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Five Eight-Slot Cases For SLI And CrossFire, Tested

Why Do Eight-Slot Cases Exist?

When a motherboard manufacturer makes what we consider to be a bad decision, it's usually a matter of practicality. The most notorious of these is a x16 slot in at the bottom of a board, encouraging you to drop in a graphics card that hangs over the edge. Trying to build a system with four double-slot cards within the ATX form factor even necessitates you use that potentially problematic bottom slot (never mind the thermal issues you're bound to have with card coolers shoved so close to each other).

Better card cooling comes from placing double-slot graphics cards three spaces apart, maintaining an empty slot between the fans. Again, we're struck by the limitations of ATX as the empty slot between each double-slot card again forces you to put the third card in a three-way setup in the seventh slot position. Yet again, motherboards that use this spacing are rare.

Those are the acceptable technical reasons for a x16 slot at the bottom of your motherboard. However, we suspect that engineering convenience is the real reason we usually find x16-lane slots at the bottom of ATX boards. More space between the graphics slot and the motherboard’s top edge allows memory to be positioned lower, easing potential circuit routing issues. More space between the CPU socket and graphics card slot facilitates larger heatinks on platforms that still require a northbridge. More space between the graphics card and memory latches even allows memory to be replaced more easily with the graphics card installed.

While those might not sound like good enough reasons to inconvenience a builder by putting the last graphics slot at the very bottom of a board, the prevalence of such designs compelled a number of case manufacturers to respond with a variety of solutions that offer eight slots of upgrade space, rather than the standard seven.

A few vendors carry several enclosures with eight or more slots. However, time constraints forced us to limit today's round-up to one submission per manufacturer. One company decided not to participate at all because its only recent eight-slot model is in a far lower budget class, though we’re sure a few readers would have been happy to save some money with that firm’s product.

Here’s a short list of statistics for the five models we received:

Cooler Master HAF XIn Win Dragon RiderRosewill BlackhawkSilverStone Raven RV03Thermaltake Chaser MK-I
Dimensions
Height23.6"21.5"21.4"20.8"22.4"
Width9.8"9.4"8.6"9.7"9.4"****
Depth22.1"22.8"20.8"22.8"23.3"
Space Above Motherboard2.3"1.8"0.2"0.5"1.7"
Card Length13.3"13.8"12.0"**13.6"13.2"
Weight31.5 pounds26.8 pounds21.0 pounds28.0 pounds20.0 pounds
Cooling
Front Fans (alternatives)1 x 230 mm (140, 120 mm)1 x 120 mm (None)2 x 120 mm (None)2 x 180 mm*** (None)1 x 200 mm (2 x 120 mm)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1 x 140 mm (1 x 120 mm)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (None)None (1 x 120 mm)1 x 140 mm (1 x 120 mm)
Top Fans (alternatives)1 x 200 mm (2 x 200 mm)1 x 120 mm (2 x 120 mm)1 x 140 mm (2 x 120/140 mm)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 200 mm (2 x 200/140/120 mm)
Side Fans (alternatives)1 x 200 mm (None)1 x 220 mm (6 x 120 mm)1 x 120 mm (2 x 120 mm)None (1 x 120 mm)1 x 200 mm (None)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalSix (Two-filled)FiveFourSevenFour
3.5" External2 x HDD Dock1 x Adapter1 x AdapterNone1 x Adapter
3.5" InternalFiveSixSix4 x Dedicated 6 x AdapterSix
2.5" InternalThree*OneSix*OneSix*
Card SlotsNineEightEightEightEight
Price$181$137$100$140$160
*shared on 3.5" tray **Add 4.5" with drive cage removed ***On Base ****Excludes Headphone Clip

Anyone who wants to see photographs of key design and connectivity features should have a look at In Pictures: Five Eight-Slot Cases For CrossFire And SLI.

  • bhtechmech
    I like the ThermalTake the best for access to HDD. Shape is nice too.
    Reply
  • compton
    The Raven is an appealing case except for it's (supposedly removable) gold trim. That stuff might fly for Mr. T or Too Short, but not for most of the masses. It is truly ugly on the outside, but I like what's going on inside. In fact, I like most any case that deviates from the standard layout conventions, but damn, the RV-03 is fugly. I'm sticking to the Lian Li PC-A05NB for a while longer. You can make most cases quieter, but you can't really make most cases less fugly on the outside.
    Reply
  • hammer256
    @compton: why not go for the RV-02E then? It's much more subdued. In my opinion though, the true stunner is the FT-02. Now that is a case with a proper sense of style. Too bad it's quite a bit more expensive though.
    Reply
  • hammer256
    Should have mentioned that those cases don't have the 8th slot though, so I guess they won't work if that's what you need.
    Reply
  • rylan
    Why did you test with a single graphics card? I thought the title of the review was Five Eight-Slot Cases FOR SLI AND CROSSFIRE, Tested.

    Just because a case performs well with a single graphics card doesn't mean it performs well in SLI or CrossFire. I know this from experience.
    Reply
  • mattmock
    It is important to note the >180mm PSU size requirements of the RV03. My Enermax 1050W wouldn't fit in the 03 so I ended up getting a rv02e
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    The factory castors on my HAF 932 died rather quickly: I'd scrounge up a (metal) substitute set of wheels if I was thinking about another build.
    Reply
  • chovav
    yeah come on guys, you don't even look at the temperature of the most important card, the 2nd, 3rd or 4th in SLI! isn't that why you chose a 8-slot case?

    This article misses the whole point! your could have used a mini-ITX board/case for all that matters.

    Please do yourself a favor and revisit this article with 3/4 graphic cards this time!
    Reply
  • boltronics
    Yeah - one graphics card doesn't cut it when CrossFire and SLI are in the article name.

    I've got a HAF-X with 2x RadeonHD 6990 cards in CrossFire... and can confirm that you missed seeing all the flaws because you didn't review it properly.

    1. The bracket doesn't cover the 6990s - it physically cannot be made to fit.

    2. The fan sitting behind the graphics cards also does not fit with 6990s - they take up more room than the cards allow. Even if they did fit, it would never work with 4 graphics cards (if you were going that way) - it's only designed for 3!

    3. My HAF-X case didn't come with the USB3 header cable. When I contacted CoolerMaster about this and asked them to send me one, they basically said "Yeah we announced we would send them out to people who missed out, but we only meant it if you're in the USA and you're not so..."

    Further, the case cannot handle the heat. The top fan of the HAF-X above the CPU actually warped out of shape and started making a huge noise - the blades started hitting the metal insides of the case. I had to move the fan to the opposite side of the frame - hanging from the metal roof, instead of sitting on top of it.

    And the alignment of the PCI slots is off. I originally intended to go 4-way SLI with my HAF-X (before going down the CrossFire path), and realised it would not be possible (using my Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD9 at least). The top two PCI slot ports on the case do not match up with the top two slots on my motherboard! The third & forth case slot would be for graphics card 1, 5 & 6 would be for card 2, 7 & 8 would be for graphics card 3... but if I wanted a forth card, there is only one slot left!

    Now, CoolerMaster did cut a hole internally so you could plug a card that overhangs unto the missing 10th slot... but one problem - since there is actually no 10th slot where the heck would all the hot-air go? Yep - straight back into the card. You would be mad to try it on air - otherwise the card would get GPU death.

    Needless to say, deeply deeply disappointed with the HAF-X due to wanting a 4-card setup, which the case clearly isn't designed for. Your article missed every one of these flaws!
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    The thought was good if the tittle was changed.

    Testing of multiple graphics cards mean more heat and a possibly a larger PSU. I read this thinking I would see answers to the following three questions. Do any of these cases struggle with the added heat from multiple graphics cards? Do any of these cases have an issue supporting larger PSU's? How is the acoustic efficiency when more heat has to be dissipated(do they get louder)?
    Reply