Case to Buy
Last year the obvious winner was the 800D from Corsair, and with the release of the new mid-tower chassis, they made it just in time for the holiday rush. Once again they have made it to the top of my list and I strongly advise this chassis to anyone who asks me what case to buy.
The Graphite Series 600T offers all the things we have come to look for in any chassis we plan to build in today. The more obvious appeal to the chassis is on the outside with its elegant curves and understated looks. There is nothing really flashy to detract from the appeal of what the case does best; cooling your components. Don't let the simplicity of the outside fool you! There is plenty going on in the inside.
Even with a full sized system this mid-tower chassis offers not only the room to house all you can throw at it, it does it with clean elegance. Wire management, tool-less mechanisms for all the drive bays, and plenty of room for a loop internally if that is the way you plan to cool your system. For the near $160 price tag, I can think of no better case to spend my money on.
Test Bench / Open Air Chassis
I realize there are some extremists out there who have to tinker and are constantly swapping out components. Taking things to another level, it is really hard to use Dry Ice or LN2 cooling inside of a typical chassis design. So, for those of whom where the typical case just wont do, I recommend you look to Microcool for the solution.
The Banchetto 101 is the most solidly built and well thought out bench table I have had the pleasure to test on. Microcool offers room for everything, even a triple radiator to help cool the most demanding systems along with specific sections to house all the typical components needed to make the next run at a Vantage score. With its thick, clear, horizontal components and black anodized steel innards, the Banchetto 101 mixes a touch of class to a system intended to allow you to abuse your hardware with complete ease of access.
Cooling Solutions to Buy
Corsair is getting my recommendation for the best performing cooler out of the box. As most any cooler can be made to be the best with a pair of 38mm Delta fans strapped to it, the A70 from Corsair not only offers a cooling solution for under $50, it just so happens to come with free shipping.
The A70 ships with a great pair of 120mm fans, which combined with the slimmer body of the cooler makes this also a "memory friendly" solution to cooling. Corsair did keep the design simple with a black top fin that makes the copper "pop" as it shows past the top fin. Isolated fans secured to clip-on shrouds make the cooler not only super easy to install, but also makes cleaning it later a breeze.
Bar none, in our testing with two fans, Scythe took top honors in the air cooling segment. The price of the cooler itself isn't that bad, as it only requires an additional $5 over the A70 to purchase. In order to obtain this sort of proficiency, there are some issues that come along with it, but for those in the quest for the best; this is it!
This is the largest as far as overall room it took to house the Ninja 3 with two fans into a chassis. This cooler will definitely play up with taller RAM, but if tall heat spreaders on them aren't an issue, the Ninja 3 can more than handle its business. With a newer look to the newly revised Ninja and the flame decals on the top, this Scythe will make an attractive solution to calm any of your worries about CPU temperatures while you are really abusing your latest processor. The major consideration is to get to this performance level, you need to incorporate the cost of another $20 fan.
Product Model: Swiftech H20-320 Edge Series Liquid Cooling Kit
Our Review: Swiftech H20-320 Edge Series Liquid Cooling Kit
Now, we can't rightfully just stick to air cooling solutions; that wouldn't be fair to all of those who really desire the benefits of water cooling. With water cooling comes the fear of leaks from those who have never tried it, and that is where the all-in-one solutions come in. For those who have no fear of mixing water with electricity and expensive components, Swiftech offers a great solution.
The Edge Series kits are a perfect solution to anyone's needs, especially the H20-320 I tested. Not only did it show our TECC who was the boss, it has been handling my i5 750 rig with the addition of a GTX 470 full cover block to the loop. Even here I have silent operation and great temperatures across the board. With that comes a kit that is complete through and through. Swiftech has minimized the amount of leak points to only four as the kit is shipped. Not only does the kit lessen the worries associated with water in a PC, but gives you everything from wiring connectivity, a wire pass through plate, and the simplest water cooling setup I have ever assembled. While the $340 price may seem steep, if you try to part a loop together you will soon realize what a deal this kit from Swiftech really is.
Product Model: Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus VGA Cooler
Price: ~$60.00 - $70.00
Our Review: Arctic Cooling Xtreme Plus VGA Cooler
I know I like to push my graphics cards until they just stop producing more megahertz. In that quest you soon find that most cooling solutions shipped with the card aren't capable of handling the heat that overclocking will bring to the latest cards on the market. I have tested some water blocks and a few air coolers on my GTX 470 that I have so lovingly named the "furnace". Even if I was just to fold on my cards day to day, I was in need of a much better solution.
Arctic Cooling offered me the best performance of all of what I have tested. In the charts from the review, the Accelero Xtreme Plus offered results very close to what I was able to get with full cover water blocks. While this cooler will take up three slots, it offers the best "bang for the buck" cooling solution for many of the latest and greatest graphics cards on the market. Make sure when you purchase this cooler you also grab the appropriate accessory kit full of heatsinks, thermal paste and adhesive, along with the appropriate mounting kit. These combined get my full recommendation for VGA cooling this year.