As y’all know, it takes a LOT for me to “bite the bullet” and get new hardware. For those of you new to this specific upgrade, allow me to provide some context.
A few months beyond Microsoft’s free upgrades to Windows 10, March to be specific, I had started having some serious performance hits in everything from daily tasks like Chrome/Firefox to even the mid-intensity games that I play such as Minecraft and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. I recognize that I do not have the most powerful machine (FX 6300 / 12GB RAM / MSI GTX 960 4GB), but when you can measure a 15 to 30 percent rise in overall CPU & RAM usage … you know something’s wrong. After I installed a clean image of Windows 10 Pro (same version I had before), performance was the best it had ever been. In fact, I’d even venture to say the performance improved by roughly 10 percent even disregarding the 30 percent hit I had pre-install.
For the sake of scale and impact of this change, I should let you guys know that this has now become a regular procedure for me every three to six months and the results have been the same every time – up to thirty percent worse than average pre-install and roughly 10 percent better-than-average performance post-install.
Getting back to the original topic of new hardware, let me explain what the full plan and reasoning for the hard drive and case are.
Thanks to the wonders of all those Windows re-installs, I now have five hard drives with a max size of 3TB that have just been sitting since that very first install in march (video blog at bottom of post). I would estimate the total of all five drives in storage to be at 5TB. The size of the recoverable data is uncertain (frankly, I’m uncertain if I even CAN recover it), but I can also estimate that anywhere from 250GB – 1TB per hard drive (dependent on the size of each hard drive) will be used just for my Steam library and, seeing as the install error which caused this happened many times thus causing the drive storage, 25% of all remaining used storage will be duplicate information.
Therefore, I would expect 2-3TB of final recovered and non-duplicate data to be reasonable. This means the 4TB Seagate hard drive I ordered will still have plenty of space to transfer and manage everything I need. It may get a bit full, but I’ll have a 5TB of newly cleared drives when the project is done.
Finally, we get to the case (left) – my old, full tower, four door of a monster … computer case. First let me take y’all back, way back to the turn of the decade. Back in my age of parent-bought computers, I started with an Acer desktop (middle). It was nothing spectacular, but it was solid enough to run two monitors and light gaming. From there I may have done some minor upgrades, but the next major one I remember was when I moved everything (and possibly upgraded) into a CoolerMaster HAF case (something like the one shown right).
From there, I made the most novice of mistakes one can make – especially for a case with more mesh than swiss cheese has holes! Apparently electronics don’t like green tea, which was my main drink at the time, haha!
After the whole fiasco with the CoolerMaster HAF case, I figured it was time for a case that couldn’t be killed from a spillage. The case I finally went with was the CFI A7007 (left). It was the perfect tinkerer’s case due to it’s two panels and two hinged-doors. I’ve had to reinstall Windows 10 Pro roughly every three to six months for nearly a year now and having those doors to quickly detach all non-boot hard drives made this process a LOT easier to manage and definitely less stress inducing.
However, all good things have their time and I kept coming back to the one BIG drawback of the case – it’s size. Standard case sizes vary in their shape and total volume, but the nomenclature goes mITX -> mATX -> ATX – EATX for the size of the motherboard which traditionally translates into SFF/ITX -> mATX -> Mid Tower -> Full Tower for the size of the case. If ITX is close to a shoe-box, then Full Tower would be a small foot-locker – this was the CFI.
I am now proud to say, I have upgraded to the Phanteks Eclipse Series P400S Silent Edition (right) and have no hesitancy about the choice! The build quality is solid, it is very easy to work with, and the cable management of velcro straps should be standard in every case in my opinion. For $65 at the time of purchase, I would pit it against cases even at the $100 mark. Overall, I would say this case is only topped by another case in its own lineup which has tempered glass and integrated RGB lighting which is very tasteful in my opinion (currently at $60) – Phanteks Eclipse