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Case design suggestions: Front Panel USB


SiliconAngel

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I've been reading through reviews of your cases lately, and I was moved to post this so you can at least take it into consideration.

 

USB 3.0 front panel connectors should be mandatory in any case made in 2011. The fact that you need to use an extension cable to a back-panel port is ridiculous. While I understand that there are still plenty of mainboards that don't contain USB 3.0 FPC headers, most people buying a new case will be buying a new mainboard to go with it, not upgrading, and in June 2011 that means most (particularly enthusiasts) will be looking for cases with USB 3.0 FPC, not extension cables. The best option would of course be to provide a swappable cable so end-users can connect with whatever their hardware supports, but I think the extension cable ONLY runs a distant third behind the other two options.

 

Additionally, I can't begin to describe my frustration at cases that pack front USB headers on top of each other. It is nearly impossible to find a USB flash drive that is thin enough to connect comfortably with another drive already inserted in an adjacent port (and some of the new USB 3.0 drives are just massive). Even if there's only a thin cable plugged into another port, connecting most flash drives to an adjacent cable causes both the drive and cable to bend worryingly. So finding cases with front panel ports that have sufficient space between them is fairly high on my agenda when selecting cases for builds (even for basic office PCs).

 

Fortunately, these are relatively minor things to address in the design of your cases. Unfortunately however, as superficial as they may seem, 'simple' design flaws like this are often the deciding factor when selecting a case. They certainly are for me, and even I'm amazed at just how many people (read: untechnical users) express the same frustrations at port crowding when the problem is pointed out to them.

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What case are you talking about and why are you so "frustrated" when it sounds like you don't own one. Most motherboards didn't have USB 3.0 headers for the 600T and 650D, so why make a case with USB ports no one can use. If you did any research or read the article on the Carbide series cases being released you would see:

 

"Support for USB 3.0 and 2.5” SSDs is built-in. Two USB 3.0 connectors are provided on the front panel and connect directly to motherboards with compatible USB 3.0 headers"

 

The routing of cables to the back of the case can be avoided if you purchased a motherboard with an that allows you to plug usb3.0 into the motherboard header from the extension cables on the front ports.

 

It's not that hard to buy a flash drive that isn't a giant waste of space either. Why would you intentionally go buy a large flash drive for your own PC with wide port spacing when you won't be able to use it ideally in anyone else's computer, laptops, consoles, etc?

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What case are you talking about and why are you so "frustrated" when it sounds like you don't own one.
I thought it was clear from my post that my frustration stems from trying to use stacked front USB ports with more than one device connected. Whether I personally own a case is irrelevant to my use - my own personal computers would make up about 5% of my overall interaction with computers.

Most motherboards didn't have USB 3.0 headers for the 600T and 650D, so why make a case with USB ports no one can use.
The 650D isn't that old, and it's easy to provide a revised version with improved front panel connectors.

 

If you did any research or read the article on the Carbide series cases being released you would see:

 

"Support for USB 3.0 and 2.5” SSDs is built-in. Two USB 3.0 connectors are provided on the front panel and connect directly to motherboards with compatible USB 3.0 headers"

 

The routing of cables to the back of the case can be avoided if you purchased a motherboard with an that allows you to plug usb3.0 into the motherboard header from the extension cables on the front ports.

Yes, the Carbide series address the FPC header cable issue, but still have stacked ports. I thought it was fairly obvious which case had which issue - this isn't a comprehensive product comparison, it's a couple of recommendations that apply to numerous products, and the essential points were adequately made without going into unnecessarily verbose detail.

 

It's not that hard to buy a flash drive that isn't a giant waste of space either. Why would you intentionally go buy a large flash drive for your own PC with wide port spacing when you won't be able to use it ideally in anyone else's computer, laptops, consoles, etc?
I use a lot of Corsair drives, but have some other brands where feature set was unmatched by a Corsair offering. Just discussing the Corsair drives, the GTR 128GB drive is way too large to use with an adjacent port in use (with stacked USB ports), but even the rest of the Voyager (and particularly the Survivor) series are too wide to use two together (and as I said, even plugged in next to a single USB cable is enough to cause undesirable mechanical stress to both). I very commonly need to connect two flash drives to PCs at the same time - one contains encrypted configuration data and the other is a large, high-speed drive containing programs, patches etc. The vast majority of the time I need to use extension leads so I can plug them both in, or one has to go into the back. Fortunately this hasn't been as big an issue with notebooks in recent years, but now with manufacturers recessing ports behind little flappy doors and things as notebooks get smaller, I'm seeing the problem all over again...

 

But I digress - Corsair can only be responsible for their products, and it would be good to see the high-end cases with USB FPC header cables and ALL front panel USB ports adequately spaced. While it's great seeing four or more front panel USB ports, there's not much point if you can only use one or two at a time due to spacing constraints.

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It has been noted here several times in the forums that the USB 3.0 issue is MUCH more complex than it seems to be. There are still issues with it that we have not solved to our satisfaction. Once they are solved, we'll implement the changes. We're not going to compromise and issue a substandard solution.
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It has been noted here several times in the forums that the USB 3.0 issue is MUCH more complex than it seems to be. There are still issues with it that we have not solved to our satisfaction. Once they are solved, we'll implement the changes. We're not going to compromise and issue a substandard solution.
I'm unaware of the USB 3.0 issues you refer to - care to link to some examples? I just spent 15 minutes searching through the forum and didn't come up with anything (maybe I was just using the wrong search terms?)

 

I do appreciate if there is an issue, taking the time to ensure it is completely resolved before releasing a product - it's that kind of commitment to quality that I've come to appreciate from Corsair, hence why I recommend and supply your products to so many clients (although recent SSD return rates are a little disappointing).

 

Regardless of issues with the technology, however, adequate spacing of the front panel ports is still a valid (and addressable) criticism.

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply :)

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<snip>

Regardless of issues with the technology, however, adequate spacing of the front panel ports is still a valid (and addressable) criticism. :)

 

Looking at the back of three motherboards, the spacing between the USB ports is the same. For shiggles (yes, I just said shiggles!) I plugged in a few items laying on my desk: Logitech G15 keyboard, G700 wireless mouse dongle, G35 headset & old cheap generic 8GB flash drive. All fit fine.

 

However, would I be able to plug in my various flash card adapters? No, I can only fit two. This issue would be the same on any motherboard too tho.

 

I'm not against the changes you're proposing, and I completely understand where you're coming from here.

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@ SiliconAngel; Thank you for posting this becasue a while back I asked and asked about why the owners of the 800D were getting the crazy fix of the two cables that you would have to use the two top holes in the back that are there for water cooling to connect to the back USB 3 ports making them unavailable as well just to be able to have your USB 3 headers in the front work. You also rightly brought up the spacing issues between the front USB ports but that was something i have only thought of in passing.

 

Unfortunately for me I didn't think my choice of purchasing the 800D all the way through becasue in the back of my mind I knew I would be also purchasing a motherboard that had USB 3 technology on board which is exactly what I did. Then I also bought in to the front panel "upgrade" without really understanding how it was going to fix the USB 3 mainly becasue Corsair didn't have anything available to read up on it so I just trusted that it would work the way I thought it should giving me connectability to the motherboards USB 3 port to the front panel. Also unfortunate was that I didn't think through what it said under the product name in the case accessories part of their website as I had been waiting for some time to get this "fix". It just didn't sink in that their speaking of an add on card for USB 3 was something that would also effect me in a round about way.

 

I did wonder what the two extra cables were when I bought the front panel USB 3 "upgrade kit" for my 800D, a case that Corsair says is for "real builders" Hey guys, a "real builder" for the most part IMHO wouldn't go backwards in time to buy an all USB 2 motherboard to put into a case that cost one heck of a lot more than i have ever paid for a case.

 

In retrospect I wish that i had gone with another full tower case with the word "HAF" in it. Those are all ready to go as are quite a few of the enthusiast class of cases out there now.

 

Don't get me wrong though I really do like my 800D except for the backward thinking of putting out an upgrade kit that doesn't upgrade, it merely applies a "bailing wire and bondo" "fix" as I see it and purchasing the upgrade kit for me was a total waste of money the way it sits right now. Go figure, I need those water cooling tube holes in the back of the case which was one of the reasons that i bought the case in the first place besides being able to hide much of the cabling in back of the motherboard. Besides that, those cables that go from the front of the back would look like doo doo.

 

At any rate, at least you got someone to reply becasue I was totally ignored the several times that i said something about this issue. Also I haven't seen anything addressed this issue from Corsair so I too would love to have a URL to where that is mentioned or addressed by a Corsair representative.

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Looking at the back of three motherboards, the spacing between the USB ports is the same. For shiggles (yes, I just said shiggles!) I plugged in a few items laying on my desk: Logitech G15 keyboard, G700 wireless mouse dongle, G35 headset & old cheap generic 8GB flash drive. All fit fine.

 

However, would I be able to plug in my various flash card adapters? No, I can only fit two. This issue would be the same on any motherboard too tho.

 

I'm not against the changes you're proposing, and I completely understand where you're coming from here.

Yes mainboard backplate connectors are stacked closely together, but that's the nature of the backpanel - manufacturers are extremely limited for space by definition, so they have to use it efficiently. However, if there are enough front panel ports with adequate clearance around each, you shouldn't need to plug a flash drive into a rear port. And there's the rub - case manufacturers have HEAPS of space to play with to design front panel ports with at least 5mm clearance on all sides, yet they cram them all in together, so in practice only one front port is available for a flash drive (most flash drives - I do have some slim models that are only the size of a standard USB cable, but they're all slow).

 

@ gkrebbs, sorry to hear of your issues. Yes you could have done a little more homework, but I understand, when you're paying a premium price for a high-end product from a manufacturer with a reputation such as Corsair's, you'd expect the product to meet all your needs. Unfortunately with any new technology such as USB 3.0 it will take some time before manufacturers hit their stride and there will be teething issues. All I can suggest is to look out for a generic front-panel product you can adapt to your needs - for example Asus have a 2½" floppy bay mounted device with an internal FPC header plug going to two front ports, and you can get 2½" to 5¼" mounting kits if you can't use a 2½" bracket in your case. Or alternatively you could get creative with the existing front panel, carefully dismantle two of the ports and the Asus product and install the ports directly into your front panel.

 

The thing I'm concerned about now is Yellowbeard's mention of issues with USB 3.0 - is there some sort of problem with USB 3.0 devices, or signalling, or corruption due to cable crosstalk, or front panel headers and connectors? Without further information we're shooting in the dark here. All I can say from my own experience with about a dozen systems utilizing USB 3.0 external drives for daily backup purposes is I haven't seen any connection, corruption, speed or quality issues so far (at an estimate we're talking several thousand TBs worth of data transferred over USB 3.0 over the past year and a half, with verification passes performed immediately after backup completion). NONE of these are using ports connected to internal front panel headers, though.

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@ SiliconAngel Thanks for the suggestions. Do you have a URL where I might find any of the components that you are speaking of? You know all Corsair needs to do (IMHO) is to add the cable that could go to the motherboards Front panel USB 3 connection those of us who haven't spend as much as we have on a case only to opt for a USB 2 only motherboard. It doesn't make any sense for me anyway to do that although when I first bought the case it was to upgrade my socket 775 system but during that process I thought well why am I doing this and opted to wait for Sandy Bridge to come out instead. Are there any Sandy Bridge boards out there that do not have USB 3? Perhaps it has something to do with none of the current CPU's out to include Sandy Bridge have onboard USB 3 support(?) I can't think of what the issue might be but then I am no expert either. If I knew where I could find the connectors for same I would make my own cable but your idea sounds like a good fix too.
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  • Corsair Employees
I am not trying to be rude; but I would suggest you go back through and read what Yellowbeard and I have posted in reference to this we have answered this question several times in this thread. And on a few others!
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RAM Guy and Yellowbeard, I've spent some time searching through the forum and found the issue you allude to, being the internal header cable quality resulting in substandard transfer rates and signal quality. So what you're essentially saying is, you can't find an OEM manufacturing a cable of sufficiently high quality to meet the USB 3.0 speed standards? Or have you given up on an OEM supplied unit, and you're doing internal development of this?

 

The thing I don't understand about this issue is, why is this the first I have heard of it? Surely if there's an issue as big as this appears to be, tech journals should be all over this? And why don't you put some sort of leaflet or notification in your cases, explaining the situation to your customers (and reviewers, who are drawing conclusions about your cases because they don't include cables that many other premium brands now ship with standard)? Surely the outcome of such publicity can only be good for Corsair, especially as right now all it's doing is causing confusion and disappointment? Even on here, instead of either saying what the problem was or linking to another post, all I got was 'there is an issue, do a search', when I had done a search (I just hadn't limited results to your user accounts). Having been a moderator/admin for several websites I do realise the frustration of people asking the same question over and over, but then you have to ask yourself why certain questions are frequently repeated and whether you can do something to address them (such as an FAQ entry, a stickied thread until the issue is resolved, or maybe public disclosure of the issue to generate discussion and hopefully public pressure to reduce the time for adequate solutions to be developed).

 

@gkrebbs, if the results of testing with internal header cables are correct, it sounds like you should avoid an internal cable for now anyway.

 

Oh and Corsair guys, when you DO come up with a reliable cable, pretty-please give us more spacing between front USB ports?

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Additionally, I can't begin to describe my frustration at cases that pack front USB headers on top of each other. It is nearly impossible to find a USB flash drive that is thin enough to connect comfortably with another drive already inserted in an adjacent port (and some of the new USB 3.0 drives are just massive). Even if there's only a thin cable plugged into another port, connecting most flash drives to an adjacent cable causes both the drive and cable to bend worryingly. So finding cases with front panel ports that have sufficient space between them is fairly high on my agenda when selecting cases for builds (even for basic office PCs).

 

Fortunately, these are relatively minor things to address in the design of your cases. Unfortunately however, as superficial as they may seem, 'simple' design flaws like this are often the deciding factor when selecting a case. They certainly are for me, and even I'm amazed at just how many people (read: untechnical users) express the same frustrations at port crowding when the problem is pointed out to them.

 

To the Cases product manager: this is great input.;): He is descrbing a "use case." [no pun intended :biggrin: ]

 

The companies that pay close attention to these details win in the marketplace. The others lose (and eventually disappear).

 

x509

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  • 3 weeks later...

Even though I really like my new 800D, I am in pretty much the same boat as the OP and gkrebbs.

 

I found myself receiving an "upgrade" kit that is nothing of an upgrade and more of a sap mission! I don't want to have cables going all the way from the front to the back, out and into the back USB 3.0 connections. You shouldn't name this an upgrade kit but rather an unthinkable solution that just limits modern builds...

 

I am frankly dissapointed about this "upgrade" kit and it will just sit on the box it came in to not be used! Very, very dissapointing...

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It is as much of an upgrade, as buying a couple of USB extension cables... If you consider that an extension cable is an upgrade... then there you go!!!

 

I have 4 USB 3.0 ports and I am restricted to using 2, because my upgrade is an extension cable!!!

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There hasn't been official comments in this thread but clearly they addressed the issue with the Carbide series. The question is will they sell the upgraded panel to other case owners. I find the USB cables to be the only negative about the case. The cables are too long and stiff. I would rather yank them out and just use the usb 3 ports from my motherboard.
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Yeah, I saw that. The cables are not what I would want to address the issue. I want the solution used in the Carbide series (assuming it was addressed). I don't want to make even longer cables out of what I have now. I would probably buy the Lian Li adapter that FrozenCPU if I only had a choice between the two
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  • 4 weeks later...

The 4-port bay isn't a bad option for those who can use it, but quite a lot of cases these days don't actually have a 3½" front panel floppy port built-in. So those users are left with using a 5¼" to 3½" adapter, which also doesn't work if all your 5¼" bays are populated (quite easy to do with hot-swap drive bays).

 

The internal adapter, however, seems to be the saving grace for owners of Corsair cases like the 650D. You're still limited to 'stacked' ports, but hey at least you can use your mainboard front-panel headers instead of losing rear ports.

 

http://bitfenix.img.bgcdn.net/products_overview/internal-usb3-adapter/one_adapter_two_ports.jpg

 

So thanks for pointing that out, Jewie27. Corsair could definitely benefit from taking note of the spacing of front-panel ports in BitFenix cases ;)

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