I remember looking at the original Midgard from Xigmatek and I even refreshed my memory by looking at the old review from 2010. As I remember, the original offered something like five ODD bays, five HDD bays with metal trays, seven expansion slots and a pair of orange bladed fans to go along with the tool-less mechanisms used in that chassis. One other thing I remember was that the original did have most of the front and the entire top covered with mesh for easy breathe-ability for both air in through the front. Via convection it allowed hot air to escape right through the top passively or you could add fans to help things along. All in all, for the time of its release, the Midgard had an oddly placed front I/O panel, but other than that it was a nice chassis for its day.
As time progresses, older designs are left in the dust in favor of cases with USB 3.0, room to manage wires behind the motherboard tray and even handy hot-swap SATA hard drive docks built into cases are a huge hit. Well, Xigmatek saw the writing on the wall and took what was a good selling product for them and figured it was time to update the chassis to today's customers' expectations. With a fresh set of eyes, the new release got both an exterior and an interior redo. There are some subtle hints to the original case, but honestly it looks a lot like the mid towers we seen from BitFenix. Either way, the new chassis is a definite improvement over the original concept.
The Midgard II is the mid-tower chassis from Xigmatek that is the new evolution of the Midgard chassis. With a new front bezel, a redesigned top panel, the injection of USB 3.0 and the option for a X shaped window or the dual fan behind mesh version I have today are the major changes outside along with what Xigmatek calls a "leather coating" to both the top and front of the plastic components of those panels.
On the inside the Midgard II also holds a few surprises, like a better layout, removable sections of drive bays for additional room and a much more subtle final presentation inside than the original had. There is much more than just this to be seen in the Midgard II from Xigmatek, so get comfy as I take you through all of the changes that make the Midgard II so much better than the original concept I looked at near eighteen months ago!
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Midgard II is an all steel chassis with ABS plastic used as needed for design elements and tool-less features on the inside. Both the inside as well as the outside gets the same textured black paint treatment. The top panel and the front bezel are different. Xigmatek is using "leather coating" to explain the rubberized coating applied to these surfaces to make for easy cleaning and less fingerprints, just like BitFenix's SofTouch coating.
I really like that the front I/O panel has been moved to the top of the chassis to allow a full expanse of mesh down the front of the chassis. As the I/O panel got moved, they took this opportunity to utilize some wasted space behind it to incorporate a removable top that will house a dual 120mm radiator. The left side of the Midgard II has an area of mesh that you can back with either 120mm or 140mm fans to help cool the interior and there is a windowed version that offers no place for a side panel fan.
On the inside the chassis is definitely different. There are three 5.25" drives with an extra at the top that with the use of a supplied face plate, allows for a slim ODD to be installed. Below the ODD bays there are two sections containing trays for three drives each. The top section is removable to allow for longer graphics cards, or to be used as a platform for your pump and reservoir if you choose to use water cooling. The motherboard tray has a much larger offset to the rear panel in the Midgard II and will allow for lots of wiring to be hidden there and on the reverse side it has mounting for Micro-ATX, ATX and ITX motherboards to be secured to it. In the back of the case there is the 120mm exhaust fan to compliment the front 120mm fan to direct the air flow in this chassis. Under the exhaust fan, Xigmatek kept the seven expansion slots, but did away with the cheap plastic tool-less latches in favor of more secure thumbscrews.
From what I have seen, it really looks like Xigmatek took a wide eyed look at what is currently out there selling in huge amounts and incorporated everything they can think of into this new mid-tower Midgard II. I even forgot to cover the fact that it has a 2.5" or 3.5" SATA docking station on top of it for simple drive to drive transfers or diagnosing drive issues for a drive from another build. Xigmatek really chocked this case full of features that will make it a strong competitor in its segment.
Which segment is that exactly? Well in the US market I will say it is the sub-$100 market. While I am still unable to find this chassis listed in the States, my Google-fu shows me that over the pond they are on shelves in a lot of locations. For those of you on that side of the Atlantic, I see listings in the £63 - £90 total price. For those on this side of the ocean like I am, we still have to wait for its arrival, but with a basic conversion the low end works out to around $98 USD and we don't get charged VAT, so the pricing should be even lower for us. Even with its limited US availability, I say we continue on and see if this is a case that makes your "next build buy list". I for one like the looks and features so far, but let's get through some images so I can get the build done and see what the finished results are before I make any rash comments.
On the front of the packaging we can see Xigmatek is cutting costs here instead of in the product. The use of plain brown cardboard with black screening done over it has been an effective way of addressing costs. "Battle with the best" is the war cry under the name of the chassis and what looks like a rendering of King Leonidas from the movie "300".
This side shows that there is the Midgard II and Midgard II-W (window) versions of the case as well as options for included power supplies, of which my case doesn't have one included. The bulk of the panel is used to address the specifications chart below the checkboxes.
With the front and back being the same I can now address the feature list. There is the "leather coating", three ODD bays and one slim ODD bay, six internal drive bays and the removable section of them, eight places for fans, top I/O with USB 3.0, the docking station and the optional windowed version.
In eight languages Xigmatek takes the top three features and lists them on this side. For those who can't read anything other than English, covered features here are the 330mm of room accessed by removing a section of the drives, the docking station and the included native USB 3.0.
The inner packaging is pretty basic, but serves its purpose well. The use of a thin plastic liner to address small scratches is used in combination with the Styrofoam end caps that support and center the chassis for transit.
Xigmatek Midgard II Mid Tower Chassis
The face of the Midgard II is very different from the original. Here is a channeled outer edge that surrounds the center section of the bezel. All of the plastic components of this are coated including the four ODD bay covers above the large mesh panel with an X pressed into it near the bottom.
The top of the chassis is a smooth transition from the front panel and right away offers the front I/O panel. Here you can connect a USB 3.0 device and a pair of USB 2.0 devices. Then you also get the pair of 3.5mm jacks for audio and the reset and power buttons just in front of the activity and power LEDs.
Taking a step back you can now see the top of the chassis in its entirety. Just behind the front I/O is the docking station that accepts both 2.5" and 3.5" drives, followed by a long expanse of mesh, while the outside edge continued the channeling on the edge as did the front.
The side panel offers, in this version, room for an optional pair of 120mm or 140mm fans, or a combination of them. In the windowed version this mesh is replaced with a Lexan X that does not offer any fan position in this door then.
In the back, the top of the chassis seems to offer places for tubing above the rear exhaust fan and rear I/O area. Then you get seven expansion slots with a pair of grommets in holes made for tubing. That leaves the bottom mounted power supply location as the last bit to cover back here.
The other side of the chassis is very plain and is just an expanse of steel with the textured black paint on it. I do like that both panels get thumbscrews, as I have seen a few lately that only give them for the access side of the case and it annoys me to no end.
The chassis is supported with these thin, but large round discs for feet with rubber padding the keep the case from moving around or damaging the surface it is on. The Midgard II also offers dust filters for the PSU and the optional fan location in front of it, as long as the PSU isn't too long to block access to it.
Inside the Xigmatek Midgard II
As I opened the box I could hear something inside moving around, but I had to get this far before I could see what happened. The hardware box seems to have broken loose and spilled most of its contents into the chassis. No harm was done; I just had to make sure I found everything, luckily the instructions stayed in the box, so I had a checklist to look at to be certain I had everything.
This is what I mean when I say it's more of a 3+1 system of ODD bays. The three lower bays all have tool-less locks that operate by turning the X to lock and unlock them. The slim ODD bay I will get to later. Also, these tool-less locks are found on both sides of the bays to secure the drives better.
Taking up the bulk of the front of the chassis is the six drive trays for both 2.5" ad 3.5" drives, separated in two three drive sections.
I mentioned earlier that the top one is removable. It just takes a bit of pressure on two tabs and the rack slides right out to take what was 280mm of room and extend it to 330mm. It also exposes the intake fan and allows it to get air flow into the chassis a lot easier.
Inside the top of the chassis you can see there is mounting for both 120mm and 140mm fans there. You also get the hint that there is a lot of room above the steel to install fans and / or a radiator.
By simply lifting the top plastic panel until the clips release and then some jiggling to get the cover off the front I/O exposes the deep area to allow water cooling compatibility enclosed inside the new Midgard II.
Inside the Xigmatek Midgard II Continued
As I got the tape measure out, I can see there is right around an inch and a quarter of space here, for those on the metric system that is right near 32mm. There is additional room under the mesh cover and if the motherboard allows it, the fans can go under the steel the tape measure is resting on top of.
The motherboard tray is set pretty high in the case and puts the motherboard very close to the top steel of the chassis. Contained in the tray is a really large access hole for a mid-tower case, five large wire management holes and twenty-one locations to strap wiring too.
Under the nine bladed, scythe shaped, black exhaust fan you can see the seven expansion slots and the solid steel covers. These are all held in place with thumbscrews over the flimsy plastic latches used in the predecessor.
Around where the PSU mounts you find a thick foam gasket along with four rubber pads on the floor of the chassis to isolate any vibrations that may result from the PSU and case rubbing is eliminated. As long as your PSU is less than 150mm, you should be able to use the 120mm hole in the floor for a fan.
Behind the motherboard tray, at minimum, you have 25mm of room for anything you need to stuff back here, like the included wiring. Here you have leads for the SATA dock, a Molex connection to power the dock, two fans, native USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HD and AC'97 audio and the rainbow of wires to connect for the buttons and LEDs to the motherboard.
Accessories and Documentation
As part of the kit included with the Midgard II is the fan controller that was included with the original Midgard. There is a twist style fan controller that goes into any empty expansion slot. Along with it is a Molex to 2-pin adapter to power it, a single 3-pin to triple 3-pin adapter to control three fans in the chassis and a screw to mount it if you have something against the thumbscrew already there.
Remember the talk of being able to add a slim ODD to this case? Well here is the adapter plate that will replace the top bay cover on the front of the case. To go along with the rest of the chassis plastic there, it also has the rubber coating added to it. You also get ten wire ties and a bag of hardware that includes risers, long fan screws for optional fan installation, the smallest motherboard screws I have ever seen and screws to mount the various drives and the PSU.
The instructions don't offer a whole lot of in depth information, but does cover the basic install pretty well.
Unfolded the manual has a ten step guide to a case build in many languages, both the front and back are the same, just the back contains more translations. You also get a parts list and the wiring specifications for all of the adapters and plugs.
The Build and Finished Product
With the rest of the build pretty much done, it was time to add an ODD to the build. Removing the bezel is simple, it just takes a tug and the clips release the panel. This is where you gain access to add another fan to the front, or remove the appropriate bay cover to allow the drive to be exposed.
Just to show off the SATA docking station a bit, I added my 3.5" 1TB drive to be sure it fits and plugs in well.
As you can see it also works with 2.5" drives. The only issue I have is that there are no guides to make the connection simple. You have to be sure to keep the drive straight or it can go offline and miss the clips inside.
The inside of the chassis offers plenty of room for an ATX motherboard and multiple GPUs. I left the middle section out to show that there is plenty of room to house pretty much any beast of a card in here. The only thing I can complain about is the mess from the fan controller and the rainbow colors on the front I/O wiring.
In the back the case filled out nicely. The rear I/O plate went in relatively easy, you can see it has room for a multi-GPU setup even with the fan controller installed and the PSU sits snugly in the bottom.
I like it that there is 25mm of room here at a minimum. This allows for all of your wiring to be run back here to keep the build very tidy. For those that opt for the windowed version, you can see a build worth showing off.
Finally all bundled back together and awaiting a bit of testing. The Xigmatek Midgard II looks much as it did when we saw it fresh out of the box and I like that. I also like that the ODD doesn't stick out like a sore thumb or break up the aesthetics of the design.
This last image is of the Midgard II under full power so I can test temperatures and feel the airflow and listen for any odd vibrations and fan noise levels. Notice there are not any LEDs in the fans this time. The only LED that will stay on is the blue LED indication the power is on and that points up, so it won't distract those who sleep in the same room as their PC.
It used to be that I didn't really favor Xigmatek cases over the rest of the offerings in their respective segments. Don't get me all wrong here, I liked what they offered and the designs and all, but it always seemed there was a better or cheaper solution out there that most buyers gravitated toward. This time around with the release of the Midgard II, this mid-tower chassis has all the bells and whistles one should desire when looking into a purchase.
It is less than $100, it has native USB 3.0, plenty of room for clean wire management, a docking station, clean sleek lines, good air flow with potential to be better, water cooling ready and it can be all internally mounts and the list continues. Even if you don't have immediate plans or the functionality to use some of the features, the Xigmatek Midgard II is a case that will grow along side you. As your needs, wants and desires change in PC builds, the Midgard II will change to your needs as you need them, something not a lot of cases get completely.
During testing, the temperatures were a little higher than most cases in this group, but it all comes down to the supplied fans. Most manufacturers know you are going to change them to suit your needs anyways; these are more of a solution to get you by until they are replaced. While they are really quiet fans Xigmatek chose, when the controller is on low, you can't feel airflow right behind the fans. With the controller at full power you could feel something, but my guess is that these fans are producing something like 40-50 CFM of airflow at maximum RPM. While it was kept controllable temperature wise, I would first start with removing these fans and prepping five or six fans with better CFM for the inside and maybe add a pair to the door of my version of the Midgard II.
I'm going to be really blunt. We all know $100 doesn't go far in today's economy! For me personally I can get a week's worth of groceries, a few tanks of gas, or a night out with my girl, but that is all basic things that are going to be a reoccurring expense. With the Xigmatek Midgard II, they offer a really feature rich chassis with sleek looks that will fit in any environment you need to place a computer. The limited LEDs make it even a good candidate for a HTPC solution. This really is one of those cases that just "keeps on giving" for the minimal investment required to obtain one. For those on the right side of the Atlantic some basic Google-fu will locate both the version we just looked at as well as the windowed version. For those on the left side of the pond, we have to sit and wait for the shipments to wither get here, or get through customs before our shelves will be filled with what is in my mind the best case Xigmatek has designed to date!
It fully deserves our Must Have Editor's Choice award; it's just a shame I have to dock it for the limited supply.