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Pros: + Accepts just about every motherboard size on the market, so future upgrades won't be hindered by size
+ Stock fans are actually very good and for the first time I won't be swapping them out right away
+ Side panel design is a change of pace that's pretty neat; instead of having to line up slits, the door operates more like a hinge and makes it easier to slide in and out
+ Optical drives. Yes they might be on their way out, but I for one would rather have one and not need it than need it and not have one
+ Overall build quality; it's quite good considering the plastic components and everything seems to be designed quite well
+ The modding capabilities of this case are ridiculous. While I'm not much of a modder myself, I do appreciate the flexibility to switch things up should that need arise. If you want to know what I'm referring to, look up this case on Youtube and check out some of the reviews - they'll give a visual of what I mean
+ Plenty of room for different size radiators to mount on either the top or front
+ Elevated quite high to maximize bottom intake
+ Plenty of dust filters
+ PSU shroud is removable if it's not your cup of tea to hide your stuff
+ SSD mount in rear; personally, that's one component I don't need to show off but that might be a con for others
+ With the HDD racks installed, users have the option to install an additional 120mm fan to help move air from the 200mm intake
- Somewhat louder than my previous case, but not by much (expected because of the size)
- Side panel window is a bit more tinted that I would prefer
- Packing material could be better; mine came a bit scuffed in the back but it's minimal and not worth an egg
- The green isn't exactly green except in bright light, but I'm really splitting hairs here to think of any cons
Other Thoughts: I came from the NZXT H440 and while that case was decent in its own right, I had no idea what I was missing with a full tower set up. To quote Will Ferrell in 'Step Brothers', "There's so much more room for activities!". No longer do I gotta squeeze my cables around tight corners and work real hard to organize all my components. Let's be clear, organizing in a mid-tower is not brain surgery, but never having this much room before it's like night and day. I'm sure other full tower owners won't be surprised, but being a full tower virgin it was a very pleasant surprise.
One aspect that would have made this case absolutely perfect would be a removable radiator mount, such as the one in their EVOLV lineup. It wasn't overly difficult, but if it had been removable it sure would be easier. But this is one of their earliest models so I can't really fault them for it; they were still a pretty new company when this debuted, so at least it was added later. It was the optical drive bays that actually sold me on this. I know it's a dying technology (for some reason), but I like having that option just in case I come across a CD or DVD and wanna pop it in real quick.
Phanteks has earned themselves a customer with this case. I shall review again when more time has passed. Perhaps after the honeymoon stage I'll find something I truly dislike about the case, but for now I'd recommend it if you're looking for a straight forward case with plenty of adaptive features.
Pros: + Excellent temperatures. Keeping the card at stock, I ran Aida64 for twenty-four hours and the highest temperature recorded was 56C. Idle sits in the low 30's, depending on what my ambient temperature is. For those unfamiliar with the program, it basically stresses your GPU (as well as other components) to a 100% load, simulating a worst case scenario, and records your temps as time progresses. This is of course way over the top, as your GPU will rarely, if ever, get to a 100% load for any significant period of time. However, it's good to put the card through its paces to test stability and this thing passed with flying colors.
+ Noise level is extremely nominal. During gaming and heavier loads, I can hear the fan but it's no where near what I used to hear on my previous GTX 980 open air cooler (ASUS Matrix for those curious). Though in reality I don't dock much for noise as I usually have my speakers blaring music or a game, so even if it were loud I probably wouldn't care. But for those going for a silent system this is definitely a step in the right direction.
+ Installation was a breeze. For those new to water cooling, myself included, this is an extremely simple set up. Plug and play and start gaming. My OS (Windows 10 Pro) picked up the card instantly and I was running at 1440p (my native resolution) without a single downloaded driver from Nvidia; of course you'll need the latest drivers for games, but it was kinda nice that it was instantly able to render my resolution rather than a fuzzy 1024x768 or something.
+ Packaging was superb. Now, I know most people probably don't really care about this aspect, but to me how the product is packaged is a big deal. There was plenty of cushion and everything was in its proper place. EVGA (or perhaps UPS) went a bit overboard on the boxing. I had the main UPS box which was plain cardboard, under that an 'outer shell' of an Nvidia box that was just plain black, then under that the box itself with the wrapping material, and THEN the slim box that housed the actual card. I suppose I can't complain for being too careful can I? Product was also undamaged and unblemished and all extra components were accounted for.
+ General gaming performance has seen a definite increase. Even though I came from the 980, and on paper the specs are slight, real-world performance has been obvious. I tested this card using the most graphically intense games I own at the moment: GTA V and BF4. Both were played at their HIGHEST available settings; I didn't hold back as I wanted to stress this thing in a real world application, not just synthetically. Both games can be played in 4K with frames hovering between 30 and 40. Definitely playable. At 1440p, my preferred resolution, both were buttery smooth and exceeded 100 FPS. Bear in mind I have a 144Hz monitor from ASUS with G-Sync, so they look absolutely stunning. Temps were very reasonable, with GTA V maxing at 48C and BF4 maxing at 45C.
+ Backplate. I don't care that it doesn't provide thermal benefits (as some other manufacturers claim with theirs), it provides stability and rigidness to a card that's going to be fighting gravity for its entire life. At a premium price I would expect a company to include such an important feature. Hop on Youtube and see what happens to cards over time without a backplate. Scary, considering how much of my paycheck just went to this thing.
+ Overall construction. I'm paranoid and OCD when it comes to how the card looks and how solid the components are. I look at the components, the soldering and the wiring to see if there is anything that would strike me as sub-standard. Loose screws, wobbly shroud or bent wires drive me crazy. This card has none of that. The build quality is quite excellent, with everything tight and feeling premium.
Cons: - The shroud isn't exactly the easiest to match to a color scheme. It's like a champagne gold with a hint of silver thrown in there. It looks great don't get me wrong, but would be very hard to match to a traditional theme.
- No LEDs. Now to some this doesn't matter, and that's cool, but I at least wanted SOMETHING even if it was just the GTX logo lit up or something. Not the end of the world and certainly not something worth taking off a star for.
- No software to control radiator fan (perhaps that can come later with some sort of patch).
Other Thoughts: *Did not purchase from Newegg but like to give feedback to the community since they've helped me so much in the past, so it won't show me as a verified purchase*
By far one of the best cards I've ever owned. Price to performance ratio is perfect; basically 90% of the Titan's capabilities without the hefty price tag (though $700 is still a good chunk of change). There is no need, nor will there be for several years, for 12GB of RAM realistically for most of us. 6GB will give even a hardcore gamer a nice buffer to work with for the next five years. I'm not sure why more designers aren't going with this design, it's a very efficient way to keep both temps and noise to a minimum. There is plenty of headroom for overclockers as well, though I typically don't do it to my components. If you want a card that'll last you for the next couple years (conservatively), then this card is for you. As of this writing, Pascal is still several months away and at least a year from becoming attainable by your average consumer. Maxwell is and will be a strong contender for gamers for quite some time.
*Any and all temps were recorded with RealTemp (updated to latest version) and CAM which is NZXT's software for monitoring CPU and GPU temps. Both temps were within a degree of each other.
For comparison sakes my specs are posted below. The radiator is being utilized as a rear exhaust for now though I might try a different set up in the future. Longevity will be the most important factor, so I hope to report back in a couple years stating how fine of a card this has turned out to be. My old 680 FTW lasted around three years without so much has a hiccup. EVGA quality hasn't let me down...yet.
Core i7 4790k 4.0GHz
16GB Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz (CAS 9)
Intel 730 SSD
NZXT H440 Razer Edition Case (Positive pressure environment)
Windows 10 Pro x64
This review is from: NZXT Kraken X61 RL-KRX61-01 280mm All-In-One Water / Liquid CPU Cooling Solution
Pros: Quality seems quite high, with both radiator and fans feeling very premium. Installation was pretty straightforward. I went with a push configuration, with it top mounted and acting as an exhaust. Temps are pretty much the same that I was getting on air, with between 30-35C at idle and around 55C on load (not overclocked). I kept the stock thermal paste and installed it according to the instructions.
The ability to change the LED is very cool; thankfully there are makers out there who understand people have different themes going on. So kudos to NZXT on that one! Green is such a hard LED to find these days.
Cons: Included instructions are a little vague and lacking in depth. As a water cooling noob it would have been nice to get some more detail on how to actually put this thing together. But I got an instructional video online so no biggie.
When it comes to noise, I honestly couldn't tell you what's normal for water cooling, but I can relate what I've noticed so far. Upon boot, a small 'gurlging' or 'clicking' can be heard for a few seconds but instantly goes away; I attribute this to the pump simply powering up. Other than that, I can't even hear the thing unless I take off the panel and put my ear right next to it. Even during gaming, the pump is barely heard. The fans are also very silent, only kicking in if temps breach 50C (which I told them to do in my custom fan profile).
The CAM software is...well...not that great. On the plus side it gives me good temp readings for both the CPU and the liquid inside the pump, so that's nice. But on the downside, when CAM is running my pump 'clicks' every few seconds. Very noticeable and obvious. The second I exit the software, the clicking stops. After some Googling, this is apparently a common problem with the Kraken. Not enough to make me want to return it, but it solved my clicking problem instantly. Everything can't be perfect I guess.
Other Thoughts: This is the very first time I've dealt with water cooling, so I kept it simple and stuck with an AIO so the hassle would be minimal. I bought this directly from NZXT along with a case since this was my first time, so I figured straight from the manufacturer was the way to go. It fit perfectly and I honestly couldn't be happier. The CAM software glitch prevents this from getting 5 eggs, but really I'm sure a patch could fix that.
This is a first impression review; obviously, time will be the ultimate factor. So as that goes on, I can report back on the quality of this product, and if their infamous 6 yr warranty holds up when the time comes.
Core i7 4790k 4.0GHZ (stock)
16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866
Intel SSD 730
GTX 980 in SLI