Core components, continued
Storage: OCZ Vector 180 480GB and Vector 180 960GB SSDs
I'd have been happy with a single SSD as a system drive in this Breadbox, but OCZ answered my call with two of its Vector 180 SSDs: one a 480GB drive, the other with 960GB of space.
Not only do we have over a terabyte of solid-state storage to work with in the Breadbox, the Vector 180 just so happens to be one of the faster SATA SSDs you can buy today. Check out our review for more info. I doubt I'll ever notice the storage subsystem limiting this system's overall performance. With that much capacity to work with, I don't have to worry about adding slower, noisier mechanical drives to this PC, either.
Case: EVGA Hadron Hydro
EVGA may be best-known for its graphics cards around these parts, but the company also happens to make cases, motherboards, several lines of power supplies, and more. The company's Hadron enclosures seemed like a natural fit for the Breadbox. These two cases—the Hadron Air and the Hadron Hydro—both include niceties like a built-in 80 Plus Gold PSU, room for slot-loading optical drives, and two 120-mm fans.
Had I been building with a locked Skylake CPU, the Hadron Air would have been my first choice. The Core i5-6600K is going to need a substantial heatsink to let me fully realize its overclocking potential, though, and despite its other virtues, the Air doesn't have a ton of room for tower-style CPU coolers. Liquid cooling of some kind was the obvious answer to that problem, so I went with the Hadron Hydro for the Breadbox. The Hydro version has a compartment above its twin 120-mm fans for a 240-mm radiator.
EVGA earns points for giving the Hadron twin storage sleds with mounting provisions for both 2.5" and 3.5" drives, but the drive cage is riveted in place. That choice makes this enclosure less flexible than it could be. Considering the Hadron first appeared in late 2013, I'll forgive its rigid configuration—we need both of those drive sleds, anyway.
The Hadron's sleek piano-black front panel should look right at home in any setting, but I'm less pleased with the bare steel and brightly-colored cables visible inside. For the $170 builders will pay for the Hadron Hydro right now, the black finish should extend inside and out, and a modular PSU would be preferable. To be fair, few of those unpainted surfaces will be visible with a system inside the case.
Builders will need to be careful around the Hadron's side window. While I'm a fan of windowed cases for their aesthetic benefits, the transparent plastic used on the Hadron is quite soft. Even light polishing with a microfiber cloth left prominent scratches in the window's surface. Given how readily case windows attract dust and fingerprints, the choice of material for the Hadron's window isn't ideal.
CPU cooler: EVGA Hadron Hydro custom liquid-cooling kit
Here's where my Breadbox gets a little wild. Normally, I would turn to a closed-loop liquid cooler for overclocking the CPU in a Mini-ITX system, but EVGA just so happens to make a complete custom liquid-cooling kit for the Hadron Hydro case. This kit includes a pump, radiator, fittings, tubing, coolant, and a CPU water block.
This is the first custom water-cooling loop I've ever laid hands on, but EVGA's kit seems reasonably priced and of high quality. The included radiator is far thicker than that of any closed-loop liquid cooler I've ever used, and it could probably keep a small engine cool, never mind my Core i5-6600K. All of the included fittings feel like chrome-plated brass.
Despite my inexperience with custom liquid-cooling hardware, this $140 kit (and the included instruction manual) made me feel pretty confident in my ability to put a loop together without causing leaks or shorting out any expensive hardware. One could probably even add a graphics-card water block to the loop later, too. Like the Trident Z RAM in this box, a full custom liquid loop isn't strictly necessary, but it sure is nice.