Installation and our Rating
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.
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.