We might be living in the golden age of PC cases.
There are so many manufacturers offering so many different case designs, there’s something out there for practically every taste. From the very large to the very small, the bold to the understated, the ornate to the simple, housings for all of a PC’s internals come in a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes.
Though probably better known for their components (such as motherboards and power supplies,) EVGA also has a healthy offering of chassis with their DG-8 series, that have a handful of unique and interesting features. EVGA is also ramping up to bring their DG-7 lineup to market in mid December, 2017 at a slightly lower price point.
The DG-7 line up checks in with an impressive seven case options, numbered DG-73, DG-75, DG-76 and DG-77. If you’re looking for brighter options, the DG-75, DG-76 and DG-77 are also available in white. All seven options are available for order, with prices ranging from $59.99 to $149.99 depending on model and color.
EVGA sent us a black DG-77 to get familiar with. This is the top-end model in the DG-7 series, so some features of this chassis might not be the same in its siblings, but there should be plenty of consistency across the lineup.
We built an EVGA themed gaming PC with this case, so we got to know some of the defining characteristics of the DG-77.
Exterior and Aesthetics
Let’s start with the basics.
The EVGA DG-77 case is a big monochrome box. It’s unrepentantly black and dark grey, with some white trim elements to add a bit of contrast. What we would traditionally think of as the front and sides of the case are covered by panes of dark tempered glass. The pane behind where the motherboard would sit is completely opaque, while the other two are technically transparent, despite being so darkly tinted. Most of the bottom is occupied by a removable ventilation mesh, and four plastic feet. Pretty standard stuff all around. Things get more interesting on the top and rear panels: Front panel buttons and I/O ports (2x USB3.0, 3.5mm headset with mic) are lined up on the long side opposite the motherboard, and are set in into a plastic panel with vents. The back is also covered by a plastic fixture, though this has vents and cutouts for rear I/O, PCIe slots and the power supply.
Also, if the black and white default appearance isn’t vibrant enough for you, the case comes with a couple of ways to infuse some color. Firstly are the two built-in RGB “EVGA” logos. One is embedded in the housing for the PSU, and one is above the intake fans on the short front side.
The package also includes several different colored “DG-77” stickers you can slap on wherever you see fit.
It would be easy to write off the DG-77 as yet another minimalist, monolithic, computer chassis, but that’s really not what’s happening here. There’s a lot of subtlety in play that requires further examination to notice.
EVGA’s DG-77 case is a gorgeous, minimalist framework for building a high-end gaming computer.
If I had to describe this case with one phrase, it would have to be “attention to detail.” All of the thumb screws that hold on the side panels are emblazoned with EVGA’s “E” logo. That plastic panel that covers the back? It covers a dozen or so assembly screws and grommets that would otherwise be in plain sight. (And often are, on other cases.) With the glass panels in place, all but one of the major seams between the steel structure and the various plastic panels become invisible.
Perhaps the most interesting facet is the statement that EVGA is trying to make with its DG-7 (and DG-8) cases. Think back on some of the highlights: A cosmetic panel over the rear I/O section. Front I/O along the side instead of the shorter front edge. Clear glass that creates an almost perfectly framed image of the internals. And then the epiphany: this case challenges our normal perception of orientation by moving the “front’ of the case to the wider panel opposite the motherboard, and in doing so is able to repurpose circuitry and silicon as statue. It’s pretty rare to describe a computer component as avant garde, but this might be one of those rare examples.
Interior Design (But Not that Kind)
The all-steel interior structure of the the DG-77 also puts a lot of focus on minor details, though some tolerances did feel rather tight when we started building in this case. That being said, it’s obvious that a lot of thought went into this design.
First let’s talk about airflow; any PC builder knows that efficient airflow is the key to effective thermal regulation. The whole chassis is engineered so that cooler, room temperature air comes in through the two intake fans on the right side, then passes over all the guts, before being sucked out of the top left corner through a pair of exhaust fans. The DG-77 is lacking the traditional framing for 5.25” bays, which mean even less obstruction of internal airflow.
If you have to have an optical disc drive, losing those bays is obviously going to be an issue. However, if you want plenty of internal storage, this case still has options. In a perfect world everyone would have M.2 NVMe drives with a terabyte of capacity, or Optane 900P SSD add-in cards. But when that’s not feasible, (or when you need multiple terabytes of storage,) the DG-77 has four removable plates, which slot in behind the two main vertical internal panels. Two of these can accommodate a single 2.5” drive each, and the other pair support either a single 5.35” or 2.5” drive. I’m also happy to report that the whole area behind the motherboard has plenty of clearance for cable management.
Most of the bottom of the case is occupied by a steel housing for the power supply unit, as well as one of the two RGB EVGA logos. We installed a very long 1600W power brick in the housing, and there was still space at the far end for us to hide some cables. The covering itself has a number of cutouts along its length, presumably for running wires to the lower headers on a motherboard.
Builders who are big on lighting and customization will really appreciate how the DG-77 handles RGB connections. Instead of free-floating or taped-in PCB, the case seamlessly integrates a RGB controller board inside the top right corner. It’s a pretty interesting piece of tech; it has several 4-pin RGB headers for lighting strips, as well as a header for connecting the “KBOOST’ button, which we’ll talk about later. The controller connects to the rest of the system by way of an internal USB cable, which uses one of the USB headers on the motherboard, though the controller itself has a USB header passthrough toi replace the header it’s using.
Even some of the smaller details were meticulously designed. Every edge of the steel structure is rolled, flattened, or rounded off so there’s next to no risk of getting sliced, and there are plenty of points to attach cable management ties, as well as plenty of passthroughs for cable routing.
Of course, the fun part of having a case is building a powerhouse gaming PC into it. EVGA saent us a collection of some of their best parts so we could put together a sweet EVGA themed build.
There’s a lot of EVGA in here, but they don’t make everything (yet.) For storage, we picked a 1.2TB Intel 750 AIC SSD, and for memory we went with two 8GB sticks of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000 RGB RAM for a total of 16GB.
My overall impression of building a system into the DG-77 leads me to believe that this case is more about the end result than the actual construction process. This chassis might be more suited to builders with a few setups already under their belts, but there’s no denying that the end result is worth the challenge.
The order in which parts are installed is extremely important in the DG-77. There are some pretty tight constraints inside the box, which proved slightly annoying. Clearances are pretty tight.
Here’s an example: I was so eager to get the 1080 Tis in place that it was pretty much the first thing I did after getting the motherboard in place. For whatever reason, I had a hell of a time getting the GPUs to screw in. The screw-holes on the cards’ brackets wouldn’t easily align with the matching holes on the case. I had to push very hard to get them to line up. It ended up being such an ordeal that I was loathe to remove them without a really good reason.
Of course, once they were in place, I realized I had less of a fist’s-worth of space between the lower GPU and the built in housing for the power supply. Yes, I could have avoided the situation entirely if I had been cognizant enough to install the graphics card last. The takeaway here is that ordinarily I would have had more space to work with, as the PSU wasn’t installed yet.
Speaking of mounting the power supply, you’ll need to know if your motherboard has a supplementary PCI power connection, and where that is located. On the EVGA Z370 FTW, it’s on the very southern edge board near a little cutout for running a cable to it. It’s also rotated 90°, so as to be parallel to the PCB., which is great.
The issue is with the power supply block itself, as well as the built in PSU cover. There’s a little rectangular passthrough in the PSU cover (one of several along the back crease) that’s perfect for running cable to the southern board headers and in this instance, to the supplemental power connection. However the block covers most of the hole, and leaves only a couple of millimeters of clearance. I had to swap out my nice braided cable that came with the SuperNova1600 and go find a ribbon cable that would clear. The cutouts are a nice touch, but I wish they’d been a little easier to work with.
Just as a good general note for working with any case that has tempered glass: Have a nice, safe, separate spot to put the panels when not in use. I did most of my work on one table, and stacking all three panels flat on tablecloth took up about a third of my workspace.
EVGA DG-77 Build
Most of the other cables can be routed through one central passthrough situated between the two main vertical plates of the chassis. I’m partial to those rubber, sphincter-esque passthroughs on some cases, but the one central divide on the DG-77 was easier to work with in comparison. It still hides cable very well, especially when combined with good cable management techniques. On a related note, the empty area just next to this main passthrough is about two inches deep, and I found it to be ample space for managing all cabling coming from the PSU and the front I/O panel.
The only cabling I really had issue with was the fan cables, they were simply too short. I was able to route them to the appropriate headers on the mainboard, but I didn’t have enough slack to route them as out-of-sight as I would have liked.
On the plus side, I had high hopes for that RGB controller I mentioned earlier, and those expectations were exceeded. After really examining the device, I noted that pinouts for all of the headers were clearly printed on the PCB. This made it very easy to connect additional RGB elements, and rearrange existing connections according to my preferences. Better yet, configuring the lighting scheme also proved straightforward. I downloaded EVGA’s Precision XOC software, as it was required to tune the lighting options on the GTX 1080 Ti cards, and I was pleased to see that it detected not only the cars, but was also able to see all the RGB elements connected to the controller, even if it did treat them all as one device. I was able to get a little more granular control out of EVGA’s DG Tuner utility, but in the end I opted to have all of the lights sync up by way of Precsion XOC. Ultimately, making good management software for peripherals continues to be a struggling point for many hardware/peripherals manufacturers. I’m glad EVGA did such a good job here.
Finally, it’s worth talking about the KBOOST function, which is a feature of EVGA’s software and the DG-77. In simple terms, KBOOST is a built in boost-clock mode for GTX cards that support the function. The case has a button in the front I/O area that enables the boost preset if Precision XOC is installed, and can alternatively be activated from the software itself.
The button will only work if the RGB controller in the case is connected to the mainboard via internal USB. Enabling KBOOST in our build immediately jumped our clock speed way up, as expected. Keep in mind that the boost function will force the GPUs idle at a much higher rate, so it’s good to disable KBOOST when not in use. Also, toggling the feature does not play well with any hardware-accelerated programs that are open, so make sure you close all your games before flipping the switch. Easy, safe overclocking is the way of the future, so it’s good that EVGA supports it here in a convenient way.
Saying Goodbye to the DG-77
EVGA’s DG-77 case is a gorgeous, minimalist framework for building a high-end gaming computer. The tempered glass and steel construction, coupled with rich RGB features and unique presentation help it stand out in a crowded field of PC case designs.
Though it struggles considerably with some aspects of the construction process, there’s also a lot of thought put into its structural elements, and it’s not completely bereft of builder-friendly features.
Plus look at this thing. How can you argue with results like that?
If you want these same sleek stylings for your own PC, you can order the EVGA DG-77 in Black for $159.99.