Chieftec BL-01B Case Review
Reviewed by: gotdamojo06
Reviewed on: August 17, 2009
Are you in the market for a new chassis for your computer? Do you miss your old IBM case that would let the monitor sit atop of it on your desk? Well if you answered 'yes' to either of those questions, Chieftec may just have the perfect case for you. The BL-01B chassis uses the old IBM style case and has an added a new feature that allows you to not only have a smaller form factor case sitting on top of your desk with your monitor included in the tight space, but allows you to put your high performance components inside. The L shape of the Chieftec BL-01B case is going to allow you to save more of your desktop's space by combining both your case and your monitor into a small space allowing for more work to be done on your desk, which has always been a problem for me. I am really looking forward to taking a look at what this case looks like and to see if it is going to be able to keep the temperatures within a safe range with its compact size, so let's get to it.
The packaging that the Chieftec BL-01B Case came in is your very plain and simplistic brown box, however they have spiced it up a bit by adding the Chieftec logo on the front side of it. Chieftec has also printed the main selling feature of the case, the fact that it is a "Patented L-shape computer chassis can be integrated with a 48-61cm (or 19" - 24") LCD monitor to form an LCD PC." There is a line drawing of the front side of the case printed under the top bar with the company information/case description that shows you exactly how the front of the case has been designed. There is a second black bar under the image that lets the shipper know that it is fragile, cannot be dropped, needs to stay dry, etc. The side of the package is going to display the manufacutring number, the package number, and how many pieces are packed into the package, which most all of it was written in by hand. The other two sides of the package look exactly the same as the one across from it. The packaging is not very impressive or extravagant, but it does not need to be, all it needs to do is hold the product and keep it safe; in this case, it happens to be the Chieftec BL-01B Case.
When you open up the packaging, you are going to find out how well Chieftec has packed the case, taking into account that accidents during the shipping process do happen. The first line of defence is the styrofoam molding to ensure that if it does get dropped or poked with another box, the case would not take the damage - the styrofoam would. After you get the styrofoam off, you are able to see that Chieftec has taken the time to wrap the entire case in a plastic bag, to make sure that when it is being shipped it should not get any scratches on the paint job that the chassis has undergone. I am anxious to see what the Chieftec BL-01B looks like standing up all on its own.
Now that we know exactly how the Chieftec BL-01B case has been packed for a safe ship, it's time to see what all of the features the case has look like first hand, so let's get to it.
The front of the case is has one of the features that is going to catch your eye the first time that you see the case, regardless of what you are expecting; the front IO panel and optical drive is located along the bottom edge of the front. Right to the left of the IO panel, you are going to see that there are a few slits in the plastic covering that is going to allow air to freely move in and out of the case. When you look above the IO panel, you are going to see that the case falls back quite a distance and has a wall that goes up, located on this wall is a track where you are able to insert the monitor mount and adjust the position of the mount. The back of the case is very simplistic, there are no fans, which is not what I was expecting to see on the removable panel to access the "guts" of your computer. There is a bulge that protrudes from the panel, there are air vents along the edges of the bulge that is also going to allow more air to freely flow in and out of the case, giving it the ability to "breathe" and help cool the components inside. When you take a look at the case from the side view, this is where you are going to see the biggest surprise. There is one fan located at the top of the case, it is positioned to blow the warm air that is collecting at the top most corner of the case right out, making the average temperature inside cooler. At the bottom of this side, there is another air vent that is going to allow the air to flow in and out of the case. If you eventually wanted to go into water cooling inside of this case, this side looks like it would be able to hold a 3.120mm radiator with a radbox installed around the 120mm fan hole. The other side of the case is where Chieftec has placed the rear IO panel and the outlets for all of your expansion cards. At the bottom of the case is where the PSU is going to be installed, with the removal of the black plate that is covering the hole. To the left of the rear IO panel, is another "breathable" spot in the case allowing air to freely flow in and out. When the case is empty sitting as you see it here, it is surprisingly lightweight, I would have expected it to weigh a little more than it does to help keep the monitor on there but it should be sturdy enough.
Taking a closer look at the side panel of the Chieftec BL-01B case, you are able to see exactly what the "bulge" was intended to do. Not only is it placed at the top of the case where the temperatures are going to be warmer to help reduce the heat, it was designed to stick out if you had a tall cooler installed on one of your video cards or any other type of expansion card you may have placed in one of your slots. The outside of the "bulge" also has two indents on either side that will allow you to stick the ends of your fingers in to get a better grip on it so you can pull it off easier as well as put it back in place. The inside of the panel was not painted the same black color as the exterior, which is very common on all cases.
Now that we have the side panel removed, we are able to see exactly how the inside of the case has been set up. The top section, right behind where the monitor is going to be mounted is where the motherboard gets mounted. All of the front IO panel wires have been run up towards the motherboard tray already which is going to help make it a little easier to keep the inside of the case clean. The 120mm fan has been positioned at the top across from the motherboard tray, to help reduce the amount of heat that is going to build up around the components on the motherboard and anything else you may have installed on your motherboard such as a video card or a sound card. Towards the bottom on the left side is where you are going to be able to mount up to two 2.5" drives. These are completly internal, meaning you cannot install a floppy drive here. Right below that is where the optical drive is going to be installed, and Chieftec has included a cover for the optical drive so that it does match the rest of the case. Next to the optical drive mounts is where the PSU is going to be installed. It does look like quite a tight fit, but I am excited to start getting everything in there to see what she looks like full.
There are two clear plastic bags that were sitting at the bottom of the case when I took the back panel off. These two bags are where you are going to find all of the accessories that are included with the Chieftec BL-01B case. The first bag is where you are going to find the Chieftec user manual - it has the same line drawing that the front and back of the packaging had printed on it. Packed inside of that same bag, you are going to see two velcro wire ties that are going to allow you to tie up any cables that you do not want to move around. Chieftec suggests that you use them for the monitor's cables to make the outside of the case look nicer, while I plan on using them inside of the case to help keep the wires from blocking any airflow happening inside the case. The second bag is a bag of screws that are going to allow you to install the hard drive, optical drive, as well as the motherboard including the stands. There is also a little speaker for the motherboard included in this bag, but while most cases have them already installed somewhere inside the case, Chieftec has given you the option if you wanted to install the speaker or not.
Now that we know what the basic layout of the Chieftec BL-01B case is, I think it is about time to take a closer look at the components that make the BL-01B properly function.
The expansion slots on the Chieftec BL-01B case are very similar to the others on most cases, as you are given the covers to block any air from escaping though a hole that is not designed to release the internal air. The expansion slot covers are designed so that they can be held in with a screw, meaning that when you want to install a video card, a sound card, or any other expansion card, you are going to need to use a screw and a screwdriver to ensure the card is not going to go anywhere. To the right of the expansion slots, you are going to see the motherboard's back IO panel. There is going to be a cover that comes with your motherboard that you can install if you wish to make your case look more uniform throughout. Above the rear IO panel, you are going to see a section with holes to allow for the escape of some warm internal air. If you wanted to, you should be able to install a small fan to help remove the air quicker. On the exact opposite side of the case from the expansion slots, you are going to see two black clips protruding from the case, and these clips are going to help you when it comes to managing the wires flowing throughout your case. Chieftec has already bundled the front IO panel cables inside of these clips to make sure they stay out of your way.
The hard drive rack enclosed in the Chieftec BL-01B is a very interesting looking one. Not only does it offer a tool-less installation, it also acts as a noise dampening device. To install your hard drive in the cage, you are going to have to screw four screws with a plastic covering on the ends of them to each of the corners of your hard drive of choice; these screws of course are included with the case. Once you have done this, you are then going to have to slide the hard drive into position and latch down the clear lever. With this done, you are not using any tools to actually fasten the hard drive to the hard drive cage. The only time you need to lift a screw driver is to install the four screw mounts to the hard drive itself. By having the hard drive not fully touching the cage, you are going to be able to lessen the amount of vibration that the cage comes into contact with, which for some people is going to be one of the goals of building their PC, while others do not mind the noise as much.
The way that Chieftec has set up the BL-01B case, there is only enough room for them to install one 120mm fan inside of the case. The fan is located at the top left hand corner of the case looking at it from the back. The reason Chieftec has installed the fan here is due to the fact that warm air does rise up in a case and the fan will be able to blow the air right out of the case before it can build up too much and cause any extra stress on your major components that are very sensitive to heat. There is not much information that I have been able to find about this fan other than the fact that it is a 120mm fan that draws its power though a 4 pin Molex adapter with a male and female end on it. The fan is reported to operate at 800 RPM, which is a slower spinning fan, however the fan should be operating very quietly.
The front of the case is where you are going to find what most users are going to need to access the most, making the case very easy to use. There is a large power button that looks similar to the power button that is located on the front of the Xbox 360 console. Sitting right above the power button you are going to find your HDD activity LED. Next to the power button on the right hand side is where you are going to find the pre-installed faceplate for any 5.25" optical drive that is installed in the system. It does say DVD ROM on the plate, however it does not limit you to only a DVD ROM drive - you will be able to install a Bluray drive, HD-DVD drive, or CD ROM drive if you wish into the system. Below the optical drive bay, you are going to find (left to right) a reset button, microphone port, headphone port (either HD audio or AC '97) and two USB 2.0 ports. All of the connections that come out the back side of these ports/buttons are exactly the same as you would find on any other case.
One of the biggest selling points of the BL-01B case is the fact that they have installed an LCD Monitor Mounting System that is able to support up to a 24" monitor. The system is set up like any other wall mount system would be setup, but there is a nice feature of the BL-01B's integrated system - you can adjust not only the height that your monitor sits at, but you are also going to be able to adjust the viewing angle, along with a 90° angle of swivel.
The installation of the monitor mount is very simple and took me only a few minutes. The longest part that took me was figuring out exactly how to uninstall the base of the monitor; it was hidden by a piece of plastic that popped off, then I was able to unscrew the four screws holding it on. Towards the center of your monitor, you are going to find four screw holes forming a quadrilateral shape. These are the holes you are going to line the backing plate of the mounting system up to. Once you have them lined up, you are going to want to screw them in with the supplied screws - please refer to the installation manual for the proper choice of the screws. Once you have that piece installed on the back of your monitor, all you need to do is fit the backing plate in the grooves on the track on the front of the case and you should be good to go! For more detailed installation directions, refer back to the installation section of your user manual.
What can I say about my experience of putting everything inside of the Cheiftec BL-01B case, other than "WOW!" I was very surprised to see that everything fit in there nice and neatly. I thought that there was going to be some issues with getting the power supply in, however it ended up fitting in just perfectly. The only problem that I did have with it was the sockets that I originally had the modular cables plugged into were blocked by the optical drive bay. However once both the optical drive and the power supply were installed, it was easy to install those cables. The wire management inside of this case was not the best that I have seen - the only reason that I say that is because there were not many places to hide the wires. It was easy to route the wires so that they would be out of the way and so that they wouldn't hinder any airflow coming off of the processor's cooler. The one fan that is inside of the case does have a few cables blocking it with how I installed the video card, but they shouldn't block it too much. I was quite surprised at what the case looked like when everything was installed inside; it is cramped inside, but not as bad as I imagined it would be.
Now that we know what the case looks like, everything is installed, it is time to take a look at the specifications of the case and then stress some components to see how cool they can run inside.
|225 x 370 x 418mm|
|255 x 370 x 418mm|
3 Internal 2.5"
|I/O Panel||USB 2.0 x 4; Mic x 1; HD Audio + AC'97 x 1|
- VESA Monitor Mount to clear up your workspace
- 19"-21" LCD Monitor Support
- air holes on both sides and rear for extra airflow
- Patented "L" Shape chassis
- Tool-less drive installation
To properly test the Chieftec BL-01B computer chassis, I will be testing for both the idle temperatures as well as the full load temperatures on some of the commonly stressed components. All of the idle tests will be measured after the computer has been sitting for 30 minutes with little to 0% CPU usage shown in the Windows Task Manager. For the CPU full load test, I will be running the Prime95 stress tester for a full hour set to a blend mode stressing both the CPU and RAM set at the normal priority. I will be using Real Temp 3.0 to read the CPU temperatures; Chipset full load temperatures will be taken at this time as well using the software included with the MSI Eclipse SLI motherboard. For a GPU full load, I will be running 3DMark Vantage back to back and reading the temperatures with RivaTuner. The hard drive is going to be stressed by runing a defragment through Windows Vista, maximum temperatures will be displayed through HDTune. All of the below tempeartures are in degrees Celsius.
- Processor: Intel i7 920 (Overclocked to 3.00GHz)
- Motherboard: MSI Eclipse SLI
- Memory: Mushkin HP3 12800 7-7-7-20
- Video Card: Nvidia Geforce GTX 260
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD-RW
- Case: Chieftec BL-01B
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit
- Ambient Temperature: 26° Celsius
- Case: Chieftec BL-01B
- Case: Thermaltake Armor Extreme Edition
The Chieftec case was able to keep the temperatures around the same as the Thermaltake at Idle temperatures, even giving the hard drive a lower temperatures when it was Idle. However when there was some stress put on the components and the heat was able to build up inside of the case, however the numbers were still great against the Armor case. There is simply not enough room inside of the BL-01B case to keep the temperatures down any lower. This could be a little bit better if there was a higher RPM fan installed and a few more of them - at least one more to bring in fresh air from outside of the case to help lower the ambient temperatures inside. But overall this is still very impressive given the price tag.
The Chieftec BL-01B design takes an old idea that was used very commonly by IBM allowing you to minimize the amount of space used on top of your desk and combine both your case and your monitor, which should give it some looks at by people who do not have a lot of space for their computer setup. When I first pulled it out of the package, I did not think that everything including the power supply were going to be able to fit inside of the case and if they did it would be such a tight fit that it was not going to be able to compare in temperatures to the Thermaltake Armor case that it was going head-to-head with. When I got everything installed inside of it, however, everything did fit in there nicely; there was not much room left over once the everything was in place though. There will be a little bit of a size restriction on the CPU cooler that you choose to use inside, but you should be able to fit one of the shorter ones. I liked how everything was set up inside of the case giving you some of the tool-less features when it comes to installing your drives. It would have been nice if Chieftec had adapted some sort of tool-less installation features for the expansion slots. It also would have been nice if they added another fan or two, especially one more for an air intake. The fan that they decided to use was not very powerful as it only spun at 800RPM which did result in more hot air being allowed to build up inside of the case. The layout of the case flipping the motherboard by 180° and putting the CPU at the bottom of the case did have an impact on the temperatures, for the amount of fans and only gaining 4°C on the processor during the Prime 95 test was quite impressive. I did like the way that Cheiftec allowed for a little bit of wire management inside of the case, the two clips below the fan on the left side of the case did allow you to route the wires to where you needed them to go.
If you are looking for a new gaming case to throw all of your high performance hardware in, I would not suggest using this case unless you are wanting to go into water-cooling, which would make this case one of the best choices if you were going to be taking it to a lan party. Even if you were not going to be overclocking any of the components inside of your case, you should be able to have some safe temperatures with air cooling, especially if you upgraded the CPU cooler from the stock solution. If you are just going to be using it for the more simplistic computing tasks such as browsing the internet or using it for writing papers/spreadsheets and would like to do so in a compact place, I would say pick this case up! With a case coming in at only $69, and having all of the features that the Chieftec BL-01B has, it does make it a great value. Temperatures would be a little bit better inside of the case if you would add a few fans, however there are not many places for you to install them. So, if you are willing to modify your case a little bit, go for it.
- Space saver
- Tool-less drive installation
- Light weight
- Innovative L-shape design
- Internal layout
- Good looks
- Wire management
- Amount of fans
- Fan choice