Ever since I started building my current rig, I’ve heard about this case. The main reason I didn’t buy one back then was because of the price. It cost around 6 times more than the Cooler Master Elite 120 or 130 case. I wasn’t that committed in the ITX format and wasn’t sure of the form factor, so I decided to play midrange.
At first I bought the CM Elite 120 simply because the 130 hasn’t been released yet. It was a very capable ITX form factor case, supporting full size ATX power supply and full length powerful graphic card. It does lack the space for full fledge CPU heatsink or AIO water cooler. The CM GeminII M4 low profile CPU heatsink that I’ve got for the case was pretty lackluster and I barely could overclock my Intel i5 3570k past 4GHz without hitting 80ºC.
Later on I’ve try upgrading the fan to Corsair SP120, and reversing the fan acting it as pull instead of push. I’ve also replaced all the case fan to the SP120, trying to draw as much air as possible from the front. I manage to reduce the temperature a bit and gain additional 200MHz overclock. However, at 4.2GHz, it is till in the 80ºC range.
January this year I’ve decided to take the plunge to try All-In-One water cooling. In order to fit that, I replaced the case with Elite 130 and opted the cheap CM Seidon 120V. I was waiting for the CM Nepton 120, but it wasn’t widely available at the time of purchase and it is very much more expensive than the Seidon.
The CM Seidon 120V successfully lowered the temperature by a large margin, I am able to game at 4.4GHz and CPU temperature never exceed 80ºC. With the change of PSU to Silverstone SX600-G (SFX format instead of ATX), the only thing that I couldn’t fit into a Ncase M1 would be the Asus 280X, which is a bit too wide for the case.
In July, with the production of the version 4 of Ncase M1, I decided to order one online from the official site. I shouldn’t have opted for the express delivery since I wasn’t in a hurry to assemble the PC. The case arrived a few days after the delivery started, without any GST or custom tax. After that I went and get the Nvidia Geforce 980Ti in August. With the final component in my hand, I can start to assemble everything.
The installation isn’t that hard, but it isn’t straight forward either since it doesn’t comes with a user manual. I really need to figure out what those screws are for, and how to attach the 3.5” HDD and 2.5” SSD to the case. You probably need a lot of guide if it’s the first time building a PC with this case.
The Ncase M1 can be configured in a number of ways. Initially what I had in mine was to put both 120mm fans on side panel as intake, with one attached to the Seidon 120V radiator. The 3.5” HDD will be placed on the bottom of the case below the GPU. Since I got 2 fans pushing air in, I installed the PSU with the air intake from outside (the other side panel).
I tucked the extra cable in between the PSU and GPU, as well as the empty ODD space. I didn’t opt for the ODD hole because I don’t intent to use one. I’ve placed the SSD inside the case, so there’s some extra space there. I didn’t reattach the CPU cooler, so lazy to do that. Thankfully I can route the tube around with the previous orientation.
I fired up the PC, played a few round of BF4 and found out that I wasn’t impressed with the temperature of my GPU and HDD. The latter was hovering at 60ºC, a lot higher than what I’m comfortable with. It was due to the HDD and GPU are one or two millimetres apart. So the 2nd reconfiguration started.
The HDD is then put on the included bracket and on the side panel in place of one of the 120mm fan that wasn’t attached to the radiator. I fear there’s not much airflow near the HDD, so I’ve reversed the PSU with it acting as exhaust. I’ve placed two 120mm fan on the bottom of the GPU, I heard it is counter productive to put it there, but extra fan give me some extra peace of mind. The re-configuration reduced the GPU temperature and kept the HDD temperature at a normal temperature.
However things doesn’t look good for the PSU with the fan ramping up while playing game. That noisy 80mm fan now need to work extra hard with using hot air to cool the PSU components. Problem were solved by rotating back the PSU, and I can’t feel if the case got hotter without the PSU acting as extra exhaust.
Now something about the outlook of the case. It is one sleek case, and with the silver coloured panels, it resemble something that Apple produce. iMac wannabe, I know. It is also really small, not Mac Mini small, but incredibly small considering what kind of performance it is capable of. It’s small enough that I’m considering lugging it for work. We’ll see how that work out.
There’s only two USB 3.0 ports on the front panel, but since the case isn’t that big, it’s no biggie to reach for the ports at the back. There’s a power button which also act as a HDD activity indicator. One thing missing will be the reset button, so I need to long press the power button if I want to force shut-down the PC in case it freeze, which is frequently with my dirty upgraded Windows 10.
I’m currently torn between going full underwater or back to full air cooled. Ideally it’ll be best to go full water cooled with custom loop, but I’m not intrigue by the cost and maintenance work that involve by it. More over with liquid in it, I can’t bring it into the cabin of an international flight. Then again, how often do I need to bring it into the cabin. Going back air cooled CPU and stock reference cooler for GPU would limit their full overclocking potential.
Anyhow, I will be using this case for a long time with its acceptable limitation and limitless configuration in a very small footprint.