While Fractal Design is a relative newcomer to the computer case industry it has been a phenomenal success. With help from master Modders and Case designers from Fractal themselves they have achieved a popularity status that most case companies that have been around much longer have lusted over from their inception.
The Z11 NEO is what the Greek word “NEO” suggest. It’s “a new or revived form of” the earlier generations of the Zalman Z11 series of case that have been very popular for quite some time. While the Z11 has been around for a while the Z11 is a much better improved updated and redesigned NEO looks better and gives more with a price that in earlier days would have cost a builder three times what this case costs now. What really sets off the Zalman Z11 series is the puff out serviceable gills on the sides that make it look like a stealth fighter bomber or a high dollar Lambo theme case. The case has a cockpit like window on the side that makes it even more appealing in a man vs. machine sort of way. The Z11 NEO in big letters on the side harkens some back to the days of the older Zalman LQ-1000 Z machine series that made it look serious on anyone’s work space. The branding lets onlookers know that your computer is something different than the average everyday work a day business machine. Having the Z11 NEO is an Artistic statement as much as a very well built case, so let’s take a look at what the NEO brings out in the new and revived version of the Zalman Z11.
In the simplest terms, an Aegis is a shield of protection to the heart of the warrior that wears this protective armor. This is a very fitting picture of the theme of this case from BitFenix. The BitFenix brand made mini computing a cool and universal way of life for many builder’s taking advantage of the newer smaller and magnificent new M-ITX and Micro ATX computers that have the same relative power of its bigger ATX counterparts with the BitFenix Prodigy Line of machines. In a way they invented the way to put together full custom looped water cooled Monster and stuffed it nicely into a small chassis that not only worked great but looked even better. So many flavors and mods have been commercially developed for that little chassis that could and now the people at BitFenix are at it again with the BitFenix Aegis Micro-ATX computer case.
Even, now I am almost sure that there are a few Antec 900 user’s out there reading this review on the internet right now. It has been Newegg.com’s Most Sold computer case ever in history and has been on the number one spot of the Electronics’ Billboard Charts of production cases since its inception almost a full decade ago. Now 9 years have passed and sure there have been lot of Antec cases since then but nothing to rate or to make history like the Antec 900, but Antec has a new Economy case called the Antec P70. I really don’t think that this case is going to make history like its grandfather but he is quite a case of it’s own.
Okay lets stop accentuating the negatives, because there are some good parts as well. For the compromises you do make you get a nice looking case that has a really nice mirrored finish emblem two fully autonomous USB 3.0 Ports and some small amount of foam on the inside of the panels to keep them from vibrating to the heartbeat of your hard drives for $50.00. The engineering is really neat as the whole top panel can be completely removed to easily build inside. Don’t worry, there are no mention of the 10 screws that hold the top cover on, in the manual, but if you are fortunate enough to have read this review or you figured out on your own why they used Phillips head screws to hold the top panel instead of rivets, then you can remove them quickly and effortlessly and replace the top back on after the build is completed.
After my recent review of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX I felt that I wasn’t quite done with the review. What good is a case designed for watercooling with all air cooling installed? And aside from that travesty, I felt that in order to properly test Phanteks’ made for watercooling mini-ITX case I should actually do a proper install. With that in mind follow along with this guide as I install a full custom loop in the Enthoo Evolv ITX.
The SilverStone Kublai KL05B-W edition is the sport model of the two similar cases. This one has a very nice thin tall window to show just the right amount of glamour of your motherboard and cooling without showing too much. I find it a welcomed change to some of the other full paneled windowed versions that show every bad wiring mistake or give the appearance of TMI. “Too much Information”. The SilverStone Kublai has a taller stance than most with a plastic top cover made to house the Radiator or fans depending on your building needs. This mostly gives room on the top side of the motherboard for any size radiator you might have including a nice fat radiator. The tall thin look of the Kublai is just an illusion because it still gives plenty of room for that large air cooling solution that you may have been thinking of.
Since the introduction of their first case, the Enthoo Primo way back in 2013 Phanteks has been busy. While they could easily have sat around enjoying the success that the Primo brought, the crew at Phanteks has instead been bringing us many many new and innovative cases. With their finger on the pulse of the mod community, each new case seems to fulfill a niche that the PC world has just been waiting to have filled. Certainly no exception to this rule, today we are taking a close look at the newest addition to the Phanteks family, the Enthoo Evolv ITX. Like it’s wildly popular predecessor the Evolv, this new mini chassis is here to provide big install space in a tiny form factor. Accepting only mini ITX motherboards, we are excited to see what this micro machine has to offer.
Just think. A large clear windowed panel with an all black sprayed interior, drive mounting that is very well thought out, semi tool-less designs and a special place for that AIO or all in one 240 X 120mm hydro cooler. They even offer the gamer an indirect intake air cooling from the side gills to keep the front nice clean and less noisy and you get that “Monster Corsair Obsidian” look on the front end with the faux brushed aluminum anodized look of a plastic front end. No one will know but you and it beats the other cases that are in this price range by a country mile. Would you believe it? Well truthfully I am slightly skeptical too, but I really am rooting for Corsair’s newest 100R Carbide Series Case to make a true believer out of me, but we will see as the Review continues on. So let’s see if this nice looking “Econ-o-Box” can stand up to a gaming setup and how will it fit the needs? Will it be a viable alternative and a budget saver to use the Corsair Carbide Series 100R or do we need to look further into the higher priced Cases?
This Fractal Design Define R5 is not the first Define R5 to be assembled. There have been others before it and they are the Mid-tower silent partner series of the Fractal Design Label. The Fractal Design Define R5 is made for the addition of plenty of parts, custom and not so custom, all in one units, but also it is made for less noise, deadening vibration, and built to a high of standard of quality and excellence in and out that seem to defy their economical prices. An example is the Power Button looks like it belongs to a luxury car and the outer steel and inner insulation is hefty and you know by just having these parts in your hand that you are not just picking up some cheap lightweight panel cover. The steel panel is heavy and the window is beautifully clear and the isolation is thorough but not interfering even in cable management which is a trade off most take in stride when buying a quiet and insulated case.
May 22, 2015 0