That warranty check doesn't give me the manufacture date. My warranty started the day I bought it because I uploaded my receipt. I'd like to know if I got new old stock before I power this thing up. Motherboard will arrive Monday. It was an easy check. I removed the top and was able to feel the plastic sheet with my fingernail.
I don't think it's possible to use the air duct and the bracket. Page 11 of the manual implies this with the warning at the bottom: "Please install either VGA bracket or side air duct." I'm in the process of building an HAF X system and trying to decide which I should use. I like the idea of supporting the card with the bracket to relieve the stress on the PCIe slot but I read somewhere that the duct should be left in place for better video cooling.