Mini-ITX Case Final Thoughts
Overall, I think Rosewill has a great case in the Legacy W1. The build quality especially was a (pleasant) surprise for me. While the system I chose to build in the W1 wasn’t a high-end system (Core i3, ECS H61 motherboard, 8GB DDR3 1600, GTX 660) I was again (pleasantly) surprised by the noise efficiency of this case. There aren’t any sound dampening sheets of foam (although they’d be easy to add), and even with the built-in fan controller on high the entire system was noticeably quieter than most ITX cases I’ve worked with. I’m sure that would change a little with some really hot overclocked components, but with the provisions for watercooling and some flexibility with the airflow, I think I’d be pretty comfortable putting a high-end system in the Legacy W1. At least it’s easier to fit larger power supplies in than the ITX Prodigy to supply those power-hungry components, although I do miss the ability to add a 200/230mm fan (it would remain to be seen how much of a difference that would make…). I just don’t have much to complain about with the W1 – it looks great, performs great, feels great, and provides enough options to accommodate almost any mini-ITX system.
Rosewill Legacy W1 Conclusion
I’ll try and summarize my experience with Rosewill’s Legacy W1 mini-ITX computer case in terms of Performance, Appearance, Construction, Functionality and Value categories, but as always I feel like I should add a disclaimer. You must understand that my own preferences and uses for cases differ from most; while I try to view each case as objectively as I can, I probably can’t avoid my own bias from affecting my conclusion in some manner. I implore you to think in depth of your OWN uses and preferences, and use my reviews as a guide or simply as another perspective.
I feel like the Legacy W1’s performance was sufficient, and downright impressive with regards to noise. Of course, that had a lot to do with the types of components I chose. Whereas the Prodigy seems to encourage customization and limit-seeking, the Legacy W1 exudes a more reserved and refined aura of performance. You may not have as many options for airflow as BitFenix’s popular ITX case, but what is there seems to be sufficient for any sensible build – and there are still additional fan slots up top and some rearranging of drive trays that can be explored to unlock additional performance. I still wish I had an option to add a 200/230mm fan in front, but the twin 140mm fans seem to be more than adequate anyway.
The appearance of the Legacy W1, as with any aesthetic, is probably open for debate. Personally, I feel that it is one of the better looking mini-ITX chassis available right now. However you feel about the conservative design, the use of brushed aluminum for the exterior panels confidently declares this a “premium” case. The metal looks great – while I generally prefer matte finishes, I bet the silver version would be especially effective at showcasing the brushed aluminum (while at the same time hiding fingerprints more effectively than the black – the only downside to the beautiful aluminum panels). There are some familiar design inspirations at work, but the overall look is interesting and edgy enough to catch the eye while remaining subtle enough to avoid screaming “look at me!” (this is a good thing – while I’m no expert on design or fashion, it seems to me “hey, I look good” is better than “LOOK AT ME!!!”).
You can tell the build quality is a notch above the other OEMs under the Rosewill brand. While their other cases were perfectly sufficient (after all, it’s just a box that holds the really interesting stuff anyway right?), the precision machining and tight tolerances everywhere just add to the luxury/premium feel. The 2mm thick side and top panels were a little on the light side compared to the panels on SilverStone’s FT03, but they seemed strong enough to avoid warping or bending (and the attachment pegs are vastly superior). The foam-lined frame really subdued any noise and cushioned the panels. Everywhere you look you just get the feeling of a high-end product – the only misstep was the threads for the HDD bracket, but I’m not sure if I’ve worked with a case yet that didn’t experience that somewhere (usually with the PCI slot covers or motherboard standoffs).
Functionally, the Legacy W1 is a small step above similar ITX enclosures; there’s the capacity for large graphics cards and CPU coolers, ATX power supplies of any length and some water-cooling compatibility. It can’t shrink to FT03-type sizes, or deliver the customization of the BitFenix Prodigy/Phenom/Colossus Minis, but instead manages to combine the premium construction of the FT03 with the performance capacity of the Prodigy. It’s almost the ideal blend of the two, really. When you factor in the built-in fan controller, removable drive cage and tool-less panels all around, the only thing missing in my opinion is a spot for a 200/230mm fan (yeah, I realize I’m pretty stuck on that). It seemingly has abundant airflow in stock trim though, so perhaps that’s just me.
As of late June 2014, the Legacy W1 was already available for $119.99 (Newegg | Amazon). While the mini-ITX Prodigy can generally be found for quite a bit less, the FT03 tends to hover around $20 more. Since the Legacy W1 seems to blend the two, I suppose it only makes sense that its price sits in between the two as well. The construction really is a notch above what I’m used to with other Rosewill cases, and I think the stock offering adds enough value over the Prodigy to justify its price premium – of course, that’s if you prefer the tool-less aluminum panels and slightly more conservative/subdued styling. If not, the Prodigy offers most of what the Legacy W1 does for a generally better price, making it a hard-to-beat chassis for value.
I think it’s apparent why Rosewill labeled their new series of cases with the name “Legacy.” If you wanted to shift the perception of your brand, the W1 is a great start. It’s a premium, no-nonsense offering that manages to bring a fresh option to a lineup typically associated with budget cases. If you liked the size and capabilities of the Prodigy but felt it could use a little different style and a lot more aluminum, I’d recommend you take a look at the Legacy W1.
+ Tool-less aluminum panels executed well
+ Panels make it easy to build, tinker, make adjustments
+ Solid construction
+ Space for large GPUs, PSUs, and CPU coolers
+ Water-cooling accommodations
+ Attractive design
+ Surprisingly light for such a sturdy chassis
– Yeah, I’m going to complain about no 200mm fan again…
– Aluminum looks and feels great, but more susceptible to fingerprints than matte finishes
– Will probably be endlessly compared to the Prodigy
Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: What form factor size do you build with?