by William Kelley on October 26, 2009 in Mid-Tower
The value in PC components today is fantastic, with the chassis being no exception. With its M59 mid-tower chassis, NZXT proves that value doesn’t have to mean cheap, as this one is packed. It features a cool design, LED lighting, features usually only seen on higher-end models, and of course, a $59.99 USD price-tag.
To assure that our results are as accurate as possible, all of our chassis testing is performed under highly-controlled conditions. Our test chassis is kept in a near-steady 20°C ambient environment, with readings taken before and after testing with a standard room thermometer. After we boot up our machine, we allow Windows to settle itself down for 10 minutes, to stabilize processes that might be running in the background. Once Windows is completely idle, we record the current CPU temperature as that in our results.
BIOS settings are verified prior to each run, and to help with quick switching of our various profiles, we make use of the motherboard’s ability to store multiple configurations. We primarily use two for our testing here – stock speed, of 3.0GHz, and also a maximum over clock, of 3.95GHz. Stock settings were achieved by using “Load Optimum Default”, and storing those as our stock profile. The maximum over clock was obtained after extensive testing and tweaking to insure it was stable. The CPU’s vCore was raised to 1.400v, and the Northbridge was raised to 1.30v. The RAM is run unlinked to run at factory speeds and voltages.
For our monitoring and temperature reporting, we use Everest Ultimate Edition 5, from Lavalys. It allows us to grab the results from each one of the cores, and the CPU as a whole, so we believe it to be indispensable to our toolkit. To help push our Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 to its breaking-point, we use LinX. The reason is simple: it utilizes LINPACK. After much testing with various “stress testers” in the past, we’ve found that running a multi-threaded tool that supports LINPACK, like LinX, pushes both AMD and Intel CPUs like no other. This results in higher temperatures than others (like Prime95) can muster, and also greater power consumption.
Because our test machine is equipped with 4GB of RAM, we set LinX to use 3072MB, and then set the test to run 5 times over, which takes about 15 minutes total. With the help of Everest, the CPU’s various temperatures are recorded throughout all of the testing, and also for a minute after the test ends. The maximum recorded temperature found in the results file is labeled as “Max” in our results.
Without further ado, here is a breakdown of our test machine:
Installation went well and there was sufficient room for working inside the chassis. It took me what I would consider the normal amount of time, about fifteen minutes, to get everything in place and strapped down. I had intended to use the Xigmatek Thor’s Hammer heat sink as it was selected as the standard unit for all case reviews but was unable to due to space issues. There is just over six and a half inches of space for your CPU heat sink and most large 120mm based units are a hair lager than this. This is something you need to be aware of and choose your parts accordingly. I instead turned to my trusty AC Freezer 7 PRO for CPU cooling duties.
There were slots in the motherboard tray to allow wiring to run through to help clean up any stray wires. There were also stamped slots for zip ties although there were no included zip ties in the accessories bundle. It would have been nice to have been given five to ten zip ties. There was also a surprising lack of a hole for the EPX power connector. I was forced to run this wire in the front of the motherboard. Space is tight back here and I strongly suggest picking up a handful of zip ties in order to properly secure everything down. It did take a slight bit of pressure on the side panel to secure it in place, but I would consider that much of a fault either. One other thing to note is that the hard drives are required to face rearwards, so be sure to mount them that way the first time.
With the side panel re-attached we get to see the results of our labor. I really like the current trend of large windows. Add to this the tinted variety that was used here and the sense of quality goes up another notch. The final touch of the white bladed fan with blue LED’s really gives the M59 an air of quality far higher than the price tag.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a quick shot of the front panel all lit up in its glory. One of the features touted by NZXT is the ambient lighting around the upper ODD area which makes it easy to see and use your DVD drive in low-light conditions. The light is not overdone and should not be a distraction to most users. Also note the blue LED around the power button that denotes the system is powered up as well as the HDD activity green LED around the reset button.
After my testing I came out with the following results.
I was very pleased with my results and also surprised that the M59 was able to compete with much more expensive cases. Even with just the two fans my expectations were far exceeded. The addition of more fans can only help enhance cooling so I would suggest adding more fans if the budget allows. One other important fact to note is that these results were achieved with a low 43dB noise level at full load. Chalk this up as another notch in the belt of this budget-busting chassis.