Today we are taking a look at one of MSI?s new chassis, the MSI Stealth. MSI made their first steps into the computer chassis market with the introduction of two new chassis: the Stealth and the Ravager.
We already published a preview of the chassis, and some of the issues we ran into. The preview can be viewed here.
The Stealth promises some interesting features, such as VGA card stabilizers for extra long graphics cards, as well as a USB Super Charger Designated Port.
The specifications are as follows:
Form Factor: ATX Mid Tower
Color / Type: Black (Steel)
Front Bezel Material: Shock Resistant Finish (Rubberized)
Motherboard Support: ATX / MicroATX
5.25? Drive: 4
3.5? Internal: 4
Expansion Slots: 7
USB 2.0 / 3.0: 2 + 1 / 2 (Front Panel)
HD/97 Audio: Yes (Front Panel)
VGA Stabilizer: Yes
Included Fans: 2 (120mm Rear; Front LED)
Optional Fans: Up to FIVE (5) 120mm addtl. fans
Dimensions (Chassis): 205 (W) x 460 (L) x 430(H)
Warranty: 3 Years
The first thing we noticed when looking at the chassis? packaging was a couple of spelling errors on the box; instead of coming with a ?User Manual?, it comes with a ?User Manuel?, and instead of a ?Shock Resistant Finish? it comes with a ?Shock Resistent Finish?. We spoke to MSI about this, and we were told that it was an error by the printing company on the first batch of shipments, but has been fixed for subsequent shipments of the chassis. However, our replacement chassis which was supposedly a retail mass production unit also had the spelling errors on the packaging.
The chassis comes with a pouch that contains the MSI dog tag, manual, screws, and zip ties.
The chassis has a rubberized exterior except for the steel side panels and back. This gives the chassis a nice feel and a good overall look. The chassis felt sturdy, as well.
The front panel has two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 Super Charger port, and standard headphone and microphone jacks. However, we immediately noticed that the front panel USB 3.0 ports were sticking out and misaligned. The USB 3.0 were permanently affixed in that position, and had no wiggle whatsoever. MSI believed that the cause was due to mishandling during shipping, although the packaging was quite secure, and we think that any sort of damage caused by shipping would have likely caused the USB 3.0 ports to become loose in their sockets.
Our replacement chassis exhibited the same permanent misalignment, though not to the same degree of severity.
The bottom of the chassis has two dust filters. However, unlike the majority of dust filters we have seen on chassis, these dust filters had no border plastic to allow them to pop into or slide on/off a chassis. These filters were just some mesh with tabs cut into it designed to slide into a few metal slots on the bottom of the chassis. Since mesh is not the most rigid of materials, this design caused the dust filters to fall off at the slightest disturbance. Putting them back on only takes a minute or so, but it is an annoyance that could easily have been avoided by spending a bit more money on materials to create a slide in panel for a dust filter.
The chassis also boasts tool-less installation for both 3.5? and 5.25? drives. The 3.5? hard drive installations were easy, straightforward, and effective, making for one of the primary positive features on the chassis. Pull on the tabs, pull out the tray, open the tray, pop in a hard drive, close it, and slide it back in. However, the 5.25? drive installation was a pain that is glossed over in the manual. Installation of the 5.25? drive requires the user to remove the front panel in order to pull out the bay cover. This is complicated by the fact that the front panel has wires that run into the chassis and attach to the motherboard, meaning it is far from convenient to completely pull off the front panel. We installed our CD/DVD drive by pulling it out far enough to hold it out of the way while we removed the bay cover and pushed in the CD/DVD drive. The chassis was also built to a very tight specification (or slightly out of spec depending on how you see it) and the CD/DVD drive barely fit, requiring a lot of coaxing and jiggling to get it to fit into the bay. Thankfully, the tool-less retention system worked well and without issue.
The specifications of our build are as follows:
Processor: Intel Core i5 3450 3.1GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte Intel H77 GA-H77M-D3H Micro-ATX
Graphics: Radeon HD 5570
RAM: Patriot Viper Xtreme Series, Division 2 Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 1600 MHz
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green 1.5TB 5900RPM SATA 6.0 Gb/s
Power Supply: Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus 500W (RS500-PCARD3-US)
CD/DVD Drive: Sony AD-7280S-0B 24x
Chassis: MSI Stealth IN-602
The power supply and motherboard were very easy to install, as is the case on most chassis, it just required the power supply to be screwed in, and the motherboard to be placed on the standoffs and screwed in. The cable management options were okay, although not exceptional. It would have been nice to have a few more routing options, as some openings were just barely big enough for certain connectors. However, it was only after fully installing the components that our biggest issue occurred…
Within one second of pressing the power button, smoke started pouring out of the top vents of the chassis, giving it the appearance of an oversized box-shaped boiling kettle. Our initial guesses as to the cause were the usual suspects; the power supply or the motherboard. To observe what was actually smoking, we opened up the chassis, laid it on its side, and turned it on. To our surprise, the smoke was emanating from just above the CD/DVD drive. We took out the CD/DVD drive and saw that the molex power connector to the front panel had caught fire, melted, started smoking, and charred the top of the CD/DVD drive.
We tested the power supply using a Thermaltake Dr Power II, and it passed all tests. The power supply also functioned flawlessly once removed from that chassis. It has been brought to our attention that there might have been Over Current Protection on the power supply, which might have caused the power supply to shut off before the wire caught fire. However, it is quite possible that the wire was not generating enough current to trip the OCP. Also, the question is academic, as there is no doubt the short was caused by the chassis, OCP would have only prevented the fire, not the short circuit. Our replacement chassis did not have any short circuit issues, thankfully.
The Stealth had one more major feature we have yet to discuss; the VGA Card Stabilizers. The case can fit a graphics card up to 310 mm. The stabilizers work by unscrewing a tension screw that holds the stabilizer in place. The stabilizer itself is a long bar that sticks out of the cage at the front of the chassis and is completely adjustable. We had an NVIDIA GTX 670 on hand, and installed that into the system. However, the maximum length of the stabilizer was short of reaching the card by quite a bit. The GTX 670 is 9.5? long, so it is possible that a card like the GTX 690 (11? long) or an HD 7970 (which is slightly over 11? long) would be able to take advantage of the stabilizer. However, for anything other than the highest end NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards, the stabilizers are useless.
We received our replacement chassis which we were told would be a retail mass production unit, and as mentioned above, it still contained the spelling errors of the original, the misaligned USB 3.0 ports, but fortunately, did not catch fire.
In conclusion, aside from the defects, the chassis has some glaring design issues: how the 5.25? drives are installed, the cheap and annoying dust filters, and the VGA stabilizers that only reach the longest of cards (GTX 690, HD 7970, and some mfg overclocked custom cards). Other than that, the chassis is standard and sturdy, basically a run of the mill chassis with decent looks and feel (again, ignoring the defects). However, at an MSRP of $129.99 and an actual retail price of $89.99 on both Newegg and Amazon, even if the chassis was defect free, the MSRP would still be ridiculous, and the actual retail price would still be well beyond what it should be.
If the chassis were defect free, and the design flaws were resolved, we would recommend this as a great chassis with a $60 or possibly $70 value, depending on the implementation of the fixes. However, until those issues are resolved, and the price is dropped significantly, we recommend against the purchasing an MSI Stealth, when there are much better options available in the same price range.