Sunbeam Automaton Review

gotdamojo06 - 2009-01-22 08:51:13 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: gotdamojo06   
Reviewed on: March 18, 2009
Sunbeam
Price: $145

 Introduction:

Have you been looking for a new chassis to hold all your expensive computer components? Well there are a couple of things to pay attention to when you are looking for a new case. First, the looks need to suit your needs; you do not want to have a case that is an eye sore to look at every time you walk into your computer room. The next thing that is important to look for in a case is the performance. This is going to be a selling point for the extreme computer enthusiasts, as you need to have a case that is going to provide some good airflow, allowing you to run cooler temperatures. If you are running higher temperatures, your components could end their life earlier than expected. The Sunbeam Automaton case not only looks good, but it also looks like it is going to be able to cool the components quite well with the large fan on the side of the case. I am curious to see exactly how well this case is going to perform, not to mention how well she looks when we take a closer look.

 

Closer Look: 

The box that Sunbeam used to market the Automaton case is a very simplistic blue package that easily shows off the case. Both the front and the back of the package look exactly the same, showing the case from an angle that displays the front and the side that contains a window with a fan. The Sunbeam logo is displayed in the top left-hand corner, while the Automaton case name is printed below it in a wavy font that makes you think of wind blowing on the words. There is text underneath that reads "Aluminum Chassis", letting you know two things; the case is going to be very light weight and sturdy materials have been used for the overall case design. On one side of the package you'll find a list of specifications, while on the second side you'll find a list of features, along with a picture of the front IO panel that is located on top of the case.
 

 

 

 

 

When I opened up the package to pull out the case and saw how it was protected, I was quite impressed with the precautions Sunbeam used. Molded styrofoam keeps the case intact during shipment and a plastic bag wrapped around the case helps prevent against scratches. Once you get those two pieces of protection off the case, there is a second layer of plastic on the case. This is a single-sided sticky wrap that further ensures there are no scratches on the case and makes sure that no fingerprints get on the ultra shiny gloss of the Automaton's paint job when you remove it from the packaging.

 

 

Now that we know exactly how the Sunbeam Automaton case is packaged, it's time to take a nice close look at the design of the case and what all the features include.

Closer Look:  

The Sunbeam Automaton case has a few different features that are going to help it stand out from its competition, the first of which is the side window. This viewing window only covers about 40% of the side panel and is shaped in a way that flows very well with the curves of the case, along with the overall feel of the case. The other main difference between the Automaton case and other cases on the market that have side panel windows, is the fact that there is a window on both sides, not just the side that you are going to use to access the innards of your case. This can be either a nice addition or a negative one, as you will have to be more cautious of where you hide your cables to make sure that they are not visible (if that is the look you are going for). There is also a place to mount a fan on both sides of the case, though it only comes with one pre-installed. The front of the case is also very unique looking. There is a door that hides your 5.25" drive bays, as well as a front IO panel located atop the case, like it was slapped on there. All aspects of the case have a certain curve to them that flow well with the rest of the case. Looking at the back, it is very simplistic and looks very much like the other cases that are currently out on the market. You have your expansion slots under your rear IO panel, which is under the spot you mount your PSU.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Taking a closer look at the side panels of the Sunbeam Automaton, you can see exactly how they are constructed. There is the clear Plexiglas window that allows you to view inside your case and show off your powerful components, and a fan hole cut-out that can house a 120mm fan. The inside of the side panel shows you how secure the fan is, as there are quite a few screws holding it in place.

 

 

Now that the side panels are removed, you are going to be able to see exactly how the case is set up and where you are going to be able to place all your equipment. The first thing that I want to take a look at is the motherboard tray. This is a solid piece of metal that extends almost all the way to the drive bay slots, meaning you are going to have a tight squeeze to get your wires hidden behind it, if that is what you typically do. There are five slots where you are going to be able to install 5.25" drives and a total of five slots for 3.5" drives, where two are external and three are internal. There are quite a few cables coming down from the front IO panel that are also going to add to the frustration of wire management. Taking a look at the back side of the case, you are going to notice that there is not much space to hide wires. There is a little hole where the PSU is installed, so that is not going to be usable for running wires through.

 

 

When it comes to included accessories, there are none. The case comes merely comes with a user manual and a bag of screws. The bag of screws contains the screws for your motherboard and drivers, along with motherboard stand-offs. The user manual that is included is a very simple six-page packet that has specifications and features, along with help installing components into your new case.

 

 

Now that we know the basic layout of the case, it's time to take a closer look at exactly how all the parts of the case are put together and what she is made of.

 

Closer Look:   

When it comes down to the installation of your three different drive types, 5.25" external, 3.5" external, and 3.5" internal, it is almost like its back to the basics. They are going to be held down by using the old fashioned screw method, rather than the tool-less methods found in many cases these days. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as using screws can be somewhat more reliable and secure. For the 5.25" external drive bays, there are five slots that you can install drives into. There are metal stoppers at the end of four of the drive bay slots that will need to be removed in order to slide drives in. This is pretty much the exact same setup for the internal and external 3.5" drive bays, as the drives will be secured by using four screws in each of the four corners of the drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone knows that when you install a new video card or any other type of expansion card, you are going to need to have its ports visible through the back side of the case so you can plug your monitor or other devices into. Well the expansion slots on the Automaton case use the same style as the drive bay installation; they need a screw to hold the bracket in place along with a screwdriver to tighten them down. There is no sign of any tool-less installation features on this case, which again is not necssarily a bad thing.

 

There are only three fans that come pre-installed on the Sunbeam Automaton case; one located in the front of the case to draw cool air from the outside, one located below the PSU to help draw warm air out of the case, and one that is located on the side of the case to suck fresh air in. You may switch any of the fans to have them blow whichever way you would like, however they are setup the way that just about everyone would agree works best.

 

 

All the fans that are included with the Automaton case measure in at 120mm. They are all the same fan, except the one on the side is clear (instead of black) and has blue LEDs.

 

 

The front IO panel that is located atop of the Sunbeam Automaton case is designed to flow very well with the case and match the color scheme as well. There are not many things on it, but you get just enough to get you by. There are headphone and microphone ports, a volume control that you can use when you have your headphones plugged in, two USB 2.0 ports, and a single 1394 port.

 

The actual task of making everything fit inside the Sunbeam Automaton case was very difficult. This is due to the oversized CPU cooler that I decided to use (Cooler Master V10) along with the extremely long GPU (the Nvidia GTX 260). I was actually surprised that I was able to fit everything in there, but it did take some time, bending fingers the wrong way and using screwdrivers to make sure that the connections were plugged in all the way. It would have probably been a little bit easier if the PSU was mounted at the bottom, but with the hardware that I used, there was no way that you were going to be able to get some good wire management inside such a small case either way.

 

Now that we know exactly what this case looks like, it is time to see how impressive its specifications are. 

Specifications:

Model
Automaton
Case Type
Mid Tower
Dimensions
550x240x510mm
 
Cooling System
Front: 1x 120mm Fan
Side: 1x 120mm Fan (LED)
Rear: 1x 120mm Fan
Top: None
 
Drive Bays

5 External 5.25"
3 Internal 3.5"
2 External 3.5"

Material
Aluminum
Expansion Slots
7 Slots
Power Supply
Not Included
I/O Panel USB 2.0 x 4; IEEE1394 x 1;  Mic x 1;  AC'97 x 1
Motherboard Support
Micro-ATX/ATX/Flex-ATX

 

Features:

 

 

Al information courtesy of SunbeamTech @ http://www.sunbeamtech.com/index-2.html

Testing:

To properly test this computer case, I will be testing for both idle temperatures as well as full load temperatures. To test the idle temperatures, I will be letting the computer sit for 30 minutes at idle. To test load, I will run a one hour Prime95 stress test with a blend of both CPU and RAM, set at normal priority. I will be using SpeedFan version 4.37 to gather my system chipset, GPU and hard drive temperature readings. CPU temperatures will be read with Real Temp 3.0. To give the GPU a simulated load test, I will be running 3DMark06 two times, back-to-back, then quickly looking at the temperature reading. All the temperatures will be read in degrees Celsius.

 

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Case:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sunbeam Automaton case was able to do better at cooling the hard drive and the chipset than the Cooler Master Cosmos S case was able to. Other than that, it was clear that both Cooler Master cases faired better. It's interesting that the smaller, more cramped case held its own against some big time competition with more substantial airflow.

 

Conclusion:

The Sunbeam Automaton computer case is designed for the average computer user, as it has all the necessary items that one may want or need while looking great, but it is such a smaller case than some of the other ones out there. I was very surprised when I was able to fit all the hardware inside. I am a fan of the compact-sized case for a couple of reasons; first, you are going to be able to fit the case anywhere in your room/office and second, if you are someone who is using a simple system that does not generate a whole lot of heat, it will work perfectly for you. The downside of the compact case is the fact that you are not going to be able to fit a whole lot of components inside of the case, especially the newest, most powerful video cards, or massive CPU coolers. Even if you do, you are going to be suffering with higher temperatures as there is not enough air inside the case to cool them effectively. The side panels that are included with the Automaton case are great. Its very innovative that there is a window on both sides of the case. This may appeal to some of the newer computer enthusiasts out there, whilte the more seasoned ones are going to realize it's going to result in the "ugly side" of wire management showing through. Speaking of wire management, there was not much room in the case to hide your wires. I was not impressed with Sunbeams decision to take away the tool-less installation features, as that is one of the bigger selling points and is almost standard on most of today's cases. The temperatures that the case yielded were not the greatest, but by comparison hung with some pretty tough competition. It was able to do a little better than the Cosmos S with the hard drive and chipset temperatures.

I would suggest this case to anyone who is looking to upgrade their old case and is looking for a compact, high performance chassis. If you are someone that is looking to have the latest and greatest hardware, I would say that the Automaton will be a challenging install with larger components and lack of hiding spots for wiring. But seeing as the Cooler Master V10 and a full size video card fit inside, though snugly, is more space really a necessity?

 

Pros:

 

Cons: