EVGA Hadron Air Mini ITX Case Review
EVGA and cases arenít normally two things mentioned in the same sentence but the new Hadron Air blazes a new trail for a company thatís normally associated with graphics cards, motherboards and power supplies. While there was a rumored SR-2 enclosure a few years ago, nothing really became of that but now things have changed.
Believe it or not, EVGAís first official case isnít the massive and expensive E-ATX enthusiast-oriented chassis many expected them to produce; it isnít even a mid tower. Rather, their focus for the Hadron is on the burgeoning small form factor category, a segment thatís been growing in leaps and bounds as of late.
Some may be wondering why EVGA, a company that has continually focused on offering the best of the best would try their hand at an ITX chassis while the Cooler Masters, NZXTs and Corsairs of this world are saying that bigger is better for gamers. Itís precisely because of this stance by other companies that the Hadron was created. With it, EVGA is deftly avoiding a product category thatís so full of competitors, true differentiation is next to impossible.
The Hadronís mini ITX slant actually meshes perfectly with some of EVGAís latest components as well. Like many other manufacturers, they have launched an overclocker friendly, fully-featured Z87 mini ITX board called the Stinger. A few years ago, no one would have thought these small motherboards would make capable platforms but with gamers slowly looking for more compact, lifestyle-centric form factors, this could be a perfect move for EVGA.
At first glance the Hadron Airís asking price of $189 is quite expensive considering other mini ITX chassis like the BitFenix Prodigy go for nearly $100 less. However, EVGA has included a high efficiency 80Plus Gold certified 500W power supply which takes up a good portion of that premium. Thereís even a Hadron Hydro which, as its name implies, incorporates space for a water cooling setup.
This may be EVGAís first outing into an area theyíre not familiar with but the Hadron is absolutely stunning to look at. Its lines are clean with a Lucite-like front fascia with a well-placed button thatís supported by a u-shaped extrusion equipped with a vibration dampening strip, creating an industrial design masterpiece.
The Hadronís side is equipped with a large acrylic window that has been integrated with laser-like precision. Meanwhile, the caseís top houses a perforated panel which hides a pair of 120mm fans.
One of the most amazing aspects of this design is its size. At about 30cm or 12Ē high and just 7Ē wide, it may be the smallest gamer-centric case currently available and it doesnít sacrifice much in the way of functionality either.
Flipping the whole affair around, the Hadronís other side houses another ventilation area (without fans this time, though it is used for intake purposes), a pair of USB 3.0 connectors and headphone / mic ports.
Thereís also a cleverly-implemented drive area which is compatible with slot-loading DVD / Blu-Ray drives. This does mean youíll need to leave sufficient space next to the Hadron for access but itís still better than marring that wonderful faÁade.
EVGAís Hadron doesnít have a unique-looking backside but there are the usual dual expansion slots and an opening for the motherboardís I/O panel. Another interesting aspect of this area is the compact size of the power supply, which not only saved vertical space but also shows why EVGA decided to pre-install one: these server-size units are hard to find and typically quite expensive.
One thing you wonít notice is additional ventilation areas here since the Hadron works with a very simple lower intake / high exhaust design and additional fan mounts arenít possible. There are two water cooling grommets but theyíre mostly for show in the non-Hydro version since thereís absolutely no space to mount a radiator.
From an internal perspective, small and compact are the words of the day. There really isnít all that much room to maneuver within the Hadron but we canít expect all that much since this is a mini ITX chassis. With that being said, EVGA has provided room for 10.5Ē graphics cards (11Ē GPUs wonít fit), two hard drives or SSDs via tool-less drive caddies and barely enough space for some tower-style CPU coolers.
Unfortunately, there are some slight missteps here as well like an unsightly 24-pin motherboard cable that uses literally see-through sleeving, a lack of cable routing options and a number of other things.
To see our full review of the new Hadron, please watch the video above.
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