Description

This is my first build in a decade. I started putting it together mostly because I'm transitioning from non-profit work to systems administration, and will need increasing workload capacity.

For right now, I really only need to be able to run a Win10 Pro host plus an El Capitan VMWare guest, and to be able to ssh/remote desktop into a few servers/terminals. So...

I picked up a refurbished 2nd gen i5 box from my current employer's electronics recycling division as a donor (I just split the cost of the system up among the components that made the cut). The board was a little antiquated (SATA II and USB 2.0), so I picked up a compatible business grade board with SATA III and USB 3.0, then cloned a sys-prepped image onto an 850 evo I had lying around (gifted to me along with the HDD by a SysAdmin who's kinda grooming me to work with him) and re-built it all into a good-looking, silent case with room to grow as my needs and wallet grow.

She ain't much right now, but she gets the job done, and the case can handle anything I can see myself throwin' at it. Added bonus: I can go back and play my old favorite titles (Portal 2, Civ IV, Skyrim) at console quality! Haven't been able to do that on my 1st gen XPS 13.

I'll update this build as I make upgrades.

Part Reviews

Case

PROS

  • Great construction materials and build quality at price point
  • Well thought out, flexible layout (mostly) with decent cable management
  • Integrated fan and LED controls
  • All-rear-mounted SSD/HDD setup makes for a clean build
  • Inluded 120mm fans are relatively quiet
  • Dark metallic gray (Anthracite Gray) finish is gorgeous

CONS

  • That gorgeous finish picks up prints and scratches far too easily
  • There are only two 120mm fans included (1 front intake, 1 rear exhaust), which with a CPU cooler gives you negative case pressure out-of-the-box
  • There is no clearance at all for top-mount radiators (or even some 140mm fans)

This is a great budget mid-tower. The basement, all-rear-mounted SSD/HDD setup, grommeted pass-throughs, and built-in velcro cable ties make for a really clean build, with room for whatever hardware configuration you can imagine throwing at a mid-level rig (air, AIO, or custom liquid cooled). The sound dampening materials, integrated fan controller, and PSU isolation allow for good thermal performance at near silence when built with acoustic-optimized hardware. Nearly perfect…

Nearly.

I find it hard to believe that, even at this price point, Phanteks couldn’t have included 3 fans (2 front intake, 1 rear exhaust) for out-of-the-box positive case pressure. And while they were at it, those 3 fans could all have been their own outstanding PH-F120SP models, which offer superior airflow, quieter operation, and rubber grommets at the corner mounting points to avoid transferring vibration through the chassis.

I don’t install radiators at all in my personal rigs, but it would be nice to offer top-mounted radiators on customer builds. That’s just not an option in this case. There is NO clearance up top for anything more than the 4/8-pin EPS connector, or maybe 120/140mm fans on their own.

And a true powder coat would eliminate the ease with which the exterior finish picks up prints and scratches. In fact, if memory serves, Phanteks already learned this lesson and then (quickly) implemented the solution on their Evolv series. Seems an egregious oversight to repeat the mistake.

It’s still a great budget case, in fact it’s probably my favorite sub-$100 mid-tower, “silent” or otherwise. And with a little attention to its (admittedly few) shortcomings, it could be an absolutely perfect budget enclosure for quiet IT or content creation workstations.

Log in to rate comments or to post a comment.

Comments

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Beautiful Case. I have the same in Black. Can't wait to see it grow up.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

All looks nice and gets the job done :D although i would be worried about that power supply

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, it was part of the donor box. That's gonna be upgrade number one. I'm eyein' up an EVGA Supernova 650 GS.

Side note: that POS PSU is also the loudest component in my box right now.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Dang, once you get a better one it'll be a silent and efficient PC ;)

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Also, how do you like the case? It's a beautiful case that I've been eyeing for weeks now, cause I plan on doing completely new build soon. Definitely a case option for me, I'd get a P400S but with a window. Not sure about my color yet :D

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

The case, in my opinion, is the best budget case around. The basement, grommets, rear mount SSD/HDD options, and space behind the tray all combine to keep things clean. There's plenty of room for budget-to-mid level cooling options (tower, AIO, or even entry level custom loop). The fans are quiet and have decent flow, and the built in controller can handle as many fans as the case will hold (using y-splitters) - keep it on the middle setting (7v) for best balance between acoustics and airflow. And if you're looking at the windowed version, you can add an LED strip to the built-in controller (10 colors).

Also, don't be fooled by the apparent lack of drive bays. There are two 2.5" mounts for the back of the MB tray, and yes only two 3.5" sleds back there. BUT, with fairly inexpensive 3.5" to 2 x 2.5" adapters, you could easily fit 2 x SSDs and 4 x 2.5" HDDs. Six drives without cluttering the main chamber!

Only two complaints about the case. #1 is that the finish both scratches and picks up prints/smudges WAY too easily. #2 is that there is almost no clearance at the top (any cooling options mounted there would interfere with MB components, even a standard case fan).

Overall, though, once I get a quality, quiet PSU in there, this thing will be nearly inaudible, hold everything I need to put in it neatly, and look pretty damned good doing it. B+/A-

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the info and detail ;) sounds like a great case, that helps with my decision making process

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Be wary of bad PSUs. Always be on lookout for sales of eVGA G2s and Corsair RMx. The 550w goes for sale around $69.99 regularly.

Couple of cable suggestions: consider tucking the HD audio cable under the motherboard exiting under the other front panel cables to the grommet or run it over the bottom edge and then aggregate with the front panel cables. That will "hide" it, otherwise it just looks like a loose wire hanging out looking odd. Also consider going parallel with the USB 3 cable too to the rubber grommet. The cable is thick so it puts a lot of pressure on the motherboard header went bent at such an angle. Keeping parallel lines doesn't look bad and would match your other front panel cables to. Key is keeping it straight and parallel. Happy upgrading. There is nothing like keeping old stuff going. I have two machines based on 7 year old CPUs.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

As I mentioned in a reply to the poster above you, that's going to be upgrade number one. The PSU came from the donor box, and will be replaced as soon as I can save up for an EVGA Supernova 650 GS (gives me a little headroom for future upgrades).

The cable management I'm not really worried about yet, since there's no side window anyway. I mean, it's a mATX board in an ATX case (like a kid wearing his/her parents' clothes). The MB doesn't even cover the MB cutout in the tray! Ha! And I've got ketchup and mustard all over, so... All I was worried about for now is that the cables aren't dangling around completely unmanaged.

And the USB 3 cable rises up away from the board before it bends, enough that it's not placing any undue pressure on the header.

Thanks for takin' a look!

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm scared of the PSU, but I like the rest of the parts! Great PC :3