Cars, tech, games… You name it, I’ll probably love it.
With the return of the Mac Pro’s “cheese grater” design , I thought I’d try and revisit the previous model. I set out to bid on a 2008 model, naturally, in traditional eBay fashion, I was outbid within the last 3 seconds of the auction.
This got me thinking, why spend £££’s on an outdated PC with a quirky design when I could just upgrade my current computer on a budget? Of course, that’s exactly what I did. The goal here was to create a budget computer that could compete with said Apple device. This meant finding a case that is simple, but beautiful.
Budgeting & Benefiting
The Kolink Stronghold can be picked up from online stores such as Amazon for around £45. But, the keen-eyed buyer could trawl the internet for one priced around £35.
Cost isn’t always everything, there are many PC cases that are cheap for a reason – they’re just awful. In fact, my previous case was a terrible cheap Corsair case that was abysmal. Not that Corsair are bad… but that particular one was just pants.
But to the potential buyer, you can rest knowing that the cost to quality ratio is well balanced. Let’s begin with some tech specs:
20.1cm x 43.5cm x 43.5cm (Width, Height & Depth)
Max GPU Length
Max CPU Cooler Height
2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, Audio input/output ports
2 x 120mm Top, 3 x 120mm Front, 1 x 120mm Rear
240mm Top, 280mm Front
Hard Drive Mounting
2 x 3.5″ HDDs, 4 x SSDs
From the specs you can see you’re getting some decent inclusions. Though, I should mention for anyone stuck in the last decade, you won’t have any option for optical drives. But, if you’re looking for a well cooled machine, then I see this as a great design choice by leaving space for an additional front fan.
If you’re looking for a clean look then Kolink has you covered. Cable management can often feel like its an art to complete properly. Fortunately, I found it easier than creating beautiful art. Though, by the end, it did feel that way.
The Kolink Stronghold makes it an absolute breeze for cable management, and there’s a good reason why:
Power Supply Cover
It’s not necessarily new or ground-breaking, but it is handy to have. Especially, if like me, you have a PSU that is not modular.
It’s particularly handy for hiding some of the uglier parts of any computer, the mass of cables being one. Oddly enough though, it stretches the cover over the hard disk bays. Though, to be honest, hard disks aren’t usually that interesting to look at.
Another point to be made is that there are plenty of points throughout the casing that makes for easy access. This is an absolute necessity to make sure there are no trailing wires over your motherboard.
I’ve found no issues whatsoever in finding holes I can easily slot the wires through. There’s also plenty of space to hide wires behind the case and PSU cover mentioned earlier.
I’m not saying trailing cables are completely dismissed, but, there are less compromises because of these additions.
Room For More
As mentioned earlier, the Kolink Stronghold has removed the space that would typically be taken by optical drives. This really benefits us by having a relatively small case but with plenty of room for more on the inside.
Let’s start with the obvious:
Larger Graphics Cards
The inner gamer in anyone looks for the best. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but, in this instance it can be that way.
Take for example, the Nvidia Titan RTX – an incredible graphic processing unit, that tops in width of around 33cm. It would have no trouble fitting in this case with a little more space left afterwards. So, it’s safe to assume getting almost any GPU in this case will be no issue.
But more space, isn’t just about bigger GPUs…
Though it’s not officially stated by Kolink, there is an option to side mount solid state drives.
Okay, so I know I stated that hard drives aren’t really an eye catcher. But the story with SSDs is quite the opposite. The casing for most solid state drives are unique to one another.
With that in mind, showing off an SSD through the tempered glass frame could prove ideal for the tech perfectionists out there.
I like this a lot, considering a majority of cases opt in for rear mounted SSDs rather than showing it off from the front.
Fans, fans, fans!
Cooling is important for the longevity of the components in a computer. So, having plenty of points to install fans/radiators are important. There are 6 places in total where fans can be installed.
More than enough for a case of this size. Although, to have room for larger fans would probably benefit this more.
But with that being said, there are two pre-installed fans – one at the front for intake and another at the rear for exhaust. Probably not the prettiest, but they’re noticeably quiet.
There’s a really basic solution to adjustable fans too, I was surprised to see how the fans are installed. But, it did mean I could adjust the fans to exactly where I wanted them to be.
Looks & Improvements
Overall, I’d say that the Kolink Stronghold is quite the looker. It’s definitely one of the more minimalistic approaches I’ve seen to case designs in recent years.
Most cases seem to be set on being “flashy”, extremely bizarre and angular. I guess it’s just a way of being more attractive to anyone making a gaming rig.
But not the Stronghold… It seems to be laid back and simple. And for what I wanted, it’s a good match. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, because at the end of it I wanted to make a PC that was on the level of Apple’s Mac Pro. But this, out of all the other budget builds I’ve seen recently, definitely has the best results.
Kolink have been generous enough offering two colours – the white one as seen here, and the alternative black.
Personally, I prefer this white because of the contrasting black accent colours. But, I know for sure some prefer a more basic black. Then again, it’d be great to see an inverse option: black with white accented parts.
As this is a cost effective case, it will come with some defects. There have been some reports of the metal being a little too malleable and can bend quite easily if you’re not careful.
The PCI covers also seem to be a little odd – you have bend them off with force or have some strong scissors on standby.
The fans beneath the front panel can be a little fiddly to get to. I can imagine having to change them or clean them will be a little difficult.
I’d say that the Kolink Stronghold is a great cost effective case. It’s design is comparable to that of an NZXT case but at a fraction of the cost. If anything, I even think it looks a little better than some of the higher end cases.
Though, if you are heavily reliant on using optical drives or other front mounted drives then it definitely won’t be the one for you.
That being said, with its large tempered glass frame, it’ll be right up there with any custom PC enthusiast. It’ll give you a great opportunity to customise your look to what you will feel best.
Just remember though, even though there is extra space for larger graphics cards, you might want to make sure you’ve got a good cooling solution to hand.