Xigmatek Elysium Case Review
Reviewed by: BluePanda
Reviewed on: December 21, 2011
All of you out there with your large egos are about to grow them even larger – if you thought you had the largest case on the market, you are wrong. Xigmatek’s Elysium is the largest case I’ve put my hands on; no innuendo meant there. Standing at almost 24.5 inches without the included casters, this case is really tall. Released earlier this year, the Elysium has a lot to offer including the space to hold even the largest boards – HPTX, XL-ATX, and all other standard smaller variants. I’d really like to see someone put a mini-ITX board in this case and not laugh.
Designed with intentions for water-cooling, there are 7 rear ports for water tubes and room for radiators up to 420 mm. In reality, you could probably put multiple radiators in here. With such a large amount of space to work with, let’s take a closer look at what Xigmatek has to offer with the Elysium.
When the box arrived, I could tell that even the delivery guy had trouble with it. Without any handles to pick it up, the box was laid on its side and pushed onto the porch. Once it was there, I too had an awkward time trying to carry it inside the house. I’m sure the neighbors got a good laugh watching me try to pick up this box that was half my size.
That aside, the front of the box displays a sort of mystical location with lots of glowing letters that spell out “Elysium”. The name itself reminds me of the grain fields of Elysium from the movie Gladiator, but alas, there's no Russell Crowe trapped inside the box. There is also text referring the super tower chassis as “The One and Only” alongside a large image of the case itself. The back follows the same glowing theme and provides 12 small pictures of the case’s features. Undoubtedly, the box is already leading to a beast within. The side of the box shows the same image of the case as the front of the box, though with some more information about its features. On the other side of the box, there images of the four styles available and a checked box indicating the one that is included. Options include black aluminum with or without the windowed panel, or silver aluminum with or without the window.
Opening the box – which comes up to about my waist – I find the case enclosed on its side, packed with the open cell foam that a lot of manufactures have turned to. Thankfully, it doesn’t break into little pieces when your cat finds it as his new play toy. The case is wrapped in a plastic bag to protect it from whatever might find its way into the box on the way to your door step.
While the box seems promising, let’s see what it looks like without the plastic bag and unveil its true identity.
Out of the box, we get our first look at the front of the case. Upon first impressions, it looks really tall and skinny, especially with the silver aluminum up the sides that make the case appear narrower than it actually is. Across the middle bay, ELYSIUM is written in all capital letters. To show power and HDD activity, two LED indicators are cut into the right aluminum strip. While pretty plain, I like it. The back side features 7 grommet holes for water cooling tubes, though you can also run whatever you like through them. It is comical to see a power supply hole at both the bottom and top of the case – it makes you double-take once or twice.
The side of the case has one of the largest windows I’ve ever seen on a case. Then again, this is one of the largest cases I’ve ever looked at. However, the large fan on the panel slightly takes away the fun of looking into the case – while the fan does blow right on the motherboard and CPU, it seems to make the window accentuate just the cables running through the case. Behind the motherboard is a plain panel with a hole for a 120/80 mm fan that would blow right onto the back of the CPU. This side looks really plain in comparison, but may fit someone’s taste. It is important to note that you'll need to find a fan thinner than standard to mount it on the back panel – 25mm and 38mm fans are too thick to have any clearance with the side panel closed.
Taking the panels off reveals the innards of the beast. Looking at 12 drive bays and 10 PCIe slots, it’s hard to imagine what kind of machine you could really house here. At first glance, there already looks to be a mess as a result of the two fan modules beside the drive bays near the top and bottom of case. You’d think these would have been better designed or at least be sleeved, since the window really shows off this area. I guess we’ll have to see how it looks after the build is complete. On the back side, you can see that the cable routing may have been a last thought, as they simply go from the top grommet and back into the case through the bottom grommet.
The back comes with a standard pre-mounted 120 mm fan. The size of the fan really gives you perspective on exactly how large the CPU cut-out hole in the motherboard tray really is. You’ll have near full access to the back of most boards – no more losing access to the back plate behind your motherboard anymore. To attach your drives, the case uses tool-less clips – they each have a nice Xigmatek “X” to rotate and clip onto whichever drive you install. For double the security, you can install a clip on each side of the drive. The X is pointy and a little hard to turn, though I think it just needs a little use to wear in. Each clip, so to speak, has two points to hold in both long and short bays, so even those with half-sized water bays will be in luck. In the worst case that you find these insecure, you can also simply pop these off and use some screws!
Taking a closer look at the fan modules from earlier, it seems they’ve already got a couple fans plugged into them. Luckily for you, the two can communicate with one another, so you’ll only need to provide power to one module. Strangely, that information isn’t provided in the instructions, so you might want to take some notes. Otherwise, the modules themselves aren’t very pretty, so I’m not sure why these couldn’t be on the other side of the case. I suppose you could move them if you really felt motivated.
The front I/O panel cables are about the same as any other case – you’ve got a SATA connector, HD Audio, power/reset switches, and a molex connector to power the hot swap bay (this feature is coming up). The only unusual thing is the two USB 3.0 connectors sitting in the mess. These don’t have the header for the motherboard, which means you’ll need to find a way to route these out the back to your motherboard if you want to use them.
With the side panel off, you can get a closer look at that side panel monstrous fan and how it just makes that window look even bigger. You can see the three bumps at the bottom of the panel – these are the key to getting this panel to close properly. These will later become your best friend or greatest enemy in getting things closed up – they are fairly tough to line up given the size and weight of the panels.
Mentioning the I/O panel, we’ll finally get a look at it. Most noticeable is a neat little door for the HDD swap, which works much like the door slot on your front door. Basically, you just push it down with the hard drive until it plugs right in. The SATA, 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, audio, and reset buttons are all hidden under a “dust-protecting” panel. It’s really just a little piece of plastic that slides up and down – this seems really nifty until you move it, at which point you begin to wish it just wasn’t there. In actual use, the panel was hard to move up or down, as one side was easy to move without the other. As a result, you just end up with a crooked cover and access to nothing. It’s not one-hand friendly so to speak.
A closer look at the front panel finds the nice and large XIGMATEK logo. The bolts on the aluminum strips give the case a slight industrial feel and break up the plain front. Pulling the front off reveals a couple more fans that blow directly across the HDD bays. They each have white LEDs, which should look pretty cool at night with the subtle mesh covering. Looking at the back of the panel, you won’t see much else aside from the filters for each bay cover. These can be a little hard to remove, so be careful!
The top mesh comes off with a little thinking. A small notch on the back of the front I/O panel can be unlocked and allow you to pull the entire mesh off. It might take a couple tries, but if you unlock it and slide the panel towards the rear of the case, it should easily come off. The mesh panel looks pretty cool with a honeycomb pattern and easy-to-rinse mesh.
The case comes with a little user’s manual, but I didn’t find it to useful as far as pulling things apart or putting things in. I think it’s just one of those required parts of any product. That aside, the case includes a bag of screws, a few zip ties, and four swivel wheels to push the beast around. I decided against putting the wheels on, since our hardwood floors aren’t exactly level and for the fact that you have to tear up the bottom of the current feet to put screws in for the wheels.
For such a massive case, it took a lot longer to install all of my hardware – it didn’t even look too pretty when I finished. The radiator ended up having to go on the top, since the fan on the side panel blocked the case from closing when the radiator fans were mounted. Otherwise, the hard drive wires didn’t look too pretty either, though there wasn’t anywhere else to put them. With the fan wires hanging from all over the place, this just wasn’t a clean build in my opinion – but one without many other options as to cable management. The USB 3.0 cables had to have been the worst to route. Beyond draping them across all other components, the best option was to reroute them out the back through the holes at the top – effectively using up one of the PCIe slot covers – and pushing them out the back to plug into the motherboard.
When the build was finished, I was surprised that although there was much space remaining in the case, it still looked cluttered with wasted space. Perhaps it just isn’t quite the right case for my particular hardware. I wish more of my hardware could have at least been shown off with the big window and I could have definitely dealt without all the cabling hassles. The motherboard connecter reached for me, but it was just barely long enough – I was disappointed to not see a 4 pin or an 8 pin extension included.
Like I mentioned, HDD installation looked a bit sloppy – the SATA cables had to go right out the back panel, just to come back in two slots over. They didn’t really want to bend that way, but we all know how to motivate non-cooperating cables, don’t we? Another key thing to note is that this case does not have any way to mount a 2.5" HDD or SSD – I had to lay it on top of one of my HDDs.
Below, I’ve taken a picture of the issue with the side panel fan hitting my radiator. I’ve got a modified ECO ALC radiator that has two fans rather than just one, though even removing one fan didn’t give me the clearance to close the panel. The red line shows the extent of where the fan reaches. I don’t think you could get an H60 – let alone an H80 – on the back of this case with the side panel fan on. My radiator ended up on the top panel and still worked, but it just wasn’t my first-choice location.
All powered up with everything working, the build started to look better – putting on the side panel really cleaned up the deal. I just didn’t like looking at the innards of this one for very long. It was just disappointing that it looked like it did, given the space available.
230 x 618 x 663 mm
5.25” External x12
10 slots, 440 mm free add-on card length
HPTX, XL-ATX, E-ATX, Micro ATX, ITX (with backside hole for CPU cooler)
Standard P/S2 ATX/EPS
Power on/off, USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x2, e-SATA x1, Audio in/out x1(HD Audio)
- Front Fan: 120 mm x 2 (included with white LEDs)
- Rear Fan: 140 mm or 120 mm (140 mm included)
- Side Fan: 200 mm (included with LEDs)
- Backside Mobo Fan: 120 mm
- Bottom Fan: 120/140 mm x2 or x3 (if PSU installed up top)
- Top Fan: 120/140 mm fan x2 or x3 (if PSU installed on bottom)
- Water Cooling supports 360/420 mm radiator and 7 inlet outlet holes in reverse of case
- CPU Cooler: 185 mm without side fan mounted
- CPU Cooler: 155 mm with side fan mounted
- Support for HPTX super big motherboards and 10 PCI slots for graphics cards
- Hot-swappable 2.5/3.5” SATA HDD docking on top panel
- Two USB 3.0 super speed ports on top panel with dust proof cover
- Both side screw-less ODD holders
- Dual PSU positioning possible, with top and bottom locations
- 360/420 mm water cooling radiator support
- 12 fully external 5.25” bays with anti-vibration rubbers (4 drives in 3 bays)
- Removable dust filters
All information courtesy of http://www.xigmatek.com/product.php?productid=122
Testing the Xigmatek Elysium 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. Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs, HD Tune, and 3Dmark Vantage 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: AMD Phenom II X3 720 @ 3.6 GHz
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE 990FXA-UD3
- Memory: 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 Redline
- Video Card: XFX 6970
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drives: SSD 2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 RAID 1
- Optical Drive: N/A
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit SP1
- NZXT Phantom Pink
- Antec 1100
- CM Storm Trooper
- BitFenix Outlaw
- NZXT Source 220
- NZXT Tempest 210
- Corsair Graphite Series 600T
- HAF 932 Black Edition
If nothing else, this case has some serious cooling abilities. Given its large size and number of fans, the inside begins acting similarly to open air. As such, it becomes difficult for heat to really get trapped. In testing, it beats or ties every case I’ve reviewed yet, beating the lowest temperatures by a degree or two. It was rather impressive yet somewhat expected for its size. It was nice to see a complete shift from a small case such as the BitFenix Outlaw to something like this.
Overall, this case wasn’t up to my expectations. The case was so focused on being large that it forgot that someone would eventually have to put hardware in it. It might look nice on the outside, but it’s rather rough on inner workings. The bay holders feel inexpensive and are difficult to use. The pre-routed cables look messy and are difficult to hide well. The USB 3.0 plugs out the back are a point of contention, as many early compatible motherboards did not feature an onboard header. The cables barely reach out the back and don’t have a PCIe cover to keep dust out. Routing them out the water grommets was not an option either, as the cables were not long enough. For the price, I just expected there to be more than a really big case with plastic parts. However, the Xigmatek Elysium is not without its redeeming qualities. The cooling performance was top notch and with overclocked hardware, it was either the best performing thermally or a very strong runner up. When you look the support for long video cards and just a massive internal volume, it’s easy to see how this case would be appealing. The top of the case can house not only the single radiator used in my testing, but a dual 120 mm one with no ill effect. I can say that I honestly wouldn’t be buying this case myself at this price point – perhaps at a reduced cost, I might spring for it simply for its large size, though definitely the non-window version. It’s a big case, but it isn’t a big bang for your buck.
- It’s BIG
- Amazing air cooling performance
- Liquid cooling ready
- Messy wiring for fans and USB 3.0
- Bay clips are cheap plastic and hard to use
- Dust cover is cheap and doesn’t move properly
- Side panel fan is a clearance issue for any self-contained water kit.
- No SSD mounting options
- Fan mounting behind motherboard requires 20 mm or thinner fans