Xigmatek Gigas mATX Case ReviewBluePanda - August 7, 2012
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Taking out the six screws and pulling away the top plate is all there is to getting into this case. The opening in the top is all you get to work with here; I hope your hands are small like mine, or you'll have to have more patience than I do. Dropping screws and using a screw driver in basically a shoe box is not exactly what I would call fun. There are a bunch of single screw items in place (HDD cage, external bay holder, and center support) that are easily removed to allow you to build the case from the ground up. It really doesn't look like there is much room for anything in here, but we will see; however Nox seems to think it is his new house.
The design layout of this case was at least planned out; I don't know that I would have arranged it exactly the same but it works. The center bar acts as added support for the case as well as a structure to raise the internal HDD cages up off the floor of the case and to support the external drive bays. The pieces somewhat interconnect with slotted holes that allow you to slide them into place and lock them in with a screw. It pretty much only goes together one way, so if you pull everything out (which you will need to) you'll be able to piece it back together.
The motherboard mounts to the bottom of the case, but it will take a little effort. The tolerances on the case require you to remove the first PCIe cover plate to remove tension so you can put in your motherboard I/O plate – at least in this build I had to. There are also some pre-threaded bases on the bottom of the case, but do not mistake these for built in standoffs; the case comes with a bag of them, so make sure you use them, or your board will not quite fit. Since this case only supports mATX and ITX boards I went with an ITX board as the mouse pad size still makes me giggle. This should also give you a pretty good reference for size.
The usual barrage of screws and adapters were included with this case. Along with the standard manual came a single fan controller that allows you to control up to three fans. It's nothing really to special and you’ll have to mount it in a PCIe slot, but every little bit counts. That is until you realize that the controller slot is designed to sit behind a motherboard edge and when the ITX board doesn’t quite fill that space near the PCIe slots, well it'll just have to hang there with a single screw – just don't push it in.
Back to piecing the case together, I really thought working in our old home theater case, the Silverstone LC13B-E, was a real feat – the Gigas is not even quite half the size and a bit more challenging. It's definitely designed for the build it and leave it style rig, which I don’t mind too much. There's no window so there's no need to be too organized with the cabling – though I must admit, it did look like a spaghetti mess by the time I got everything in place. I did get the CPU cooler mounted to the board before I mounted it and connected all the I/O cables I could before putting all the pieces back in. The video card in here shows off the roominess as well as dwarfing the size of that poor ITX board.
The PSU mounts up above as a balancing act from a little support off the side of the case – once you get two screws in you'll be okay, but it wasn’t exactly easy to put in. The frustration built a bit when I somehow had to plug in all the cables and attempt to keep them out of the CPU cooler fan. It wasn’t overly difficult but the biggest problem seemed to be keeping cables away from both the case fans as well as the CPU fan. There aren't any grills, so you'll either have to get some or be cautious of your placement.
Aside: If you look close enough you'll notice I used the stock Intel cooler for this build – and not because the Noctua NH-U12P I always bench with does not fit. The ITX board layout would require removing a fan, turning the cooler the opposite way of the air flow, and sucking in heat from the video card. I wanted to be sure I got the 7970 in there for size reference as well as some nice results for you on temperatures.
Probably the most frustrating part of this build was attempting to mount my SSD. In the previous shots I showed the drive cage with a standard HDD mounted to give a size reference and show how it works out. When mounting the SSD I ran into the issue of it wanting to fit the "wrong" way. Using my Corsair SSD adapter plate the SSD wanted to mount with the ports facing the side of the case – where there isn’t any room for power or SATA cables. Turning it around in the Corsair tray meant that some PSU connectors won’t fit, due to the lack of gap, and right angled SATA cables couldn't cut it either. Fortunately Xigmatek was smarter than me here as after mounting the drive the "wrong" way I realized that you can actually mount not one, but two SSDs on the HDD racks without any hassle at all. Both the lower and upper drive cages have mounting points for SSDs and while they are a bit hard to get to (since they end up buried below everything) they do the job wonderfully.
All together and the case powers up just fine – a great relief as getting back to the pins on the board would be a near complete tear down. This case isn't one to be torn apart multiple times nor for those constantly changing out hardware. Don't get me wrong, it can be done, but you are going to have to have some patience. It's not super hard to work in, you just need to plan out a little where things go and when to plug things in before it's too late. Overall I'd have to say it's pretty well built, and for the price I'd expect a solid build; the little things are a bit annoying (the tolerance on the motherboard I/O plate hole and the odd inclusion of the fan controller) but don't take this case down. This one honestly comes down to personal needs in size, and personal preferences in looks…