CPU Cooling And Case
CPU Cooler: Xigmatek HDT-S1284 and Crossbow Bracket
Our choice of graphics put so much strain on our budget that we could no longer afford a liquid-cooled X58 platform. But the good news was that LGA 1156 didn’t need liquid cooling to reach good clock speeds--or so we thought. We were, after all, reaching 4.3 GHz “on air” by using a Core i7-870 in motherboard reviews.
Unfortunately, the huge cooler from our motherboard reviews wasn’t available at Newegg when we placed our order. Instead, the only 120mm cooler we could find in-stock to fit LGA 1156 was Xigmatek’s HDT-S1284EE, and even then we needed to purchase the company’s Crossbow ACK-I5363 bracket to complete its installation. The combination of a $39 cooler and an $8 bracket would remain a good value compared to liquid-cooling systems, but only if it could meet our performance expectations.
Case: Lian-Li PC-K7B
Our other big-budget sacrifice would be the case, yet our lack of liquid cooling meant that we no longer needed one that could support a dual-fan radiator. For around $30 less than our previously selected NZXT Panzerbox, the Lian-Li PC-K7B would do the job.
Lian-Li’s legendary build quality still applies to this cheaper, steel-framed part, which was available for only $80 when we placed our order. An excellent panel fit and the quality-appearance of an anodized-aluminum shell make this part a good value, even at its current $90 price.
Small enough to look good on most desks, Lian-Li fits this particular model with top-panel buttons and jacks that are more useful in under-desk use. While a major annoyance to this editor, we understand that many readers prefer the alternative placement.
The PC-K7B is, in fact, one of the few sub-$100 cases to support Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards, something more popular cases such as the Cooler Master Storm Scout can’t accomplish without major modifications. Dual intake fans are balanced by a single exhaust and the power supply’s intake for a well-designed cooling path.
Lian-Li’s refined exterior is countered by the rugged look of its competitors, making appearance a matter of preference. However, the PC-K7B certainly looks more expensive than it really is, and we believe those pricey looks are a good match for the system’s $2,500 budget.