A majority of the builds that I have at this point are SFF (Small Form Factor) builds but typically going SFF requires compromises. If you want something extremely fast, you are going to deal with heat. The other option is to go with one of the community made cases which are more compact and have better cooling without having to go with an ITX length video card. But they are expensive. So I was excited to see that Raijintek had a new design with a Dan Case like design with a full-length GPU on one side and the motherboard on the other. Their Ophion is also much cheaper as well and available in two size options. I was most excited for the Ophion Evo which is a little taller and adds support for a 240mm radiator. I’ve been using the Ophion Evo for a while now, you might have even seen it in our Asus Ryuo review, and today I am finally going to give the rundown on my experience with the case.
Product Name: Raijintek Ophion Evo
Review Sample Provided by: Raijintek
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
The packaging for the Ophion Evo was simple and to the point. It comes in a brown box with black print and the front has a drawing of the case. The model name is most prominent then they point out that this is an aluminum mini-ITX case along with the Raijintek branding and a glass sticker that warns people to be careful and also lets you know this case has tempered glass side panels. The end of the case does have a specification listing which even includes max height on the CPU cooler and graphics card length as well as mentioning that a 240 radiator fits. This is a lot more information than you get on a lot of boxes and it would give you the info needed to buy the rest of your components.
Inside of the box, you have the case wrapped up in plastic and then two foam panels that hold the case up away from all of the edges and absorb some shock from when the box gets tossed around.
Also inside you do get an instruction manual which has a picture and count for all of the screws right on the front. Then you get a bundle of foam insulation and a bag filled with the case screws, rubber hard drive mounts, and zip ties. This is a small case and they give you a good amount of zip ties to get your wiring in order. You might be wondering about those foam strips. Those are a little weird, they are included as an optional way to seal the edge around the glass side panels if you don’t want that large gap to be part of your ventilation.
If you have been following small form factor cases for a while now, the Ophion Evo’s shape and layout shouldn’t be a huge shocker. There have been a few cases designed by the community which have been very popular that stick to this small size but put the motherboard and video card on different sides like this. Raijintek didn’t change the layout all that much with the exception of the Evo version that I am tested today is taller to support water cooling. What they did do however is bring this shape and layout more into the mainstream, the community designed cases have been very expensive. This is partially because of their build quality, but also because building in small numbers doesn’t allow for the price to drop. The Ophion Evo also goes with an open look with it having tempered glass panels on both sides where the community cases haven’t gone that direction for the most part.
So the tempered glass side panels end up being a significant part of the styling on the Ophion Evo. The main reason is that you can basically see through the case with them being on both sides like this. Of course, once you get hardware in a lot of that will be blocked and you will then get to look at your hardware from both sides. The glass has just a slight tint to it and in these pictures, it isn’t visible at all. The motherboard side of the case has the Raijintek logo etched into it in the bottom right corner. As for holding them on the case has standoffs with large rubber rings around them which the glass sits on. Then they went with a wide thumb screw to hold the glass in place. The thumbscrews have rubber on the glass side as well, which while that makes sense there are a lot of tempered glass cases that don’t do that. The most interesting part though is how the standoffs hold the glass out away from the aluminum side panels on the case. This puts ventilation out around the glass which helps a lot given that a majority of the Ophion Evo’s ventilation is up on the top and with glass you can’t just add vents like you could with a traditional side panel or acrylic side panel window.
So up on top, as I mentioned before the Evo design that we have here is a little taller to better support water cooling. With that, the top of the case is basically all ventilation with pentagon shaped holes. There are then 8 slots along the edges for fan mounting. It almost looks like if they got a little creative there is enough width for 140mm fans here but the slots are all sized for 120mm fans. This allows for radiator or fan mounting up top and with the mounting being slots, there is adjustability to move it left or right depending on what configuration you go with inside. Then for filtering and to somewhat cover up the top for a cleaner look, the Ophion Evo has a magnetic filter that goes over the entire vent. The case itself is designed for this filter so when it is on you can see that it sits flush with the rest of the case.
Around on the back of the Ophion Evo, you can get a better idea of the cases layout. The motherboard rear I/O hole is on the left but you can see just how close the two PCI slots are for the video card which is on the back side behind the motherboard tray. Below that is a power plug which means the PSU is inside of the case using an extension cord. The rest of the back has more pentagon shaped ventilation wherever it could be used. This view also gives a better look at how both side panels are spaced out from the case. Raijintek did include foam insulation if you want to seal that area.
The back side of the case looks nearly the same as the front/left side. This is where the video card goes. This also gives a better angle to see the small wings on the back of the case on each side where the aluminum panels stick out. You can also see that those panels have a brushed finished and are anodized black and then the outside edge has been re-machined for a little bling.
The front of the Ophion Evo is where you can really see the Raijintek styling. If you have seen our Lunchbox 4 build you would recognize that they like to go with a brushed aluminum look that is simple almost to a fault. The front here hard rounded edged up on top and bottom and really not too much going on. There is a USB 3.0 connection and a USB Type-C connection with it for the front I/O and then one large power button in the middle. The power button has the Raijintek R logo on it and has an LED ring around it. I was really happy to see the Type-C connection, not enough cases are including them. As for the power button, I would have preferred a vandal type power button here. That would allow you to change the LED color easier and frankly, the plastic button used here feels a little flimsy. I don’t power my PC on and off a lot, but if I did that often I might be a little concerned that it might break in the future.
The last area to take a look at is the bottom of the Ophion Evo and honestly if I showed you this first you might assume it was the back of the case. You can see that they did put triangle shaped rubber feet on each corner. The feet are actually the same as on our Raijintek Metis. There is more pentagon shaped ventilation holes including a large section on the right which is near the back of the case where they also included another magnetic filter. The large hole in the bottom of the case is actually the mounting hole for the cases ATX sized power supply and you can see the extension cord that runs from here to the back of the case sitting there as well.
Diving into the Ophion Evo isn’t very hard, the tempered glass panels on both sides are held in place with four thumbscrews each. Pulling those two panels opens up the case completely and it also takes away most of the weight. There isn’t much to the structure of this case without the glass. You have the motherboard backplate that runs up the middle of the case ¾ of the way to mount the motherboard too and then the aluminum around the outside. They ship the case with the long ribbon cable required for the unique layout of the motherboard on one side and the video card on the other installed already so you can see that wrapping up around on this side. It isn’t a high-end cable with extra metallic shielding on it so be careful with it when you are moving everything around. Ribbon cables for PCIe can be hit and miss as it is, it is a delicate connection.
So the left half of the motherboard side of the case is where the power supply is mounted. This case has support for a full ATX PSU which is a surprise, our Metis was the same way. But if you look closely you can also see how the motherboard standoffs are right next to the PSU so things are going to be tight once you get that in the case.
Initially, I was confused by the mounting holes that you can see just above where the PSU goes, they cross over the motherboard backplate but once I pulled the front panel of the case off I could better see what was going on. You can mount two 2/5 inch drives in the otherwise wasted space in the front of the case. A nice use of space. You can also get a better look at the power button here as well. There are two slots to allow for SATA and SATA power cables and adding the two drives doesn’t get in the way of cooling, CPU cooler size, radiator size, or video card length. I should also point out that the non-Evo model only has the one drive mount in this area due to its shorter height.
Speaking of CPU cooler size. If you decide to go with air cooling the Ophion Evo supports a cooler up to 90mm tall and it can’t be any larger than your ITX motherboard in any dimensions. There is an access hole to get at the back of the CPU but you will have to have your GPU removed to do it.
That said, going air cooling on the Ophion Evo would be silly, this is the larger version designed specifically to add more space for water cooling. You can see it up in the top portion of the case where the divider doesn’t get in the way. You have support for a full 240mm radiator and two 120mm fans. The non-Evo model is shorter and this area only supports two fans or hard drives. This Evo model doesn’t have those extra hard drive mounting holes up top, but why would you get the taller model and then not use that space.
The back side of the Ophion Evo is a lot thinner than the front, you just need to support a video card here. So this side does share space up top for the water cooling. But you can see how the ribbon cable comes pre-mounted a few inches up, you have support for a lot of video cards in this configuration. You have the full length of the case which gives you up to 330mm of space there. Then there are two slots and a half of a slot in extra space beside that to help with a lot of those 2+ wide video cards. Then up on top, there is just under an inch from the top of the PCI brackets to the top of the motherboard backplate. I will find out later if there is any more room beyond that with an AIO installed but even that space should be more than enough for just about every card you might want to put in here. The rest of the space on this side should come in handy with getting wiring cleaned up. You can see that all of the front panel cables already run through so the space should help in cleaning everything up when you build in the case. Which will be needed given both sides are glass.
Installation and Performance
Now that we have an idea of what the Ophion Evo is all about, I just needed to get a system built in it. Obviously getting started I needed to pull the two glass side panels off giving us access to the entire case. From there I prepped our components. I went with an Asus Strix X470 Gaming motherboard and the Ryzen 2600X which were both about what I would be looking at with a mid to high-end build in a case like this. The 2700X would be nice, but at $185 the 2600X is a great deal. You get two cores at nearly the same clock speed for $110 less than the 2700X.
Next, I went with the Crucial P1 SSD which gives us NVMe performance but with the exception of the Intel 660p which are being cleared out right now, it is one of the cheaper NVMe drives you can get. The 1TB model was just enough to not worry about space in a LAN rig for the OS and any games I might want later.
Then for memory I went with the RGB Ballistix Tactical kit, with the glass side panels I thought this kit would match the Strix motherboard really well and it did. I then prepped the motherboard for our water cooling kit which was the Asus Ryou that I reviewed a while back. I thought this would be a good way to check out the built-in screen and it also happened to be the only 240mm AIO kit I had.
Installing the motherboard once I had everything mounted on it was just the four screws and making sure I had the rear I/O panel on. The only trouble was understanding that the PCIe riser cable needed to run behind the motherboard and you have to plug it in before you install the board. There isn’t any extra length in it.
My main focus was getting in the AIO water cooling kit into the case. Preinstalling the mounts to the motherboard helped but this is still a small case, don’t let all of that GPU space fool you. So I was concerned with getting the radiator installed. Initially, I installed it using the screws that our AIO kit came with. I did this because I was worried about having too long of a screw puncturing a hole in the radiator. This worked well initially but then I ran into a big problem. Those nice flush mounted fan filters up top didn’t want to flush mount as you can see below. Using the button head screws and washers pushed up on it. After digging through the case screws I did find countersunk screws with the radiators thread pattern, they were a little longer than I would have liked but I just went with it and it worked.
Now for the power supply, I know the Ophion Evo supports a full ATX PSU but I really prefer to have a little room in my builds and I had an 800 watt Silverstone SX800-LTI that I had taken a look at. Not only would it allow a little more space, but being Titanium rated I couldn’t ask for a better PSU. But there was a problem, the power supply doesn’t come with an adapter plate and I couldn’t find one of my extras so I 3D printed an adapter.
With the SFX PSU installed I had to finish the AIO installed. I had to play around a little moving it back and forth to find where I wanted it and which side I wanted the tubes running. If I had gone with an ATX PSU I think I would have ran the tubes from the right side but the SFX opened up a little room for the Ryou kits long tubes to keep them from being all bunched up on the right. You can see how tight things would have been if the PSU was taller, wider, and thicker. Also to note, the far side trube on the water cooling is going to push up against the motherboard backplate unless your kit has a swivel fitting at the radiator or thin lines. I even toyed around with the idea of running the tubes around the back and up under the motherboard. It would have looked amazing, but would have gotten in the way of the video card.
Speaking of the video card, most of our wiring ended up staying over on the front side but I did run the PCI power cable up over the top. From there I installed the EVGA RTX 2070 which fit perfectly and matches the Ryzen 2600X when it comes to good performance but not 2080 Ti levels of cost. I did run into one big concern. With the radiator and fans installed the power connection coming out of the top of our video card was extremely tight. This also means that if you have a tall video card you might need to consider two things. First, if the card is tall, make sure the connection is on the end or recessed lower than the rest of the card. You might also have to consider thinner fans like the Noctua NF-A12x15 which is 15mm thick not 25mm thick like most fans.
With everything installed I could finally button everything up and I must say other than some of the wiring which a set of custom cables would help with significantly, the build looks amazing in my opinion. The full glass panels really complement the vertical GPU mount. Especially with that blacked out but transparent EVGA card. On the motherboard side, I think the AIO screen and RGB memory will set things off and seriously as I write this I could have done better with the wiring. The thick USB 3.0 cable though was a pain given where it ended up plugging in on the Asus board.
As for performance, well even though this is an SFF build. The extra height that allows you to fit a full 240mm AIO into the case makes a significant difference. Typically in a build like this, you would be struggling with CPU cooling and that doesn’t even include keeping the GPU, RAM, and motherboard cool as well. Tossing a 240mm cooler on the CPU handles that completely. I ended up running this in a push configuration, using the top as an exhaust which ran counter to the dust filters. But I liked being able to pull in cool air all over and to also take advantage of heat rising. The end result was a build that temperatures were never a concern. The CPU ran cool as did everything else. Now with those fans right up on top noise was a concern, especially given how noisy the Asus fans ended up being. Long term this build would really benefit from a better set of fans to quiet things down. If you aren’t installing an AIO you really need to install the top fans if nothing else. The case doesn’t come with any of its own fans, but it is designed with that airflow in mind. Now the optional one 120mm fan mount under the motherboard is also interesting and could really add to cooling if you go with air cooling as well, but keep in mind it will make wiring around the motherboard even tighter as well.
Overall and Final Verdict
I’ve actually been using the Ophion Evo for a while now and in a lot of ways the case met or excited my high expectations. The cases split layout is something I have been a big fan of and most of the cases with that design have been limited available high priced and out of most peoples budget. Raijintek, with the Ophion and Ophion Evo, is helping make that design a little more available giving new options in the SFF market. This is especially true when you also take into account the glass side panels on both sides, most of those community made cases don’t have that as an option at all and when they do it is an expensive add on.
I’m especially digging the Ophion Evo being an option, adding that extra space up top to fit a full 240mm AIO is a significant upgrade. It does make this a large case for SFF at just under 19 liters in volume. This is one of the areas where the community focused cases spend more time on. The Ophion Evo could be much smaller without giving up too much by going a little thinner and dropping full ATX PSU support for SFX. The extra width is only important for that and to support 90mm tall CPU heatsinks. On the normal Ophion that height is huge, but with an AIO in the Evo, a tall heatsink is no longer needed.
You end up with dual 2.5-inch drive mounts hidden up under the front panel and frankly, I think there is enough room to double stack those as well. Four 2.5 inch drives and the 1-2 M.2 drives that ITX boards support could get interesting. Then there is the full-length GPU support, as someone who has built multiple SFF builds that required ITX length cards it is nice to not have to sacrifice cooling or performance for once. You could pack a 2080 Ti in here without a problem. The PCI mount could be a little lower, however, clearance gets tight up top when you have an AIO installed at the current height and frankly, there is room, it didn’t need to be so high up. Combine all of that into a good looking design and you might be wondering if there is anything wrong at all with the design.
Well like a lot of brushed aluminum cases, you will need to keep a towel with you if you are taking this case to LANs. Not only is the glass going to pick up fingerprints like on every case, but the brushed aluminum likes to scrub dead skin right off your hands. It’s a little gross and it looks really bad when it happens, but it's just one of those things you deal with. It wipes right off at least. I also wasn’t a fan of the power button design at all, a simple vandal switch would have been nice. Beyond that, I would still recommend going with an SFX PSU in this case, even though it supports an ATX design. The smaller design allows you to pick which way you want the fan to face and it leaves a lot more room for wiring and more importantly airflow.
Speaking of airflow, performance was great, assuming you are running an AIO. If you are looking to go air cooled, skip the Evo all together and consider the normal Ophion. It is 45mm shorter which is 1.77 inches but still has the same CPU cooler clearance.
The Ophion Evo will run you $139 which is still a lot cheaper than the community-driven options like the Dan Case and the N Case which are both around $200. To be fair both of those are a little better quality than the Ophion Evo, but $60 less and with tempered glass side panels on both side isn’t an insignificant amount. The non-Evo Ophion is a little better priced as well at $125. Overall this is a great option for those of you looking to go ITX, especially if you don’t really want to fight with getting the ideal cooling setup or with shorter ITX length cards. Just know that with those glass side panels on both sides that you need to step up your wiring game when you go to build in it.
Live Pricing: HERE
**Post Review Followup**
Raijintek followed up after the review to let us know that the PCIe Riser has been lowered 2cm and the power button has been revised. Both done after our sample was sent out. It sounds like they have handled two of the issues that I ran into in my testing.