Project OCCC: AOpen HX-08 Case ReviewBosco - March 22, 2003
Doesn't that look spacious? It's a little deceiving with the motherboard tray removed, actually. The plastic bracket at the lower front of the case is designed to house an 80 mm fan and a 40mm fan, presumably for cool air intake. As with most cases, it's not very well designed in that there's only a small opening under the bottom of the front bezel from which a fan in this position could get air. The 3-bay drive cage is removable, sliding towards the rear of the case after taking off the case screw attaching it to the frame.
Lower frame front
From the other side, you can see that the ventilation holes are spaced rather further apart than what would be ideal. I heartily recommend that if you're going to use this location for a fan, you cut yourself a hole in the case suitable for the size of fan you're going to use. You can see here that I've marked the case where I'm going to cut out a hole for a 120mm fan. You'll have to read the next article to see how I'm going to deal with getting airflow to the fan =)
The bezel has the standard 3-per-side plastic clips which snap into corresponding holes in the frame. It comes with plenty of wiring for the on/off and reset switches and the green & orange power and HDD activity lights. I really liked the locations of the switches - with the power switch being at the very top of the case, there's very little chance of reaching for it and hitting the reset switch, unless you're not watching what you're doing, because the reset switch is actually about 12" lower, in the middle portion of the bezel. The switch, button and light assemblies were all very easy to remove from the clips in the bezel. A minor complaint is that the reset button actually doesn't secure to the bezel in any way and could theoretically pop out and get lost, for example if you were transporting the case somewhere. The main power switch assembly is actually secured to the frame beside the floppy drive using a standard case screw. I liked this setup well enough that I actually kept the original switch/button configuration even as the case went through other major modifications.
In its standard configuration the problems with getting cool air into the case would likely be a problem, especially if all 13 (!) drive bays were in use and pumping out heat. Having to take the top off to access the internals is more an annoyance than an issue that can't be overcome but still worthy of consideration. It is unquestionably well constructed and at $125 CDN, it's competetively priced with competing server towers and less than many. From a modder's perspective it has tremendous potential and flexibility, with my main beef being the width of the case - another 1" wider or so and I would probably say that it was perfect for someone prepared to do some cutting and rearranging on their own.
Stay tuned and follow along as we take the HX-08 from sedate to INTENSE.