Here's the part you've been waiting for. How does PC35 compare to the other aluminum cases we've reviewed. I have used the same exact components in the same temperature room as our other cases. This should provide a good idea on where this case stands in comparison to the others.
What I also tested was the actually speed benchmarks of the hard drive while using the removable bay. I just ran a few tests of Sandra Sisoft with their drive benchmark. Hopefully, the use of the removable drive won't deteriorate our marks. There's a before and after test.
And of course, we have our temperature test which includes case and CPU temperatures. Room temperature is kept as constant as possible as the above pictured.
Our test rig is used, but with a higher speed CPU, a 1.4Ghz AMD Thunderbird. It runs on our IWill KK266, Crucial PC133 CL2 Ram, 128MB and evga GF2 MX 32mb Video Card. The hard drive used is the IBM DJNA 22.0GB unit (old but trusty).
These were obtained using the temperature probe from Radio Shack and our CompuNurse temperature probe. CPU full load is just running RC5 for about 45 minutes, a few 3dMark 2001 benches and some rounds of Counter Strike:
From these numbers, the case temperature really does suffer from the single intake fan in the front. With such a tight space inside the case, hot air was being trapped left and right. Only exhaust available was the fans in our Enermax power supply, which was not enough. It probably would have been beneficial to add a smaller fan underneath the PSU on the back. Then again, size limitation plays a factor and that may not fit to well in a packed case.
AMD Tbird 1.4 Stock
AMD Tbird 1.4 @ 1.5 (1.80V)
|Room Temp. ~ 27C
|Chili Silver ATX Prof.
|Lian Li PC60
|Enermax Blue CS688
|Enlight 7237 Steel
|Lian Li PC35
Now the hard drive benchmark are not too much out of the ordinary. Here are the screenshots from our test using Sisoft Sandra:
Before using Removable Bay
After using Removable Bay
The test was run three times each to make sure there weren't any largely inflated scores marks. They were all close to these numbers. Seems using the removable bays causes a slight degradation of data and speed. Of course, the use of any removable drive will cause this to happen since there's an extra 'section' that data has to travel back to your motherboard. This is a benchmark and does not necessarily show real world performance. Most likely you will not even notice the difference, I sure didn't in basic use of the system afterwards while playing Counter Strike.
So overall, the case is rated above average. It does provide some of the best features of any mini case I have seen to date, especially with the removable HDD bays and its really small size.
Transferring of data can not be any simpler! The case is actually more oriented for the office user who wants to be able to swap out drives easily to use on another system. Or, if they couldn't finish their work in the office, they can swap the drive out and bring it home. Very convenient if you're in need of that.
The size makes it a bit un-appealing to the overclocker. The build is excellent though, it is tough and you can feel it on your hands actually. Edges are all rounded, no cuts in our installation procedure for our fingers this time.
The downfall in my opinion is the lack of an extra fan, or space for it rather. Do realize, the case is smaller than most and it is meant to be used that way. The temperatures are compared with some cases that have 2-3 fans running at the same time pumping air in and out. Also, it may have been more cosmetically appealing to have the removable bays hidden behind a door. The front bezel does look awkward with those removable drive bays showing.
If I were in the market for a good solid mini case that packs a punch, this would be in my list for consideration. Although it may not be geared for the overclocker in mind, this case has other features that out weigh the OC'ing features. It might not be at the top of the list, but close to it. Don't count out the smaller guys!
Thanks to Robert over at Lian Li for sending us this sample case. This should be available in the near future at most of your case retailers.