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 X||In Win Dragon Rider||Rosewill Blackhawk||SilverStone Raven RV03||Thermaltake Chaser MK-I|
|Space Above Motherboard||2.3"||1.8"||0.2"||0.5"||1.7"|
|Weight||31.5 pounds||26.8 pounds||21.0 pounds||28.0 pounds||20.0 pounds|
|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)|
|5.25" External||Six (Two-filled)||Five||Four||Seven||Four|
|3.5" External||2 x HDD Dock||1 x Adapter||1 x Adapter||None||1 x Adapter|
|3.5" Internal||Five||Six||Six||4 x Dedicated 6 x Adapter||Six|
|*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.