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Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC
  • Cryo Nano Water-Cooled SFF Gaming PC

Summary

Our Score:

8

If you want a high-performance, overclocked PC, you're usually going to end up with a big, heavy beast – like the CyberPower Infinity i7 Phoenix. On the other hand, small form factor (SFF) machines tend to compromise dramatically, and if you do want a powerful one you usually end up paying a significant premium for a machine that doesn't offer much flexibility. Common limitations include needing to use slim-line optical drives, only being able to install a single hard drive or small video card, and small, noisy fans – and that's if you avoid systems from the likes of Shuttle with proprietary (i.e. non-replaceable) motherboards.

As one of the few assemblers to offer high-performance gaming PCs in relatively small chassis in the UK, can Cryo change all that? Well, on paper the company's Nano certainly makes for an impressive attempt. Housed in an attractive SFF Lian Li case with optional custom "Graphite" finish, the Nano offers a water-cooled, overclocked Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, as much as 6TB of hard drive storage (in various configurations including SSD+HDD and RAID), and pretty much any graphics card setup you can afford, up to twin ATI Radeon HD 5970s - all installed in a high-end Asus Republic of Gamers micro-ATX board.

The system we were sent will set you back just under £1,000 and provides a Core i5 overclocked to over 4GHz, an ATI Radeon 5850, a DVD-rewriter and 500GB hard drive. So, it's relatively modest considering some of the options on offer but it still should be an adequate gaming system.

The first, very pleasant, surprise came when the system arrived; unlike even the most expensive PCs we've had in to date, which all came in various cardboard boxes, the Cryo is packaged in a very solid wooden crate lined with thick foam and sporting rope carrying handles – nice! Though we were slightly less enthusiastic after removing the 14 screws that hold the lid closed, this is undoubtedly the best-packaged system we've come across, and lends the Nano a feel of class before it's even out of the box.

At 279 x 262 x 373mm (WxDxH), the Lian Li PC-V351 is barely small enough to still be called a SFF case. With its brushed metal sides and tight, unbroken lines it's a very attractive box though. Unfortunately, our model came with the aforementioned Graphite finish (offering "aerospace-grade carbon fibre and chrome construction"), which is supposed to not only lend a uniquely attractive visual impact but also help shield the PC from EMF for whatever that's worth.

I say unfortunately because, in real life, the graphite finish (which is only applied to the two sides of the case) really isn't that attractive. Personally, I think the carbon fibre panels look inferior to the brushed aluminium they hide, and while this might be subjective, the poor finish and fit of the panels is anything but. It's especially noticeable around the side connectivity, where cut-outs are sloppily done by hand.

Another negative is that these custom carbon fibre panels block the case's second 5.25in external bay so you can't add a second optical drive or memory card reader at a later date, not to mention that they make plugging USB devices in less secure due to the increased width. Considering you have to cough up an extra £230 for the privilege of owning the custom Graphite finish we heartily recommend avoiding it, especially as without it the Nano looks stunning.

Dave W

April 8, 2010, 4:48 pm

'as much as 6GB of hard drive storage'





Wow!

TechVegan

April 8, 2010, 5:36 pm

@Dave W:


Haha, oops. Thanks for pointing that out, it's corrected.

Tabasco

April 8, 2010, 6:59 pm

Having seen this build on another website a couple of months ago, it does seem that Cryo stuggle with cutting decent looking openings in the case. Even with those badly cut openings it's a lovely looking bit of kit...

Xiphias

April 8, 2010, 7:02 pm

That looks pretty impressive and if Cryo can work out their polish issues they could become a favourite.

TechVegan

April 8, 2010, 7:21 pm

@Tabasco and Xiphias:


Or just order without the Graphite finish - prettier, easier, more flexible and cheaper ;)

TechnicPuppet

April 8, 2010, 7:43 pm

Does it play Farmville at 4xAA and 16xABCDEF though??????

Singulariter

April 8, 2010, 9:30 pm

@Ardjuna - Definitely right on the stock Lian Li finish. Waaay better quality.

Singulariter

April 8, 2010, 9:38 pm

Just FYI, the stock Lian Li version of this case has non-hex side panels.

betelgeus

April 8, 2010, 10:29 pm

is there nothing supporting the psu? looks like its hanging on for grim life.

PB

April 9, 2010, 3:30 am

Great review thanks. I'm thinking of getting this but with the Thermaltake LANBOX (carry handle) (+£5). Do you think the finish may be better? I like the idea of a carry handle but anything I should watch out for e.g overheating?

TechVegan

April 12, 2010, 9:03 pm

@Alan Clinch:


I'm not sure even the £2,800 {http://www.trustedreviews.com/...} would be able to cope with Farmville at that detail level ;)





@Singulariter:


Spot-on about those screws, I should have mentioned that so thanks for pointing it out.





@betelgeus:


It does, actually... But don't worry, in reality it's fairly solidly supported by four screws.





@PB:


Glad you liked it :)





The finish won't be better because the original brushed-metal finish on the Lian Li case is truly excellent. It's the custom Graphite finish that's been applied to this case that makes it look cheap, and as it's an optional extra (also for the LANBOX), you can just leave it off and not pay £230 for the privilege.





I like carrying handles on PCs too, because I move mine around a lot. As for overheating, that's really a query you should direct to Cryo. I'm guessing they would ensure that the components will work well in the case, and modify it if necessary (they added a custom 90mm fan to the Lian Li PC-V351R too for the Nano).

Nick G

July 8, 2010, 1:29 pm

That has to be the ugliest computer I've ever seen, and it looks like it doesn't even have build quality either. Looks like Mr Cryo's son made it as his GCSE CDT project.

TechVegan

July 8, 2010, 8:08 pm

@Nick Gilbert:


Build quality is actually quite good. Just get it without the extra finish and logo and it will look and feel like a premium PC.

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