AZZA Fusion 3000 Review

formerstaff - 2012-01-13 22:19:42 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: February 9, 2012
Price: $179.99

 

Introduction:

AZZA has not traditionally been on my short list of considerations when it comes to enclosing my prized hardware, since the company started manufacturing non-OEM computer cases in 2009. One of their latest creations landed on my doorstep the other day in the form of a Fusion 3000 full tower case and it appears to be a bit of a different direction for them. The palindrome named company that donates 50% of its net profits to the Vision One charity is out to get your enthusiast case business. So have a look with me at what they are up to with the Fusion 3000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer Look:

For the second time in as many weeks, a rather beaten and beleaguered box was dropped on my doorstep. As a matter of fact the top of the box was already 'pre-opened' for my convenience. The front and sides are duplicates of each other, so I will forgo pics on those. Other than a large color picture of the side view of the case on the front and hard specs on the sides, AZZA does not really use the packaging to try and sell you on the design or features of the Fusion 3000 by pointing out each feature and an accompanying dissertation of why it's superior to the competition.

 

 

Unpacking the Fusion is an uneventful affair. It is packaged on its back and the first thing I am met with is a smaller box that contains the two base parts with the owners manual. The case is shipped with form fitting cardboard clad Styrofoam on either end.

   

 

 

Okay, enough of the box. Lets see what AZZA has to offer with this louvered full tower.

Closer Look:

Once I got the Styrofoam off, my first thought was that it was designed by a couple of guys who are fans of the Haf 922 and Silverstone Raven. It has some vaguely similar lines to those cases along the front and top of the unit. The Fusion 3000 is a fairly large case measuring 25.2" x 10.2" x 24" (640 x 260 x 610 mm). So It should provide a home for just about any system you care to build into it. At 260mm in width, it will accept CPU coolers of up to 190mm, which covers the largest of the currently available air cooling solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front panel connectivity is standard if not a little on the minimalistic side. You get two USB 3.0, a single USB 2.0, and audio input/output jacks. I had a senior moment when I powered this thing on thinking that there was something wrong with the power and reset button's LEDs not coming on, but that is of course because they are not lit with LEDs. One of the cost cutting measures implemented into this case so that they can get more features built in. This is a theme that would become obvious, as I spent some time with the Fusion 3000.

 

The accessories are sufficient to get the job done and help you get up and running. In the accessory box you get the case bases, which are very wide and slightly weighted with rubber ribbed bottoms. They provide a solid base for the Fusion and are affixed with 4 screws apiece (included). Also included are plenty of standoffs, motherboard screws, HDD screws, as well as a few zip ties to tidy your cables. Finally, a comprehensive manual is also included.

 

 

The side panels of the Fusion appear to be 18 gauge cold rolled steel and are removed via two black thumb screws on each side. The side panel is machined to accept a pair of 120mm/140mm or a single 230 mm fan. Sadly however, AZZA has not included a single fan for the side panel ventilation (please note that the 230mm fan in the image is one from my stock that I installed temporarily to give you a look at how most people I believe will opt to fan the side panel). The Fusion does technically have a side window, but it is more of a tribute to a window in a speakeasy fashion. It is only about 2" wide and you may get to read the name of your CPU cooler through it, but only if it lines up correctly. Other than that, I believe it is for effect and will let out an accent of light, should you be of the mind or preference to use various lighting techniques in your case.

 

 

 

Continuing in the polygon theme, the side panel filter is easy to access from the outside of the case by a small unobtrusive finger pull on the back of the fan shroud. It seems to be made rather durable and easy to clean. A nice feature I think other case manufacturers could take a cue from.

 

The top of the Fusion is rather unique as well. The entire top of the case is covered with louvers, reminiscent of a mid-eighties hot hatchback. Apparently, this is done to increase airflow from the 3 x 120mm fans that sit in the top of the case. But again, none of these fans are included. Open or closed however, I am not sure how much this actually increases airflow.

 

 

The Louvered vents are operated via a thumb slider on top of the case by a connecting steel rod mechanism. The jury is still out on their effectiveness, but they do look rather cool I think.

 

 

Texture and Design:

As many people purchase their cases off of the Internet. I would like to start a small section of my reviews called texture and design. Just a few close ups of the design aspects can make one model unique from another and give you an idea of the level of detail put into a given case. As you can see, the Fusion 3000 makes liberal use of meshes, repetitive on edge slotting, and notches. Here are a couple more for you to get a feel for the Fusions styling aspect.

 

 

 

 

There is an all round look at the outside. This case tries to be a lot of things to a lot of types of builders. Let's zoom in and see if AZZA can pull it off with the Fusion 3000.

Closer Look:

With the front fascia and bezel removed, we can see the the 4 x 5.25 bays, the 4 x SSD "holders", and the 6 x HDD trays. All of which are done a little differently than you might have seen elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is different here is that the Fusion does not have a complimentary hot swap bay or two. The entire drive holder system is hot swap, or what AZZA is calling "Easy Swap." Only under the SSD and HDD array are there two 3.5" placements for permanent HDD mountings.The front of the tray has a spring loaded tab you move to the left and they flip open rather quickly. Mounting is done by screws from the bottom of the tray. Directly above the HDD trays, are the SSD enclosures. Rather than mounting your solid state drives to one side of a standard HDD tray. AZZA has created four SSD enclosures. They open like a clamshell and with your SSD in place, you clamp down the enclosure and slide it back to its original position which lines up with the Easy Swap' data and power connections. A rather novel way of doing it... don't you think?

 

 

The front door that hides the HDD and SSD trays is made up of a section of the cases bevel and two 120mm fans that are sandwiched between black honeycomb mesh. It is actually very well done and looks very polished. I do wonder however, with the color theme of the case being red and black, why they opted for blue LED fans as the front feature of the case. This is the section on the Fusion that looks rather HAF 922ish to me. The door is held closed via magnets at four points behind the frame of the case. It has a nice feel to it as the door is magnetically pulled the last few millimeters to a gentle close.

 

 

The interior of the Fusion 3000 is spacious, having room to accomadate motherboards up to the XL-ATX size. The interior also affords the use of the longest of graphics cards on the market, with 360mm of clearance for those top end and dual GPU VGAs. With 10 expansion slots at your disposal, you can indulge your enthusiast OCD and find room for triple or quad GPU configurations. The interior of the Fusion features four 5.25" bays. AZZA has designed these tool-less 5.25" bays at a quite basic and minimalistic level. The mechanisms are glorified thumbscrews that flop around like loose teeth, they are not stationary single click fasteners. You need to feel around to line up the screws by sliding them in the elongated slots. But once tightened down, they do work.

 

 

 

The motherboard tray has 6 large openings with rubber grommets for wire management. You do need to hold the grommet in place as you feed your cables through it, or the grommet will do a zip-line down to the power supply. These aren't the tightest fitting grommets I have encountered. Wires from the front panel include power, reset, a single USB cable, a 20 pin USB 3.0 cable, and an HD audio connection. Behind the motherboard tray, you get about 3/4" to work with when routing your cables. I like to see a full inch for this, but even with the provided space and careful routing, solid cable management can be achieved without bulging the side of the case. The large 6" x 6" CPU access hole is a bit to the back side of the case and may not jive with some newer motherboards, as far as accessing the CPU mounting bracket from the back. For the AMD motherboard I used in this case, it worked perfectly.

 

 

The Easy Swap connectors are all powered by 4-pin molex connectors.

 

 

The bottom of the Fusion has opportunity for more air flow as well, with patterns for a pair of 120/140mm fans or a single 230mm fan.

 

 

The PSU in the Fusion is bottom mounted. It sits atop a slightly elevated adjustable base, which does not have any rubber or anti vibration foam on it, so you may wish to add your own prior to mounting. Below the PSU is a permanent pull out dust filter. With ample placements and flexibility for fans from top to bottom, you can get a very good bottom to top airflow scheme going, once you load the Fusion up with aftermarket fans.

 

 

The Fusion 3000 touts the capability to facilitate up to 480mm of radiator capacity. A 360mm radiator can be mounted in the top of the fusion or merely 3 x 120mm fans for cooling. The other 120mm radiator can be mounted at the rear exhaust fan outlet.

 

 

While I am not sure how well this case will be embraced by the water cooling community, it certainly has the capacity up top and the "grommeted" access in the back to set up a full custom water cooling system if you should choose or maybe grow into one in the future.

Closer Look:

Working with the Fusion was largely a headache-free experience. There is plenty of room to work with and get components fastened in. I did note that some of the simple things are not done quite as well as other cases in its same price category. For instance, the machining of the standoff taps can be a bit rough and take a few attempts to get them started. When I removed the fan/filter side panel to install the 230mm fan, I noticed that the panel is held on with very small screws that require a touch to get back in. I got the feeling that a quarter turn too much and they would be stripped rather quickly. Replacing the side panels took a small amount of persuasion, as the holes in the panel and the frame did not line up exactly perfect. As I mentioned earlier, you will want to hold the grommets on the motherboard tray in place as you feed your PSU cables through, to keep them from doing a "zip-line" down to the bottom of the case. These are not huge issues of course, just things I would expect to be a bit more polished on a case that is $180.00. All in all, not a bad experience though. I found the accessory kit to contain ample amounts of screws and standoffs, and I was up and running in about 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once lit up, the front 120mm blue LED fans create a nice but not overpowering glow as the LEDs follow the curves of the fan blades. It looks very nice coming from behind the black honeycomb mesh the fans are encapsulated in. The Fusion 3000 is a bit "plasticky" in a few areas, but overall a very nice looking case. It is stylized but does not scream "my Transformer can beat up your Transformer."

Specifications:

Model:

 

Model Name:

FUSION 3000

Model Number:

CSAZ -3000

Spec:

 

Type:

ATX  Full Tower

Color:

Black/Black (Inside Chassis)

Material:

SECC

Side Panel Window:

Yes

With Power Supply:

No

CPU Cooler Compatibility:

Up to 190mm

Motherboard Compatibility:

XL-ATX, E-ATX, Full ATX, Micro-ATX

Power Supply Location:

Bottom Rear

Expansion:

 

External 5.25” Drive Bays:

4

External  2.5”  Drive Bays:

4 x Easy Swap 2.5”  slots

Internal  3.5”” Drive Bays:

4

Easy Swap 3.5” HDD Slot:

6 x Easy Swap 3.5” slots

Expansion Slots:

10

Front Ports:

2 x USB 3.0,  1x USB 2.0, HD audio, Mic

Cooling System:

 

140mm Fan

1 x 140mm fan (27.2 dBA) in the rear

120mm Fan:

2 x 120mm blue LED fans in front

Physical Spec:

 

Dimension  (HxWxD):

25.2” x 10.2”  (640  x  260  x  610mm)

Weight:

30 lbs


 

Features:


 

All information courtesy of Azzatek @ http://azzatek.com

Testing:

All cases, including the comparison cases, were tested under the same conditions and with stock fan placement only. All temperatures readings are taken with HW Monitor. CPU and chip-set temperatures were taken after 30 minutes of OCCT's standard CPU stress test. For hard drive temperatures, I opted for a real life scenario of taking the highest temperature after 30 minutes of downloading an identical large file. Idle temperatures were all taken after 30 minutes of sitting idle, after the specific task or load testing was complete. The ambient room temperature during the testing was a constant 22C. Due to the variation of CPU sensors and ambient temperatures, the following results are meant only for comparison between the cases used in this particular setup.

 

Testing Setup:

 

 

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

I managed to conduct the entire review and testing without knowing the MSRP of the AZZA Fusion 3000. Upon hearing that this case is $179.99, well that's when the head scratching began, and here is why. Last week in my opening volley for a review of a different case, I made the observation from my experience with cases as an entity, that you can usually pinpoint the exact place in the design where the designers ran out out of price point working room. This case seems to be the epitome of that theory. I have spent 27 years in business and one of the first things I learned was the old adage "price, quality, service...pick two." While many corporations have attempted to circumvent that reality with pithy phrases and rhetoric, it still holds true today...maybe now more than ever, since vertical integration is a distant memory.

The problem for AZZA and the Fusion 3000 is two fold from my perspective. First, it is trying to be everything to everybody and second, it places itself right in the middle of the most fiercely competitive price range for enthusiast cases. As a result, there is a lot of innovation and value being offered just on either side of the $180 mark. For example, the Fusion 3000 faces competition with the Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced, which is $20.00 less, includes three 200mm+ fans, and has nearly all the same amenities. Also at the same price point or even slightly less, it competes with entire Silverstone Raven series. Both of these include fans beyond the standard front intake or rear exhaust and are constructed with better fit and finish than the Fusion 3000. Because of this, the lack of included fans is a bit puzzling. The Fusion 3000 has places for for two 230mm fans and 3 x 120mm or 7 x 120/140mm fans, yet none of them are included. You could easily spend upwards of $80 to add the fans necessary to get this case to its intended airflow.  If you are getting the impression that I do not like this enclosure, that is just not the case, no pun intended. I just think that AZZA faces some fierce competition and ingenuity in the $180.00 price range and has spread itself a bit thin trying to please everyone with features that are simply not followed through to a point that some enthusiasts will find satisfactory.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: