So today Corsair is introducing their new Spec case and typically I would check it out in one of our traditional case reviews. I’ve done this so many times in the past, in fact I counted, we have done 112 case reviews over the past 9 to 10 years. To do something different this time around I decided rather than do a review that we take a look at the case then do a build in it. So like the original Spec-04, the Spec-04 Tempered Glass model is a budget case. It has an MSRP of $59 so to go with that I thought I would put together a budget build to go along with it. I can’t wait to see how well it performs!

Article Name: Corsair Spec-04 TG Budget Build

Review Sample Provided by: Corsair, Gigabyte, AMD, and MSI

Written by: Wes Compton

Pictures by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

The Corsair Spec-04 TG

Okay so before we dive into the build I did want to take a look at the new case. I’m building in the Corsair Spec-04 TG. So the Spec-04 isn’t really new, but this model has a tempered glass side panel hence the TG at the end. The Spec-04 is a budget case from Corsair that has been out for a while now and while they have added the glass this version would still be considered a budget case as well. In fact, the price difference between the two is $10. So it ships in a standard brown box with line drawings of the case on the outside. Inside the box, it comes wrapped up in a plastic bag and protected from damage with foam.

image 1

image 2

So here is the main look of the Spec-o4 TG. You have that same angular front panel with the red trim. The big change is the move to a tempered glass side panel. Now because the case was designed for a sheet metal side panel with a window the glass side does stick out more than it would on a case designed around it. Even on a budget case like this, the glass is still thick, you can only go so thin before it breaking is a concern.

image 3

image 4

The glass is mounted using extra wide thumbscrews screwed into a standoff with a rubber mount around it. This works with the large hole in the glass to keep it from rattling or touching any of the metal panels. They also painted the top and bottom edge of the glass, a really nice touch that helps hide the original side panel mounting, something that some of the other manufacturers have forgotten to do when adding a tempered glass model of an already existing design.

image 7

image 17

The mesh on the front of the case really caught my eye as well. Corsair went with a dual mesh design. If you look closely at it you can see a mesh with small holes in the back but a honeycomb design on the outside with much larger holes.

image 5

The right side of the case doesn’t have tempered glass though so you have the thin metal side panel. They have gone old school here and added a bevel to the panel to give more wiring room and to give the otherwise boring side panel a little style. This side does also have our front I/O as well right on the front edge. You get a square power button with a white LED backlit logo up top then a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port for USB, microphone and headphone jacks, and an LED indicator for the hard drive down at the bottom. Then down at the bottom is a tiny reset button.

image 10

image 11

As a reminder that this is a budget case and you can only get so fancy the Spec-04 TG doesn’t have much styling up top. It is basically part of the squared off metal shell that by the way is made of a really thin gauge metal like any other budget case. You do have the two 120mm fan mounts up here if you need more airflow and fingerprints that I added for styling!

image 6

The back of the case has a traditional layout. This means it has an ATX power supply down at the bottom then directly above that the PCI slots. You get a total of 7 PCI slots and they all have the same larger mesh styling that was on the front of the case. There is a 120mm fan mount up above that next to the rear I/O. The only confusing there back here is why there is a square hole up near the top of the case.

image 8

image 9

image 12

image 13

Down on the bottom Corsair did slip in a slide out fan filter for the bottom mounted PSU fan. You can pull it out via a small tab at the back. The feet are all large but then have smaller rubber pads on them, it’s a little weird that they didn’t use the extra space for more grip, not that the case needs it at all. Beyond that, the feet hold the case up off your desk or floor high enough for that PSU fan to have good airflow.

image 18

Okay so here is the interior layout. You get full ATX support with a large CPU bracket access hole. There are holes for cable management but some of them are in weird spots. The three to the right of the CPU access hole, the one near the rear I/O, and the one to the right of the sixth PCI bracket down are all covered up by an ATX motherboard. There are holes a little farther to the right though so it's not to big of a deal.

image 16

While there are vents and mounts for two 120mm fans up top and one at the back as well, the case only comes with this one fan. This is where they save money to keep the costs down. One is enough for a basic build like what I have planned and there is a lot of room including another fan on the front for expansion in the future. The top fan mounts are offset to the left side of the case to help get around your motherboard and this is needed because it mounts directly at the top of the case. This also means that you can’t use the top of the case for a radiator install, it will be too thick so your only option is right on the front.

image 14

image 27

As for storage capacity, you basically get the three slide-out drive brackets. They are toolless for 3.5-inch drives but they also have 2.5 inch SSD mounting holes as well. The flexibility is nice and given the budget friendly price three drives should be enough. The drives are offset a little to the front to allow for more wiring room in the back but I will get to that in a minute.

image 15

image 24

So unlike most new cases, the Spec-04 doesn’t really have a ton of room in the back. In fact all of the holes that are under the ATX motherboards anyhow are hardly useful given the amount of space directly behind the motherboard. You get less than a half an inch total. Space does open up a little more to the left with a small channel than you can route cables up. This is where the additional room behind the hard drives helps. Plus it should make getting at those plugs easier. Beyond that, there are zip tie mounts but mostly in the no-go zone. The overall design on this side is like looking back 5 or 6 years, but I guess you are saving money on the case at the expense of wire management.

image 26

image 23

image 25

 


The part list

Now that we have taken a look at Corsairs case we have to pick out some parts to fill everything up. Let me first say that a few of the components that I tested with don’t really match what I would buy if buying today, so I’m going to make two part lists. One showing what I would buy and what I used for testing. Other than the SSD, none of the changes would affect performance. I’m just in the middle of moving so the entire office was boxed up so there were a few things I forgot to keep out of the boxes like the stock AMD cooler for the 1200, memory, and my hard drive. Then for things like the power supply, I actually requested the CX 650W but we had a mix up and ended up with a nicer, but more expensive PSU.

Suggested build

Price

Link

AMD Ryzen 3 1200

$109.88

HERE

ASUS Prime B350M-A/CSM

$83.95

HERE

MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING X 4G

$143.66

HERE

Corsair Carbide SPEC-04 TG

$59.99

HERE

Corsair CX 650W 80+ Bronze

$59.99

HERE

Western Digital 1TB Hard Drive

$39.88

HERE

Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB DDR4 2666MHz

$89.95

HERE

Total

$587.30

 

So the idea here was to get a quad core CPU at the lowest possible price and the Ryzen 3 1200 is the obvious choice. The new Core i3 8100 would also be a good choice but motherboard pricing is better with Ryzen currently on the lower end with Intel only releasing the higher end Z370 chipset. So to go with that I just needed a cheap board with a little bit of overclocking support so any B350 chipset board would do. I did my testing with the Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3, but Asus has a few cheaper options, especially if you are willing to go with an mATX board. While the Spec 04 TG is an ATX case, an mATX board fits in it fine and saves us almost $25 bucks.

Then the other big decision was the GPU but with today's market still jacked up from this spring and summers Ethereum boom the GTX 1050 Ti is really the only decently priced option. Ideally, I would want to get in with a GTX 1060 or an RX 480/580 but they are still hard to come by. Lucky for us, the Spec 04 TG has the room to expand in the future so you can do this build and they jump up to something higher end later when you can afford it and prices are hopefully better.

The rest was just about keeping costs down. I wanted a 550 watt or higher power supply but the CX 650 was priced well. If you have some room in the budget the Corsair CS-650M from Newegg would also be a good pick. It currently has a $20 rebate that makes it even cheaper and it is modular, but you have to spend a little more and wait on the rebate. For storage, I would prefer to go with an SSD but in this price range, I think having enough capacity to install a few games is more important. That said later an SSD would be my first upgrade. To keep costs low I went with a refurbished drive, it should be good enough to install your games on but a little more for a new drive might be worth it if you plan on storing anything important on it. Then last but not least we have the memory. Like video cards memory prices have been crazy this year so in order to keep things under $600, I had to go with just a single stick of 8GB memory. I went with Corsairs Vengeance LPX over some of the other brands because it is known to work well with Ryzen. Adding a second stick later would be a nice upgrade as well, but for now, 8 gigs should get us gaming.

Build as tested

Price

Link

AMD Ryzen 3 1200

$109.88

HERE

Gigabyte GA-AB350-GAMING 3

$108.88

HERE

MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING X 4G

$143.66

HERE

Corsair Carbide SPEC-04 TG

$59.99

HERE

Corsair TX 750M

$89.99

HERE

HyperX Savage 240GB SSD

$134.99

HERE

Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB DDR4 2666MHz

$89.95

HERE

Noctua NH-L9a-AM4

$39.90

HERE

Total

$777.24

 

image 22

 


The Build

So like I mentioned in the previous section when talking about the components I went with. With our upcoming move, I did have to make a few changes to the actual build when I went to get it all together. One of those came up as soon as I started with everything. The original plan was to use the stock cooler with the Ryzen R3 1200 but well, it was buried in a box behind 50 other boxes at the back of a room. Lucky for me Noctua had just sent over a few coolers including the new NH-L9a-AM4 and while it doesn’t fit the budget, it will keep things cool for my testing. So I started off the build by getting our CPU installed into the Gigabyte motherboard and pre-installing the cooler. I would normally also install the memory but I was scrambling to find the Vengeance memory that I had planned on using (that I later realized was also back near the cooler *facepalm*).

image 21

To install the motherboard I slipped in the rear I/O shield and then dropped the board into place. This specific board is a little thinner than normal so it actually doesn’t even reach the three screws over on the far right so I only had 5 screws to install. It would be six but Corsair is nice enough to have one screwless standoff that helps center the board in the right spot to make the other screws easier to install. With those in I set out to also installed our video card. I will say I’m not a fan at all of the shield over the PCI slots on the back of the case, it is held in place with two more screws and you might need three hands to be able to hold it in place, hold the screw, and use your screwdriver when reinstalling it.

image 20

With the video card installed I then just had to install our SSD and drop in the power supply to start wiring everything up. I routed the cables where I wanted them to come out but didn’t stress about room in the back too much at the time, just making sure to get each plugged in on the board. From there I flipped everything around to find this wiring mess. I then grabbed three of the four included zip ties and worked on cleaning it up a little. Its far from the cleanest wiring job I’ve ever done but my main goal here was just getting things clean enough that the side panel might go on. Those of you who are spoiled with today's higher end cases don’t know the struggle of praying your side panel will go back on with the wires behind your motherboard tray but this case will give you an idea of what it was like.

image 19

image 29

With the wiring done I put the back panel back on and I can say that overall the case looks good. The wiring isn’t too back for a case without the modern wire management covers and as you can see there is a lot of room for a longer video card in the future. The Gigabyte board also looks really good with the red trim on this specific model.

image 28

 


Performance

With everything together, I was curious how things would perform. I mean I’ve tested the video card and the CPU independently but both are tested in the best possible situation using a 1080Ti on the CPU and with a high-end CPU on the video card. How do things work when paired up though?

Honestly, the scores weren’t as far off as I expected them to be. In 3DMark the scores were within a few hundred from the original scores with the faster CPU and in PCMark 10, for example, the overall score was 500 off from the 1080Ti paired with the 1200.

performance 1

performance 2

performance 3

performance 4

performance 5

performance 6

Now if you are looking at this combination for VR performance you are going to need to step up to the GTX 1060 or an RX 580 if you can find one. The GTX 1050 Ti didn’t do too bad with an average FPS in the orange room benchmark but the target FPS is 109. It is within the Oculus Rift minimum spec though.

performance 7

performance 8

Then for CPU specific benchmarks, I tested in Passmark for the overall and individual scores to allow you to compare to your current rig. Download it and see what you get, you can actually do the same with all of the tests I’ve done so far. Then I also tested using the ever popular Cinebench R15 in all three tests but I was mainly focusing on the CPU and CPU Single Core tests. I was curious if the scores would be any lower with the single channel of memory with our one stick of memory but they were on point with my R3 1200 review tests.

performance 9

performance 10

So I did all of the other tests just for comparisons, my main concern was with actual in game performance. So I tossed a few of my favorite benchmarks on this build to test and then I also installed a few of the top played games to see what you can expect. I did all of my testing at 1080p I don’t think anyone building a rig like this at anything higher than this normally, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people would still be at 720p as well.

Anyhow in the demanding games like Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Ghost Recon Wildlands, I had to keep turning down the settings to try to find better playable settings. In Wildlands it was decently smooth at the high setting but it wasn’t until the low setting that I reached up over 60 FPS. In other words, the really demanding games are going to require a little tweaking to get to that sweet spot but they are all playable at some of their highest or near highest settings. The “esports” games like League of Legends and CS:GO were a lot more forgiving allowing up to mid to high 140’s at their highest settings so if that is your cup of tea a budget build like this is going to do everything you need. I also slipped in PUBG because of its popularity as well and as you can see, it is playable but you need to turn things down if you plan on being in the cities or if you want over 60 FPS.

Game

FPS

Deus Ex Mankind Divided - Ultra - 1080p

25.8 FPS

Deus Ex Mankind Divided - Medium - 1080p

41.9 FPS

League of Legends - Very high –-1080p

144 FPS

CS:GO - High - 1080p

148 FPS

Playerunknown Battlegrounds - High - 1080p

43 FPS

Ghost Recon Wildlands - Ultra - 1080p

24.37 FPS

Ghost Recon Wildlands - High - 1080p

44.14 FPS

Ghost Recon Wildlands - Medium - 1080p

48.27 FPS

Ghost Recon Wildlands - Low - 1080p

69.65 FPS

Overall I was actually really happy with this build. The performance was solid though I do wish GPU prices would calm down as a GTX 1060 would have been the better pick here. Coming in at under $600 with a good looking case with tempered glass and room to expand in the future is awesome. Running AM4 means you can sell the R3 1200 later and jump up to any of the Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPUs later, full support for a full sized GPU, and room to expand both storage and memory if your budget and needs change. 

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

Log in to comment

We have 572 guests and one member online

supportus

Advertisement