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Braden M.

Braden M.

Joined on 01/05/02

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 25
Most Favorable Review

Very good vertical case at a ridiculous price

ABEE AS Enclosure RS07 SILVER Mini-ITX Aluminum Computer Case w/ Aluminum Frame, 3D High-Gloss Front Panel, Unique CNC Groove Shape of Aluminum Top Cover, CNC Aluminum Base, ATX/SFX/SFX-L PSU Support
ABEE AS Enclosure RS07 SILVER Mini-ITX Aluminum Computer Case w/ Aluminum Frame, 3D High-Gloss Front Panel, Unique CNC Groove Shape of Aluminum Top Cover, CNC Aluminum Base, ATX/SFX/SFX-L PSU Support

Pros: Appearance. Premium materials; excellent build quality. Excellent (air) cooling options. Supports tower coolers.

Cons: Price. Seriously. Come on. Does not support video cards with coolers that extend to a third slot.

Overall Review: This really is a very good mini ITX case. It's not tiny; but it's not gratuitously large, either; and it tends to justify its volume with the air cooling options it affords. I haven't totally run it through its paces; but when equipped with a 200mm fan on top and a couple of 120mm fans in front, it ought to be able to move some air through. But is it worth half a grand? No. No way. The first thing you'll notice when you take delivery of this thing is just how heavy the box is for an aluminum ITX case. There's some steel in there, too; but it turns out a whole lot of the weight is all the cardboard and dense foam packaging. Subtract that, and the heaviest bits are probably the aluminum base and top plate. The base especially is a really thick piece of machined aluminum. These two pieces contribute a lot to the premium feel of the case. After removing a few screws, the front and back aluminum panels come off pretty easily. With the screws removed, the panels are just held in place by friction of some rubber grommets grabbing aluminum posts. Once those panels are removed, you're left with the steel inner structure of the case. At this point, it's pretty open and easy to build in. The steel is solid and not too thin; but also perhaps not quite as thick as one might expect at this price point. (Thicker steel would have added to the weight, so perhaps that's just as well.) The overall layout is very reminiscent of the Silverstone LD03 or Thermaltake's Tower 100. But it turns out that if you're not obsessed with tempered glass, you can implement some sane cooling. (Go figure.) The RS07 is most obviously designed to accommodate a 200mm fan on top. Abee notes that taking advantage of this will likely require right-angle connectors going into the motherboard and GPU; so plan accordingly. (Getting this case and not taking advantage of this cooling option seems silly.) You can also mount either two 120mm fans or one 140mm fan on the front for intake. In theory one could mount a 240mm radiator here; though I'm not sure why you would since there's abundant space for a tower cooler (and a lone 240mm radiator is unlikely to cool both the CPU and GPU sufficiently in a custom loop). So the design isn't complicated; but it is very sane. About the only part that makes no sense to me is the inclusion of an awkwardly-positioned 3.5" drive mounting tray. Is someone really going to put a 3.5" drive in this case? I'd imagine that if you can afford this case, you can afford one or two obscenely large M.2 SSDs. Fortunately, the 3.5" drive tray is removable. I suspect the biggest downside to this case for a lot of folks who might otherwise spring for it (apart, of course, from the price) is the limited headroom for GPU coolers. While graphics card length isn't likely to be a problem, there's just not very much room past the second PCI slot in this case. Tall GPU coolers need not apply; and, as previously mentioned, this is not a very good case for water cooling, so reducing thickness with a GPU waterblock isn't a very attractive option, either. It's really surprising that a more sane manufacturer like Silverstone hasn't produced a more reasonably priced case like this. (The LD03 is close in a lot of ways; but manages to miss the mark rather spectacularly.) You could make some compromises with the exterior materials and probably sell this thing at about a third of the cost without changing anything integral to the basic design. So, four stars. While the feature set won't suit everyone, the design largely succeeds and Abee definitely delivers a premium feel. But even considering that, the price still cannot be justified.

12/20/2021
Most Critical Review

May be hit and miss

ARCTIC F8 PWM CO Double Ball-Bearings Case Fan, 80mm PWM Speed Control, for 24/7 Operation
ARCTIC F8 PWM CO Double Ball-Bearings Case Fan, 80mm PWM Speed Control, for 24/7 Operation

Pros: Inexpensive. Allows daisy-chaining multiple fans from a single PWM header on your motherboard. Quiet... at first.

Cons: If you don't need to daisy chain fans, you'll have a little more extra cable to deal with. After about a month of use at low-to-moderate speeds, my fan has developed quite a rattle. I'll be replacing it with something else.

Overall Review: As inexpensive as these fans are, I suspect that quality is not entirely consistent. Clearly, some other folks have had much better experiences with this fan than I did. Your mileage may vary.

12/27/2012

Gets the job done, loudly

ASRock 2U ACTIVE 1156 COOLER Cooler
ASRock 2U ACTIVE 1156 COOLER Cooler

Pros: It does indeed cool the CPU. One of just a couple coolers on the QVL for the Asrock Rack X570D4I-2T.

Cons: Screams like a banshee.

Overall Review: This is a cooler designed for servers in a server room, presumably with many other loud fans. It's loud. Really loud. And it will probably ramp up and down, loudly. I tried replacing the fan with a quieter, slower one; but couldn't get acceptable cooling performance. The fins on this cooler are densely packed and really demand a high-volume, high static pressure fan; but, quiet high-volume 60mm fans probably don't exist. On one hand, this cooler does perform as designed; on the other, you can get much quieter, more effective coolers than this one.

Moves air without sounding insane

New original Delta AFB1212HHE 12V 0.7A 12038 4-wire PWM intelligent temperature control 120x120x38MM
New original Delta AFB1212HHE 12V 0.7A 12038 4-wire PWM intelligent temperature control 120x120x38MM

Pros: - Moves a good deal of air. - Its top speed doesn't require ear protection.

Cons: - Quality control could be better.

Overall Review: The nice thing about this fan is that it's a 38 mm-thick fan that does *not* have an insanely high maximum RPM. That means that while it won't move as much air as a 4000 or 6000 RPM fan, it also won't *sound* like one of those fans, either. And it still moves quite a bit more air than a 25 mm-thick 2000 RPM fan. On the down side, the sample I received seems like it's not quite perfectly balanced. While the noise is a whole lot better than some other fans I've tried, other samples of this fan might be superior to the one I received. (Or they might not be.)

10/20/2020

Mini-ITX beast: solid workstation platform

AsRock Rack X570D4I-2T Mini-ITX Server Motherboard AM4 PGA 1331 X570 AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation Series Processors
AsRock Rack X570D4I-2T Mini-ITX Server Motherboard AM4 PGA 1331 X570 AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation Series Processors

Pros: * Can accommodate 128 GB of RAM. * PCIe 4.0. * 2× Oculink ports. * Feature-rich IPMI Web interface. * 2× 10 Gb ethernet. * Passively cooled X570 chipset.

Cons: * Very picky about memory. Consult the QVL. * Front panel header connections can impinge on expansion card. * Just two rear USB ports. * Only video output is VGA. * Passively cooled X570 chipset.

Overall Review: This is a remarkable little board. The two Oculink ports make clear that it's intended primarily as a storage solution; but the ability to accommodate 128 GB of RAM along with the 10 Gb ethernet ports also make it a great workstation platform. This is quite possibly the only generally available mini-ITX X570 board with four DIMM slots, accommodating up to 128 GB of RAM (which is exactly the sort of legroom that a 3950X CPU needs on a development workstation). It is not without its quirks, however... * This board is extremely picky about memory. If you're not buying off the QVL, you're really rolling the dice as to whether the board will even POST. * The front panel header is at the end of the PCIe slot; and if you install a graphics card with a nontrivial cooler, it will probably smash the connectors. The reference RX 5700 XT I installed was prevented from going quite all the way into the slot; but it went in far enough to make an electrical connection. * Though this is an AM4 board, it's designed for use with LGA115x coolers. That in itself is not much of a problem, since there are plenty of coolers that have a wide range of socket compatibility. However, what can present a catch is the fact that this board has a preinstalled (glued on) backplate; and not all LGA115x-compatible coolers will include compatible mounting hardware. (Many supply their own backplate.) While I've heard of some folks prying off the backplate to replace it, it's much simpler (and won't void your warranty) to acquire four M3 machine screws to screw into the existing backplate. The requisite length will likely vary depending on the particular cooler; but M3×20 screws work well to mount a Noctua NH-D15S. * The CPU socket is significantly closer to the PCIe slot than it is on most other AM4 boards. If you care to use this slot with something other than a flexible PCIe riser, pay close attention to your CPU cooler dimensions. The Noctua NH-D15S clears the slot, but just barely. The regular NH-D15 would overlap the slot. * I have listed the "Passively cooled X570 chipset" as both a pro and a con. It's a "pro" in that you don't have to worry about a whiny X570 chipset fan. It's a con in that you will need to make sure this board gets adequate airflow. * I get that, as a server board, this board would be intended to run headless. However, even in that scenario, there are times when attaching a monitor is just convenient to troubleshoot an issue. VGA connections on monitors have become uncommon. It would be nice if HDMI were provided as well. (Failing that, a VGA-to-HDMI adapter does work; but these require auxilliary power and consume a scarce USB port.) That's not a short list of quirks; but, none of them is a showstopper and I think this board still warrants 5 eggs on account of just how exceptional its feature list is among mini-ITX X570 boards. If you want to build a Ryzen workstation with a discrete GPU, 128 MB of RAM, and 10 Gbe, it's the only game in town for mini-ITX.

Perhaps the ideal M.2 NVMe enclosure

USB3.1 Gen2 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure
USB3.1 Gen2 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure

Pros: - Tool-free. - *Really* tool-free; not, "doesn't need a screwdriver; but, here's our special key to open it that you're going to lose". - Powerful magnets securely embedded in aluminum frame. - Door fits snugly and securely, yet remains relatively easy to open. - Includes both USB-C-to-C and USB-C-to-A cables.

Cons: - None.

Overall Review: Now that M.2 NVMe drives are commonplace, there are perhaps hundreds of these NVMe-to-USB enclosures available, all variations on a theme. Some have a built-in connector. Some have a built-in and retractable connector. Others, like this one, use a cable. (Though not heavy, an NVMe enclosure might be more weight than you're comfortable hanging on a USB port.) This is the one that's actually designed correctly. It is surprising that there aren't more similar designs.