Raidmax Wind Storm Review

RHKCommander959 - 2008-12-05 17:16:16 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: January 5, 2009
Price: 89.99

Introduction:

There is a stigma that to be an enthusiast in the computer community, one must spend a lot of money. However, many companies are keen to offer products for the extreme enthusiast as well as the beginning do-it-yourselfer, thus enters the Raidmax company with their Wind Storm case.

Raidmax is a company that manufactures computer cases, power supplies, and heat sinks. They were founded in 2000, with headquarters in California.

There are two versions of the Wind Storm – one is themed around silence with the side panels being padded with foam, and is red – while the other is the opposite with an acrylic window, more fans, and blue color to contrast its sibling. The one being tested today is the blue variant, which focuses on the aspect of cooling.

Closer Look:

The package arrived; the contents are double protected by the plain-standard brown shipping box as well as the case's own box. The Wind Storm case is protected by a glossy box covered with vivid images of one of the possible models, highlighting the features that each case has and each shares. The box is held together with tape and staples, and received minimal damage during shipment.

 

 

 

 

 

The case itself is held in place by two large foam blocks, these particular ones are much more sturdy than some of the other cases I have reviewed – which would break easily under pressure. A plastic bag sheaths the case to keep it from getting scratches and dirt, protecting the case nicely.

 

 

The case comes with a white box containing a small manual, and plenty of hardware to get a system installed! The side panels are held in place with two thumb-screws each.

 

 

Let’s crack this case open and see how windy it is!

Closer Look:

Now with the case exposed, let's take a look. The front panel features five 5.25” drive bays with mesh panels, one of which also has a 5.25” to 3.5” converter for floppy drives – a very nice feature to find. The front panel lies under the drive bays and has two USB, an eSATA, and an audio in/out for a headphone and microphone. Beneath these is the 120mm blue-LED front fan with mesh cover. The side panel features the other two blue-LED 120mm fans, and an acrylic window which is protected inside and out by two sheets of plastic, serving to protect the panel from incurring scratches during hardware installation. The acrylic is held in place by various bolts dotted along the side panel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opposite side panel features two areas with hexagonal mesh patterns, the smaller is for venting out the rear of the motherboard (an 80mm [10mm deep] fan may be installed here), and the larger is a passive vent for the hard drive array. The rear of the chassis features a 120mm black case fan and two grommets for water-cooling externally, also an additional vent near the expansion slots. There are also two punch-outs for an HDMI and VGA output between the rear fan and vent.

 

 

 

 

The top panel features the remaining two 120mm black case fans with rounded mesh, and power switch and LED, activity LED, and reset switch. The top of the drive bays are perforated to help venting.

 

 

The bottom of the case features three very sturdy feeling plastic feet, the front is a single large foot with two rubber strips for traction, and the rear has two feet which also gain some traction with their unique design. The bottom has two vents, one for the power supply and one which can hold a 120mm /140mm fan, or also possibly a radiator.

 

 

Overall this case seems to be very feature rich, and looks like it should do a good job at cooling any system installed within.

 

But let's take a look inside first.

Closer Look:

With the side panel removed, eyes are immediately drawn to the hard drive bay, and blue tool-free devices. Also readily visible is a tangle of cords hanging like vines in a jungle. Two clear 120mm blue-LED fans, both of which are four-pin with male and female connections, adorn the side panel. Both sides of the acrylic window are protected from scratches by sheets of plastic, and the panel is held in place by screws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seven expansion slots are tool free with blue rotating locking mechanisms that work by means of pressure – to open slot, push the blue arc in and rotate it. Closing the lock is much simpler with just rotating it back in place, and making sure the arch snaps back into place. The five 5.25” drive bays use a locking mechanism that is enabled by sliding the blue switch.

 

 

Surrounding the power supply area is an outline of foam to both absorb vibrations, but also to more firmly hold the power supply in place, and form a gasket to allow the power supply to more effectively vent. Underneath the power supply opening is a grill with four rubber dots which both help support the power supply’s weight, absorb vibration, and to allow any secondary or top mounted power supply fan to suck in fresh air from under the case if angled properly – which allows the power supply to operate more efficiently than if it were to pump in warmer case air. There are holes for either setup however. The drives are easily removed and enclosed in a special tray with four rubber grommets each which absorb any vibration from the drives, helping to provide silence and stability – the drives are also raised allowing heat to vent from the drives better, and are cooled by the front mounted clear 120mm blue-LED fan. At the bottom of the case is a black retention mechanism that can additionally fit up to 140mm fans, and some single 120mm radiators for water-cooling.

 

 

Included inside of the case is a 5.25” to 3.5”converter, so that one of the five bays can be used for a smaller drive, such as a floppy drive or card reader. The hard drive slots are simple, but effective. The silver tabs are squeezed together to remove the drive, and snap back into place when slid into the rack.

 

 

The front panel comes with the four standard wires: power button, power LED, hard drive LED, and reset button. The other connections are the front USB, and variable AC ’97 and HD Audio connections for front audio in/out. The cords are run through holes installed for easier wire management.

 

 

 

The black case fans are entirely absent of labels, and feature black stickers where labels would be found. The front fan is attached to a removable grill both of which are held in place by four screws. The clear fans also have the black stickers, but there are labels underneath of these, though fairly non-discreet, they look to be around 60cfm fans using 12V/0.22A, sleeve bearings.

 

 

 

The expansion slots can be used with the tool-free method, or used with screws for a more permanent installation, as the 5.25” bays tool-free system can be removed also and used with screws. Sitting next to the expansion slots are two grommets for water-cooling tubes, but they are too small and must be removed for tubing that is half-inch thick or thicker internally. The front mesh drive covers are a nice touch and help with airflow while looking snazzy. One is a two-stage cover that houses a 3.5” cover, for use in conjunction with the 5.25” to 3.5” converter.

 

 

Specifications:

Brand
Raidmax/Sigma
Model
Windstorm 301WBL
Style
ATX Mid Tower
Dimensions
520.7mm(L) x 203.2mm(W) x 452.1mm(H) (20.5" x 8" x 17.8")
Motherboard Compatibility
ATX/MicroATX
Power Supply Compatibility Standard ATX
Material Chassis: 1.0mm SECC; Front Panel: Plastic + meshed grill
External 5.25" Bays 4+1
Internal 5.25" Bays
0
External 3.5" Bays
1
Internal 3.5" Bays
5
Expansion slots
7
Cooling system
3x120mm Black Fans. 3x120mm Clear Blue-LED ( 1400rpm / 60cfm / 0.22A)
Front Panel
USB, Audio In/Out, eSATA

 

Features:

Testing:

Testing System:

Testing the Windstorm consists upon two internal environments – idle, and as fully stressed as can be. The CPU, video card’s GPU, hard drive sensor, and motherboard chipset temperatures are the main temperatures I measured. The case will be left idling under Windows Vista for the lowest possible temperatures, while Prime95, ATITool, and HDTune stress the system afterwards for the scenario of maximum heat output. The CPU fan is set to 100%, and video card fan is left to throttle on it’s own. The competition is the three-fanned Hiper Osiris, and three-fanned NZXT Zero 2, sporting room for seven fans. Also compared are the temperatures achieved with the system sitting out in the open.

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

The CPU temperatures are both disappointing; with idle being five degrees away from the second highest results. GPU temperatures redeem this case, idle falling into the mean, and load pulling ahead to first place. Hard drive and chipset temperatures both pull farther ahead than the competition. Perhaps the fan placement didn't favor the low profile Intel heat sink. The Wind Storm faired pretty well to the competition.

Conclusion

Overall this case looks great, isn’t too pricey, and keeps hardware running pretty cool. The six included fans perform decently, and aren’t too loud. The front panel isn’t very flashy, but still looks great and can easily be accentuated with fan controllers and other drives. Inside, there is much attention to the power supply, and cable management is a breeze. The tool-free design is a nice touch, and while the expansion slot mechanisms do not work smoothly they do work. The hard drive trays work perfectly, as do the drive bay mechanisms. The included feet are sturdy and unique. With the amount of fans included, and room for two more, the cooling is top notch - even the motherboard tray can support a small 80mm fan to exact the most cooling performance that this case could offer!

This is a great case for anyone who likes to show off the insides, keep their hardware cool, or even just keeping the wires tidy.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: