Raidmax Viper: A Modern Budget Tower

Cases|Damping
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

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.

  • Raidmax Viper - Radeon HD 4870 test system at 1m
    — idle, rear and front fans at 7V, CPU fan at 12V (21~22 dBA@1m)
    — load, rear and front fans at 9V, CPU fan at 12V (27 dBA@1m)
    — load, rear and front fans at 12V, CPU fan at 12V (30 dBA@1m)

FINAL THOUGHTS

We get the sense that Raidmax threw everything they could into the Viper while adhering to a strict budget rather than thinking about how everything would work together. The front bezel in particular is horrid, from the orange trim that clashes against the more dominant blue of the interior, to the door with its weak hinges covering up the power and reset buttons as well as the front audio and USB ports, and finally the decorative but restrictive front intake. The inclusion of USB 3.0 is actually problematic as they neglected to consider motherboards, mainly budget models, that lack an internal USB 3.0 header. This is a non-issue on more expensive cases as they typically offer a USB 2.0 option as well.

On the inside everything you expect to see in a decent tower case is present like a bottom power supply placement with a removable air filter and a backplate cutout for third party heatsinks, but some of the other must-have features are subpar. The holes for running thick cables are limited in both size and number and behind the tray there is hardly any room so it's difficult to hide a mass of cabling without a modular power supply. Graphics card clearance is a decent 29.6 cm, enough for any current single GPU card, but CPU heatsink clearance is a stingy 16.0 cm; Anything higher and the side panel may bulge. The tool-less drive mounts are only provided on one side of the case and are not quite secure without screwing in the opposite side. If you have only one or two 5.25" devices you can move half of the locking mechanisms to the other side but the same can't be said of the 3.5" drives because of an asymmetrical cage design.

Three included fans is rather nice for a budget case and they were surprisingly quiet though we would have preferred 3-pin variants so they'd play more nicely with fan controllers. Unfortunately you can really only use two of them unless you're hard of hearing. The side panel fan mount is simply wretched, turning a perfectly fine fan into an unbearably noisy beast. Disabling this fan will save you from the blinding LEDs but it leaves a small 120 mm sized vent to better hear any fans inside; It would have probably been better off with a solid side panel. With limited airflow and no additional fan placements, the Viper can't compete with enthusiast class cases. It doesn't quite stack up to silence-oriented cases either due to its thin construction, flawed side window, and the lack of a dampened hard drive mounting option.

On paper, the Raidmax Viper is a good value, offering more contemporary features than a lot of cases in its price range, but it reality much of the window dressing added to give the Viper more appeal gets in the way, preventing it from performing as well as it could. It pretends to be an enthusiast tower, but it's a thinly veiled facade that breaks down quickly under cursory scrutiny like a Prado purse you might buy in a sketchy back alley. We would recommend spending a bit more money for something nicer, but if you're really hard up for cash, at least look for a case with a little less flash and a little more substance, even if it's a bit behind the times.

Our thanks to Raidmax for the Viper case sample.

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