PCAudioLabs Rok Box MC 7xs Preview

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Design and Layout

DAW computers are built with certain specific characteristics in mind. In short, you need copious amounts of connectivity and solid horsepower but, in general, they should take a low profile and blend in with the scenery, so they're barely seen and definitely not heard.  It's easy to see why PCAL went with the Lian Li PC-A05 for their chassis selection of the Rok Box. It fits the requirement to a tee.

The case itself is very light with a net weight of just under 9lbs, without components installed.  It is however, a well-built, relatively strong all aluminum chassis that has a lot of very convenient features going on, including its small top IO panel for front USB and audio access. PCAL also dropped in a 3.5-inch drive bay IO module that delivers four more USB 2.0 ports (USB 3.0 ports are on the rear IO panel), 4P and 6P Firewire ports and another eSATA port.

You'll have to forgive my misstep in the video preview on the previous page, however.  This case is unique in that it actually pulls cool are in from the back via a rear 120mm intake fan that quietly (1500RPM) pulls air in over the CPU cooler that then pushes warm air to the front of the chassis. As you can see above, the PSU actually mounts in the front of the chassis and has its power cable routed out the back via an extension.  This is a somewhat unconventional design but it works relatively well. The front bezel of the chassis is vented to allow warm air to escape and right in front of the drive rack there is another 120mm fan that you can't see, pushing warm air out through the front.  The rear of the chassis is vented above the card slot area as well.

The motherboard that PCAL chose is another solid selection.  It's a midrange Gigabyte Z68-based motherboard that came equipped with all four of its DIMM slots filled with a total of 16GB of DDR3-1333 memory.  This specific Gigabyte board has a TI 1394 Firewire chip on board that a lot of folks working with AV will appreciate as being sort of the defacto standard for compatibility with various audio and video devices.

You'll also notice the passively-cooled graphics card in the first PEG slot.  This is an AMD Radeon HD 5450 card that offers HDMI and DVI output while remaining completely silent.  It's not going to offer much in the way of gaming performance but the card does incorporate ATI's UVD2 video engine for acceleration of digital video transcode workloads, as you would expect, and certainly will get the job done for light duty gaming and HD video playback.

The hard drive cage is installed in the front of the chassis and in this build all of its rubber grommet lined bays are filled with Seagate Barracuda hard drives -- a 500GB OS drive, along with 1TB and 2TB drives for bulk storage and production targets.  You'll notice there is also a single 20GB Intel SSD 311 drive in one of the 5.25-inch bays up top.  This SSD acts as a cache drive for the 500GB OS volume, in conjunction with Intel SRT technology in the Z68 motherboard.  This affords the system SSD-like bandwidth and access times in conjunction with the OS drive.

Wiring inside the chassis is fairly neat and tidy, with zip ties pulling cables together.  However, their really isn't much room to tuck cables out of sight, as you would have in a full-sized ATX case.  The fansink used on the CPU appears to be an Arctic Cooling unit and it's very quiet, operating at sub 1K RPM in our tests, yet the CPU idles at a tepid 34ºC.

Finally, you'll note the Enermax NAXN PSU on the bottom of the chassis.  This is a 600W PSU with plenty of room for growth, from a capacity standpoint.  Enermax offers a quality line of power supplies to be sure and there's additional power headroom here for future expansion, should you need it. Note that the PSU also exhausts via the front of the chassis, so all cool air is pulled in via the rear and exhausted out through the front of the system.

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