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Distros vs. Distro Cases - What’s the difference?

Distros vs. Distro Cases - What’s the difference?

In our last blog I wrote about the differences between distribution plates and the classic tube style reservoirs, as well as the pros and cons of using either one. Today, I would like to have a discussion about distros and distro cases. In case you missed that last blog, don’t worry, I will take some time to explain what these are… but you should probably go take a look at that last blog as well.




What the Heck is a Distro Case? 

Most, if not all of you have seen a distro or a water distribution manifold used in a watercooled PC by now. However, a distro case is a bit different. A distro case is a PC chassis that has it’s main structure built from a distribution manifold. Some popular examples would be Singularity Computer’s Spectre and Wraith, as well as Barroch’s Rhopilema and Star1 chassis. Some of these are an open frame design, while others resemble more of the typical box type case. Either way, all of them have a distro at the heart of their builds. You’ll find that some of these cases start around $150 with Barroch’s Icicle and can also reach upwards of $1500+ with Singularity Computer’s Spectre 3.0. These cases are not the most popular style by any means, but the number of options is growing, and in my opinion, they are only looking cooler.

If you’d like an in depth explanation of a water distribution manifold, please go check out this blog



So Aren’t These Basically the Same?

Now that you have a good idea of what these things really are, you might be asking yourself what the difference actually is? And to be completely honest with you, there really isn’t much. However, some of these distro cases really do hold some unique features that you might not want to pass up for your next build. For chassis like SC’s Spectre and Wraith, you will see that the entire structure is designed to house watercooling components. Not only is your entire pump/reservoir combo housed within the frame of your case, you will also find that things like radiators and fans will both fit well and line up nicely with the ports off of the manifold. This makes instaling your custom loop and the rest of your PC components much easier, which typically also results in a much cleaner build. For the more open frame designs you will still find that your components all line up very well, as well as having the added benefit of less restrictions on space due to the lack of panels. The one drawback many of these cases have is their lack of cable management. Due to the main part of the chassis typically being just a slab of acrylic, it can be difficult to get clean cable runs in every build. Singularity Computers does quite well with this in their Spectre and as long as you get proper length cables for an ITX build, the Wraith isn’t too bad either. Overall, I do find these chassis to be both unique in their aesthetics and very functional when used properly.



So Which is Better? 

In the end, it will come down to your personal preference, and possibly budget, when it comes to using either a full blown distro case or a distro plate in a regular chassis. If you are an avid watercooler, I will have to urge you to take a look at some of these newer distro style cases as they may have more in store for you than you might think. I personally have not worked in a case that is more suited for water cooling than the Spectre and Wraith from Singularity Computers. Of course, the typical distro will always hold a place near and dear to my heart, as they still offer quite a few benefits over their predecessors as well. No matter what you can find all of these amazing watercooling components and cases at PPCs!

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