AZZA XT1 Review

hornybluecow - 2014-02-07 00:18:07 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: hornybluecow   
Reviewed on: March 12, 2014
Price: $119

AZZA XT1 Introduction:

Today we are taking a look at AZZA and one of its newest chassis: the XT1. Established in 1996, AZZA made a name for itself by being an OEM supplier for various companies. In fact, AZZA has been around for quite some time making chassis for iBuyPower and Cyberpower. Similar to Raidmax, AZZA has a distinct look that is its own. Now the consumer can buy these chassis without the whole computer that use to come along with it. In 2009, AZZA broke away from being strictly an OEM supplier and jumped into the chassis market.

The XT1 is priced at $119.95 MSRP, which puts it under a mid to high range price wise for the full tower chassis. With CES 2014 long over, companies are revising old series, and new ones are also making their debut. The XT1 is freshly off the press, so to speak. Just to clarify, the chassis comes in two flavors: blue lights, white frame; and red lights, black frame. While they should be identical other than color, I cannot say for sure. So let's dive into this review and see what AZZA is offering in this full tower along with secrets it is hiding in this white gem.

AZZA XT1 Closer Look:

Looking at the pictures below, the chassis has a futuristic look. It gives me the idea that I have seen it before. It is a bit of a mixture of the Cooler Master HAF series and the Raidmax Agusta. While the resemblance may be there, keep in mind it is something different and comes off as an expensive look, rather than cheap lights and plastic slapped on at the last minute. I am getting ahead of myself, so without spoiling the rest of the review let me first give you a run-down of the exterior of this chassis. From left to right, the font has four exposed 5.25" bays covered by mesh to block dust. Below that is a 140mm fan also covered by a mesh exterior along with a 3.5" hot-swap bay at the bottom. The back is as standard as it comes, with a 120mm rear fan, nine expansion slots, and a bottom mount for a power supply. The left side panel includes half a window with a 140mm blue LED fan mounted. Finally, the right panel is solid and continues the rectangle extruded shape. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the chassis includes a 230mm blue LED fan and support for either two 140mm or 120mm fans. While mounting a 240mm radiator is possible, it ultimately is questionable if that was intended or not because of the design choices (covered later). Flipping the chassis over, the underside has a nice amount of space off of the floor (courtesy of large rubber feet). AZZA added separate dust filters for the power supply and extra fan mount. My experience with a single, long dust filter is that it can be warped over time, which causes it to lose the filtering effect as dust goes around the outside seal.

 

AZZA XT1 Closer Look:

Removal of the top panel requires a bit of patience, as the two screws required to be removed are hidden under blue plastic caps. Once you either figure out that or look at the manual, it comes off without any issues. The problem is that all of the I/O ports and wires are attached to the panel. Full removal of the panel asks that the cables come along with it. Just make sure to do the tinkering needed before everything is already installed, as installing a 240mm radiator was not a fun exercise. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking off the front panel was a bit easier with the expectation that the top panel must slide forward to release the front. It sounds a bit strange, but the design choices give the XT1 a seamless look. Like I said above, unless you want to fully remove the panel, all you need to do is remove the screws and push forward a bit. Once the panel is off, you can see the front mesh that acts as a dust filter. Behind that is a blue LED fan that is included with the chassis.

 

On the first page I gave it a little bit of a comparison to the Raidmax Agusta. The reason being was that the inclusion of these clip-on plastic extensions gave it an anime mech look. Granted, it is not as much as other chassis I have come across, and it can be added and removed. The extra add-on does not harm anything whether you like it or not.

 

 

Inside the chassis was a small box that included an assortment of things. Most notable is the 3.5" bay converter and face plate. The rest is bare minimum with a single bag of screws and a manual. The manual itself is detailed enough to give you the understanding of what can and cannot be taken apart.

 

AZZA XT1 Closer Look:

Removing the side panels took a bit of a struggle to come off, even with notches on the back that allow you to grab it firmly. This seems to be a standard these days, but not a big deal. Once the panel comes off, you can see the white interior. The front includes a non-removable hard drive cage with six 3.5" bays along with four 5.25" bays on the top. The chassis itself is more or less standard for a full tower with a bit of space to spare. Even if the hard drive cage is not removable, installation up to 340mm is available, which covers any video card currently on the market, along with 190mm for CPU coolers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tool-less design AZZA implemented here was very intuitive. The design is similar across many chassis and if you have read any of my past reviews, this will look very similar. The 5.25" bays have a simple locking system where the notch up is open and the holder can come out and down, allowing it to be locked in place. Once a bay was used, I did not have much of an issue getting it to lock and generally you have to wiggle it a little to get it to fall into place. Next is the hard drive bay, which uses a locking system based on pressure. In its hold state, the bays are held by pressure on the sides. Pushing the hooks inwards releases this and they will slide out. Installation is an easy matter; you put the bay back in and once you hear a clicking sound, it is secured in place.

 

 

Behind the motherboard tray is roughly half an inch of space for the cables, which is not much space to work with. However, the side panel itself has about the same amount of space in the extruded portion. I did have to fiddle with the cables quite a bit to get the panel back on, but it is better than not having any space.

 

Onwards to the lights! If you know me, I am weary of chassis that add the lights to its major selling point. To me that gives the feeling that it is a cover up for a less-than-stellar build quality. However, I am happy to report this does nothing of the sort that I just ranted about. In fact, AZZA went a step further and included three blue LED fans to make sure the blue theme was not unnoticed. With the lights on, the blue is just enough to be noticeable and once the lights go out, it can be a bit bright.

 

 

The top has a large power button that lights up blue like the rest of the chassis. Below that includes a tiny rest button and a hard drive access light that blinks orange when in use. Finally, two USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports each reside next to the headphone and mic jacks.

 

 

In the front is a hard drive hot-swap bay that is easily overlooked as it blends in with the look and style of the chassis. The PCB board is powered by a 4-pin Molex cable and also powers the front fan in case the motherboard port cannot be used.

 

 

With everything installed, you can see below how spacious this chassis is. Installation did not go without some sort of issue, though very minor. As I explained above, the space behind the tray is limited so I had to organize cables so that they overlapped in the least way possible. The second thing to note is the annoyance of mounting anything to the top because of the panel that has the I/O ports connected to it. While I did not cover it before, installing the Corsair H100i was much more work than it should have been. My initial thought was you could setup a push/pull, but the idea fell apart when I found the top only had a cutout for a 230mm fan, which translates more or less to two-thirds the size of the 240mm radiator. Adding extra fans on top would not help the temps much and would be more of a hassle than it is worth.

 

AZZA XT1 Specifications:

Case Type
Full Tower
Dimension
515(D) X 205(W) X 566(H) mm (20.3 x 8.1 x 22.3 inch)
Side Panel
Transparent Window
Color
Exterior & Interior : White
Cooling System
Front (intake) :
1x 140 mm Blue LED Fan (included)
Side (intake / exhaust) :
1x 140 mm Blue LED Fan (included)
Back (exhaust) :
1x 120 mm (included)
Top (exhaust) :
1 x 230mm fan (included)
2 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm (optional)
Bottom (intake) :
None
Material
Japanese SECC Steel / Plastic
Drive Bays
Accessible : 4 x 5.25’’ / 1 x 3.5”
Hidden : 6 x 3.5’’
Expansion Slots
8
Motherboards
Micro-ATX, Full-ATX
I/O Ports
2 X USB3.0 / 2 X USB2.0 / 2 x AUDIO
PSU
Standard ATX PSU (optional)
LCS Compatibly
Limited; Up to 240mm Radiator (Top)
Other
CPU cooler height limitation: 190mm
VGA length limitation: 340 mm

AZZA XT1 Features:

 

 

 

 

All information courtesy of AZZA @ http://azzatek.com/csaz-xt-1-techspec.html

AZZA XT1 Testing:

Testing a chassis requires the computer to stay at idle and load for one hour. Doing so will give you an idea of what your computer may be like under stress. Normally your computer will not be running this hot, but we do not all live in cold weather or do similar things. Therefore, a full stress test can give people the idea of what it can handle and whether or not heat gets trapped over time. The case is left with stock features to give you an idea of the temperatures without the need for extra fans. It's almost guaranteed to have a slight drop in temperature when more fans are added, but that will not be covered unless noted. I will be using Prime95 "small FFTs" for the CPU load and 3DMark Vantage "Extreme preset" for GPU for one hour. After an hour the temperatures are recorded using HWMonitor in Celsius (°C).

Setup:

Compared Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After collecting enough temperature data, I think it is safe to say that both the video card and CPU are not the best for capturing the chassis temps. While generally a degree or two off is considered within the margin of error, I keep my house a near constant 22 °C when I run the tests. On a warm day, the XT1 will not disappoint with the most airflow in a chassis I have tested so far. Yet, it still does not hold any records. The unfortunate effect of not overclocking high enough or having multiple video cards, it is hard to tell what the temperatures will look like in different scenarios. The XT1 is really meant as an airflow monster and if you have a hot video card or even multiple ones, this chassis has you covered.

AZZA XT1: Conclusion

Let us recap my reasoning and scoring method before diving into my final words. First I look at what the company is saying it offers. For example, say the company states the case supports large / long graphic cards or ten quiet fans. In this example, I examine what is advertised versus what is actually offered. Most of this becomes uncovered as I take pictures to document the product. If the company does not stay true to its word, then it loses points because no one ever wants to be sold on false advertisement. Next I look at what the product is marketed for and put it into perspective. An example of this could be trying to overclock a CPU in a Mini ITX case and expecting a low temperature. This would contradict its target market and something I try to catch so it does not affect the score. The last bit is my own interjection. What could the case offer in its price range, and what do other companies offer. This category may include an extra fan, cable management, different color paint, or support for larger video cards. This list is endless so let's move on to the conclusion.

AZZA has shown you can still put lights in a chassis without sacrificing quality. I will admit I had my reservations about what can be offered for the price, and that quickly vanished when I realized the XT1 wasn't something slapped together; it is part of the selling point. So to wrap up this review let me cover the pros and cons. Continuing tradition, my issues with this chassis are more design choices rather than quality issues. Next, the use of the now-dated Molex connector is an odd choice for the included fans when 3-pin fan connectors are the standard. I don't know why the front fan is 3-pin and the other three are not. While it's not a deal breaker, it does take up some precious space behind the tray. Next, as I ranted a bit earlier in the review, it bugs me that the way the top panel is attached makes it a bit of a pain to do anything with it once everything is installed. The solution for the consumer is to do everything you need on the front and top before installing anything. A simple solution for AZZA would be to make the part with the I/O ports non-removable and just have the back half come off.

Saving the best for last, the XT1 has a few stand out things worth a mention. Having great stock airflow is good news for anyone who has real concerns about the heat generated by the components inside the chassis. Having a high overclock or multiple video cards warrants the need for high airflow. It bugs me when companies offer chassis in the same price range and have just a single rear fan. The cost to add a few extra fans on a large production is negligible. The counter to this, which I covered in the past, companies like Cooler Master found from a survey that most consumers just replace the included fans anyways, so why include them?

Every argument has two sides, but in this case I am glad AZZA included all the fans while keeping the price within reason. This brings me to my next point. If you are going to pick a color, do it well! AZZA's blue color choice is in fact a well thought out idea and everything but the rear fan glows blue; simple and effective. Last up is something you don't see at all, and that is space up to 190mm for a CPU cooler. I cannot tell you how many times I really wanted a chassis, but the CPU cooler I wanted (or had) did not clear. While the best air coolers on the market top out at 170mm, it's good having the extra room just in case and gives it less of a squeezed look.

When it comes down to the choice whether to recommend or skip, I am in the middle. There is nothing wrong with this chassis other than minor things, and I think if the pros fall in line of what you want, then don't hesitate to buy this. Being an all-around chassis has its benefits, but generally that means the price goes up as well. This is definitely not overpriced for what you get, but on the other side, modding or using this for a custom water cooling setup isn't practical as nothing is modular. You get what you see and that can be more than enough for the majority of people.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: