It’s 2023, and what better way to start the year than reviewing a PC case? ADATA-owned XPG sent us their Starker Air for review, a compact mid-tower, mid-range case that you’d typically expect to find in builds that total around Rs 60,000 to 70,000. The USP, in this case, if you still haven’t figured it out after reading the name, is its great airflow, and there are a few other things that we’ll be shedding light on in this review. Here’s our XPG Starker Air PC case review.
XPG Starker Air: Specifications
|Dimensions||465 x 215 x 400mm (18.3 x 8.46 x 15.75 inch)|
|Material||Metal and Glass|
|Side Panels||Tempered Glass (4mm) on the left, Metallic cover on the right|
|Supported Form Factors||Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX|
|3.5″ HDD/HDD Tray||2+1 (Combo 3.5” + 2.5”)|
|2.5″ HDD/SSD Tray||2+1 (Combo 3.5” + 2.5”)|
|I/O Ports||USB 3.0 x 2, Hybrid Audio Port x 1|
|Fans Included||Front: 1 x XPG VENTO 120 Fan, Rear: 1 x XPG VENTO ARGB 120 Fan|
|Fan Support||Front: 120mm x3, 140mm x2, Top: 120mm x2, 140mm x2, Rear: 120mm x1|
|Radiator Support||Front: 360 / 280 / 240mm x1, Top: 280 / 240 / 120mm x1|
|Clearance||Graphic Card Length: 350mm, Vertical GPU Installation Height: 24mm, CPU Cooler Height: 165mm, PSU Length: 160mm|
The case came well protected in the packaging with ample amounts of foam. The box has every little detail about the case on either side. The vertical GPU mount and HDD mounting brackets were left loose in a pack inside the case but were tied together well. The overall unboxing experience felt rather unique. Good stuff, XPG!
What’s in the Box?
- XPG Stickers
- XPG Starker Air
- 1 x XPG Vento 120mm ARGB, 1 x XPG Vento 120mm
- Vertical GPU mounting bracket
- 3.5mm HDD mounting bracket
- Guide and paperwork
- Cable ties
- Screws, standoffs, and more screws.
XPG Starker Air: Design and build quality
As you may have read from the title, the build quality of the Starker Air is pretty solid. The overall construction of the case is metal, specifically SPCC (Cold Rolled Carbon Steel Sheets and Strips), and unlike most budget cases that are known for bending with the slightest pressure, this one refuses to flex. The left side houses a tempered glass panel 4mm thick, while the right side houses a pretty rigid metal plate to cover all your wiring mess. The half-circular saw blade-like XPG logo adds a lot of character to the case.
The top of the case looks pretty neat with just the power button, 3.5mm jack, and two USB 3.0 ports. I would’ve also preferred two additional ports—a USB Type-C and USB 2.0 Type-A, which were also missing on the original Starker. Beside the power button is a giant magnetic mesh that prevents dust from entering the PC.
This mesh isn’t as fine as the mesh in the front, as minute particles still manage to get through the fan, especially if you’ve configured the top fans to pull the air into the chassis. However, that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re hooking up a radiator at the top.
The case comes with two pre-included fans—An XPG Vento 120 ARGB fan and another Vento 120 without RGB. Now, I would’ve much rather preferred to see at least three fans included—2 x ARGB Vento fans and one without ARGB, but it is what it is. The case also has RGB strips in the front, and users can cycle through different light modes to customize them.
The case looks pretty good from the front, thanks to the open triangular cutouts that let the RGB shine through and help with great airflow. The front panel is magnetic, and the magnets are robust, so it won’t fall off by itself. Removing the front panel gives you access to the fine removable mesh that prevents dust from entering from the front very well. The case also has these rubber pads on the openings to make the case look a bit cleaner and to hide the wire mess behind.
The PCIe slot covers are reusable, and there’s plenty of ventilation at the back to keep circulating the airflow. Coming to the right, sliding open the panel reveals the front panel I/O connectors, an SSD bracket to screw your SSDs on, and a few cable tie-holding hooks(?) for better cable management. The PSU compartment can fit a 160mm PSU, and our XPG Core Reactor 850W slid in quite easily.
Overall, when it comes to the build quality, XPG has done a great job. There are no visible irregularities or bad cutouts at the ends, nor are there any flimsy components.
XPG Starker Air: Build experience
Here are the parts we used to build the PC:
- XPG Starker Air
- MSI MPG X570S Edge Max Wi-Fi ATX Motherboard(Provided by MSI)
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600
- GALAX NVIDIA GTX 1650 Super
- 2 x 8GB Corsair Vengeance RAM sticks (DDR4, 3200MHz)
- XPG Core Reactor 850W PSU
- Noctua NH-U12S Chromax with 2 x 120mm Noctua NF-F12-PWM fans
- 3 x Deepcool RF-120FS in the front.
- XPG Vento 120 ARGB fan in the rear.
- XPG Vento 120 fan in the top rear.
- 1 x 120GB Kingston SATA, 1 x 1TB Crucial BX500 SATA SSDs.
- 1 x Silicon Power P34A80 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD Gen3x4.
- 1 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD.
Prepping the motherboard and installing it was pretty easy. For an ATX motherboard, you’d need to install two standoffs at the holes on the right side. Once done, thanks to the ample space, aligning and screwing the motherboard was no issue. What was an issue, though, is the tiny bit of room below the motherboard where your USB 3.0 case and Power/Reset/HDD/LED wires go in.
The quality of connectors is not an issue, but the strain that the USB 3.0 wire leaves on the motherboard is something you should be careful about. We’d recommend connecting wires from the left to the right to avoid overlapping and inserting more pressure on the motherboard pins.
The top of the case has ample room to work with a 360mm radiator. Although, we ended up using the Noctua NH-U12S. Thanks to the 165mm clearance for the CPU cooler, the 140mm cooler fits well in the case with no problems whatsoever. As with all case fans, fitting the 120mm fans into the case requires a lot of strength. If you build frequently, we’d recommend getting this battery-operated screwdriver from Black + Decker.
Turning our attention to the back, the SSD mounting plate does an excellent job of keeping the SSDs intact while providing enough room for the SATA power and cables to be plugged in. The HDD mounting plate uses a sliding mechanism to fix itself into the grooves provided in the case. Neat!
What isn’t very neat, though, is the lack of an ARGB hub, which results in a wire mess at the back. My original plan was to pick up a few ARGB fans, but I used what I had.
XPG Starker Air Review: CPU/GPU Temperatures
The idle temps on the CPU and GPU were around 43℃ and 37℃, respectively. Firing up the multi-core test in Cinebench R23, the temps were kept well below 83℃. Remember, this is with one fan missing on the top. Similarly, Unigine Haven also ran just fine, with the temperatures peaking at 73℃ during the benchmark.
The CPU and GPU temperatures while playing titles like Genshin Impact and Spider-Man Remastered remained well under 60℃ and 70℃, respectively, which is pretty okay. The rise in temps was slow and steady, dropping quickly right after closing the games.
XPG Starker Air Review: Should you buy it?
The XPG Starker Air is built very well and has a few other nifty features you don’t usually find in budget cases. There’s ample space in the case for a compact mid-tower case, the cable management hooks on the other side are an easy means to tidy up cables after building your rig, and the ARGB at the front looks sweet and is customizable.
The lack of an ARGB hub, sufficient I/O ports, and built-in fans will result in you spending the extra money to counter these issues. However, the good things about this case far outweigh the bad, making it a viable option for anyone looking to buy a budget case with ample airflow and lots of space. For an asking price of Rs 5,000, while writing this, you cannot go wrong with the XPG Starker Air.