We've been following the PC market for over a decade, and we've seen nearly as much change in aesthetics as we've seen in performance during that time. Whereas solid metal monoliths were all the rage in the mid 2000s, and LED lighting and windowed cases hit the mainstream around 2010, today PC enthusiasts have a whole range of options available to them to customize their PCs to match their unique style. The two main innovations we've seen over the past couple of years that have really made this possible are high-quality tempered glass case panels and controllable RGB lighting. Enabling these two features to really stand out is another more subtle innovation: the fully-modular PC case, which allows users to clear out unused brackets and trays to open up the interior of their PCs and really show off their go-fast gear. In this article, we're going to walk you through the many options available to bring your PC to light, while noting the challenges that face this still-developing industry.
For various reasons that we'll explain momentarily, we employed two different test systems to show off the products we'll be demonstrating. The specs for these two systems are provided below.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (thank you to AMD for providing this review sample)
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Superclocked iCX
- SSD #1: Samsung 960 Evo 500GB
- SSD #2: Crucial MX300 525GB
- RAM: GeIL 2x8GB Super Luce DDR4-3000
- Case: Thermaltake View 31 Tempered Glass RGB (thank you to Thermaltake for providing this review sample)
- PCIe Riser Cable: Thermaltake Premium PCI-E x16 3.0 (thank you to Thermaltake for providing this review sample)
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15S (thank you to Noctua for providing this review sample)
- CPU Cooler Adapter: Noctua NM-AM4 (thank you to Noctua for providing this review sample)
- LED Light Strips: SilverStone LS02 (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- LED Light Controller: SilverStone LSB01 (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova G2 850W
- Operating System: Windows 10 Flash Drive
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6900K
- Motherboard: Asus X99-Pro/USB3.1
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB FE
- RAM: Corsair 4x8GB Vengeance RGB DDR4-3000 (thank you to Newegg and Corsair for providing this review sample)
- SSD #1: Samsung 950 Pro M.2 512GB
- SSD #2: Samsung 850 Evo 1TB
- Case: SilverStone Primera PM01 (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova 1000 PS
- CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H100i v2 (thank you to Newegg and Corsair for providing this review sample)
- Operating System: Windows 10
We'd like to extend a special thank you to all the companies that contributed components used in this article, as it otherwise would not have come to be. Extra special thanks to Thermaltake and SilverStone for offering up their cutting-edge case and lighting products.
So, first things first, why two different systems? Well, the only motherboard we currently have on hand that has a built-in RGB controller is our AM4-based Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3, and we absolutely wanted to test out that functionality. But alas, our brand-new Corsair Vengeance RGB RAM kit proved incompatible with it, and in fact Corsair has confirmed to us that Vengeance RGB only works on Intel platforms at this time (a software update is planned to extend RGB control to AMD's Ryzen AM4 platform). In the meantime, we fell back on our GeIL 2x8GB Super Luce DDR4-3000 White LED kit, which isn't controllable, but still offers a bit of a light show (it pulses white at rates that increase with temperature). As an added benefit, it's made up of single-sided, single-rank DDR4-3000 8GB sticks, which on the Ryzen platform are prized characteristics that lead to greater stability. It ran perfectly at DDR4-2933 (there is no DDR4-3000 setting on Ryzen). Of note, while the 4x8GB Corsair DDR4-3000 kit ran on our Ryzen system, using 4 sticks forced a DDR4-2133 speed, another drawback to using it on that platform.
Because Corsair's Vengeance RGB kit is such a critical piece of the RGB puzzle, however, we had to include it in this article, so we brought in our trusty X99 platform. It was already running the CorsairLink software required for RGB control, as this is the same software used to control the Corsair Hydro H100i v2 CPU Cooler and its built in RGB lighting; a simple update was required to get the latest version with Vengeance RGB support.
OK, with all that out of the way, let's move on to the mod'ing process!