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Asus Vento 3600
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Date: May 04, 2005
Section:Misc
Author: Robert Maloney
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Introducing the Asus Vento 3600

 

Over the past 10 years or so, the Personal Computer has found its way into a majority of homes, evolving from a high-priced curiosity to an everyday necessity.  As with any other market, companies have come and gone during that time period, with their bottom lines inevitably tied to the products they produced.  In today's increasingly competitive market, manufacturer's are constantly looking outside of their established lines for new ideas to keep them profitable.  Heeding to this call, Asus has also begun to look beyond their motherboard and graphics cards for something new.  So far we have seen their S-PRESSO mini-PC, their entry into the wildly popular Small Form Factor market, and recently we got a look at their first chassis, the Asus Vento 3600.  Hyped as a gamer's chassis, the mixture of looks and features suggests the Vento's entry into the PC world is a kin to what a Ferrari might be to the automobile market.  Whether or not the Vento has what it takes under the hood is the focus of today's article. 

      
CLICK ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

Case Size: ATX Mid Tower

MB Form Factor: Standard ATX

Chassis Material: 0.8mm SECC

Drive Bays: 4x 5.25" Ext Bay, 1x 3.5" Ext Bay, 3x 3.5" Int Bay

System Fans: Front: 80mm
Rear: 120mm
Side: Venting hole with air duct

Expansion slots: 6 PCI and 1 AGP Slot

Dimensions (WxHxD): 12.1" x 20.7" x 24.7"

Weight: 24.5 lbs

Color Options: Blue/Green/Red

Front I/O: 4 USB 2.0 ports, 2 Audio jacks


 


The retail box that was delivered to our doorstop appeared twice the expected size of the chassis.  Inside, packaged safely within the styrofoam was the red Vento 3600 we had requested for evaluation.  Other colors that were available were green and blue, and the choice is entirely up to the builder's desire.  In our case, we intended on installing the Epox 5LWA+ we reviewed earlier, which should make the color scheme compatible.  Along with the Vento came a short installation manual, and a baggie with assorted screws in it.  That's all that can really be expected as the Vento is just the housing - all of the other components are purchased separately and placed inside. 

      

One of the first things you'll notice is that the drive bays are hidden behind the "Magic Mask".  Instead of a swinging door that can often be troublesome in tight quarters, such as under a desk, the Vento 3600's front door swivels upward and rests alongside the top of the chassis.  Opening the "Magic Mask" revealed four 5 1/4" drive bays and one 3 1/2" bay.  An area for concern, however, revolves around the latch mechanism that locks down the cover.  The latch required us to push in the cover slightly, but it felt as if there was little give here.  It helped to actually push up on the cover a bit when opening the Magic Mask.  We also had some reservations about the durability of the latch, which was made entirely of plastic.  We have seen simliar mechanisms on other cases that have eventually loosened or had one of the catches break off from repeated use.  Thus, the Magic Mask will wind up being a "mask" in name only, as it will permenantly be left in the open position

      

Ventilation and cooling are main concerns when building a PC, since today's components are running faster and thus hotter than in years past. Serving these needs, the Vento sports two vents on the front, similar in appearance to a fighter jet.  These two vents, along with a another one along the side, allow cooler air to enter the chassis, which are then pushed out by the 120mm fan installed on the rear.  The Vento also provides for better airflow outside the case with the removable cable management kit.  The black frame, seen in the middle photo above, organizes the cables away from the case for a cleaner overall look.

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Features and Construction

Peeking inside the Asus Vento 3600
Its got great taste, but is it less filling?

        

Now that we've taken a look at the outer shell of the Vento, let's take a look at the inside construction.  No screws or other tools are required, just a turn of the knob and the door slides open.  Flipping the door over, we saw that a small duct was attached to the vent, which funnels the incoming air to the heatsink over the CPU.  The door is lightweight, consisting mostly of plastic, and although easily removed it's a little tricky to get it back on track.  This, however, is common with many cases that have sliding doors, so we won't fault Asus on this matter.  There's also a sensor near the rear of the door opening that can be used with most BIOS menu options, to detect instrusion into the chassis. 

      

The interior of the Vento 3600 is relatively plain and simple in contrast to its exterior.  Steel cages are the mainstay here with four bays for 5.25" drives, one 3.5" bay suited for a floppy drive, and finally a removable hard drive cage. Unless other measures are used, only two hard drives can be installed, which limits installation options somewhat.  Rubber grommets are implemented on the hard drive cage which should reduce drive vibration.  Locking mechanisms are used on the 5.25" bays as well as on the floppy drive, although it's still recommended that screws be driven into the drive to prevent them from coming loose.  Beneath the hard drives is a fan used in conjunction with the front vents.  However, as it is placed sideways, it's function seems merely to promote intake from the left vent and push it out towards the right.  It's too low to actually cool off drives or other components, which diminishes its value.

        

Keeping in line with the tool-less installation, the slots have a plastic locking mechanism.  Simply pop the top of the latch, press down the card into an open slot, and then push back down to lock the card into place.  A collection of wires hung off of the front of the Vento, although a speaker connection was not to be found.  Overall, the Vento appears to be quite roomy inside, which will make it easier to install the motherboard and other hardware.  The steel construction is a bit of a throwback, making the case heavier, yet stronger than others using an aluminum frame.  On the bright side, there didn't appear to be any sharp or jagged edges to cut the unwary builder.

One final note we made when finishing our inspection was that the front and middle pieces of the outer shell were not only slightly disjointed, but the paint color didn't match either.  It might be hard to make out in the last photo, but the shade of red on the front panel is noticeably brighter than that used on the top piece.  It's attention to details like this that Asus will need to improve on when introducing a new product lin

 

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Installation and our Rating

 

Motherboard Installation Notes
Putting it all together

Installation of the Epox 5LWA+ motherboard into the Asus Vento 3600 went along smoothly.  There's plenty of open space to move around in, especially if this is done before adding the power supply unit and drives.  Rather than screwing down standoffs, the backplate has nine raised nubs that the motherboard is attached to.  That not only means less screws to fumble with, but it also means that these standoffs won't be coming loose during normal operation or when replacing the motherboard at a later date.  Once the board was screwed down, we connected the various wires for the front I/O plate and other buttons, which were labeled to avoid any confusion.  Next, we installed the floppy and optical drives.  Using the locking mechanisms not only made this process quicker than expected, but we found that the drives were held down so tightly that we weren't worried about them sliding out when moving the system.  Unlike cases using rails, nothing extra needs to be added or installed to the drives and all we had to do was push them in and lock them down.

      
THE FINAL PRODUCT - EPOX 5LWA+ INSTALLED INSIDE THE VENTO 3600

Just after we added the drives, we installed the CPU and RAM, and started adding in the graphics and audio cards.  Again, rather than searching for a screwdriver, installation was "tool-less", handled by popping off one of the green caps and inserting the card into the desired slot.  Sometimes, we've seen where the height of a board can cause an issue with the cards being forced slightly out of the slots, but the Vento's raised nubs provided just the right height for proper installation.  Once the cards were seated, the caps were reinserted, thus completing the installation of the main components.  Our final step was to connect and then double-check the power connections and fans.  The fan up towards the vents uses a standard 3-pin connection, with a cable long enough to reach any area on the board.  The 120mm fan attached to the rear of the chassis requires a MOLEX connection, however, so you'll need to find a spare cable to power this one.  All in all, a quick and easy installation that didn't run into any snags and didn't require us to go looking for a screwdriver every couple of minutes.

 

The Asus Vento 3600 is a good first attempt by Asus to create the "gamer's chassis", although it's a bit heavy on the style and lighter on the substance.  It's looks reminded us of a sportscar, with its UV coated paint job, sloping curves, and front vents.  The Magic Mask is a double-edged sword in our opinion.  It stealths the front drives, giving the Vento a uniform appearance.  The latch remains a concern, however, as does the plastic construction of the arms used to raise the Mask.  If these break down, the entire reason behind the Magic Mask will be lost.  We were also taken aback by the variations in the colors of the panels.  For the price of the Vento 3600, currently about $140, we'd at least like to have a paint job that matches cleanly, like a good paint-job would on a high end sports sedan.

Once we got a look at the innards, we were initially expecting something better than a typical steel layout.  However, the tool-less options made installing and removing components much quicker and easier than some other cases.  We also appreciated the emphasis on cooling with the large 120mm fan and ductwork over the CPU.  The large rear-mounted fan will not only move along a greater mass of air, but will do so quietly, something we've been spoiled with as the "quiet PC" concept has evolved. The front vents were another interesting way of allowing for increased access to outside air, but the placement of the side fan seems to nullify any gains we might have received.

When all is said and done, we're giving the Asus Vento 3600 a '7' on the HotHardware Heat Meter.

 

 

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