Description

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.

Part Reviews

CPU

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.

Case

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:

  1. Rear exhaust fan should have been 120mm
  2. Cable management is challenging to say the least, but much better than other low priced cases
  3. 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...

Case Fan

Moves air and came free with the case. Relatively quiet.

Case Fan

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.

Comments

  • 50 months ago
  • 3 points

Nice build, I would turn that cpu cooler 90 degrees counter-clockwise for better airflow...

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I agree, but that is actually an experiment. I read some benchmarking info about cooler orientation and of the four possibilities, that orientation came out on top surprisingly. I figured I would give it a shot since the CPU has such a low TDP anyway, not much risk.

The supposition was that orientation's alignment with convection currents was the source of the advantage.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

also flip your power supply so it can intake cold air instead of sucking hot air of the heatsink into the psu... probably wont help the already shoddy cm, that is of course if you have that option I don't know if this case has that option

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

There's no intake on the top of the case. If I flipped it the fan would be sucking metal.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Yay i was the only one with a CPU Cooler for a while, now im not alone :P

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha, yeah I chose it for the color scheme on another build, but found a better option so I co-opted it.

Congratulations on that system win btw, that's amazing! Any pictures of it?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks mate,

I still haven't got pics... I just like it so much it's hard to stop using :D

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I am considering using this case for an nas server and would like to know a couple of things about it, 1 would all of the hard drive bays be accessible with the stock cpu cooler on it? And 2 what size fan will fit in front of them

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

The hard drive bays shouldn't be a problem at all, you could fit 4 3.5" drives and an SSD mounted to the bottom of the case. The only component that came close to making a drive bay unusable was the GPU, I wouldn't use anything longer than the one I have for sure, it is basically touching a SATA cable. You will need to remove the RAM to put the drives in, but that's obviously an easy thing to do.

The airflow might be a concern depending on how much heat you're dealing with. The front fan will accommodate a 120mm but the HDD cages aren't removable so you have to wiggle it in between the cage and the rear of the front panel of the case. If you can see that cutout area between the rear of the drives and the front of the case, that is the space you have to work with. You basically wiggle it in then screw it from the front of the case with the front panel removed.

The rear exhaust fan can be up to a 92mm, and there is a filtered vent on the side panel, but no place to attach a fan.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I don't have a gpu to deal with, but what I mean by "accessible" is that I actually need to be able to take hard drives out and put them in without even turning off the computer. I am trying to find a microatx case with the hdd bays turned 90° but that seems to be a tall order for under $80

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Ah, then no, this case would not be a good choice for that, the RAM would definitely get in the way of a few drives. There would probably only be one bay that would work.

How many drives are you needing to be able to hot swap? The apex case I mentioned in my case review has one drive bay for sure that would fit the bill, and you could definitely fill the two 5.25"bays with a 3x3.5" hot swap cage which you could access from the front of the case. I will double check the internals and see if there are any other included bays that would work on it. It is a really decent choice of case in my opinion, especially since Directron has it for $21.63 (including sales tax) plus shipping. I think it comes out to around $35 if I remember correctly. Ships from Houston so you get it quickly anywhere in Texas.

The airflow will be about the same as far as front an rear fans (I believe you can install a 120mm fan in the front of the apex but I will double check for you), but you can also mount a fan on the side panel, so advantage Apex there.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

that would work, but hot swap bays are expensive

I would like to have at least 4 drives hot swappable, three would be okay.

I found a case with sideways facing drive bays for $55

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice, yeah, I love Fractal Design. I'm partial to Scandinavian's though...

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi I was wondering with the Cryorig XF140 mm fans are you able to basically use them as 120 mm fans with the way they are mounted besides the fact that they are actually 140 mm

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, the mounting holes are spaced like a 120mm fan, just make sure you have clearance for the overhang from the body of the fan. They really are great, they were designed for a heatsink that mounts fans like the Noctua NH-D15.

If you look in the 4th photo you can see the white area surrounding the mounting holes, with the black anti-vibe grommets coming through. The area above those holes will overhang a 120mm mounting area. It's not an issue as long as you have the clearance on all sides, just make sure.

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

is that small fan good?

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

The Thermaltake one? It seems to work just fine. It definitely makes less noise than some of the other small fans out there, but my preferred 80mm fan is the cooler master: https://pcpartpicker.com/product/dyYXsY/cooler-master-case-fan-r4s8r20akgp It is quiet and reliable. I've used it in every build that I needed to buy an 80mm fan for. The only time I will use another is if I have one lying around to use.

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

the only reason i am buying thermaltake is because of the case i have.

  • 33 months ago
  • 2 points

Oh ok, then yeah, I would say go for it. It's a good fan for the size and definitely for that application.

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

is it molex or 4 pin

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

4 pin, actually I think 3 pin technically, but not molex. You are talking about the 80mm fan right? Isn't it the same as the ones you used on the build you have posted?

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

Haha, did I not get the best PSU on the market for $60? That is shocking.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

I am aware of that, I see no need for more wattage as the maximum theoretical draw of my system is right around 230W putting me squarely in the 50% range for optimal efficiency, it idles right around 40 watts. I actually would have preferred a lower wattage unit but those are tricky to find and I didn't spend the time searching around.

As for better quality and performance, I don't see the benefit in spending more for a slightly better unit. I would understand if there were real risks from it, but I don't agree that there are from this one. I don't see impending doom everywhere I look, and while that may be my failing, I don't think that only EVGA and SeaSonic produce PSUs that won't explode and kill your system and everyone in the house.

There seems to be a ton of obsession in boards about the PSU as a risky part, perennially teetering on the brink of explosion. There are systems everywhere that run for decades on "horrible" power supplies, and while I would agree that those would be a poor choice, I don't think that there is a major risk from most reputable brands on units with good efficiency. I wanted something with high efficiency because I live in south Texas and I don't need more heat, I also wanted something cheap because, as you can tell by the parts list, I am a cheap person but also feel like my choices are justified given the other parts. I don't need a 1500W EVGA SuperNOVA, Corsair AX series, or SeaSonic Platinum to sleep at night.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

The only bad thing about the cx series is that they have cheap capacitors which gives them a low heat tolerance and relatively short life. They are not dangerous but don't take abuse very well. There are definitely better choices for a better price, (considering you could kill it if your air conditioning goes out in the middle of summer (speaking as a fellow texan who recently had his air conditioning go out this summer)) but you don't "need" to replace it. If it does go out this would be a better replacement, or if you need a little bit of an upgrade this would do well.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

The CX series has a completely different manufacturer than the CS series (which I have).

Thank you for the suggestions, and yeah, if my a/c goes out there's no way I am on the computer, I'd have to find a river or hide in my refrigerator.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

If you were trying to be helpful instead of just throwing out criticisms then I'd appreciate the comment. And if you're truly interested about the PSU, according to JonnyGURU:

"I will say that the CS450M is an excellent choice. Great Wall has a great record. They've made award winning PSUs for OCZ and Sparkle... never mind being fairly successful in China with their own brand." -Comment #12

Not saying he's the be all and end all of PSUs but a fairly reliable voice.

I would also say if you were going to criticize a PSU, then criticize that PSU and not others.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Only tiny_voices can say anything about PSUs