The Top Tech of 2013 - Cases and CoolingEVGA Hadron Air
EVGA Hadron Air Review
One of the latest highlights of last year was a tiny little speck of a case that came from EVGA of all companies. What made the case standout was quite simply how astonishingly small yet powerful it was. While we've seen plenty of impressive performance mini-ITX cases over the last 12 months or so nothing has come close to offering what the Hadron Air does.
With dimensions of 169 x 308 x 305 (W x D x H) it is dwarfed by the likes of the BitFenix Prodigy (250 x 359 x 404mm) yet can still pack in the same core performance components - it can even squeeze in a slot loading optical drive.
The secret to this tiny case is its custom power supply which sits in the bottom of the case and essentially mirrors the dimensions of a high-end graphics card, eliminating the need for a boxy ATX or SFX supply.
The case is expensive and obviously has a few limitations but if you're simply after a tiny powerful gaming PC it is a standout product.
Corsair Carbide Air 540
Corsair Carbide Air 540 Review
There have been a host of cracking large cases this year, and at just about every price range. However few stood out quite so much as the Carbide Air 540. This case uses a split design where the motherboard is kept seperate to the drives and power supply, making for a much shorter but fatter, almost cube-shaped case.
The design doesn't actually offer a huge improvement over conventional case designs, whether for usability or performance, but a solid feature set and appealing price tag means it is at least as competitive. Combined with the fun of a unique design it really stood out as a great bit of out the box thinking by Corsair... or should that be in the box.
Fractal Arc Mini R2
Fractal Arc Mini R2 Review
While the EVGA Hadron Air and Corsair Carbide 540 both offered a new take on case design, Fractal's Arc Mini R2 simply does the basics really well.
This micro-ATX case is elegantly simple in design yet offers a host of features, including loads of water-cooling options, USB 3.0 support, fan controls, and it performs really well too. Add in a fantastic price and you've got a real winner.
Silverstone Tundra TD02
Silverstone Tundra TD02 Review
2013 was a relatively quiet year for the cooling market. Mayhem continued to churn out amazing looking coolants, we've seen some amazing custom waterblocks in our forums and professional waterblocks have revolutionised the AMD 290X but overall its been a steady year. Apart from the wonderful Tundra range of all-in-one liquid coolers from Silverstone, that is.
What sets both the Silverstone Tundra TD02 and TD01 apart from the masses is their lovely design and high build-quality. The waterblock/pump looks like it's almost completely made from aluminium while the radiator has an elegant band of the material wrapped round it. It may sound like subtle, and even frivolous, stuff but it makes a real difference overall. Combined with competitive pricing and particularly good performance from the TD02 and you've got a great product.