Apevia X-QBOII Black Case Review

Sagittaria - 2008-03-14 17:15:08 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Sagittaria   
Reviewed on: April 14, 2008
Price: $74.99

Introduction:

I consider computer cases the most important part in a build; yes, even more than the core components. Literally dozens of factors all come together when choosing a chassis: overall size, hard drive capacity, motherboard size, optical drive capacity, cooling capability, working room, and dozens of other characteristics. And most important of all, at least to me, are looks. All these factors unite to plague computer enthusiasts; cases are arguably the most difficult component to shop for.

With all this in mind, I can focus my attention on the Apevia Black X-QBOII, with window. The X-QBOII targets enthusiasts who do not want a large, bulky mid-tower, without being too small as to make a computer totally useless. It takes micro-ATX motherboards and is capable of holding two optical drives, two hard drives, and a large graphics card, like an 8800GTX. This particular X-QBOII is windowed, so you can show off the innards of the unit, but it also comes in a non-windowed version. It appears to be quite the balance between size and power, doesn't it? I'm usually not excited about small cases—they're usually too small to have any fun with—but this one looks pretty intriguing. Let's have a look.

Closer Look:

Here's what I found when I opened up my door (the box is definitely smaller than what I'm used to seeing in terms of cases):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grabbed it and proceeded to open the package, finding the X-QBOII wedged in between two pieces of foam. Wrestling it out, I see that the front is covered with light, plastic, static wrap. As usual, the screws, cables, and manual are inside a box within the case.

 

 

I pulled out the accessories box and found a manual, power cable, screws, a single zip-tie, a sticky cable router, a couple pairs of HDD rails, and some non-essential gizmos. The package seems a little sparse in terms of screws, even for a case this size.

Closer Look:

The Case

I was pretty impressed by the look of the case in person. Why? Windowed cases in this price range tend to be extremely flashy, with the attitude of an adolescent girl, and tend to look very cheap, to say the least. The X-QBOII looks very sophisticated with its unique window design and brushed aluminum front; definitely not looking like a $75 chassis. Pay close attention to the window; it is not a simple, flat, boring square like most cases, but an odd yet unique design mounted on the exterior of the panel, giving it quite a bit of depth. However, I am not a fan of the busy wire mesh on the 120mm window fan. The other side panel is not removable, which is slightly unusual, but it's not a big deal. The front of the case encloses two USB ports, a headphone jack, a mic jack, and a firewire jack, as well as your standard power and restart switches and lights.

You may be wondering, what happened to the layout? The motherboard has been flipped upside down to the opposite side of the case. Many pre-built manufacturers use this type of layout, and I like it. It allows for the CPU to be rotated to the bottom of the case where the cold air sinks, thus allowing for better cooling. And in this windowed case, the PCI and PCI-E cards also get rotated, so the exciting top part of the card is shown off, instead of the boring bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon further examination, I found there to be all kinds of scratches on the side panel window, apparently from the power supply wires rubbing up against the window during shipping. It seems very odd that Apevia would wrap and protect the aluminum, but not the window. I certainly hope that Apevia starts putting some sort of protective wrapping on the window, or at least secure the inside components more effectively.

 

 

 

Closer Look:

Working Components

I popped off the side panel and got a better look at the blue LED-lighted, 120mm Apevia fan. Also, I got my first glimpse of the interior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the right side of the case, you can see two 80mm fan mounts and the included Apevia 500W power supply above. The motherboard standoffs are already installed too, which is nice.

 

 

The left side of the case is a rather odd looking optical drive mechanism; I wonder how that'll work out. On the bottom, an internally mounted 120mm opening is clearly visible, along with a removable HDD bay. I wondered why Apevia chose to only include a single 120mm case fan. If you're running some high-end hardware, you may want to take a look at some extra case fans.

 

 

Here's a look behind the front panel. I was a little surprised, and pleased, when I saw that the optical bay cover, which normally just snaps off, could be screwed back on. Lastly, I pulled out the front panel motherboard connectors; nothing special there.

 

 

The included PSU, an Apevia 500W, is extremely small and light, but it should suffice for most systems of this size. This is the norm for most cases with included power supplies; just enough to get by. However, as soon as one starts heading into higher-end graphics cards and quad-cores, a change of power supplies might be in order.

 

 

I was impressed, at first, with the X-QBOII, as it looked pretty promising. However, the lack of fans and protection of the window drew me off a bit. Later I noticed that the case had a semi-gloss black coating, so the chassis won't look too flashy and it has a texture to it of bumps or bubbles. I'm not quite sure, but I do like the paint job.

Alright, enough oggling, I want to install my hardware!

Installation:

Installing hardware is pretty straight forward, especially in this case. First, I installed the micro-ATX motherboard with the pre-installed standoffs and included screws. Then, I grabbed a spare 120mm fan and a couple 80mms from storage and slapped them in. Funnily enough, Apevia decided to only include one set of fan screws, despite there being three open fan mounts and no fans. Again, I had to go back and scrounge up some screws.

Components: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I installed the hard drive with the included drive bay rails into the removed HDD cage, and replaced the cage back into the case. I also installed my two black optical drives and found out how the securing mechanisms work. I simply slid the drives in, pulled the entire blue rail to the left, and pushed the lock down. The difference between secured and unsecured is shown below; a pretty handy mechanism!

 

 

Afterwards, I installed the CPU and heatsink, memory, and my trusty 8800GTS. The X-QBOII fit the card perfectly, with a little room to spare for a slightly longer 8800GTX, just like the package said. Sadly, I could not fit my huge Tuniq Tower heatsink into the case, as it came into contact with the side-panel fan. But this build is still going to pack a punch when it's finished!

 

 

 

Finally, I finished the build! Looks pretty cool, right?

 

I encountered no problems during installation, and I especially liked the optical bay mechanisms.

Specifications:

 

Model No.
X-QBOII-BK/500 
Case Material

Metal SECC; Front panel: Aluminum/ABS

Color
Black
Main Board

Standard Micro ATX / Baby AT

Window
Yes
Power Supply

ATX 500W power supply                               

-1*120mm built-in UV blue fan w/o LED light

-Wire management: all wires are sleeved

-Standard size:150 x 145 x 86 mm (W x L x H)

Power Supply Connectors

  • 1 x 24-pin Main Power (20 + 4-pin)
  • 1 x 12V (P4)
  • 6 x Peripheral
  • 2 x Floppy
  • 2 x SATA
  • 1 x PCI Express
Drive Space

2x5.25" / 2x3.5" / 2x3.5" (hidden)

Motherboard Size

up to 9.6" x 9.6"

Expansion Slots
4
Front Panel Switch
Power / Reset
Front Access Ports

2 x USB 2.0, 2 x HD Audio, 1 x Firewire

Cooling Fan Space

Up to 4 x case fans:
1 x 120mm blue UV LED fan - side window (included)
1 x 120mm fan - rear (optional) 
2 x 80mm fan - rear (optional)

Front Thermometer
N/A
Front Fan Controller
N/A
LED Display
Power/HDD
Shipping Weight
13 lbs.
Dimensions(DxWxH)

16.35" x 7" x 15.25"

Cu'ft

1.95 (Container: 20'-530 units, 40'-1060 units, 40'HQ-1210 units)

 

Power Supply Specifications

AC Input
115V/230V – 60/50Hz
DC Input
+3.3V
+5V
+12V1
+12V2
-12V
-5V
+5VSB
500W
Max Combined Watts
25A
30A
16A
18A
.6A
.6A
2.6A
500W

 

Product Features:

 

Testing:

I'm going to test the cooling ability of the the X-QBOII by taking temperature measurements from the CP, with Core Temp 0.97.1, and the 8800GTS with nVidia's nTune, at both idle and load. The processor will be loaded with Orthos .41 (Blend) and the video card with ATI Tool's artifact test. The hard drive and chipset temperature will also be monitored using Speed Fan 4.33. The hard drive temperature will be loaded with simple, but heavy, large file transfers and the chipset temperatures will just be watched under load during the Orthos test. Unfortunately, I did not have a case of the same size and type on hand, so I decided to throw in my full tower NZXT Zero with several large fans as a comparison.


Testing Setup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was slightly surprised with the results, but it was to be expected. As seen, the X-QBOII was beaten by a fair margin in all tests. The X-QBOII has very few fans compared to the larger Zero, but nonetheless, these are acceptable considering the size and target market. The temperatures can be improved with a larger CPU cooler and faster case fans (though that would increase the noise levels as well).

Conclusion:

I like the look of the X-QBOII; it's sleek, unique, windowed, strong, and small. Most importantly, it is smaller than an average mid-tower, but not so tiny that the case constricts hardware selection and performance. It fit my huge 8800GTS 640MB with ease, however there were some minor inconveniences. The window is really nice, but Apevia did not bother placing any protection on it at the time of shipment. Fortunately, Apevia did swiftly correct the problem. When a power supply ships with a case, it's usually not a high-end unit because of cost considerations. Nevertheless, the power supply is more than able to supply the power needed for a non-enthusiast build. I'm also slightly disappointed that Apevia would include only one fan. The cooling performance is also decent, but don't expect to run extreme overclocks, as this case may not fit higher-end heat sinks without slight adjustments, not to mention the lack of case fans. This may not matter anyway, since most micro-ATX motherboards do not tend to overclock well.

So, if you're looking for a smaller, windowed case to fit some hardcore hardware or even more entry-level components, take a look at the X-QBOII.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: