Date Joined: 11/30/03
Pros: Room. Oh my, the room. It makes an ATX board look like a MATX. Not to mention room for video cards - my 280X is 12 inches long and it still has three inches to the hard drive cage. If you feel claustrophobic in here, you may have a problem. If you run out of hard drive space, you really have a problem.
The black anodized finish exudes a clean beautiful look. No gaudiness here. Even the DVD drive is hidden.
The included organizer for leftover hardware is a nice touch.
Great airflow. The front 140mm fans aren't quiet to say the least but their wires will reach the mainboard so I can use the q-fan feature to slow them down to under 600 rpm. I used one Y-cable to run two from one header as the board only had two controllable headers up there. When at full speed they change out the air in a hurry. Plus, they come with filters.
The fully rubber isolated hard drive mounting setup is very effective at cutting the noise from my Velociraptor drive.
Video card support is always welcome.
Cons: Biggest flaw with this case is the side panel design. They use multiple tabs top and bottom that have to all slide in at the same time; unfortunately being an aluminum panel big enough to use as a spare barn door from time to time, it doesn't stay flat and can be a real pain to get all eight tabs in at the same time. This is far harder on the left panel once wires are in because they will push the panel out just enough to make it infuriating. If I take that panel off, I have to lay the case on my bed to gently push with a knee and elbow to keep the panel flat enough to reassemble. My $50 Antec case was far easier to put the panels on because of its front-hinging swinging design.
The fan filters are a welcome inclusion but they're a hair's width from the fan blades. About two weeks after assembly, two filter screens lost their flatness just a tiny bit and suddenly I had scraping noises from them contacting the fan blades. Fortunately, this was an easy fix. The grommets that hold the fans to the case frame can slide on their screws; so if those are pushed down to the fan body, fans installed, and afterwards the three filters simultaneously twisted into place from the front of the case, there will be about 4mm of new space to keep them off the blades. Plus they're easier to clean because that darn left panel won't have to be removed to remove them (the front cosmetic panel pops right off).
Wire management. You'll have to get creative although the excess room will help. Those three grommets in the motherboard tray will pop out every time you push a wire through, not to mention every time you put on the left panel and it pushes gently against all the wires, and you'll be tempted to toss them. Tip - you can insert them from the back side and they'll pop out far less often.
Fingerprints. It'll be as bad as a brushed stainless steel fridge.
Hard drive cage only removable after drilling out some rivets.
Size can be a con, from trying to fit it next to my desk, to the comments like if I was working for NASA now to need a case that big. Another tip - if you don't have one, order up an extension for your 8-pin CPU power plug on the top of the mainboard. It's only a couple bucks.
The filter under the power supply is just odd. I don't see that getting a whole lot of use.
Overall Review: Overall it's a good case. Maybe not so much if you take it apart a lot due to those darn panel tabs and propensity for fingerprints, but for a build that's rarely disassembled, it's fine. It stays cool, looks great like any Lian Li, and does the job. I wouldn't pay the $170 it was originally, mostly thanks to other more friendly cases to work with for that price, but for roughly $125 I paid it was worth it, especially for the room.
Pros: Reasonably powerful for the price. It plays any game I have with relative ease so I did not overclock it. There are times in Star Trek Online that lots of asteroids or gas clouds make it drop below 60 fps (such as Argala or SB24) but that's with all effects maxed and 4x AA at 1680x1050, and STO isn't known for having an efficient graphics engine. I haven't seen it drop below 30 fps yet. Roughly 4x the framerates my crossfired 4850s could do. It's good for about 135k-140k PPD in F@H with the right work units.
Great noise level and low temps under load. I always use vsync, but when it does get close to maxing GPU usage, the fans approach 40% and the temp never has reached 70C. It's typically far quieter than my two Gentle Typhoon 1850rpm fans on the CPU. Typical temps are 40C idle, 55-65C in-game, and 60-61C when folding. My case has great ventilation though with 3x 140mm intake fans, although they only spin at 500 rpm most of the time.
Cool blue LED, and green load indicators, although I can't see them in my case.
3GB of VRAM. Sad to see AMD go down to 2GB on the new 285, otherwise I would have likely tried that card.
Cons: Idle noise isn't so great. The fans (all of them, I tried stopping each manually) emit a low-pitched hum that actually make the card seem louder at idle than it is at full load. It's disappointing because the actual air noise at the default 20% fanspeed is virtually nil but for some reason they have a mechanical hum. It almost sounds similar to low frequency microphone feedback. I set a manual curve in the TriXX software to keep the minimum fanspeed at 31%, at which speed the hum is gone and noise is very tolerable. I have to manually select this fan profile after every Sleep or Hibernation event though because it defaults to the original profile after waking up.
The card is LONG. Good for dissipating heat, bad for working around. It will not fit in an Antec 300 midtower. I have a much bigger case now, but that was going to happen sometime anyways.
Power consumption under load. Have a decent power supply. My TX750 doesn't have a problem with this card at all.
Overall Review: I'm generally satisfied. I was really hoping for a quieter idle as that was my main complaint with my 4850s - those blower fans on those two cards were noisy any time the computer was on. Since adjusting the fan speed alleviated the hum I'm not going to complain to Sapphire about it provided they don't fail. If I had it to do again, I'd have bumped up to the 290, not only for the additional power and features, but that Vapor-X model supposedly will shut some of its fans off completely, unlike this one.
I haven't had any other issues such as black screen, flickering, driver crashes, etc. It's been very stable with the 14.9 driver (the newer Omega driver has known anti-aliasing issues in STO). This was a great relief after fighting crossfire compatibility for years.
In short, if this is your price range and will fit in your case, it's a great choice. If it weren't for that annoying idle hum from mine it would have been everything I wanted and more.