It looks like BitFenix are at it again. Fresh off the manufacturing line, Benchmark Reviews has received something a bit different from the company known for cases like the Colossus, Shinobi and Prodigy. As their first case with aluminum panels the slim micro-ATX Pandora brings a sense of style that is a significant departure from some of their recent enclosures. Available in black or silver, with or without a window, and in Core or ICON versions (which contain a 2.4″ LCD display in the front panel) fans of the micro-ATX form factor will have quite a few possibilities to choose from. For those that are looking for something a little more elegant without sacrificing a large footprint, the Pandora may be just the thing. Are there any compromises made to keep this case slim? Let’s dig in and take a look.
Tag Archive: Tom Jaskulka
What a difference a year makes. In Q3 of 2013, Phanteks branched out from their well-known CPU cooling and fan items and released the Enthoo Primo computer case. Their first chassis won multiple awards and was quickly followed by the Enthoo Pro; a more accessible case that still exuded a premium feel from this brand-new case company. The Enthoo Luxe arrived quite a few months later, adding a splash of color to the lineup. With the premium tower, full-tower and mid-tower segments covered, Phanteks has delved into the smaller form factors. Today, Benchmark Reviews will review Phanteks’ latest offering, the micro-ATX Enthoo EVOLV. With rear-hinged aluminum panels, snap-on front and top covers concealing 200mm/140mm fans and multiple radiator mounts along with a few other surprises, will this aluminum-clad water-cooling oriented chassis pack as much of a punch as its bigger brothers?
The mini-ITX form factor has taken off in a big way. Packing a lot of power in a small space, these 17 x 17 centimeter squares have enabled new concentrations of computing power. Generally, you have to pay quite a bit for the privilege of shrinking everything down, but Gigabyte has a model in their Ultra Durable line of motherboards that brings a “Z” chipset to the ~$130 price point. With high-efficiency MOSFETs and on-board WIFI/Bluetooth, USB 3.0 and two gigabit LAN controllers (Intel and Atheros), the Gigabyte GA-Z87N-WIFI is a reasonably priced entry into the overclocking-capable Z87 chipset. Is it worth it? Follow along as Benchmark Reviews takes a closer look.
Sporting a configurable TDP and all of the Kaveri features (GCN graphics cores, Steamroller CPU cores, HSA, etc.), the A10-7800 which Benchmark Reviews will be looking at today sits right in between the A10-7850K and A10-7700K. What type of performance was AMD able to extract from this 65W APU? Read on to find out.
Back when I was given an opportunity to review SilverStone’s new Argon series of coolers, the system I was using at the time for testing CPU coolers was based on an AM3+ processor. The AR03 was recommended out of the two for my platform, due to it’s larger physical size than a Socket 1155 CPU – for which the smaller AR01 would be more appropriate.
Rosewill’s Legacy series of cases brought a new image with them to the Newegg in-house brand’s typically budget-oriented lineup. That’s not to say there weren’t splendid offerings available previously – I still maintain that Rosewill’s Thor V2 chassis is one of the best “price for performance” cases produced in recent memory. Even excluding the stand-out cases, there was a chassis at almost every price point that usually offered just as much as the competition at a lower price (even though they may have sacrificed a feature or a little build quality – usually negligible – to do so). Still, Rosewill’s penchant for penny-pinching produced (alliteration!) a few compromises along the way. Looking to provide some premium offerings and possibly shed their “budget” image of the past, Rosewill may just end up revamping their legacy with the new Legacy W1 Mini-ITX computer case. Available in black or silver with or without a window, this aluminum-clad mini-ITX case appears to be a premium answer to enclosures like the BitFenix Prodigy.
August 2010. A new company releases a massive enclosure aptly named the Colossus. The original Colossus was BitFenix’s first product as a company, and it captured the attention of the enthusiast crowd at the time with its various added features and performance capabilities. While Benchmark Reviews has taken a look at the Colossus before, the recent release of the micro-ATX (and mini-ITX) Colossus M got us thinking: how much performance was retained in the Colossus’ spiritual successor? The SofTouch finishes, LiteTrak systems and bold styling are all there, but how do the two compare when filled with similar hardware? Is the monolithic Colossus ancient history by now, or can BitFenix’s first product still hold its own? Courtesy of BitFenix, let’s see how the latest BitFenix Colossus stacks up against the original version.
Enter Fractal Design’s Node 804. While it isn’t an exact scaled-down replica of cases like the Carbide Air 540 or HAF XB, it still uses a cube/split chamber layout – this time in a micro-ATX size. With dimensions of 344 x 307 x 389 mm or 13.5 x 12.1 x 15.3 inches (WHD), the Node 804 is just a bit wider than a BitFenix Prodigy and almost exactly a third larger than the Node 304 (in the height and width dimensions – depth differs by only 15mm). The Node family is designed with a focus on Home Entertainment; with the vast array of fan, radiator and storage combinations that are possible the Node 804 could easily take on any number of roles. Benchmark Reviews has received the Node 804 for some testing, so let’s take a look at the newest member of Fractal Design’s Node family.
Announced at CES 2014, Kingston has released their replacement of the Blu series of RAM modules. Named “Fury,” the new HyperX series of DDR3 RAM claim to make overclocking even easier by automatically detecting the appropriate speeds and timings for your motherboard, making these modules “Plug and Play” ready. Arriving in 4GB, 8GB single, 8GB dual or 16GB dual-channel kits, the Fury line will have frequencies of 1333 MHz (CL9), 1600MHz (CL9), or 1866 MHz(CL10). A new asymmetric heat-spreader design in red, blue, white or black colors covers a stylish black PCB, adding a distinct look to this newest memory kit from Kingston. Benchmark Reviews received one of the dual-channel 8GB kits for testing (model HX318C10FWK2/8), so let’s see how these modules compare.
Thermaltake has recently added another chassis to their Urban lineup. A modern update of the classic Lanbox Lite chassis (also by Thermaltake), the Urban SD1 is designed for builders that are building around the mATX/mITX form factors and still want room for large graphics cards, AIO liquid coolers and multiple drives. Utilizing modular internals in a chassis not much bigger than many ITX boxes, the Urban SD1 promises an easy building experience. Weighing in at 5.8 kg and with dimensions of 239 x 280 x 456mm (HWD), will this sophisticated relative of the Lanbox / Armor A30 deliver on its claims of high-performance in a micro-ATX form factor? Benchmark Reviews was given an opportunity to build a system in the Urban SD1 (model CA-1A9-00S1NN-00), so let’s see what changes have been incorporated in this new member of the Urban chassis family.
Thermaltake is no stranger to the computer chassis market. With Reddot design awards for their Chaser A71 and Level 10 enclosures, they aren’t afraid to try different approaches to chassis design. With their new Core V71 Full Tower chassis, Thermaltake is offering an E-ATX capable enclosure that is both versatile and adaptable. Focusing on performance with either air or liquid cooling, the Core V71 offers an unprecedented level of flexibility and customization.
Finishing up a run of new cases based on the Prodigy, BitFenix has started shipping their Colossus M. Taking its name from one of BitFenix’s first full-tower enclosures, the Colossus M inherits the original’s distinctive lighting and combines it with the familiar internals of the micro-ATX Prodigy M. Offering a different approach from the smooth lines of the Phenom and the airflow of the Prodigy, the Colossus M wraps an angular, soft-touch shell around familiar internals while adding a few new tricks in the process. Have they saved the best for last? Benchmark Reviews has the micro-ATX Colossus M on hand (model BFC-CLM-300-KKLS1-RP), so let’s take a closer look at the unique traits that define this mini-Colossus.
On January 27th 2014 Func will start shipping their HS-260 gaming headset, completing a first run of peripherals that started with the MS-3 gaming mouse in February of last year (and the KB-460 mechanical keyboard this past November). Sporting tuned 50mm drivers, detachable audio cables and removable microphone which can switch sides at will, Func brings their focus on functionality to the gaming headset category with their new headset, model FUNC-HS-260-1ST. Benchmark Reviews has a sample on hand, and in this review I’ll do my best to explain my experience with the Func HS-260 gaming headset.
The best way to test peripherals is to use them, so over the course of two weeks the Func KB-460 became my “daily driver.” I used it to type this (and other) reviews, as well as for any games or applications I used during that time (there were more than a few rounds of Battlefield 4 played on the KB-460, as well as some Mechwarrior: Online, ARMA III and X3: Albion Prelude to try a few different keyboard-heavy games). Along with my impressions, I’ll also include a few tests using some online keyboard testing suites to help illustrate the capabilities of this keyboard.
The deceptively small ML05 HTPC case from SilverStone sits in a class of its own. Part of the Milo series of entry-level HTPC cases (designed to incorporate features from the Grandia series in a slim form factor), the ML05 is one of the most inexpensive home theater enclosures on the market. Essentially half the size of the previously reviewed micro-ATX ML04, the smaller Milo ML05 still checks a lot of the home-theater specific boxes: short depth, available optical drive, room for additional storage, and enough airflow to keep things quiet. Benchmark Reviews has a chance to evaluate the SilverStone ML05 Mini-ITX HTPC case (model SST-ML05B) to see what building a different kind of computer in a different kind of case is like.
Benchmark Reviews was recently given the chance to sample the Milo ML04 HTPC micro-ATX case from SilverStone. Possibly an under-appreciated corner of the PC case market, a good home theater case can provide a subtle home for some powerful components. With computers making a gradual shift from the office to the living room and form factors steadily decreasing in size, HTPC cases can offer a home for an older, re-purposed office machine or a sophisticated enclosure for a dedicated media box. Part of the entry-level Milo series designed to offer the full size features of the Grandia series in a smaller size, will SilverStone’s SST-ML04B fulfill the special requirements of an HTPC platform? Why not just use any old computer case and set it in the living room? Let’s take a look and find out if the ML04 is a better option.
Today Benchmark Reviews will be looking at the lastest Raven enclosure from SilverStone, the Raven SST-RV04B-W. Since the RV01, the Raven series served as the “experimental” arm of the SilverStone chassis lineup; testing out unique ideas like a 90-degree rotated motherboard orientation and exotic applications of materials in a line of enclosures that had the extreme looks (and performance) to match. The RV04 forgoes the vertical orientation of the motherboard in previous Ravens and instead rotates it yet another 90 degrees. Utilizing a cooling design inspired by the impressive micro-ATX TJ-08E, the ATX Raven RV04 uses two 180mm AP fans in a slightly more traditional format – well, as traditional as a Raven case can be…
The Noctua NH-U12S is one the newest versions from Noctua’s NH-U series of CPU coolers that were first introduced in 2005. For years, Noctua has been synonymous with premium performance cooling and the new NH-U12S model looks to continue the tradition. Designed to be an affordable option for the NH-U series the 120mm NH-U12S and its 45mm wide heatsink promise quiet performance while still clearing RAM modules, even on sockets like LGA2011. Combined with the new NF-F12 PWM 120mm fan and an entire host of cutting-edge trademark technologies from Noctua, can this cooler compete with popular offerings like the Hyper212 EVO? Benchmark Reviews has a chance to review the NH-U12S and see what Noctua has done with the 120mm tower CPU cooler formula.
It’s entirely possible the next product needs no introduction – the Noctua NH-U14S is the newest version in Noctua’s NH-U series of CPU coolers that were first introduced in 2005. For years, Noctua has been synonymous with premium performance cooling and the new NH-U14S model looks to continue the tradition. Designed to be the premier option for the NH-U series the 140mm NH-U14S and its 52mm wide heatsink promise quiet performance while still clearing RAM modules, even on sockets like LGA2011. Combined with the NF-A15 140mm fan and an entire host of cutting-edge trademark technologies from Noctua, will this cooler be worthy of the Noctua name? Benchmark Reviews has a chance to see where the NH-U14S ranks among the competition.
When the BitFenix Prodigy was released last year, it expanded on the idea of how much performance could fit in a small case. There were some users (me included) that felt the original Prodigy was just a little too big for an ITX box – responding to customer feedback, BitFenix wanted to provide a more streamlined option for those users that wanted all that the Prodigy had to offer in a more compact package. With essentially the same internal layout as the original Prodigy, the new BitFenix Phenom (model BFC-PHE-300-WWXKK-RP) caters to those that want something a little more minimalistic with airflow taking a backseat to looks and finesse. Benchmark Reviews is ready to look inside and see how much of the Prodigy legacy stays intact with the BitFenix Phenom ITX case.
The 280mm closed-loop all-in-one liquid cooling selection is about to grow by one: The Cooler Master (RL-N28L-20PK-R1) Nepton 280L. Sporting new dual 140mm JetFlo fans with POM bearings and a new pump design with LED, the 280L is Cooler Master’s answer to the Kraken X60 and H110. Will an all-new pump, high-flow fans and a 280mm radiator be enough to take on the competition? Benchmark Reviews will find out if the Nepton 280L can handle an overclocked FX platform and see how it stacks up against the competition.
After seeing numerous modders do just that (and the customer feedback that was clamoring for such a case), BitFenix has responded with the Prodigy M. Using the frame of the original Prodigy, they reworked the internals to accommodate a micro ATX motherboard and all of the enthusiast configurations that go along with it. Even with its proven performance in ITX trim, can the Prodigy chassis keep up with mATX components? BitFenix sent their Midnight Black Prodigy M, model number BFC-PRM-300-KKXSK-RP to Benchmark Reviews so we could have a look.
Rounding out the Tundra series, the TD02 is SilverStone’s answer to the top performing closed-loop liquid coolers. Sporting the same patented fin design of the TD03 with claims of 40% higher cooling efficiency, new 120mm fans on a 240mm long, 45mm thick radiator and a custom water block, the SilverStone Tundra SST-TD02 All-In-One Liquid CPU Cooler that Benchmark Reviews has received for testing has huge potential. In fact, after the surprising performance of the 120mm push/pull TD03, SilverStone Technology, Co., Ltd. sent out the larger TD02 to go toe-to-toe with the reigning champ of the coolers I’ve tested so far: the Swiftech H220. Can the TD02 take the top spot? Only one way to find out…
Thermaltake’s eSPORTS division has updated their MEKA line of mechanical keyboards with the Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Illuminated Edition gaming keyboard, complete with full red LED illumination on every key and Cherry MX Black linear mechanical switches throughout. Including features comparable to many other premium keyboards, will Thermaltake Technology Co., Ltd.’s eSPORTS offering distance itself from the pack? As always, that’s what Benchmark Reviews intends to find out.
Zalman has always had a unique approach to CPU cooling. Focusing on quiet performance, they’ve once again returned with their distinctive circular design to…wait, what’s this? An all-in-one water cooler with a round radiator?? Well…from a company known for “Cool Innovations,” I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to see such a unique contribution to the All-In-One CPU cooler market. When you first see it in person, it isn’t difficult to see why the Zalman Reserator 3 MAX AIO liquid CPU cooler was given the Innovation award from the Consumer Electronics Show at the beginning of 2013. Complete with an infusion of nanofluids and a claimed 400W of cooling power, does the Reserator 3 MAX have the performance to back up the looks? Benchmark Reviews is ready to place this unique AIO nanofluid cooler on an overclocked FX processor to see what the Reserator 3 MAX is capable of.