The Ultimate Fanboy Case? ASUS ROG Strix Helios Review
You should always stretch before lifting heavy things, and the ASUS ROG STRIX Helios is definitely a heavy object. Thankfully, it’s heft is at the bottom of the list of reasons about why you should be excited about this case.
If you are a fan of ROG STRIX products, the fact that this is the first case in their entire lineup should be excited enough. I’m really hoping they’re flexing hard to prove what their flagship case can deliver. It is massive and it is expensive and here is my review of the $280 case made for the hardcore ROG fans.
STRIX & STRAPS
So let me start off this review with the most unique element which is this trap. It is part of the overall design and is also a carrying handle. It locks via velcro on each end and can easily support the weight of a fully loaded systems so that’s not an issue, and if you don’t really like how the strap look they are easily removable. There is some customization opportunity here with different designs that I hope we’ll see in the future. Something vibrant or game themed that in theory should not be expensive to implement.
There is glass on three sides of the case, and both side panels are definitely tempered glass. There is a push to release mechanism that unlocks the panel and it’s safely locked and angled at the bottom until you pull it out. This means both sides look super clean and it helps to emphasize the brushed aluminum front and top sections. As for the front panel, there is side LED illumination that reveals the ROG logo up top, there’s some line design graphics in the mid-section and the ROG text at the bottom. You can turn them on and off, or cycle between different colors or connect them to an addressable header for a motherboard control. Now it’s a bit too much for my taste since I like something a bit more simple.
The front I/O area is quite rich with power and reset buttons, audio jacks four Red USB ports, a USB Type-C Gen2 port, LED activity lights, plus two fan modes as the Helios comes with a built-in fan controller in the top left and that supports six 3-pin fans.
Radiator Room Galore
With the case being so large I think they’ve done a really good job with fan and radiator compatibility. Removing the top dust filter is easy with a simple pull, however you will probably need to remove the strap if you’re installing anything up top, because the bracket is lowered into the position from the top. It simplifies your installation of anything heavy, like a 280mm or 360mm radiator or even triple 140mm fans. Honestly, you can still slide the bracket underneath the strap if whatever you’re installing has enough clearance.
As for the front airflow intake, three fans are included plus one exhaust. I appreciate the brackets for ease of installation, but they kind of messed up here with non-captive and non-magnetic tiny thumbscrews that make reinstalling this bracket actually much more difficult than it needs to be. It’s the same story with the rear PSU bracket, and I don’t understand why the screws were not built into the frame. On a positive note, radiator support is quite good with up to a 360mm radiator up top and a 420mm on the front. Two more dust filters can be accessed from the front, where they can removed from the top and the bottom, which is nice and simple and covers the massive area that is the interior of the Helios.
A Cavernous Case
Your standard hardware might feel very lonely inside this case, which is why that cable bar adds some complexity to the vast emptiness. The two GPU support arms that swivel and move along the tube for height adjustment and there’s a large open section above to pass your 24-pin cable and others. Its position is also flexible, so moving it to the right opens up the spacing for routing cables and once you’re done you can slide it back into the original position.
I also quite like the PSU shroud design, again with some ROG theme text to cover an otherwise flat metal piece. The ventilation pattern above the PSU also follows the general design direction and we have just under three inches of clearance from the front bracket for your cooling hardware.
There’s also an acrylic window into the PSU section and that I don’t understand. First of all it is acrylic so it will easily get scratched up after a few assembly procedures. Also if it was tempered glass that would have been cool and matched with the whole premium aesthetic. Why does it have to be covered with an acrylic sheet?
Now removing that front shroud reveals a drive cage with two caddies and three positions for the cage itself. I’m personally okay not having any more caddies or a 3.5-inch drive slots given the target audience, but it does limit its use case scenario. I don’t like how you have to remove the entire shroud to install the power supply and also how awkward the interior looks without anything covering the bottom section. Do note that there are no additional cutouts underneath the motherboard outside of whatever is in front of the power supply, so that means an odd stretch for that audio cable in particular.
I was also quite surprised to find the vertical PCI slot bracket blocking access to most of your standard PCI slots. It needs to be removed every time you pop something in or out of your motherboard. It’s pretty annoying and the riser cable is not even included, so by default you can’t utilize these slots. As you can see with my reference configuration, less than half of that area is occupied and that’s just the nature of large enclosures like it.
Here you can see the GPU support in action, if needed the tabs can be moved to the other tube for longer GPU support. A pump bracket is included with two positions on top of the shroud, but unfortunately there are no side mounting holes for reservoirs for example. Also the four mounting points you see on top of the cable cover are either for an SSD or the ROG terminal.
Unfortunately the 8-pin cut-out above the motherboard is just too high. It will for sure be difficult to access with any radiators installed up there, but more importantly my cable is just not long enough to be routed on either side of the CPU cutout so it looks off unless you use an extension.
By the way on this side we have an acrylic swivel cover that this quite dark and it will help to hide and collect the cables. Also, this is where your primary storage should be located, which for us is the caddies, two of which can be relocated outside of the cover below the CPU cutout Unfortunately, this entire section is quite flat but velcro straps are your friends and there’s a lot of room to work with.
Thermals & Noise
As for temperatures, both the CPU and GPU numbers look pretty good. When using the high fan mode the triple fan intake that covers that entire height of the case really blows a lot of cool air into the system which is probably why the GPU temperatures are so good. However, the low speed mode definitely struggles because of that glass panel. The fans are also pretty loud at the high setting, while at low it is very quiet enclosure. Not having a PWM cable output from the fan controller is disappointing as users don’t have that full RPM control unless you replug all the fans directly into the motherboard or another fan controller.
At this price, if you’re really loyal to the ASUS ROG brand and want to match your hardware like an ROG motherboard or STRIX GPU, then the Helios kind of makes sense. And that’s who this case is made for. However, if you’re really all about the size of the enclosure or cheaper alternatives do exist from Phanteks, be quiet!, Thermaltake, and NZXT. So make sure to check those out before considering the Helios.
All right, so how do we conclude here? Honestly, this case is not what I was expecting. I was hoping for a full-out flagship release case that has innovative ideas and cool new features that you would see trickle down into lower-tier future STRIX enclosures, like the OLED screen that we saw at CES 2019. That OLED display would have been a fantastic addition here by default given the price point and the stature of it being the flagship release and also their first case. It almost feels like this is kind of the middle of the pack in terms of features and design, and those that features are not what we would expect from a flagship product. I mean not even including an 8-pin CPU extension despite knowing much the distance that cable has to travel is an oversight, and overall the refinement element is just not there. In the end, I also feel like majority of people who gravitate towards big cases might find this to be too branded or too expensive or both.