Xclio A380 Color Plus Review

airman - 2010-02-22 19:33:21 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: March 16, 2010
Price: $169.99

Introduction

As the computer enthusiast market continues to grow, so do the manufacturers that offer PC hardware. Technology changes, so the manufacturers have to adapt and sometimes expand their companies to fulfill these demands. Many of these demands bring about improvements in cooling systems and innovations to keep the massive amounts of heat produced by new hardware at bay. A company that has been around for a while but may not have been in the spotlight as much as other brands, Xclio, has been making statements for themselves by producing new and unique designs of computer cases, power supplies, and other cooling products for consumers to enjoy. Xclio is also the first manufacturer of fully customizable fan colors, offering their users the ability to choose practically any color out of just one fan. The case in consideration for this review is the Xclio A380 Color Plus, which features four 256 color fans which offer a unique trait and a very interesting look. The A380 Color Plus is a full tower case capable of housing the latest video cards with room to spare, and offers a tool-less drive bay system that many users can appreciate.

Closer Look

When first picking up this package, I was blown away at the sheer size of the box, which was quite heavy as well. There was a big gash in the side of the box, however, I felt inside and it seemed like there wasn't any damage to the case, which was a relief. The box itself features a large picture of the case on the front and back with not much other content, only a little bit of text and four pictures of the different colors of the case. Like the sides, the front is identical to the back. The sides have the same four pictures that appeared on the front as well as a table of specifications, including dimensions, cooling specifications, and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As just about every other case is, the Xclio A380 is wrapped in a plastic bag and stuck between two big blocks of Styrofoam. Upon further inspection, there wasn't any damage to the case where the box was punctured. Inside the case was a black bag that had all of the accessories in it. The accessories included the tool-less drive rails, mounting hardware, four replacement LEDs in a static bag, wire ties, and a user manual. With these accessories, I didn't feel like there was anything lacking.

 

 

On the next page, I will be showing the exterior of the case and sharing my thoughts. So far, this case is looking good. The size is mesmerizing, it comes with plenty of accessories, a well-written manual, and lots of expectations.  Without ever owning or even hearing of Xclio, I feel that this case so far has made quite a statement about itself and its company.  As they say, first impressions are everything.

Closer Look:

After removing all of the plastic packaging and protection, my enthusiasm for this case continues to grow. The side panels open without giving any trouble, the paint job is solid, and so is its structure. I'm usually not a fan of extra plastic on cases, but the style that this case has can definitely pull it off. The front and side intake fans are massive, and don't leave me with any doubt that this thing will perform as well as it looks. The front door that hides the optical drives opens without much resistance and is secured closed by small magnets in the top and bottom corners. The front of the door has the Xclio logo, which is kind of hard to see. Later on, I discovered that the whole logo is the HDD activity light and flashes white. I thought that was pretty slick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the case have two 140mm, 256 color fans set up as exhaust. The top fans (as well at the front) are wired to the front fan controller from the factory. I thought that was a nice touch because it didn't force me to fiddle with routing and hiding the wires. The plastic on the top has a little more restrictions on the fans that I would prefer, and could surely allow the fans to be more effective if the plastic is had a little more flow to it. Seeing as that the case is nearly two feet tall, it is equipped with four folding plastic feet that can be flipped out for stability, and style.

 

 

The top of the case features a fan controller for the side, top, and front fans. Under each knob is a button that allows the user to turn the fans completely off (not independently), the LEDs off (also not independently), and to stop the color cycle. By default, the fans cycle through every color of the rainbow, including a very purple UV color. Pressing the button pauses the cycle, and will stay on one color if the user desires. I like leaving it on cycle because of the dynamics it adds to the case. The top of the case where the fan controller is also has the usual I/O ports, including four USB ports, a headphone and microphone port, and one more for eSATA. The top I/O ports are convenient as they don't require the user to bend over out of their chair to stick something in the side or the bottom of the PC. This has becoming more of a trend lately, and many manufacturers seem to be catching on to this useful placement of the I/O panel. The front bezel of the case pops off by squeezing the expansion tabs from the inside. Like other cases, usually popping out three on one side will allow the front bezel to be removed fairly easily. After removing the front bezel, I was a little disappointed in seeing the lack of airflow that the front fan will provide to the hard drives. I would put my guess at about 20% of the drive holders are exposed through the hard drive enclosure and receive fresh air. Also, a portion of the sides of the fan hang over the side of the case, which directs the air nowhere.

 

 

Now that about all of the outside of the case has been evaluated, it is now time to open up the case and take a look at its insides. So far, the case is pretty impressive, but lacks a little bit of thinking on the airflow situation (at least for the front and top fans). Considering the big size of the front intake fan, it's a shame that most of it is wasted.

Closer Look

Once inside the case, the plain, unpainted interior kind of disappointed me. For the price, a good looking paint job inside and out is usually expected, but some manufacturers sometimes choose not to do this. Luckily though, the copper hard drive trays drew my eyes away from this fact. I figured they made the hard drive trays like this to help with the heat transfer, and it was neat to see them use copper to do this. There is a spoiler though, after picking one up, I quickly decided that they couldn't be solid copper due to how light they were. I scratched the surface of one, and found that it looks to be just aluminum underneath. Not terrible, but a little bit of a letdown. Anyways, once entering the case I was attracted to the amount of room inside. Two structural rails run from the front to the rear at the top, to add extra stiffness.

A small disappointment with this case is that there no rear access hole for the heatsink mounting holes. This means that if a user wishes to change out one heatsink for another, if either of them use a bolt-on method, the motherboard will have to be removed for this to be done. This isn't a problem for most people, but can make installing a newly purchased a little more of a hassle. Moving on, a large amount of cables hang from the top of the case that handles the front USB, audio, and eSATA, as well as the power/reset buttons, and informational LEDs. The wiring placement is a little awkward, having it located a little closer to the drive trays would have made it a little easier to hide by tucking them behind the optical drives. There isn't much extra length to hide them, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seven PCI brackets are held in by thumbscrews, which technically makes the expansion slots tool-less. I prefer screws to the flimsy plastic clips that don't work at all with modern video cards that have the full-size heatsinks. The expansion slot covers are replaceable, so if the user ever wishes to put them back, this can be done. The rear 120mm fan uses a regular 4-pin Molex connection and does not have the color change feature like the other fans do. This fan, similar to the top fans, is configured as exhaust as packaged. As stated earlier, the top and front fans are already wired into the front fan controller.

 

 

The A380 Color Plus has five optical drive bays that use the tool-less rails. These work by placing one on either side of the optical drive, and sliding them into the bay until it clicks in. Removal is done by squeezing the exposed tabs inward and pulling the drive outward. The tool-less system works well and keeps the drives snugly in place. The case also has room for six hard drives and comes with six metal trays for the drives to sit in. As I mentioned earlier, these trays look like they're copper - but they are not. I would imagine that they still help dissipate heat more than not having one of these trays would though. These trays are a little difficult to get around the hard drives, but not terribly difficult. This is due to the one-piece design, and it kind of has to be stretched over the hard drive. The trays are removed in the same way that any other tool-less drive would be, by squeezing the tabs inward and pulling them outwards.

 

 

 

One of the cable connections in the case is the header for the fan on the side panel to plug into. It is a small, 4-pin connector that looks arbitrary to this case, or at least Xclio's 256 color fans. It clipped in with no problem. Other connections on the case include the two USB headers, two audio headers, the eSATA connector, and the power and reset buttons plus the HDD activity light. The first picture below is the fan header, and the next is several of the headers included.

 

 

I removed the rear 120mm fan to show one by itself. The rear fan pictured here uses a standard 4-pin Molex connector, powered by 12V. The stickers on the front and back of the fans in the case are the same, and none of them show any information such as the voltage or current draw for the fans. I have been able to leave the fan controller at 100% on each fan without any problems with noise; the supplied fans are relatively quiet. The only one that produces enough sound to barely hear is the side fan when it is at 100%.

 

 

 

Now that I've torn down and evaluated the physical parts of this case, the temperature testing is coming up on page five. The next page lists the technical specifications and features as provided by the manufacturer.

Specifications:

Model
A380 Color
Color
Fully black finish
Case Material
Chassis: 1.0mm SECC, Front Panel: ABS Plastic
With Power Supply
No
Motherboard Compatibility
Micro ATX, Standard ATX, MP Dual CPU (12x13")
With Side Panel Window
Yes
External 5.25" Bays
5
External 3.5" Bays
1
Internal 3.5" Bays
6
Expansion Slots
7
Top Panel Ports
2xUSB, Audio & Speaker Ports, eSATA
Cooling System
1x250mm Front
1x250mm Side
2x180mm Top
1x120mm Rear
Dimensions
570x205x520mm (LxWxH)

 

Features:

 

Information provided courtesy of Xclio @ http://www.xclio.com/products/case-a380color.htm

Testing:

To test the Xclio A380 Color Plus, temperatures will be recorded for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and the overall system temperature during load and idle phases. Load will be simulated by Prime95 small FFTs and HD tune for one hour, with maximum temperatures recorded by RealTemp. The GPU load will be the maximum value recorded by Rivatuner after five loops of 3DMark06’s Canyon Flight test. Each case is tested as is from the factory, including the fan configuration. As stated earlier, the fan configuration for the A380 is front and side intakes with top and rear exhausts.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After running these tests, I was quite surprised at the temperatures this case provided. While the chipset and system temperatures weren't too unreasonable, the CPU and GPU temperatures were a bit higher than normal. I reseated the CPU heatsink just to make sure, and the temperatures did not change. Realistically, the A380 didn't really perform much better than a mid-level, affordable case. I will wrap my thoughts up on the next page.

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that this case looks awesome. I am absolutely in love with the looks and the unique ability to have the LEDs cycle through nearly every color of the visible spectrum. I have received the most comments on this case out of every other case that I've tested, by far. It is solid in construction and has convenient features, such as the integrated fan controller and the top I/O ports. However, I feel that a lot of improvements could be made to this case. The front and top airflow could be re-evaluated; as I stated earlier, the front intake fan only does about 20% of what it could do if the airways were opened up, and the top fans have probably a 50% restriction. It seems Xclio put a slightly higher importance on looks than function, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing because I still think it looks awesome. On the other hand, these problems did show in the testing. I don't really have too much to say about the wire management, as some features are there such as mostly everything already being pre-wired, but it doesn't seem like much extra thought was put into making other wiring look clean. For a case as expensive as this, I really would have expected better temperatures, some paint on the inside, some accommodations for wire management, and the simple, but massively convenient, heatsink mounting bracket access hole. I feel like every "enthusiast" case should include these, because they nearly remove any hassle of switching out a heatsink that bolts on. Overall, as I've said, the case has a great look, I just wish it performed a little better for the money that it's worth. But, then again, what's a little modding time if you really like the looks?

 

Pros:

 

Cons: