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Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review

Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review

Manufacturer: Streacom
UK Price (as reviewed): £199.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $272 (ex TAX)

One of the most desirable areas of enthusiast computing is premium HTPCs. For many of us, an HTPC is something knocked together with cheap components with just enough power to deal with the likes of Netflix, HD video playback or run a server/NAS. However, if you're prepared to splash a little more cash, there are some stunning cases out there that would stand out in any swanky TV cabinet.

Streacom's cases don't demand a huge premium, if at all, over the likes of those offered by SilverStone and Lian Li, but have a few nifty features. Some of them offer a particularly interesting one in that you don't need a CPU cooler - they're entirely passively cooled, dealing with the heat your CPU generates using a DIY heatpipe kit, which connects the CPU to the case, with the latter acting as a giant heatsink.

It's a fascinating concept and one that's only been attempted by only a handful of case manufacturers. There are some fairly obvious limitations, though, such as a 65W recommended TDP (95W max) for the ST-FC5S EVO WS that we're looking at. So if you're looking for a cool way to cool your overclocked Core i5-3570K this won't be it, but for your average LGA1155 Pentium or Core i3 it should be ample.

Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review
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The ST-FC5S EVO WS is one of the larger cases offered by Streacom and is made of solid sand-blasted aluminium - 5.2kg of the stuff, and is able to house mini-ITX or micro-ATX motherboards. It's a very slim case, and your motherboard choice will dictate the number of hard disks and SSDs you can install - more on that in a minute. Looks-wise, it is akin to a server rack, and its two USB 3 ports are oddly located at the side of the case in amongst a long line of heatsink fins. However, the front is nothing short of sublime with an extreme minimalist finish with just a power button and optional IR remote slot. Build quality is epic, with the joins almost impossibly tight and machining equally exacting.

Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review
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We were just as impressed with the packaging and instructions. Everything was packed in high-density foam and the accessory pack with the DIY heatpipe cooler looks absolutely awesome. The entire case dismantles by removing a few screws, providing easy access to the interior, which is devoid of any drive bays or plastic trimmings.

Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review
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Hard disks and SSDs use a mass of simple screw holes to secure the drives from beneath, with some rubber pads supplied to provide anti-vibration. As they share the same space, you need to mix and match your storage. A mini-ITX system will allow a maximum of three 3.5in hard disks. There are four SSD mounts too but these sit in the same spaces as two of the 3.5in mounts.

Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review
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However, seeing as you can mount an SSD anywhere using velcro, if you need three 3.5in mounts with an SSD for the OS then it's a one minute job to mount your SSD elsewhere, for example on top of one of the hard disks. Going for a micro-ATX system will limit your 3.5in mounts to just one, but retaining three 2.5in mounts. Our sample doesn't offer an optical drive mount, but for an additional £10 or so, you can buy a model that does, although it's slot-loading only.

Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review Streacom ST-FC5S EVO WS Review
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Another oddity is the inclusion of USB 3 ports, when Streacom hasn't included the usual USB 3 motherboard header cable. Instead there's just a blank USB 3 header behind the ports on the case. They offer a male to male header cable separately for around £7, but it seems a little harsh not to include it. Thankfully the ports aren't redundant as they're wired up to USB 2 headers - it's a slightly bizarre situation, but it might have something to do with the fact that Evo stands for evolution, in this case over the previous model, which was USB 2-only, with USB 3 added at a later date.