As summer draws to a close we begin to near the end of our Summer of Cases. Like the colors change as same fades so does the case colors change as we near the end. Back in the days of old we had an amazing choice in case colors, anything we liked as long as it was beige. This was not just the DIY crowd, but the cookie cutters machines as well; all cases came in shades of beige. This meant that when the first black cases hit the DIY market they were an instant success. It did not matter if the case was well made or not, we had all gotten so sick of beige that ANYTHING was better. Plus black was cool, it looked sleek and mysterious.
Fast-forward a decade and now black has become the new beige. Almost every case you can get today comes in black, oh sure there are some cases that use other colors but black is pretty much the rule. Of late however there has been a movement among case companies to try other colors. Various greys have made some good headway, particularly gunmetal, however for the most part black is still the norm. Recently however there has been a move to white, now white cases have been around for a while actually but most looked cheap or rather bland. However some of the newer cases offering white as a color option have made a real splash, such as the Corsair 600T White.
To look at this simple unassuming box, you would be hard pressed to realize that within is a case that makes a fashion statement. The Graphite line up is Corsairs performance line of cases, now I am using performance here based on the definition we use on this show. That means this case costs a bit more but puts together a package to warrant the higher cost. The base Corsair 600T which comes in, you guessed it, black, costs around $160 right now on Newegg. The white model, the one we will be reviewing, comes in at only 10$ more or $170.
While the box itself may be plain jane, the case is not. The cases base color is white but the front has a large grill area, painted black and then an inner lip area that is in a slightly different, shinier black finish. The picture makes it hard to see this but the different black shades used create a really attractive pop against the white case.
The upper part of the front grill area sports four 5.25” bays, beneath that is a large pop out that is the filter for a 200mm intake fan that has white LEDS. The filter is super easy to get to and clean, the design is near flawless and no opening of the case is required.
On the top of the case has four USB 2.0 ports, a fan speed controller for the included dual 200mm fans, a USB 3.0 port, Firewire, headphone/mic jacks and the power/reset buttons. This is pretty typical fare at this price point though having a full four USB 2.0 Ports is really nice as is the fan controller. With Firewire all but vanishing from the marketplace I am kind of surprised to see this port in the front.
Behind that front control area is a large, easy to remove, grill that opens to show the top 200mm exhaust fan. The area under the grill is recessed to allow for dual 120mm fans to be mounted outside the case and thus making installation of a 240mm radiator super easy. This cases seems to have been designed and practically begs for the use of an H100 cooler.
The right side panel is a plane white steel panel with the exception of the two black latches that are used to open the panel. No thumbscrews to mess with or lose on this baby, both panels use this easy to operate latching system for gaining entry to the case. The black latches along with the black foot area of the case do a great job of breaking up the white side panel and accenting it to give even this often forgotten location a nice appearance.
The left side panel has the same latches as well as a nice large window to show off your components. This is one of the changes this case makes over the stock 600T besides the color. That window can be easily removed and replaced with a included grilled panel that is designed to hold up to fur 120mm fans. This kind of versatility is really nice to see in a case and makes this case easily worth the $10 price difference right off the bat.
Opening the case we see the inside and color me impressed, it is obvious that whoever designed this case also build a PC or two in their life. The work area is roomy for a mid-tower case and the CPU back plate cutout is large and well placed. There are a ton of gormmetted cable routing holes so finding a way to make the PC look neat inside, a must with a side window. The grommets are tightly fit and the material thick enough to be durable without being so thick that they are hard to use.
My gripe with HD bays mounted across the axis of the case has begun to mellow, the reason is case companies have understood the reduction in airflow and have offered options to work around it. Many have gone the route of increasing the open space around each drive to allow more air flow. Corsair went the second route and instead used a two bay system with each bay being removable. You can actually move one of the bays back a bit to a spot on the case floor in front of the PSU to give more room around the intake fan.
Each bay comes with 4 HD mounting brackets. These are tool less for standard drives and have mounting locations for 2.5” drives. The brackets are made of a flexible plastic and have 4 metal pins. Installation of an HD is super easy as is removal. The brackets might seem flimsy but trust us they are not; it would take real abuse to break one. The optical drives share in the tool less design that the case has going for it, making drive mounting super easy.
The bottom of the case has a grilled out area for the PSU air intake. At the back of the case you can remove the filter for this intake easily. I was really impressed with this filter; most are just simple filter designs with thin frameworks. The 600T filter is made of molded plastic with a solid framework around meaning it is super easy to take out and put back in. It is this kind of attention to detail, little things to make the build and use experience of the case better that stands out to us when we do reviews.
Corsair has over the years been known for building high performance memory, they gradually expanded that into flash drives but that direction was kind of expected. However they have begun branching out more into the DIYer and Gamer markets. The 600T is OBVIOUSLY a case build with DIYers in mind. The features of the case are just what a builder asks for in his case. It is easy to work in and offers a ton of options for building a system just the way you want it. The build quality is top notch with everything working the way it should, no hitches at all in any of the case design.
There are only two areas in the case design I would call into question and they are personal preferences more than anything else. First I am not sure why they chose to add a firewire port. I think this could have been left out and a second USB3 or ESATA port would have made more sense. The second is the grilled side panel with the four 120mm mounts. I personally would have rather seen a single mount for a 200mm fan. The area is easily large enough and a good 200mm fan would actually cost a little less than the same quality 120mms when done in a group of four, plus would have been quieter.
From an aesthetic point of view Corsair has hit this case spot one. The white finish is well done and the choice of a matte back finish with the subtle two tone in the front is outstanding. The white gives the case a fresh, clean look and the black is just enough to properly highlight the white and make it really pop.
At this price point there are a lot of good cases out there but if you are looking for a mid-tower case with some looks and style that stand out for the norm without being overpowering then the 600T white is at the top of my list. Priced at $170 this case gives everything you could want in a serious DIY build that is looking to the future, this is a case you will use over and over for years. Add to that a really sexy appearance and you have one of the best mid tower cases on the market.
If you would like to see some more pictures, head over to http://facebook.com/computered and check out our Corsair 600T Album.
Corsair 600T White review segment as aired live 25 September 2011
If you missed the show then here is a heads up that we have announced our new contest. In honor of Cyber Security Month the Computer Ed Show and Comodo have teamed up to offer you a chance to win a copy of Comodo Internet Security Complete 2011 every Sunday in October. Entry is super easy, just go to http://facebook.com/computered and like the page. This will enter you in not only the current giveaway but future ones as well. One click and you are entered for life, no hoops to jump through, no giving out personal info. (Unless of course you win)
We have begun a new poll, this one will be a two part poll, part one is posted now. Do did build your current PC or just buy one?
Also keep your ears open and check both our Facebook page and this site often, in a few weeks we will be announcing a MAJOR change to the Computer Ed Show.
Fractal does something with their case line up that I really like, they have a clearly defined group of two cases with two very different missions. The Define, which is available in a Full Tower, Mid Tower and Mini Tower is geared toward silent computing. The Arc series, which we are looking at in this article, is available in the Midi ( a mid size tower) and the Mini, geared toward gaming builds. Now the Core 3000 we reviewed a couple of weeks ago also falls into the gaming line up but with a more budget cost point.
Both cases come in a matt black finish that is very well done, we could find no blemishes on close examination. The plastic bevel is done in the same color but with some extra work put in the give the impression of brushed aluminum. From a distance it actually likes like an aluminum piece, awesome work on the finish.
The front of both cases have two 5/25” bays at the top and then a large grill area at the bottom that houses front intake fans. The bevels easily pull off and house the fans within a clip system in the bevel. The Midi comes stock with a 140mm fan and has the mount for a second. The Mini come stock with a 120mm fan with the mount for second one as well. Both have a foal filter in the front bevel to reduce dust in the case. The filters will do a solid job at stopping dust but they are not easily removable meaning that the best way to clean them is with a vacuum from the front or forcing a lot of air through from the back.
The top of both cases make use of the same control panel which includes standard headphone and mic jacks, the power button, reset button and dual USB 2.0 Ports along with a single USB 3.0 port. Both cases use an internal USB header, gone are the silly cables running out of the back of the case so many early USB enabled cases used.
Both cases also share a similar style to the top of the case, with a large grilled and filtered vent covering the entire top. The Midi allows for dual 140mm fans and a third fan that is 120mm, the Mini allows for dual 140mm fans. Both have mounting holes for using up to 240mm radiators. To help with this the cases offset the top fans from center on the case, meaning a radiator will have more clearance over the motherboard. This is a nice bit of engineering that shows a real attention to detail and a sharp focus on the target market for these cases.
Both cases have cutouts on the side panel for an additional intake fan, the Midi can mount a 140mm or 180mm fan and the Mini can use a 120mm or 140mm fan. The option to use a larger fan means lower speeds to move the same amount of air and thus lower noise, nice feature. The side panel does lack a filter and this seems of, especially in light of the fact that the top exhaust area has a filter.
On the bottom both cases have a large, easy to remove filter, that covers a PSU intake area and a place to mount an optional 120mm intake fan. The feet provide a good amount of clearance and have a soft bottom to reduce vibration.
Opening the side panel you find two cases that are twins, both have a rotatable or removable upper HD bay. This is a GREAT feature as it means you have options to mount more HDs, fit longer video cards or open the area to increase airflow. I wish more companies would use a design like this. The side mounted HD system might be nice if you swap drives a lot but they restrict the intake fans air flow. Having options to open that air flow up is a huge plus in my opinion.
Both cases make use of the same white tray mounting system. While this is not a tool less design, it is fairly easy to use. The drives are bottom mounted with the trays supporting 2.5” and 3.5” drives. The 3.5” drive mounts have rubber grommets to reduce vibration. The Midi has the ability to mount up to 8 drives and the mini can mount up to 6 drives.
Both cases share a very open design and feel with a good number of rubber grommeted openings for cable management and plenty of room on the back side for cable management. The CPU back plate opening is well sized and placed, making it easy to use pretty much any cooler you would like to use.
While the work area is well designed and open it has the same issue in both cases that we saw in the Define, the rubber grommets are very thin and not very tight in their mounting. This means these can easily tear or be pushed out of their holes. This is a VERY minor ding but could be frustrating during the build process.
We chose to put both these cases into a review together because they are so similar in design. The mini is a near perfect reduction of the big brother Midi case.
I really like the fact that fractal has put these cases out in this manner. I like knowing that if I like a design I can have it in two different sizes based on what my needs are. Some people might pass on the Mini over the Midi but I think they should stop and take a second look. A lot of people do not have the room for a larger case, so a smaller case is actually an advantage for them. The fact that you get essentially the same case in the smaller form factor is really nice.
Both cases continue a pattern we have seen in every Fractal case we have looked at, an effort to give the case a subdued appearance. With all the cases coming out with lights and bling all over them this is a nice change of pace. The simple design gives the case a classic look and the lack of LED fans means that the case will almost disappear under your desk. While the look is subdued the appearance is not bad, with a great paint job and the extra effort to give the bevel an aluminum look from a distance is a nice touch.
From a builders point of view there is everything you need to a good build that is easy to work with. There is excellent cable management options as well as a roomy work area when compared to other cases of these sizes. The ability to rotate or even remove the top HD bay gives a builder a lot of options for cooling and component selection. The extra effort of moving the top cooler mounts to give extra clearance over the motherboard is a really well thought out feature. Both cases can mount an H100 cooler if you wanted to.
There are only two areas in this case that I am not happy with. First the grommets, they are to thin and to easy to remove. They really need to use a thicker material and a tighter fit. The other is the filtering, the bottom filter is great, covers both intake areas and is easy to remove and clean. The front filter by comparison is not easily removable and the side panel does not have a filter at all.
Both cases are priced at $100 currently on Newegg. The fact that the Mini costs as much as the Midi seems a little odd to me but looking at similar style cases and quality I see that this price is in the ball park. Both cases are feature packed and offer a wealth of options for building a great PC. The subdued look makes these case standout in the market right now and offer the extra benefit of being a perfect blank slate for modders.
If you are looking to build a gaming PC and do not want to have all the bling then the Fractal Arc line is a great choice.
If you want to see more pictures of the Fractal Arc cases then visit our Facebook page and check out the Arc album.
Arc Series review segment, aired live 18 Sept 2011
The Sandforce controller has been a force of nature within the SSD world with every major player jumping at this controller for use with their SATA3 SSD designs. We have already looked at two other drives using this controller, and now Kingston has sent us one. Now I have to tell you that while I love SSDs, at the end of the day I have come to realize that they are all pretty much created equal. Well at least that was what I thought.
The HyperX lineup is Kingston’s top of the line. This is their show me the money, watch me blaze line up, so you expect a bit more. For this reason Kingston was a bit later to the party. Speaking with the folks at Kingston, we discussed why the Hyper X SSD was just now being introduced. I mean let’s face it they have had two generations of SSDs already with no HyperX and time wise, they are behind other companies when it comes to releasing a Sandforce HyperX by a pretty good margin. The reasoning though is pure Kingston.
The reason for waiting for the HyperX branding was not simply a marketing decision. They wanted something that was really a mark above in performance, but they also wanted time to be a mark above in everything else, something that would stand out. As for coming late to the Sandforce party, that was a deliberate decision. Sandforce’s controller is still very new and Kingston did not want to jump in until the water had been tested and had to warm up. They wanted to be sure the technology kinks had been worked out so they could deliver what Kingston delivers best, stability. This move paid off! The early adapters to the Sandforce controller all had teething pains with lockups and blue screens being actually quite common on the early releases. By waiting for these teething pains to be worked out Kingston was able to deliver a product out of the gate that was past these issues and on the stable other side.
Beginning with the packaging Kingston makes sure that you understand that what you have is Hyper X, their high end lineup. I mean the art is great and all but let’s face it great art, while uber cool has been seen before. What I have not seen before in an SSD or a lot of other products for that matter is a box of this kind of quality. I am not kidding the BOX is quality made. No ends inserted into another section. This is a two piece, lift off the top box, the kind of design you find in a box of fine chocolate. Yeah I know it is just a box but when something stands out from a crowd you notice.
When you open the box you see the HyperX drive, now again on a purely aesthetic level the SSD is really nice. There is a nice brushed aluminum finish with the traditional HyperX Blue highlights. The Kingston logo proudly displayed at the bottom and the HyperX logo in raised metal lettering at the top. They have actually made an SSD look sexy!
As you take the drive out of the foam you see why Kingston waited to brand a drive HyperX and how seriously they take doing so. They actually took the time to have to foam protection cut with the HyperX logo. Like I said, this is not going to affect the drive’s performance, but the attention to detail and the lifting of the packaging to a new level is just something that stands out.
Now other than the fancy looks the drive itself is physically just like any other SSD. The same connections, the same dimensions and basic construction. The package we got was Kingston’s upgrade kit, the accessory pack these have typically included have been pretty well done so let’s see how Kingston HyperXed this.
Under the foam we find the adapter tray to allow the 2.5” SSD to be mounted into a 3.5” bay. Again we see the traditional HyperX blue coloring on a nicely finished adapter tray. We also find the standard SATA cable but that is where the HyperX again leaves the others behind. All SSD makers give you a tray and cable. Kingston went even further by putting in a 2’5” external enclosure with it’s USB adapter. There is also a bootable Acronis True Image CD to make it easy to move your old HD to the new SSD. We actually saw this enclosure before from Kingston on the original V series SSDs when purchasing the laptop upgrade kit. Kingston has stepped it up this time again by providing a nicer, more polished look to it. They then push the accessory package over the top by including tip changeable aluminum screw driver. It is nicely colored and branded for HyperX. In other words everything you could or would need to install your Hype X drive is included.
Okay so it is pretty and has a neat box, but how does it actually perform. Well I could give you the long list of comparison numbers with other SSD’s we have tested but there is no need, the reason why is that in every test when compared to other drives we have looked at Kingston either tied for the top or led the pack.
Now as we mentioned in a previous review, the Sandforce driver can be paired with either asynchronous or synchronous memory. In the case of the HyperX, Kingston went the full bore route and used synchronous chips. The result is the HyperX is the fastest SSD we have currently tested. Now in fairness this does not mean it beat up the competition, drives using the same Sandforce controller and synchronous memory will achieve very similar numbers, which was the case in our testing. As I said previously the HyperX tied or led every test, the lead it did achieve was there in benchmarks but in the real world the performance between similarly built designs would be unnoticeable.
This brings us to the one flaw we found in the Kingston HyperX, the price. We compared similarly designed SSDs and found that Kingston was near the top of the price mark. Now in fairness the HyperX comes in two flavors, the one we tested which is the tutti-frutti with sprinkles and glaze or the plain vanilla model. The plain model gets you the drive, tray and screws and comes in at about $245 on Newegg. The deluxe model, the kit we looked at comes in at around $265 at this time. This puts the vanilla model about $20 to $30 above it’s direct competition.
Where does this leave the HyperX SSD? Well it is hard when talking about 120 gig SSDs or larger to speak of budget pricing, especially when you realize we are looking at the big dawg performance range. While Kingston has always offered a great value lineup, the HyperX line has never been about being the best priced. It has been the top of line, super quality and top performer product line. A position it has earned and held over the years. When you buy Hype X you are not typically worried about it costing a bit more, you are instead worried about it being top quality and performing great and the HyperX SSD deserves to be in that line up.
As for the upgrade package, not tutti-frutti with Sprinkles , vs the standalone I have to say it is worth the extra $20 to buy the extra features. A decent 2.5” enclosure is going to set you back around $10 and a copy of Acronis around $30. That means you are getting those two neat features for about half the price you would normally pay. The little screw driver then becomes a neat novelty talking point for free.
The HyperX SSD delivered to us the fasted SSD we have seen to date and did it with a style that no other SSD maker has tried to achieve. Sure it costs a little more but then again style always does. If you are taking the plunge for a 120 Gig SATA3 SSD then the HyperX should be your first stop on the shopping list. It’s not only fast, it looks good doing it!
HyperX SSD review segment, aired September 11, 2011
Congratulations to Jerry Wever of Garfield AR for winning our OCZ Agility 3 SSD giveaway. However that is not end of our contests but rather the beginning. We will be announcing our new contest on the show September 18th but I will tell you this, it will be for every Sunday in the month of October. So let your friends and family know, all they have to do to enter is go to our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/computered and like it, that is it! No forms to fill out, no other links to follow just like the page and they will be entered. As for those that have already liked the page, well they are already entered. How cool is that, one like click and you are entered into any contest we hold from our Facebook page.
Again congratulations Jerry, enjoy the drive.
Here at Computer Ed our Summer of Cases continues and to say we are overwhelmed with cases is an understatement. People think, when I explain to them what we do, that reviewing cases is easy, they could not be more wrong. Cases are one of those things that have a large aesthetic component to it and so a great deal of determining a great case is personal choice. To counter this many reviewer will look at a case with a feature check list and judge based on the list but this in my opinion is wrong as it leaves out that entire aesthetic component and fails to look at the case as a whole.
The next case up on the Computer Ed work bench is the Fractal Design Core 3000. Fractal is a smaller company that has really begun to make it’s move into the US market. They essentially have two product lines, their quiet computing live, the Define series and their gaming line up that is currently led by the Arc. The Core 3000 is their value entry in that gaming line up.
Looking at the packaging, a simple brown box with a picture of the case in black line art and then seeing the case itself you can see an obvious pattern, subdued. This case right from the start does not seek to grab your attention or stand out in any way. The front bevel is essentially a grill design with 2 external 5.25” bays at the top and the rest is for a 140mm stock intake fan with the mount to hold an additional 120mm fan. The subdued look continues even to the logo at the top of the bevel with is engraved into the base, no extra color added.
The top of the case has room for dual 140/120mm fans with a single 140mm fan coming with the case stock. The front panel sports the traditional power button, power LED, HD activity LED, reset, headset jacks and 4 USB 2.0 ports. I am torn in my thoughts about the 4 front ports. I mean having 4 front ports is a good thing, lots of easy access however the lack of USB 3.0 ports seems an oversight. This is especially true with the appearance of USB headers on more motherboards, not just Intel either, I have a 970 based board with it sitting in the lab right now.
Moving to the bottom of the case we find an easy access filter for a PSU air intake as well as an area for a bottom fan intake, un-filtered. Note the case feet, they provide a good lift for air intake space and the rubber bottoms mean the case does not move around a lot plus does not transmit any noise through the floor or desk.
The sides of the case as with all of the exterior are understated with the left side panel having a vented area for a 120/140mm fan and the right being a blank slate. The rear of the case allows for 7 expansion slots, all of the covers are in a nice white, providing a bit of contrast to the rest of the black case. We also find the PSU opening, 2 water cooling holes and a 120mm exhaust fan.
Opening the side panel we now look at the inside of the Core 3000. The first thing you will notice is the 6 easy to remove HD trays. They are hard to miss with their white paint job in the back case. The trays are metal, making them very sturdy and use screws to hold the drives into place. Unlike most HD mounting systems these make use of the bottom mounting holes of a 3.5” drive, with rubber grommets to help reduce vibration. Each of the trays also has holes for mounting 2.5” drives as well.
Normally at this point I would be having my normal tirade about mounting the HD bays across the intake fan axis and reducing air flow. However it seems Fractal noticed this as well and put in a feature to correct this for people wanting the intake fan to be more effective. The top tray area is removable and can be rotated 90 degrees to allow it to act as achannel for the 140 mm stock fan. This is a great idea that is very well implemented. If you have a large video card, removing the bay gives you all the room you will need. If you have a normal sized or even smaller card and want better air flow then you rotate the HD bay and remove the mounting trays. The bay then acts as a tunnel for the intake, keeping the air directed right toward the video card. It is a simple design that performs it’s function perfectly and shows attention to detail.
The bottom of the case houses the PSU as we noted with an intake for cool air through the bottom, it also has room for mounting a 120mm intake fan. I really wish they would have extended the PSU filter to include this intake. A bottom intake is a good idea as it brings in cool air and channels it up to take advantage of the natural air flow created by the cases warm internal air. However it is also a potential dust magnet that really should be filtered. The PSU has rubber mounts to reduce noise and right in front of the PSU is an elongated cutout for routing power cables behind the motherboard tray. The back plate has two more elongated cutouts running up the tray area for cable management and there is a nice cutout for CPU cooler back plates.
As with the Define, which we reviewed a few weeks ago, the looks of the Core 3000 are subdued, they do not draw attention to themselves but that is NOT a bad thing. There has been a slow and quite movement within the DIY community away from the bling and noisy looking cases to the more stately, simple look. For those that want a louder appearance though the Core 3000 offers a great blank slate for case modding.
Opening up the case you find a design that takes into account people will actually build a computer in this case. The HD mounting system appeals to those that like the easy drive access of the side mount setup and those that want max air flow provided by the inline system. The solution they came up with keeps both happy, works really well and offers a good option set. The cable management is adequate, especially since there is no stock side window. You can get a clean tidy build with a little bit of effort.
From a cooling perspective the stock setup gets the job done, a three fan setup at this price point is pretty much par for the course and the use of 140mm fans over 120mm fans means we get a quieter experience. You have good fan options being able to use two more 120mm intake fans as well as another 140mm top exhaust and still can add a 120 or 140 to the side panel. The Fractal fans provided with the case however play a large part in the quiet operation of this case, and it is quiet. These fans do not move a ton of air, but they move air quietly. With a full fan load this case is still quieter than many cases with less fans.
We began this review by using the word subdued when describing this case and that is a word that is used often and fits through this entire review. Price at $75 on Newegg this case is in the middle of the road on price point. It’s feature set is solid but nothing that screams out in a crowd and it’s looks can be described the same way. However this is NOT a bad thing. You often see people get caught up in the extremes, be it extreme looks, feature or price. I am not just talking upper extremes but lower as well. The truth however is usually not found in the extremes but in the middle and the same can be said for value.
At $75 the Core 3000 gives you a case with classic, stately, simple looks as well as solid construction and a good feature set that makes building a PC an enjoyable process. It has enough cooling potential for an overclocker and can handle even some of the most high end hardware when it comes to room for mounting. While this may not be a case that screams for attention it is deserving of some and should be in anyone’s short list of looking for a value case.
For more pictures of the Core 3000 case head over to our Facebook page, Facebook.com/computered.
Core 3000 review segment aired live 4 September 2011
We had an interview scheduled for today with Daniel Stahl, the lead on Cryptic’s MMO, Star trek Online. Our original plan had been to talk about Perfect World buying Cryptic and what that meant for consumers but the best laid plans of mice and men…. You see last night world came out that Star trek Online was going F2P, this meant we had a unique opportunity to speak with Daniel about this before all the corporate talking heads started putting out company lines. So I am proud to bring to you our interview with Daniel Stahl.