It isn't very often that I agree to look at a duo or trio of cases from the same manufacturer all in one delivery. Case and point as to why is just like when I looked at the trio from NZXT and the duo from MSI. Typically what I will receive is essentially multiple flavors of the same chassis. Of course the exteriors are rarely exactly the same, the frame and offerings within the group are usually pretty similar, if not just one case offering more fans. That combined with the failure of GameTiger to impress me with their Xniper PR-3 chassis, I really wasn't looking forward to going through the motions for another case that may or may not be very similar to what we just looked at. I will say this, even this early in the game; it is hard for me to keep a poker face trying to hide the fact that I am really impressed with the 180 degree turn I have taken from almost loathing one case, to actually being able to get behind a product from that same company.
In almost every aspect that I kicked the Xniper in the teeth for not having or overlooking, you won't find those things in the latest chassis I'm looking at here today. Where the first one lacked many features such as fan controllers, USB 3.0, had cheap break-away slot covers and a limited drive cage design, you won't have this problem here. Dealing now in the Advanced Case series of designs, GameTiger raises the bar from our last look at their products and gives users a case I think they can actually do something with. Not only does this offering include a pre-wired fan controller, Native USB 3.0, replaceable expansion slot covers and gets a better design for the drive bays, there is still a couple of "tricks" I am going to hold until I can show them to you.
The chassis we are looking at today is the T-Rex FR-16 from GameTiger. This chassis, while still a compact mid-tower like the Xniper, the layout is so different and the offers are so good, that I may be eating some if not most of my words from the last time we discussed GameTiger.
I say we just get on with the business at hand and see just how much salt I am going to need to flavor those words because GameTiger has actually sent me something that when compared to the Xniper, it is just impressive that this chassis comes from the same manufacturer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The T-Rex FR-16 is of course a mid-tower as I have said and is built mostly of steel with ABS plastic used for the feet, front bezel and top panel. Mixed in with the steel and plastic is an area of mesh on the front, the top and a large area of it on the left door panel. Around the outside you will find four 5.25" removable mesh bay covers, the front I/O panel with USB 3.0 and a fan controller, dust filters under the chassis and to me, less aggressive styling that could find a home in any situation. Even with the basic inclusions that we expect in a mid-tower these days, GameTiger takes it a little further on the outside and offers a hard drive dock as well as making it so that the rear mesh panel on the top of the chassis pops open on hinges for easy access to the fan for maintenance.
On the inside you are offered the four optical bays, which have red tool-less latches on one side of the bays. Below this you have room for up to six 3.5" drives. These all work with plastic trays that surround 3.5" drives using pins that line up with the mounting holes to secure the drive. If you plan to use a card reader, floppy drive or an SSD, there is one converter tray supplied in the ODD bays that can be used. On top of that GameTiger makes it so that by removing three thumbscrews, you can remove all six of the HDD slots to make room for anything else you may want to install. The motherboard tray offers CPU cooler access, wire management and even a place for the 8-pin EPS to go over the top of the motherboard and around the back of the tray. The tray itself will house either a Micro-ATX or an ATX motherboard. The last thing I want to go over on the inside is the seven expansion slots with replaceable covers and red plastic tool-less latches to hold the cards in.
As for the cooling in this chassis, it is covered with only three fans, but they are all well placed and this time all 120mm in size. You will find one mounted in the front of the case that is pre-wired to the fan controller. The same controller is also pre-wired to the top 120mm chassis fan so that the dial works both fans at once. You can add a third fan to the controller on the inside of the case, but it must be a 3-pin fan where all of these are powered with Molex plugs. While the fan in the top and on the front both contain red LEDs, the 120mm fan on the back does not. There are also options to add a 120mm fan in the floor, along with four in the left side panel, so if this trio of fans isn't enough for you, there is room to add on to the cooling system.
Through a bit of a language barrier I was able to get the pricing locked down in US pricing. Since we are moving into the Advanced Case series, we automatically assume the price is going up and it is, but not to an extent to where I don't feel the T-Rex should do well if it were to release here for the $99 MSRP I was just informed of. While there are quite a few cases in the $100 category, there are only a select few that come to mind that offers the exact same feature set regardless of its looks or manufacturer.
I think by the end of this review you will agree with me that GameTiger has a winner on their hands at this price. So let's have a look at what you get.
The Gaming Tiger T-Rex FR-16 comes in plain cardboard with black screening showing the chassis and its highlights. Right up front you see if has a lot of mesh in the design, offers USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 and has a HDD dock. It also shows the interior is black; it has fans, a controller and cable management options.
Since this is a Russian designed chassis it only makes sense that half of the packaging is offered in their language too, just like with this specifications and cooling system charts.
For English speaking users, this is now the back panel. While most of the test is now swapped for Russian, the information at the top and the phrase "excite your passion" is left in English text.
The specifications listed for the chassis gives you all of the major info needed to see if it will house your components. As for the Cooling System chart, it not only shows all of the locations that will house a 120mm fan, it also shows which ones are factory installed.
Unlike the lose fitting packaging we found in the Xniper, the T-Rex ships with thick Styrofoam caps that are molded to both the top and bottom of the chassis. There is a plastic liner as well as some static cling layers applied to the chassis to keep scratches from damaging the paint or high gloss surfaces.
GameTiger T-Rex FR-16 Gaming Mid-Tower Chassis
The front of the T-Rex reminds me of a high rise building. Wide and stable at the bottom, lots of layers like floors in a building and as you get higher, the chassis steps back to allow light to all the tiny people at street level.
Just above the four mesh 5.25" bay covers you find the GameTiger name and logo. Above both you will find the front I/O panel that offers USB 3.0, headphone and microphone jacks, the power and reset buttons and a trio of USB 2.0 ports.
Just behind the front I/O panel there is a dial and an LED. The dial operates the fan controller, while the LED shows it is functional. Moving just a bit further to the back you run into the 3.5" HDD dock. It has rubber strips to stabilize the drive, but offers no guide rail or mini door for a 2.5" drive.
Taking the whole top into view, you would think finer details were through with me saying there is some mesh over the 120mm fan that blows out the top of the case.
That would be true if the mesh didn't have a pressure release to allow it to hinge open to the back of the case to allow you to have access to the fan for replacement or maintenance without having to completely remove the top of the case to do so.
The left side of the T-Rex look nothing like a dinosaur either, but it does offer a large mesh panel that will allow for a mild flow of air through it due to the fans inside of the case. If that isn't enough flow for you, you can install up to four 120mm fans (and appears to take a 200mm as well) here for added airflow.
From the back you get an idea of how thick the top of the chassis is as it steps down to the steel. There you get a pair of pass-through holes for tubing above the 120mm exhaust fan. You then see the seven expansion slots and the bits of the ends of the red latches. That leaves the bottom for the PSU.
On the right side of the T-Rex you don't get an intention to help remove the panel, but you do get a few millimeters of room with the large bump across most of the panel to help to allow a bit more wiring behind the tray.
Under the T-Rex you get two large feet with two pads on each to give this good footing. The back foot assembly has a bit of a filter built into it under the PSU, but the other half gets a removable filer. There is an optional 120/92/80mm fan mounting hole that also has its own dust filter.
Inside the GameTiger T-Rex FR-16
What separates the T-Rex from the Xniper even with just the first look inside is that here the wires are tended to and the hardware box is still where GameTiger tied it up. Compared to the last one we saw, I simply can't believe this is from the same company.
The four 5.25" drive bays have this tool-less clip that slide to the back top unlock and then they will lift out of the way to slide a drive in. Once in place, set the pins on the latches and slide the lock forward to secure it. In the bottom bay is a tray that will allow a 3.5" device or a 2.5" drive to go in the 5.25" bays.
There are six hard drive rack that work like all the rest, wrapping around the drive to secure it into place. There are two sections of the HDD bays and not only are the top two bays removable, with two more thumbscrews getting removed, the bottom section of four is also removable.
Just like that, the hard drive bays are gone leaving room for water cooling goods, really anything you want, even a bobble head doll if you want. Removing them does expose the 120mm red LED fan that is in the front of the case and you can see the wire goes up, because it is already wired to that fan controller.
In the top of the T-Rex you can see the 120mm red LED fan on the left half and the bottom of the HDD dock on the right. In order to power the HDD dock it needs a 4-pin Molex lead and you have to provide the SATA cable and looking closer at the dock shows that there is a place to power a fan here as well.
The motherboard tray offers seven wire management holes, four of which come with grommets installed. The tray has six of the risers already in place and allows for both Micro-ATX and ATX motherboards. You also get access to the CPU cooler and six places to tie up wires.
On the floor of the T-Rex there are two long pads to set the PSU on to help isolate it from the chassis, but again there is not a gasket at the back. Note, some PSUs will be too long to allow access to the fan hole in front of the PSU.
In the back, since this isn't an LED fan, GameTiger at least matches the red on black theme found throughout the case. Something to keep in mind about the latches on the expansion slots, if you have a special cooler or any sort of support near the end of the card, these latches will be hard to use.
I like what I see here. Native USB 3.0, black cables for the USB 2.0 and HD Audio wires, it all looks pretty good. I just wish the front panel header wires got the same treatment and there would be nothing odd looking around the motherboard inside of the case.
I will say the room behind the motherboard tray is 15mm at best. But with the T-Rex, you get an additional 5mm inside of the door panel making wiring much easier to do in the T-Rex than in the Xniper.
Accessories and Documentation
This is the hardware box that we found tied to the motherboard tray in the image right after we removed the panels. This box feel much weightier than the last one like this, I hope it's full of useful hardware.
So far I like what I am seeing. You get an 8-pin EPS cable extension just in case and something even large cases don't come with. You also get a set of seven black ties to match the chassis as you tie up wiring with them.
You also get a motherboard speaker, three more risers, four large fan screws for the side panel, a handful of 6/32 screws and another handful of M3 screws.
GameTiger even steps up their instructions with the T-Rex. Instead of tiny images and only the basics, this time they really go all out to explain the process.
Page one covers the installation of the motherboard and all of the wiring associated from the front of the chassis. Page two covers the PSU and 5.25" drive installations.
Page three continues with 3.5" drive cage disassembly, moves into the trays and shows how they install around a drive. On page four they show how to reinstall hard drive into the cages and quickly moves over to expansion cards and how the tool-less clips work.
Page five shows how to use the adapter tray to install a floppy drive or card reader and finishes showing how to install it into the 5.25" bays. The last page shows how and what to connect to the HDD dock to make it function and be ready for use.
Page seven gets into the fan controller and ends with the USB 3.0 connection. As for the last page, it covers all of the included hardware so you know if you have what you need to get the build finished. They really go all out to make sure you know how to get the job done in the T-Rex.
They don't actually talk much about 2.5" storage drive installation, but since the tray has 2.5" holes clearly marked, I am using it for my SSD and leaving the HDD racks out as I won't need them anymore.
The Build and Finished Product
The Build and Final Product
Removing the bezel to gain access to install an optical drive, I found I had to snip a cable tie in the case to allow the wires attached to it to come out enough for this image. As for the bay covers, you need to remove them from the inside and they are held in place with tabs on each side.
When I was trying to put the front bezel back on, I noticed the mesh in bay two needed bending to go under the drive and the tabs at the top are sort of a paint to lock back in place. The good thing is this won't have to come off often.
Even if I had left the drive bays in, I would have still been able to fit the HD 7950 and without them blocking the intake fan I can take better advantage of the stock air flow. As for everything else, I don't recall any issues with fit or alignment.
One thing I do like about this design is that there is an offset to the rear I/O and expansion slots. This will help from ripping cords out of the sockets. As for the PSU and rear I/O plate, their fit was easy and also gave me no issues.
Behind the motherboard tray I really wanted to test the capacity of the space. On the left side you can see I bundled all of the front I/O wiring, the STAT cables and even the Molex plug for the fan controller. I also appreciate the 8-pin EPS hole at the top right corner, a must in a case in my opinion.
Now we have the GameTiger T-Rex-Fr16 all back together and waiting for me to power it up.
Just for those wondering, this is what the HDD dock looks like with a 3.5" drive in it. I assume if you are careful with the alignment you can use a 2.5" drive here as well, but there is no guide, you are going by feel only, which could damage the drive and the dock.
With power applied there is a gentle hum from the fans as the one in the front and at the top glow with red LEDs. Under the power button there is a blue LED for system power, with another that flickered for the SSD. There is also the blue LED of the fan controller, but as you can see, it isn't visible unless you are right on top of the chassis.
At the end of it all I find myself really liking the T-Rex FR-16 from GameTiger. Unlike the Xniper, in the Advanced Case series GameTiger is a lot more serious about their offering. The chassis is aesthetically pleasing, not over the top or something designed for a teenager. On top of that, the feature set in this chassis covers everything cases can offer is some form or another - from the red glow of the LEDs, the removable hard drive bays, the tool-less latches, native USB 3.0 and even a hard drive dock. This T-Rex isn't just a step above the Xniper, it is truly leaps and bounds better. The attention to details like replaceable expansion slot covers, actually supplying room for good wire management and offering a chassis that isn't a letdown when you power it up will always sell more cases, as buyers now are paying very close attention to what you can get these days.
The cooling is sufficient for my system and the 2600K and HD 7950 isn't exactly the average mans system. The T-Rex as shipped was able to keep my temperatures within average levels. I will say that testing was done without the hard drive bays. With them in most of the intake fans airflow will be blocked or highly impeded. This is when you may want to add a fan in the floor or on the side panel, blowing right on the components that need it most. With all the pluses to a build, there are some things that can go bad in a design too. An example of this is the tool-less clips on the expansion slots. While they work fine on a standard card, the support frame of the HD 7950 from HIS caused a closure issue where I had to really force them to lock into place. The only other thing I would have liked to see is a way to keep the front I/O wiring on the case. Once the build is wire managed, you won't be able to remove the bezel without undoing that work and disconnecting the cables from the motherboard.
Even if there isn't any current availability in the USA, I will say that for the $99 MSRP, I don't see how you can go wrong with the T-Rex FR-16 from GameTiger. Coming from the Xniper to this, I didn't want to even give the T-Rex a chance as I figured I would be rehashing the last review in a different flavor this time. I am really glad I gave this a chance, because in the end of it all, the T-Rex offers everything a gamer would want and leaves room for options down the road. Even though you can't fit a dual radiator in very easily, if you are looking for a single loop you could easily run two single radiators in this chassis and with the hard drive bays removed, you have a ton more room for the pump and reservoir.
GameTiger is very capable of paying attention to detail and delivering a product that any buyer will have to think about. This is not always the case, but this time around that did pretty well.
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