All black inside and out, magnetic dustfilters everywhere, 3 PWM fans standard
The brand name Supermicro is slowly getting better known amongst the casual consumers of computer hardware. For a couple of years now they have been launching overclocking and gaming Intel motherboards for enthusiasts (after being a company that was only known for of the excellent server and workstation products). They are certainly getting a better and better grip on those motherboards. Not so much in the quality department, as that was always great with server quality components, but more in the looks department. The designers are getting better and better at that. And now Supermicro takes on yet another new path. A mid-tower gaming chassis by the name of "Gaming S5". I have one here and I can't wait to start reviewing this baby.
Build quality and finish
Let’s dive straight into it. First up the build quality and finish of the chassis. You can see Supermicro has been observing the consumer grade market for a while now. I am pretty sure 3 years ago this chassis would have been grey on the inside at least and would quite possibly be a server chassis with a consumer outside skin. But not this case. It is glorious black on the inside and outside. Hooray! It is made out of steel and I have been searching but I cannot find any sharp edges or sticking out metal pieces or screws. The removable front end is made from a glossy red plastic with black brushed aluminum accents, the accents cover up most of it so the red becomes more of an accent colour and not so much BAM in your face. The front grill is also made of plastic. The HDD cages are also made of steel and the trays in them are made of black plastic. The chassis is not wobbly or anything like that. It is a sturdy chassis with a good finish on it. There is actually a panel behind the HDD cages with holes to put the sata cables through. This is one reason for the extra sturdiness of the case. It will make the case strong even when some cages are removed. Nothing much amiss here. Let's move on.
In this section I discuss what of how much you can fit and where . The chassis is designed for full ATX and mATX motherboards. The holes on the motherboard tray are actually marked so you can see which holes to put stand-offs on for what form factor motherboard. I always like that feature on a case . The case has 7 PCI slots in the back. Plenty for a mid-tower. It can fit quite long graphics cards. 320mm when the 2,5 inch SSD/HDD cage is fitted and 420mm when removed. I am not sure I have ever used such an enormous graphics card. Plenty I would say. There are 3 cages present. Two for 2,5 inch HDDs (which can fit 3 each) and one for 2,5 inch HDDs or SSDs (which can fit 4 of them). Above the disc drive cages there is a cage that fits 2 5,25 inch hardware such as a DVD/Blu-ray player or a fan controller. The time is definitely over for this size of hardware. Two of them is enough. In
case you don't want to use them but have HDDs left you can even fit 3,5 and 2,5 inch drives in the 5,25 bays. If you still don't have enough room for your disc drives then, well, I think you should be buying a mid-tower chassis . In the top there is more room than for just fans. You can definitely fit a 240mm closed loop watercooler radiator and fans there. For custom watercooling you would need a very, very thin radiator. Using a 30mm slimline and some fans in the top will probably end up blocking or even touching the motherboard components such as memory and cpu cooler. On the bottom you can fit a regular ATX form factor power supply. It will fit quite a large one. And the chassis has room for a total of 9 *120mm fans fitted at the same time. I don't think anyone would complain about the "room" in this case. Like I said before, if you need more room than this you are looking at the wrong type of chassis size.
Cooling performance / possibilities
For a mid-tower chassis I think this example right here has many possibilities. The chassis is very clearly designed as an "open" gaming chassis with room for loads of fans to keep all hardware nice and cool. Not so much a quiet home computer. There is loads of mesh on almost all sides of the chassis. The 46 page online manual says it fits 9 120mm fans at the same time. With some work I think it will fit 10 (2 on the bottom of the case instead of 1). Like I wrote in the previous paragraph it can fit a 240mm closed loop radiator in the top (or at least the manual says so). I am pretty sure a 280mm also will fit and by looking at the fan hole mountings I think with a bit of effort a triple fan 360mm closed loop will also fit. Of course this means the top 5,25 inch bay will be useless. But hey, you have to make choices while building a gaming pc The case already comes with 3*120mm fans and all 3 of them are PWM fans. I like this. Supermicro is not bothering with the past anymore. PWM is where it is at and they are going that route. Two front fans come standard and 1 rear fan. You can put an extra 3 in the top, 2 on the side panel and one (or two) on the bottom of the case. The case might also be used for internal custom watercooling, but it is not designed for it. The room in the top is not deep enough for my liking and it would mean having to take out all drive cages to be able to fit a 240mm somewhere. I think this chassis is not meant for
that and I wouldn't recommend it. But it is great for an air-cooled setup and those using mainstream close loop watercoolers.
Case design / looks
This is always the hardest thing to talk about. So subjective to someone's taste. This case is not a pinnacle of computing hardware art in terms of its design. Especially door panels and inside are quite common. The font end is that specific look you have to be looking for. The finish is definitely ok. I personally quite like the grill of the front and the way the top and bottom dust filters are magnetic for easy removal/cleaning and hide any screws of fans you might have installed up there. I think for the price it is being sold for it is a very decent looking case. Not too loud and quite clean. There is one thing I am not getting about the design. The front uses an X-shaped mesh on the grill, but the rear uses a hexagon theme in the grills and so does the top. And then the side panel uses circles in the spots where you can add two fans. One would think you would use the same theme throughout the entire chassis. It strikes me as odd even though it is not a complete deal breaker. It is not like you notice it from a mile away.
Ease of use / how easy is it to build a system in this chassis?
The chassis is quite modular in design and uses your average tricks and then some. All HDD and SSD trays are tool-free. So you can put in your disc drives without having to screw them down (unless you drag it to LAN parties of course). Also the 5,25 inch bays have a tool-less clip design to mount your Blu-ray player or fan controller. The front will come off by pulling it off, again no screws needed. And the power button, reset button, USB3.0 ports etc are not fitted to the front panel. So pull the front off and they stay in place. Very easy. All dust filters come off without using screws. The motherboard tray has a big opening in it behind the CPU area of the motherboard so you can install and remove CPU coolers without having to remove the entire motherboard. The motherboard tray has markings on it which holes you need to put a standoff in for your motherboard form factor of choice. And the HDD cages can be unscrewed using thumbscrews and are not permanently secured using nails. What I personally love about this case is a feature a few other cases make use of as well and that is that when you want to remove a side panel and unscrew the rear two thumbscrews, the thumbscrews hang into the rear of the panel and won't fall out completely. This way you cannot lose your thumbscrews for when you want to refit the panel. I like smart little things like this. And they make it definitely easier to build a system, especially for the novice builder that doesn't do this every other
week All things considered this is a very friendly case to build a system in for a user. Supermicro really gave their all on this part of the design. If I was to put under pressure and forced to name one less ideal part of this case in terms of ease of use it would be that I would personally like a tad more room behind the motherboard tray for cables. Certain parts of this area can become very crowded when utilizing all the HDDs and GPUs and fans etc. It is something almost all case manufacturers should thing more about. Give a chassis just that bit more width for cables.
Well the door panels and top are clean so you can work with those easily. The HDD cages are removable which is also a pro in this area. The front is quite pre-designed, you won't easily make something different out of it apart from either respraying it in another desired colour or taking it off completely and making another one from scratch. It is not THE chassis you should buy for a modding project, but then again it is not unmoddable either. Kind of in the middle here.
Even though part of them have been mentioned earlier in this review I always feel like summing things up. The features of a case can make or break a potential buy. It is one of those things a manufacturer can set itself apart with. If there is one thing this case has going for it, it is dust filters. Dust filters everywhere... And boy do I like dustfilters. The front has one, the entire top has one and the entire underside has one. And they are all magnetic for easy removal / cleaning. Especially for people that have their system on the floor or under a desk or people with domestic pets dust filters are a must. Instead of clogging your entire system with dust you just take off your dust filters every month, vacuum them and put them back and your system will stay clean and healthy. What else do we have. The HDD cages and 5,25 inch cage being tool-less. The rear thumbscrews that won't fall out. The removable HDD cages. Stock coming with 3 fans and all of them being PWM ones. Loads of grommets for cable holes. The PSU area has soft
dampeners to rest the PSU on when mounting it. So vibration friendly. The rear exhaust fan has a grill on it to keep you from putting fingers in there or cables. Quite oldschool, but since it is also completely black it fits with the theme and works. Room in the top for close loop watercooling solutions. A nice list for a case in this pricing segment.
Now I have to talk about this for a second. I initially THOUGHT it had another thing going for it. I removed the front of the case and I saw the inside grill over the two 120mm fans was removable. I was all happy and rejoicing as I thought this was the first case in this price segment that used a drop in frame for the front fans. Only to find out when removing the front fans that the fan-screws we bolted though the front grill, then through the case and then into the fans. Even though the grill was separately fitted with 4 screws. And I was like NOOOOOOOOOO. So close Supermicro, so close. And such an easy fix. See in the current situation if you want to swap your front fans for something else or one goes bust for whatever reason you need to take the entire front and grill off. Which is ok, BUT putting it back together means some fiddling with holding the fan from the side in front of the HDD cage trying to align the screw holes of the fans with the case. IF the fans were only fitted to its grill and the grill to the case this would be so easy. Remove the grill and the fans come with it out the front, you remove the fans from the grill, put back whatever you wish (all outside of the case) and just screw the grill back in and voila. No fiddling, just plug in the connectors and away you go. Please Supermicro consider this for a revamp of this case in the future. Such a user friendly feature.
This chassis right here goes for a retail price of USD $99,99 on Newegg. This is a very crowded segment with killing competition. Cases such as the Thermaltake V51, Fractal Design Define R4, Corsair 400R and NZXT Phantom 410 are all fighting over customers here. They all have different things going for them and especially in terms of design enormous differences. I think in terms of price this is where this chassis belongs. This is the competition it should be facing. The price definitely reflects the case your are looking at.
So where does this leave this chassis overall? I think this case is definitely one that could work in the gaming segment. It is very easy to build in, is well built, has a lot of space, good cooling options and is packed with dust filters. I am personally very happy with the top layout and look. Also the modular inside (cages) are a big plus to me. This together with the dust filters make this a case I would recommend to someone building a system. Are there any points where Supermicro could make this case appeal more to the end user? Well design and looks is a thing that is very hard to say anything about, so I am not going that route. What I do think they could do is add a side window instead of the extra ventilation holes, this speaks more to gamers as they like to show off their gaming hardware. It would also solve the hexagon vs circle theme conflict. The other thing I would personally do is change
the red on the case to a grey. The Supermicro OCE motherboards do not have a black and red theme, plus a grey and black theme fit everyone's system.
But with that said, I still would recommend this case to someone looking for a chassis in this segment and price range. You can't really go wrong with it for a decent gaming build.