Today on the review table is the XPG Starker. A compact and versatile mid-tower chassis. While it is the smallest case offered by ADATA’s gaming division, XPG, there is still plenty of space for a multitude of components and various configurations. This is due to intelligently designed features and multipurpose plates included with the Starker. We will get into that and much more as we take a deep dive into what makes the XPG Starker so special.
Features and Specifications
Being a compact size case, the Starker supports motherboards in ATX, mATX, and mITX formats. This will accommodate the bulk of all PC builds and is sufficient for most users. Cooling is accomplished by a pair of XPG Vento 120mm, 1200 RPM fans. The front intake features a new on-rail removable filter for easier cleaning. In fact, every intake and exhaust location features a filter to help eliminate dust.
The Starker features a variety of hard drive and solid-state drive capabilities and can house up to four storage devices. This is accomplished via the HDD/SSD caddy and the dual SSD/HDD tray. Included with this chassis is a vertical PCIe adapter with four vertical PCIe slots. Few cases offer the capability to mount two GPUs vertically.
Here is a list of the specifications per the XPG website.
|XPG Starker Specifications|
|Product Name||XPG Starker|
|Model Number||Starker-WHCWW (White)
|Available Color||White or Black|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||465 x 215 x 400mm (18.3 x 8.46 x 15.75 inch)|
|Motherboard Support||Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX|
|Expansion Slots||7 or 4 vertical slots|
|Drive Bays||5.25″ : 0
3.5″ : 2+1
2.5″ : 2+2 (2+1 per this review)
|I/O Port||USB 3.0 x 2 (3.2 Gen1 Type A)
Hybrid Audio Port (supports HD Audio)
LED Control Button
|Pre-installed Fan(s)||Front: XPG Vento 120mm
Rear: XPG Vento RGB 120mm
|Fan Support||Front : 120mm x3 , 140mm x2
Top : 120mm x2 , 140mm x2
Rear : 120mm x1
|Liquid Cooling Support||Front : 360 / 280 / 240mm x1
Top : 280 / 240 / 120mm x1
Rear : 120mm x1
|Clearances||CPU Cooler Height Limitation: 165mm
Graphic Card Length Limitation: 350mm
PSU Length Limitation: 160mm
|EAN Code||4710273776842 (White)|
|UPC Code||842243024074 (White)|
We have also included a list of features sourced from the XPG website.
XPG ships the Starker in a traditional brown cardboard box. It is thick, double-wall corrugated cardboard that protects the contents well with printing done in a simple black. The box is wrapped in a shrink wrap type plastic that helps to protect from moisture and keeps the packaging in pristine condition.
On the front, the Starker is depicted in an isometric view with a few of its features listed. At the back is a descriptive exploded view that displays additional features. The right side declares if the chassis is the black or white version along with the overall dimensions. There is also a model and serial number sticker attached here. The left side shows a large table of the specifications (listed earlier in the review). Once opened, we find the chassis safely sandwiched between two soft foam end caps and a clear plastic bag. Overall the packaging is exceptional and protects the contents from all but the harshest conditions.
Enclosed within the chassis itself is a small cardboard box containing the included accessories. Among them is a quick start guide, a sheet of XPG branded stickers, a plug-in style motherboard speaker, a bag of miscellaneous screws, small zip ties, a pair of vertical GPU mounting posts, and a vertical PCIe mounting adaptor. If you’re following along with all of these reviews, then you will note this is the second case from XPG to feature these vertical GPU mounting posts. This is, however, the first case where XPG has offered a modular vertical mounting adaptor. Additionally, the plug-in speaker is not something that is standard these days. Many of today’s motherboards come with included speakers, so this is a rare sighting, to be sure.
Exterior At A Glance
Taking a quick stroll around the Starker, we notice it’s a traditional style enclosure with subtle design queues. Most of the attention is driven to the front and left side of the chassis, where your attention generally belongs. The sample XPG sent is painted in a nice matte white with well placed red and black accents. The whole aesthetic provides a clean look that is very pleasing. The quality seems excellent as all the panels fit together well, and the case feels sturdy when handling. Quality, fit, and finish are clearly at the top of XPG’s list, and all four cases we have reviewed from them represent this.
A Closer Look
Let’s dig in and take a closer look at the Starker. In this section, we will focus our attention on each specific side and note the individual details XPG has provided for this chassis.
We’ll start this journey on the left side. The four-millimeter tempered glass is secured by two captive thumbscrews and features a protective film and caution sticker. Once loosened, it slides to the rear and lifts away. Note the two tabs located on the feet of the case that help control the panel and prevent it from falling unexpectedly. The side panel has foam attached to aid in noise reduction, and the framework uses an adhesive to secure it to the glass panel.
With the side panel set aside, we are afforded an unobstructed view into the chassis. Even though this is XPG’s smallest chassis, it still appears very spacious. The Starker features five grommeted cable pass-through holes as well as four non-grommeted holes on the PSU shroud. Only six standoffs come pre-installed, so an additional three to four will need to be installed for standard ATX motherboards. At the rear, we find the exhaust fan and an XPG Vento RGB 120 mm. Below the rear fan are the seven standard expansion slots, a typical number for mid-tower chassis.
Moving to the top, we find the top mounting points for additional fans or a radiator if you prefer water cooling. Also, take note, due to the location of the top I/O ports, there are no cables at the top front cluttering up the interior of the Starker. At the front, we find the single Vento 120 mm fan. There are mounting locations for two additional fans should you decide to increase the intake airflow.
At the bottom of the left side is the full-length PSU shroud. The shroud is non-removable and features perforations over the majority of it. The perforations aid in providing cool air to any GPUs mounted at the bottom expansion slots. A closer inspection reveals a series of mounting holes. These are for displaying your SSD, HDD, or vertical GPU mounting posts. The shroud also has two large openings, one to display your PSU and the other for installing an optional front-mounted radiator. Finally, while we’re here, let’s take a moment to appreciate the red XPG logo. The red on white is just crisp, clean, and gorgeous.
Rotating 180°, let’s take a closer look at the right side. The steel side panel is secured with a pair of captive thumbscrews, just like the left side. Notice the small tabs on the feet on this side as well when building in this chassis. These aid in closing the panel once the right side is stuffed with cables. If you’ve ever struggled to secure the right-side panel due to cables pushing against it, then you’ll understand and appreciate the added help.
With the side panel removed, we find the large opening to help with mounting the CPU cooler. Below that is the removable SSD tray. This can also double as an HDD tray, but only if mounted to the PSU shroud as there simply isn’t enough clearance to mount one behind the motherboard tray. We count a total of 16 cable tie points. That number may seem low; however, considering they are located precisely where you would want them, it should be more than adequate. Located near the front are where the I/O cables run alongside the two vertical grommeted cable openings.
Bringing our attention to the bottom of the chassis, this is where the PSU and the primary location for mounting hard drives take place. There are two soft rubber/foam strips attached here which support the power supply. This reduces vibrational noise regardless of the PSU length, a much better option than four small square pads that cannot be relocated.
The storage tray allows for mounting either two 3.5″ hard drives or one 3.5″ drive and one 2.5″ drive. This is not a toolless design and will require the more traditional method of securing the drives with screws. A closer look, and it is easy to spot that this HDD tray can be located in two different positions.
The front of the case provides a clean look that would not seem out of place in a hospital setting. The front panel displays a bold red XPG logo at the bottom and small intake openings along either side. At the middle of the edges are a pair of light strips that allows for some flair and gives it a modern appearance. The front panel is attached via eight magnets and, once removed, presents the front intake filter. This is one of the highlighted features from XPG and is the first of its kind from them. Designated as an On-Rail dust filter, it simply slides up and out of the case. The mesh used is a high-quality fine mesh that’s an excellent choice for keeping out unwanted contaminants. With the filter removed, we see the front intake fan, a single 120 mm XPG Vento. There are also mounting slots for up to three 120 mm or two 140 mm fans, or if water cooling is your thing, you can mount up to a 360 mm or 280 mm radiator.
Laying the Starker on its right side and rotating to see the top, we see it is almost completely ventilated. The top mesh is secured with magnetic strips around the perimeter and is the coarse mesh type. With the top filter removed, you gain access to the mounting slots for the 120 mm or 140 mm fans or up to 240/280 mm radiators.
The top-mounted I/O ports are pushed to the right side of this chassis rather than centered at the front. From left to right are a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports (5Gb/s) still labeled with the old standard 3.0, a hybrid high definition audio input/output jack, RGB LED controller button, reset button, and larger illuminated power button.
Looking at the bottom of the chassis, we find a full-length coarse mesh filter. Rather than attaching with magnets, XPG opted to use several small tabs to keep this filter in place. As this is an intake location for the power supply, it would be better for a fine mesh type filter, but this type is better than nothing. With the mesh removed, we see the bottom is riddled with ventilation holes throughout, providing maximum airflow. The last item to note on the bottom is the four large rectangular feet. These are outfitted with rubber pads and prove effective at keeping the chassis firmly planted where ever you set it down.
Starting at the rear of the case on top, XPG provided additional ventilation above the motherboard opening and next to the expansion slot covers. In fact, in every area, XPG could ventilate this chassis they have. The rear exhaust fan location is designed for 120 mm fans only with no accommodations for a 140 mm fan. This is likely due to this being their most compact case available. A 140 mm fan would require a wider chassis, and that is not what the Starker is intended for. Below the motherboard’s rear area are the seven ventilated expansion slot covers and the PSU opening.
Adata/XPG includes two 120 mm Vento 3 pin fans, one of which features addressable RGB lighting. Setting the RGB lighting aside, they both share the same features and specifications. Each utilizes a nine-bladed turbine and generates 45.3 CFM at 1200 RPM while only producing 23 dBA. Built around a rifle bearing, they are designed to last about 60,000 hours. Using HWInfo64, we were able to confirm that not only do they reach their rated speeds, but they also exceeded them. The ARGB fan reached a max speed of 1350 RPM while the non-RGB fan reached a top speed of 1435 RPM.
Power is delivered via the motherboard’s voltage-controlled 3-pin fan header and pulls a maximum of 0.16 A. Connected to the fans 3-pin connector is a 2-pin daisy chain for adding additional fans. Nine LEDs surround the hub of the RGB version and provide a perfect amount of color and light. Power to the LED’s is provided by a 3-pin ARGB 5v connector that also includes a daisy-chain connector.
|XPG Vento 120 mm Fans|
|Air Flow||45.3 CFM|
|LED Type||ARGB or None|
|LED Quantity||9 or 0|
|LED Voltage||DC 5v (3-pin) or None|
The XPG Starker offers several options for data management solutions. The first option is an SSD tray that can mount two 2.5″ drives. This tray can be mounted behind the motherboard tray or on top of the PSU shroud. When mounted on the shroud, a second option becomes available to mount a 3.5″ HDD on the tray. A third option is to use the HDD caddy mounted below the PSU shroud. This caddy can house up to two drives.
The bottom allows for a 3.5″ while the top surface can fit either a 2.5″ or a 3.5″ drive. Neither the tray nor the caddy are toolless and require a screwdriver along with the included screws. The tray does, however, use a thumbscrew to attach to the chassis, while the caddy features rubber anti-vibration posts. Finally, the HDD caddy can be relocated to allow for an additional 28 mm of clearance to either the front intake or for longer power supplies.
Vertical GPU Bracket
The included vertical GPU bracket allows for four vertical expansion slots and takes up six of the seven horizontal slots. This option will not be usable for those who need multiple horizontal slots. Regardless, what this adapter does provide is an option for those who want to mount their cards vertically. In fact, it will most likely provide a better thermal solution when compared to other case’s vertical mounting options as you have the ability to mount the GPU further from the left side panel, yielding additional airflow that is simply not available with fixed location vertical mounts.
We’ve reviewed everything we can without power. Now it’s time to install some components and see how a few completed builds might look. After we complete the builds, we will test the Starkers thermal capacity.
Water Cooled Build
For a custom-loop mock-up build, we’ve installed a 35 mm thick, 360 mm radiator in the front and a 30 mm thick, 240 mm radiator at the top. Small and large pump/res combos were positioned approximately where one would want to mount them to show a couple of possible scenarios. This chassis does not provide a pump mount, so it will be necessary to get creative. While the opening at the front of the PSU shroud allows for 80 mm of clearance for a radiator with fans, we simply were not able to install one due to the GPU used in this demonstration is too long. The maximum GPU length for this scenario would be about 270 mm. Lastly, the top radiator mounting is offset towards the left to allow for maximum clearance. We experienced no issue mounting the 30 mm radiator and, in fact, had room to add a much thicker one.
Air Cooled Build
The air-cooled build utilizes the venerable Cooler Master Hyper 212X. This is a very common aftermarket tower cooler and also serves as our CPU cooler for thermal testing. The Starker advertises 165 mm of CPU cooler clearance, and we can confirm this as the 212X measure 158 mm, and we had plenty of room to spare. Here we also get to look at the vertical GPU bracket in action. We were not able to install the GPU on the furthest inboard slot as there would be an interference with a PCI extension cable. With the GPU mounted in the center two slots, we measured 95 mm of clearance to the front of the GPU for excellent airflow capabilities. Sadly the Vertical GPU mount post holes on the PSU shroud did not line up with the GPU riser we have on hand. Your results may vary as I doubt there is an industry standard for these yet.
The Starker provides 23 mm of cable clearance behind the motherboard, which is adequate. The sixteen cable tie points came in handy and were right where we wanted them, along with the grommeted cable pass-through holes. You can see none of the cables are at odd angles plugging into this motherboard. We give XPG kudos for excellent cable routing locations.
Lighting for the Starker is minimal but effective and is comprised of an RGB controller, a single ARGB fan, and a pair of ARGB light bars located on the front panel. Users can expand on this lighting as well since the controller and fan both allow for daisy-chaining additional lighting components. When not controlled by the motherboard, it can rely on its internal RGB controller featuring 13 different lighting modes. Note: The user’s manual states mode 8 is Neon Green when in fact, it is Cyan. The pictures that were taken of Green, Yellow, White, Orange, and all of the four special effects were washed out by the camera’s processor, so, unfortunately, we could not include them.
|XPG Starker Lighting Modes|
|Mode 8||Neon Green (Actually Cyan)|
|Mode 9||Lighting Effect 1|
|Mode 10||Lighting Effect 2|
|Mode 11||Lighting Effect 3|
|Mode 12||Lighting Effect 4|
Thermal Testing Procedure
The Starker has shown some impressive and unique features. Now let’s heat things up and see what it is capable of thermally. With the case in its stock orientation and all the fans at full speed, we apply our overclock to the CPU and GPU. The overclock will be as high as possible, maintaining stability and staying within the thermal limits of the components. To apply a load to the CPU and GPU, Aida64 Engineer and 3D Mark Firestrike are run together until we notice a thermal peak and temps no longer rise, generally about 15-30 minutes. This provides the maximum internal case temperature. Once the max temps are reached, we remove the side panel and continue for another full run of Firestrike, measuring the temperature drop. If the case is getting proper airflow, then the case temperatures should remain within a few degrees of the original result. If there is a significant temperature drop with the side panel removed, then the case is starving for fresh, cool air.
|XPG Starker Thermal Testing System|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 3700X|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212X|
|Memory||G>Skill Trident Z RGB (2x8GB) 3200 CL16|
|GPU||Gigabyte RTX 2070 Gaming OC 8GB|
|Storage||OCZ Agility3 60GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair RM850|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64 bit|
|Stock fans||1x XPG Vento 1200RPM (Intake)
1x XPG Vento RGB 1200RPM (Exhaust)
|Temperature Probe||Amprobe TMD-52|
With the ambient temps hovering around 23°C, we observed the case temperatures rise to 27°C. While this isn’t an alarming temperature, it is the highest temp recorded when compared to similar cases that we have reviewed with this same method. Once the side panel is removed, we notice the temperature drop back to near ambient. The single intake fan is clearly not capable of keeping up with this admittedly unrealistic heat load. Adding additional fans should alleviate this issue, but to be sure the front panel wasn’t creating a restriction, we ran the test a second time with the solid front panel removed. Results from this second test were fairly similar, with 3° above ambient. Again, temperatures dropped back to normal ambient temperatures with the side panel removed. The Starker is capable of keeping your components cool, but it is recommended to add additional fans if you purchase this chassis.
There are a lot of great features offered by the Starker; we have a vertical GPU bracket, excellent cable management, quality filters, and versatility for cooling as well as data storage, there is plenty to like here. XPG did an outstanding job with the quality and design of this chassis. It’s not the best case when considering thermals, and it’s a little behind the times with the I/O panel. We would like to see USB Gen 3.2 Gen 2, or later that can be found in some other chassis.
With all that said, it may come down to price, whether it’s a good value for you or not. The Starker retails for $79 for the white or Black models at Amazon and Newegg. This is one of the least expensive cases you will find with all the features offered, and the quality is excellent. At this price point, we feel confident giving the Starker a big thumbs-up. Just be sure to pick up a couple of extra fans with all the money you’ve saved.