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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to
LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no
audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent
a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.
Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product
at various states. For the most realistic results,
set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then
don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.
First we'll start off by saying up front that for a typical desktop configuration like our X4 955/HD 4870 combination, the Dragon Rider is a not a good choice. Though it's spacious and well-cooled, the vent on the left side panel is so large that acoustically, it is like not having a side panel at all. The case has too many holes to be very quiet, even if you slow the fans to low levels. In addition, without components significantly heating up the motherboard, the fan on the right side panel is useless, which is a shame as its inclusion results in the case being an inch wider than normal.
With a higher power setup, however, the case's thermal performance is substantially better than the recently tested In Win BUC and LanCool PC-K59. The additional cooling from the side fans far outweighs their extra noise and results in an overall quieter and much cooler system. For a multi-GPU and/or heavily overclocked system, the Dragon Rider case fans deliver excellent airflow, which allows various component fans to spin at lower speeds.
The Dragon Rider's performance isn't the only aspect we appreciate. The build quality is solid, its tool-less assembly features are convenient and fairly secure, and there are some nice touches like the inclusion of 4-pin/8-pin extension cables, raised fan mounts to reduce turbulence, and rubber grommets for the side panel fans. The fans are of good acoustic quality except for the top fan which has a tendency to click, but luckily this noise blends into the background when there are multiple noise sources. The side panel fan can also be moved to a lower position to avoid interference with tall CPU coolers, an option not available on most cases with large side fans.
Our main complaint is that the Dragon Rider does not ship with any fan speed control for its five stock fans... despite the somewhat high price tag. It's quite a large case, wide enough to house a full-sized right side fan and deep enough to support EATX motherboards. There's also extra clearance between the motherboard tray and ceiling and room for an eight expansion slot, making the case very tall. All this space and extra size is wasted unless you make use of it all. We were dismayed with the inclusion of improper screws for the motherboard standoffs. When the screws holding the motherboard were removed after testing, half of the standoffs ended up stuck to them. Some may consider this a minor detail, but such a basic error is bad form.
With a street price of about US$140, the Dragon Rider is a superb choice for a big enthusiast/gaming case. It doesn't have as many fancy features as some other similarly-priced cases, but if you have a thermally challenging system, it delivers impressive performance. It may not ride the dragon, but it does tame a hot powerful system better than most cases we've encountered.
In Win Dragon Rider
* Excellent performance with high power configurations
* Solid construction
* Secure, tool-less assembly for most components
* Stock fans have good acoustics
* Raised fan mounts
* Position of 22 cm side fan can be adjusted
* 4-pin/8-pin extension cables included
* Louder than most cases with lower power systems
* Lacks a fan speed controller
* Very big given its conventional layout
* Improper motherboard standoff screws included
Our thanks to In Win for the Dragon Rider case sample.
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Articles of Related Interest
LanCool PC-K59 Midtower Case
In Win BUC ATX Tower Case
Silverstone Fortress FT03 mATX Tower: Redux
Fractal Design Define R3 ATX Tower
Silverstone Fortress FT03 microATX Tower
NZXT H2 Classic Silent Midtower Chassis
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this article in the SPCR Forums.
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