Pros

Compact and efficient design; includes three fans plus fan controller; can fit large CPU coolers; great value for the price

Cons

Fit and finish is only average; PSU shroud makes cable routing difficult; styling may not appeal to everyone

Star Rating

Behind motherboard

Assembly

So we hinted at this on the previous page, and now we'll get right down to it: assembly of the Gungnir isn't as easy as it could be. While the main compartment is remarkably clear of clutter, once you get behind the motherboard, things get messy quick. To be blunt, that's the trade-off Rosewill made to give users a clean interior at a low price.

Things start off rough with installation of the power supply. Despite using the smallest modular ATX model on the market, the Corsair CX500M, we still had to work pretty hard to get it jammed into the small space provided. Luckily, we cabled it before we inserted it under the shroud, as otherwise it would be nearly impossible to attach the modular cables. NZXT's S340 handled this type of arrangment better with a power supply caddy that slid in from the rear of the case. Want to jam a non-modular PSU inside the Gungnir. We wish you good luck!

And while we didn't use them for this build, the four rear drive caddies (two vertical and two horizontal) are also seriously tight on space. Tucking in all your power and SATA cables in the minimal amount of room provided in the Gungnir would no doubt be a challenge for any builder. Are they "efficient"? Absolutely, and the 3.5" drive bays even get actively cooled by the 120mm fan pre-installed right in front of them. In the end, this is the direction cases are going - a bit less user-friendly, but nicer to look at and with better airflow once they're all set up.

By the way, in this photo you can also see the built-in fan controller hub. It's powered by a single molex adapter (which you'll need to connect to your power supply), and can control five fans (yes, it looks like it has six headers, but one is for the external fan control switch). By the way, Rosewill pre-wired two of the three fans to the hub, leaving the rear-mounted red LED fan disconnected. We went ahead and connected it to the hub as well, but do note that doing so means that the intensity of the red LED light is also affected, and selecting silent (zero RPM) mode shuts off the LED. That's probably why Rosewill chose to leave it up to the user to decide how to wire up that fan.

System Running

We encountered another minor stumbling block when it came time to install the video card. There's very little clearance in the rear panel to insert the card, meaning you really have to thread the proverbial needle to get the card in without knocking a couple circuits off your motherboard in the process.

When all was said and done, however, we did indeed end up with a rather sleek looking build, especially considering how inexpensive the Gungnir is. And given how much gear it can fit, we doubt it could be much more optimized than it is - Rosewill really trimmed off all the fat!

Performance

While we sometimes provide temperature and noise comparisons in our case reviews, doing so requires the use of identical components. But each case really operates in a specific market based on price and features, and the components you choose should play to its strengths. That's what TBG does in recommending parts selections in its Do-It-Yourself PC Buyer's Guides, and that's what we did for this review.

Being able to fit a high-powered but quiet-running 140mm-based tower-style CPU cooler makes such a difference in a system like this, allowing the user to turn down the rest of the fans via the included fan controller. Indeed, even at full load, this system was whisper-quiet, betrayed only by the slightly rough-sounding bearings in its low-cost fans. Sublime Rosewill Hyperboreas these are not, but given the target market and price, this isn't too shocking. And the good news is that burying the power supply under a shroud and orienting its intake fan towards the bottom of the case allows the Gungnir to cover up any negative sound characteristics of that component, meaning you don't necessarily need to go with an ultra-high-end power supply to avoid hearing it.

In the photo below, we've lined up the NZXT S340 on the left and the Gungnir on the right. We believe you'll see how much these two cases have in common right away, but take a closer look and you'll notice some important differences. First, the S340 has the more "custom" interior, with rounded edges and a cool cable cover painted to match the exterior of the case. The Gungnir, on the other hand, has very straight lines and hard edges, but despite being just slightly larger than the S340, can hold a lot more gear, including two external 5.25" drives and big 140mm-based CPU coolers (or 280mm-based radiators). That's a huge advantage from our point of view, and the only real drawback is that you really need to choose your power supply wisely - extra-long models need not apply!

NZXT S340 vs. Gungnir

We can't emphasize this enough - the Gungnir really has an ultra-efficient layout. Sure, the S340 on the left looks cleaner, but that's because there's a whole area of the case in the upper-right-hand corner that you simply cannot use. In contrast, Rosewill makes good use of nearly all the space in the Gungnir.

Conclusion

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the Gungnir. Odd naming and styling aside, it really offers tremendous value to the PC builder on a budget, and foreshadows what we believe to be a coming trend in PC case design: the move towards much sleeker interior layouts afforded by the use of modular power supplies and tiny solid-state drives. If you still rock a huge hard drive array, the Gungnir isn't going to work for you, but for everyone else, it represents a fantastic pick in the gaming PC arena.

The Rosewill Gungnir is available for $68 shipped free from Amazon and $65 shipped free from Newegg as of our publication date. For help selecting components for a great mid-range gaming PC to build inside the Gungnir, see our Do-It-Yourself PC Buyer's Guides, updated monthly!

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