Introducing the Rosewill Line-M

Vendors are always very quick to send us their biggest, best, and brightest. Rosewill's own top-selling Blackhawk Ultra has been with us for a little while, but while we rework our testbed for high end cases, we thought it might be worth looking at one of the workhorses in Rosewill's stable. Looking at enthusiast kit is fun, but it's interesting to see what's floating around in the budget sector, too, as many of us are often on the hook to build and maintain desktops for family and friends. With that in mind, we requested the micro-ATX Rosewill Line M.

While the Line M is worth checking out in its own right as a compact, $55 case with USB 3.0 connectivity, it also highlights a disparity in the current industry: Micro-ATX motherboards are still incredibly common, but case designs are stratifying within two extremes. Full ATX and larger cases are going stronger than ever, but the smaller case designs have largely been usurped by Mini-ITX. There's still a place in the world for a good Micro-ATX client, though, and we think the Line-M might just help deliver it.

It's only fitting that just as I'd tweaked the case testbed to handle Micro-ATX and ATX cases with a single bed, Micro-ATX cases started to vanish from the market. That's a shame, because I'm not really convinced there isn't a place for Micro-ATX in the current market. It's true that for many builds even Mini-ITX will be adequate, but that form factor precludes multi-GPU or ever adding any expansion cards (I have a personal, persisting need for FireWire.) I'm a prime candidate for Micro-ATX, but there just aren't very many compelling cases out there in the form factor.

That's part of why I wanted to check out the Line-M. This is pretty clearly a workhorse enclosure, but as a long time proponent of some of Cooler Master's Elite chassis I have a continuing interest in good budget enclosures. The Line-M was kind of quietly tucked away in Rosewill's suite at CES 2013, but I felt like its older style ATX design might still have plenty to recommend it. As it turns out, I was right.

Rosewill Line-M Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25", 1x 3.5"
Internal 1x 2.5", 2x 3.5"
Cooling Front 1x 120mm blue LED intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top -
Side 2x 120mm/92mm fan mount
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 5
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 160mm
PSU 160mm
GPU 300mm
Dimensions 7.29" x 14.37" x 15.74"
185mm x 365mm x 400mm
Weight 8.82 lbs / 4 kg
Special Features USB 3.0 via internal header
Price $55

You can see from the spec table that the Rosewill Line-M is pretty spare. This is most definitely, most definitely a budget enclosure. Construction is fairly thin SECC steel with a plastic fascia and the whole thing is as barebones as it gets. But realistically, basic users aren't going to need more than what Rosewill has on offer here, and they at least made an allowance for an SSD mount.

In and Around the Rosewill Line-M
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  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    It's nice to see inexpensive cases getting a little more attention. I personally wouldn't spend even $55 on a case when online vendors sell perfectly acceptable Micro-ATX cases for $10-15 less and include a no-name 300 watt power supply (my gaming desktop sits in such a $40 budget box and I'm endlessly amused at how horrified people seem to get, predicting doom, gloom, and fires for the stuff packed inside - of course, that's all simply silliness). Craigslist, area depending, makes it easy to get case and power supply freebies as well. Sure, I have the money laying around to blow $400 on the box I put my stuff inside, but what for? It's like a shoebox or a Capri Sun juice pouch because, as long as it holds the stuff inside, its doing its job.

    At any rate, it's easy to conclude that price and the goo-gaws of the design have little to do with the effectiveness of the case at keeping things inside it cool. Cable management is an oft cited fussing point made in the name of better airflow and better thermals. The sad reality is that, after years of building rat nests of IDE cables and tangles un-modular power wires, thoughtless cable disasters have very marginal impact on cooling. Most of the appeal of higher cost containers is in the target marketing and the desires of buyers to chase style while making a PC fashion statement in their desktops.

    I'm still endlessly confused about why a set of locking tabs on a side panel draw so much ire. Sure cases with pop-out sides and spring-loaded levered mechanisms are around, but once a PC is built, even frequent fiddling around inside boils down to a once in a while thing. The few seconds difference (if there is one at all) in taking off the side because of the mechanism design seems like such a minor quibble and hardly worth expressing hatred or any sort of strong emotion.

  • A5 - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    Well I'm guessing the convenience factors stand out way more to reviewers like Dustin, who is assembling one or two systems a week for testing. You're right that they don't matter to like almost all enthusiasts, though.
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, March 3, 2013 - link

    Since we are presumably dealing with hardware enthusiasts "here", why would anyone need a new case, they should have half a dozen laying around from years of builds...

    You'd be surprised how people are though... their personal feelings about the appearance of the hardware seems to be about 50% of their opinion of the computer, and if they think they have something "socially impressive" then their brain is already gone and any clear estimation of performance might as well be assigned to the trash bin.

    Stupidity comes in "order of magnitudes", as the fools love to say.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, March 3, 2013 - link

    I can get behind a lot of your points especially for a basic computer. I would disagree on two points though. I have encountered so many cases that had such bad design with how the panels attach that I have thrown the case away. If I can't put the case back on within ~10minutes or without bleeding I start to get frustrated and I'll pay for something better. I'm not saying you have to pay more but it's hard to tell how a case panel will behave if it's bent slightly when moving it one day even from reviews.

    The second point is that there are important features of a case outside of cost that do matter based on your needs. I personally have 4 computers in my office so floor space is at a premium. Smaller cases shouldn't cost more but they do and it is worth the extra money to get a smaller case. I have a server in my closet with 6TB of RAID storage. I spent extra money getting a case with lots of capacity and good cable management. The box started out in life as a 2TB server a long time ago and I have steadily increased the capacity over the years. It actually has 10TB of drives in it right now because I haven't gone back in and removed the 4TB set when I moved to 6TB. While I agree that for a workstation I will build and forget it and rarely go back in it except to clean it this isn't all computers. So I'm in and out of this machine a good bit and I'm glad it is a nice roomy case with good drive bays.
  • jtd871 - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    I hadn't even got to the Conclusion section when I opened up your reviews of the TJ08E / PS07 (basically the same case) for comparison. Pity the testbed has changed - I would have liked to have seen them in the charts for an "official" comparison. (For those who will revisit these reviews, keep in mind that the original reviews were run with a GTX580 rather than the current GTX560 when comparing thermals and acoustics to the current testbed results.)

    A quick review of the case specs shows that the Silverstones are about double the weight and pretty much exactly an inch wider, which is where the space behind the mobo comes from in these 2 cases.

    Newegg currently shows the TJ08 going for $110+14S&H, and the PS07 for $79+10S&H-10Rebate. Maybe a bit high, considering how long they've been on the market, but they are also both averaging 4+ eggs, which could justify a little price premium.

    Thanks, Dustin, for keeping up with the mATX cases.
  • JeBarr - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    I can't help but wonder if we were assembling a system in this chassis at the same time.

    When it launched the price was 49.99 shipped, but has gone up five bucks since then. Still a fair price far as I'm concerned. I was worried the case would be too cheap and flimsy, but it's good enough for the hardware I installed.

    The Xigmatek Dark Knight fit, barely, but did fit. Now that I've spent some time playing with fan orientation I've decided to try a down-draft cooler instead, which I suspect will do well in this chassis especially considering the motherboard I used has no heatsinks around the CPU socket. The only problem I have with that is the high cost for a quality horizontal DD heatsink. Wish I could find a good one without fans because the best includes two VR fans :( (shame on you Noctua.....)

    The biggest issue I had going in was the top-mounted PSU, but could not find a mATX mini tower with bottom mount PSU and 2x USB 3.0 front ports, in a budget price range. Even if money were no object the choices for mATX mini tower are very limited, with either a budget price or extremely high price tag and nothing in-between. I agree that top mount PSUs should have a vent on top chassis panel, but we did not get that with this case, and so those of you thinking to install 120 rads front and back will have the PSU exhausting all the system air. Using the side fans to exhaust a LCed system is not an option here either, if a rad is installed on the rear. Best you could do is exhaust with the lower side fan which makes no sense at all, when that fan will pull air from the rear vent adjacent to PCI slots.

    All in all I'm happy with the case and would buy again in a heartbeat. Don't let the price fool you, this chassis is great for housing a small but powerful gaming system. There's enough space here for a GPU (or two), Sound card, Revo drive, etc....which is something no mITX system can do and the main reason why I've not been sold on the idea.
  • JonnyDough - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    I've found that if you wait for a sale you can get a really decent case for around $30, usually with a stupid rebate.

    Black interior, windowed or mesh for fans, 120mm fans, USB 3.0, space for cable management, etc.

    The brands I've considered recently:

    Rosewill, Ultra (Tiger Direct), and Raidmax. Yes, Raidmax stuff is mostly gaudy and I wouldnt' consider their PSUs but they have a decent case or two at a low price when the sales hit.
  • just4U - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    ".... as many of us are often on the hook to build and maintain desktops for family and friends."

    I don't know what to say to this... It's a fact, and many of enthusiasts look thru all of it for one reason or another, your observation being very very high on the list.
  • just4U - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    -"but I couldn't help but want the Line-M in beige, if you catch my drift."

    -"..That there's a loop in the back for a padlock is an indicator of where this case is supposed to go,.."

    More great comments.. altho I never realized what those loops were for. I guess you really do learn something new everyday if your looking..
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - link

    I like the style of the case, very solemn with any stupid bling. I own a TJ08-E and this is pretty similar. A bit cheaper I think with some different water cooling options present. I think my TJ08-E will stay with me quite a long time as I don't expect to abandon mATX mainboards and my water cooling setup is enough to handle any CPU and single GPU with nice overclocks nearly silently. :)

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