Beantech BT84 Emerald Dream Acrylic Case Review
Reviewed by: Bosco
Reviewed on: June 7, 2003
: GF City Computers
Price: $210 USD
Some of the more astute among our regular readers will have noticed that during my last review wherein I built a system for KeyNet Computer Systems with H2O cooling, it was built in an acrylic case. I know that KeyNet are planning to use it for a display floor model, so using acrylic makes sense for them - but how was the case to work with, what the heck was it, and will it work for me you ask. Keep reading to learn about my experience with the (drum roll please) Beantech 'Emerald Dream'.
What's in the baggie?
Well, I'll tell you the second thing I learned first, no charge. An acrylic case is a bugger to photograph. Bright light, dark light, daylight, flash or no flash, the patented FuzzyCam was up to its usual tricks so don't expect to find any of these pictures on the Sotheby's auction block any time soon. Oh yes, the first thing I learned? I LOVED the way they packaged the case. Inside the standard cardboard box, there's a cardboard insert that surrounds the 2 sides and bottom of the case. And it has HANDLES cut so all you do is reach in, grab the handle holes and pull up, out comes the insert with the case, no fighting styrofoam blocks or other packaging materials or trying to reach down to the bottom of the box to get underneath the case to pull it out. Naturally, the picture I took of the insert was un-usable. The case itself is double protected by a) a big plastic bag and b) shrink wrap on all the exterior surfaces. I ended up leaving the shrink wrap on, other than ventilation and drive bay holes, so it would have a safe trip back to its 'home' at KeyNet when construction was complete.
What are those gloves for, Doc? *gulp*
Beantech also include a pair of thin cotton (no, not rubber, fooled ya) gloves, so that when you do remove the shrink wrap, you can handle the case without smearing greasy fingerprints all over it. Good idea, I bet those gloves cost them about 14 cents a pair wholesale, money well spent. The instructions are pretty straightforward, I scanned them once and went to work.
You can see why the case is nicknamed the Emerald Dream. The acrylic has a very slight green tinge to it, much like old glass with a lot of sand in it. Very classy.
The case comes with:
There's actually plenty of room to work in the case, the system I put in it had a full sized motherboard, CD, floppy, and the AHANIX Iceberg1 Water Cooling System, I never felt cramped or pinched for space at any time during the set up of the rig.
The system wires are nicely bundled and wrapped in a semi-transparent plastic coil wrap. The wires to the front ports are metallic cables, very sharp looking. The case sides remove via 4 corner screws, which I thought was going to be a pain but in reality, only takes a few seconds longer than removing (for example) 2 rear screws and sliding off a side panel. All external drive bay covers also are screwed in, 1 screw in each side, making for easy reconfiguration of the case if you need to move drives around.
Underneath, a very nice touch - pre-mounted rubber feet. Much better than a) having to mount them yourself, b) only having 2 feet and 2 'bumps' like some cases I have seen and c) hard plastic feet. These tend to grip whatever surface they are on and the case won't move around at the slightest nudge.
Here's a (not too fuzzy) detail shot of the front, focussing on the buttons & case lights. The area around the buttons is nicely bevelled, giving a little extra clearance in case of fat fingers. The red buttons looked good to me, red being the spectrum opposite of green they contrasted nicely with the acrylic - it's a matter of personal taste more than anything. The HD and power LED's are the standard green and orange and would be easy to replace should you desire. The front ports for USB & Firewire are at the very bottom of the case, right where they belong. At first I thought maybe they could have included some sort of door for them - but with a clear case, what would be the point?
The only real problem I had during assembly was with the rear of the case. The I/O panel consists of small openings that are partially pre-cut and need to be pushed out. The PCI card openings were no problem but naturally, I forgot to push out the smaller openings for the onboard LAN and sound wiring. You can see them just to the left of the "Ti4200 8X" lettering on the video card box I used for background contrast. This meant removing the motherboard in order to push the small pieces of plastic out. I also had a problem with the card screw-down for the video card. Beantech pre-install brass threadings but they tend to spin under any amount of torque and I never was able to properly secure the video card screw. Lastly, I would have liked to have seen more than 6 pre-installed motherboard standoffs. None of these are critical issues in my book just annoyances.
My last gripe, another fairly mild one. Everything fit nicely, the drives, power supply, everything that was supposed to have holes precision spaced did EXCEPT the hard drive. As you can see (squint and imagine?), there's only one screw installed on each side of the hard drive, and it tends to tilt slightly with pressure from the IDE cable. Again, certainly not critical, the hard drive is still reasonably well secured but it would have been nice to have the proper spacing to put 2 screws per side. You can't move the hard drive any further toward the front of the case UNLESS you want to remove a drive bay cover, as the sides of the bay covers intrude into the case where they screw in.
Other than the few minor items mentioned above, I really liked this case and wish I could have kept it. I had never seen an acrylic case in person until this one, now I can see why there is a decent market for them. It looks great. This particular model overall was roomy and easy to work with. I was a little concerned about cracking something overtightening things but was careful and used gentle torque and never had any problems. It's substantially lighter than a steel case too, and with the way it's packaged, I wouldn't be scared to repackage it and travel with it, for example to a LAN party. Recommended.