Supermicro Gaming S5 ATX Case Review

Supermicro isn't typically associated with gaming products. However, the company's Gaming S5 ATX is riding a reputation for solid construction in the server business, hoping to attract enthusiast customers as well.

Introduction

MORE: How To Build A PC: From Component Selection To Installation
MORE: All Case Articles
MORE: Cases in the News
MORE: Cases in the Forums

Exterior Tour

A splash of color and the sheen of brushed aluminum separates its Gaming S5 from Supermicro’s traditional products. You're also looking at a sub-20” depth measurement. Given the company's traditions, we were expecting at least two feet. This might be the first Supermicro desktop component we’ve tested that actually fits atop most desks. Of course, you could also shove it under the desk. But then I’d wonder why you want to hide it. Either way, the pair of USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks are lined up along the top of the front panel to ease access from either location.

A pop-out panel at the bottom of the front face features mesh backing to catch large dust particles. Two 120mm intake fans behind the filter can be upgraded to your choice of 120 or 140mm replacements.

Supermicro includes (but does not install) the two grommets for its rear-panel coolant line passages, instead leaving round knock-outs in their place. Extra space for radiator mounting is highlighted by a row of vents above the motherboard’s I/O panel, leaving the presence of only seven expansion slots as the S5’s most obvious externally-visible limitation. That is to say it won't take a full complement of graphics cards; an eighth slot is required to place a double-space graphics card into an ATX motherboard’s bottom slot.

A glance at the dimensions uncovers a few additional restrictions, such as the 11.2” maximum graphics card length in some slots when all drive cages are installed. But a look inside will reveal configuration options for users of longer cards. So, let’s take a peek!

Interior Tour And Building

The Gaming S5 officially supports motherboards up to 10” wide behind its three modular drive cages. Grommets dress up cable passage holes above, in front of and below the motherboard, and an extra hole behind an ATX-sized board allows cleaner cable management on microATX boards.

By default, the 2.5” drive cage is centered between 3.5” cages. Though that fact doesn’t fit neatly into the previous page's dimensions table, it allows the placement of expansion cards up to 12.6”-long in slots two through five. That is, until you move things around.

Covered by a magnetically-attached mesh sheet, the S5's top panel supports multiple spacing options for up to three 140mm or 120mm fans. Though you won’t find space for the end caps of radiators with three 140mm fans, a 3x120mm configuration fits down the center thanks partly to the top panel’s two inches of motherboard clearance. Thicker radiators can be offset to the left side, though upper drive bays limit this location to a 2x120mm length.

The same type of mesh that covers top-panel vents also filters dust at the power supply and lower fan inlets. Users with standard-sized power supplies (PS2 form factor) could potentially put a 2x120mm radiator here, though most high-capacity power units are too long to allow this.

Removing a drive cage extends maximum card length to 16.5”. A modular design allows these to be stacked any way you wish. Using slide tabs, a single cage can be hung from the top or secured to the base, and a screw at the front of each cage prevents it from sliding out.

Slides for the lowest drive cage engage a screw-in tray. Removing the tray provides access to the forward bottom-panel fan mount, and is required for fitment of a front-panel radiator. Users who don’t need any of the drive cages and can use a relatively short power supply will find room for up to three radiators!

Front-panel bay adapters make it possible for some builds, especially gaming machines, to get by without the drive cages. Mounting patterns for 3.5” and 2.5” drives are found behind the black-anodized brushed-aluminum face plate.

Screw-free mounting pins are found on both 3.5” and 2.5” trays, and additional 2.5” drives can be screwed onto 3.5” trays.

The Gaming S5 has enough space behind its motherboard tray to accommodate an ATX/EPS main power lead, along with other cables. But its access holes are very small. We found it necessary to remove the grommet if we wanted to route a 24-pin connector behind the tray. Fortunately, the grommet can be stretched around that connector once it's removed.

In addition to the expected screw kit and grommets to replace the two rear-panel knock-outs, Supermicro adds a front-panel header adapter for motherboards from other vendors. That's because the case’s stock cable is designed exclusively for Supermicro platforms.

Most motherboards (apart from Asus and Supermicro) use the Intel-specified nine-pin front-panel LED/switch header, which places power LED wires adjacently. Carried over from the old AT form factor and retained by Asus, Supermicro’s adapter spaces these pins three positions apart. Splitting the connector allows it to fit both standard and Asus front-panel headers.

An ATX motherboard (12” x 9.6”) fits nicely, but oversized platforms like the 12” x 10.7” MSI X99S XPower AC I like to use would block access to cable passages along the front edge. That could be a big deal for many high-end builders, since a lot of enthusiast-oriented motherboards are similarly oversized.

The finished build looks clean and stylish. But the side-panel vent is a little worrisome concerning noise. Let’s find out if Gaming S5 results can overcome those worries!

How We Test Cases

The system we used in this article only deviates from our official 2015 Reference article in motherboard. We had to swap out the standard EATX MSI X99S XPower AC for a slightly smaller ATX model: the X99S Gaming 7.

Obviously, our Lian-Li PC-T80 open bench chassis sits this one out.

Test System Components








Settings

CPU4.2GHz (42x 100MHz) @ 1.2V Core
MotherboardFirmware 17.8 (02/10/2015)
RAMXMP CAS 16 Defaults (1.2V)
GraphicsMaximum Fan for Thermal Tests

Drivers

GraphicsNvidia GeForce 347.52
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.2.1019

To facilitate identical cooling on differently-sized motherboards, we're downsizing from Noctua’s huge NH-D15 to its NH-U12S. Though the smaller dimensions could solve fitment issues with some hardware combinations, cooling our overclocked Core i7-5930K is more challenging for its single-tower sink and one fan.

We’ve also transitioned from a noisy blower-style graphics cooler to an axial fan model from Gigabyte. The GV-N970G1 Gaming-4GD keeps its GPU exceptionally cool at reduced noise, while dumping its heat directly into the case.

Power comes from the 80 PLUS Platinum-rated Dark Power Pro 10 850W by be quiet!

Benchmark Suite

Designed by committee, our new test platform runs hot and quiet, negating the dramatic performance differences its predecessor was designed to produce.

Prime95 v27.964-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
Real Temp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting

Noise is measured .5m from the case’s front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers by subtracting six decibels.

Comparison Cases

Loading...

Test Results

Even though the newer test hardware produces closer results, we can clearly see that the mid-sized Gaming S5 runs cooler than the much larger Corsair 760T.

Perhaps that extra coolness is due to the side vent, which allows heat to escape from an internally-vented graphics card? Unfortunately, those same holes in the side panel allow noise to escape as well.

As a result of the extra noise (which admittedly isn't much, given the quiet cooling used), the Gaming S5 falls 2.5% below the average of all three cases in acoustic efficiency. That is to say, it has a marginally worse cooling-to-noise ratio.

On the other hand, the Gaming S5 also has a $94 MSRP. We normally use prices only from popular etailers to determine street pricing, but are sticking to MSRP for the Gaming S5’s calculation because it’s not readily available. We found various small sellers offering this Supermicro model-number CSE-GS50-000R for $89 to $136.

Supermicro’s Gaming S5 looks like a great value, but that’s partly because it’s the first sub-$100 case I’ve tested with the new hardware. As I wait for the next mid-market case to come in, let’s consider a few Gaming S5 specifics.

First of all, the S5 is very light and built with extremely thin steel. Supermicro does an admirable job of bracing it internally with rolled edges and a complex drive cage system, but side panel flex can still be a big deal. It’s particularly hard to put back together with that space behind the motherboard tray stuffed with cables. You'll need several hands to line up its slide tabs when cables are pushing against such a springy panel. We saw this issue addressed by adding a broadly-boxed edge on the Silent Base 800 side panels from be quiet! Then again, that case was 50% more costly and still made out of similar-gauge material.

The Gaming S5 also lacks space for slightly oversized motherboards, which are popular at the high-end of most enthusiast motherboard manufacturers. Maybe you won’t put a $400 board in a sub-$100 case, but I’m sure someone will try.

Perhaps the least-forgivable problem is that access holes are too small to pass a 24-pin cable, at least without removing the grommets. Then again, once you get the cable through, you’ll probably leave it there for a long time. It’s just the kind of thing that would have me pulling a Gibbs as the leader of a design department.

On the other hand, the S5 has several excellent design attributes that are sure to please most builders, such as the triple drive cages that can be independently installed or removed, and space for up to three double-fan radiators. Or even a triple-fan, with a bit of effort. The black-anodized brushed aluminum also looks far more convincing than the brushed-texture plastic of many competitors.

Conclusion

First of all, the S5 is very light and built with extremely thin steel. Supermicro does an admirable job of bracing it internally with rolled edges and a complex drive cage system, but side panel flex can still be a big deal. It’s particularly hard to put back together with that space behind the motherboard tray stuffed with cables. You'll need several hands to line up its slide tabs when cables are pushing against such a springy panel. We saw this issue addressed by adding a broadly-boxed edge on the Silent Base 800 side panels from be quiet! Then again, that case was 50% more costly and still made out of similar-gauge material.

The Gaming S5 also lacks space for slightly oversized motherboards, which are popular at the high-end of most enthusiast motherboard manufacturers. Maybe you won’t put a $400 board in a sub-$100 case, but I’m sure someone will try.

Perhaps the least-forgivable problem is that access holes are too small to pass a 24-pin cable, at least without removing the grommets. Then again, once you get the cable through, you’ll probably leave it there for a long time. It’s just the kind of thing that would have me pulling a Gibbs as the leader of a design department.

On the other hand, the S5 has several excellent design attributes that are sure to please most builders, such as the triple drive cages that can be independently installed or removed, and space for up to three double-fan radiators. Or even a triple-fan, with a bit of effort. The black-anodized brushed aluminum also looks far more convincing than the brushed-texture plastic of many competitors.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Cases, Cooling, Memory and Motherboards. Follow him on Twitter @hardware_tom.

Follow us on Twitter @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

MORE: How To Build A PC: From Component Selection To Installation
MORE: Cases in the News
MORE: Cases in the Forums

This thread is closed for comments
16 comments
    Your comment
  • someguynamedmatt
    It makes me happy to see SuperMicro getting into the consumer chassis market! I'm a huge fan of their other hardware, and this has some potential... let's hope to see some more refined updates in the future! First-gen products are always with their issues.

    Thoughts:
    Paint the interior black instead of zinc'ing it (this isn't a server or a Dell from 2004), sleeve the front panel connections or at least make them black, widen the access holes, offer other colors for the front bezel other than red (silver/maybe gunmetal). Cut the top drive cage in half and engineer up some way to include a 2x2.5" drive cage under the 5.25" bays for an SSD/HDD when all of the cages are removed for watercooling; it would easily fit with those two 120mm fans being used. Maybe add a windowed side panel option or at least a better mounting mechanism on those thin panels. Maybe put sound dampening material in a few locations? The right panel isn't typically a serious offender, but thin-gauge sheets are really going to be prone to passing through any noise. These are all just a few things I think could be done to make this a better product; not saying they SHOULD be done, but it's just an idea. Constructive criticism!
  • Crashman
    338017 said:
    It makes me happy to see SuperMicro getting into the consumer chassis market! I'm a huge fan of their other hardware, and this has some potential... let's hope to see some more refined updates in the future! First-gen products are always with their issues. Thoughts: Paint the interior black instead of zinc'ing it (this isn't a server or a Dell from 2004), sleeve the front panel connections or at least make them black, widen the access holes, offer other colors for the front bezel other than red (silver/maybe gunmetal)...Constructive criticism!
    LOL, I love bright interiors because they let me see what I'm doing more easily. I love color-coded cables because they let me see what I'm doing more easily. Practicality says that everyone in the case modding community is wrong because they are :p

    We see the same thing in the car community with tires that have such short sidewalls that the wheels hop at every bump, and smash the rims at any medium-sized pothole. A "performance enthusiast" would say no, if he really were a "performance enthusiast" :D

    Cable sleeves work though, since they let me see the color at the end of the cable. People used to say that sleeves were necessary to keep the wires from flopping around loosely and getting snagged on things, but those same people now demand individually-sleeved wires because (drumrole please) they're wrong. Having said that, I'd accept an arctic white interior and a single white sleeve over each cable bunch to match the interior, as long as the little bit of cable sticking out of the end is still properly color-coded :)

    Perhaps I'm being too practical.
  • shrapnel_indie
    Quote:
    Maybe you won’t put a $400 board in a sub-$100 case, but I’m sure someone will try.


    Talk about resellers up pricing products from MSRP.... Sub $100 case? the provided Amazon links (as of when I type this) show a price practically double that "sub" mark. ($199.99)

    Oh yeah... makes it look like you get a bigger discount when they do drop the prices a Jefferson, Lincoln, Hamilton, or Jackson below MSRP as a "sale" price.
  • Crashman
    330834 said:
    Quote:
    Maybe you won’t put a $400 board in a sub-$100 case, but I’m sure someone will try.
    Talk about resellers up pricing products from MSRP.... Sub $100 case? the provided Amazon links (as of when I type this) show a price practically double that "sub" mark. ($199.99) Oh yeah... makes it look like you get a bigger discount when they do drop the prices a Jefferson, Lincoln, Hamilton, or Jackson below MSRP as a "sale" price.
    Our link system isn't always practical is it? I found this one for $94 at Newegg.
  • synphul
    The $200 pricetag is way over the top. Even at $94, that puts it right in line with the enthoo pro at $99. That's the first thing I thought of when I saw this case, right down to the included 'extras' box and hdd sleds which look almost identical. Except the enthoo is painted inside and out, comes with a psu cover (windowed version), comes with nicer dust filters etc. I agree, granted it's not a windowed case so less of an issue but no paint inside it looks like something from dell circa 1990's. At $94 it might be for some folks, at $200 they get blown out of the water by a lot of nicer cases.
  • Crashman
    470171 said:
    The $200 pricetag is way over the top. Even at $94, that puts it right in line with the enthoo pro at $99.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811152588
    Now at $95. I can't talk about the Enthoo anything because they never sent one.
  • jimmysmitty
    8708 said:
    338017 said:
    It makes me happy to see SuperMicro getting into the consumer chassis market! I'm a huge fan of their other hardware, and this has some potential... let's hope to see some more refined updates in the future! First-gen products are always with their issues. Thoughts: Paint the interior black instead of zinc'ing it (this isn't a server or a Dell from 2004), sleeve the front panel connections or at least make them black, widen the access holes, offer other colors for the front bezel other than red (silver/maybe gunmetal)...Constructive criticism!
    LOL, I love bright interiors because they let me see what I'm doing more easily. I love color-coded cables because they let me see what I'm doing more easily. Practicality says that everyone in the case modding community is wrong because they are :p We see the same thing in the car community with tires that have such short sidewalls that the wheels hop at every bump, and smash the rims at any medium-sized pothole. A "performance enthusiast" would say no, if he really were a "performance enthusiast" :D Cable sleeves work though, since they let me see the color at the end of the cable. People used to say that sleeves were necessary to keep the wires from flopping around loosely and getting snagged on things, but those same people now demand individually-sleeved wires because (drumrole please) they're wrong. Having said that, I'd accept an arctic white interior and a single white sleeve over each cable bunch to match the interior, as long as the little bit of cable sticking out of the end is still properly color-coded :) Perhaps I'm being too practical.


    Everyone has a preference. I personally cannot do a case without a black interior because it just doesn't look as clean to me in the end.

    I have also come to notice that even when black, the front panel connectors are the same layout. If the writing is on the front it will face downwards.

    I guess I just love my 500R. It is probably the best case I have ever bought. I just hope they make a 500R V2 with a few improvements to layout.
  • Dark Lord of Tech
    Nice case , real basic looks , very appealing,
  • firefoxx04
    " Now at $95. I can't talk about the Enthoo anything because they never sent one.'

    You dont have to talk about it, everyone else already covered it.. and it smokes all cases at $100... At least when it comes to almost full tower size.
  • Dark Lord of Tech
    I own the Enthoo Pro , got mine from newegg for $89.00 when they were first released , fantastic value.
  • rwinches
    Thanks for normalizing the sound measurements.

    dBC weighting might be a better choice as it is tailored to human ear sensitivity.

    IMHO a can of flat black spray paint is pretty cheap.
  • eatmypie
    Wish more manufactures would bring back non black interiors. I know some people hate it, but that type of interior look appeals to me. If Corsair or Antec made kind of a revamped version of some of their higher end cases without the black interior I wouldn't mind spending a lot of money on it.
  • siman0
    I've used supermicro for years I love their servers and their motherboards for dual processors. If their cases are as good as their for mentioned hardware. I look forward to doing business with them.
  • junkeymonkey
    ''The Gaming S5 also lacks space for slightly oversized motherboards, which are popular at the high-end of most enthusiast motherboard manufacturers. ''

    would of been nice to see pic's of the inside of the case with all hardware installed and that near 13'' gigabyte card in it .. and what had to be removed to make it fit ? like the lower bays ??
  • Crashman
    1476908 said:
    ''The Gaming S5 also lacks space for slightly oversized motherboards, which are popular at the high-end of most enthusiast motherboard manufacturers. '' would of been nice to see pic's of the inside of the case with all hardware installed and that near 13'' gigabyte card in it .. and what had to be removed to make it fit ? like the lower bays ??
    It's right there in the middle of the article.

    That shiny section in front of the motherboard is the "step inward" seen in the picture two images above it.
  • junkeymonkey
    dang I missed that some how .. sorry, but ya that space they gave took care of that with some forward thinking for those long cards .. just thought to bring that up seeing all the will it fit threads

    thanks

    I did read also the new amd cards like the 390 will or should be shorter then the 290's cause its said the new memory takes less space . l witch to me will be a added plus for amd .. but then its still hear say until we get a real retail card in hand to know for sure