Case Conundrum: Affordable Midtowers Compared

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Rosewill R5

The Rosewill R5 Black Pearl is a $79 case with a number of up-market feature. It's explicitly designed for behind-the-motherboard routing; there's an inch gap between the back of the motherboard tray and the case panel. It's wider and deeper than a typical mid tower too, and the expanded space is put to good use; Rosewill went with a larger footprint to allow for the sorts of enthusiast components that might normally only fit in a full tower.



The R5 supports CPU coolers up to 170mm (6.6 inches) tall and power supplies up to 6.5 inches deep (10.6" deep if the bottom fan isn't used). The hard drive bays are modular; the case can mount an 11 inch GPU with all eight bays in place, but if that's (somehow) not enough, the top bay can be removed. This frees up space for a graphics card up to 16.9 inches long.

 

That's longer than a 3dfx Voodoo 5 6000. It's longer than the GTX 690 or the HD 5970. In short, it's longer than any video card or peripheral you're likely to ever see again.



The integrated fan controller in the front / top panel is visible here, as are a brace of USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, and an eSATA port. Audio in/out is also provided. The R5's internal wire for the fan controller isn't long enough to route behind the motherboard, unfortunately; it can be linked to control all the case fans from a single point, but you'll have to stretch it across the case to do so. The other problem with the top panel is that the connectors for the hardware prevent the use of the top optical drive bay.

The rubber grommets for cable routing are nice, but there's no pass-through for the four-pin/eight-pin ATX cable that typically plugs at the top of the motherboard.



Here's the front of the case with the vent removed, showing the intake fans. There's also a locking mechanism for 5.25" drives, though there are screw options if you care to use them.

For $79, Rosewill's R5 packs in a lot of good options. There are some things we're not fond of, like the inability to use the top drive bay due to component intrusion from the top I/O port, and the eSATA port is a bit anachronistic, but there's also a lot of things to like. The tray cutout is a feature normally reserved for more expensive cases, the removable 3.5" drive tray allows for even the longest expansion cards, and the positive pressure design is more dust-repellant than negative pressure options.


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