ProsCompact and efficient design; includes three fans plus fan controller; can fit large CPU coolers; great value for the price
ConsFit and finish is only average; PSU shroud makes cable routing difficult; styling may not appeal to everyone
When it comes to building your own PC, one of the most important decisions you can make is what case you're going to use. While internal components are chosen mostly by price, a case makes a statement. Will you go big and bold, with lots of bright lights, or small and subtle, with a sleek brushed metal finish, or perhaps something in between? Yes, you can select a case based on price alone, but there's so much that a case can do to improve your experience that we suggest you think more broadly than that.
And so we arrive at the subject of this review, the new Gungnir ATX case from Rosewill. For many years, Rosewill has been delivering amazing value in its PC cases, power supplies, and accessories, and right from the start, there's no doubt the Gungnir, named for the weapon wielded by the Norse god Odin, delivers typical Rosewill value. With a market price of around $70 shipped free from Amazon or Newegg, the Gungnir is definitely in the budget category, yet as you'll see, it packs in a huge list of features you won't find in other cases in this price range.
We'd like to extend a special thank you to Rosewill for providing this review sample.
Description and Features
The first thing to realize is that the Gungnir is really quite small for an ATX case. At 18.62" tall, 8.27" wide, and 17.32" deep, the Gungnir is about a quarter-inch larger in every dimension than the ground-breaking NZXT S340, which we previously reviewed here. It's clear to us that Rosewill was aware of the S340 and attempted to borrow many of its cutting-edge features while adding a few extra goodies along the way. And part of the process was no doubt helped by punching out the dimensions ever so slightly in order to allow the user to choose among vastly more hardware configurations. For instance, the Gungnir can fit the biggest CPU cooling towers, a 280mm top-mounted CPU radiator, and dual external 5.25" external drives (or one with a radiator mounted). It also uses a solid front panel with side vents to provide noise reduction with little loss in airflow. These are all features that the similarly-priced S340 lacks.
That being said, our subjective opinion is that the Norse-inspired front panel is a bit too esoteric to really appeal to a general audience. We believe it's somehow supposed to look like a spear, but frankly, we just don't see it. We're also not totally bowled over by the interior fit and finish, which is just a bit too angular and generic-looking to us. Sure, you have the PSU shroud, which is a cutting-edge feature, but it just doesn't look as good as other cases, and generally it feels a bit like a "parts bin" case inside. The shroud also makes routing the power supply cables difficult, as we'll discuss on the next page.
Luckily, Rosewill makes up for these mis-steps with a surprising number of nice features thrown in: three pre-installed 120mm fans (the rear-mounted one featuring red LED lighting), a slick magnetic dust filter on top and snap-on filters in front and on the bottom, four top-mounted USB ports (two being USB 3.0), as well as a three-step fan controller. And unlike many such controllers on more expensive models from Rosewill's competitors, this isn't a low-medium-high affair; it's low-off-high, which we like a lot more. For everday computing, it's so nice to be able to simply shut off the fans, which aren't necessary when not stressing the system.
For our assembly and performance evaluation, we installed the following components in the Gungnir:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K
- Motherboard: Asus Z170-A (thanks to Newegg and Asus for providing this review sample)
- RAM: 4x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws 4 DDR4-3000
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW 4GB
- Solid-State Drive: Samsung 850 Evo M.2 500GB
- Power Supply: Corsair CX500M
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S (thanks to Noctua for providing this review sample)
- Wireless Card: TP-Link Archer T9E AC1900
- Operating System: Windows 10
Note that while the Gungnir can accommodate two 2.5" drives, two 3.5" drives, and two 5.25" external drives, we didn't include such hardware, as our test system uses an M.2-based SSD that plugs into the motherboard.
We've included a photo here of the finished system, which we'd say looks pretty darn good. And we're particularly impressed that a case this compact can fit our favorite CPU cooler of all time, the 165mm-tall Noctua NH-U14S. The Gungnir earns bonus points for that one! On the next page, we'll discuss assembly and performance.