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We hunted for a suitable large case that could house the 403 x 131 x 39 mm
Coolstream PE 360 Triple radiator. This was tougher than it first seemed.
- The only location that is practical is the top panel unless you can find
a case with ~40cm height front intake, which would probably make it at least
60cm tall, and hot air would blow out from the front. On any watercooling
radiator, using the fans to exhaust makes most sense; no point blowing the
heat back into the case!
- It's not enough for the top vent to be long and wide enough to fit the radiator;
there must be enough height so that the 39mm thickness of the radiator and
the 25mm thick fans don't intrude into the motherboard or CPU cooling space.
Our short list was based on brand, discernable case details, and sample availability.
All are medium or larger ATX tower cases. We did want to avoid the really huge
cases like the Coolermaster Cosmos II basically anything so big that
it could be a casket for a Rottweiler.
- Fractal Design Define R5 - 56 liters
- NZXT S530 - 62 liters
- Phanteks Enthoo Luxe - 72 liters
- Corsair Obsidian 750D - 71 liters
- Corsair Graphite 760T - 80 liters
A sample of the Fractal Define R5 was on hand, and a quick look at the space
between the top edge of the motherboard and the top panel mounting place told
us the 74mm depth of our radiator + fans would be a very tight squeeze. A 2-fan
radiator would fit better, but a 3-fan radiator would make working around the
CPU area very tight. It was set aside.
A NZXT Source S530 case sample came in time for this article. It is a fairly
plain, straightforward case with lots of venting, but like the Define R5, there
is not enough space above the top edge of the motherboard for comfortable installation
of the radiator and fans. Like the R5, a-2 fan radiator would work well on top,
but it's just too tight for a 3-fan radaitor.
Both Corsair Obsidian 750D and Graphite 760T look like they would have been
very suitable cases for the system being planned, with plenty of room for the
radiator and its fans. Neither of the Corsairs were actually requested early
enough for samples to come in time for this article, unfortunately.
Not nearly as big as the Phanteks Enthoo Prime which we reviewed in late 2013,
the Luxe looked like worthy contender. A sample did arrive in time, and the
Phanteks Enthoo Luxe case proved not only suitable for a 3-fan radiator on top,
but also extremely nicely built with some excellent features. All in all, it
is a very nice case. The Enthoo Luxe became the case of choice for our first
watercooled gaming rig.
PHANTEKS ENTHOO LUXE
The Enthoo Luxe is a 70 liter windowed case with extensive support for
liquid cooling. The white painted finish is attractive.
It's obvious from the back panel that the exhaust fan position is adjustable,
and there's a lot of room above the top of the motherboard.
The power button is on top, with reset switch and other I/O on a hidden
front panel with flip up cover.
The top grill pops up with a firm down push on the back end. As usual,
the grill has multiple layers: A large hex-pattern frame, a plastic mesh
for dust, and metal fine-hole grill on top. We'll have to see how much
this impacts airflow. The only way I'd use the top vent in this case is
for exhaust, and the anti-dust mesh makes no sense on an exhaust vent.
The distance from the top grill to the to the radiator/fan mounting flange
is over 3cm, yet there is still 6cm of space below the flange to the top
of the motherboard. This means the radiator is best mounted under the
flange and fans on top, to leave maximum space inside the case. The top
fan is 140x25mm, like the fan on the back panel.
Some of the exterior is made of plastic; all of the interior is fairly
heavy steel. Despite the large size of the side panels, the feel relatively
stiff, and when it's all assembled, the case feels quite sturdy and rigid.
A large metal peice covers up the power supply and its cables, presumably
for cosmetic effect. There are many rubber grommet holes of various sizes
for running cables, and a huge opening in the middle of the motherbaord
tray for access to the backplate of any CPU/heatsink. Interestingly, all
the case parts are screwed together; no rivets are used.
The backside of the motherboard tray is inset some 2.5cm from the right
side panel, so there's a lot of room for cable management. Note clever
use of velcro straps and multiple cable tie points. There is also an expansion
board which converts any motherboard fan header to 6 headers. A SATA power
connector is used to power the LED lights that run along the top and front
of the case. Up to six 3.5" HDDs mounted on trays are accessed from
this side on two separate cages that slide out easily yet are securely
nicely with two thumbscrews each. The whole drive cage is quite sturdy
and feels resistant to vibration.
View with drive cages removed. A large 200 x 25mm intake fan lurks in
front. The bottom dust filter for PSU intake slides out from the back,
and one for the fan positions nearer the front is accessed from the front.
A single long dust filter accessed from the front would be more convenient.
View with PSU cover and HDD trays removed.
The front panels pulls off with a sharp tug starting from the bottom.
The big fan is more impeded than we like, by the metal frame in front
of it, and the dust filter and other extras in the fascia. There are screw
holes to mount two 140mm fans or 120mm fans; unfortunately, this is what
necessitates the extra bit of sheet metal across the center of the fan
vent. Unplug the cables to the front panel lights and the panel can be
This photo shows the inside of the front panel with the dust filter removed.
There's still a checkered frame, a metal grill and a big baffle that add
impedance to the front intake.
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