Tagan A+ El Diablo Advance ReviewGeekspeak411 - December 3, 2008
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Removing the side panel was easy due to the finger screws holding it in place. I was able to remove the panel but was surprised to find that there was no rail or anything to guide it in or out of place, after I took out the two holding screws and pulled a little it just fell out. There was a sort of hinge to help guide the panel back on just like some other Tagan cases do but unfortunately, the plastic part of the panel that says A+ Case on it overlaps making it so that the hinge doesn't work. Another interesting design decision that I noticed while digging around inside the case was right behind the huge front fan, a wall. No sorry, actually two walls with non-overlapping holes. I am not quite sure why the engineers at Tagan decided to put two walls behind a major intake fan but they did, I wonder how that will affect the test results. All fans are Tagan Cooling Fan Extremes, DC and rated for 12v.
After unhooking the three wires that power the different components on the side wall I looked around inside and was pleased to see that Tagan listened to the people asking for better cable management options, as the I/O Panel wires as well as the main sections of the fan wires were wrapped in two plastic sleeves and zip-tied to the sides where they could be.
Looking at the whole wiring job did scare me a bit though because some of the cables protruding from the sleeve seemed exceedingly long while others seemed on the short side, usually this would be no big deal because you could adjust them but the zip-ties might make adjustment difficult. I took the back cover of the case off and pulled the extra slack out of the cables while still allowing them to reach their respective plugs, there was a bit left over, from six inches extra all the way to a foot and a half extra. On the other note the cord for the audio, the HD Audio and AC 97 header, needs to reach the black audio plug on the bottom left hand side of my motherboard, right to the left of that little round speaker.
The most surprising part about this case is the included lighting. This feature is nothing but a parenthesized side note on the features panel on the box. (Full Disclosure: This reviewer didn't even know this case had lighting until I saw the LEDs sticking out when I was looking at the 330mm fan). Usually, the pre-installed lighting on less expensive cases such as the El Diablo Advance is cheap and shoddy, barely brightening up the area around it even with the room lights off. Not this case though. Apparently, Tagan is determined to rid the El Diablo Advance of any relation to the other cases in this price range. Every single fan installed in this system, dual 180mm fans on top, a 250mm in the front, and a 330mm on the side, have multiple bright LEDs studded within it. Another pleasant surprise was the accurate temperature gauge on the front right above the optical drive door. APlus even added some to the top strip and on either side of the case for effect. Even in the sunlight you can distinctly see the LEDs on and when the ambient lighting is turned down it shows off every component with flare. If you have ever tried to take pictures of case lighting then you know what an art it is to make it show up well. With the El Diablo Advance it was not even difficult!
Installation for the El Diablo Advance was a rather bitter experience. This is the one area that showed the case's flaws, once I got the side panels off I sorted out the standoffs and looked around the case for a hole index. There was one, but it was useless. The print was only depressed metal and was very hard to read, even when I could read it, it only showed me where two of the standoffs should be screwed in and that was for an ATX motherboard, the most common board out there! Fear not, I consulted the manual which asked me to hold the motherboard over the bottom and guess where the rest should be screwed in? I have seen much better methods. My power supply fit in this case just fine and looking at the slot it will fit just about any power supply you could throw at it, extended or not.
The installation of the power supply however, is also where I ran into another design flaw. A missing feature that enthusiast cases require, especially one with a see through panel. The pre-installed wires were well managed but the options ended there, APlus left no room behind the motherboard tray for wires to be hidden nor anywhere else in the case. I ended up doing my best to hide the wires in the empty drive bays. The optical drives slid into place easily but the front door has a flat back making it so that no drives with rounded fronts will fit. The hard drive system is really simple, you pop the hard drive in to a little drawer/tray and slide it into the case. I was a little afraid to bend the tray enough so that the drive would snap into place but the plastic is very flexible so it worked without a hitch and when I got the drive in it did not jiggle around at all, a very good sign.
Once everything is installed in the case the El Diablo Advance feels very sturdy, which I like a lot. I need to know that my case will withstand a little pressure. Okay, let's see what Tagan wants people to know about the El Diablo Advance and then, on to the testing!