Xigmatek Gigas mATX Case Review

BluePanda - 2012-08-05 16:40:37 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: August 7, 2012
Price: $149.99

Introduction:

It isn't very often that here at OCC we take a look at something not designed to blow your gaming world mind. Instead of the usual, or even unusual, gaming cases, today we'll be taking a looking at a small form factor chassis designed with a little style to house your smaller components. Xigmatek has some interesting coolers, PSUs and a few chassis on the market. The Xigmatek Elysium was a beast of a case we had our hands on just a month or two back. Some of you may have had some experience with the older small cube cases from Aopen, or even some of the newer ones from Lian Li that are also quite tiny; the Xigmatek Gigas is something to compete in that category.

The Xigmatek Gigas, "the codex of gaming," is a micro-ATX small form factor chassis designed to handle quite the compact build. Supporting only micro-ATX and ITX boards, you likely won't be trying to fit your OC'd gaming rig inside; rather perhaps a nice little HTPC to encourage you out of your room once in awhile. However, it was designed to handle full length (up to 320mm) graphics cards – so you may be gaming yet. It is rather small in nature and aimed at those who want something a little stylish (either black or silver aluminum) that also isn't the center of attention in the room. Let's find out just how small this case really is, and just how far we can push its limits as I attempt to feed my usual review rig to its tiny innards.

 

Closer Look:

So when the Gigas showed up on my door, I wasn't quite sure what it was exactly. Like I've mentioned, review chassis are usually ginormous or normal sized, but rarely this. I recognized the Xigmatek logo but was wondering who had used the shrink ray on the box…it wasn't long before I realized it was the real size and brought it in the house for further inspection.

The front of the box has an isometric view of the silver Gigas (not sure if the black packaging is different – probably not) in the lower left corner and a strange lens flare-like object in the upper right corner. The lower right appears to be some ice formation while the upper left repeats the image. The center reads Gigas with a little blurb below talking about the case. The back of the box has about the same, actually exact same, look. The pictures below are actually all four sides of the box – no duplicates. The side of the box gives some features and specifications, which can be found on the respective page of this review. A large red dot also indicates which version of the case I've gotten – the "Gigas Silver."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening up the box, it's slightly different packing then you might normally see with a normal sized case. The usual foam caps are intact, just a bit smaller and covered in cardboard around the outer edges. Really it is about the same packing, just in a smaller box; you still get your plastic bag to protect the case from what have you and a nice small box on top with all your screws – or in my case an empty box with everything spilled about the box…

 

 

Out of the box and all the packing the Gigas doesn't look half bad in silver. It feels quite nicely built, and I'm actually a bit excited to start the challenge of a clown car packing with my hardware. It is a little heavier than expected for an all-aluminum mini case but you shouldn't strain yourself – it's no CM Storm Trooper. The only thing I do notice first is a slight color mismatch between the case and the external drive bay cover – the silvers just aren't quite the same…it's a little disappointing.

Closer Look:

Before we see exactly what will fit in this little shoe box case, I thought we'd take a close up look outside and inside of the Gigas. For the outside, the front of the case shows off a Xigmatek 'X' for ventilation as the bottom half of the case. The upper portion allows for two external drives and has a little square plate of I/O options. I'm not sure I really like the "face" of this case. I find it a little ugly, but we'll leave that as my opinion. The back of the case has two rear mounted 120mm fans with large holes for airflow. The cutout for the PSU is shown on the upper right – it seems so small. The motherboard actually mounts to the bottom of the case; the four PCIe external slots are shown vertical in the lower right corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the case are simply the sides of the case. There are no "side" panels as the case opens from the top. The right side is rather plain while the left side has two large sections of holes for added airflow to the tiny case. The bottom of the case has four pre-mounted feet, with an unusual golden trim. Why it used the gold color here I don’t know, nor do I like it.

 

 

 

The center of the top aluminum plate has a small etched Xigmatek logo right in the center. In my opinion Xigmatek should have just made the logo bigger if it was going to put one on at all – I keep thinking there's a smudge of some sort on the top, but I can’t seem to clean it off (oh yeah, because it's the logo). The top of the case comes off with six Phillips head screws, which seems a little excessive for the size of the panel, but I guess it will prevent any vibrations. The screws each have small plastic washers on them to keep you from scratching up the top of the case too much. Underneath the panel, which already feels like nails on a chalkboard when picking it up, has a little foam strip to again reduce vibration and noise.

 

 

 

Back to the front of the case, the front isolated I/O panel houses a larger power button and slightly smaller reset button sit next to each other. Two LED lights, one to show HDD activity and another to show power, are subtly to the right of the reset. A headphone jack and mic jack take the middle of the square panel. The last part of the square panel is home to two USB 2.0 ports and a single blue colored USB 3.0 port. Overall this square panel looks a little crooked but I think it may just be an optical illusion from the rounded edge of the case – I hope.

The most irritating part of the externals on this case is, again, the color mismatch with the external drive bay cover. It is aluminum too so I'm not sure why the color is so different – seems like it should just be scrap from the original body; there's no reason for the difference in color. The lighting may not exactly show it so well in this particular picture, but when you have it, you won't stop seeing it. The bottom of the front, which you've already seen, sports the Xigmatek "X" for airflow cooling, but I'm still having doubts on the amount of airflow through this little case with this being one of few openings.

 

 

Overall I don't really like the appearance of the outside of the case. It's kind of just a really big, ugly, aluminum shoe box for my hardware. The flashy aluminum structure doesn't sell it to me with the chunky stature. I don't like the external bay access really – maybe I'd like it better on the side? I prefer a cleaner look than this and for a small build this just doesn't do it for me. Let's see if the insides can sell it to me a little better. Mind you, you may already be in love with this case – everyone has a different opinion on looks.

Closer Look:

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…

Specifications:

Product Name:
Gigas
Product Number:
CCC-MD26TA-U01(Black)/CCC-MD26TA-U02(Silver)
Dimensions:
278(W) x 322(H) x 396(D) mm
5.25” Drive Bays:
2
3.5” Drive Bays:
6 (on 2 HDD cages w/anti-vibration rubbers)
2.5” Drive Bays
2 (on 2 HDD cages)
Expansion Slots:
4
Motherboard Support:
MicroATX, ITX
Power Supply:
ATX/EPS (300mm free depth)
I/O Panel:
Power button, Reset button, USB3.0 x 1, USB2.0 x 2, HD Audio in/out x 1

 

Features:

 

Cooling:

 

 

Information courtesy of: http://www.xigmatek.com/product.php?productid=134

 

 

Testing :

Testing the Xigmatek Gigas was a bit different than testing the other cases I've reviewed. It still required me pushing my hardware to heat things up and as usual, testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Load was simulated by running Prime95's small FFTs and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. Unfortunately, this motherboard does not have a chipset sensor for temperature so it is left out for this review. Also, since I haven't run this board for benchmarks before I also tossed the exact same setup in my Corsair 600T for some comparison temps so you would have some idea as how it compared to a mid-tower chassis. It is important to note that each case was tested with its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essentially the Gigas performed nearly identical to a mid-tower chassis with comprable temps all the way through. Surprisingly enough the little holes throughout the case seemed to do something right. The GPU temperatures were actually a couple degrees lower, but then again, the 600T is known for being a bit on the warmer side. I am happy to see the equal cooling scores for this case. Even though it's a bit smaller it can still perform pretty well; being a large heatsink itself helps a bit too, I'm sure. Overall it does all right.

Conclusion:

Unfortunately this case didn't really sell itself to me. The construction was there for a nice build, but the appearance and small flaws stacked to make this case not a top choice of mine. Perhaps the black version of the case could rub me a different direction but I was overall not infatuated with the case. The mismatched coloring on the DVD drive cover really irked me as it's the quickest way to make a case go from looking great to looking cheap; just matching materials or at least tones is a must in any "higher" cost case. The squatty fat shape with a cluttered face didn't stand out to me as classy, gamer, or any real defined group for a case; it just looked messy to me – again that's an opinion.

With all opinions aside, and looking at the numbers themselves, the case does well. Despite the seemingly lack of air holes for airflow the case actually cools quite well; after all it is a massive heatsink itself and I have the feeling the small size makes it somewhat of a wind tunnel inside. The case is built rather well, and as long as you can puzzle the pieces back together it holds up to a rather decent build; a silver for the silver.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: