Raidmax Vampire Case Review

hornybluecow - 2013-10-02 19:03:25 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: hornybluecow   
Reviewed on: November 7, 2013
Price: $129.99

Raidmax Vampire Introduction:

Today we are taking a look at one of Raidmax's newest chassis in its ever expanding lineup. Raidmax was founded in 1988 with the mission of providing innovative design, excellent performance, and quality products. Its biggest market is gamers that are on a budget, but will not compromise for quality. The Vampire chassis itself falls under the top tier and one of the more expensive chassis Raidmax has to offer. This of course comes with the goal in mind to bring the quality with a low price tag.

During the early years of my computer obsession, the Raidmax Scorpio chassis was everything I wanted and idolized anyone who owned one. While to this day I have never been able to get my hands on one, I have owned my share of chassis created or influenced by Raidmax. Raidmax does not only specialize in chassis, but a wide range of case accessories, along with power supplies, and it's about time for Raidmax to bring another innovative design to the market. Let us take a closer look.

Raidmax Vampire Closer Look:

This time around I am going to try something a little different by jumping right into the juicy part of the review, rather than talk about the box it comes in. Once the packaging is removed and the chassis is revealed, you can see that the Vampire isn't like anything else on the market. The front has five 5.25" expansion bays along with a 200mm fan covering the lower half. The materiel itself is a mix of plastic and off-black rubberized paint along with angled edges to give it that unique look. On the back of the chassis is supplied what should be standard for a full tower. These items include a 140mm fan, ten PCIe expansion slots, and spacing for a bottom mounted power supply. Moving on, the left panel includes a large tinted window with slits to mount up to two 120mm fans on the window; it came as a bit of a surprise, considering very few companies lately have been releasing chassis and options to mount fans on the side panels. Once you flip the chassis around, you can see a clean design brought out by the black paint and front panel adding the third dimensional feel. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the Vampire chassis has a few hidden gems, which become more present after the initial glance. It not only contains all the I/O buttons, but an assortment of other features like a 2.5" hot swap bay, fan controller, and hidden USB and audio ports. The real prize comes when two screws are removed holding the top panel on, which was very simple to remove. Pulling the panel off reveals support for a 240/280mm radiator, two 120/140mm fans, or one 200mm fan. The panel itself acts as a large fan filter and a unique way to hide LED fans, if installed, to give it a nice glowing effect. By default no fans are included on the top, but for anyone who wants to light up the chassis with good airflow, this is the way to do it.

 

 

The bottom of this chassis isn't anything to get excited over, but has some redeeming qualities. Once flipped over the Vampire is held up by four little feet; in fact they are large enough to handle a chassis this size, just small in comparison to the chassis. Under the power supply mount, Raidmax included a detachable fan filter to keep all the dust from entering. Until now I did not realize the importance of having a filter over the power supply. I recently replaced my friend's power supply because of dust build up; it's rare, but the power supply can die or at least break the fan from an unchecked clog. If you happen to have a shorter power supply and are in need of a bit of extra airflow, a 120/140m fan mount has you covered. In all likelihood, even with a shorter power supply, the cables end up blocking this extra fan mount from my experience.

Raidmax Vampire Closer Look:

The front panel, like all other chassis, is detachable, but some are easier than others. This time around it was a bit scary to remove. Originally I gave up during my first round of photographs, but later returned once everything was completed in case I broke the front completely. The panel is held on by plastic pins that are common in so many chassis today. It's honestly my least favorite method and Cooler Master has shown us it's possible to break the norm once in a while with its creative clip design. Anyways, like almost all of these type of push pins, you have to squeeze and then push the pin back out of the hole. Once complete you must try to get the rest out before the others snap back into place. I was able to only get the bottom four before giving up and pulling the cover off with force. Underneath is nothing exciting and lucky for the users, a 200mm blue LED fan is already included. Unless you are just dying to see what's underneath for yourself or need to replace the fan, I suggest avoiding this exercise. It's also worth noting the front acts as a fan filter with the mesh, but isn't really a good design, since the mesh does not come out. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting back on track, the top portion of the chassis has most of the Vampire's goodies. The top front has a large power button on the left and a small reset button on the right, while the middle has each of its I/O ports initially covered by rubber caps to keep dust out and give it a more unified look. On the left near the power button are two USB 2.0 ports, the right holding two USB 3.0 ports, while the middle houses a mic and headphone jack. It's also nice to see Raidmax taking care of wire management even with the bulky USB 3.0 cable. Next up on the right side is the fan controller, which works but feels very cheaply made. I was able to get the buttons stuck more than once and the little fan speed slider just felt like it was one push away from breaking off. Overall it does it's job as a fan controller, but do not expect it to last forever. Last up, on the left side (window side) is a 2.5" hot swap bay. The bay itself is built well enough; I was able to slide an SSD in without much of an issue and it came out with a slight tug.

 

 

 

Inside one of the hard drive bays was a white box containing all the screws, along with some wire management accessories. Normally the inclusion of zip ties is enough, but Raidmax went a bit further and put in four Velcro ties for the wires that you may need to undue once in a while. This is great for someone like me, who constantly changes everything but the motherboard and power supply every few months. The major reason I upgrade less and less each year is because of how much I hate redoing all the wires and cutting all the zip ties. The rest is standard: a simple manual and a bunch of screws. This isn't anything to write home about so let's move on.

 

Okay, I tried to hold back long enough to say some good things about this chassis, but now I have to speak my mind. Raidmax made a huge mistake and it's one of my pet peeves; that is, do not provide false advertising. If you check out the website or box you will see a nice Photoshopped image of a glowing blue chassis. This lead me to believe before I even opened the box I was getting a chassis that had some sort of blue effect across the window panel or maybe even a blue tinted window. This is not the case and in fact the only blue you will receive is a dim blue light from the front 200mm fan. The chassis does not have any other blue lights or fans in it! The box itself, shown below, has a bit of under glow to the chassis, but on the side has the same image from the website. Raidmax really had something going for it and potential to light up the silver plastic; even a blue tinted window would be okay. In fact if you Google "Raidmax Vampire" I guarantee a few pictures of a blue glowing chassis.

Now I have that out of the way, let's quickly talk about the one thing that is truly blue. The fan itself has the blue LED built in; either you have blue lights or the fan is not on. The LED themselves are very dim and not much to look at. Like I said before, this was a huge potential for Raidmax and was blown by skipping a feature it's already trying to sell on its own website. If you are willing to go the extra mile, it's possible to install more fans and LED lights yourself, but I wish it was included.

 

 

Raidmax Vampire Closer Look:

Removing the side panels wasn't Raidmax's best design. Similar to the Fractal Design ARC XL, it is very unintuitive. Each panel is removed by a thumb screw on top and bottom, and once removed, the panel slides out. That is, it does in a perfect world. This time around, instead of having handles, you either have to use your palm and push the panel off or pull the top corner out, then use that as a makeshift handle. A simple solution would be to add a handles or a notch, and maybe a revision will come around at some point. Inside you can see seven 3.5" bays along with five 5.25" bays using a tool-less design. The chassis itself is fairly large and in fact is able to house motherboards all way the up to SSI EEB specification, which is something not many companies think about including. That being said, you can imagine the space available for the PCI expansion slots with 13" (330mm) to contain the larger video cards on the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each hard drive bay is made of hard plastic and mounts standard 3.5" drives along with SSDs. Unlike the 5.25" bays and many other full size chassis, this is where the tool-less design stops. Each drive most be screwed in and all the necessary parts are included. Tool-less designs generally are a nice gesture, but when a chassis does not include it or chooses only to partly use this feature, it's not particularly upsetting, but it's worth noting only part of the chassis is tool-less. The bays themselves are standard enough; you push both sides together and pull. In doing so the plastic bay slides right out, while installing is simply doing it in reverse. The tool-less feature for each 5.25" bay is alright at best. This time around Raidmax has made its own design, which is more like a slider. Once the drive is in place and you push forwards on the slider in the middle, the pins push out and lock into the drive's screw holes. It works alright, but nothing amazing.

 

 

Here I am going to talk about some nitpicks and flaws I found in this chassis. It's unusual for me to point so many things out at one given time, but I felt it's necessary for the consumer to know what they are buying for $130. Starting from left to left - first is the loud rear fan. I'm not sure if it was just a defect or the standard cheap fan. Next up are fan mounts for the window. I've seen many different variations of methods for mounting fans, but these are something to be concerned about. Each corner is a square, which is not the best design choice and I think this can lead to cracking the plastic as pressure is applied. The ideal solution would have rubber mounts and maybe this will also be in a revision down the road.

 

 

If you are worried about wire management, Raidmax has you covered. The back has roughly an inch of space to work with, which is great considering not everyone has a modular power supply and the wires have to go somewhere. This is a common complaint I have with chassis, but this is a redeeming feature in a chassis that isn't looking very good. In the end, I was able to push all the wires in the back without any real troubles.

 

The top allows for installation of either two 120 or 140mm fans as explained before. It also allows for installation of radiators for water cooling support, like the Corsair H100i pictured below. Installing it was easy enough and cleared the VRM heat sinks just fine. However, using a 280mm radiator may cause problems, as it was already a tight squeeze once everything is installed and a few reports on the Web state the H110 (280mm) will not fit. I cannot confirm this, but because of the squeeze already mentioned, I'm not surprised. It is indeed a large chassis, but a lot of it is not modular, so most if not all options for advanced water cooling are not possible without modding.

 

Finally, the computer is assembled and you can see how everything fits in the chassis. It, however, has run into a few snags along the way. Mainly the 8-pin CPU cable has no opening behind the motherboad tray to route the cable around the back into the top left corner. This forced me to place it under the video card and route it up that way since the cable wasn't long enough to go around. It's possible with an extension cable or a different power supply you can make it around, or come through the center above the CPU cooler; but it wasn't an option for me. In any case, this is unacceptable for this tier of chassis. It's a full tower and not very cheap, so I can't see why Raidmax didn't think to punch another hole out for the cable to go around the back and come out right where the connector should be. Otherwise it was roomy enough to put my hand in while assembling and the spacing in the back was great for hiding the unused cables.

 

Raidmax Vampire: Specifications

Case Type
Full Tower
Dimension
590(L) X 250(W) X 580(H) mm (9.1 x 22.5 x 21.7 inch)
Side Panel
Transparent Window
Color
Exterior & Interior : Black
Cooling System
Front (intake) :
1x 200 mm Blue LED Fan (included)
Side (intake / exhaust) :
2x 120 mm Fan (optional)
Back (exhaust) :
1x 140 mm (included)
Top (exhaust) :
2 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm or 1 x 200mm fan (optional)
Bottom (intake) :
None
Material
Metal / Plastic
Drive Bays
Accessible : 5 x 5.25’’
Hidden : 7 x 3.5’’
Expansion Slots
10
Motherboards
Micro-ATX,ATX,SSICEB,SSIEEB,MINI ATX,FLEX ATX
I/O Ports
2 X USB3.0 / 2 X USB2.0 / 2 x AUDIO
PSU
Standard ATX PSU (optional)
LCS Compatibly
Limited; Up to 280mm Slim Radiator
Other
CPU cooler height limitation: 160mm
VGA length limitation: 330 mm

 

Raidmax Vampire: Features

 

 

All information courtesy of Raidmax @ raidmax.com/chassis/vampire.html

Raidmax Vampire Testing:

Testing a chassis requires the computer to stay at idle and load for one hour. Doing so will give you an idea of what your computer may be like under stress. Normally your computer will not be running this hot, but we do not all live in cold weather or do similar things. Therefore, a full stress test can give people the idea of what it can handle and whether or not heat gets trapped over time. The case is left with stock features to give you an idea of the temperatures without the need for extra fans. It's almost guaranteed to have a slight drop in temperature when more fans are added, but that will not be covered unless noted. I will be using Prime95 "small FFTs" for the CPU load and 3Dmark Vantage "Extreme preset" for GPU for one hour. After an hour the temperatures are recorded using HWMonitor in Celsius (°C).

Setup:

Compared Cases:

 

 

The Vampire preformed great in all three categories, which surprised me a bit on the CPU chart considering only one fan in the rear is included. Normally one fan exhaust tends to lead to higher temps as hot air rises and needs venting out fairly fast. I think having a 200mm fan in front helps bring the fresh air in and creates a bit of positive air pressure to force air out every corner. The video card also had it good, since it was able to get fresh air from the opening on the window and the 200mm fan directly adjacent. Speaking of which, this chassis is an excellent candidate for SLI or Crossfire considering the option to vent fresh air directly over the video cards. If you happen to have a dual fan-style heat sink, you can also flip the fans around and create an exhaust port. Overall I am pleased with the temps using what came with the chassis, and the potential to lower the temps with more fans is a plus.

Raidmax Vampire: Conclusion

Let us recap my reasoning and scoring method before diving into my final words. First I look at what the company is saying it offers. For example, say the company states the case supports large / long graphic cards or ten quiet fans. In this example, I examine what is advertised versus what is actually offered. Most of this becomes uncovered as I take pictures to document the product. If the company does not stay true to its word, then it loses points because no one ever wants to be sold on false advertisement. Next I look at what the product is marketed for and put it into perspective. An example of this could be trying to overclock a CPU in a Mini-ITX case and expecting a low temperature. This would contradict its target market and something I try to catch so it does not affect the score. The last bit is my own interjection. What could the case offer in its price range, and what do other companies offer. This category may include an extra fan, cable management, different color paint, or support for larger video cards. This list is endless so let's move on to the conclusion.

Raidmax has taken me on a roller coaster of ups and downs with a few issues that put me off from time to time. Before I say my final words, let me explain the pros and cons. Starting with the negative and working to what the chassis has to redeem itself, I'm going to start with one of my larger complaints of false advertising. This I cannot let go; I have been duped in the past and more than once. It's that feeling when you get a gift for Christmas and realize your parents meant well, but got you the off brand, cheaper version of your favorite toy. Raidmax intentionally, or unintentionally, has played a role in creating a false image of a chassis with a nice blue glow to it. It's simply not what is pictured, not even close in my mind. As explained before, both the website and box show a nice glowing blue chassis and what you receive is a semi-blue fan in the front; nothing else. Raidmax could resolve this by either adding a blue LED fan in the rear or just changing the image.

Next is a mixture of a few things. Number one issue is price, which ties into the rest. The fan controller feels cheap and really an afterthought, along with the missing motherboard cut out for the CPU connector. For that I really cannot see the chassis worth the asking price. Having cables going across a motherboard is forgivable sometimes, but this isn't one of them.

With all that negative energy out of the way and after walking away for a bit, I can talk about a few good things this chassis has to offer. The frame is well built and solid metal; this is great because all too often cheap metal means it will easily bend and dent from moving it around. I did not have this issue; in fact my back hurt a little after a few lifts because I wasn't prepared for the weight.

Next up are two things any large chassis should offer, which is support for large video cards and aftermarket CPU coolers. This is a given and any full tower chassis that does not offer these accommodations shoulnd't be sold. The Vampire's 160mm CPU cooler clearance is enough for some of the best on the market, and while the video card length is shorter than a few other chassis', I cannot see ever needing 13" of space.

Last up is internal cables. I would like to say, "good job Raidmax for including extra long cables just in case someone is using an E-ATX motherboard!" I was able to connect everything with room to spare and that makes me a happy camper.

With all that said and done, I feel the Raidmax Vampire has a lot of things going for it, but ultimately is held back by an unjustified price tag and some design issues. After spending ridiculous amounts of time with this chassis, I grew a bond to the look and style. I secretly hope Raidmax would switch out my chassis while I was sleeping so I could say only the good things, but alas it's still the same chassis with the same flaws. If you can find this for under $100 on sale and my gripes do not bother you, it's worth a second look. As it stands, however, the Raidmax Vampire falls short of my expectations.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: