We visited some of the biggest case and power supply manufacturers, as well as some of the smallest, and if there was one theme that united all of them, it was brining a new level of style to the boxy PC. And everyone is looking to hit ever-higher efficiencies, with a number of new Platinum- and Titanium-rated models being announced. Due to the number of photos we have to share, we've compressed many of them, but simply click on them to get the full-size view. Also note that we'll be covering Small Form Factor models separately - we have plenty to share in that realm as well!
Willing to think way outside of the box with its Alienware brand, Dell has done something quite amazing with its gigantic Area 51. This case is so big that you really have to stand back a few feet to take it all in, and once you do, you realize that Dell has done something very unique here. In order to achieve cooling sufficient to provide a full Dell warranty on an ultra-high-end machine, Dell designed the Area 51 to exhaust heat at nearly a 45-degree angle, ensuring nothing will block its path (like a wall, for instance). While the case also looks wild, we were assured by Dell that this the main impetus for the design was performance.
Corsair’s latest ATX cases had actually arrived on the market for a few months prior to CES, but it was good to see the whole range in person. The company is borrowing a page from its competitor Silverstone in offering a model with an inverted motherboard, the Carbide 600C (clear window) and 600Q (for quiet). The 600C is shown here. They’ll go for around $120 [edit: make that $150!].
The cases open on the right side and the CPU is mounted at the bottom. The theory behind this arrangement is that you can achieve better airflow to the CPU when it’s directly in line with the intake fans. It’s a little disorienting to work in such cases if you’ve spent a lot of time with standard ATX cases, but from what we’ve seen the thermals are a bit better, at least for the CPU if not the video cards.
Note that in this orientation, hot air has to be forced out the bottom of the case, in opposition to natural convection, and any heat that does naturally rise will be trapped inside the case, as there are no top-mounted vents other than that used by the power supply.
Also on display were two mid-range cases, the attractive $100 Carbide 400C, above, which adopts the stylish hinged door of the much more expensive Graphite 760T, as well as the $80 SPEC-Alpha, shown below. The latter is the first attempt by Corsair to offer a range of colored cases, and they noted that multiple color-band options may be offered down the line, using either white or black as the base color. Corsair expects this case to be especially popular in emerging markets, where consumers like to show a little flair without spending a lot of money. Neither had quite hit the market as of the CES 2016.