Every once in a while during the flood of emails from reps I deal with on a regular basis, a new sprout shows up to grow through the cracks. Today is just such an occasion where I was asked to look at a trio of cases, all of which are from a Russian company that is manufacturing these out of China. From the US markets standpoint, we may never even see these cases hit the shelves here. As I look around at the site, it seems they show two locations on the globe where you may actually find stock of these chassis and that is in both Russia and China of course. Even so it is good to see what other companies are doing and I can only assume if I were to give this chassis a "thumbs up", chances would be much greater for them to make a move to try to stock shelves here too.
Now GameTiger isn't brand new, it seems they started up in 2011, but it takes some time to develop a market share in any country. For only being in the game for a year and already contacting a place like TweakTown which reviews some of, if not the best offerings on the market today, it is a bold move. It's a bold move to send something all this way and offer them to a guy who is completely spoiled when it comes to cases and offer your line-up to him and see what they think about all of your hard work. As I see it, there is only two ways this can go. It will either go really well and I will love it, which is great for GameTiger who is trying to get their name out or on the flip side, this could just be another ordinary chassis design and will end with GameTiger washing up on shore with the masses of other average cases on the market that are trying to make it big.
I really like looking at products from the new guys, as usually they have to try harder to deliver something you haven't seen before or haven't seen it done the way they are trying to go about it.
With the chassis we are about to have a look at today, the Xniper PR-3 gaming chassis from GameTiger, I am eager to get started and see what sort of mid-tower we are dealing with here and eventually get around to how it all went together and how I feel about the Xniper PR-3 as it would stand against any other chassis I can get my hands on. So, let's get this show on the road, as they say.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
From the front, the Xniper PR-3 reminds me a lot of the CM 690II, but once you see the top with the aggressive styling of the mesh venting and circular shaped center bit that sticks up above everything else, the design takes on more of a design for teenagers. On the left of the chassis there is a large mesh insert in the shape of an X that will allow passive airflow as well as allowing a bit of a peek inside of the chassis. In the back there is a pair of water cooling pass-through holes with grommet and exhaust fan and seven expansion slots, with a bottom mounted PSU. I forgot to mention there is another fan besides the 92mm fan chosen for the back and that is the red LED 120mm fan attached to the front bezel of the chassis. As far as connectivity of the front I/O is concerned, well there are audio jacks and USB 2.0, but no USB3.0, which is something every case should offer in this day and age, no matter where it's sold.
Inside, let's start at the front where there is a 5.25" bay running from the top to the bottom. As the chassis is shipped, there is room for three or four optical drives, the fourth one is also a floppy drive bay and really only up to three hard drives can go in and that is if you don't have a floppy drive. This is because you have to use the three provided adapter trays that will allow a floppy drive, 2.5" drive or 3.5" HDD all to screw into each plate and slide into the 5.25" racks. The rest of the bays are just left there to allow air to flow through, I guess. The motherboard tray has a cooler access hole, has six wire management holes with grommets in them down the right side and at the bottom, there is even 19 places to tie up wiring across the back of the tray or on the front. I don't like to use this word with cases much, but with the compact nature of this layout, things are a bit cramped inside.
I was eventually able to get a price on this chassis, even though there is no current availability outside of the Russian and Chinese markets. That being said, if it were to make it to the States, it would have plenty of competition in this market. That in mind it will really have to provide something to drive customers to them.
Most cases in this segment are really basic and offer very little in their feature sets, so Game Tiger better be on their A game if they plan to make any headway in the budget friendly segment, as it is really flooded already.
At the first glance looking at the plain brown box with the black silkscreen printing on it, I think this has to be a budget friendly chassis as this is a trick many employ to help keep the money in the chassis and not in the packaging. This side names the chassis and the manufacturer and gives you an idea of what the chassis will look like. The right side shows off most of the features included in the design.
On the right we run into the specifications chart and the system cooling optional and included fans written in Russian.
On the back or maybe the front depending on your location on the globe, all of what we saw on the opposing side is shown here, but of course in Russian text.
Back to English on the last side of the box as the specifications chart and cooling system chart are both now addressed in something I can read.
Inside of the cardboard the Xniper PR-3 is packaged with a plastic liner on the case to protect from minor scratches. On both end they used Styrofoam, but the top piece is just set on there all wobbly as it isn't molded for the top of this chassis at all. Even so the chassis seems to have made one hell of a journey and it made it to me in great shape.
GameTiger Xniper PR-3 Gaming Mid-Tower Chassis
Just glancing at the front of the Xniper you can really see the resemblance to the CM 690 II with all of the mesh running from top to bottom and the chrome trim down both sides. That is until you notice the GameTiger name and logo at the top and "GAME CASE" cut into the sides near the bottom.
The I/O panel is just behind the front bezel, which means it isn't attached to it either. You get a power button backlit with the power LED and the reset backlit with the HDD activity LED. Then you get a pair of USB 2.0 ports and 3.5mm jacks for headphones and a microphone. No USB 3.0!
Behind the I/O there is some interesting designing going on here. The angles and style looks cool, but all of the mesh besides what is in the center circle is all there for looks with no function. Under the circular bit you can install a 120mm fan if you choose to.
I'm not really a fan of the dental molding design at the top, but I have to say I do like this X mesh insert. I know it has been done before, but the Roman numeral style of font used does make it look "more proper" for a lack of a better term.
In the back there is the rear I/O area and the 92mm exhaust fan with a pair of tubing pass-through holes above it. Under that there are seven expansions slots with only one cover that is replaceable. The other six are break-away so they don't go back in. That leaves the hole at the bottom for the PSU.
The right side of the case has the toothy top while the panel is flat and offers only a spot to grab it with your fingertips for removal.
Under the chassis there are four large rubber padded plastic feet holding the chassis off the floor. At the left is the PSU ventilation with a 120mm fan mounting hole in the middle and a 92mm fan mount at the right.
Inside the GameTiger Xniper PR-3
Panel off, it is a mess of wires and a lose box of hardware that first attracted my eye and then it moved to the full rail system of the drive bays at the front. It looks a little narrow from front to back as well, but soon enough we will see when the parts go in to it.
The bottom four bays are where the hard drives are meant to go, but notice only two more trays are supplied. So essentially you can only install a maximum of three storage drives without having to buy more adapters.
The hard drive bays start at the top offering two bays for 2.5" drives. These just slide into the rack and can be secured with a screw, but are not needed. As for the six 3.5" bays below, they use a rail that you add to each side of the drive and then you slide in the assembly until the tabs lock into place.
Under all of that mesh at the top is this expanse of steel with only a hole cut in it to allow for an optional 120mm fan to go there. The two screws to the left need removed and then the whole top will slide to the rear and lift out to allow you to install said fan.
The motherboard tray is laid out to accept Micro-ATX and ATX motherboards and has a CPU access cut-out that looks like you could screw on a 120mm fan, although it wouldn't breathe there. On the right and the bottom are wire management holes and there is plenty of places to tie wires up where you need them to go.
There isn't any sort of pad to isolate the PSU from the chassis, but on the floor of the case you do have a pair of pads that the front of the PSU will rest on as it is hung from the back of the chassis.
In the back hangs a 92mm fan with no option to install anything larger. What this does is makes the top of the chassis the only option for an AIO cooler and in most circumstances, will raise the noise levels. Below it you can see all of the lower six covers on the slots are already bent in and ready to be broken out for use while the top one gets a standard replaceable cover.
The wiring comes in a rainbow of fruity flavors and is going to be quite hard to hide in an all black chassis. There are the Molex connections for the two fans and the LED lights in the front. Then there are the front panel headers, the USB 2.0 and the HD or AC'97 Audio connections.
As you can see the tray is solid from the bays at the front all the way to the back of the chassis. This is why they offer so many wiring holes, but with only 20mm of room here, it will mostly be the front panel wires here in the build. I also notice there is no hole for the 8-pin EPS cable either.
Accessories and Documentation
Here is the hardware box we saw laying at the bottom of the chassis. It was wire tied to the motherboard tray, but with the long trip to my doorstep it got loose from the tie. No harm done though, to the case or the hardware inside.
Starting off with some of the goodies included, you get the motherboard speaker, which doesn't come in most cases and six long wire ties to manage any loose wires you may have in the build.
They also give you seven hex head screws for the PSU and expansion card support. The pan headed screws work for storage drive installation as well as being the screws for the motherboard. They send eight risers, but an ATX board takes nine and then there are the flat screws for ODD or FDD installation.
You do get a bit of instructional help with this two sided fold out that GameTiger ships with the Xniper PR-3.
While the images are quite small and the text is even smaller, they do work you through every step of the build covering the motherboard, PSU, 5.25" and 3.5" installation processes on this side in both English and Russian.
On the back they walk you through card reader or FDD installations and also how to stick in an SSD or a standard mechanical 2.5" hard drive. At the bottom all by itself is the included parts list that you should have included in your kit. Notice they don't show quantity of anything either.
The Build and Finished Product
The Build and Final Product
Removing the bezel to install my SDD and ODD into the front of the chassis you can see the front of the chassis is completely open to allow any airflow right through it. On the right is the bezel and to remove the bay covers it has to be done from the inside. At the bottom you have two Molex plugs, one for the 120mm fan and one for the dual light strips on both sides of it.
With the bezel snapped back onto the steel, since the top edge isn't mesh, the ODD doesn't look too bad, allowing the mesh to continue under it to the floor of the chassis.
With the ODD in the first bay, there is still room for the wiring. While I wasn't able to use my AIO cooler in this build, I was able to stuff in the Radeon HD 7950 with no effort at all really. Things are a bit cramped inside of the chassis, but everything does fit and went together pretty easy.
When I finished the build the one thing that looked odd to me and didn't function well was the expansion card screw cover. I get that it should be anti-theft, but if the screw for the cover has easy access and you have screws in the cards already, what is the point here with this extra step?
Since there is only 20mm of room here, I only ran the front I/O wiring to the bottom of the chassis as well as running the SATA power lead up to the drives at the top. The 24-pin is too thick and there isn't a hole for the 8-pin so neither are present, I hid them inside.
The doors have been returned to the frame and we are just about ready to get to the powering and testing of the Xniper PR-3.
Looking in through the mesh X you can see the majority of the cooler, the end of the video card and the power supply pretty easily. If you were to add CCFLs or LEDs to the interior, more would be visible, like the motherboard and cabling.
When I powered the Xniper PR-3 there was a bit of a letdown with the GAME CASE lighting. Instead of a strip of LEDs, it is more like one at the very bottom of either side and the effect is really lost because of that. The fan however is glowing as brightly as any other red LED fan I have used.
The Xniper PR-3 isn't anywhere near as bright as the sites images would lead you to believe. Along with the LED under the power button and the flicker of the one under the reset switch, both are blue by the way, there really is only the front fan to add any flair to the design. As you can see the further back you go, the worse the GAME CASE lights look.
So, what do I think about the GameTiger Xniper PR-3? Well, it isn't a great case by any measure, but the ideas are right, I think they may just need a little more time to get form and function working in harmony.
The basic design, build and layout aren't all that bad, but it isn't very roomy for something labeled a "gaming chassis'. We all know they need to breathe and breathe very well and the Xniper, even full of fans, doesn't have what it takes as I received it. It is the attention to details that left me thinking to myself "really, they sent this to me like this?" Not having enough risers, OK that's fine, but the fact that there are all those bays and the way it is delivered, you are very limited with the amount of hard drives you can stack in this build. On top of that, the tool-less clips they used are a temporary holder at best. Then you have the fact that they boast on the box that there is all this wire management inside of the case. To some extent that is true, but if there isn't room for the 24-pin or a hole for the 8-pin, why bother?
There are some good things to say as well. The looks from the front reminded me right away of the CM 690 II and I like the look of that case design. I liked the mesh insert on the door panel and the view it affords you of the components. I mean they really didn't do anything wrong, it's just done to the point of saying it is there and the thought process just stops. Things like the GAME CASE lighting, its trick and cool to see, but it just isn't done to perfection. The same can be said for the front I/O, it has the basics, but doesn't include USB 3.0 - it just seems to me that with a chassis like this GameTiger is looking to enter into the mid to low price case segment and not with that great of an entry. One really good thing I almost forgot. The combination of the 120mm fan in the front and the 92mm in the back does lead to slightly warmer temperatures that cases that are better equipped as far as fans go, but the Xniper PR-3 is really quiet with 12V powering the fans.
This is not a case you will see me posting about, as I build my own rigs. In actuality I feel this case is designed for impulse buyers that want something like the CM 690 II in the most basic sense, but either don't have the cash to afford the $100 price tag, or they are just ill informed or just don't care what case they have to house their high dollar components.
While this case is really not that bad for beginners, I think very soon as you progress in your knowledge, you are going to wish you had invested into a chassis with a better feature set and more room. With the MSRP of $49 maybe I am asking for too much, but the Xniper PR-3 doesn't have what I need for my builds, but will get most basic needs filled and provide some protection from dirt and animals from getting to your components.
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