RAIDMAX Orion Case Review
Reviewed by: BluePanda
Reviewed on: October 25, 2012
Raidmax is a company founded in 1988 determined to meet user requirements with innovative designs and excellent performance with quality products. Today they are really known for making PSUs and chassis, but they also have some coolers under development. Many of you may know Raidmax from an earlier development, the Scorpio chassis (go Google it). It had an alien-like eye on the front panel, which although comical now, was a hit in the business then; my old friend had one of these until he finally upgraded just about a year ago. Ugly these days, but I guess it was cool back in '03.
Anyway, Raidmax may have another Scorpio genius in the form of today's standards. The Raidmax Orion, which has a bit of the CM HAF 932-esk look to it, follows in the hits, at least with today's standards. It's black on the outside with blue accenting fans. The switches for the external bays are backed in blue as well. Inside is a little something different – and something I have wanted to do – the motherboard tray is actually in blue, different from the rest of the black innards. The last time we looked at a $99 case it was the CM Storm Scout; let's hope the Orion is ready to compete. Today we'll take a look at the Orion from Raidmax and see what this blue machine has to offer for the blue in BluePanda.
It has been a while since I've had anything from Raidmax, and actually I guess it would be the first item from Raidmax I've owned (though I did have my friends Scorpio case for a bit after he retired it). The box is rather large, as the prize inside you will see later isn't quite so big. The front has an image of the case in working order with the glowing blue LED fans in the front and looks tall standing there. The background emits an outer-space-like feel to go along with the Orion name – and perhaps if they are as clever as one would hope, the stars are a part of the Orion's Cluster. Either way – it's obvious the case is known as the Orion and has USB 3.0, a fan controller, and a stickle HDD cage from the front of the box.
The back of the box gets us to the details, quickly showing off all the features inside and out. I don't want to spoil them all here but I'll point out a few of the good ones: pre-routed cable management, tool-free installation design, side panel handles, and water cooling support. We'll get to how I felt about some of these later when we open it up, as well as the rest of the features shown here. The two sides of the box were nearly identical. Both show the basic specifications (on the specs page) and either a PLU code or compliant images. My only frustration at this point was the fact that I could only actually use one of the box handles (you'll see why in the next shots).
The box opened up nicely with no problems – I couldn't imagine having trouble cutting open the tape on top of the box, but I'm sure some will…Either way, like I mentioned before, the contents seem a bit small/empty compared to the size of the box. Peering in over the edge you'll struggle to see the top of the case in this first picture (it's really in there I promise). I guess you can chock this one up to the packing company and getting it to your doorstep in once piece, but you may be a bit shocked when the contents are a little small (though good things do come in small packages – we hope).
Puling it out, the case is actually encapsulated in a nice fabric Raidmax-logoed bag and two cardboard padded caps. The caps have specifically glued-in foam inserts for this case. However, the two cardboard caps are solid on the edges, thus preventing you to actually push in the handle holds on the external box – at least without feeling like you might break something. The packing appears to be really nice and if your delivery driver decides he wants to see how far he can throw it – well, you still might get it in one piece. Props to the packing Raidmax!
Okay, enough about the box – I didn't even let you have the fun of seeing the case on the last page. Well let's dive in and look at the case already. The sides have a nice symmetrical look with the exception of the grill for an additional fan on the side of the case. You can already see the blue bleeding through the holes – I'm very excited to see inside (we'll have to wait). From this angle you can see the ridges from the front of the case sticking out almost like little shelves or ladders, as well as the control knobs up top on the front I/O panel. Let's keep looking around…
The front of the case itself lets some of the innards out with blue accents around the release clips for the external bay covers. Raidmax is in all capitals on the front, but isn't overdone in a way that screams at you from far across the room. I'm still not a big fan that it's even there – but I guess that's just a bit of the "wanna customize" in me. I don't like logos and branding on things; but that's beyond the point of this review…the front of the case is in other views clean and simple. The back of the case follows to give another "pop" of color in the PCI-E slot covers. I like the touch of color and it really adds to the overall appeal of this case. A 120mm black fan can be seen from the back here along with three water support ports to the right of the PCI-E slots. Here you can already see the issue I ran into later with the handles on the side panels; the handles don't really fold flat if you have cables from video cards in the way could you close the other with any type of tubing through the ports. It's probably a result of a bunch of good ideas thrown to make one idea that doesn't muster up to a solid idea anymore, but I don't think it ends the case entirely.
Getting a closer look at the front external bay covers I again want to emphasize the blue accents. I wouldn't say the light baby blue here is exactly on the inside but I can't whine too much about it as I know how hard it is to get anything painted plastic to match any painted metal – it just doesn't even work; car manufactures still struggle with this. Getting past this, the little black release lever just pushes to the left to release the panel. Pulling all three out reveals your classy rotate to remove plates that once removed don't go back in. I always found these fun to twist and turn waiting to see when it might come out like a jack in the box, but after so many times – it's no longer exciting and I wish manufactures would just ship cases without them. If they were there for support – then what was supposed to happen when I couldn't put the piece back after getting rid of my optical drive? Meh, it's one of those age old manufacturing problems "we've always done it this way" evoking little change. No matter --
Taking a look up on the top side of the case you can get a look at the front I/O panel and the essential control panel of any case. Here we've got a power button, reset button, respective LEDs, two USB 2.0 ports, a single USB 3.0 port, audio jacks, and knobs for controlling fan LED brightness and fan speed. It isn't anything super fancy, but as always it's always nice to have these things at your fingertips. I will say at this point, the knobs don't feel like the most substantial things in the world – I do worry that they may wear over time, but I don't think I will play with them enough to find out. The back side of this has a little area that may have once been thought to be a handle – though Raidmax covers their ground by not calling this an actual handle; I don't think it would hold under a full case load.
We're back to looking at those side panel handles. However, they are pretty nifty allowing you to swing around the panels like weapons when you first take them off but, I really see no true purpose to having handles here. Really, who carries their side panels around separately from the case? Most of us take them off to put things in or take things out and then put the side panels back on – the need for handles is beyond me. Nonetheless we have handles… that block video card ports and water tubing ports; this just might be a mistake.
Overall it's not a bad looking case from the outside as we've seen so far. There may be a thing or two out of place(such as the side panel handles and plastic fan controller knobs), but what can you do? The case is only 100 bucks so you can't expect the world series on such a low budget; however, if you have paid any attention at all, this might be a heck of a deal once you get it all together.
The thumb screws on the side panels are plastic thumb screws which made me smile a little less, but I was really just happy to see thumb screws rather than simply case screws. I don't have to find my screw driver just yet! You can still see them in the pictures – I threaded them back in to avoid misplacing them. With the side panels off we finally get that vibrant blue we've, or at last I've, been looking forward to. It's quite blue and it seems like there is a lot more of it than there really is. Only the motherboard tray is actually painted this blue color. If I were to mod a case I'd likely paint the entire frame (mostly because it would be easiest) but just the tray is quite interesting as well. It looks really nice at first glance, and really overall. The back side of the motherboard tray is where your smile might turn upside down again. Unfortunately, all these pass-throughs that look like routing for great cable management are just a mirage. There's little room back here. The fact that the side panel bows out a bit isn't enough to route all your cables this way. Cram as you like – but I promise they won't all fit. Just stick with routing your 24-pin, 4/8-pin and video card connectors on the front side. You can cram what you want through to the back to smash into the drive bays for a cleaner look – but as you will see later – this lack of room on the back side really limits the neatness of a cable system. However, I will give Raidmax props again for including some Velcro ties in place to route the front I/O panel items discreetly, but look a little closer and you'll notice the cables are routed over two of the grommet holes to the backside – cables through here are not fun.
The external drive bay holders are quite nifty. A simple switch from open to close and your drive is held in place. You get two different positions to lock it in, so depending on length and hole placement you are good to go. There are three – one for each slot, the picture shows only two as I pulled one away to play with it. The HDD bays below are another fun story. The trays pull out easily and flex nicely to add a drive but still require that caveman screw to hold things in place. I joke for fun, but in seriousness, I'm always disappointed when I have to go dig out screws for things. The fewer the screws I need, while maintaining a sound build, the happier I am. Anyway, they are neat little trays that clip in and out so once you put them in place – they will stay unless you choose otherwise.
Looking at the HDD bays again, you can see that it's really two stacks of drives here; three on the bottom and two above that. Your two SSDs will have to be caged up in the smaller cage (with four annoying screws to remove – unless you noticed the four holes cutout in the drive bay trays!) – these HDD bays allow a lot for you to decide. First you choose, SSD or HDD and then three drive bays or five. The top two drive bays are easily removed by pressing up on the small lever and pulling forward. The two drives slide out allowing you to use some really long video cards or just increase air flow if you are like me and only tend to have one or two drives in your build. It does pull all the way out and if you take out that short SSD cage that no one likes anyway – you can mount the two drives in parallel, one right next to the other! I ran out of time to mount it up this way for you, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how this would work out. You still get your extra room up top and all five drives in the case as well. Good thinking!
I'm impressed with the number of fans included in this $100 case. Usually with that cost-effective chassis comes a cut somewhere – for the Orion it wasn't the fans. Earlier you saw the 120mm LED fan in the front of the case; well, there are two more on the back of the case as well – one in the rear (120mm black fan) and another up top (also a 120mm black fan). They all seem reasonably quiet, even with them cranked up on the fan controller. They'd certainly be easy to replace with whatever suits your fancy – but they seem to be quite nice fans to start. What will count is how well it cools, and with three fans in this little guy, I think it's safe to bet that this will cool well. Let's hope I don't have to eat my words in testing!
Looking at the bottom of the case you can see the four risers/feet that pull the case up off the floor. It adds to the airflow for your PSU and with the added dust filter helps you keep your rig clean too. You can also see the four screws that hold the smaller SSD cage poking through the bottom of the case. I really never liked these little additions and if I were really to use this case I'd probably take it out permanently. However, if I were to use it, I'd probably try to run the screws the other way. It's quite a tight fit in there already…Plus if you were to add an SSD later in your build, who wants to take their video card and possibly CPU cooler out to do that? Not me…
The fun part is always seeing what bonus goodies come with the case; sometimes things are a little more fun just because of the silly things that are included. The Orion comes with a neat little plastic zipper bag that can be opened and resealed again and again. It makes a nice place to store all the extra screws and that manual you may need later down the road. Not all of you have the container full of miscellaneous screws to put your things together – so knowing where the ones you got are is a good start. Anyway, the bag is neat…But there are some neat things inside it as well. There are a few plastic cable nubs that allow you to help route cables inside the case, a couple Velcro wraps to tie up that unsightly mess in your case, and the necessary screws to get everything in its proper place.
Getting things in this case wasn't too bad. Usually cases of this size and/or price seem to have multiple faults along the way that make every step of getting it together a complete and utter pain – not this one. Looking at it all together it looks like a bit of a tight fit but it really does all fit. Cable management took a little more effort than usual perhaps, but that's true of any case that you can't really fit much behind the motherboard. The blue mobo tray really accents any cables hanging about and encourages a little nudge here and there to make it look a bit better. The easy-to-move HDD cage made it easy to gain a little extra handling room in getting things to fit and since I didn't have to screw it back in place it wasn't one of those "crap" moments when I was done building and realized I needed to put it back in. Overall the build went pretty smooth – all I could ask for is a little more room on the back side of the mobo tray. Do note that the CPU cooler OCC uses barely fits in this case. If you're planning on using a tower cooler be sure to get some measurements on it before trying to cram everything into the case!
External Drive Bays:
3 x 5.25"
Internal Drive Bays:
5 x 3.5" HDD / 2.5" SSD Racks
2 x 2.5" SSD
10" x 12" Max Size: ATX/Micro ATX
Standard ATX 7 Slots
2 x USB 2.0 / 2 x AUDIO / 1 x USB 3.0
511(L) x 192(W) x 502(H) mm
1 x 120mm LED fan (FRONT fan can install up to 2 fans)
1 x 120mm or 1 x 180mm LED fan (optional)
1 x 120mm Black fan
1 x 120mm Black fan (TOP can install up to 2 fans)
- Top fan can install up to two fans.
- Stylish cut-out design of side panel gives better ventilation.
- Front fan can install up to two fans. One is for LED fan an another one is optional.
- Easy to install HDD
- 3.5" HDD racks also available for 2.5" HDD or SSD installation.
- SSD Drive Cage.
- Slide-out side panel handle.
- Cable management: new roomy cable management design
- Top I/O ports with extra USB 3.0 x 1 fan control switch, & LED light adjuster. Fan control switch can control up to three fans.
- Novel smart one click bay cover for 5.25" bay.
- Tool-free installation design.
- Pre-routed cable management
- Stackable modular design HDD cage allows more room for installing a bigger PSU and sufficient depth of chassis for installing long cards.
- Water cooling support.
- Bottom PSU ventilation holes and removable dust filter are not only for better cooling and easy cleaning but for high performance and long life of PSU.
All information is courtesy of: http://www.raidmax.com/chassis/orion.html
Testing the Raidmax Orion required pushing my hardware to heat things up! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Recently, OCC upgraded to the ForceGT 240GB SSD from Corsair and has removed the HDD temps from case reviews. Thus, HDTune is no longer a part of the case benchmarking process.
Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs along with 3Dmark Vantage looping for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.
- Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz 100 x 44
- CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 991996 Redline PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 8 GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drive: Corsair ForceGT 240GB
- Optical Drive: N/A
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit SP1
- Corsair 600T
- Corsair 650D
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I
- COUGAR Evolution
- COUGAR Solution
- Thermaltake Commander MS-I
- Bitfenix Raider
- Corsair 300R
- Corsair 550D
- Enermax Fulmo GT
- Cooler Master HAF XM
- Corsair C70
- XION XON-980
- CM Storm Scout 2
The temperatures under load were rather impressive! Though the same can't be said for the idle temps, the temperatures were right in the middle of the large pack of cases – so in reality there's no complaint. The CPU and chipset load temperatures being so low are likely due to the three fans in the case. The CPU cooler gets the help from the rear 120mm fan as well as the top 120mm fan getting rid of heat. Overall it performed quite well.
In the end, this case really gave a good race for its competition. For the price range on the market, cases at $100 and lower are often not the craziest of cases to play with. After having my hands on some of the upper market cases it's sometimes hard to remember some of the perks you don’t always get with the "normal" budget cases. I have rather high expectations after all the cases that have come to my house and to a certain degree I was rather impressed with this Orion case from Raidmax. I will say, though it's a bit out of timing, that the CM Storm Scout 2 I had here just a couple weeks ago was a much more impressive $100 case. The Raidmax Orion doesn't really fall too far behind the Scout 2, with only space and overall quality left to be desired, it's still a catch. The temperature testing proved its worth, though it's hard to say it wasn't just the three fans included to make such impression – but nonetheless, that is what it comes with. It's nice to know what comes to the door is a cooling beast to begin with; thus, there are no worries in ordering a case this size with proven results. It doesn't act as an oven like some of the smaller cases have, I hate to always refer to it as it is a case I greatly disliked…the Outlaw from Bitfenix…it was the true definition of hardware bake.
Overall, I really did enjoy this case. I liked the blue motherboard tray (I've always been a fan of blue in a case) and all the other blue accents tossed around to make a matched theme. The case was easy to build in, regardless of the lack of space on the rear of the motherboard tray. I won't say that I liked the lack of space, but it didn't end it for me with this case. However, the handles on the side panels and cheap plastic fixtures on the front I/O panel did kick this one down the ladder a couple rungs for me. Other than spinning in circles with the a panel in each hand to feel like a helicopter or carrying them and feeling like you are carrying a brief case – the purpose of the handles is just pointless. The handles get in the way of cables or ports making it hard to "close" them and just add to something plastic hanging off the back of the case. Good idea – poor execution. The cheapness of the front I/O panel makes me fear turning up and down my fans; I really don't want the knob to fall off and leave my fans stuck. Just something slightly more substantial would be greatly appreciated, even at the loss of the fan controller (amazing you can buy a fan controller separately!). But when you look past a couple knocking issues it isn't too bad of a case. The Raidmax Orion is a great case for a build on a budget that still wants to have a little pop of color for fun – neat little case.
- Blue accenting
- Cooling under load is great
- Side panel handles are pointless and in the way
- Cheap feel to different parts of the case