This is my first look at a chassis from Xigmatek, as they are better known for a strong lineup of cooling products, and as of late, more and more for their PSU's. As with most companies, they are always looking to branch out and find other equitable means of expansion. Xigmatek has gone the way of chassis design and building as a way to start to supply the end user the more completed package. With the manufacturing of cases, Xigmatek offers a total aftermarket line to go from components sitting in a cart online, to a complete build with matching or corresponding themes.
Old Norse Legend and mythological names have been a trend from Xigmatek for some time now. The Thor's Hammer, named after a God and his tool of might to the Bifrost graphics card cooler, named after the bridge that links Asgard with Midgard. It seems only fitting to take a name from a land that was the refuge for Thor and the rest of the known inhabited world at that time. It doesn't take that far of a leap to get the naming scheme of the Midgard chassis name.
Moving past mythological naming, today we are going to have a look at what the Midgard has to offer inside and out. Let's have a look at the specifications and get to searching the web for the best price and see where the Midgard stands amongst the crowd of chassis designers. From what I have seen in other reviews and looking at online retailers, I liked what I saw. Now I get my actual hands on this and see for myself how well it all stacks up to many of the chassis' I have seen.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Midgard ships all black, inside and out. It is build from steel mostly, but is accented in both plastic and mesh; both also in all black. The Midgard stands just over twenty inches tall and is just less than nineteen inches from front to back. This is a mid tower chassis, but will accept both ATX and mATX motherboards. The Midgard takes a standard power supply in the bottom of the chassis and is isolated by a foam membrane adhered to the inside. Lastly, before we move on to the cooling, there is the possibility to house up to five 5.25" drives and five 3.5" drives. The trays that work for installing the HDDs are used for both 3.5" and 2.5" drive installations.
Cooling out of the box consists of a fair bit of mesh to allow for both a good source of intake air through the front, but convectional flow out the top through more mesh. Behind the front mesh is a supplied 120mm XLF-F1253 fan to pull air in, and another strapped in the back to exhaust the warm air out the back. On top of the supplied fans, Xigmatek added plenty of "options" to cooling. In the rear is four water tubing knock-outs so you can have a choice of which ones to use. The door panels are also full of options for adding fans. These panels can utilize 80mm, 90mm, 120mm and 140mm fans, depending on the hole you want to use.
Searching the World Wide Web, I ran into this chassis listing at about five locations currently. One of the cheapest deals, and from a much more reputable company, I found the Midgard listed at Newegg for $74.99, and there is a windowed version of this chassis that can be found for the same price. Offering a lot of tool-less features and being painted throughout, makes this not a bad option in this price range. Newegg is getting another $25 to ship either version, making this a $100 purchase. Let's get a look at the Midgard and see if this is the $100 chassis for you.
The Midgard ships in an earth toned packaging featuring a rendering of the mythical Midguard as Thor might have seen it. To the left is a nice image of the outside of the actual chassis, while above this image is a list of the features. The front and rear panels are identical.
On the sides, as both are matching, Xigmatek uses windows with images to show off all the features housed inside the chassis, so you can get a visual idea of what all of the list on the front was about. At the very top under the Midgard name is where the specifications are listed.
On the top of the package you will find a torn down case image of the Midgard and the multilingual section for finding the specifications.
After opening the box and sliding out the chassis, we see Xigmatek ships in a typical fashion. Styrofoam caps on the top and bottom and a plastic inner liner to keep things from getting scratched along the way.
The Xigmatek Midgard Mid Tower Case
As I mentioned before, the Midgard is dressed in full black attire. The five 5.25" bays are vented with a mesh plate that can be removed and is backed with a bit of foam to act as a dust filter. In the middle is where the front I/O panel is located, and at the bottom is a molded X in the mesh as the only outside denotation of the chassis manufacturer. This panel is backed with a 120mm XLF, LED fan for a good intake of fresh air. What you are left with is a well ventilated sleek looking appearance.
The front I/O panel consists of a headphone 3.5mm jack followed by two USB 2.0 ports, and followed by the microphone 3.5mm jack. On the right is the eSATA port.
Looking down at the top of the Midgard, you can see the whole top is mesh, and you can even see in to the rear panel and the other XLF fan. At the very front is the power and reset buttons, along with the HDD activity and power LED's. The rest of the top is used as ventilation. There is room underneath to mount two 120mm fans as well to aid in the convectional flow of air.
We were given the non-windowed version of the chassis and instead we are given two spots to add inward flow of cool air to both the CPU and Northbridge areas and also to the GPU's at the bottom as well.
The rear of the Midgard starts off at the top with two removable plates that allow for water cooling. Under that is the rear I/O area and the grille for the 120mm XLF fan. Moving down, we run into the seven expansion slots that utilize tool-less clips to hold in the cards, and this is flanked by a ventilated area above another two holes for water cooling. At the bottom is where the PSU will reside.
The back side panel is ventilated to allow for a bit of air flow to the back of the hard drive area as well as the back of the CPU. There aren't "mounting holes" per say, but with thin fans and some creative mounting you could get fans in these areas.
The bottom of the chassis holds two large front feet and smaller rear feet that surround both a dust guarded PSU fan area and another area for a 120mm fan of your choosing.
Inside The Xigmatek Midgard Mid Tower Case
Removing the door panels gives a view of all black with bold orange accents. I was going to install a full ATX for this review, but the chassis matches my DFI too much to pass up using it. I'll let you absorb this for a minute and get more into detail as I spin around the interior.
Unbanding the wires, I found they are plenty long enough to get to both ATX and mATX boards connections with ease. The front I/O wiring consists of the power, reset, HDD and power LED. Under those is the eSATA cable. Both HD and AC97 audio connectors are present, and only one USB 2.0 connector. At the far front and back are the 3-pin fan connectors on the end of the XLF fan leads.
Inside the front are the five 5.25" bays that use tool-less locks on both sides of all five drive bays. Below is a hard drive rack that houses five slide-out trays that lock and unlock with a gentle push on the tabs. This rack is also cut away in the back to allow for wires to pass through easily and better manage the typical "rats nest". In the second bay is where you will find you hardware box.
To use these tool-less locks, all u have to do is align the drive and push in the orange tab and slide it to the right. The top three are in the locked position while the bottom two were left unlocked.
The five bay 3.5" drive rack is designed to use these trays. With the grommets in the outer positions it is set to screw into the bottom of a 3.5" drive. Simple moving of the grommets to the inner holes allows for 2.5" drives to also be installed.
On the floor, in front of the PSU area you will find a plastic tray that will accept a 120mm fan tool-lessly just by simply clipping under the tabs on the tray and wire it up to power.
The motherboard tray has a bunch of cutouts for wire management, and one of the biggest CPU back plate access holes I think I've ever seen. The holes are in good locations and do work well for most, if not all installations.
Inside of the rear of the Midgard there is a good look at the XLF fan and the tool-less expansion card clips. There is a little tab at the outer edge that needs to be lifted then the clip slides out and even all the way out if needed. Slide in a card and return the clips to the locked position with a "click" verifying it is locked. At the bottom you can see the foam membrane that surrounds the PSU mounting area. This should keep any vibrations gone from the PSU.
Accessories and Documentation
Xigmatek supplies the Midgard with a fan controller capable of controlling up to three fans off this one knob. The 2-pin power to 4-pin Molex adapter is needed to supply the unit with 12 volts and then the three-3-pin pugs in the other connectors can distribute the voltage dialled in to those fans that are connected here.
Along with the fan controller, you receive a bag full of various screws and the motherboard risers. Don't worry! The instruction manual will sort them out for you. Then they also send two rubber grommets to use when you remove two of the metal plates from the rear of the chassis. There is a motherboard speaker included, along with some large screw-in wire management clips to tidy and retain messy wiring.
The manual included is a foldout, like a map. It includes a descriptive parts list to make sure you have everything you need to do the build, and a step by step multilingual build guide. If you do run into any issues, refer to this, as it answered all my questions simply.
The Build and Finished Product
Getting ready to assemble the Midguard with my components, I had to remove the front panel. This is done by squeezing the round tabs together behind the panel while gently pulling from the front. Now, you have to make a choice of where to install the optical drive, and if you need to remove the steel plates covering the drives.
I decided to install my optical drive in the bottom slot, which lead me to have to remove the 5.25" to 3.5" floppy drive adapter plate. Then of course remove the matching front bay cover by releasing two tabs and the plate falls out. Then snap the cover back into place.
Selecting the appropriate screws, mounting a drive is simple. For a 3.5" drive such as this, you just use four screws and mount the drive. For a 2.5" drive you will need to move the grommets to the inner holes and use the same screws to mount those.
Buttoning things up to test it all out, I got the completed image of the front with the drive installed. It still leaves a very clean overall look from the front. Sleek, black and understated; three things I personally look for in a case.
The rear of the chassis has a bunch of room to pass wiring and still get the panel on. Excuse the "rats nest" in the bottom of my drive bays, my testing PSU has a ton of wires attached to it and it was the closest place to try to "hide" them. Your results may vary. I found the management holes to be in a good place, and the CPU access hole should allow you an easy go at swapping coolers later in the chassis' life in your house.
The rear of the chassis looks, well, like most black chassis', except for the addition of the Xigmatek fan controller I stuck in the expansion slot. I used this to connect the rear exhaust and front intake XLF fans. This allows for full control of these two fans all the way down to not running at all.
The interior build went pretty smooth. Everything seemed to work out and I was able to keep things somewhat tidy, even with this PSU. The PSU is flipped fan up to allow the 24-pin to make it to the board, not due to any alignment issues; it goes in fan down just as well. I was a bit disappointed in the HDD rack though, but I will get into more detail in the conclusion.
Lighting when looked at from the outside is subdued. The XLF fans set at max don't show well with all the lights on in the room, and even with them off there isn't a brilliant flood of light coming from the chassis. This not only makes it a good choice for bedrooms, but possibly in a darkened theater environment as well. Even the power and HDD activity lights were dimmer than I would have expected, but again it kept the ambient flood of light I'm used to seeing way down.
For a chassis under $100, Xigmatek packs a lot of bang for the buck into this mid tower named Midguard. The build went smooth, as expected, and I found most, but not all of the tool-less features to do a good job at what they are built to do. The issue with one tool-less feature I found was in the HDD rack and tray assembly. The rack is sturdy and the trays are of a nice concept and design, but when they go together they just don't mesh well together. After several attempts I got my hard drive, what I assume to be installed correctly, but the drive and tray are still "loose". The drive doesn't feel "secure" when slid into the locked position. Even so, there was no discernable noise coming from the rack due to any vibrations from said "looseness" of the assembly.
I've always been a sucker for the all black chassis, and adding an arranged flash to the inside is a nice bold choice from Xigmatek. I would have liked either a solid door or a windowed version of the Midguard, but that is a personal choice. I can really see where some users could benefit for all the extra venting and ability to add more fans. All the mesh is not for everyone, but I like the looks of it and can appreciate the top being set up in all mesh with the ability to even add fans to the top if needed. The panels all went back on easily and the chassis feels solid. Simple understated looks on the outside with a long list of features and good airflow make it a case to really look at if you are in the market for a mid tower chassis.
In the end I was left with an elegant looking box from the front that doesn't blast a flood of LED light into the room. The fan controller allows me to drop the ambient noise for the chassis to acceptable levels for me, while still keeping the components cool on the inside. There is plenty of room inside this mid tower. As you can see, my 10.5" card fits with a bit of room to spare and there is even plenty of room to build a nice SLI or Crossfire setup. Current listings are varied, but I found it reasonably priced at Newegg for $74.99. Keep in mind, once shipping is added the price is around $100 to get one to your house. Even so, for $100 there aren't too many chassis' that offer the extent of features and the ease of use and installation as does Xigmatek with the Midgard.
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