[This article was first published in the August 2011 issue of Pc & Tech Authority magazine after our visit to Computex in Taiwan. We've posted the article here so you can see the photos.]
If there was one trend emerging from this year’s display of cases at Computex when we visited earlier this year, it is that White is the new Black. Until now we have been relatively unimpressed with the White cases we have seen, but this year there has been a change from making white versions of existing case lines to making cases that comprised both black and white parts.
Perhaps the best example of this was Corsair’s new white graphite version of its 600T case. Nicknamed the Stormtrooper, the design really does look like it should be riding a speederbike through Endor. Using a mix of hard white plastic and black highlight has resulted in a fantastic looking case that stood out from the sea of black offerings and didn’t look like an albino version of the existing product.
We also saw the black and white combo pop up at a few other manufacturers’ stands. InWin was showing off a couple of concept cases that used the two colours, while Thermaltake was showing off a very interesting black and white version of its highly popular level 10 GT.
Corsair’s 600T case, the Stormtrooper, mixes hard white plastic and black highlight.
But it wasn’t just new colour schemes that excited. Several of the high-end case manufacturers are looking to launch budget lines, and by and large this involved keeping a lot of the core innovations in their high-end products but reducing the complexity and going for cheaper materials.
Silverstone was a great example of this. It was showing off its usual array of high-end products, including the Workstation-focused Temjin-TJ12, which is capable of housing six top of the range video cards. But near this was a very interesting MicroATX case, the TJ08-E, which mounts the system upside down for better airflow. Even more fascinating was its budget case, the PS06, which eschews the usual aluminium for steel and uses a plastic fascia in order to keep prices down.
Thermaltake's white Level 10 GT
Fractal Design was also making the move from its currently limited range of high-end soundproofed offerings to a broader lineup of product. It was showing off some new high-airflow gaming cases, as well as several budget options. The CORE series is targeted at budget users, while the ARC series occupies a more midrange position in the market. All of these stick quite closely to the same black with touches of white aesthetic as the R2 and R3 cases, but offer more variety for those whose requirements go beyond quiet computing.
Coolermaster actually had the most impressive case this writer saw at the show; unfortunately, the REDACTED was shown behind closed doors and we had to promise not to talk about the REDACTED’s enormous size or attractive price point until it is released later this year. What Coolermaster was showing was a very slick special edition of its CM Storm Enforcer case.
InWin had multiple concept cases on show
Designed for AMD, it stood out because it is the first case from Coolermaster that we have seen using a matt black rubberised finish, which was both satisfyingly tactile and good looking. If they could release a version without the AMD branding we’d be quite keen to get our hands on one.
Besides the black and white Level 10 GT, Thermaltake didn’t have a massive array of new cases on display. The Overseer RX-1 was perhaps the most impressive, continuing on with the new black and blue colour scheme seen recently on the Chaser MK-1.
In many ways it was budget case maker Aerocool that bucked the trend, showing off several models in black and red. While there wasn’t a huge amount of new stuff on its stand, the colour combination does make for a very nice-looking chassis.
Aerocool was going for red over white
While each manufacturer was striving to differentiate itself, there were a few overarching trends that deserve mention. Pretty much every new model has front panel USB 3 now, however due to costs most budget cases will only have a single port for now (despite the motherboard headers all supporting two ports). Higher end cases come with two USB 3 ports, but this does vary depending on model and is worth checking into if you are building a new system.
The other thing that stood out was the number of systems now coming with external SATA docks. These usually sit on the top of the case and allow you to plug SATA hard drives into your system without opening it up. This is largely designed for abuse at LAN parties, but it is becoming more and more popular.
Silverstone's massive TJ-12
We are also seeing more and more budget cases appearing with cable management. We are used to seeing holes to hide cables behind the motherboard on high end cases, but this is now becoming commonplace in the budget sphere as well. This really does make building so much easier and cleaner, and it’s a welcome move by manufacturers.
Be it an expression of individuality or the perfect combination of form and function, there will be a manufacturer out there who caters for your needs. The lineup of cases at Computex 2011 was impressive from the very high end all the way down to the budget lines that keep getting more and more high-end features. If you want to build a system later this year, then you will be spoiled for choice.
What's your case preference? You can add your comment below.
[Main article image: InWin concept case]