CDI Alaska 3 Case Review

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The CDI Alaska 3 Case Review - Page 2

The CDI InWin Alaska 3 "Cool Case"
Practical? Maybe Not...Worth it? You bet!

By, Marco Chiappetta
September 20, 2001

There is no doubt in my mind that this case is a work of art.  Let's continue our tour and see if form meets function.

Physical Attributes and Features
Supermodel...

               

In the first picture, you can see the included floppy drive that is painted to match the case, the Evercool Hard drive cooler and the "BayBus" fan controlling switches.  At the upper right, you can also see the power switch.  Besides the paint, there is nothing exciting to report concerning the floppy drive or the hard drive cooler but if you're not familiar with a "BayBus", we'll elaborate a bit.  The "BayBus" is basically comprised of four (4), three (3) position switches that allow users to control the voltage being sent to the fans.  If you're like me and are sick of having a loud case, you'll love the "BayBus".  Depending on the switch's position, you can either run the fans at full speed (highest voltage), low speed (lower voltage) or shut them completely off. 

We have to mention however, that even with all of the fans turned on and running at high speed, this case is surprisingly quiet!  Its not silent but it is quiet.  All of the fans (with the exception of the PSU fans) are high quality Panaflo models, the loudest of the bunch barely emitting 30dbs.  It's tough to convey just how quiet this case really is but consider this, a single 60MM High-Output Delta fan used on many of today's high-end CPU coolers emits approximately 55dbs.  The CDI InWin Alaska 3 complete with a full compliment of hardware, with all fans running on high, barely broke the 60db barrier on our trusty old RadioShack noise meter!

The case LEDs and reset switch are visible in the second picture.  One concern I had, when initially inspecting the reset and power switches, was that the paint was going to interfere with them and cause them to stick or bind but that is not what happened.  Even with a thick coat of paint, the switches functioned perfectly.

               

As we continue our tour, we come to the 120MM blow-hole at the very top of the case.  Looking at the rear of the case we see another 120MM exhaust fan.  Also visible is one of the Enermax power supply's exhaust fans and just beneath that, behind the "grill" is an 80MM intake fan.  Essentially the upper half of the case is dedicated to exhausting warm air, which is necessary to insure low internal temperatures.

Here we come to one of the more interesting pictures in the review.  There is a lot to see in this shot.  Obviously, the large Plexi-Glass window is most visible.  Mounted to the window are another two 120MM Panaflo intake fans, and you can also see the chrome handle which facilitates the removal of the side panel should you have to get into the system for any reason.

Look past the window and you'll get a glimpse of the Enermax 365Watt PSU and all of the drive bays.  The CDI InWin Alaska 3 has one external 3.5" bay (that is filled with the included floppy), five external 5.25" bays (two of which are filled with the "BayBus" and hard drive cooler) and five internal 3.5" bays.  Just in case you're worried that your CD-ROM or other external drives won't look right because they won't match the rest of the case, don't fret.  You can send your bezels to CDI and they will paint them all to match!  We did not have time to send our bezels out but it's nice to know we could if we chose to.

There is still more to this picture though.  If you look at the bottom of the case you'll see the "FanBus" and some of the internal wiring.  The "FanBus" looks similar to the spring clips on the back of many speakers and makes it easy to connect any device that needs voltage but has only bare wire leads.  Which brings us to one of the CDI InWin Alaska 3's only flaws, the wiring.  We feel the case wiring could have been a bit cleaner and better organized, but it is by no means bad. Some of the fans are connected with simple male / female crimp connectors that are labeled "R" (red) and "B" black.  It would have been better to actually color code them, or alternate the male / female connectors so there is no way to connect anything "backwards".  We have actually come up with what we think is a better wiring scheme and we will hopefully be working with CDI to see if it is feasible to incorporate these changes into a future design.

Also included (but not pictured) is a 10" 12v Neon strip light.  The switch for the Neon light is not mounted to the case at the factory and to be honest with you, we haven't decided where we want to mount it yet!  Because the light operates on 12v, powering it is as simple as plugging it into a free PSU connector and flipping the switch.

At the bottom of the case, we find another intake and can see the locking casters.  The casters are mounted to the bottom of the case with four large bolts and because the "wheelbase" is fairly wide, rolling the case around is very stable and easy to manage.  By now you should also have noticed that all of the fans are covered by black grilles.

More Eye Candy...

 
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