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Old 28th January 2013, 7:57 PM   #1
Pwnography6 Thread Starter
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Default Gelid DarkForce (Case Review)

GELID DARKFORCE

Introduction:


When it comes to PC component companies Gelid Solutions is still a fairly young player in the game. Founded in 2008 the Swiss managed, Hong Kong based company has garnered a reputation for their range of fans, coolers and more recently the CG Extreme thermal paste. Trailing of this success Gelid have ventured into the ever evolving and always competitive world of PC Cases with their new case the "DarkForce".


Specification:


The DarkForce falls at the more expensive end of low budget cases coming in with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $135 USD, $130 Aus. With a Matte Black finish the case is made of a combination of Steel and Plastic and comes with a Factory installed 3mm thick acrylic window. This Mid-Size chassis is compatible with both Standard ATX / Micro ATX motherboards, and comes backed with a two year manufacturer's warranty.

Packaging:

The DarkForce comes in a simple no gimmick blue tone box with the necessary Specs displayed clearly on the outside. The front side of the box displays a wide shot photo of the case as well as highlighting some of the key features.


On the left side we can see a list of the DarkForce's specifications, with some packaging details and company logos displayed at the bottom.


The Rear side of the box features a large picture of the case without the side panel installed highlighting some of the key interior features of the case.


With the case removed from the box we can see that it has been wrapped in a thick plastic bag then held snugly in place by two Styrofoam packing ends.


Exterior:

Gelid seems to have taken a step back from the current trend of military themed cases and instead opted for a "less is more" strategy. The front and top panels are made up of a combination of gloss black mesh and matte black plastic molding. The mesh is backed with some wire dust filters which can be removed and cleaned when the need arises.




The top of the case also houses a hot swap tray supporting both 5.25” / 3.5’ HDD or SDD, as well I/O panel. We can also find seated here, audio ports, 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 and an eSATA port.


Moving to the left side we can see a large acrylic window protected by some clear sheet. The 3mm acrylic is held in place with twelve plastic split pins you may also notice the sheet is fixed to the outside of the steel case panel. This may have just been an oversight by Gelid and is my only overall issue with the outside of the case. Not a major issue though as the panel can easily be swapped to the inside by a crafty modder.


Looking down the right side of the case there is an instantly noticeable feature, the inclusion of a fan mounts located directly over the CPU socket.


This mount allows the option to install either a 80mm or 120mm fan with a max depth of 15mm (slim fan), over the rear of the socket to feed the area with cold air. Unfortunately for most users an extra fan will need to be purchased if wanting to use this mount as most case fans have a depth of around 25mm so any old 120 isn’t going to cut it. I would have liked if this fan came factory installed so I could fully utilize the feature straight from the box.


Checking out round back of the DarkForce we can see a 120mm exhaust fan mounted at the top with the power supply mount sitting at the bottom of the case. Looking a bit closer reveals 8 PCI slots with an extra "Vertical" slot running parallel to the rest. This slot can be used for external devices or peripherals without interfering with the standard PCI mounts. The Case also features three water tube grommets above the exhaust fan making the task of exterior mounted water cooling a lot easier.


Underneath we start to see some of the other mounting features of the DarkForce. Besides the rear venting for the power supply there is some options for mounting some fans and a radiator. The cases feet are quite high which will provide a great air channel if going with floor mounted cooling.


Next let's take a look at what hides inside.
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Last edited by Pwnography6; 29th January 2013 at 4:07 AM.
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Old 28th January 2013, 7:58 PM   #2
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Inside:

Storage-

Once the panels are removed we can get our first glance at the DarkForce's interior design. A white accessories box is attached to the motherboard tray via a twist tie with the contents of the box clearly printed on the visible side.






Offering up to four 5.25” bays, each bay has a tool free installation clip perfect for those of us that hate having 1000 screws kicking round.


The bottom bay contains a removable tray which works as an adapter for installation of 3.5” and 2.5" devices.


Gelid has designed their 3.5” bay system to be extremely customisable and completely tool free. The system features two steel cages each containing three plastic pinch & pull to open "Drawers".




Where these bays really shine is with the option to customise your setup using a 4 way HDD combo system. With a "stock" install there are six 3.5” bays in total and a seventh in the aforementioned 5.25” tray.

But here’s the cool part, the cages can be removed using a few easy to access thumbscrews. This is where the 4 way combo comes into play.

Got long graphics cards? That’s cool just pull out the top cage.


Want to install a floor radiator? Remove the bottom cage.


Or for maximum space remove both!


Cables & Cable Management-

The majority of the cables included have been sleeved with a tight weave plastic braid that is extremely hard to see thru. I have found very few companies that offer sleeved case cables and personally I really like this addition. With that said some larger cables such as the sata data and usb 3.0 cables are unsleeved but instead are a matching solid black colour.


As a long time user of their fans I have come to love the quality of Gelids sleeving, being one of the only companies to sleeve the entire length of the cable. Unfortunately this trait has not continued across to the case cables, although the sleeve is of similar quality the cables stop a few inches short of the complete cable length.

The DarkForce also has a good selection of hidey spots for the cable management enthusiasts, with five access holes for cable routing. An unforeseen benefit of the rear CPU cooler is that the area behind the tray is slightly deeper than most cases, this will also ease the task of concealing tangles of cable.


Cooling Options-

Being a cooling orientated company it's no surprise that the DarkForce has mounting for up to eight fans and one "Supported" Radiator. While Gelid have only stated support for the floor mounted 120 or 240mm radiator, an additional 120mm could easily be mounted in numerous locations, while a 240 radiator could be made to fit in the front or roof with minor modifications.

The top of the case can be fitted with either two 120mm or two 140mm fans. Continuing with an easy install theme the whole top panel can be removed using four screws, this will make fan installs and the following cable management go a lot quicker and smoother.


The front of the case has a single 120mm fan installed stock but has mounting holes for another 120mm fan directly above.


The floor is where a lot of the cooling action happens in the DarkForce case. With the ability to install a 120 or 140mm radiator or fan without removing the 3.5 cage, but once the cage is removed it makes way for two 120 or two 140mm fans or a 240 radiator.




Although offering so many mounting options Gelid have only included two 120mm fans, one mounted in the front intake and the other in the rear exhaust position. Both fans have a speed of 1200 RPM and come sleeved in the same style black sleeve as the rest of the included cables.


Probably one of the most surprising and useful features, especially in a case of this price was the built in Fan Extension PCB's. You will find these extension boards located at the top and the bottom of the motherboard tray at the rear of the front bays and conveniently placed near cable management access points.




These extensions can power up to three fans each for a total of six fans without any added wiring or power connections, this ultimately helps to reduce cable clutter inside the case. Both these fan headers are connected via a clean sleeved cable and powered by a standard 4 pin male Molex.

Bundled Items & Accessories:

Gelid offers up the standard array of spares and accessories with the DarkForce. To start we can see a fairly straight forward visual instruction manual with the different installations in a variety of languages.


We can also see Gelid have included a case badge displaying their text logo as well as cable ties, Case Lock, Standoff tool, USB Cover, 3.5mm jack cover, eSATA cover and the normal selection of case screws.

Installation:

For this installation I tried to install the largest size components I had available. So with the motherboard installed, which in this test setup is an Asus Sabertooth 990FX, we can see it nearly ends up flush to the cable management portals. This may become a problem for people using longer style motherboards such as the eVGA v77.


The rear mounting bracket for our CPU cooler is also easily accessible a minor detail but important as many cases seem to miss the alignment altogether.


Back to the front of the case now the Tuniq tower extreme CPU cooler which measure in at 150mm, 15mm shorter than Gelid’s max recommended height of 165mm.


I also used a GTX275 as it's one of the longer cards I have available notice that this particular card still has a bit of room to breathe at the bay end, Gelid suggests a max of 410mm graphics card. The joy of the combo swap HDD cages though is if a longer card needs to be installed the cage can be removed.


Installation went smoothly with the case giving me room to move in all the right places. Options for running cables where vast letting me hide a majority of the wires from my OEM Modular supply.


Conclusion:


The DarkForce was a pleasure to work with and with a few tweaks Gelid may really be onto a winning formula for future case endeavours. Besides my feelings on the "Inside out window" and the lack of the rear CPU socket Fan I could see myself using this case for a mod project based on the cooling opportunities alone.

I would definitely recommend the DarkForce for PC builders who don't want to sacrifice cooling potential, but may not have the budget for a high tier Air Cooled Case. With a minimalist approach to exterior looks, whilst not pulling any punches in the features, Gelid really have produced an exceptional addition to their product line.

Big Thank you to the team at The Kool Room for supplying the Gelid DarkForce used in this review.

The DarkForce is available right now from- The Kool Room

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Last edited by Pwnography6; 29th January 2013 at 4:09 AM.
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Old 28th January 2013, 8:57 PM   #3
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decent looking case, build on the cm690 II in some ways.

- be awesome if they included their own higher end fans.
- needs more usb3 ports
- window needs to be mounted inside personally.
- case looks to have the correct mounting hole spacing for a rad (about time someone got this right).
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Old 28th January 2013, 11:22 PM   #4
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Pretty decent case and nice review Also reminds me a lot of the CM690II
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