Update 12/15/16: I decided to upgrade the GPU and PSU, and decided on a fan change as well; the switch ended up being more hassle that I intended. The first Seasonic PSU had to be RMA'd, it was a faulty unit. The second unit I received worked just fine but the install was a headache, worth it in the end though. I ended up having to redo the wiring setup due to differences in the power cables but I ended up with a better layout I think. After all the back and forth I was not very interested in trying to do much with cable management, and honestly I am not very good at it and have accepted that I probably won't ever have a "sexy" cabling setup - 1.too cheap to buy an expensive case with good management 2. I am just not good at it, I have seen others with much better wiring in the cases that I have built in so unfortunately can't blame it on the hardware.
I went with a GTX 1050Ti for the GPU, I am extremely happy with it. I was thrown off by the fact that it has no need for additional power, it draws everything it needs from the motherboard. Very efficient and super quiet.
I also got rid of the horrible 92mm fan that I had in the case previously and used an adapter kit to install a 120mm fan in the rear of the case. The dust was shockingly bad when I opened it up to do the switch so I decided to change the airflow as well. The rear 120mm is pulling air in to create positive pressure and has a filter attached at the intake in order to cut down on dust entering. This case has a ton of openings and almost seems necessary to set up for positive pressure, but it is very hard to do with the limited fan options. It is not an optimal airflow pattern (air directed at both sides of the CPU cooler, basically fighting each other) but the best I was willing to do at the moment. I think switching the cooler layout to the original orientation that I had it in would be better (fan blowing upward) or maybe going with the flow of the air coming in from the back (air blowing toward front of case). Temps have increased about 4C at idle and 2C while under load, but they are still tolerable.
Update 12/4/15: I changed the fan setup in the front of the case and reoriented the CPU cooler in the traditional way. After testing the temps there were mixed results. The CPU temps dropped by about 4C (accounting for room temp differences) with the traditional back to front airflow through the heatsink, the interesting thing to me was that the GPU temps increased by 3C when I switched to the traditional orientation as well. I feel like the drop in CPU temps is also partially due to the new fan setup and so wasn't a great test to isolate causes. My gut feeling is that, even with the limited space between the fan and the GPU, the vertical orientation of the fan may actually be superior.
Based on these results, even with the skew from the introduction of a new case fan setup, I think it is definitely worth testing the optimal cooling orientation for some people. If you can tweak the cooling in your case specifically to what suits your needs in such a simple way, why not? Of course, it is not the most simple task to move around the orientation of the CPU cooler in some finished systems, and that is the main reason I am not testing this more thoroughly. I'm fine with my temps as they are, but I am sure that I could get things lower by 1-2C if I were determined.
I decided to overhaul my daily use computer, but instead of updating the other build yet again, I thought a fresh start would be better. I love the BitFenix Ghost case, but I felt like I should do it justice and get a full sized ATX board in there when I can. I am planning to do a mid to high end gaming and multimedia system at some point with that case, but for now, I decided to shift all of my current components to a MicroATX case and upgrade the CPU and cooler.
I was able to get the CPU on ebay for a great price, it was actually a processor I had been looking at for some time, but had mostly written it off due to the price/performance ratio of buying it new. Once I found it on ebay I was able to justify it.
This case fit all the parameters for my system, and it mostly worked out, I am very surprised at how cheap it seems though after working with it and the 92mm fan is quite loud. I like it overall, but definitely a noticeable downgrade from the BitFenix, which I wasn't expecting since I only paid about $10 or $20 more for the Ghost. I was able to get things set up so that I wasn't disappointed, but I would definitely not list this as a favorite case or even really recommend it unless you had needs that could not be met by other systems.
I LOVE this CPU. I had been watching it for some time, just due to the specs and was able to snag one at a great price so I couldn't pass it up. It was flagged as incompatible with my MOBO but everything works fine. The boot times are between 5 and 7 seconds consistently (prior to fan switch they would be between 5 and 40 sec, with 30 to 40 seconds being most common, so not exactly sure how a case fan and CPU cooler orientation switch changed that?), and the speed usually sits right at 3.5GHz according to task manager, sometimes higher, sometimes lower.
My power draw for the entire system idles at 32watts, how can you not love that?! Great for Texas too, the cooler running options are always better.
It was one of the few cases that checked all the boxes for my needs. Overall there were a few things that stood out to me:
- Rear exhaust fan should have been 120mm
- Cable management is challenging to say the least, but much better than other low priced cases
- The front fan is tricky to install for sure, you either wedge it between inside the front of the case and the HDD cages or you screw it in from the inside of the case and the fan is on the outside front. The easiest way to mount a fan is with anti-vibration mounts that you pull through. I would definitely recommend that method if you plan on putting a fan up front.
Overall I am happy with it because I was looking for a MicroATX with fairly specific requirements, but it feels cheap to me. I was trying to decide between this one and the Urban SD1. I can't form an opinion of the SD1 obviously, but after having built in this case, if I could go back I'd probably spend the extra money to try the SD1.
Obviously better than the DIYPC I built in recently (https://pcpartpicker.com/part/diypc-case-ma01g, the worst case I think I've ever used and really shouldn't be classified as a microATX case in my opinion since a microATX mobo prevents HDD installation) but I think I actually prefer the layout of the Apex case I built another system in (https://pcpartpicker.com/part/apex-case-tm366bk). I was really impressed with it for the price, but the interior isn't painted and like all cheap cases there are major cable management challenges as well, so definitely not superior, but unfortunate that this Thermaltake case is being compared to an Apex in my mind...
Moves air and came free with the case. Relatively quiet.
I have to say, it was my mistake for not paying attention, but I was really annoyed to find out that this was a 140mm fan with 120mm mounting holes. I don't particularly care for that design in general, I think the applications are even more limited than a 140mm with 140mm mounting holes, but I digress. They were unusable for my original intent. Great fans though, luckily I was able to use one in this system.