I’ve been building my own PCs for about 8 years, but there has always been a big elephant in the room that i’ve managed to just sneak by build after build: Organization & cable management.
Cheap mid-tower ATX cases have always been my go-to, and I should have learned my lesson by now. Cramped workspace, laughable cable management, poor airflow, high dust buildup, and shotty case construction has claimed many a hardware in my time.
Today I have decided to change that. I am looking to go big, and hopefully never have to purchase a case again. I want something very durable and very expandable. I want the maximum amount of space with the minimum amount of clutter possible.
Housing a 3D graphics workstation. Will want to accommodate the future possibilities
of: 3-way SLI, E-ATX (or even EEATX) motherboard, water cooling, and probably some other nifty stuff. The number of drive bays are not as big of a deal to me because I use a 2.5’’ SSD for boot and an external RAID enclosure for storage. Chances are, I will remove any 3.5’’ holding bays.
Cable management has always been an issue for me, and I do not currently own a modular PSU. I definitely want a case with openings for cable routing behind the motherboard tray. Dust buildup is also an issue in my apartment, so cleanable intake filters would be great.
I’ve always hacked and finagled intake fans into my empty 5.25’’ and 3.5’’ bays, so I’d love something that has the front face already lined with fans and wide open ventilation.
I don’t have immediate
plans to dive into water cooling, but it is something I believe I will want to try out one day. That being said, I am still looking for a case that has water cooling accommodations such as in/out holes in the rear, and maybe even a space inside for a reservoir or whatever might be able to squeeze in there.
Cost is certainly worth mentioning, but if a case has serious potential to be the best and last, then I am willing to pay.
Lian Li PC-x1000
Pros: Massive. Three heat zones with unobstructed airflow directly to motherboard components, with no bays in the way to block any airflow. Comes with air filters over all intakes. Simple, clean, and very unique design. Comes with 2.5’’ mounts. With the 3.5’’ bays gone, there is loads of room to spare.
Cons: Price is $400+. Not explicitly specified for E-ATX use, which seems surprising considering the size of this thing...it's even called a "Super Full Tower" Chassis!
Lian Li PC-P80
Pros: Large, E-ATX support, and appears to leave ample room at the bottom for an EEATX board - it does have 10 expansion slots after-all. 3x 140mm intake fans and once 3.5'' bays are removed, will offer direct airflow to motherboard components. Slightly more reasonable price: $320
Cons: No heat zones. Not as crazy about the design aesthetics. No cable management holes in mobo-tray...does it still leave enough space for routing cables behind?
Last Ditch Consideration
Pros: Heat zones. Cable management portals out the wazzoo. Looks solidly built. Lifetime of great reviews across the web. Cheapest of the lot I have here: $270.
Cons: Too many bay obstructions and more concealed intakes in the front (modding opportunity). Probably not enough room for anything larger than E-ATX. Pretty ugly on the outside.
I must admit I'm not 1000% thrilled with the options I have here. None are perfect in my book. The Lian Li x1000 would be perfect if only it were endorsed on Lian Li's site as as being E-ATX compatible. Ilooked at various other cases at Thermaltake, Aletc, and Silverstone and found none that trump Lian Li in quality, size, and features. Any suggestions are welcome, though.
What is the word on EEATX anyway? Is that even something I should be concerned about? I am just trying to leave the door wide open for myself in the future, and have noticed that some of the higher end multi-CPU boards require it, or at least are said to be "larger than standard E-ATX." However if EEATX is being phased out or something, then I won’t bother accommodating it. Supermicro is the only brand that I am realizing actually utilizes EEATX, it seems, and i’ve yet to see any case that explicitly lists it. I just want to make sure my options are wide open for dual CPU boards when I do upgrade.
Anyway, I'm just thinking outloud and was interesting in hearing some feedback/suggestions for choosing the ultimate case. I'm new to the forums this week, but have a lot to say and plan to stick around for a while!
So, what is your ultimate case?