Is MSI's the worst case ever? That's what we asked ourselves while exploring and photographing the MSI Creator 400M. The answer, with so many pictures to accompany it, may not surprise you. But it will all be worth reading, we promise!
MSI teaches: you can do great marketing without influencersIf you are reading here a review of a case that came out in 2020, that is two years ago, it is because you are desperately looking for information. The reviews can be counted on the fingers of one hand and are pitiful even compared to ours. How come?
The malignant will immediately say: "The reviews were all negative", which is hard to believe when you are one of those brands that also sends very expensive, unobtainable video cards to the editorial offices. We rule that out of the question.
The MSI creator 400M is the case of the Creator line, a product line designed for professional content creators. Nowadays they also dedicate smartphones to them and the 'creator' has become the tiktoker but 2 years ago it was not something taken for granted and MSI did not address the "social creator".
MSI's reasoning will probably have been another: so few brands offer themselves to professionals, especially when it comes to cases, that it is enough to take care of their presentation and information material.
A thought that caught on. The plan worked. And indeed we are here to tell you about this case. You can experience it by consulting the official overview on the website.
Maximum weight packagingThe case box is one of those sturdy and particularly heavy ones, appropriate for a high-end case with a glass door. If your browser does not let you enlarge: right click -> open image in a new tab.
What immediately catches the eye is that yellow sticker: ≥15kg. Fifteen kilos. That is, the 13 kilos and more of the case plus those of the cardboard. In the specifications it says 12.6 kg, whereas our scale is closer to that of the courier.
It weighs practically twice as much as normal and easily reaches 20 Kg once 'stuffed' with our hardware. A heavyweight reminiscent of the beige, iron (cast iron?) cases of the 1990s. And maybe those were lighter too! It's a mid-tower!!
Inside the case is a box with manual, screws and clamps. 3 x 140 mm fans are pre-installed. No premium additions. Not even a sticker. A congratulations card. A bag of Haribo. Nothing. It's really a case for serious creators.
Seen from the outsideThe judgement, as soon as I take it out of the box, is somewhere between «Whatever, is really serious» and «What the hell did I get?!». It immediately jumps out at you that the plastic insert on the front is really ugly and jarring. The whole case is made of heavy metal, except for a glass door, double, also heavy. And you give me the plastic grille insert?
Having assimilated this, overall the case looks good, very elegant, with its tinted glass, the flap and the pretty little dragon on the front. A little dragon that no, doesn't light up (thankfully). It is a generous mid-tower outside 550x236x504 mm, solid, and the first discovery is that the LED is on the plastic-ONE, while from the official photos it seemed to us that it was the side of the door that lit up.
On the control panel we find the power button, the LED control button, reset, status LED, headphone and microphone jack, 2 USB 3.2 ports, 2 USB 2 ports and a Type C port.
No dust rubbers for the doors and no adapter for the Type C. Indeed for Type C there is just the cable to be connected to the motherboard, and not all motherboards have this connection, including those with a Type C port. To the end user, the Type-E -> C adapter costs the same as a multi-port controller, and one tends towards the latter, making the front presence unnecessary. Keep this in mind when choosing a motherboard!
Opening the door, we immediately bump into an old acquaintance: the CD burner slot. As quick as it is to make backups to external HDDs, memory sticks and the cloud, there are things that cannot go on the cloud and things that absolutely cannot be lost. Documents, important photos, audio that you don't want to lose, go on DVD in duplicate if not triplicate. This is because in 30 years' time it is highly likely that you will be able to read those DVDs while the rest of backup units will have stopped working.
Did we mention that the insert is ultra-plastic? There. It is ugly. And it is hardly functional. The plastic grilles, both on the sides and on the front are too thick, obstructing the airflow so much. That little flow. But we'll come back to that later. The front dust filter is magnetic, easily removable.
At the bottom there are solid, high, rubber, non-slip and anti-vibration pads. The dust filter must be pulled out at the rear and it is not possible to invert it so that it can be pulled out at the front. This is an ultra-unfortunate choice because it is one long piece, requiring 20 kg of case to be moved!
The window is double toughened glass (5.38 mm thick), which should ensure a quieter operation. This is not screwed but has a magnetic closure. So we strongly advise you to remove it during assembly because as soon as you tilt the case, the window opens and TAAAAK!
The window stands on two hinges. You therefore need a lot of space to open it fully, look at the drawing in the instruction manual, or you will have to pull it off each time. Let us repeat the concept: there are no screws, it does not lock into place, it remains freely openable. If you have small children in the house, or friends who are still small children, this case is not for you!
The other window, is interlocking but on clips. A solution evidently adopted to reduce vibrations. The clips are made of shoddy plastic, so better not to try too hard. Obviously: 200 euro case and not even a spare clip! Generous MSI!
Inside the MSI Creator 400MWe wrote earlier that the case is generous on the outside, unfortunately not so generous on the inside. Like all manufacturers, MSI has limited itself to using a standard chassis and then putting some flab around it. We talked about this a few years ago in the PC case special.
We listed the problems with these chassis there and confirm them here. The MSI Creator 400M is just the perfect model for that article. Choked internal space to make room for absolute nothingness. Note also the absence of any cosmetic solution to cover the holes at the back, making clean cable management even more complicated. The front plastic is attached with classic super-fragile plastic pegs, so it is best not to remove it unless special modifications are required.
The right case panel, top and front panel are lined with sound-absorbing cotton.
Everything the case can accommodate you can see in the specifications:
The PSU screws onto a bracket and is then conveniently slipped into its slot and secured. The hard disk housings are good: flexible, durable plastic, perfect for vibration.
Cable *uneasement*Thanks to MSI, we are back to the Palaeolithic, not only in terms of weight but also in terms of space and features dedicated to cable management: holes. The end. All MSI needed was to paint it beige and stick the Olidata logo on it to make the perfect retro case.
Two (2) centimetres is the space reserved for cable management on the side. It cost an immense effort to manage to accommodate the flat cables of a modular power supply, impossible to do anything decent with cables that are not very few and flat. It was already very difficult to manage the mass of cables for the front panel and the LED, with a virtually inaccessible controller.
(re)FluxNowadays it is fashionable to be an airflow fanatic, concentrating 90% of the review on that factor, going so far as to discredit actually very good cases. We think that the airflow should be adapted to the intended use of the PC and, consequently, to the hardware it will host. When you buy a silent case, you don't want an open case, and consequently you won't be placing power-hungry components that require a lot of dissipation inside it. It must be a system sustainable with 3 fans. So there was no preconception about that. Expectations were low. But not low enough.
The side ventilation grilles are literally suffocated by the plastic-ONE. The front ones, on the other hand, are obstructed by the chassis, which places resistance behind the sides of the fans. These small details, in a case that already sees little air, are by no means small. We partially solved this by drilling more holes in the plastic-ONE.
But the woes of this glorious piece of Chinese acrylic do not end there. The grille should have been slightly longer and not a perfect fit. Because this leaves gaps through which dust infiltrates.
And the engineers behind the MSI Creator 400M did not care about that at all. The ultimate proof? A huge hole in the bottom of the faceplate.
Where can the case gather the most dust? From the bottom! Then let's leave a big hole in it! Unbelievable. We solved it by applying two magnets to the edges, creating a sort of magnetic filter, so that it can be cleaned. It's not very fashionable but you can't see it and it works perfectly.
This case was not only designed with great superficiality but was not even given into the hands of someone who could assemble a PC well, otherwise they would have stopped at prototype production. Do we exaggerate? Look at how the liquid cooler is mounted in the marketing photos:
That is the best way to shorten the life of the pump and, above all, to make it extremely noisy. In fact, in that direction the air will tend to rise and end up in the pipes, thus in the pump, causing noise. It is the absolute worst way to mount a radiator.
In this case the only option to have the 240 AIO is to mount it at the front, on the inside of the case. That is, we will have the two fans behind the door, the chassis, the radiator and then the other 2 fans (or nothing, which is better).
We preferred to make a small modification (another one!) on the plastic-one to be able to add a third fan, because 3 is better than 4. In addition, the third one circulates air where the HDDs are, which would otherwise risk roasting.
We also replaced the MSI fans with much better performing ones. The MSI ones are mediocre and not good. The dust on the fans is that which enters through the aforementioned openings in the plastic-one. We obviously tested the case extensively before telling you about it; we really use the products.
Opening the front panel does not produce much of an effect, because the front grille has wide plastics anyway. It is more important to ensure that the side grills are always free of dust.
Which fans should I choose for the MSI Creator 400M?
If you want to keep the front panel closed all the time and focus on the side openings, or otherwise install a radiator, the value to consider for the fans is not the air flow but the static pressure. The fans have to push a lot of air through the resistance offered by the chassis and, possibly, the radiator. So 2 static fans at the front and one air flow at the back. If you decide to make the mod and add a third front fan for the HDDs, that must also be static. In case you own an AIO, the AIO fans are fine. Under no circumstances should the MSI fans included with the case be used.
Is the MSI Creator 400M silent?There is an old adage: a PC with a good airflow is silent by nature. Which is only true when you invest a few hundred euros between liquid systems and Noctua fans. If you don't, you need soundproofing. But if you have sound insulation and you put a GTX3080 and a 165W CPU in it, the insulation disintegrates, along with the components.
When the front panel is closed, the fans can be heard less, so a few decibels are removed and can make a difference when working at night and not alone in the house.
Those who are used to these cases know that they do not work miracles, however, it can be a disappointment for those who have never owned a 'stuffed' one and believe they no longer hear the fans.
Vibrations are practically non-existent. Between the weight, the excellent feet and the measures taken, nothing is audible on that front.
ConclusionsDespite the fact that the system accommodated in the case is a mid-range one, set up scrupulously to be assembled inside an oven, with components that heat up little to nothing, we register rather high temperatures. Not at all problematic in winter, but when summer starts to show up, forget about anything that makes the video card and HDD work too hard. No problem with the CPU, in our case, as the radiator cools sufficiently.
If you are thinking of making modifications to the frame, we would advise against this for two reasons: 1) it is not soft and wears out the blades quickly; 2) you risk compromising the quietness.
Who would we recommend it to? To nobody. You have to be crazy or madly in love with design to spend 200 euros on this MSI Creator 400M. It is a case that would fail even at 80 euros.
The first strong point is the front panel, which unfortunately nobody adopts, and which is terribly chic. Combined with an understated RGB LED, it provides that touch of lamer without overdoing it.
The second strong point is undoubtedly the glass window. Everyone has toughened glass, we have double glass! Luxury!!
The only recommendation is to choose well where to place it, because 20 kg seems easy to move but it is not at all easy with this size. We would also avoid keeping it on the floor, lift it a little. Maybe buy a small bench, the kind they sell to furnish the entrance, and put him on it. The bench with the small slats would also promote air circulation at the bottom.
Missed opportunity, for sure, for MSI. But it is a first, an attempt to propose something outside the gamer/twitcher/youtuber circle. A targeting of the mature creator, who uses a PC at night in a context that is not the bedroom, and who perhaps is not a video 'creator' but paints, writes, designs in 2D, has passions that don't require a kick-ass PC, and is looking for something to identify with. MSI, perhaps coincidentally, has thrown the bait in there. Hopefully with the next case it will do better, perhaps by asking the actual reviewer for suggestions rather than the entertainer on duty.
PRODUCT NAME Creator 400M
MOTHERBOARD FORM FACTOR SUPPORT E-ATX / ATX / mATX / Mini-ITX
I/O PORTS 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A / 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C /
2 x USB 2.0 / 1 x HD Audio / 1 x Mic
DRIVE MOUNT SUPPORT 2 x 3.5” (compatible with 2.5”) + 2 x 2.5”
EXPANSION SLOTS 7
MAXIMUM GPU LENGTH 456 mm
MAXIMUM CPU COOLER HEIGHT 180 mm
POWER SUPPLY SUPPORT Standard ATX 180 mm, max to 200 mm (without 3.5” HDD case installed)
PRE-INSTALLED FAN SIZE Front: 2 x 140 mm System Fan included
Rear: 1 x 140 mm System Fan included
RADIATOR SIZE SUPPORT Front: Up to 360mm
Rear: Up to 140 mm
DIMENSIONS (DXWXH) 550(D) x 236(W) x 504(H) mm
NET WEIGHT 12.6 KG (13,1 KG!!!!!!)
- high-performing feet
- Double Tempered Glass
- Burner slot
- Frame at least 20 years old
- Awkward cable management
- Awkward airflow
- Uncomfortable lower filter
- Very poor bundle
- Cheap fans
- 200+ euro