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mean:it 5PM ARC Red Case Review

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Category: Cases
Price: $139.99
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mean:it 5PM ARC Red: Introduction

There is a fair amount of competition in the computer case market. As with any product or service, the marketing and design groups are always trying to get the jump on the latest trend. Of course, there are the big name players such as Corsair, Thermaltake, and Cooler Master, to name a few, that lead the way. But every so often someone new pops up on the radar. Sometimes the company a wide range of products and then decided to add cases to the product line up. Other times it is a company that jumps in from out of nowhere with only a single product, which is what we have today from mean:it. 

The name mean:it seems a bit odd, and there is not much info about the company on the website. Regardless, it is always fun to see new cases, and even more so from a new company. Like I said, competition is tight. Just walk down the case aisle at places like Fry's or Micro Center. Or go online and look at the pages and pages of cases. So if you are just starting out, you have to deliver a top-notch product right out of the gate, or you may not get a second chance.

The mean:it line up is a bit small for now, at least. There are five flavors of what appears to be the same mid-tower style chassis called the 5PM, and two flavors of a cube style case called the 4PM. Who knows what is still on the drawing board or what is soon to be released, but I do know that today we will look at the 5PM ARC Red.

mean:it 5PM ARC Red: Closer Look

The box is plain - no fancy graphics. No flaming skulls or dragons and that is just fine. What we do have are the features listed in rather large print. You know what this case is all about before you ever open the box.

 

A popular trend now is glass panels. A couple of years ago there were very few cases with glass panels, and they were typically expensive higher-end cases. Now, however, that has trickled down to less expensive cases. Almost every company has at least one model with glass panels, and when they first appeared there was usually just one glass panel, which was, of course, the main side panel. Plastic side panels have been around for many years, but glass adds a new dimension of distortionless viewing of the interior of the case. Then there is the ease of cleaning. Sure it is easy to leave fingerprints and smudges on the glass, but it is also quick and easy to clean up. While glass side and front panels have become quite common, something new that I am seeing is glass on all three sides. The 5PM ARC Red case uses 5mm thick tempered glass as opposed to a more common 4mm thick glass. This adds additional strength to the panels.

The all-glass approach makes this case look sleek and clean. The fit and finish overall are really nice, especially for a new company. But to leave a mark in such a competitive world, you have to hit the ground running. A quick note about the yellow safety "Handle With Care" signs on the side panels - they are just stickers and peel right off, but I decided to leave them on for this review.

 

 

One thing I notice right away is how much lighter the case is when you remove the side glass. So to remove the side panels, all you do is unscrew the fasteners at each corner. Just be careful handling the glass, and make sure you put it in a place where it won't fall over. With the side panels removed, you get a better view of the internals. Nothing out of the ordinary here, other than the fan controller hub on the back side of the motherboard tray. More on that later.

 

 

The last thing to remove is the front panel, which pops right off. Since the I/O panel is mounted to the chassis, the front panel is free to be removed. There are three front fans behind that smoked glass that you will see in the next picture. You may notice that there is no room for any optical drives. Slowly they are going the way of the floppy drive.

  

 

Ah, yes, that front panel easily pops off revealing the front three 120mm LED fans. Fresh air is drawn into the case from around the sides of the front glass. There is a nice gap for air movement, but no front filter. On the bottom, there is a removable filter panel for the power supply air intake.

 

 

There is a 120mm rear exhaust fan that is also illuminated with LED's. I am seeing more cases now with rear LED exhaust fans, which I think is a nice touch. Looking down toward the front you can see the square removable pump base at the bottom. You won't need it if you use one of the readily available All-in-One (AIO) liquid cooling systems, but if you choose to go the custom route, that pump base will come in handy. Just above the pump base is the removable plastic cable cover to help hide the SATA, USB 3.0, and motherboard power cables that usually come in from the side. And this cover has rails in it that actually support heavy water-cooled graphics cards. The front of the case has room for up to a 360mm front liquid cooling radiator, so you can really put those front fans to use.

 

 

At the top, there is a nice mesh filter that has a magnetic strip around the perimeter to hold it in place. There is room at the top for up to three 120mm fans or two 140mm fans. Looking at the I/O, from left to right there are the fan control buttons, then the microphone and headphone jacks, followed by the power button in the center. Next is the reset button, then two USB 3.0 ports, and finally two USB 2.0 ports. 

 

 

There are two plastic hard drive trays and each can hold either a 2.5" SSD or 3.5" HDD. The tray on the right is expanded out to show its tool-less capability. So you expand it out, pop the drive in, and then pop it shut. Very fast and simple. The picture on the right is of the fan control hub. There are a total of six sockets and four of them are used by the included case fans, so you have two open sockets for two extra fans. There is a small switch in the center to select either DC fans or PWM fans.

 

 

Here the hard drive trays are in position, and at the bottom, there is actually room for a third 3.5" HDD. Next to the hard drive cage section is where the power supply is mounted. You can see the vented floor to allow fresh air to be drawn into the power supply. This area is large enough to stash away any extra cables from your power supply for clean cable management.

 

 

On the back side of the motherboard tray are three detachable metal trays for SSDs. This provides a fast and easy way to access your solid state drives. Looking inside at the top you can see the vented case panel. There is room at the top for up to a 360mm liquid cooling radiator. Another thing to point out is that there are nice cut-outs for top cable access to the motherboard. Sometimes you can have trouble getting the main CPU power cable routed, but I had no problems with this case thanks to the generous rectangular access holes.

 

 

Here is a full shot of the case floor - well, really it is of the power supply shroud. There is a large rectangular grommet to help hide the cables for your graphics card. The side panels are smoked and let only a little light through. You can see some of the lighted components when everything is powered up. The hardware goodies are fairly standard - motherboard and power supply screws, standoffs for different motherboard form factors, cable ties, and a manual. I do like the way that the bags are labeled so you know what the fasteners are for.

  

 

This is a well-written manual. Very clear, and the illustrations take any guesswork out of the equation. Certainly one of the better manuals I have seen.

 

 

The smoked side panels let only a little light through, as I said. You can see some of the lighted internal components when everything is powered up. The glow from the red LED ring lighting shows through the side panel. It is even more noticeable in a dark room.

 

 

Speaking of LED fans, the included red ARCO LED fans really look nice through the front smoked glass panel. With the front panel removed, you get a better look at the fans. The ring light on each fan is certainly an interesting effect.

 

 

Looking inside you can get a better view of the front fans. The rear exhaust fan is also lighted. I am seeing more cases now that place a lighted fan in the rear exhaust position. 

 

 

The 5PM ARC Red can handle motherboards sizes ranging from a Mini-ITX all the way up to an E-ATX. There certainly appears to be plenty of room in there for some nice liquid cooling. The cable management looks pretty good too, and I didn't spend a lot of time on it. With the motherboard installed and powered up, it is time to do some thermal testing.

 

Want to learn more about the 5PM ARC Red case? Check out the video review, and come back for the rest of the review!




  1. mean:it 5PM ARC Red: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. mean:it 5PM ARC Red Case: Specifications & Testing
  3. mean:it 5PM ARC Red Case: Conclusion
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