Enermax Fulmo GT Review

BluePanda - 2012-03-31 17:14:30 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: May 6, 2012
Price: $209.99

Introduction:

Enermax has a variety of products on the market including PSUs, fans, coolers, peripherals (such as keyboards), and even a few cases. As part of the Enermax “Big Tower” series, which seems to be the terminology used to classify its full tower chassis, the Fulmo GT is definitely a beast of a case. Much like the Xigmatek Elysium I reviewed about a month or so ago, it is very large. The Fulmo GT has room for fitting pretty much everything you can imagine; with 10 PCIe slots in the back, there is even room to run four cards up to 410 mm each! If you are fighting for space in this case, I’m pretty sure you are doing something wrong.

Without further ado, let’s take a good up-and-close look at the Enermax Fulmo GT to see how much room it really has. We’ll look over every nook and cranny, and compliment/critique every last inch of the beast. With its high price tag, the Fulmo GT really has to show off more than its size.

 

Closer Look:

I always cringe a little when I can see packages sitting inside my screen porch when I drive home in the afternoon. If I can see it from the car, I’ve either got a huge stack of packages or yet another massive case. Big cases are exciting, but for a person my size, they are a bit awkward to get into the house. At the very least, Enermax thought about this when they made the box – it has handles! I’m still confused why we don’t see handles with every case box – with the several that have come through over the last year, probably only about half were as easy to grab.

A lot has been put into the graphics of the box. As you all know, I really like plain cardboard with black text, though few companies are so simple with the box. Here, Enermax shows a lightning storm striking the case on the front of the box. Fulmo GT is printed in the lower right corner, with a lightning strike as part of the logo.

The back of the box shows the innards of the case with a HPTX board mounted, giving you an idea of exactly how big this case truly is. Eight sub-images show off eight of the “big” features within the box, making it just that much more tempting to open up. The sides of the box summarize the features/specifications in a table on one side and the case model on the other; not too overly flashy while definitely letting you know what you are getting into.

 

 

 

Opening up the box, it is obvious the box is packed pretty well. My favorite compacted foam ends are in use, which means I won’t have to pick up all the broken foam bits that I associate with most case packaging. I was able to easily tip the box on one end and pull it off, so no problems getting the case out of the box. As bad as the box was actually beat up with a big hole on the back, there isn’t an ounce of damage on the case itself. A plastic bag protects the finish on the case from any contaminants or loose items in the box. The packing has done its job well; let’s take a look at the actual case now.

 

Closer Look (The Case):

The front of the case is somewhat plain in appearance. Black plastic and mesh composes most of the front panel; a honeycomb overlay covers the lower two-thirds, while the upper portion is filled with four mesh drive bays. The left and right edges have two plastic silver lines that make the case look a little narrower. It’s hard to see from this angle, but the top edge of the case is rounded with the mesh, while the silver plastic slats take an angled edge. There seems to be discrepancy in design and I’d really rather have one or the other – not both. A shiny metal Enermax logo is stuck to the bottom edge of the case; not too flashy and easy enough to take off for modifications.

The back of the case carries the silver stripes from the front, which go over the top, to the top edge of the back. 7 grommets holes are cut in for water tubing or other cables you may desire to route externally. You have the option to mount the PSU at the top or bottom of the case; there is also an option to run two if you so desire. Like I’ve mentioned before, there are 10 PCIe slots for mounting whatever expansion cards you can imagine. Space does not seem to be lacking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the case are a bit exciting. For this model, the left panel has room for mounting four fans; two of which are already included (these fans are pretty neat – look for the video ahead). The other model of the case – which also has a slightly different appearance and several different features – can mount up to nine 120 mm fans in the side panel alone; perhaps this is an opportunity for some serious internally mounted water cooling? This is awesome, in my opinion. For this model, the side panel has the two pre-mounted fans; all you need to do is plug the fans into the internal fan controller.

The back side of the case has room for a slim fan behind the motherboard tray. One does not come with the case, but at least the option is there. From this side, you can look at the bottom and see how the case most definitely has some interesting feet on it. It makes it look like the case wants to fly forward. At the least, the feet hold the chassis off the ground to allow some extra air flow. We’ll be replacing the feet later with the included wheels, though, so we can get back to hallway racing.

 

 

Looking to the top of the case, you can take a better look at the rounded and squared edges between the mesh bend and silver stripe squared edge which I spoke of earlier. It’s not terrible, but I don’t like the blend of the two here. Perhaps this is more a personal complaint, but like all case reviews, they are mostly subjective. There are four USB 3.0 ports and a single eSATA port on the left. A microphone jack and headphone jack are centered between the USB ports for quick access during gaming. A larger power button sits to the far right, with a slightly smaller, harder-to-press reset button directly to the left. HDD and power indicator lights are directly above each switch. A small fan controller knob is located further up and to the right, alongside a button to control the fan LED patterns. In the opinion, the fan speed controller knob seems to function backwards, with lowest speed being the far right, and highest being the far left – perhaps this should be switched?

There is also a little bay area that looks like a place to set your drink, though it isn’t quite for that; it has an angled approach to hold an HDD or SSD in place for some hot-swapping. It sits there nicely and allows a drive to be easily mounted. The only downside seems to be that there isn’t any dampening material around the area. If you have an old drive that makes quite a bit of noise, you will hear it resonate throughout the entire case. It isn’t the end of the world, though, since you likely won’t be using the hot-swap bay as your main drive location. I’m always in favor of some hot-swap type of bay; it makes things easy to share between machines and help you quickly troubleshoot a drive. I love it!

 

 

Another look from a different angle and you can see just how the drive sits in there. It supports about two thirds of the drive and is essentially gravity-fed into the mounting for SATA and power. Stepping back, you can really see how the large size of the case; it stands quite a bit taller than most. Adding the wheels, I think it’ll almost be just an extension of my desk – we’ll see. But overall, I’m not disappointed with the outside of the case.

 

Closer Look:

Opening up the case, I decided you needed to see the super neat fans included on the side panel. The fan bodies are all black and have thin built-in fan guards to keep from having your finger caught. The blades themselves are very aesthetically pleasing and I wish I could have gotten you a closer picture; but one half of the blade is clear black while the other is shiny metallic clear. They are just really neat. They light up blue in different patterns (like I hinted before, video ahead!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the panel away, you can see right in the case. Without something else for size reference, this doesn’t really look any different from your typical mid-tower or average case. I assure you, though, it’s a big case – once I get my ATX motherboard in, you will see. There are a total of ten drive bays for HDDs and SSDs. With such a tall case and so much room, I expected fewer drive bays and maybe one or two more external bays for some serious water cooling and other front panel features, but that is not present. You can also see the front I/O panel cabling pre-routed and underneath the PSU strap. A nifty little control board for the fans is located at the upper right, behind the external drive bays – we’ll get a closer look in a bit.

Looking behind the motherboard tray, you can get a better look at all the grommet holes for routing cables. There are 12 total here, at pretty much every level you need them. There are plenty of holes to route some zip ties to hold up cables and a decent amount of room behind your CPU to deal with awkward heat sink mounting systems. There isn’t quite the depth of space I was expecting back here, but there is enough room to get cables going where they need to be.

 

 

A closer look at the edge behind the back panel, you can see about how much room you’ve got. The panels uses the old school sliding mechanism, so keep that in mind when you are try to wiggle every last inch of cable routing in. You can see the Velcro from the PSU support here – if you want to take it out completely, you’d have to do so from this side.

There is, however, a good deal of space over by the HDD cage. You can hide a bunch of your cables here; there is a lot of extra space. Just be careful you don’t get them tangled up in that front fan on the left.

 

 

Although there are only four external drive bays, the tool-less mounting system is pretty neat. The little slider slides left to release the clips and then the clips flip open to mount the drive. Once you get the drive lined up, you just press it closed; no need for the extra hassle to put screws in. However, you can still pull the clips off to mount drives with screws if you desire.

 

 

Looking closer at the ten 3.5” drive bays, it seems as if there are even more than that. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this drive system. The mounts are difficult to pull out and just as difficult to put back into place. The tolerances seem too tight for the design and have shown up as a failed system. The drive mounts themselves are hard plastic with little flex to get a drive in. You still need to use screws to hold them in place – yet as tight as they are, you almost don’t need to. Overall, I’m not pleased with the way this mechanism functions.

 

 

Next, I put the case down on its side so I could show you the fan at the top from the inside. It’s a nice big fan and I’m really looking forward to seeing just how low the temps in this case are going to be. The back fan comes included and should help the flow of air. You can see a bit of the control board just to the right of the fans – take a look at the next picture up close.

The fan control board is pretty simple. You’ll need to plug in a Molex connector here – so make sure you leave one that will reach up there. The left plugs are for the fan power connectors and the right ones are for the LED connectors. The fans on the panel and up front have two different plugs and they are labeled as to where they go. This will allow you to change or turn off the LED pattern completely and control the speed of the fans independently.

 

 

Taking the top off, you can see where you might be able to mount a couple more fans underneath. The mesh doesn’t seem like it would let a lot of air flow in or out of the case here, but I guess we’ll have to let the numbers be the judge on air flow. It is not as easy to take this panel on and off as you might think – be careful to slide it the right direction and not to bend the end piece too much. If you aren’t sure, the included quick start guide gives some details. It doesn’t help a ton, but you should get the gist.

The front of the panel comes off without problem. You might want to punch out the old school metal flaps from the drive bays to gain a little extra airflow. I’m surprised to see these in such a “new” case. There seems to be a lot of dense mesh in the front panel here, which cuts down on as much airflow as the front might have perceived. I still have confidence in the ability for this thing to move air though. Big cases generally do well with air flow and having two massive fans on the side panel, it will happen.

 

 

The most interesting task of this case was perhaps putting on the wheels. Not only was the case super tall to start, the thought of putting on wheels to make it almost two inches taller just made me laugh. It turns out it didn’t really add that much height. You need to take the existing feet off before you put the wheels on, so the height difference is really a wash (which is probably good for the center of mass and moment of inertia this chassis produces).

The rear feet come off with two screws each and reveal several mounting holes underneath. This allows for about three different locations to mount the rear wheels; just make sure you pick the same on both sides. I chose to mount mine furthest back and screwed them down tight. As I later found, screwing them down tight also prevents you from moving the PSU strap altogether. I ended up loosening the wheels just to get my PSU mounted – it was really a pain. To be honest, you don’t need the PSU strap, so I’d probably just do away with it anyway. Overall, the wheels made moving this thing around a lot easier, even if it meant my cat could move it with only two locking wheels.

 

 

 

If nothing else, the Fermo GT comes with quite the array of goodies to get things working: a few zip ties, six or so bags of sorted screws (making it easier to figure out what is for what), a USB 3.0 plug converter in case your motherboard is lacking an internal header, a couple of fan/Molex connectors, and even a motherboard speaker. A couple of Enermax-branded Velcro-type cable binders are also included. It is definitely a variety of items.

 

Now it is time for my favorite part of all case reviews – putting the hardware in and finding out where the strong are separated from the weak. Even with my ATX board in there and Noctua cooler, the case seems to make everything look small, so you can see why some of the pictures may have not been the greatest. With everything installed, there is still a TON of space left over here; almost enough room to mount a second ATX board and run two simultaneously. Cable routing was pretty easy, it looks clean for the most part. The strange USB 3.0 adaptor really looks strange hanging off the back of the case. The only way it would route was up through the top, out the back water holes and to the back I/O panel. Don’t bother trying to take it out the bottom where it is already pre-routed for the board – you won’t have enough length. The fan controller board was also a little odd and looked a bit tacky. It seems like this could be hidden better or perhaps at the bottom so the side fans can still be plugged in without screaming “look at me!”. Not a difficult case to build in, but it is a somewhat awkward build setup to work with.

With the side panel on and powered up, it is a pretty neat looking case. The fan LED patterns are definitely neat to play with, but in a dark room, all you see is the flashing after a while. It’s nice that you can turn them off completely or turn them to just stay on. The multiple stream of LEDs look neat compared to most fans that only have four. I really like the fans, so it’s a plus that Enermax sells them on their site too – even if you don’t like the case, you can get the awesome fans.

 

 

With the system running, the case looks alright. The wheels look a little funny and I’m not sure I’d want to have them on after looking at this last shot, but it sure makes it a lot easier to move around. I’m not completely sold by the looks of the case, as I had mentioned I didn’t like a bit of it. It is an interesting concept, but I’m not sure of its practicality in the long run. A few changes and this case could go far.

 

I apologize for the quality of video below. I simply wanted to show you the different fan patterns. You can leave them on any of the given patterns or you can have it cycle through all of them. They do tend to get out of sync after any length of time, but I think it adds to the overall look. I thought it was well worth showing, even if the setting and quality isn’t all that great.

 

Specifications:

 

Model Name:
ECA1092AG
Dimensions:
674(D) x 235(W) x 640(H) mm
Material:
SECC 0.8 mm
M/B:
Micro ATX ~ HPTX
Power Supply:
ATX 12V (optional)
5.25” Bays:
4
3.5” Bays:
10
2.5” Bays:
10 (converted from 3.5” bays)
Hot Swap Dock:
YES
Front I/O:
USB 3.0 x 4, eSATA x1, HD/AC’97 Audio
Fan Speed Control:
YES
Fan LED Control:
6 switchable LED modes for front and side 3 x 18 cm Vegas fans
Expansion Slots:
10
Water Cooling Holes:
7
Wheels:
Included

 

Cooling:

 

Features:

 

 

 

 

Information provided by: http://www.enermax.com/home.php?fn=eng/product_a1_1_1&lv0=2&lv1=22&no=179

Testing:

Testing the Enermax Fulmo GT required pushing my hardware to heat things up! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. I’ve mentioned this before, but as it is still a recent change, OCC has upgraded to the Force Series GT 240 GB SSD from Corsair and removed the HDD temps from case reviews. HDTune is no longer a part of the case benchmarking process (as it had been in the past).

Otherwise, load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, the temperatures were not that remarkable; I had expected a little more with the excess space to move air about. The chipset temperatures were something notable. These temps took over the lowest by over ten degrees at load. I attribute the difference solely to the side mounted fans. It is almost unfair to compare it to the others in the batch, as none of them had side panel fans to blow air directly across the motherboard. Either way, it does perform well here and very well at that. Unfortunately, the remaining temperatures were only equivalent to the other cases, which are significantly smaller. I was expecting a much bigger difference in temperatures and was gravely disappointed.

Conclusion:

Ultimately, the Enermax Fulmo GT didn’t have that BIG of an impression on me. The things I did like were washed away by the things I didn’t like. The controlled fans were blue and I could change the patterns, but the controller was in a poor location and the physical speed control knob was backwards to me. The case is very large, and I generally like large cases, but the space was wasted. There were ten HDD bays, but the external drives were still limited. I’d like to use a big case like this with dual reservoirs and a fan controller for each radiator or something truly big. Perhaps, it’d be a nice server case, but that isn’t what I’m looking for and isn’t for most of you who read these reviews. In my opinion, something will have to give; either a new design or a big drop in price for me to say this case is honestly worth your time.

 

 

Pros:

 

Cons: