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It's 2015 - Why so few decent mATX cases?

Discussion in 'Overclocking & Hardware' started by the3coopers, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    This is an observation, a review and a massive rant about how dreadful the designs of computer cases, and particularly mATX cases are. I'd love to hear other people's opinions.

    So, what is it with small cases and their useless designs? We are now well into 2015 but we're getting nowhere on this.

    Why are there so few good new case designs, and why are the few new "half decent" cases getting larger, not smaller?


    Just over the past week I must have spent 20 or 30 hours trawling the net trying to find a nice mATX case for my kid's new PC build. It's not the first time I have wasted so long...

    I've had all the other components for almost a year, but I cannot find a case. Have looked for tens of hours, searched Google, read reviews, trawled OCAU reviews AND For Sale but I just cannot find anything decent.

    My kid just turned 11 - and the build is pretty typical of what we would all normally use for a cheapish mid-range gamer box... 3570k, CM 212EVO, Asus Z77 mATX board, 2x4GB of RAM, 1xHD7950, 1x256GB SSD, 1x3.5" 7200rpm storage HDD and Modular PSU. That's all, nothing exciting.

    Whilst I could chuck those bits into pretty much anything, I really wanted something a bit special for my kid. And it needs to be practical (used for homework too), with USB access, ability to read DVDs, etc. And it must be quick and easy for me to service and maintain.

    But I STILL haven't bought a case because I cannot find one that fits our needs. I have bought plenty with intention to mod them, but time is not available and there are a ton of other projects anyway. I don't really care how much it costs, but of course I don't want to waste money either.

    Ok, ranting starts here...

    Decent airflow for a normal, real-world build
    - No, Bitfenix Prodigy... I want flow, not frigging mesh everywhere.
    - No, Corsair Air... I do NOT want air going into my case without being filtered, and I don't want heaps of fiddly mesh shapes that are impossible to clean.
    - No, I don't want OR need 37 different fan locations.
    - No, I don't want my side panels punched with honeycomb mesh and 37 different optional fan screw positions so it looks like my case has the pox.
    - Just 1 or 2 fans intake, and option for 1 fan exhaust. It just needs the air to flow through, not make a cyclonic wind tunnel.
    - NO, I don't want FRIGGING MESH IN THE TOP. No, that just make it hard to clean, and wrecks the flow of air front-to-rear.

    Easy to clean intake filters.
    - Not sure WHY in 2015 this is such a problem to find?
    - No Fractal Node, I DO NOT want to unclip the whole front (with I/O ports and SSDs mounted behind) just to vacuum the filters!
    - And no Fractal Arc and Corsair and Tt, I don't want the filter fabric sandwiched between a plastic frame and metal mesh with tabs that break off after being bent a few time to gain access.
    - Why do case manufactures put good filters underneath cases where there are no fans, yet have useless ones on the front where the intake fans are?
    - And why do bottom filters only slide to the REAR of the case? Ummm, HELLO :rolleyes:

    Compact
    - FFS no, Corsair... "mATX" does not mean a full tower that only has 4 x PCI slots. Jesus wept.
    - And no Lian Li... I do NOT want my compact case to be about 650mm deep.
    - And no, we don't want the case so skinny that there is no room for cable management.
    I choose mATX form factor to get a small, neat, compact case. A cube would be nice, but only if it works better than a rectangle.

    Sensible and practical internal layout
    It's a mATX case for a home computer, not a damn file server!
    - No Fractal, I DO NOT need cages for 15 x HDDs inside my mATX Case...
    - Hint: we normal humans install ONE HDD and ONE SSD, that's all.
    - oh, and let's have a fan or some airflow for the HDD.
    You guys can make the case really compact if we don't go ape shit here.

    Front mount USB Ports
    - How do you plug external things in, if the external USB ports are inaccessible?
    - No, Nanoxia - I DO NOT want to leave the frigging door open to plug in a USB stick.

    Front mount AUDIO
    - Like WHAT THE??? Don't case designers use headsets?
    - Sockets on the front guys, that's the side that faces towards the user!!

    But wait, there's more....

    And how about...

    Don't have I/O on the top of the case
    - Top I/O makes an abortion of the cables underneath
    - Top I/O is inconvenient if case is on table or on floor. Everywhere, actually.
    - Top I/O ports fill with dust and crap. Or they have a flap which is annoying and breaks.
    Total case engineering fail. WTF are they thinking?

    Don't have I/O in the side of the case
    - What IDIOT decides that putting I/O on the side is a good idea?
    - You realise that's an instant fail at least 50% the time?
    - And things sticking out get bumped and they break.
    Let's make the ergonomics for the humans who use the device, huh?

    Accessible place for a card reader
    - You know, those memory things that are used for storage in tablets, phones and cameras?
    - No, I don't want to have to plug a card reader into the stupidly inaccessible USB port in the top or the side of the case. It's annoying to store, for one thing, plus they get broken.
    - Here's an idea - spend like $5 and build one into the case and charge us $15 extra for it, so we don't have to buy some $25 Ebay shit from China then find the unicorn-rare case that still has a 3.5" bay to install it in.

    A DVD Slot
    - Yes, people DO still use these... especially non-steam gamers. KIDS especially need DVD drives.
    - And people who watch DVDs. And people who rip DVDs. And people who install software.
    - And NO, I don't want to plug in a portable one into your inaccessible USB slots! The frigging Card Reader is already shoved in there anyway, and your slots don't allow a second device to be plugged in at the same time.

    Easy to open for service
    - No, Lian Li - I don't want to remove 18 x 3mm countersunk screws to open the side of the case.
    - You know what? I want a DOOR on the case. They did this in the 1990's and early 2000's, and now we are back to the old "sliding panels with multiple slot latches" again.
    - And Corsair, I want my side panels to fit flush without warping and rattling. Because the way that you make them is just crap.

    Attractive enough for a modern home
    - Could we have something either elegant and refined (classy) like Lian Li
    - OR make it edgy and cool looking to an 11 year old.
    I realise this is very subjective, but hell some cases are ugly!

    That elusive feeling of quality
    - I like nice things. I don't want thin, cheap, nasty stuff with ugly finishes.
    - No Corsair, "quality" does NOT mean using 0.3mm steel rather than the 0.2mm foil that you originally intended to try and get away with.
    I don't mind paying a bit... so let's make it feel nice, rather than something that Shaw would make.

    Note that I only "name names" as examples, and those mentioned are in no way exclusive in making the errors. Sadly, because case designers are such sheep they tend to copy BAD designs just because... well, because the opposition... well, because they do.

    The best I can come up with, after literally a year of searching is the Silverstone PS07 (an updated version of TJ08 a revamped and cheaper version of the TJ08-e) or the TJ08-e itself.

    [​IMG]

    LOOK > http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=314

    The PS07 totally fails on the Attractiveness and general Quality, and the HDD cage is shithouse like the TJ08-e.

    But it ticks all the other boxes. And it's a budget case that sells for $72 retail.

    Why can't I find anything better quality than that?

    EDIT - LET'S MAKE SOMETHING 100% CLEAR: This is NOT a thread about finding me a case. The above are not my "list of requirements", they are just a random list of whinges. Please don't try to use the OP as a design brief.

    Let's keep on topic and talk about design and engineering fails, please!
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  2. one80

    one80 Member

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    Hurrah! Someone that's as interested in mATX cases as me:)

    In general I couldn't agree more - I do not understand why we can't get more considered/designed/quality cases for this form factor. Sadly we have to choose only one (or two) of the criteria and lose out on the others...

    FYI - I've had a Lian Li PCA05, A05b, Silverstone TJ08, CaseLabs S5 and now a Fractal Node.

    The Lian li looked good but we're s little fragile and too noisy. The TJ08 was the best of the bunch generally, but looked pretty average. The CL was beautifully constructed but such an amazingly bad waste of space - crazy that for 10x the amount of the TJ it provided less functionality, for me anyway. The Node seems pretty good so far aside from lacking cable management, and I don't think the filters are that much of an issue.

    Perhaps one day they'll heed our call ;p
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  3. Paulie_AU

    Paulie_AU Member

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    I have a feeling that the proper cases are still ATX because trying to make a desktop smallish is a waste of time. They still take up a heap of room so why not make them really take up a heap of room? Either tiny ITX or real ATX.

    I just trawled through the mATX cases and nothing took my fancy. Nothing there made me want to go to mATX and I too only run a couple of HDDs and single graphics card (actually two but only use one at a time).

    Personally I am going bigger with an old Lian Li waiting to be rebirthed. But it will be running a 3x180mm rad so room will be good. Otherwise there is nothing that really takes my fancy apart from wanting to build a Silverstone Raven RVZ01 and actually having it on my desk (as opposed to under it) but then I would have to find room for my bench setup..... 1st world problems.

    Stop overthinking it and just get him something. Cleaning filters really doesn't take long even if shit to get to. An extra 10 minutes every few months won't kill you. :D :Paranoid:
     
  4. OP
    OP
    the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    The PCA05 has that abortion of an internal layout with the PSU at the front, and used as an exhaust. So WTF, you get hot air blown at you all day?

    Almost bought one a few times... but needs massive mods to make it work (plus no easy way to add intake filters after modding the airflow).

    And flimsy, you certainly wouldn't want to accidentally lean on it while doing the assembly :wired:

    Most CL is a tax on people with more money than sense :lol:

    LOL - you obviously haven't bothered to actually clean them filters, huh? Because once you neaten the cables to the front I/O, you cannot even remove the front if you wanted to. Oh, or did you disconnect everything at the back and lay the case on it's rear, so you could slide the front filters out the bottom? :tongue:

    Look at Ratzz excellent review of the Node 804, my comment #16 and his reply #17..
    http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=1144282

    That was another case I almost bought, until I saw how they did that front panel. Totally unnecessary bad engineering - I expected a LOT better.

    Yeah, I have a PC-61 and a PC-62 sitting there, which is what I actually purchased originally. But they are huge and mostly empty with just one HDD and a mATX board inside.

    There have been other projects, so only just getting around to looking at the build now. Right now I will probably have to use a full ATX from my collection, although that will looks crap on the desk compared to something like a Node 804.

    I don't want to have to disassemble the case to clean them. If I can open a door and vacuum the filters when I vacuum the carpet, then they will never get dirty.

    Due to the house and location, there is a LOT of dust and fluff. The filters get clogged in weeks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2015
  5. OmmO

    OmmO (Banned or Deleted)

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    URGH... As someone who has parts, aside from the case sitting on the bench ready to be built, only to come to a point of self conflict over the lack of a 'decent' mATX case, I understand your struggle.

    I'm litterally throwing between a parvum or air 240, even then they have massive flaws..
     
  6. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    I don't know whether it has all your requirements, but did you look at the silverstone sugo SG10? It doesn't have a door, but the filters clip on the outside, so shouldn't be that hard to keep clean?
     
  7. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    Coop, I think your biggest problem is that you appear to be stuck 5 years behind the rest of the world...

    1. No one needs optical drives anymore... Least of all kids...
    2. No one is making matx cases because they are largely redundant... People who want cases like the ones you are searching for are building ITX rigs now, not matx...
    3. Your airflow design is quite simply, wrong... I know you've argued it to death in another thread and won't be swayed, but fans in the top of the case is the most efficient way to remove heat from the case... Unless of course your matx case is like the Bitfenix Phenom M, in which case intake fans in the roof of the case are a necessity, because GPU fans draw the cool air in and exhaust it via the back of the case...
    4. Seriously, WTF is with all the double and triple posting? It's fucking annoying!!! Use the edit button, it's there for a reason!!!
     
  8. OP
    OP
    the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    Just to explain why filters are important to me, here is some old photos I'd posted elsewhere on OCAU....

    First, the kid's old Socket 478 machine, in a heavily modded Aopen Hx45 case but no intake filters at all.

    Looking back at front panel, over the HDD...


    Click to view full size!


    Click to view full size!


    The CPU cooler - yep, it started BSOD under load...


    Click to view full size!


    The intake fans & rear of the modded front bezel. The Delta was on SpeedFan and only operated when gaming....


    Click to view full size!


    Here's the kid's current Socket 775 build - in a reasonably standard Thermaltake Armor Jr


    Click to view full size!


    Even with vacuuming, that dust CANNOT be cleaned, as the nylon filter material is sandwiched between the mesh and the plastic door frame...

    Click to view full size!


    So it just blocks and then what happens is that the air just bypasses the filter and comes in through every other opening. There is not enough space to add even a Demci filter on the front fan behind the door, however I have modded other Tt cases to fix this issue (it's a lot of work).
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  9. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    Dust filters is something I agree with you 100% on... Most of them on the market that come with cases are simply shithouse... In saying that, the filters that came with my TJ08-E that I use for my HTPC are pretty good... Easy to clean and I have no dust inside the case after a year or so, so must be pretty good...
     
  10. OP
    OP
    the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    Quite the reverse. I just don't accept the bullshit products that most people put up with.

    NO ONE? LOL - even heard of a "game disk"?

    What are all these things that I see all over the place? https://ebgames.com.au/pc-205615-Assassins-Creed-Rogue-PC

    If you buy one, how can you use it if you don't have a DVD drive? Please explain.

    And how do you install Windows? So they market Windows 8 on USB Media huh? Show me a link.

    The Optical drive is still WIDELY used by NON enthusiasts.

    Yes, but ITX means all manner of compromises. Could go NUC too, or just use a Tablet. Oh wait.

    You know what? I don't care - I am only cooling a 3570k, not a server.

    I don't want exhaust fans because that means Negative Pressure and that means that the case sucks dust like a hoover.

    If you are a hobbyist who is always playing around with your case, and/or you live in a clean environment then this is not an issue.

    But in THIS build, keeping it internally clean is important. I don't want my components covered in shit, and I don't want to be disassembling the case every few months to clean it.

    For example - I am running an AIR cooler, and I want that HSF to stay clean. That ain't gunna happen with a massive bank of exhaust fans, and a case full of mesh is it?

    No idea what you are talking about. There are no double posts whatsoever in this thread. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  11. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    Have you considered using an air filter in their room to try to trap the dust otherwise than in the computer filters? I've just bought some, because my cockies been inside and she's in with the computers.
     
  12. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    Yep, and just "floppy disks" they are things I have used in the past, that are no longer relevant in modern computing...

    Not in a system such as the one you describe... Unless you're trying to tell me you are unable to fit a GPU, SSD, HDD, and a MOBO inside these cases?

    Good, chuck 2 exhaust fans in the top of the case, and you'll be all good...

    Yeah, like I said, chuck 2 fans in the top of the case, some filters where they are sucking air into the case (ie wherever that mesh you love so much is) and bob's you uncle...

    Who said anything about a massive bank of exhaust fans?

    lol... Are you serious? Posts 1,2,3 & 4 are your posts, as are posts 7 & 8... That's a quadruple post and a double post...
     
  13. OP
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    the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    Yes, I definitely did consider it. Still on the shortlist, actually.

    However I didn't really like the dinky little side fans (noisy) and the weirdness of the thing in general. I love the size, but that is so crammed that I would probably go ITX if I wanted something that small.

    Mainly I really didn't like the front intake for the PSU which then exhausts air out the side. I prefer to not have ports and intakes / exhausts in the sides because it severely limits positioning of the case - really bad if it needs air or access on both sides! And having hot PC air continuously blowing at you if the case is on the desk is pretty unpleasant.

    But yes, that is definitely an excellent bit of engineering. Pity that there were not all those features in a more conventional case, eh?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  14. OmmO

    OmmO (Banned or Deleted)

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    I stray away from all disk drives in systems and just use a usb dvd drive when I need to...
    Disks are just less and less used nowadays. Just at near the barrier where disks come to the same fate as floppy drives.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    Did you know that some people put TV tuners inside their computers, but I have zero need for one of those because we have a TV and Foxtel. So, are TV Tuners no longer relevant? CPUs have inbuilt graphics now days, so does that make dedicated GPUs no longer relevant?

    For me and what THIS PC needs to do, an Optical Drive is TOTALLY relevant, mate. Right now I need a DVD drive and a card reader in this case. In the next case I might not need them - who knows and who cares.

    No, I am NOT interested in having a DVD drive or Card Reader hanging off a USB port the machine, that is just nasty. But of course, if other people don't use DVDs or to read SD/MicroSD cards then of course their machines won't need these things.

    So, I have to find and purchase filters and slap them on the outsides of the case to cover the mesh? Surely we can find something a bit more elegant than that?

    Oh, and do I also have to use Silastic to seal up all the cracks and vents in the case too, so that the intake air only comes in through the filters? Listen, I am perfectly capable of scratch building a case to suit myself, or modding one to make it work - but my comments here are about how poor the standard off-the-shelf products are in meeting the real requirements of normal users.

    Posts 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all completely different - absolute no duplication there. They are simply in 4 parts to try and break up a MASSIVE wall of text. DOH.

    Posts 7 & 8 are 2 separate replies to 2 different people, so it didn't cross my mind to condense them. My sincere apologies that I didn't meet your massively strict post-replying guidelines :tired: :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  16. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    The difference is that TV tuners are not outdated and entirely redundant... Therein lies the difference...

    Yeah, or your other option I suppose is to relocate the computer to a less dusty environment... Or perhaps even move houses to one in a less dusty environment? That one seems a little excessive though...

    You seem to a misunderstanding of the meaning of the term "double post" and confusing it with "duplicate post"...

    And the guidelines aren't mine, but are actually OCAU's, as you'll see when an admin sees the reports and merges them into one post each...
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  17. OP
    OP
    the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    Thanks for your insight and advice. I will take that on board for the next build.

    Hey - what about the Card Reader? Where can I mount that?

    Well go ahead - report me, if you like. Those Mods and Admins will sort me out LOL

    So, back to the topic - any other advice you have, especially about suitable cases?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  18. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    No idea... I don't use one of them either... I simply plug the device that uses the card into my PC and access the files that way... The only device I have that uses a memory card is my dashcam, and I only download that when I need to, otherwise it simply writes over the files again...

    Done and done... Check them again...

    Yep, forget matx cases... You're fighting a losing battle...
     
  19. shane41

    shane41 Member

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    Silverstone PS07 :thumbup:

    Just buy that & be done with it.
    In 2 years time this will be old.
     
  20. OP
    OP
    the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    Yeah, will probably end up with the cheap Silverstone. Such a pity, as it's bloody ugly and I really wanted something a bit more "premium" than that.

    I could easily chuck the stuff in a standard ATX case - I have like 30 of them. But my desire was to lessen the visual impact, and also to get something a bit "more cool looking" for a 11 year old.

    As for ITX - well, there isn't enough PCIe slots on an ITX board, so I won't be using one of those for this build. See, as a bit of a "utility box" the machine also needs to contain other things like add-on cards as well as DVDs and Card Readers! :Paranoid: ;)

    Anyway, the MiniITX cases are just as bad, if not worse than the mATX. It's hard enough to get a decent full-size ATX case.
     

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