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Fractal R4/R5 vs Phanteks Pro/Evolv/Eclipse vs CM HAF XB Evo vs Carbide 540

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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Hi guys. I realize I ask a lot more questions than I ever give answers, so, like always, this is supposing you really have the time and don't mind reading your way through the OP and taking part in a little bit of discussion that's not as interesting as something more advanced. Okay?

Now, here's the config:

Asrock Z70 Fatality K6 (the only difference from K6+ is the panel, in case you're personally familiar with the other board), this is a full ATX board
i5-6600 locked, but mobo supports Sky OC up to a certain BIOS version (relatively up to date) and comes with an external clock chip anyway
Ultra 120 Extreme (163mm) (yes, I know I need custom mount)
Samsung 951 NVW for sysdrive)
Saphhire Dual-X 280X
OCZ ZS 650W (non-modular)
X-Fi Titanium PCIE
No HDD for the time being, maybe one in future for storage if not relying exclusively on SSD and/or external drives)
DVDRW — prefer to keep it but not a must

By not a must I mean connecting it in an unorthodox way or having to connect it to a bayless PC whenever watching a film wouldn't be the end of the world if getting superior airflow in exchange for the sacrifice. ;)

Speaking of sacrifice — asking my cat not to sit on the case would be too much. ;) Hence, no Ravens or anything else critically reliant on top exhaust or top anything significant.

Location — either under the desk in the very corner of the room, or out in the open. Either way, probably on the floor. No space on the desk, little space for a shelf, stool or anything else like that.

Water — not really, not yet, probably later, before the case retires.

Optional fans — quality stuff only; large flow, large noiseblocking, large price unfortunately. Not wasting time on crappy ones, though.

My typical acoustics reflect the combination of multiple fans that are each silent individually but not totally silent in a combination. Plus, some vibration. I can't hear the PC even with a wing removed at daytime. At night time it's audible, but not annoying this way; total silence would still be better, though not the expense of cooking the guts or giving on a good OC.

Dust is a problem, I always catch a heckton of it, even if I keep cleaning all the time. Solid dust filters will be welcome, though it's not like I can't buy or make some on my own, so I'm not critically reliant on the chassis manufacturer to provide them, though an elegant solution is always preferred over DIY.

Cases I'm looking at:

(And all are good, probably none would disappoint, but gotta pick only one, so here we are.)

Phanteks Pro obviously is people's favourite case and for good reason. I understand airflow to be superior to Fractal (20cm front fan included, 20cm top optional, plenty of 12/14 sockets) but not as good as specially engineered custom designs that shuffle things around in the case. Acoustics aren't bad, though Fractal's are better. Fractal's radiator clearance is better too. Plenty of CPU (19cm) and GPU clearance. I would understand the large size to be conducive to better airflow, even though there's no straight but only a diagonal path in consequence of intake versus exhaust location. I'm also a little afraid of the reportedly cheap and flimsy wings (vibration? but thin/light may be better than rigid/thick depending on the mounting).

Fractal Define R4/R5 is another popular darling and for good reason. Better sound properties and build quality than Phanteks Pro, but inferior cooling, though this is not an oven either. No 20cm fan. But all fan sockets accept 12cm fans. For water, even 420 top and 360 front can fit in, which means superior water support to Phanteks in addition to better soundproofing, with probably somewhat worse air properties. Still, probably nothing that a bunch of overpriced 14cm fans can't handle. Enough CPU/GPU clearance. Skeptical about the soundproofing — my friend has one, and it doesn't sound quieter than my old Chieftec w/o wings, so what's the point of it? Also seems like you have to open the door to get better cooling; the good thing, of course, is that you can.

Phanteks Evolv, Phanteks Eclipse, Fractal Define S — apart from being full ATX but without any bays — I can't tell much about these boards.

Phanteks Pro M and similar designs — about one 5.25'' bay, which is about exactly what I need. But smaller fans and obviously less room for radiators.

CM HAX XB Evo — good old-fashioned desktop-like design. Great airflow according to tests. But some problems: I don't need hotswap drives or drives at all (apart from DVD). I don't like 90mm rear fans (tier 1 under the mobo). Air can theoretically be swept through the mobo all the way, starting just from the edge of it. Except top vent (mesh panel) or top exhaust (20cm) means the air can escape just after getting in through intake, without sweeping through mobo. I don't know enough about physics to analyse this, but it kinda looks worrying. And top fan reduces CPU clearance to 15cm. Some room for water, not much, the mobo obviously is meant for air. A cat sitting on the top for a while probably won't cook the PC with mesh top. I'm not enthusiastic about having to choose between the 20cm top fan and a decent CPU cooler (orbs are expensive, 15cm towers are weak). Structure is very rigid and resilient — so it might be good at vibration dampening. Also, no torque from CPU cooler and GPU while moving around. Mobo lies flat always. GPU is not hanging and bending, always a straight position.

Corsair Carbide 540 — more tower than desktop cube. The most expensive of all, I would only buy it on very strong recommendations showing a clear benefit. Seems to have better thermals than most towers. Doesn't look bad. Has room for DVD inside. Nicest window ever. Reportedly poor acoustics, though, although I somehow doubt it's going to cancel the dampening/blocking on high-quality aftermarket fans, now can it, somehow?

Both cubes share the same potential problem — PSU on the other side of the mobo, near GPU. GPU thermals look good (net gain?), but this is still begging to be noticed. Not that the PSU is going to ran terribly hot anyway.

***

Aesthetics — a bit torn on the window. Never hand one. Always intrigued me but also always creeped me off a bit. Hard to decide. $25 premium isn't helping it. On the other hand, if I'm paying money for parts that are made to look good, I might as well take some consolation in actually looking at them. You know, a nerd aquarium.

Thoughts?

And if we ever wind up in the same bar, I'm buying. ;)
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Location
Go Blue!
Their all good cases. Here's another option you should consider. Phanteks Enthoo Mini XL. What's unique about this case is the dual 120mm rear exhaust. This way you wont need to rely on the top for exhaust.

Or...You could just get rid of the cat. :)
 
OP
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Their all good cases. Here's another option you should consider. Phanteks Enthoo Mini XL. What's unique about this case is the dual 120mm rear exhaust. This way you wont need to rely on the top for exhaust.

Thanks! I didn't know it existed. Dual 12cm sounds so cool in comparison to the generally weak rear exhaust. Plus, that would mean a normal, orthodox horizontal/diagonal path without vertical diversion. I'll give it a look. I would prefer to stick with 14cm, but the difference isn't large, and there are always adapters. And 12cm fans are going to be cheaper and more to choose from, so it's still a win either way. ;)

Oh, and 'Mini XL', it sounds almost like 'business ethics'. :D

Or...You could just get rid of the cat. :)

That'd break both of our hearts. ;) Well, all three. It's usually my Siberian running from my Abyssinian, but Aby also is a climber to an extent. Well, the Syberian is more of a climber, but Aby likes inaccessible places. :) It's sometimes really hot here, and the PC case usually stays cold, so it's quite attractive once they get here. Normally they don't care though, there are nicer spots around the flat. :)
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Location
Go Blue!
Actually looks like I was wrong. It's not dual 120mm's, It's dual 120mm or 140mm! You sir CAN have your cake and eat it too. It even supports a 240/280mm Rear Rad.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Actually looks like I was wrong. It's not dual 120mm's, It's dual 120mm or 140mm! You sir CAN have your cake and eat it too. It even supports a 240/280mm Rear Rad.

Now now, not bad at all, not at all bad. I'm a complete n00b about water for the time being, but I guess 280 is quite a lot of rad, right?
 

Leegit

Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2013
Location
Kansas
I have an R4 and the Nano S. They are acceptable cases with great build quality. :thup:

The newer models have very subtle details to make all parts of the assembly process a breeze. As for the R4, it will not fit the rads you mentioned. You can fit a 280mm rad in the front with some modifications to the case and fit a 280mm up top I believe. I have been using Scythe Slipstream 120s on my case and they are 37 dBA at 1900 RPMs. I wouldn't say the sound absorber material helps as much as marketing would suggest. But they are definitely quieter. Also, having a built in 3-fan controller with 5V, 7V, 12V options really helps minimize noise when your not doing much with your rig.

Can't speak for the Phanteks quality or moddability.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Damn. Looks like it is to good to be true. Sorry.

Will keep in mind for my next 'puter or mobo change, though. Those small-TX cases tend to have small CPU clearance, but these days two RAM banks and one slot apart from GPU tends to be enough, so I might be tempted to take the path of small size and close, direct airflow from large fans and basically forget water, just spending serious money on the fans instead.

I have an R4 and the Nano S. They are acceptable cases with great build quality. :thup:

The newer models have very subtle details to make all parts of the assembly process a breeze. As for the R4, it will not fit the rads you mentioned. You can fit a 280mm rad in the front with some modifications to the case and fit a 280mm up top I believe. I have been using Scythe Slipstream 120s on my case and they are 37 dBA at 1900 RPMs. I wouldn't say the sound absorber material helps as much as marketing would suggest. But they are definitely quieter. Also, having a built in 3-fan controller with 5V, 7V, 12V options really helps minimize noise when your not doing much with your rig.

Can't speak for the Phanteks quality or moddability.

Yeah, I took the info from the R5 and didn't mention this, sorry.

Re: sound, yeah, well, so far I've got the most luck with open cases, i.e. no wings. Obviously, you can't manage the airflow much this way, but temps aren't bad, and I find the noise to be the least, notably no vibration and no metal echo added on top of the sound hardware and fans make. I can distinctly hear fans etc. through my friend's Fractal (unidentified model but a good several years old). If anything, its thermals impress me but not its acoustic properties. Heck, I've heard less noise grom generic non-dampened cases little better than a complete noname case, if I can be a little frank. :(

How are the wings, by the way? Do they stick in place solidly or do you (I hope not!) experience vibration or echo problems with them in place?
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Went with windowless Phanteks, so case closed. Might still buy a window panel, sound mats or replacement fans but not going to change the case any time soon.
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Location
Go Blue!
You wont be disappointed with the Phanteks Case. I just bought the Luxe and I'm loving it. Just try and keep the cat off the top. lol
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
You wont be disappointed with the Phanteks Case. I just bought the Luxe and I'm loving it. Just try and keep the cat off the top. lol

Thanks. :) If it's much taller than my current mid tower, then it might be a little difficult to either jump or climb on. But I dread to think about the climbing if jumping is not an option. Hey, at least I didn't get a plexi window. :D

There's no traditional hard drive in the system, I'm pretty sure mobo mounting is solid, and I wouldn't expect a bottom-mounted PSU to be able to rock a reasonably solid case, so I'm expecting no vibrations unless the fans are bad, which they probably are not, at least not to a point some rubber couldn't fix. So I guess I won't need to worry about soundproofing. Unless the case generates echo when closed (like my current Chieftec case) or something.
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Location
Go Blue!
The luxe that I have is very solid and stable. A cat could jump off and it will not budge. The fans are also high quality and pretty darn quiet. Not quite at the Noctua level but damn close.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Sounds very respectable indeed.

I also like the design and the drawings on their website. It kinda looks like something an architect may have designed.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
For the benefit of anyone who gets Phanteks Enthoo Pro and struggles with the fans: try plugging in only the four-pin plug, without the SATA plug. After that you should be able to tune stock fans down probably even with pure voltage (non-PWM) speed regulation, to something like 20% speed below 50 degrees Celsius, which should make your CPU stay at about 45 degrees Celsius in normal office/desktop use with a completely silent computer, except occasional coil whine or generator hum. Still replacing the fans, though, and obviously the stock cooler from Intel (gotta buy a mounting kit for my old Ultra). I'll also be buying a silencing kit (o-rings and stuff).

A very nice case overall, though I'd hoped to be able to remove the bay cover without having to remove all cages. But it arguably looks better this way.

The system looks quite sleek with so much black in it. Black chassis inside, black mobo, black memory etc.
 

Leegit

Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2013
Location
Kansas
How are the wings, by the way? Do they stick in place solidly or do you (I hope not!) experience vibration or echo problems with them in place?

I purchased my R4 like 3 years ago, so same timeframe as your friend. The wings work fine, slide and lock in with thumbscrews in the back. The Nano S has special thumbscrews that are non-removable from the wings. Really like this feature cause I tend to take the thumbs off and either lose them or forget to put them back. Wings on the Nano S feature the same slide and lock system. Feels solid :clap: