System Building with PC-M25A
A lot of us come here to Benchmark Reviews to read about high-end gaming gear. In a gaming case, we look for water cooling capabilities, multiple graphics card support, side panels with elegant windows, RGB illumination, etc. We sometimes forget about the people who are not looking for all the bling. These people look only for a product that has the essential functions to serve a specific purpose. We cannot judge this case based off of a gamers perspective since the PC-M25A is a server case. Let’s take a look at the results.
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97N-WIFI
System Memory: 2x4GB 1600MHz DDR3
Processor: Intel Pentium G3258 @ 4.4GHz
Audio: Realtek ALC892
Video: Gigabyte R9 270X 2GB GDDR5 Windforce Edition
Disk Drive 1: Kingston SSDNow V300 120GB SSD
Enclosure: Lian Li PC-M25A
PSU: Insignia 520W ATX
Monitor: HP 23bw 23″ IPS display
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
I did not have a lot of trouble building with the PC-M25A case. There was a lot of workroom and the Gigabyte R9 270X 2GB GDDR5 Windforce Edition graphics card fitted perfectly in the case. Cable management was not the best, but the cables could be tied together and tucked behind the HDD cage. A standard sized PSU fitted perfectly over the motherboard. Because of this, I had to install the Intel stock cooler over the Pentium G3258 CPU.
There was no room behind the motherboard tray for cables, so no cable cutouts were present. Because of this, I tucked most of the cables behind the HDD cage. Even with the cables behind the HDD cage, the side panel was able to close without much problem.
Three 4-pin molex or three SATA power connectors could power the five HDDs if installed. For the top SATA port, I recommend using a non-right angled SATA connector. The bottom four should have right angled connectors to prevent any damage to the cables when the side panel closes.
With the power supply installed, there was only 80mm of space for a CPU cooler. I installed the Intel stock cooler, which should be adequate enough for light use. I also had two sticks of Kingston HyperX Fury RAM installed. RAM modules with tall heat spreaders, like the Corsair Vengeance, should install without problems either. Most ECC memory modules come without heat spreaders. This guarantees compatibility, which is perfect for a server build with the PC-M25A.
The PC-M25A came with a pre-installed top 120mm exhaust fan. This fan sat only millimeters from the power supply. From the perspective of a gamer, this meant there was no support for a radiator with a fan.
The side panel did cause the computer to run hotter than normal. This was because there were no ventilation holes aside from the small ventilation towards the front of the side panel. The power supply was pulling in hot air from the graphics card, causing the fan to spin faster compared to a standard computer case. I could have installed the power supply so the fan was facing the CPU cooler. Doing that would have ended with similar results as the CPU fan and the PSU fan would have to fight each other for air. If the side panel had some ventilation holes over the PSU, this would had helped cool things down.
Installing a graphics card with a blower-style design would help keep the case temperature down. Since the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce Edition graphics card had an open air design, the hot air from the graphics card dispersed directly back into the case and into the power supply. The power supply could fail sooner especially if the server was running 24/7 with the GPU at full utilization. Assuming the graphics card had a blower-style design, the hot air would disperse through the rear of the card and out of the case immediately without affecting the nearby components.
Let’s go into my final thoughts and end this review with my conclusion in the next section.