The 2011 PC Market in Review; Hits and Misses

Author: SKYMTL
Date: December 30, 2011
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PC Cases

PC Case of the Year: Corsair Carbide 500R

Corsair doesn’t exactly have a long history in the case design world but their achievements to date are very, very impressive. It all started with the Obsidian 700D and the Carbide 500R continues its predecessor’s tradition of high build quality, excellent features and no nonsense exterior design. What makes the 500R stand out though is price. At under $125 it is an ideal chassis for gamers and regular consumers while covering all of our expectations when it came to cable management, hardware capabilities, user friendly assembly and flexibility. It even had some great water cooling options and great stock airflow. Honestly, there really isn’t anything more to ask for from an enclosure.

The Runner Up: Silverstone Sugo SG06

We’re going off the beaten trail a bit here since the small form factor market is supposedly shrinking faster than Blackberry’s stock price. Don’t tell that to Silverstone though since their Sugo SG06 offers up a remarkably capable mini ITX enclosure that doesn’t cry out for attention but comes with a great 450W power supply and enough space to fit most mid tier graphics cards. Granted, a price of about $120 and its lack of a slim optical drive adaptor may cause some to shy away but for anyone willing to work within its limited confines, the SG06 is a cut above.

The Miss: Lian Li PC-U6 Cowry

With looks only its designer could love and an astronomical price, the PC-U6 Cowry was literally set up to lose but both are easily overlooked if everything else falls into place so to speak. Unfortunately, exterior design and a $250 cost were the least of this case’s worries.

The main problem with the Cowry is an infuriating, ass-backwards assembly process. The interior space is hard to efficiently work in, cable management options are next to nil, limited drive options abound and the front panel connectors can only be accessed by Cirque du Soleil performers. It's a nice try by a great company, but a case cannot be priced based on aesthetics alone; all other aspect must be considered, even when one’s designers are thinking outside of the box.

CPU Cooling

CPU Cooler of the Year: Corsair Hydro Series H80

While we shied away from reviewing too many CPU coolers this year, there were a few which came to the forefront. The Corsair H80 is one of those drives. With its great cooling abilities, long 5-year warranty and a great built-in controller, Corsair’s $125 closed loop liquid cooler ran away with our hearts this year. The H80 is as easy – if not easier – to use and install than any air-based heatsink and yet will give you significantly better CPU temperatures. When you add in the fact that all the hot air from the CPU is exhausted outside the case there really isn’t much to fault here. It may not be the cheapest cooler out there, but it certainly is one of the best this side of a custom loop.

The Runner Up: Corsair Hydro Series H60

The Corsair H60 ushered in a new era for Corsair as it was the first sealed all in one CPU cooling solution to come from the CoolIT and Corsiar collaboration. It may seem a tad outdated now, but its performance is still top notch and so too is its ultra smooth, ultra easy installation process. The H60 is also well priced at a mere $80.

The Miss: Prolimatech Genesis

Prolimatech is a company known for making great CPU cooling solutions but the Genesis never really lived up to expectations. In theory, combining tower and downdraft style designs into one large cooler sounded like a winning combination but the reality fell short of that by a long shot. Installation issues coupled with less than awe inspiring performance left us less than impressed but a price of $80 put the final nail in the Genesis’ coffin.

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