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Best Of The Best, Part 3: Who Makes The Most Elite PC Case?

Mountain Mods U2-UFO (Horizon) CYO

Built in the company's Horizon orientation, the only way to get this version of the U2-UFO is by using Mountain Mods' “CYO Flash Picker”. Starting with a $280 shell, the firm added its “Duality” front panel (a $25 upgrade), left and right half-windows ($10 each, x2), Triple Top panel (a $10 upgrade), and Horizon motherboard brace for horizontal mounting ($25). It's then topped with Black Wrinkle powder coat ($50) and a $20 window etching.

Getting us up to a $666 pre-assembly price are twelve 120 mm Logysis fans ($78 combined), twelve 12MGAK-NM mesh fan covers ($36 combined), Lamptron’s FC-6 fan controller ($45), wrinkle-finished triple-HDD cages ($36 each x2), single-bay covers ($13 each x2), and a triple-bay cover ($15.50).

The standard 18” chassis only has the ATX-standard seven slots, making it difficult or impossible to mount a thick graphics card in a motherboard’s bottom slot. Stranger, the flash picker did not have a rear-panel option for the larger 10-slot motherboard tray, though we were able to select both the XL-ATX tray and 10-slot back panel by selecting our configuration from the shopping cart and bringing up the configuration options.

Our U2-UFO includes power and reset buttons, but no front-panel USB or audio ports. We didn’t even find a USB/audio front bay adapter on Mountain Mods' website, so if you prefer plugging devices in to the front of your case without reaching around back, you’ll probably need to find those parts at a case modding specialty store.

Mountain Mods can etch just about any logo you’d like in onto a window, and speaks to our vanity with this example. The workmanship is impressive, and you can bet we'll be on the lookout for an enthusiast-oriented project able to utilize the chassis' copious radiator mounting space.

  • Menigmand
    Dinosaur cases...
    Reply
  • Dayvy
    Hats off to Thomas Soderstrom and the work put into this series. There is a lack of comprehensive computer enclosure articles, which leaves consumers purchasing decisions to educated guesses, not definitive answers.

    This article highlights a sad truth; computer enclosures typically fall somewhere between gimmicky, foolishly designed, or needlessly excessive. I'm astonished by the difficulty manufacturers seem to have in engineering these things, unless it's blatant disregard. No matter what you purchase, you are forced into making sacrifices that are seemingly obvious fixes.

    Even the surface details, way above the depth this article explores, are insulting deficiencies. What sort of R&D department places USB ports so close together that two devices cannot be plugged in simultaneously? To me, that's not having an attention to detail, it's a microcosmic failure that is representative of the general design principles of computer cases. Do you really need to be an engineer to get a heat gun and observe the sources of heat in a modern gaming computer in order to devise an adequate ventilation system?

    Call me crazy, but none of it seems that difficult. Use a little ingenuity and intuition. If your design team is so out of touch with the amenities aftermarket builders seek, then have a public design contest. Many of us would be eager to show you a truly capable design.
    Reply
  • Memnarchon
    Magnificent work Thomas Soderstrom! The best high end case test I ever seen in the web.

    It seems Silverstone engineers are far ahead from others. They are far ahead in the Temperatures Over Ambitient with high fans and far ahead in the Acoustic Efficiency with low fans.

    If the high fans wouldn't produce so much noise, I think it would take the elite award...
    Reply
  • chaosmassive
    R9 290X reference cooler not noisy enough?
    need to use GTX 580 instead?
    Reply
  • ta152h
    These are ugly boxes that no one needs to look at.

    An elite case could be something like the PC-CK101. It's beautiful, and actually works(the movement is kind of silly, and not very feasible). It cost me about $350, but every time I look at it, I feel like it's worth it.

    Granted, looks are subjective, but these things make no attempt at being anything but simple boxes. If you want a more functional definition of elite, their gruesome appearance is fine, because no one has to look at them, but then why even consider these knock-off brands, and not just get a SuperMicro? They're more attractive, infinitely better designed, and far better supported. They also make the best motherboards money can buy. They are a real server company, so if you're serious, that's the way to go.

    These knock-off companies don't have the experience, reputation (nothing says quality like SuperMicro), or long term support for their products. If you're going to pay that much money for a case, either get some really nice looking (or unique, or both), or at least consider something from a company that only makes high quality products, and has been doing it for a few decades. Their designs are very mature, and very refined.

    I can't say they're the best, because I haven't tried every brand, but they are clearly less riddled with problems than the normal cases from lower-end makers like Lian-Li (although I still buy them, and think they're fine for their price.). But, when you're talking around the $400+ area, you don't get a pass for "fine for their price". You better be near perfect, or exceptional in some detail. Because at that price, you are competing against the lower-end of real server boxes, with much better support. It's not clear to me these boxes justify the cost.

    It would have been interesting to include one for comparison. Even if you don't need it for a server, they are very nice cases, with so many more options directly available from the manufacturer. It's worth a look, if you have a part 4.



    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Thank you for your efforts Thomas, that looks like it was a ton of work! If I may add a suggestion: Please include a summary photograph of all the cases in one photo. I feel that it would add to the "rounding off" of the article series and give a nice overview of all the cases' looks to the reader.


    After reading your review, I'd take a white Nanoxia Deep Silence 6, based on silence, performance and looks.

    Thanks again.
    Reply
  • voltagetoe
    All these so called silent cases lack common sense. You can make a truly silent one yourself by using 25mm plywood and 30mm glass wool - very cheap materials.
    Reply
  • burkhartmj
    14272223 said:
    These are ugly boxes that no one needs to look at.

    An elite case could be something like the PC-CK101. It's beautiful, and actually works(the movement is kind of silly, and not very feasible). It cost me about $350, but every time I look at it, I feel like it's worth it.

    Granted, looks are subjective, but these things make no attempt at being anything but simple boxes. If you want a more functional definition of elite, their gruesome appearance is fine, because no one has to look at them, but then why even consider these knock-off brands, and not just get a SuperMicro? They're more attractive, infinitely better designed, and far better supported. They also make the best motherboards money can buy. They are a real server company, so if you're serious, that's the way to go.

    These knock-off companies don't have the experience, reputation (nothing says quality like SuperMicro), or long term support for their products. If you're going to pay that much money for a case, either get some really nice looking (or unique, or both), or at least consider something from a company that only makes high quality products, and has been doing it for a few decades. Their designs are very mature, and very refined.

    I can't say they're the best, because I haven't tried every brand, but they are clearly less riddled with problems than the normal cases from lower-end makers like Lian-Li (although I still buy them, and think they're fine for their price.). But, when you're talking around the $400+ area, you don't get a pass for "fine for their price". You better be near perfect, or exceptional in some detail. Because at that price, you are competing against the lower-end of real server boxes, with much better support. It's not clear to me these boxes justify the cost.

    It would have been interesting to include one for comparison. Even if you don't need it for a server, they are very nice cases, with so many more options directly available from the manufacturer. It's worth a look, if you have a part 4.


    You bought a case that looks like a train. That's not elite, that's niche as hell. On top of that, it's a Mini-ITX case which puts it outside the scope of these articles by default. Besides, if we factored in Mini-ITX the NCase M1 would blow your train out of the water.

    Other than some of their cases holding a lot of hard drives, I fail to see what makes SuperMicro cases amazing. They look unbelievably bland on the outside, and like every desktop I've ever seen on the inside . Of course I'm only looking at their freestanding computers, because rack cases are also outside of the scope of these articles. Honest request, point me to these outstanding and attractive SuperMicro cases that I'm missing. I'm not familiar enough with the brand to just say you're wrong, but I haven't found evidence myself to the contrary.
    Reply
  • voltagetoe
    All these so called silent cases lack common sense. You can make a truly silent one yourself by using 25mm plywood and 30mm glass wool - very cheap materials.
    Reply
  • Musaab
    Maybe you can consider LittleDevil LD PC-V8 with it's 299.99 price tag , Aluminum built and Pro lock.
    Reply