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 GideonTech Reviews
-- Aluminum Case Round Up
-- Price: ~ $99.99 - $289.99 USD
-- 11.15.2001
-- By: GideonX
-- Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

For a wrap up of these cases we just reviewed, I am going to put out some basic temperatures that these cases achieved.  I will also give out some mini-awards to these cases.  And please realize that not all cases are made the same.  Your individual taste will differ from what I write here so don't kill me for hating your case.

Here's the basic steel case we tested along with the aluminum cases.  It's an Enlight 7237 which was originally hacked with a front intake.  I took that off just for this test to see how it'll be with just its basic cooling.

First up, some temperatures.  These were obtained using the temperature probe from Radio Shack and our trusty CompuNurse temp probe.  CPU full load is just running RC5 for about 45 minutes, a few 3dMark 2001 benches and some rounds of Counter Strike:

Models

AMD Tbird 1.4 Stock

AMD Tbird 1.4 @ 1.5 (1.80V)

Room Temp. ~ 27C Case CPU Idle CPU Full Case CPU Idle CPU Full
Chili Silver ATX Prof. 40C 45.5C 47C 43C 47.4C 49.1C
Lian Li PC60 36C 43C 45.2C 39.1C 45.5C 46.8C
CoolerMaster ATC201 35.4C 42.8C 44.5C 37C 45C 46.4C
Enermax Blue CS688 37.8C 44C 46.1C 38.5C 46.7C 47.7C
Skyhawk ALP4388 37.3C 42C 44C 39.2C 44.5C 46.1C
Enlight 7237 Steel 38.3C 45.1C 46.6C 42.3C 47.5C 49.3C

   * Case temperature is tested near the area above the video card.  As near to the middle of the case as possible.

The following scores is a collection of all the features and benefits of the case.

  Chili Silver ATX Professional:

  Pros:

  • Thick 1/4" aluminum panels
  • Very portable for a LAN
  • Can support ATX and micro-ATX form factor!
  • Whole case can be disassembled

  Cons:

  • Tight squeeze for your components
  • Only about 60mm between PSU and CPU area!
  • Limited drive bays
  • Annoying sliding front cover
  • No fans included
  • Use of hex screws make for a slow process in opening the case
  • High temperatures, not enough area for airflow
  • No removable motherboard tray

  Lian Li PC60:

  Pros:

  • Lots of drive bays
  • Control fan speed of two front intake fans
  • Front bezel easiest to remove out of all the cases reviewed
  • Thumbscrew construction
  • Removable MB tray
  • Very spacious interior
  • Four front USB ports
  • Easy to modify
  • Access to a lot of replacement parts

  Cons:

  • Larger sized, not too portable

  CoolerMaster ATC201:

  Pros:

  • Four (4) fans total with fan grills
  • Thumbscrew construction
  • A lot of drive bays to use
  • Slide out motherboard tray
  • Lowest case temperature recorded
  • Front USB

  Cons:

  • Smaller bag of screws
  • Large to bring to LAN
  • PSU a bit tricky to get in position
  • Pricey

  Enermax Blue CS688:

  Pros:

  • Awesome painted finish
  • Horizontal bar to prevent chassis twist
  • Front ports
  • Decent cooling

  Cons:

  • No slide out motherboard tray
  • Only one side panel comes off
  • Pricey

  Skyhawk ALP4388:

  Pros:

  • Thumbscrew construction
  • Soft and easy to mod
  • Rounded edges mostly
  • Nice exhaust fan
  • Expansion card support beams
  • Front expansion ports
  • Removable 3.5" drive cage
  • Handles on side panels

  Cons:

  • Putting in PSU is a pain
  • Window kit will look strange with that vertical bar
  • Top and rear blowhole are going to be real hard to nearly impossible to put in
  • Top panel is not convenient to remove
  • Rear exhaust housing may block taller heatsink
  • A bit on the loud side

Overall, my personal favorite is the Lian Li PC60 at this point.  It combines good looks with usability to bring the best out of an aluminum case.  Temperatures within the case looked good which strengthen its strong hold on the aluminum PC case market.  A close second comes in for the CoolerMaster.  It is a nice case, but with its high price tag this may not be a case most people can afford.  

One of the disappointments is the Chili case.  I wanted this case to do well in the test, but it failed due to its small size.  It's quite a looker, only hampered by the fact that there is absolutely no air flow possible.  This caused CPU temps to hit the roof, not a good thing with these hot AMD chips.

The most surprising is the cheapest case on the review block, the Skyhawk.  Taking a look at the temperatures, this case is a knock out for the low price.  I think with a bit of modification, this can be one kick ass case.  Keep an eye out for it.

There will be other cases coming out soon from these companies, keep an eye out as we will try to get them in for a review too. Thanks to Carl over PCMods.com for bringing these cases over to us for some testing.  They stock all these cases so if you're wondering where to get them, PCMods.com has them.

< Skyhawk ALP4388

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