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And The Winner Is?

DTX Lives! Four Double-Slot Cases For ITX Gaming Machines
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While ITX motherboards represent the most compact derivative of ATX, our “one step bigger” two-slot case roundup was supposed to reveal the ultimate in high-end gaming portability. With portability our primary concern, SilverStone’s SG06B appears to be a true winner. One of only two cases that support the cooling design of our factory-overclocked dual-fan graphics card, mere adequacy is a strong selling point when a case this small is able to support this caliber of hardware. SilverStone even offers a version of this case with the 450 W power supply from today’s test included.

Its not surprising, however, that the smallest case in today’s comparison didn’t take any performance wins, or that its virtually-open side panel let out most of the noise from our graphics card. We also fear what might happen when a case this thin gets “excessively handled” on its way to and from LAN parties, and some builders might even find its 9.8” maximum card length too restrictive.

The next step up in quality, durability, and card space is SilverStone’s SG07B-W. Supporting cards up to 12” long (including the 10.5” GeForce GTX 580), its built-in standard power supply provides the extra amperage needed for such excess. The case, unfortunately, requires a blower-style graphics card cooler that exhaust out the rear panel (again including the mighty GeForce GTX 580) to work properly, severely limiting our choices in the more-typical $200-300 “enthusiast” market.

As a side-note, we've heard from system builders like Falcon Northwest who've "failed" GeForce GTX 550 and 560 Ti combos in SLI because of the problems with mid-card fans that blow air back into small cases. AMD and Nvidia could make life much easier on everyone by engineering products with cooling solutions that more effectively cope with heat generated by their GPUs.

Lian-Li’s PC-Q08 takes quality even higher, while supporting even larger power supplies, and has the card support advantages of both the SG06 (supporting dual-fan cards) plus the SG07 (supporting 12” cards). Lian-Li also adds USB 3.0 front-panel support, though its rear-panel cables orphaned the internal USB 3.0 header on our motherboard. The PC-Q08 even has the space to support 120 mm miniature liquid CPU coolers. Yet, all of that extra size somewhat defeats the purpose of ITX. The PC-Q08 competes against several microATX cases of similar size in the portable gaming market, facing a strong argument against the limitations of ITX motherboards.

Though its still light enough to be portable, Cubitek’s Mini-Tank goes further than any other case we’ve seen towards defeating the size advantages of ITX with dimensions similar to some compact full-ATX mini-towers. Of course, it has far more room for big CPU coolers than any other case its size, and that could be a big advantage to overclockers if anyone ever develops an ITX motherboard that supports high-end overclocking. Cubitek even adds ingress and egress holes for external water cooling lines. Two inches wider and shorter (in depth) than a "standard" microATX mini-tower, the Mini-Tank appears to be designed primarily for stationary systems where storage is more important than slot space. A visually-stunning design has made the Cubitek Mini-Tank the most coveted case in this lab, in spite of its disregard for ITX's space-saving intentions.

Display all 61 comments.
  • -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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