Even though Steiger Dynamics is very new to the chassis building game, when I saw the news of this company and what they were doing, it was almost like love at first sight. Coming from a guy who sees literally a ton of cases, it isn't very often that when I look at something in press images, I am as intrigued with them as I was with this new chassis. Even with flat lifeless images, it was very easy to see that Steiger Dynamics has a great design team, as well as not stopping at any cost to bring you the best of the best, while still delivering an HTPC design that tops every other design out there right now.
Getting a bit more specific, when I looked at this new design, I saw things like a unibody design to offer two things. One of course is a significantly stronger construction, but the second is that it can be used as a passive heatsink for the storage drives that get attached to it. The look of the chassis is sleek and classic, and will make a great addition to any living room, home theater, or even a sleek gaming chassis next to you on a desk.
Steiger also raised the bar with a top panel window that isn't often found, they fully designed this chassis for water coolers to be able to tame almost anything inside, and they even add a ring of LED lighting to accent the build inside of it.
Of course all of this design work, use of high-end materials, and all the little bits and bobs that go into this chassis are going to cost you more than the usual suspects, but then again, I can promise you that you have not seen anything quite like this before. Steiger Dynamics is also building full systems with this chassis, but unlike Maingear and the rest who will re-badge a chassis to fit their needs, this new LEET chassis is not a re-badge, and even with a significant cost to this chassis, I know there are plenty of you out there that would love to add this to your room and enjoy all the benefits of what Steiger Dynamics is delivering.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Steiger Dynamics does not offer a specifications chart for their chassis, so I will just explain what the LEET chassis brings to the table. On the outside of the chassis you are given a huge expanse of brushed aluminum with the choice to be left in its natural state, or it can be anodized black. This wide expanse of aluminum wraps around both sides as a single piece, solidifying the chassis and removing rattle points. Back to the front of the chassis though, where you have room for a slim optical drive to show its face, a cool blue HDD activity LED and ring around the power button, as well as a flip down panel hiding the USB 3.0, HD Audio and SD card reader.
Centered left to right, and just slightly higher than center is a 7" Finger VU700M touch display that can start up applications at a touch, or even be used as an extended monitor with the 800 X 480 resolution display that it offers. Now we can get back to the other panels. The left of the chassis is ventilated for a pair of 120mm fans to go there, but the right side is solid aluminum. The back panel of the chassis is also aluminum and offers room for the power supply, rear I/O, another 120mm fan, and offers seven expansion slots. The floor of the chassis is solid aluminum, just like the top, but the top has a large window cut into the panel and even offers a few slots at the front edge for more ventilation inside of the chassis.
The interior offers the same in high-end material choices. There is a rack to hold four 3.5" drives that are housed in an aluminum bracket that is mounted to the thick side of the chassis, and will radiate heat away from these spinners. Behind the 7" panel there is a rack attached to the only 5.25" bay, and the rack below will house up to three 2.5" drives. The motherboard tray will hold ATX and E-ATX boards, and comes with pre-set standoffs. While the chassis could be modified to fit smaller boards, out of the box it may be an issue with smaller motherboards. What is very cool in my mind about the interior is that with a couple off the shelf water cooling bits, you can build a completed system with the water loop installed, and slide the whole system in and out of the back of the chassis via the removable motherboard tray. I mentioned that there were three 120mm fan mounts, well those are all part of this motherboard tray as well, and this allows you to install a single 120mm and dual 120mm radiator, the motherboard, the blocks, and with the right choice of a radiator, the res is part of the system and easy to fill and bleed.
What is going to kick most of you in the pants about the LEET from Steiger Dynamics is definitely the price. It is much easier for me to understand why this cost is so elevated at this point in the brief history of this company. Designing isn't cheap, machining gets very high with materials like aluminum, as one minor fault and you have to scrap the entire part. Then you have all of those mouths to feed along the way to fruition of your concept, and starting up a brand new internet business, this all comes at a cost. This is what adds into the pricing as well as getting one of the best thought out and designed chassis I have yet to see hit the market.
You can only buy the LEET chassis directly from Steiger Dynamics at a cost of $799.99 for the base chassis, as I described it. That means you have the choice of black or natural, they all come with the 7" touchscreen, and offer the same interior layout. There are also some other options that you can get for this chassis that are designed specifically for this chassis (at an additional cost), but there are so many things to think about and add in that the chassis alone could easily go right over a thousand dollars without much effort at all.
Steiger Dynamics systems or the standalone chassis like I received will ship inside of this sleek black box. The top of the box has their name in shiny letters, while two panels offer their logo, and the other two offers a place to see if you got the black or silver version of the chassis inside of this box.
In case the damage to the corner was less visible in the last image, you can see from this angle of the panel with the SD logo on it, this package even while boxes twice, did take a pretty serious hit in transit.
Once out of the box it is much easier to take a look at the inner packaging. There is a plastic liner surrounding the chassis, and above and below it, Steiger Dynamics went with high density foam to secure both the chassis, and the goodies in the compartments on top.
These goodies include a fan grill for the rear of the chassis, a remote control to use with the chassis, a large box of hardware and wire management solutions, and lastly you get a cloth covered binder with instructions and guidance via great explanations and images.
With the foam and liner out of the way, the LEET chassis also ships with plastic stuck to the 7" screen on the front panel, and it is also on both sides of the top panel window. There is also a considerable amount of paper packaging inside of the chassis too, and that is because they sent along a few Swiftech products to enhance the chassis and so we can give you a better idea of its capabilities.
Steiger Dynamics LEET HTPC Chassis
At first glance you might think SilverStone or a similar company had made this, but it doesn't take long to see the superiority of the Steiger Dynamics design. From the sleek looks, the stylized name at the top, the huge touchscreen, every inch of this side is top notch and very nice to look at from across the room.
Under the screen is a panel that has a push to release latch at the top edge. This allows the aluminum to fall out of the way and expose the HD Audio jacks, USB 3.0 ports and SD card reader.
The front wraps around to the left side and continues this panel with the same brushed aluminum. The majority of this panel is then cut away, has a honeycomb mesh inserted, and will allow a place to install a pair of 120mm fans or a 240mm radiator.
The back of the chassis is made from its own aluminum panel. The left section is for a PSU to be installed, and moving to the right you have a 120mm fan mount above the rear I/O. Then at the far right you will see slotted ventilation and seven ventilated expansions slots in this LEET chassis.
The right side panel is also a continuation of the front panel of the chassis as well as the left side. This time, however, there has been nothing removed and is a large expanse of sexy brushed aluminum.
The top of the chassis is how you can gain a view if you opt for the panel with a window cut into it, as the base LEET has a solid panel. The front offers some passive ventilation and the window takes up as much room as it can and still have the panel offer some structural stability.
Flipping the case over to get a look underneath of it, the four large round feet are pushed as far to the corners as possible for the most stable stance, and behind the front pair, there are slots cut to allow for ventilation there too.
With the chassis that was sent to me, there is also a switch placed behind the top left foot from the last image. This is for the optional LED case lighting on the inside of the LEET. This switch will allow you to turn it off and on, as needed.
Inside the Steiger Dynamics LEET
Orienting the chassis in a more "normal" position, you get a basic idea for the layout and offerings before we get into finer details.
This is the HDD rack that, with the use of some special screws in the hardware kit, allows room for up to four drives in this rack. There is also an 80mm fan on the floor to actively cool this compartment, and add fresh air in from the floor if this rack is not in use.
I removed the slim optical bay and the rack for three 2.5" drives so that you can get a look at the back of the 7" screen and see how it and the front I/O are placed and connected.
The motherboard tray is set to accept a Micro-ATX, ATX or E-ATX motherboard, and this tray is the full width of the chassis. There is also a very large and wide CPU cooler access hole to help get everything mounted before you slide this tray back in once the system is installed on it.
Looking inside of the rear of the LEET, I want to cover the use of thumbscrews to mount any expansion cards, and also you can now see a bit of the LED strip that is installed. This strip runs along both sides as well as the back of this chassis.
Removing four thumbscrews from the back of the chassis will allow you to slide this tray most of the way out. There is a lip that makes you have to lift the tray to completely remove it. Notice that the tray includes the rear I/O as well as the dual radiator support at the bottom of it.
The chassis wiring is mostly black besides the power switch connection for the motherboard. The USB 3.0, HD Audio, 4-pin Molex connector and USB from the touchscreen are all sleeved in black. These also disconnect from the chassis to allow you to use the wiring and a dual radiator, but more on that when we get to the build process.
Accessories and Documentation
These are some of the components I had to remove to get a better look inside of the chassis and make the build go much smoother. On the left is the slim optical bay for an ODD with the three 2.5" drive positions in the rack under it. On the right is two thirds of the HDD bays , and I was just adding it to the image to show that even on the small components, Steiger Dynamics does not cheap out on them.
As for some of the actual hardware that comes with the LEET chassis, some of it is in this image. At the top are some silicone radiator fan gaskets to keep things silent, for both a dual and single 120mm radiator. At the bottom there is a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter along with a 24-pin adapter that also carries a 3-pin wire to power the touchscreen on the front.
Inside of these two bags you get all of the wire management clips and screws, washers, o-rings, nuts, bolts, everything you could ever need to complete the LEET chassis and fill every slot offered inside of the chassis.
There is also a remote control along with a pair of AA batteries. This remote is capable of turning on and off the system; it also offers keyboard and mouse functionality, app launcher and task switcher buttons, along with a full assortment of media keys to make WMP run without a hitch.
I was also sent one chrome fan grill to be installed in that large hole for a 120mm fan in the rear of the chassis.
Inside of the binder that we saw in the packaging, there is a leaf of the book to hold the software and manual. The software is to get the screen up and running, along with a couple of other cool things, and there is a digital version of the instructions you can move to this PC, so you don't always have to go and hunt down this folder.
Inside of the manual, this is the type of images and instructions that you are given. Of course there is a parts guide, wiring diagrams, installation guide, and just about any question you need will be answered.
The last bits of the kit that I received included these three components from Swiftech built specifically for Steiger Dynamics. There is an Apogee Drive II in the black box, there is an MCR120-QP Rev2 radiator in the white box, and the plain box contains an MCR220-QP Rev2 with reservoir and side fill port.
The Build and Finished Product
The first steps involved getting the Apogee Drive II on the motherboard, getting the board mounted to the tray, and I even threw in the video card at this point. Also, you want to notice that all of the front I/O wiring, minus the USB 3.0 cable, is already attached to the board, outside of the chassis.
Because of how the motherboard sits under the radiator that goes here, you need to tend to the wiring and be sure it is out of the way. Also where most motherboards have the USB 3.0 by the 24-pin, due to the location of mine, I cannot use the USB 3.0 on this chassis, even with the adapter in line.
This is why you must do a bit of planning and pre-wiring. Once the radiators are in, and the loop is plumbed, there is no real way to gain access to the bottom of your motherboard. The thing I love about this is that I can just unplug the mains from the PSU and remove the whole system for work or maintenance.
Since I do not own the proper sized drive for this build, I did go ahead and add the aluminum piece that would adorn the front of your drives drawer. This way you don't have the black face of the drive poking through - just more of that sexy aluminum.
It is slightly hard to see, but as the build guide states, this should be set up as exhaust, and is why you are seeing bits of the stickers on the back of the fans.
Around back there is nothing to complain about with the fit of the components or even getting the tray back into the LEET chassis. Again I followed the guide and made the rear radiator an intake into the chassis, and this is why you can see the RPM sticker on this fan rather than the sticker with the brand on it.
Back inside of the chassis things are a bit more cramped, but even with the longer video card fan, I had no issues making it work. At this point all we need to do is get the lid on so I can power things up and get the screen software installed.
When power is applied and you boot the LEET chassis, there is a cool blue glow to the ring around the power button. The glow also continues into the IR receiver and makes it glow the same color.
With this chassis, Steiger sent along the red LED kit to illuminate all of the hardware and cooling components. It lights up the dual radiator and video card on the left. The back of the chassis has lighting that floods the single radiator and most of the main section of the motherboard. The strip on the right shows off the PSU and floods the motherboard where the back doesn't get to.
As I said in the beginning, I was impressed with this chassis on paper, but to see it in my own hands takes it to a whole other level of awesome. The LEET is a hefty chassis, but it isn't much more than about five inches larger in one direction and a PSU width in the other than an ATX motherboard. What you are getting from Steiger Dynamics is a sleek, high-end, solid piece of hardware that even your wife will love.
Just as a chassis alone, the LEET is a serious chassis for any enthusiast to be proud to own and display thousands of dollars of equipment inside of. Funny enough, I have yet to touch on the screen, if you will (pun intended). The 7" panel isn't just something you can display logo's, see temperatures and fan speeds, but you can do everything there you could possibly want, without a remote, if set up properly. You can even set it up for kid friendly apps and such, and allow them to press an icon to watch Bob the Builder, Handy Mandy, or whatever fuzzy puppet show is hip these days. The touchscreen works for anything you could ponder, as long as you don't mind seeing it at 800 X 480 resolution. The reason I address that is because this can be an extended desktop space and play images or even videos if you want it to, your imagination is really your only limit here.
One of the cool things about the way Steiger Dynamics did this chassis is to cover all the basics in the original design, but to also offer their customers optional equipment build for this chassis, as well as offering buyers anything they can really think to go along with it as well. Like I said, the color of the chassis and the color of the logo are free options, and they all come with the screen, but you can stack up things like the LED lighting, the type of lid, PSUs, sleeved cables, cooling options from AIOs to full custom cooling like mine has, they offer a Couchmaster gaming table for living room gaming, even the mice and keyboards to go on it - all at an extra cost, of course. Steiger Dynamics surely came out with both guns blazing and is delivering users a whole other level in what an HTPC should be thought of as capable of doing.
The one thing that I can say is definitely going to keep this chassis out of the masses of home theater owners, even the living room gamers, is indeed the initial price of $799. In no way can I say that is affordable, but I can say you do get your monies worth with this setup. If you liked the chassis as it was shipped to me, with the additions of LEDs, cooling and the top panel window option, the LEET I received is priced closer to $1200 than the original $800 price point. This is why I definitely will stress that this chassis is the creme of the crop, with nothing currently being offered, and I am sure, as Steiger Dynamics grows, and they sell more and more of their cases and a system; who knows, maybe the pricing will become more acceptable to the masses.
My thought is that if you are building a new home theater or gaming rig for the family based around a 4K TV and a new HDMI standard, do you really want a mediocre chassis to display your goods, or do you want the LEET chassis to stand out by itself and make anyone who stops over start to drool and ask about it? That is right, you want the LEET. I could finish with something tacky about the name of the chassis and a play on words, but this chassis demands too much respect and is just that cool, that you don't even feel good poking fun at it; it is just that slick of a chassis.