Tagan A+ CS-Monolize Review

ccokeman - 2008-06-29 20:46:56 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: July 9, 2008
Price: $129.99

Introduction:

Choosing a case for that next build is usually a tad bit frustrating and is a highly personal choice. With the many manufacturers and styles, the possibilities are almost endless. Some items that impact your choice of a case are style, size, color, features and of course, cost. If you are a gamer, a concern is whether that newest generation, monster size video card will actually fit in the case. With some cards approaching a foot in length, this is a real concern. Whether you need a full tower, mid tower, HTPC or just a bargain basement beige box, the one thing that is true is that you will need a case for that next build.

Many of you know Tagan for its power supplies, but may not have known the company makes cases as well. The CS-Monolize (Monolith) is one of Tagan's A+ series of cases. The Monolith has a feature that Tagan states is a world record; not just one, but two independently controlled 250mm fans on the side of the case. Yes, that's right, I said two 250mm fans. With room for up to 13 drives, the Monolith should be able to meet the storage requirements for the masses. Other features include tool less drive mounting and what is called Easy Flip for the expansion slots, making the installation almost tool free. Will the two massive fans move enough air to cool the installed components or just be all for show? Let's find out.

Closer Look:

The box the Monolith comes in is a simple white box with a profile shot of the case on the front and rear panels; each is identical. The sides list the features in several different languages. The look is understated and gives the all business type of vibe.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

The Monolith is held in place by two foam blocks and is covered with a plastic bag to provide an increased measure of protection during shipping.

 

 

The Monolith comes with all of the accessories you will need to get your hardware installed. Motherboard standoffs, wire ties, screws and drive bay rails are included. If there are any unanswered questions, the manual is where you can find the answer.

 

No sense in postponing the inevitable, let's take a look at the Monolith!

 

Closer Look:

The Monolith is what is called a "Super Tower" case. This case will support ATX and extended ATX motherboards and is made from steel instead of aluminum. This gives the case a nice, sturdy base and does not have the beer can sounds you get with some aluminum cases. The most prominent feature, or features you might say, of the Monolith are the massive 250mm fans that provide the incoming airflow to the case. The front bezel is made of a rubbery type plastic that has plenty of "feel" to it. The shiny front panel is where the A+ logo is hidden; this lights up when the case is powered on. The right hand side panel, as well as the top, has several vents to allow the airflow from the fans to flow through the Monolith. The rear panel has room for a single 120mm fan, though one is not included with the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front panel swings open to allow access to the seven external drive bays. The door hinges use a metal pin that should prove more reliable long term than many of the plastic hinges used market wide.

 

 

Under the door panel is where you will find the on/off switch, the reset switch and the power button for the A+ logo light on the front door. On the right side of the front bezel are the front panel connectivity options. Included are the audio and microphone ports, two USB 2.0 ports and one 1394 Firewire port. All of these connect to on-board headers if your motherboard has them available.

 

 

The left side panel houses the massive 250mm fans. These fans can be independently controlled. The front of the fan kick out has the main power switch, fan speed controls, individual power switches as well as the main power switch and an LED power indicator to tell you that power is being supplied to the fans.

 

 

On the bottom of the Monolith are the feet of the case. Instead of a fixed leg, Tagan has opted to use an adjustable design. There are several detentes that allow the leg to be fixed in that position. The leg can be opened 90 degrees so that it is perpendicular to the case, or folded up underneath and out of sight.

 

 

Closer Look:

Upon opening the Monolith, the first thing you notice is the large plastic storage bin in the hard drive rack. This is used to store all of the tool less drive rails and assorted spare parts. With this storage bin removed, you have access to all 13 drive bays. Available are five external 5.25 inch, two external 3.5 inch and six internal 3.5 inch bays, all of which feature a tool less mounting system. The tool less drive mounting rails are included for all three drive types, optical, floppy and hard drive, respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the front bezel there is a spot for a 120mm fan (not included). This fan can be locked in place with the supplied cage assembly, which like the drive bays, is designed to offer tool free installation of a fan.

 

 

While there are only two additional positions for fans to be used, one behind the front bezel and one at the rear of the Monolith, the fans would seem to be needed only for exhausting the airflow from the Monolith based on the amount of air forced into the case by the two massive 250mm fans. The method used to retain the expansion cards mounted in the motherboard is designed to be tool free as well. The mechanism lifts up to add or remove the expansion cards and then locks securely into place to hold the cards securely in the motherboard. Removal of the drive bay covers is just a matter of pushing the side of the cover and lifting the cover free from the chassis. This design was much simpler to remove than many others on the market.

 

 

The wiring included with the Monolith is pretty much standard fare. The power switch, reset switch, power LED and HDD LED are all present. One thing not normally seen is a speaker mounted to a short pigtail harness that is put straight onto the speaker front panel connection. The front panel USB, Firewire, speaker and microphone harnesses all make an appearance as well. One additional power connection is included in the front bezel wiring, the power supply for the A+ logo on the front door of the Monolith.

 

&hbsp;

 

The last big item are the fans on the Monolith. There are two 250mm fans, each can be independently controlled using the appropriate controls on the side panel. I was unsuccessful in finding any specifications other than the basics. The fans, even at full speed, are dead silent. In fact, now my video card is the loudest piece of hardware in the case. Each of the fans have a total of five LEDs arranged around the center hub for that wonderful blue glow.

 

 

Specifications:

Logistical Data:

Article name:
CS-Monolith Case
Net weight:
31 lb
Gross weight
26 lb
Net dimensions:
9" x 21" x 22"
Gross dimensions:
 25" X 23" X 12"
Case material
1 mm SECC
Front material:
Silk/rubber skin plastic and acrylic
Case colour:
Black
Front colour:
Black
Land of origin
PR China

 Technical Data:

Quantity of 5,25"
5 bays
Quantity of 3,5"
2 bays x external, 6 x internal
Cooling system
2 x 250 mm side fan, separate adjustable (and on/off)
Fans
1 x 80/92/120 mm in back and 120 mm in front
Fans optional
7
PCI slots
2 x USB 2.0, 2 x audio and IEEE 1394 Firewire on right side
Additional connectors
Standard ATX, extended ATX (12"x13"), also for MP Dual CPU
Supported main boards
PS/2 Standard
Power supply
(optional)
Accessories

26 rails for the disk drives, various screws and spacers, piezo speaker and cable ties.

fan information
DIMENSIONS:
220x220x30MM
BEARING TYPE:
SLEEVE BEARING
RATED VOLTAGE
12.0 VDC
START-UP VOLTAGE
7 VDC
RATED CURRENT:
0.30 A ±10%
RATED POWER:
3.60W ±10%
RATED SPEED:
max 800 RPM ±10%
AIR FLOW:
150.49CFM Max.
STATIC AIR PRESSURE:
0.97mmAq
NOISE LEVEL:
32.1dBA
LIFE EXPECTANCY:
30000Hours at 25/65%RH

 

Features:

 

Testing:

To verify the cooling capabilities of this case, I will be subjecting it to several tests to see how well it performs in a real world environment. Temperatures that will be checked are the CPU, GPU, Chipset, and hard drive. To put as much heat into the case as possible, I will load test the CPU and memory with OCCT, the GPU with 3DMark06 looped at a 1920x1200 resolution, and put the hard drive to work with a disk defrag, all simultaneously. In addition, I will be using my Kestral 4100 airflow meter to measure the airflow through the case, Low and High speed settings will be tested.

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower temperatures across the board was the expectation with 300 C.F.M. worth of air blowing over the motherboard and components. The Tagan Monolith delivered on all counts. A drop of 7 degrees Celsius on the CPU with the fans on high is a pretty substantial improvement.

 

 

Conclusion:

Having used many cases that I felt had good airflow made me skeptical of how well two giant 250mm fans would be able to balance the airflow in and out of the chassis while keeping the components from sitting in stagnant air and cooking. Tagan has done an excellent job making sure there is an avenue of escape for all of the air being pushed into the case. The venting on the top, sides, front and rear panels all allow the 300+ C.F.M to flow through almost completely unobstructed. You can really feel the airflow moving out of the vents. Initially, I was thinking there was no way that the volume of air would be turned over enough to not have a positive case pressure and create areas of stagnant air. That hunch got stronger when I realized there were no additional fans to help move the volume of air being ingested. Before checking the specifications on the fans, I measured the incoming airflow on each fan and was surprised that my measured numbers came within 5 C.F.M. of the rated flow. A bonus!

As high end video cards are increasing in size with each generation, a case has to be able to accommodate these cards for the chassis to even be considered for a high end gaming rig. Again, Tagan has done its homework. I test fitted all of the video cards in my possession, a 9800GX2, 9800GTX, GTX 280, GTX260, HD 3870X2 and all of them fit. The panels fit nicely and did not need any persuasion to make them fit. The finish did not scratch during all of the hardware switchover. The front panel is made of a softer plastic that has more feel to it and is less likely to crack with some abuse. The ability to control the fan speeds, as well as turn them off and on individually, is a nice touch. As quiet as the fans are, even at full song, makes turning them off a non issue in my book. The fans are so quiet that I can now hear the hard drive when it is accessing data. Now the loudest part in the chassis is the video card! Tagan has a winner with this case in my eyes. It's quiet, can fit all of the latest hardware comfortably, has more than ample airflow and just looks good. Add in the price and the Monolith could be a case to consider on your next build.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: