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.
- 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
- 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…
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.