Microcool Banchetto 101 Reviewjlqrb - April 13, 2010
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As soon as the Banchetto 101 is unpacked you can see just how functional the design really is. The motherboard tray that sits on the top is very simple, yet ideally set up for easy installation and access. This tray has ten pre-installed motherboard standoffs that will fit both ATX and Micro-ATX style motherboards, three cable management holes, a CPU back-plate access area, two large power/reset switches and pre-drilled screw holes for expansion. The whole top panel is removable which will help when installing the motherboard or add-on components to the system. These all make the panel very functional and should greatly reduce the installation time. Directly below this area there is a gap between the motherboard tray and the rest of the case, this is where the cables from the power supply will be routed to their designated areas. Once your hardware is all installed on the case it will actually hide the cables out of sight, making for a clean look. The bottom of the casing is where most of the components are stored. This area also uses a removable modular design that allows you to remove the installation bays as needed to install a specific component. These removable bays are all brushed aluminum, which helps the appearance and are held into place with the use of a thumb screw that once removed let you slide the bay out of the case making installation a breeze. From left to right you have the installation areas for the hard drives, optical drives and the power supply. The last section to look at is the rear of the case. This area is where you can install either optional 120mm case fans or a water-cooling radiator setup.
The first two installation bays we are going to look at are the optical drive bay and HDD bay. Both of these are secured into the case with one or more thumb screws. Once removed the drives are simply placed in the bay and secured into place with the included thumb screws. The optical drive bay can hold up to three 5.25" drives. The hard drive bay holds, up to four 3.5" drives with each drive facing toward the back of the case for better cable management.
To install the power supply, you simply remove the installation panel from the case and secure it to the power supply with the thumb screws. With the panel on you position the PSU on its side to side it back in the case. The last removable installation area is found on the back of the case and it is for installing a cooling solution to the Banchetto 101. This can either be water-cooling or a triple 120mm fan setup. If you do choose to go with water, there are multiple options available, as this area can house a single, dual or triple fan radiator. One thing to note here is that if you use air cooling you will need to supply your own case fans and screws.
The top removable panel makes installation of the motherboard very simple and allows for easy access to the CPU, memory and expansion areas of the board. This tray is easily removed and is held into place with four chrome pins that fit into the middle of the rubber feet on the tray. When it comes to installing add-on expansion cards, you will first need to screw in the six included stands. These stands are screwed directly into the acrylic panel and each have a thumb screw that is used at the top to secure the expansion card in place. The Banchetto 101 also comes with an optional dual 80mm fan bracket that will allow for two fans to be installed near the CPU and can be positioned to have the air being blown toward or away from this area. As you can see from the first picture below, the fan bracket that came with this case broke from an unfortunate fall and is something you really cant build for, as this chassis is not meant to be a LAN box or really rugged enough for regular transport.
Now that we have everything installed you can see the Banchetto 101 in all is glory. All the components fit nicely on the case and with the open design there will be no issues fitting some larger parts, even a dual HD5970 graphics card setup in CrossFire! The installation was easier with the open design, but that is not to say there were no issues. One such issue (which is in the third picture) is that the PCI-E cables from my power supply could not reach my GTX 260 graphics card, making the card unusable without cable extenders. Another issue was that screwing the rear expansion stands into place was difficult, resulting in one screw hole stripping out and all the stands being uneven. This is not huge issue, but it could make heavy cards less secure and it would have just looked nicer with all the stands being in place and at the same level. Aside from these frustrations though, the case looks stunning and the appearance is much better to the eye than the camera shows.
Next we will be testing the Banchetto 101's cooling performance and comparing it to some more conventional cases.