Four ATX Cases For High-Capacity Water Cooling, Reviewed

Building With Aerocool’s Strike-X ST

Aerocool’s Strike-X ST includes a user’s manual, an optional wheel set, and separately labeled screw packets. It does not include the 180 mm side fan from the manual’s image, and builders who prefer a rolling chassis must add around 2” to the height listed on the first page of this article.

Dual mounting patterns on all ten drive trays support 3.5” and 2.5” drives. Since the 2.5” drives most frequently used in desktop systems are SSDs with no moving parts, the use of noise-dampening grommets exclusively for 3.5” drives is perfectly acceptable.

Though we’re told that Intel actually designed the now-standard front-panel USB 3.0 header, this editor pushed that concept into the market. After all of that effort, it’s sad to see any modern case arrive without support for this two-year-old standard. The Strike-X ST uses rear-panel pass-through cables instead.

Designed exclusively for exhausting heated air, Aerocool’s 200 mm top fan had to be removed before we could install our triple-fan radiator. This same part is used as a front-panel intake by mounting it on molded-in spacers, but the Strike-X’s side panel doesn’t have this provision. We soldiered on without any side panel fans.

Swiftech’s MCR-320 Drive Rev3 radiator fits the Strike-X ST most easily with its pump on the front and reservoir on the back. The top panel also has room for some 3 x 140 mm radiators, but a larger radiator wouldn’t leave enough room for an integrated reservoir at the back end.

We wanted enough coolant line to fit the same system into all cases without having to drain it. By being the first case tested, the Strike-X ST sets the pace for evaluating other enclosures.

One small problem was that the USB 3.0 pass-through cables were too short to reach the appropriate ports on our motherboard, at least when using any of the chassis' original egress holes. We were instead forced to plug these cables into USB 2.0 connectors

A much larger problem was that the side panel tabs did not properly mate with six keyholes across the opening’s top and bottom edges, forcing many minutes of finessing before the panel finally closed all of the way—but even then was only mostly secure.

Front and rear fans feature red LED lighting.