Seeking input on choosing an mATX case.

Snowdog

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 22, 2006
Messages
10,067
I find choosing a new case is harder than choosing the active components. Give me some alternatives to consider.

Requirements:

Micro ATX. Yeah I know many think this not big or small enough, and I should either go full ATX or ITX, but mATX is the right balance for me.

Fit good Tower Coolers: Handle something like a Noctua D15s, so no thin designs.

Filterered Intakes: Dusty environment that isn't easy to change.

Decent Air flow: Prefer if can take dual 140mm intakes in front

Quiet Design: Realize somewhat contradicts decent airflow.

Understated Design: No RGB, no needless lumps, creases.

Optical bay: Not a deal breaker but would be nice to have.

What I am considering so far:

Cases.PNG



CM Silencio S400: Seems to have it all. Takes dual 140mm filtered intakes, has bonus optical bay, and a door to open if I want to increase ventilation at the cost of increased noise. Concerns: Execution/quality. Bottom fan is buried in the PSU shroud. PSU filter annoying to deal with. New case. Few reviews, but in general CM not as well reviewed as Fractal.

Fractal Define Mini C: First case I was considering. Well executed, both 140mm above the shroud. Filters are easy to deal with. Concerns: No door so not as convenient to swap airflow/noise, no optical.

CM MasterBox NR400: Mesh front version of Silencio S400. Still has optical bay. Better airflow, Able to move fans higher than in Silencio (less PSU shroud obstruction). Good price. Concerns: Execution/Quality, and noise with the mesh front.
 

Aluminum

Gawd
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Messages
687
Taken a look at the cubes? Building in a horizontal is a nice perk, they take more floor space but are not really larger from a usability standpoint.

TT V21: no optical, tons of space, excellent positive pressure airflow with fan mounts possible all over. ITX version if that is still on the table.

The DIYPC cuboid: optical, comes with cheap LED fans but you can get rid of those, has a colored stripe but otherwise looks pretty tame. Good positive airflow potential as well.
 

Snowdog

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 22, 2006
Messages
10,067
Taken a look at the cubes? Building in a horizontal is a nice perk, they take more floor space but are not really larger from a usability standpoint.
Yeah, I looked at the cubes and dual chambers. I even have a spread sheet of cases I checked out with volume. TT V21 is in it at 44 Liters quite high, Cuboid (just added) is ~46 Liters, and is as tall as the mini towers above, so bigger in just about every way.

The dual chamber that first caught my attention was the Caselabs Bullet BH4; mATX with only 22 liters volume, though many other compromises and the company is now bankrupt.

After chasing the cube/dual chamber thing down the rabbit hole, I returned back to the the mini-Towers...
 

SeymourGore

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
2,899
Thermaltake's Versa H18 seems like it'd tickle some of your fancies.

a1_020218.jpg

Personally, I really like the look of that NR400. Reminds me of a mesh-y NZXT H400 and if you're looking for a optical bay, there's not many choices out there anymore.
 

EnderW

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Sep 25, 2003
Messages
10,911
Doesn’t fulfill all your requirements but I’ve always liked the TJ08-E
 

Aluminum

Gawd
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Messages
687
Yeah, I looked at the cubes and dual chambers. I even have a spread sheet of cases I checked out with volume. TT V21 is in it at 44 Liters quite high, Cuboid (just added) is ~46 Liters, and is as tall as the mini towers above, so bigger in just about every way.

The dual chamber that first caught my attention was the Caselabs Bullet BH4; mATX with only 22 liters volume, though many other compromises and the company is now bankrupt.

After chasing the cube/dual chamber thing down the rabbit hole, I returned back to the the mini-Towers...
Don't get infected with the volume obsession disease, that has turned many formerly-good SFF PC sites into mostly autistic screeching chambers.

Cases should really be a whole picture view: usability, design, style etc, and some of the chasing the volume designs are really terrible. The cubes are definitely bigger though, because neutering cooler clearance down to trash levels or starved-airflow-AIO-only is the easiest way to drop many liters.

You will be mostly SOL on optical bay with any newer design.

The bullets are very high quality, but a build once and forget it thing, so many damn screws just to open it and odd mounting choices. You have to totally preplan everything with them, I have a BH7 and BH8.
 

Snowdog

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 22, 2006
Messages
10,067
Don't get infected with the volume obsession disease, that has turned many formerly-good SFF PC sites into mostly autistic screeching chambers.

Cases should really be a whole picture view: usability, design, style etc, and some of the chasing the volume designs are really terrible. The cubes are definitely bigger though, because neutering cooler clearance down to trash levels or starved-airflow-AIO-only is the easiest way to drop many liters.

You will be mostly SOL on optical bay with any newer design.

The bullets are very high quality, but a build once and forget it thing, so many damn screws just to open it and odd mounting choices. You have to totally preplan everything with them, I have a BH7 and BH8.
I am not volume obsessed, but there is no need to throw excess volume at it either.

The mini towers I short listed are around 35 liters, far from SFF territory, and accommodate full size CPU air coolers, and a decent size GPU.

The Silencio S400 ticks all my boxes: It's new but still has optical. Has a door so I can boost airflow when needed just by opening it. Easy to remove/clean front dust filter. Dual filtered front 140mm intakes possible. Clean understated design etc...

But I am concerned with details and front fan placement. Not many reviews so far, and indications it has weak GPU cooling in stock config. I would like to see more reviews with more installed fans, and test door open vs closed.

Or another new an interesting option present itself.
 

Snowdog

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 22, 2006
Messages
10,067

Snowdog

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 22, 2006
Messages
10,067
would go with the fractal design meshify c
I Hate foam dust filters (PITA to clean).

So I would take the Define C Mini (note mATX) over the Meshify C mini, for that reason alone. Aside from front panels they are the same case.

Plus Defines have options. If I want quieter I can keep the front on. If I want more airflow I can take it off. Though it would be better if the Define Mini C had a door like the older version.
 

honegod

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 31, 2000
Messages
6,741
Personally I went for a Apevia X-qpack3.
Flat motherboard.
Hinging front/top panel.
Huge HSF ability.
Easily removed cheap plastic 'styling'.
13" video card easy.
2x 4 hotswap bays fit atop it nicely.
200mm fan fits on front.
1x 5" odd bay standard.

Some fabrication required. ;)
 

Snowdog

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 22, 2006
Messages
10,067
One more to the List: Antec P5. Ticks the boxes: Door, Optical Bay, removable Dust filter. Looks a bit iffy on the cooling side though.
 

clockdogg

Gawd
Joined
Dec 12, 2007
Messages
998
Just built a system with the S400 for a friend. Very impressed with the fit and finish for a CM case. Looks sleek and understated.

Has decent front-to-back airflow for CPU cooling - can use 2X 140mm. The stock 120mm isn't horrible for a CM case fan. Lots of clearance for a large cooler - 166mm. Very quiet with the door closed - door can open left or right. No idea how well it works with a big GPU, since this was a business system build. I'd use it again for sure. And I rarely recommend CM cases.
 

Jimmyt2

n00b
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
4
I find choosing a new case is harder than choosing the active components. Give me some alternatives to consider.

Requirements:

Micro ATX. Yeah I know many think this not big or small enough, and I should either go full ATX or ITX, but mATX is the right balance for me.

Fit good Tower Coolers: Handle something like a Noctua D15s, so no thin designs.

Filterered Intakes: Dusty environment that isn't easy to change.

Decent Air flow: Prefer if can take dual 140mm intakes in front

Quiet Design: Realize somewhat contradicts decent airflow.

Understated Design: No RGB, no needless lumps, creases.

Optical bay: Not a deal breaker but would be nice to have.

What I am considering so far:

View attachment 178308


CM Silencio S400: Seems to have it all. Takes dual 140mm filtered intakes, has bonus optical bay, and a door to open if I want to increase ventilation at the cost of increased noise. Concerns: Execution/quality. Bottom fan is buried in the PSU shroud. PSU filter annoying to deal with. New case. Few reviews, but in general CM not as well reviewed as Fractal.

Fractal Define Mini C: First case I was considering. Well executed, both 140mm above the shroud. Filters are easy to deal with. Concerns: No door so not as convenient to swap airflow/noise, no optical.

CM MasterBox NR400: Mesh front version of Silencio S400. Still has optical bay. Better airflow, Able to move fans higher than in Silencio (less PSU shroud obstruction). Good price. Concerns: Execution/Quality, and noise with the mesh front.
Why don't you run a water cooler and and then you don't have to worry about the bulky heavy D15's overhang. I like the Fractal myself. The 140's are nice and you will get use to the noise. I have an old Azza Hurrican loaded with stock fans and it is noisy but I am used to it.
 

Snowdog

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 22, 2006
Messages
10,067
Why don't you run a water cooler and and then you don't have to worry about the bulky heavy D15's overhang. I .
Because I don't like Water cooling. Extra complexity giving more points of failure, and more noise to boot.
 

honegod

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 31, 2000
Messages
6,741
Wonder what the actual failure rate of individual heat pipes might be.
 

Jimmyt2

n00b
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
4
Wonder what the actual failure rate of individual heat pipes might be.
The heat pipes are reliable they can dissipate the heat, the weakest link is the fans. The D15 is warranted for 6 years but if both fans die then so does your CPU. I would rather have the D15 in there as opposed to a stock cpu cooler.
 

honegod

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 31, 2000
Messages
6,741
Yah, but N won't sell me a D15TR.

Going to see how well a 8 heatpipe dual tower silver arrow does.

Casewise, a flat motherboard points the towers up at the top of the case.
Where a ( N nf-a12×25) exaust fan easily fits.

A thong shaped duct to between the
Towers.

Should be space to bend the tops of the towers away from each other, ending up with a harley V.

Tower fins now point up.
HS is now a thermal air pump.

So if the suction fan fails the HS heats up to the point where it transfers enough air to keep up with heat production. (way too hot, it'd thermal shutdown before that, but it would have TIME to shutdown, and autocooldown.

Plus, the case air intake should have a positive airflow through where the HS fan should be at work.
 
Top