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On The Case!
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Date: Dec 14, 2001
Section:Systems
Author: HH Editor
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On The Case! - Page 1
 

On The Case!

A look at 4 ATX cases... one of the most important parts of your system!

 
When is the last time you thought about your system chassis? It was probably when you had to get into it to replace a card or processor. Perhaps it was when you made the jump to ATX from the AT form factor when you bought that cool new Pentium 2 Motherboard. Regardless, you probably didn't give it much consideration beyond how fancy it looked. The fact is, a good case with power supply is one of the most important aspects of your system. It is the foundation on which you build the custom PC of your own unique design.o Slet's take a look at a few options in the ATX case market and hopefully show you a new home for your precious high tech. cargo.
 

What is important in a case you ask? In our opinion there are 5 key areas of a good case.

  • Design - Layout, Ventilation, Functionality
  • Construction - Sturdiness, Gauge Metal, Fit and Tolerances, Power
  • Style - Looks
  • Accessibility - User friendliness
  • Price
 
That about covers it right? So, let's look at our contestants!

This picture is not the best quality but it gives a feel for the size of each of these. They are ATX Mid-Towers. From left to right we have the following: The Image ATX Mid, In-Wins A500F, Enlight's 7237 ATX Mid, and Acer's HX45.
 

First up is the Image. This is kind of a "no name" case and the price reflects that! It can be had for a mere $36.95 from Axion Tech., our sponsor.

This case has a good design with ample room for your gear on the inside. I particularly liked the slide off side panels for very easy access to components. The front bezel is, in my opinion, is fairly stylish but the buttons are a little "spongy" when pushed and awkward in shape. There are 3 - 5.25" bays and 3 - 3.5" bays one of which is hidden but can house a hard drive.

The case has good ventilation in the front panels and rear chassis. The power supply is a sturdy 250 Watts but gives me the feeling of lesser quality than the other 3 cases. Its casing is made from the same thin gauge metal that the rest of the case is.

Construction is the weakest area for this case. Although the case is well thought out and easy to use, the manufacturer utilized a thin gauge metal to manufacture it. As a result the case is very light, which is a plus I suppose. However, it isn't nearly as solid as the others in our round up and the panels don't fit together easily as they have a tendency to flex a bit. However, for the money this case will do the job and it is easy to work with. 

 

    Image ATX Mid.

    Design - 7
    Construction - 5
    Style - Looks
    - 7
    Accessibility - 8
    Price -
    9

    Total - 7.2

 


Next in the line up is the In-Win A500F. In-Win is probably one of the most well known case manufacturers around and they are known for quality.

There is one thing for sure about the A500F, this thing is built like a tank! You are immediately impressed by the weight when you pick this thing up. The construction is SUPERB with very heavy gauge metal that has a smooth finish with rounded edges and surfaces. It also a sort of enamel coating on the metal that really makes it a pleasure to work with. The front bezel is very stylish and has adequate ventilation with vent in the rear to assist. It has a 3 - 5.25", 3 - 3.5" (1 hidden) bay set up. To get inside, you need to slide the three sided housing cover off the back of the chassis.

A very unique feature of this case is its slide out motherboard tray. Take a look at the picture on the far right. The back of the case and the card cage actually slide our with the motherboard panel in a nice slot at the bottom of the case! This is fantastic for getting at those hard to reach jumpers or DIMM sockets without having to pull cards or cables to get at them! It also makes initial assembly a snap when installing a new motherboard. Just slide the tray out, screw down your mobo. and slide it back! We loved this feature!

The power supply was a well made 300 watt unit and the case came with an extra fan in the front for pulling air into the case. There are always pros and cons to every product. For this one, it is price. This case was the most expensive in our group by a small margin at $60.95

 

    In-Win A500F

    Design - 10
    Construction - 10
    Style - Looks
    - 8
    Accessibility - 9
    Price -
    7

    Total - 8.8

     

If you want to own one of these, go to... 

 
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Article Title - Page 1
 

On The Case!

A look at 4 ATX cases... one of the most important parts of your system!

 (continued)

 

Our third contender is the Enlight 7237 Mid ATX Case. Enlight is also well know in the case market and they are known for decent products with good value.

The tallest of the 4 in our review, this case is very spacious. It would easily house a Dual Pentium II motherboard and has lots of room. This case has 4 - 5.25" and 2 - 3.5" bays. It is made of a solid heavy gauge metal construction but doesn't have the polished surfaces of the A500F.

The front bezel is very good looking and is well ventilated for good airflow into the case. The unit also has a very well engineer fan housing and intake vent on the front of the chassis. A fan can be mounted inside and it will have very good intake access through the front metal frame.

In order to get inside, you need to remove the front bezel and then pull forward the three sided cover over the front over the case. This proved to be relatively easy to do since you don't have to pull the cover over the back where all your cables will be coming out. The bezel snaps back into place easily. The Enlight came with a good quality 250W supply. This case is also a very good value. It costs $56.95 at Axion Tech.

 

    Enlight 7237

    Design - 9
    Construction - 8
    Style - Looks
    - 8
    Accessibility - 8
    Price -
    8

    Total - 8.2


Finally, we have a case from the PC Hardware Giant, Acer. Acer's AOpen Line of cases are big in many reseller/clone shops since they also sell many other peripherals from Acer. Here is the AOpen HX45

This case, in my opinion, in the best looking case of the bunch. The front bezel has a clean, simple, contoured look. Unfortunately there is not a lot of ventilation in the front panel. It comes in a 3 - 5.25", 3 - 3.5" (one hidden) configuration and has ample room inside for most full size ATX boards. Like the In-Win, you slide the cover off from the back to get inside.

The construction is excellent. Also, just like the In-Win, this case has heavy gauge steel with a smooth finish and the same coating. Although the power supply is only 235 Watts, it seems to be the best quality of the bunch. The fan in the supply is whisper quite and strong with good airflow. The HX45 also has a mount for an extra case fan on the front plate. This is a good all around effort from Acer that will be a reliable "skin" for your machine. However, quality costs a little more at $59.95

 

    AOpen HX45

    Design - 8
    Construction - 10
    Style - Looks
    - 9
    Accessibility - 8
    Price -
    7

    Total - 8.4

 


All in all, our favorite case was the A500F from In-Win. However, cases, like many things in life are subjective. Your tastes may be different and your metrics for size and functionality varied. There are a lot of cases out there these days! Now you know a little more about 4 of them and what you can look for in a "skin" of your own!

-Peace

Davo
     

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