Extra Midtower Aluminum Case Review

Admin - 2007-03-31 15:12:33 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: December 29, 2003
CMI Computer
Price: $24 USD
Introduction
Greetings, and welcome to another OverclockersClub review. Today we'll be looking at a generic Extra Midtower Aluminum Case provided to us by CableMart Inc. (CMI) Today we'll have a lesson in 'you get what you pay for'.




In-Depth Look


Well, the case came securely packaged in a sturdy cardboard box suspended by styrofoam. Despite Customs best efforts (kicked in front (accident?), box was sliced/opened to check) the case arrived to me in one piece. Unfortunately for me, the little plastic bag used to secure all my precious screws and various pieces had broken open or was defective, and I was greeted with a loud rattle and a flood of little tiny pieces that spilled all over my floor and stabbed my feet even when I could swear there were no more as soon as I brought the case out of the cardboard.

As well, the plexiglas window included on the side of the case looks like it took some serious wear and tear somehow, as there was plenty of scratches and scrubs along the window. I tried to capture it best I could in the below pictures.



But, everything arrived in one piece. In-Depth Look
The case includes a chimney fan, and a window fan. My window fan didn't work. There's room for 5 more 80mm fans (2 on the back panel, one on the PCI panel, 2 in the front).



After a closer look, my opinion of this case slowly dropped. Its NOT an expensive case, and its not an expensive case for a reason. Originally I was going to put my own computer in this case to see how everything fit, but by the time came to put something inside, its going to be my little sister's computer, not mine. Sorry, I just don't trust it. This case is flimsy. The aluminum can't be any more then 1mm thick, and to tell you the truth, I can't tell if its aluminum or just REALLY thin steel. I'd have thought aluminum this thin was a LOT lighter. The design includes a LOT of...er...open space? Its not very solid feeling at all.



Alright, so the motherboard backing has a good deal of locations for standoffs, and thankfully, they are all in the right places/dimensions. However, the motherboard standoffs they decided to include with this case are plastic little things that are both a pain in the butt to install in the case, and a greater pain to install your motherboard securely upon. This is NOT something that you want to put a heavy motherboard/HSF combo on. The motherboard tray itself is surprisingly flexible. I truly think an SLK or Zalman 7000 would tear the motherboard tray clean out of the case.



Next up: the back panel. Now, I give this design credit for what its worth. However, it isn't worth much. The back I/O plate is flush with the back of the case. This means that the AGP/PCI slot screws used to hold the cards in is pushed out for the back of the case. This means installing an AGP/PCI card requires taking off the little 'case' hiding the screws, and then sticking it back on. As well, as soon as you remove a slot cover, it stays off. Short of soldering it back on, its off for good. Finally, the top slot cover has already been removed. For the motherboard I'm currently using in the setup, this means I'm stuck with an empty slot above my graphics card.

In-Depth Look
Last major thing that I strongly dislike about this case is the front panel. The panel is made from plastic. And in keeping with the fun trend from the rest of the case thus far...cheap plastic. While the front is secured soundly, the top panel extension is loose - at best. A redeeming point is that the covers for the extra 5.25" and 3.5" spaces are good at staying in their place, and they cover the right amount of space, not leaving an unsightly gap in the front of you computer, or dislodging themselves, etc.

Okay, I lied. One more thing: the PSU is horribly attached. The screws on the back panel are the only things holding it in place, and that's not saying much. It pretty much just hangs there.



Alright, now that I've torn this case a new hole, a couple of things I DO like about it.

The chimney fan is something I do like. Its a good design, and while the plastic surrounding it is loosely attached, and for the most part useless, the fan itself is attached directly to the case, and the vent for the fan allows you to turn that fan on and off simply by rotating it. Its a solid little unit, a good design, and it pushes a surprising amount of air (I was skeptical about the vent slot sizes).



Next thing I like about this case is the attention to detail spent on rounding (or blunting) the edges of ALL the metal. This is fantastic! They even have little end caps for the rounded metal.



Conclusion
The Good:
  • Attention to detail in rounding the edges. No cut fingers for me.
  • Useful, interesting chimney fan. I may have to steal/improve this design.
  • Plenty of room inside
  • Quiet PSU and chimney fan

    The Bad:
  • Crappy construction
  • Awful motherboard standoffs
  • PSU attachement
  • Back panel design
  • Front panel material/design
  • Screw holes get stripped VERY easily
  • Top plastic design not attached very well
  • Side window scuffed before I even got it
  • Broken window fan

    The Ugly:
  • Cheapass paint job
  • Ugly front light
  • Let's face it...its a crummy, crummy case.

    So folks, I think numbers speak for themselves. As we can see, the Bad and Ugly heavily outweigh the Good. This is NOT a case you should purchase, unless its for a bargain basement computer (luckily my sister's is).

    Thanks to CMI Computer for providing us with this case (trust me people, most of their stuff is a LOT better then this, and they have competitive prices - check em out)