Question Window-Shopping: High-End Computer Cases 2018 to 2022?

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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So the background -- I've broadcast it many times in various Anand Forums, threads and post. I've got pictures!

I acquired my first Coolermaster Stacker 831 midtower around 2007, and used it through several computer builds. Last year, I found a used one on Ebay, so now I have two of them. I don't intend to stop using the Stackers anytime too soon.

However. Because I've been recycling my old cases to build new computers as far back as I remember, I haven't "kept up" on what is popular or what is "top-end". Consider that I built my Kentsfield Q6600 system with a 1995 Compaq Reliant Server case (trays, backplane and all of it). (It must've been around 2006). I got the Compaq case for free from a friend in town running a computer shop on the front and a recycling business at the back door. I may decide to ask my brother in Nevada to ship me my Compaq masterpiece, but it's big and I shudder at his inconvenience and the shipping cost.

I've saved money on cases, so if I buy one -- I'm going to look at top-end designs.

What are they? Who knows? Point me to some.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
53,801
8,033
126
I'm going to look at top-end designs.

What are they? Who knows? Point me to some.
Fractal Define R5 (are they up to R6 now? I don't keep track.), stuff from Phanteks, stuff from NZXT, some higher-end CoolerMaster stuff, some Lian-Li like the O11.
 

Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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I've used Fractals on the last two builds because they're just nice. Phanteks has some decent options. It's more of what you can hide in them comfortably like tons of storage. The Fractal Meshify series is great for airflow. My aim is stealth though in appearance. If you want flashy go NZXT / Lian Li . There's tons of options though. I would say though these four are the most considered options out there though.
 
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Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
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I've used Fractals on the last two builds because they're just nice. Phanteks has some decent options. It's more of what you can hide in them comfortably like tons of storage. The Fractal Meshify series is great for airflow. My aim is stealth though in appearance. If you want flashy go NZXT / Lian Li . There's tons of options though. I would say though these four are the most considered options out there though.
I've got the Define 7 in gunmetal and it is an amazing case. So well built. Plenty of room. They offer a compact version and a larger E-ATX version. But the Define 7 is for quiet. If you want performance, you need the Meshify model, as it allows more airflow. I've have an E-ATX Lian Li for my home server. If I needed to replace that, I would go with Fractal Design.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,356
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I'll take a look at the Fractals and some others.

This is not a priority for me. It's an "eventuality".

But I need to look. I'm very enamored of these old CoolerMaster Stacker 831 midtowers. I've "modded" them without cutting on them -- well-- I've trimmed some plastic from the side-panel "fan-door" for which the Stacker 83x models are famous; needed to make room for that TR Le Grand Macho cooler. I posted an earlier thread showing how I got around a "used-computer-imperfection" of a flakey power-on switch, and it doesn't faze me.

Extra SATA storage is not an "issue" on these CMs, but because there was an imperative (for me) of installing 140mm fans in front of the drive cages so they protrude 3/8" from the case frame, it will be easier to access and maintain the SATA cages from behind, rather than from the front. So I've got an idea to construct a foam-core box that slides in and out from inside the case -- designed for 2.5" SATA devices.

Otherwise, I've used this ICY DOCK drive-bay device to give me room for two hot-swap spinners and a slim (laptop) ODD. [Price on these has gone up $20 or $30 since I bought one last year -- yeah -- just checked -- $30.] I suppose if I want to give up having 4x USB 3.0 ports in front, I could add another ICY Dock that houses either four or six 2.5" devices.

Who is building their systems with ODDs (DVD or BD burners) these days? I find it hard to "let go" of older storage technology. I think many people just gave up optical storage in favor of USB. My only problem there: 1) it's easier to label a disc; 2) they all fit in the same cases or use the same envelopes; 3) USB devices are all of different capacities and sizes, and I cannot imagine a way to "house" them in some convenient box that one needn't "rummage" through before finding the one you want.
 
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WilliamM2

Golden Member
Jun 14, 2012
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I chose the Fractal Define R6 because it can hold an optical drive. I still ocasionally rip CD's so I find it useful. I hear the optical slot on the newer Define 7 is horribly designed.
 

Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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I chose the Fractal Define R6 because it can hold an optical drive. I still ocasionally rip CD's so I find it useful. I hear the optical slot on the newer Define 7 is horribly designed.
If it's infrequent then an external DVD drive would be easy to use on occasion and not limit the case options to that open front panel slot issue. Minor expense to open options of cases that fit your needs better overall. 5.25" drives are slowly going the way of the dodo. I have a sack of blanks that are probably 10-15 years old at this point since switching to using USB drives instead and microSD cards for things.

I would rip all the CD's or any other optical media and retire the drive and go digital instead.
 
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Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
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I chose the Fractal Define R6 because it can hold an optical drive. I still ocasionally rip CD's so I find it useful. I hear the optical slot on the newer Define 7 is horribly designed.
The whole case is a chore to install the desired layout. I think it's well thought out design. I wouldn't say the ODD solution was great, but I made it work. I used a dongle for a card reader and installed the BD drive at the very tip of the front panel. I never use the optical drive. I went total digital about 6 years ago. I had been moving in that direction for years. I keep the ODD in case I need it. That may be a long time. Between my home server, plex server and online storage and streaming, there's just not a need for optical media. I've got tons of them, but who knows when I'm going to use them. It's rare these days.





 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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The whole case is a chore to install the desired layout. I think it's well thought out design. I wouldn't say the ODD solution was great, but I made it work. I used a dongle for a card reader and installed the BD drive at the very tip of the front panel. I never use the optical drive. I went total digital about 6 years ago. I had been moving in that direction for years. I keep the ODD in case I need it. That may be a long time. Between my home server, plex server and online storage and streaming, there's just not a need for optical media. I've got tons of them, but who knows when I'm going to use them. It's rare these days.





I hadn't expected to see anything for posting this thread that would rock me to the core, and I was only casually checking back today.

I'd heard of Fractal Design for several recent years, and wasn't paying attention, apparently. But this particular R6 model you folks are discussing just knocks my socks off. The only question this old case-modder can have is -- did the double braked caster wheels come with the case? I've purchased and installed them myself on at least four cases I've used.

As to the ODD question, more than one of you responded to that issue. I think it may be right to assume less-than-frequent usage for an ODD. I just wish that USB flash drives -- being so tiny to begin with -- were easier to label.

But -- I had done it before -- what someone mentioned as use of a USB ODD. On the other hand, a slim laptop ODD doesn't take up a lot of space in the case. So at this point, I can't make up my mind as to whether I'll include one in my next computer-building project. One thing I thought I've noticed in recent years: the bare slim drives seem harder to find at resellers. Out of curiosity, I think I'll open up some Amazon and Egg pages to see if I was correct in that perception. I know I bought one about a year ago; it's in the "new" system (twin to my 2017 Skylake). Somehow, at time of that purchase, I just felt that I couldn't do without it. And -- in fact -- it's totally a "twin".
 

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Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
34,713
11,608
146
I hadn't expected to see anything for posting this thread that would rock me to the core, and I was only casually checking back today.

I'd heard of Fractal Design for several recent years, and wasn't paying attention, apparently. But this particular R6 model you folks are discussing just knocks my socks off. The only question this old case-modder can have is -- did the double braked caster wheels come with the case? I've purchased and installed them myself on at least four cases I've used.

As to the ODD question, more than one of you responded to that issue. I think it may be right to assume less-than-frequent usage for an ODD. I just wish that USB flash drives -- being so tiny to begin with -- were easier to label.

But -- I had done it before -- what someone mentioned as use of a USB ODD. On the other hand, a slim laptop ODD doesn't take up a lot of space in the case. So at this point, I can't make up my mind as to whether I'll include one in my next computer-building project. One thing I thought I've noticed in recent years: the bare slim drives seem harder to find at resellers. Out of curiosity, I think I'll open up some Amazon and Egg pages to see if I was correct in that perception. I know I bought one about a year ago; it's in the "new" system (twin to my 2017 Skylake). Somehow, at time of that purchase, I just felt that I couldn't do without it. And -- in fact -- it's totally a "twin".
The case is the Define 7. No wheels. I just bought a cheap rolling stand for < $25. I keep it on the floor and want it elevated to allow air in. There's a screen that runs along the bottom of the case. The handle is in front. Kind of like a dryer's lint screen.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,356
1,229
126
The case is the Define 7. No wheels. I just bought a cheap rolling stand for < $25. I keep it on the floor and want it elevated to allow air in. There's a screen that runs along the bottom of the case. The handle is in front. Kind of like a dryer's lint screen.
That's the same reason -- co-equal to mobility -- that I put double-braked casters on just about every case I have or ever acquired and modded, but for my server's Corsair Vengeance C70. I was able to visit the local metals shop in the industrial zone north of town, and found aluminum bars of 1/4"x2"x12" -- cheap. I cut them to case-width and tapped them with 6/32 holes on either side to match the threads where the original OEM feet had been screwed on, with four more 6/32 threaded holes to match the mounting plates of the casters.

I actually think the C70 case should have wheels, but it's just not a major concern at the moment and I don't have time to actually do the work now.

Obviously I'll attempt something similar if I purchase a Define case. Right now, I'm reveling in the wonderfulness of my 15-year-old CM Stacker 831 boxes. The Stackers came with their own 1 1/2 inch double braked casters.
 

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