, 2011 1:41 PM
    pletopiawhats the largest video card that will fit in the SG07? The website says 5970 will fit but i'm more interested to know which 6xxx radeon i'd be able to stuff in there. Have been planning on building a rig with that case since Sandy Bridge came out, only the chipset snafu has me waiting on the sidelines atm.
    6970 and GTX 580 both fit, the dimensions are on Page 1!
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , March 16, 2011 1:48 PM
    nukemasterWith some tweaks you can get a Geminii S(you have to re-drill the mounting bracket on some, not others) with a low profile fan and 2 3.5 inch drives Or 1 drive and a normal fan(take a bit of work.)http://img842.imageshack.us/img842/1414/dsc0348n.jpg
    That really depends on two other things that have nothing to do with height:
    1.) The motherboard used (as well as most other LGA 1155 boards) only has room for a 100mm cooler. For a 120mm cooler to fit, it has to be 10mm off-center, away from the graphics cards.
    2.) Additional offset (more than 10mm) is required for any heat pipes that protrude from the "short" side.

    Tom's Hardware should probably do a cooler roundup to figure out which low-profile designs actually fit this type of motherboard without blocking off the graphics card slot.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , March 16, 2011 1:56 PM
    Quote:
    That really depends on two other things that have nothing to do with height:
    1.) The motherboard used (as well as most other LGA 1155 boards) only has room for a 100mm cooler. For a 120mm cooler to fit, it has to be 10mm off-center, away from the graphics cards.
    2.) Additional offset (more than 10mm) is required for any heat pipes that protrude from the "short" side.

    Tom's Hardware should probably do a cooler roundup to figure out which low-profile designs actually fit this type of motherboard without blocking off the graphics card slot.

    Its an H55 board(H55N USB3), so same spacing as yours(or damn close) :) 

    AXP 140 fits without mods(unless there are components on the back of the board that get in the way)
    Samuel 17 fits

    It is said that the Shuriken(not the big shuriken) fits as well.

    Or my first cooler for my MCE system. The stock Core2 cooler with bolts/nuts and rubber spacers.
    http://img190.imageshack.us/img190/3787/dsc0225zv.jpg

    I do think you should do a review for heatsinks that fit in SFF cases....
  • -1 Hide
    ta152h , March 16, 2011 1:56 PM
    The point about BTX is ill-informed. There were actually a LOT of BTX form factors sold; massive amounts. They were often sold by makes like Dell. So, it wasn't a failed standard at all, it just never caught on in the hobbyist market.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , March 16, 2011 2:44 PM
    CrashmanThe PC-Q08 didn't fail.

    True, but seeing how much better it was might help people decide how much overclocking they can do.
    I have a MSI GTX460 "Cyclone" installed in mine. It exhausts none of its heat, which I think limits how well the CPU can be cooled.
    Another point to make is that the PSU can be mounted either way in the PC-Q08, either drawing its own air through the side vent, or helping to cool the CPU by pulling its air from inside the case.
  • 0 Hide
    dainsane1 , March 16, 2011 3:19 PM
    i do like the lian-li cases. good to see they stack up well. so surprised to see the tiny one win. i jammed a q8200 and a gtx460 into a lian-li PC-Q07B. it took some hacking of the case and just fit the video card. had to add 4x 40mm fans at the bottom and a blower at the top. the thing screams when the fans are at full speed. soon as i can get hold of a milling machine the whole case will become part of the water cooling system.
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