GameTiger Triple Case Roundup ReviewWaco - November 1, 2012
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My first thought upon opening up the side panels of the Mage Mi-3 was "wow that's a lot of 5.25" bays!" There are nine individual 5.25" bays here for your use that span the entire front panel of the chassis. Interestingly enough the interior of this case is also painted rather well, which is always nice to see, especially on less expensive cases. The motherboard cutouts are large and all cut panels are rolled over so that no sharp edges are exposed. One thing to take note here though – there is absolutely zero room to hide cables behind the motherboard tray. The side panels are not bumped out at all and there's roughly 2-3 mm of room between the panel and the tray itself. Wiring this case will be a challenge.
A closer look at the front bays reveals that all nine of the 5.25" bays are completely tool-less if you plan on installing 5.25" devices only. As you'll see later some tools are needed to install 3.5" devices into the 5.25" bays. The tool-less mechanisms themselves are quite simple to use and feel like they will hold your bay devices in place quite sturdily. Both sides of the front bays have these clips that should keep your devices from being wiggle-prone like some single-sided tool-less clips allow for. A simple twist unlocks the clip and another twist in the opposite direction re-locks it. The very bottom bay is a bit hard to get to because the bottom edge of the case gets in the way a little bit, but with a smidge of determination it will bend to your will.
Thankfully GameTiger has kept all wires and buttons confined to the top I/O plate. This allows the front panel itself to be removed entirely when working with the front bays. A quick pull at the bottom of the front panel releases it from the chassis and allows for easy access to the front drive bays. All of the nine bays except the very top bay are initially covered by steel panels with no ventilation holes. Interestingly enough these panels are not the usual that you see on a budget case – they can each be removed and reinstalled with a pair of case screws. I left them in place for testing but for best airflow most people will probably want to remove them entirely. The bay covers themselves are mesh with a bit of filtering foam attached to each. Dust won't be making it through the front panel even if you load it up with fans.
Moving along to the rear of the case you can see the included 120mm red exhaust fan. It does not have any LEDs to light it up but the red color is a nice touch for any red-oriented build and matches the front tool-less mechanisms exactly. There is one bone of contention here though: the top panel fan mounts. To install fans to the top panel you are required to remove the top panel of the case. This wouldn't normally be a bad thing but on this case you must remove a pair of screws that are all but inaccessible even when the case is empty. I tried to pull the top panel off but only succeeded in stripping the two screws closest to the motherboard tray. Perhaps GameTiger installs these screws before riveting the case together; I don't know, but you won't be getting them out without a fight even in a totally empty case. If you have hardware mounted already there's no chance to get to them at all. It is likely you won't have room to install interior fans to the top of this relatively small chassis anyway but it was something that left me a bit puzzled. Moving on to the rear of the case you can see the removable expansion slot panels that again are able to be reattached with a case screw. Normally on such inexpensive cases these panels just break away leaving a sharp edge and an empty hole. The unexplained hole next to the fan is easy to see here; perhaps you could route fan power cables through this if you had externally mounted water cooling parts?
The Mage Mi-3 comes with a hefty box full of accessories. Since the entire front of the case is dominated by 5.25" bays GameTiger has included four 5.25" to 3.5" adapters for HDDs and 3.5" peripherals. Unfortunately there is no provision included for installing 2.5" drives of any sort. There is a replacement mesh panel for 3.5" external devices along with an 80mm/92mm/120mm fan mount (which doubles as another 5.25" to 3.5" adapter) for the front bays as well. A quartet of plastic clips are also included for cable routing along the edge of the motherboard tray.
Installing the OCC test parts in this relatively tiny case was a bit more of a challenge than larger cases. Cable routing options are limited especially with the open nature of the nine 5.25" bays. After a bit of finagling the parts eased themselves into place and aside from the slight mess of cables near the bottom of the case it wasn't a total headache. One issue with the lack of 2.5" mounting options was that I was forced to let gravity hold my SSD in place at the bottom of the case. If this was a permanent build I would use double-sided foam tape or mount the SSD with a single screw in one of the 5.25" bays. Long graphics cards will block the use of a bay or two (depending on the GPU cooler height), but this is fairly common in cases of this design style. Overall not too bad for a $59 case! Once powered up the power button lights up around the edge in a nice blue tone and the reset button glows a muted red with HDD access. Classy, simple, and understated are words that come to mind when looking at the finished product. I like this case!