Streacom F12C Case Review
Another new manufacturer and another new product, this time around it’s the turn of Streacom a manufacturer well know for its passively cooled Cases and HTPC Cases. The Streacom F12C could be accused of being a HTPC Case, but here at pcG we’re Gamers and PC Gamers at that, therefore you may think that this Case may not be best suited to grace the pages of pcG! And, at first I thought so too, but the guys over at Streacom convinced me otherwise, read on to find out why…
Well we all know that the PC has been trying to invade the Living Room for some time, either in the form of a HTPC system or as some form of mini-Gaming system. Well that’s where the Streacom F12C comes in as this HTPC/Mini-Gaming system can house a full ATX motherboard and (according to Streacom) some serious Gaming hardware too! The Streacom F12C is (and most importantly) shaped similar to a Hi-Fi Amplifier and measures in at 440 x 320 x 175mm (W x D x H, 184mm including feet). The Case itself is made from Premium Grade (6063) Aluminium that’s 4mm thick. The Case is available in either a silver or black sandblasted finish, here we have the silver version. The Case supports all motherboard sizes up to and including Full ATX and can house up to 24 x 2.5″ or 12 x 3.5″ drives, depending on installed hardware. The F12C can support full height Graphics Cards (but be careful, see main review), CPU Coolers up to 135mm in height and full length ATX Power Supplies. Also, while the Streacom F12C supports 80, 92, 120 & 140mm fans there are no fans supplied.
The Streacom F12C arrived at pcG in a smart looking predominately black box with a carry handle. The front (or any other side for that matter) of the box gave very little away as to what was inside, just focusing on the fragility, the product name and the fact that it’s an Aluminium PC Case.
Removing the outer sleeve simply reveals a plain brown cardboard box…
On opening the lid of said cardboard box we can see that the F12C is very well packaged and protected, with the main Case being both protected by soft foam blocks and further protected in a soft foam bag.
Nestling on the top of the Case we find a simple instruction manual as well as a raft of screws, stand-offs etc, with many of the small bags labelled also.
At the time of review, the Streacom F12C (Silver) is retailing on Overclockers UK for approximately £179 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of Streacom
|Chassis Material:||Premium Grade (6063) All Aluminium, 4mm Thick Extruded Panels|
|Available Colours:||Silver / Black – Sandblast Finish|
|Motherboard Support:||Full ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX|
|Drive Capacity:||MAX 24 x 2.5″ or 12 x 3.5″ (with ITX), MIN 2 x 2.5″ + 5 x 3.5″|
|Expansion Slot:||7 x Full Height Expansion Cards (MAX 310mm)|
|GPU Support:||Full Height, 2nd slot or above when using Upper Fan Rails|
|Cooling:||Multiple 80, 92, 120 & 140 Fans (Not Included)|
|Max CPU Cooler Height:||135mm|
|External Dimensions:||440 x 320 x 175mm (W x D x H, 184mm including feet)|
|Internal Dimensions:||432 x 310 x 168mm (W x D x H)|
|Power Supply:||Full ATX, no Length Restrictions(Not Included)|
|Remote Control:||FLirc or IRRC Solution (Not Included)|
Having never seen a PC Case quite like the Streacom F12C it’s hard to describe the first impressions. But as you can see the Case is very similar (no doubt by design) to a modern day HiFi amplifier and it’s no doubt designed to fit in with exiting HiFi equipment that may well reside in your Living Room etc. And, simply put it looks good, thanks mainly down to its high-end look and the rather impressive sandblasted 4mm thick aluminium that’s used in its construction. You could say from the outside, it looks expensive…
The front of the Streacom F12C (as you can see) is a little bare, but this is of course by design and no doubt Streacom are going for the minimalist look and they’ve achieved that! On the front other than a simple power button and an indicator LED, there’s nothing other than a small IR window in the bottom right corner. No IR receiver is installed but there is a mount point within to support one. What is missing though are USB ports and to a lesser extent audio ports. This is where we immediately run into one of the major questions regarding the F12C; is it a PC ATX Case or is it a HTPC? And that’s a hard one to answer and I guess that will depend on you and you will have to decide if these missing ports are a problem or not. Personally I think USB ports should have been here…
Looking at the back of the Streacom F12C we see that over on the left there’s nice cut-out for a regular sized ATX Power Supply and that this is then followed by another cut-out for the Motherboard’s I/O shield. Then over on the right we can see that the F12C features seven expansion slots, enough to support a full size ATX motherboard. Also we can see that the screws holding the PCIe brackets are covered by a smart looking aluminium cover too. But what are those odd volume wheels at the top, what do they do? Well, more on those later… 😉
Both the left side and the right of the Streacom F12C are effectively the same. Both have two large 120mm grills that are in fact held in place by the magnetic black surrounds. It’s a clever idea and it works, just bear in mind that while you’re working with the Case they’ll fall out for a past time, so it’s best to put them to one side.
As you can see the top also features the same grills (albeit different sizes) as the sides and again these are held in place in the same way, by magnetism. Now you may well be thinking; but James this Case is made from aluminium and of course that’s right. But behind each grill and in each corner there are four magnets that are pressed into the chassis that hold those outer black surrounds in place.
The bottom of the Streacom F12C features a raft of cooling holes surrounding what is effectively the Motherboard area as well as a large (HiFi style) foot in each corner. Each foot is made from aluminium and features a rubber base.
So, back to those strange volume wheel like controls on the back of the F12C. These are (as you probably guessed) not volume controls, they are in fact controls to allow the upper lid of the Case to be opened! Simply rotate counter-clockwise to allow the lid to be released and clockwise to close. It’s a neat little system and quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Once inside we can see that at the top of the case is a bracket that can be used to hold either a couple of fans, an AIO Cooler’s radiator/fan perhaps or even some drives. Again not something I’ve seen before but I guess it works and it’s quite flexible too!
Removing the upper brackets, the side brackets (see below) and the cable for the power button and LED leaves us with, well, nothing really! 😉
Above you can see the inner brackets, of which there are eight supplied, but what are they for I hear you ask? The simple answer is everything! 🙂 These are like nothing I’ve seen before and can support fans through 80-140mm and drives both 2.5″ and 3.5″. Fans are simply mounted to two brackets, one either side and drives are simply mounted vertically to the brackets. What’s clever is that once mounted to the bracket the bracket is simply placed in position and clipped into place by the silver spring clip (see above right). It all sounds a little odd, but in practice it works remarkably well…
After some time with the Streacom F12C I have to say I’m quite impressed with what I’ve seen, with the real highlight being the build quality of the enclosure itself and the remarkable mounting brackets that work far better than you would imagine! My concerns are the lack of cable management space and the fact that the build is likely to get a little untidy looking, good job there’s no side window eh! 😉
|Case||Streacom F12C||Power Supply||Corsair Professional Series AX 760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 GAMING K6||CPU||Intel Core i5-6600K|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U9S||RAM||G Skill Ripjaws 4 16GB|
|Graphics Card||MSI AMD R9 380 Gaming||SSD||Samsung SM951 512GB|
The first task was to put together the motherboard assembly (MB, CPU, CPU Cooler & RAM) for this review. For this review as there are limitations with the F12C (namely CPU Cooler height and Graphics Card height) I was forced to change our normal load-out. Therefore I used our regular ATX motherboard (ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6), CPU (Core i5-6600K) and RAM (8GB G.Skill Ripjaws 4) but swapped the Noctua NH-U12S for a Noctua NH-U9S, swapped the GTX 980Ti for an MSI AMD R9 380 Gaming and also added an M.2 drive in the form of a Samsung SM951 512GB to keep drive clutter (and cabling) to a minimum. This Motherboard assembly (including the M.2 SSD) can be seen above.
Fitting the Corsair AX 760i Power Supply was easy enough and I used the special countersunk screws supplied. I also pre-installed the cables that I was going to use (trying to keep cabling to a minimum) this was the 24-pin power cable, 8-pin CPU power cable and the PCIe power cable for the GPU.
With the Power supply in situ I then installed the Motherboard on the ten stand-offs (I needed to add just one), again I used the supplied screws. Note that the motherboard sits atop tall stand-offs that are twice the height of the regular ones, not too sure why… I then simply plugged in the 24-pin and the 8-pin and arranged the cables best I could.
Next I started thinking about fans and airflow and was keen to try and see how the fan brackets worked. To this end I attached a spare (as none are provided) fan to a couple of brackets, noting that you place the screws through the slot allowing for movement of the fan up or down.
I wanted to place a couple of fans on the left side of the case to feed cool air to the Graphics Card, but due to the low position of the fan (even when positioned high in the bracket) the fan would obscure many of the motherboard headers on this side of the board. Luckily as there’s no audio sockets on the Streacom F12C I didn’t need to worry about obscuring that side of the board with one fan. But I couldn’t place one next to it as it would obscure the front Panel header. This is a shame (and an oversight if you ask me) as it would only require another 10mm to clear the headers!?
As I couldn’t fit another fan on the left and the right rear position was obscured by the PSU I decided to fit another (intake) fan on the front right. Although the cables for the PSU were in the way this was found to be easy enough.
After already finding that our CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-U12S) was too tall I was a little disappointed to find that our test Graphics Card of choice (EVGA GTX 980Ti Classified) was also too tall, although to be fair it is pretty big . In fact it was nowhere near once the cables were in the top of the GPU, see above left.
Also the closing mechanism for the top of the F12C is also positioned exactly where the GPU would lie in a normal system, thankfully it can be removed if necessary. So it was time to look for a Graphics Card that would fit…
An MSI R9 380 Gaming luckily saved the day, but even then it was a tight fit. This is because while the Graphics Card itself may fit it’s the extra height of the cabling that then causes a problem. But in the end it was complete, I also added a top fan to try and get some of the heat out of the case, note (again) that only one fan could be fitted here as the CPU Cooler is in the way of the other.
I was really quite impressed with the Streacom F12C until I began to fit the fans and the Graphics Card. I had to make so many compromises during the build to try and achieve what I wanted it left me a little frustrated. The bottom line is that you need to know what you’re getting into when building a (real) Gaming system into this particular Case. CPU Cooler and Graphics Card heights need to be adhered to, but even Streacom don’t provide Graphics Card max height information, which is poor. I would estimate it to be around 140mm and I would say that if you wanted to use two fans in the top of the case you’ll want a CPU Cooler below 85mm in height, therefore an AIO or a Low Profile cooler is preferable.
At pcGameware we use Prime95 and ASRock’s F-Stream utility to evaluate CPU temperatures and voltage, and we use MSI Afterburner to evaluate the GPU temperatures. Of course Prime95 being a CPU stress test also helps to generate heat for us to check the case thermals. We also use UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for GPU temperature testing.
CPU performance testing is carried out using Prime95 (Small FFT) to stress the CPU. Each run is timed for 15 mins and the maximum temperature is recorded for all cores and then the average core heat is taken. Testing was carried out with an overclocked Intel Core i5-6600K at 4.4GHz courtesy of the ASRock UEFI.
GPU performance testing is carried out by running UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for 15 minutes and then by recording the maximum GPU temperature.
* All case fans (x3 in the case of the Streacom F12C) and the CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-U9S) are run at 100% throughout testing. To ascertain case noise levels, the GPU fans are set to their lowest setting and the CPU Cooler fan is unplugged, whilst the dBA is recorded from 1m away.
* PLEASE NOTE: Due to the fact that differing hardware had to be used in the Streacom F12C we have no comparable data to compare against.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature|
The good news is that even with a small CPU Cooler such as the Noctua NH-U9S the CPU cooling performance of the Streacom F12C is actually pretty good. It managed to keep our overclocked Intel Core i5-6600K at a maximum temperature of 62 degrees Celsius during our Prime 95 Torture Test. This proves that the F12C is more than capable of handling an overclocked CPU, which is great news.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temperature||Delta Temperature|
It’s difficult to ascertain the Graphics Card cooling performance of the Streacom F12C, as we don’t have much data regarding the Graphics Card used. Please note we were forced to use such a card due to the fact that other cards on hand didn’t fit in the Case! But what we can tell (from experience) is that there’s plenty of scope for a powerful Graphics Card to live within the Case and stay cool. The test card we used (MSI R9 380 Gaming 2GB) only reached 68 degrees Celsius during testing. This was no doubt helped by the cooling fan added to the left side of the case, which makes it all the more frustrating that we couldn’t add two, due to interference with the Motherboard headers. Choosing the right GPU for this Case is going to be a little tricky, we put max height at around 140mm, with a maximum length of approximately 300mm. These figures should really be provided by Streacom!
As no fans are supplied with the Streacom F12C its acoustic performance is all down to you, as is the thermal performance to some degree (haha get it!). From our findings and using a full ATX motherboard I would suggest using a low Profile CPU Cooler such as the Noctua NH-L9x65 and four Noctua 120mm fans such as the NF-F12. This way you can set up two intake fans (one per side) and fit two in the top of the case using the cross braces. This should provide ample cooling while keeping noise to a minimum.
There’s no doubt that the Streacom F12C is an interesting proposition when considering a PC Case for the Living Room. But it’s important to know its limitations and to ensure that you choose your components wisely. With that done the F12C will provide you with a great platform for Gaming and it will no doubt look good while it does it…
The Streacom F12C arrived at pcG in a smart black box with a carry handle, within the Case itself was found to be both well packaged and presented. Once out of the box the beauty and the simplicity of the the F12C could be appreciated. The case itself is constructed from 4mm thick aluminium and has a sandblasted finish, that looks far better than it sounds, it’s also very fingerprint resistant too! The F12C is one of those less is more type products and I have to say that I do rather like it, it looks like a premium product, which is good news given the £180 asking price! But there’s another argument that might say that it’s to simple for its own good, what with no audio ports and no USB ports!?
Opening up the F12C is an experience in itself, as the lid of the Case seals shut thanks to two winding mechanisms found at the back of the Case. It not only looks cool it works well too! Once inside though you’ll be hard pushed to see where that £180 went as effectively there nothing to see! But what there is, is room for a full ATX Motherboard and a decent sized Graphics Card and a small CPU Cooler. If there were any restrictions to be concerned about with the F12C, it’s the height, and this is no doubt due to the fact that any taller and it would begin to lose its appeal as a HiFi/Living Room component. But what this does mean (and this is something we ran headlong into) is that your components for install need to be chosen carefully…
When I tried to install our regular test equipment we ran into a few issues. The first of which was the CPU Cooler we normally use (Noctua NH-U12S @ 158mm) was too tall so we sourced a Noctua NH-U9S (95mm) instead, but even this is too tall should you wish to fit a fan above it! The next issue was our test Graphics Card an EVGA GTX 980Ti Classified was also too tall at 151mm so we Sourced an MSI R9 380 Gaming 2GB (138mm) instead and this only just fitted, as the room for the PCIe power cabling is tight!
Now before we talk about cooling and fans I have to tell you about the Streacom drive and fan mounting system (see main review for more detail). This system is one of the most ingenious designs I’ve ever seen and simply consists of simple brackets and clips. This allows any side of the case to be used for mounting either SSDs, HDDs or fans, even fan sizes from 80 – 140mm are supported. Very clever! 😉
It’s a shame then that should you wish to mount a fan on the left side of the case, you’ll lose access to the headers on that side of the motherboard as there’s simply not enough clearance! Which is a shame as this would provide excellent GPU cooling potential. We had to settle for installing just one fan on each side and one in the top.
Cooling performance and acoustic performance of the Streacom F12C is really down to you as no fans are actually supplied with the case. But what we did prove, with just three fans is that the F12C can indeed be a cool Case and no doubt a quiet one too given the right fans.
Summing up, the Streacom F12C is a good case if you’re looking for a Case to compliment your HiFi setup or to simply look good in the Living Room and trust me it does look good! The main issue is choosing the right components to go in it as you simply cannot choose what ever you like and this for me led to frustrations with the build and dampened my spirit a little. But given the right components there’s few other Cases that will perform the role of Living Room Gaming PC as well as this Streacom F12C…
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Many thanks to Streacom for providing this sample for review