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Win a trip to Hollywood with Cooler Master!

Check out Cooler Master's Power Rangers movie campaign now to learn more.

MSI Gaming GT73VR 6RF Titan Pro Gaming Notebook Review

The portable gaming powerhouse packed with the latest GeForce GTX 1080 desktop grade graphics and 4k resolution.

Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Dual Tone Review

Great features and modularity at smaller size and lower price.

Unboxing and Review: Logitech K380 Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard

It's a pain to get just a bluetooth keyboard for each device. Why not go for one that actually works with multiple device altogether?

Unboxing and Preview: Raijintek Triton 280 Liquid Cooler

This is probably the best AIO we have tested to date.

June 30, 2014

Unboxing & Review: Genius Energy Mouse

By: Low Chern Lin

If you haven't heard of Genius, they're known for their wide range of tech products ranging from mice to tablets. Today we're looking at an unique product from Genius, the combination of a wireless mouse and 2700mAh power bank known as the Energy Mouse.

This power bank and mouse hybrid retails at $29.99 (estimated around RM96.00), seems a little pricey for a non-gaming mouse? Let us find out if the Genius Energy Mouse worth its salt.

Unboxing & Review: CM Storm Sirius-C

By: Clement Thien



Cooler Master has been churning out gaming devices under the CM Storm badge for quite a while now and back in April 2014 they announced the launch of a new keyboard and a new headset. Today, that headset has made it's way to us here in Tech-Critter thanks to Cooler Master Malaysia; I present to you the CM Storm Sirius-C Gaming Headset.

This is different from CM Storm's two previous Sirius and Sirius-S headsets; as opposed to 5.1 surround sound, the Sirius-C sports a 2.2 driver configuration that is driven by a built-in amplifier. Set to retail at RM369 SRP, lets take a look at the newest member of the Sirius family.

Official BitFenix Parts Store Opens Today

By: Clement Thien



Spare parts for BitFenix products now available via online store

(BitFenix Design Lab, June 27, 2014) – By popular demand, BitFenix is launching the official BitFenix Parts Store - the best place to obtain additional spare parts for BitFenix chassis and other products. At the BitFenix Parts Store, users can easily browse through a wide selection of parts, select the ones they need, and get them shipped conveniently to their doorstep.

Users can check out the BitFenix Parts Store by visiting: http://parts.bitfenix.com.



Once there, users are greeted with an intuitive, easy to use interface where they can find and purchase the parts that they need. Want a spare side panel for your next modding project? No problem. Need extra hard drive trays to juice up your BitFenix Ghost? Absolutely! Just add the parts you need to the shopping cart, make the payment via credit card or PayPal, and the parts you've purchased will be shipped to your door.

The BitFenix Parts Store is a fantastic resource for things like:
  • Getting practice parts for modding
  • Finding replacement parts for mods that went wrong
  • Extra parts for scratch builds
  • Additional side panels for creating custom window mods

Always looking for ways to better serve the community, the BitFenix Parts Store came into being after dozens of requests from enthusiastic BitFenix fans around the world. In addition to offering a multitude of sleeved cables, LED strips, LED fans, and fan controllers, the BitFenix Parts Store is another way for BitFenix to enable users to customize and personalize their PC. With the store now active, getting spare parts for BitFenix products has never been easier.

The BitFenix Parts Store will first serve users in North America, and will be expanded to Europe in mid July.

To visit the BitFenix Parts Store, go to: http://parts.bitfenix.com.
For more information on BitFenix, visit: http://www.bitfenix.com.

About BitFenix
BitFenix is the result of the collaboration of several veterans in both the technology and gaming industries. From the same minds behind some of technology’s most venerable products, BitFenix creates hardware and peripherals that grant the user the utmost control, strength, and performance to complete their computing tasks. Combining a deep understanding of gaming and other high-demand computing applications with superior engineering and design know-how, the BitFenix Team is dedicated to creating the go-to computing products and peripherals for those who refuse to quit. For more information, check out http://www.bitfenix.com.


Unboxing & Review: Aztech WL580E Repeater

By: Low Chern Lin


Wireless technology has been making our life easier, allowing more users to join a wireless network without having much of a concern with limited ethernet ports nor ethernet cable length. The only concern here is that wireless signal has range limitations and walls is one of the thing that gets in the way in most cases. A wireless repeater can be used to overcome the limitation by expanding the coverage of the wireless network.

We have a wireless repeater with us here for today's unboxing and review, the Aztech WL580E Dual Band Wall Plugged 300Mbps Wireless N Repeater, courtesy of Aztech Malaysia. Price for the WL580E is still yet to be decided while this review is being written, but let check out what does the WL580E can offer us shall we?

June 29, 2014

Coverage of PLAY! Convention @ KDU College

By: Clement Thien


So we heard that there is to be a LAN Party in KDU College this weekend held in conjunction with the PLAY! Convention which is mainly a cosplay event but there are to be some gaming tournaments for Dota2, OSU! and Pokemon as well.

June 24, 2014

The Internet of Things to Open Up Opportunities Aplenty for Malaysians

By: Low Chern Lin

Intel Malaysia and the Multimedia Development Corporation Shares Strategic Vision for the Internet of Things in Malaysia at Industry Roundtable Session

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24, 2014 – Not since the invention of the Internet itself has there been a buzzword as hot today as the Internet of Things (IoT). At the most basic level, IoT consists of “things” that are connected to the internet; enabling a richer way of living and working by making things smarter. These “things” can range in shape and size from a person with a heart monitor implant that alerts assigned next of kin in case of emergencies to a car with a built-in sensor to keep the driver informed on its fuel-efficiency.

June 23, 2014

AMD ACCELERATES ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF APUS, DETAILS PLANS TO DELIVER 25X EFFICIENCY GAINS BY 2020

By: Low Chern Lin




Malaysia — June 19, 2014 AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced its goal to deliver a 25x improvement in the energy efficiency of its Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) by 2020,1 Details including innovations that will produce the expected efficiency gains were presented today by AMD’s Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster during a keynote at the China International Software and Service Fair (CISIS) conference in Dalian, China. The “25X20” target  is a substantial increase compared to the prior six years (2008 to 2014), during which time AMD improved the typical use energy efficiency of its products more than 10x.1

Worldwide, three billion personal computers use more than one percent of all energy consumed annually, and 30 million computer servers use an additional 1.5 percent of all electricity consumed at an annual cost of $14 billion to $18 billion USD. Expanded use of the Internet, mobile devices, and interest in cloud-based video and audio content in general is expected to result in all of those numbers increasing in future years.2

“Creating differentiated low-power products is a key element of our business strategy, with an attending relentless focus on energy efficiency,” said Papermaster.  Through APU architectural enhancements and intelligent power efficient techniques, our customers can expect to see us dramatically improve the energy efficiency of our processors during the next several years. Setting a goal to improve the energy efficiency of our processors 25 times by 2020 is a measure of our commitment and confidence in our approach.”

“The energy efficiency of information technology has improved at a rapid pace since the beginning of the computer age, and innovations in semiconductor technologies continue to open up new possibilities for higher efficiency,” said Dr. Jonathan Koomey, research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University. “AMD has steadily improved the energy efficiency of its mobile processors, having achieved greater than a 10-fold improvement over the last six years in typical-use energy efficiency.  AMD’s focus on improving typical power efficiency will likely yield significant consumer benefits substantially improving real-world battery life and performance for mobile devices.  AMD’s technology plans show every promise of yielding about a 25-fold improvement in typical-use energy efficiency for mobile devices over the next six years, a pace that substantially exceeds historical rates of growth in peak output energy efficiency.  This would be achieved through both performance gains and rapid reductions in the typical-use power of processors. In addition to the benefits of increased performance, the efficiency gains help to extend battery life, enable development of smaller and less material intensive devices, and limit the overall environmental impact of increased numbers of computing devices.”

Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors capable of being built in a given area doubles roughly every two years. Dr. Koomey’s research demonstrates that historically, energy efficiency of processors has closely tracked the rate of improvement predicted by Moore’s Law.3  Through intelligent power management and APU architectural advances, in tandem with semiconductor manufacturing process technology improvements and a focused on typical use power, AMD’s expects its energy efficiency achievements to outpace the historical efficiency trend predicted by Moore’s law by at least 70 percent between 2014 and 2020. 

Architecting for Energy-Efficiency Leadership
Like advances in computing performance, advances in power efficiency have historically come along with new generations of silicon process technology that shrink the size of each individual transistor. AMD expects to outpace the power efficiency gains expected from process technology transitions through 2020 for typical use based on successfully executing three central pillars of the company’s energy efficient design strategy:
  • Heterogeneous-computing and power optimization: Through Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA), AMD combines CPU and GPU compute cores and special purpose accelerators such as digital signal processors and video encoders on the same chip in the form of APUs. This innovation from AMD saves energy by eliminating connections between discrete chips, reduces computing cycles by treating the CPU and GPU as peers, and enables the seamless shift of computing workloads to the optimal processing component.  The result is improved energy efficiency and accelerated performance for common workloads, including standard office applications as well as emerging visually oriented and interactive workloads such as natural user interfaces and image and speech recognition. AMD provides APUs with HSA features to the embedded, server and client device markets, and its semi-custom APUs are inside the new generation of game consoles.
  • Intelligent, real-time power management: Most computing operation is characterized by idle time, the interval between keystrokes, touch inputs or time reviewing displayed content. Executing tasks as quickly as possible to hasten a return to idle, and then minimizing the power used at idle is extremely important for managing energy consumption.  Most consumer-oriented tasks such as web browsing, office document editing, and photo editing benefit from this “race to idle” behavior. The latest AMD APUs perform real-time analysis on the workload and applications, dynamically adjusting clock speed to achieve optimal throughput rates. Similarly, AMD offers platform aware power management where the processor can overclock to quickly get the job done, then drop back into low-power idle mode.
·         Future innovations in power-efficiency: Improvements in efficiency require technology development that takes many years to complete.  AMD recognized the need for energy efficiency years ago and made the research investments that have since led to high impact features. Going forward many differentiating capabilities such as Inter-frame power gating, per-part adaptive voltage, voltage islands, further integration of system components, and other techniques still in the development stage should yield accelerated gains.  
Industry analyst firm TIRIAS Research recently reviewed AMD’s methodology for measuring its energy efficiency and the plans to achieve a 25x improvement by 2020 and produced a publicly-available white paper detailing their analysis.  
“The goal of an energy-efficient processor is to deliver more performance than the prior generation at the same or less power,” said Kevin Krewell, analyst at TIRIAS Research. “AMD’s plan to accelerate the energy-efficiency gains for its mobile-computing processors is impressive. We believe that AMD will achieve its energy efficiency goal, partially through process improvement but mostly by combining the saving from reducing idle power, the performance boost of heterogeneous system architecture, and through more intelligent power management. With this undertaking, AMD demonstrates leadership in the computing industry, driving innovations for a more energy-efficient future.”

Supporting Resources
·         TIRIAS Research white paper
·         Become a fan of AMD on Facebook
·         Follow @AMD on Twitter
·         Join AMD on Google Plus

June 22, 2014

NZXT Introduces GRID+ Fan Controller and Kraken X41/X61 Liquid Coolers

By: John Diew





NZXT Introduces GRID+ Fan Controller and Kraken X41/X61 Liquid Coolers 


Featuring Full Compatibility with NZXT's CAM PC Management Software 

3 June 2014, Los Angeles, CA – NZXT is proud to introduce GRID+, a discreet software-controlled digital fan controller, and Kraken X41/X61, the first consumer closed loop coolers with an integrated variable speed pump.

Both products are fully compatible with CAM, NZXT's first piece of software. A simple companion for the PC, CAM brings cloud integration, mobile support and a modern user interface together to create an effortless PC management experience.

GRID+ Fan Controller

The GRID+ has 6 channels and up to 30 watts of total output. Working alongside CAM’s desktop and mobile applications, the GRID+ software allows users to manually or automatically adjust and monitor fan speeds with ease. Additionally, CAM will notify users of any abnormalities such as disconnected fans, unusual voltage or odd fan speeds. Following in the footsteps of NZXT’s original Grid, GRID+ can be installed in any discreet location, making cable management a breeze.

Kraken X41/X61 Liquid Coolers

The Kraken X41 and X61 take NZXT’s industry-leading 140/280mm CLC platform to new heights by combining the latest in cooling hardware and software technology. The new Krakens' integrated variable speed pump provides minimal noise during use without sacrificing top end pump power.

NZXT’s modernized Kraken software lets enthusiasts control and monitor the Kraken’s fan speeds, pump speed, HUE LED lighting and more. CAM will also notify you of any problems and allow you to access vital cooling performance data over time to ensure optimal PC performance. Complete with newly designed high performance fans, an industry leading six year warranty and improved installation hardware, the Kraken X41/X61 offer a truly refined liquid cooling experience.

CAM Adapts to New Hardware

CAM is designed to grow alongside your PC. When you upgrade your system with a CAM-compatible product such as the new Kraken or GRID+, you will automatically unlock additional functionality for your own CAM Ecosystem.

Price and Availability

The GRID+, Kraken X41 and Kraken X61 are all available for immediate pre-order at the NZXT Armory Store (store.nzxt.com) for just $29.99, $109.99 and $139.99 respectively.

For more information, please visit:
http://www.nzxt.com/

For more information or to download CAM for free, visit:
cam.nzxt.com

Visit NZXT Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/NZXTMsia


About NZXT
Founded in 2004, NZXT is dedicated to manufacturing the best gaming hardware for consumers worldwide. With the unveiling of every product, NZXT improves upon on weaknesses and strives for excellence. Achieving perfection is not an easy task, however, NZXT is determined to meet and surpass consumer expectations. For more information about NZXT, visit the NZXT website at www.nzxt.com.

June 21, 2014

Quick Review: Spectrum RGB LED Lighting Kit

By: Low Chern Lin

 

When it comes to PC customization, some of us spend hours, days, weeks or even months to choose the components, assemble them and par them in a way that it'll look good; a truly satisfying experience for enthusiasts that not only the PC to perform well but also aesthetically pleasing to look at. 

Lighting up the components is the next step to showcase your hard work and thankfully like most PC assembly nowadays, it is not as daunting of a task with the use of LED strips. The Spectrum RGB LED Lighting Kit we're looking at today retails for RM109.00 (SRP) and is provided by Unequal Technologies; If you happens to be interested in getting the kit to bling up your build, this is the place to go -> https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3110365

Unboxing & Review: Silverstone Fortress Series FT04

By: Low Chern Lin


SilverStone's PC chassis has a long history in the PC DIY scene and renown for some of their uniquely designed chassis, especially for their Raven series and Fortress series chassis which has been endorsed by many hardcore PC enthusiasts who is into modding to water cooling setup. 

We have the Fortress series FT04 with us here today, huge thanks to SilverStone Technology and Inter-Asia Technology for providing us with the review samples. With no further adieu, let us proceed with the review to see if it is worth to pay a hefty price of RM 829.00 to get this chassis for your build.

June 19, 2014

Quick Review: Corsair Link Lighting Node

By: Low Chern Lin


Adding lighting to PC build has been pretty popular among the enthusiasts to bling up their PC, LED strips is one of the most common lighting options to go for. Today we have to Corsair Link Lighting Node with us, huge thanks to Extremod Computer and Corsair for providing us this review unit.

Comes with a hefty price tag of RM 129.00, let's check out what features does the Corsair Link Lighting Node has to offer.

June 18, 2014

Unboxing & Overview: Seasonic Platinum Series 860W Power Supply Unit

By: Clement Thien


It's been a while since we take a look at a Power Supply Unit (PSU) at Tech-Critter.Com, and what better way to come back to it other than going Platinum? hence I now present to you dear readers the Seasonic 860W 80+ Platinum as the main character for this article. 

If you're not familiar with the brand, Seasonic is a power conversion technology company that has been doing (and still are) OEM parts for many well-renowned brands such as Antec, Artic, Cooler Master or Be Quiet! to name a few. As far as I know, Seasonic's PSU is highly sought after by PC DIY-ers for their high-quality PSU units.

Priced at RM799 (SRP) the P860 is one serious hardware and also one of Seasonic's highest range of PSU available in their lineup. Huge thanks goes to Inter-Asia Technology and Seasonic for providing the review sample. 

Specs & Features


Starting with the specs, the P860 has a strong 12V lane that provides most of the power with 71-Amperage rating. This should ensure all your power-hungry components get enough juice to run properly.


Special features of the P860 as listed by Seasonic; the 7-year warranty shows how confident they are with the PSU. This should outlast a number of builds or upgrades before it'll give up the ghosts.

Packaging


The P860 is packed inside a handsome box, no doubt platinum-coloured. The front featured a simple outlook with the back side of the P860 featured on the left side and the Platinum-series etched to the right. Note the branding as well as the 80+ Platinum rating at the top and the wattage is indicated at the bottom.


Turning to the back, you'll find descriptions of the innovative technology that goes into the PSU.


More pictures on the left side.


And on the right is where you get the specification of the PSU.


Greeting you when the box is opened is the owner' manual and a nylon pack at the side. The actual PSU is sandwiched between the soft foam.


Additionally, you get a nice felt-cloth bag to keep the PSU in pristine condition.


Bundled extras include some plastic cable ties, mounting screws, a case badge and a few reusable cable ties.



Looking at the nylon pouch, you actually have two compartments for you to manage the cables. Be mindful that this is a 860W PSU so you will have a lot of cables at hand; thankfully the P860 is modular so one does not need to plug in everything unless absolutely necessary.


And my oh my that's a lot of cables (thank you for being modular) notice that, except for the 24-pin, they are the flat/ribbon type which makes it easier to manage the cables behind the motherboard tray. Here is a list of what's at hand here:
You do have the power socket included as well even though it's not listed at the wire configuration table.


A closer look at the felt-cloth bag with the PSU inside.


Note that the bag is reusable.

The PSU 


The P860 is no larger than your standard PSU despite the high wattage rating. The finish on the surface is a matte black which deters fingerprints quite well. Looking at the fan intake, you get the classic honey-combed grill that is partially hiding the Sanyo Denki San Ace fan that's providing the cooling.


At the front of the P860 you'll see a plethora of connection points which should be sufficient to power most builds. The Hybrid fan control switch at the top right lets you change the PSU to operate in Hybrid mode or Normal mode. Enabling Hybrid mode will let the PSU operate fanless until the components reaches certain temperature which gives a quieter computing experience; though it's not that the P860 is loud at all.

You will find more honeycomb mesh at the back where the power switch and power socket is present.



One side of the P860 only has a simple Platinum Series branding on it while the other side has a sticker that depicts the specification along with a warning message in multiple languages.

Testing & Conclusion


The Seasonic P860 is installed into our M-Atx system and we were able to have all the components powered up and cables tucked neatly inside a BitFenix Phenom-M thanks to the modular cables. Plugging in the Asus GTX670 DcuII Mini into the system, we didn't encounter any power issues while gaming or stress testing the rig. Best of all is that the P860 stays silent throughout our test, especially when Hybrid mode is left on.

If there is anything preventing anyone from getting one is that a power supply of this calibre does not come cheap at RM799 (SRP); Good news is that Seasonic has a whole lineup of 80+ Platinum-rated PSU from 400W to 1200W priced reasonably according to wattage to cater for any user requirements that offers the same quality that one can expect from the Platinum series.

Pros:
  • 80+ Platinum rating
  • Fully modular cable connection
  • Flat / Ribbon modular cables
  • Hybrid silent fan mode
  • 7-year warranty
Cons:
  • Hefty pricetag
The Seasonic P860 is hence awarded the Tech-Critter Gold and Recommended badge.


June 17, 2014

Unboxing & Review: Noctua NH-D15

By: Clement Thien


Because the weather in Malaysia is hot and humid throughout the year, PC cooling is always an issue that has to be dealt with one way or another. Noctua said that they have the solution for us and sent to us the latest king of air coolers, the Noctua NH-D15. 

Big thanks to the team in Noctua and also Inter Asia Technologies for making this review possible. Retailing at RM379 (SRP) let us introduce royalty into our local scene.

June 16, 2014

Coverage for ASUS LAN Party: DAY 3

By: Low Chern Lin



And so the day has come, 3rd day of the ASUS LAN Party. It was a wonderful experience to everyone of us who attended the event, gaming and mingle with the participants was really fun. Without any further adieu, let's get back inside and see what's the highlight of the final day of the ASUS LAN Party!

June 15, 2014

Coverage for ASUS LAN Party: DAY 2

By: Low Chern Lin


And so we're back in the Asus DIY master tour LAN Party for Day-2!! Note the number of participants have increased from the previous night.

June 14, 2014

Coverage for ASUS LAN Party: DAY 1

By: Low Chern Lin


We're back with another event cover and this time, we're at MaGIC Center, Cyberjaya for ASUS's Master DIY Tour LAN Party. This is an event where PC enthusiast, power user, gamers, etc get to get along and mingle together, enjoying themselves with the common things that they love - PC DIY & Gaming.

Apacer launches Dual-Interface AH175 for business professionals

By: Low Chern Lin


OTG Bidirectional Connection, 32GB Large Capacity, British Top Hat Design
(Taipei) Running out of Phone capacity again? Slow wireless file transfer? Minor issues make the mobile device not so handy! Apacer has launched the newest Apacer AH175 OTG (On-The-Go) Dual-Interface flash drive for mobile people. The OTG flash drive features USB 2.0/Micro USB dual interface and ultra-large capacity. You can carry video, audio and large presentation files more easily! Stylish metallic casing of AH 175 exudes the sharp professional image, while the unique top hat design unveils a sense of British humor. With built-in USB/MicroUSB interfaces, files can be transferred between mobile devices, optimized for your colorful mobile life.

June 13, 2014

Unboxing & Review: BitFenix Phenom-M

By: Clement Thien


If you haven't heard of the brand BitFenix already, you must have been out of the I.T-loop for quite some time. A maker of quality chassis that contributed to the industry "facelift" with the introduction of the Colossus, BitFenix is quite a big fish in the chassis industry.

Now, another BitFenix chassis made it to the front of my camera, I present to you the BitFenix Phenom-M, the M-ATX version. A big thanks to Inter-Asia Technology and BitFenix for supplying the chassis for review. Now, the BitFenix Phenom-M is nothing new out of the market, but we have a little surprise in store for our readers nonetheless. At the time of review, the Phenom-M retails at RM319 (SRP) so on we go!

Specs



Packaging

Atypical BitFenix packaging that featured the brown cardboard box. Nothing fancy, just the logo and the product name at the front and top, clean and sufficient.


At the back, you'll find illustrations of the chassis along with labels highlighting key features of the Phenom-M.


The specs are found at the side of the box.


Popping the top flaps, you would find the users manual and the chassis encased in hard foam and wrapped in plastic for protection whilst travelling and shield against the elements.


The Chassis

Loo and behold! Yes I cheated a little bit and had this done in gold trim ;) aside from that, it's pretty much what you get from a retail unit. Available in black or white, the front and top surface is treated with BitFenix's SofTouch coating which gives it that premium feel and more importantly, fingerprint-proof surface.


Spinning the chassis to the back, we'll see an inverted motherboard tray with the 5 expansion slots at the top, an I/O shield knock-out, exhaust fan mount for 120mm or 140mm and a passive vent at the side. Notice the power plug at the bottom even though the PSU isn't mounted here, but we'll get to it later on in the article.


The 5 expansion slots are there just in case someone decides to mount a GPU at the bottom PCIe slot on the motherboard, particularly useful when doing dual GPU configurations, good insight from the BitFenix design team. All 5 slots are held in by a single plate secured with a thumb screw.


This should make removing and installing expansion cards much easier.



At the top is a filtered honeycomb mesh...


Which is easily removable, revealing mounts for dual 120mm fans. Possible for a 240mm radiator as well.


At the bottom, you get the same four premium looking rubber feet as on the BitFenix Shinobi XL and a large plastic plate that is dubbed the magnetic heat-shield along with the mount for a PSU. This heat shield should be applied when you choose to mount hard drives at the bottom and removed should you choose to mount exhaust fans. This is so that the hot air exhausted by your PSU would not go back into the chassis.


Removing the magnetic heat-shield, you will see the mounting options for a 200mm fan, 230mm fan, dual 120mm fans, or two 3.5" drives. A 120mm spectre fan is already pre-installed in one of the slots. Sadly, there isn't any dust filters here.


As you've probably noticed from the previous images, the side panels are solid with no windows or vents. the only difference between the left and right panels is that one of them houses the I/O...

Which consists of a power button, reset button, power and hdd activity LEDs, microphone and headphome jack and a pair of USB3.0 ports. FYI, you can mount the panels on either side, giving you the flexibility to have them on the left or right side of the chassis.


Removing the front panel reveals a multitude of fan mounts options available as well as a 5.25-inch expansion slot. None of that really matters as you will need the space to mount a PSU and the front panel doesn't have an extrnal 5.25" bay slot. And again, I'd like to have air filters for the PSU intake.


Taking the side panels off, you'll find a mounting bracket for storage drives with the accessories tied to it. Securing this are four screws which you will need to take this off to gain access to the chassis to facilitate installation of hardware.


With the bracket out of the way, access to the internals is now possible. Right from the start, you'd notice that the layout is somewhat unconventional to the normal M-Atx chassis. In any doubt, I recommend that you take a look at the users manual before starting anything. From what I can see, there are lots of potential for a custom water-cooling setup inside.

The motherboard tray have a huge cut-out for mounting third-party CPU coolers without removing the motherboard. This however means that the motherboard tray flexes but very minimally as BitFenix had the edges folded to increase the rigidity as well as to prevent unwanted cuts when working with the Phenom-M.


Note that you will have almost no room at the back of the motherboard tray for cable routing, which means you'd have to make do with the little space between the PSU and side panel. I'd recommend going with a modular PSU to ease up on cable clutter, those with ribbon-styled extensions will definitely help. If all else, may I suggest the BitFenix Fury PSU series? braided cables are excusable for clutter sometimes.


Coming back to the PSU mount, you would first need to take the bracket out that's secured by a thumb screw and place it back after securing the bracket to the PSU. Note that the angled power cable extension need to be plugged into your PSU after that.



Looking at the top, is a small holder for a 5.25-inch device right where the fan mounts are. You could mount a HDD there with the supplied bracket or have it removed by undoing six screws from the side and front. Note that installing any device here would mean that you won't be able to mount a fan at the front slot which would also dash any means of mounting a 240mm radiator and may pose a problem for long GPU mounted at the corresponding expansion slots.


Back at the side panel, one of them anyway, are where the I/O connections can be found. Beside that is a mount for two 2.5-inch drives.


Not forgetting the accessories, emptying out the brown box found earlier will yield a bag of mounting screws, some cable ties and an internal USB3.0 to USB2.0 adaptor cable.


And a plastic 5.25-inch to 3.5-inch adaptor tray in case you wanna mount a HDD on the internal bay provided.


Component Installation

In a small chassis like this, you'd need to plan out what goes in first so that the whole process will go smoothly. As with any small chassis, some compromises are bound to be there, I found that while the Noctua NH-D15 will fit into the chassis, you can't have Hard-drives at the bottom as you wouldn't be able to install the fan clips at that direction.


Note that the fan at the back will also have to be removed in order for your hand to actually reach inside to secure the fan clips. Mounting the hard-drives will have to be at the bracket but only 2.5" HDD or SSD will fit if you have a tall cooler. Another option is to mount it at the plastic bracket at the side panel but that means more cable management.


So at the end, we decided to use the Black Edition CPU cooler from Gelid Solutions that we reviewed a while back. Sure enough, everything fits nicely. Added the BitFenix Spectre Pro LED (White) fans with BitFenix Alchemy Cables and an LED lighting strip to spruce the build.


Conclusion

The BitFenix Phenom-M is a sleek chassis on the outside, the inside, while ingenious, has it's limitations. More often than not, you would need to consider what needs to be sacrificed to get the build you want as we have experienced with the build. 

That said, BitFenix did make the Phenom-M a little easier to build by giving a removable PSU bracket, tool-less expansion slots and access via the top panel (so it is definitely recommended to install the fans at the end of the build). It is challenging but managing everything into the chassis is very satisfactory indeed. I would recommend this chassis to anyone looking for a HTPC system as this chassis is something that'll blend into any living room AV systems or you could choose to hide a monster rig inside a small chassis.

Pros:
  • Sleek outlook
  • Quality construction
  • Tool-less expansion slots
  • Supports huge CPU coolers
Cons:
  • No dust filters for PSU and bottom fan mount
  • Could have more room for cable management 
  • Some features had to be sacrificed for others
All in all, the BitFenix Phenom-M gets the Tech-Critter Silver and Recommended award.


TR01