XION XON-980 Case Review

Waco - 2012-06-22 07:32:53 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Waco   
Reviewed on: July 25, 2012
Price: $89.99

Introduction:

XION is a company I have to say I've not really heard much about in recent years. Founded back in 2002, XION is dedicated to producing quality PC cases and components for everyone. When the XION XON-980 showed up for me to take a look at I jumped onto the XION website to check out what I had in store. The XON-980 is part of the XION Gaming Series and is targeted at the game-playing crowd that demands the best for their computer. If you're looking at building a new computer soon (or upgrading your current machine with a snazzy new case) perhaps the XION XON-980 will be something you'll consider – and after making its way through the gauntlet of the OCC test suite we'll see whether or not it deserves to be part of your next build!

 

Closer Look:

The box from XION is quite plain, which I tend to prefer over extremely fancy boxes. I don't like thinking about a company spending that extra few bucks per case on flashy cardboard I'm just going to throw away. The front of the single color box has an isometric view of the case but no other information except that it is a computer case from XION. The right side contains basic information about the case and the model number. The backside is identical to the front side of the box without much information at all. The left side contains shipping information that is of very little use to anyone… but who cares? Let's see what's inside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting away the packing tape reveals a very well-packed case with a good inch of soft open-cell foam on every side of the case. Your delivery man would have to be extremely rough with this box to even begin to cause damage to the contents – this is always a huge plus in my book as I have terrible luck with anything that gets delivered to my doorstep. Move on to the next page to see the case in its full glory!

 

Closer Look:

Pulling the case out of its packing material was quite simple and revealed a fairly plain black case. The top of the case prominently features a set of four buttons with the label "Cooling Fan Control" below them. The two-position switches intrigued me… but more on that later. The front of the case is almost entirely mesh as is the bulge at the top. No cooling fans are included for this top position although there are mounting holes for both 120mm and 140mm fans.

Moving around to the rear of the case you can see a slew of grommeted openings for water cooling tubing should you decide to use external radiators. The top rear of the case mimics the front with a pseudo-fan control cluster at the edge. Aside from the 120mm cooling fan (and old-school mounts for a 92mm case fan) there's nothing too terribly special going on back here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the XON-980 are fairly simple. The left side has a large bulge in the center with mounting holes for dual 120mm fans or a single 200mm fan. The bulge on the top of the case is quite prominent from this angle but it is obvious that adding fans to the top of the case won't get in the way of any internal components unless you install 38mm+ thick fans. The right side of the case is basically just a sheet metal panel without the usual stamped bulge for cable hiding. Hopefully there is enough room on the inside that this won't be an issue.

 

 

Overall the looks of the XION XON-980 aren't too "out there" or outlandish. With the fan controller up top, the mesh all over, and the Cooler Master HAF-esque styling on the front and top this case looks ready to get some gear in it. Before that, move on to the next page to check out whether the innards stack up to its appearances!

Closer Look:

Popping off the side panels reveals an all-black interior highlighted by some red rubber grommets for the 5.25" bays. Seven tool-less HDD bays peek out from the front of the case and a large bundle of cables sits ready to be plugged into your waiting motherboard. The cable management openings to the rear side of the case are large but do not have any rubber grommets to keep things tidy looking. The rear side of the motherboard tray reveals a large number of tie-down points for zip ties or twist ties. The opening for the motherboard back plate is large enough that accessing it while the motherboard is mounted shouldn't be any issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinning around the open case you can see the rear 120mm cooling fan along with the various openings for cables to route through to the rear of the motherboard tray. The included fans all have 4-pin Molex plugs on them, which is something I wish would simply disappear from modern cases (especially those with included fan controllers). The accessory/front panel cables are more than long enough to be easily routed out of sight and aside from the USB 3.0 cable all of them are jet black to match the rest of the case.

 

 

The top side of the case is almost entirely mesh from the fan controller back. Mounts for 120mm and 140mm fans are included. The fan controller buttons are chromed plastic and have a somewhat "cheap" feel to them. They aren't very tightly mounted so you can easily wiggle them around. The front panel of the case has a small window at the top presumably for HDD and power LED indicators (more on that in a bit). The power and reset buttons flank the left and right sides of the front, again in chromed plastic. These switches are again fairly loosely mounted and tended to rattle even as I was moving the case around for pictures. The front panel also contains two USB 3.0 ports along with a pair of USB 2.0 ports. The usual microphone and headphone jacks are also available.

 

 

The drive cages are fairly standard for a modern gaming case – no tools or anything are required to mount or remove any drives unless you're using an SSD or SSDs. The trays are pretty sturdy, but installing drives in them is a fairly simple matter of bending them slightly to position the drives on the pegs. The 5.25" bays aren't tool-free and require somewhat long screws (which XION thankfully included in the accessories box). The rear of the case has mesh PCI slot covers held in place by standard case screws – no thumb screws here. The rear fan is very basic looking and as mentioned has a 4-pin Molex plug of doom attached to it (seriously, I hate cheap Molex plugs – they always tend to jam up when trying to plug them in).

 

 

 

The accessory cables are nothing unusual – USB 3.0 and 2.0, motherboard front panel connections, and the front panel audio connectors. Moving around to the backside you can see even more Molex plugs. The fan controller has a daisy-chained pass-through cable so you don't lose a precious Molex plug on your PSU. The fan controller plugs are all Molex connections as well but they are labeled for front, top, rear, and side – even though the fan controller has no such labels on it externally. At this point the two-position switches popped back into my head and I was hoping they weren't going to be as useless as I feared… but more on that in a bit. There isn't a whole lot of room behind the motherboard tray as you can see in the last picture here. A Molex cable will not fit sideways behind the tray especially with a flat side panel. This is probably not a case you'd want to cram a non-modular high-powered PSU into – PC Power & Cooling owners beware!

 

 

The included accessory bundle doesn't hold back on the zip ties! Along with the installation guide come a pair of fan filters, three bags of various screws, and a 4-pin motherboard speaker. The included manual is sparse and pretty much has the minimum amount of information in it to be called an installation guide. After glancing through it I decided it was fairly useless… but aren't most?

 

Moving down to the bottom of the case we can see where the fan filters are placed. Without a stock fan on the bottom of the case it's nice to see that XION included a fan filter anyway in case you decide to add one later down the road to improve cooling. The filters pull out easily without removing anything, which is always a bonus – fan filters that are hard to remove seldom get cleaned. One thing is a bit odd about the PSU air intake filter though, as it sits more than .25" away from the fan cutout. I have the feeling this won't be filtering much dust or carpet fuzzies from making it into your PSU.

 

 

Putting hardware into the XION XON-980 case didn't present any problems. There isn't a whole lot of room to hide cables so most of the extra PSU cables ended up in the lower bays for HDDs. The rear panel presented no difficulties upon reinstallation but with more cables snaking their way behind the motherboard it could become quite a pain. Firing up the build for the first time was an interesting endeavor. My first thought was "wow! This case is quiet!" until I realized that the only fans spinning were the ones on the CPU and the GPU. What? You might have guessed it by now… but those buttons on the top of the case turn the fans completely off when they are not depressed. I honestly can't imagine why you'd ever want to turn your fans off entirely – surely a low speed and full speed option would have been better? Thankfully I hadn't wired up the CPU fans to the side panel connector or I would have booted up with no CPU cooling at all! Inexperienced (or inattentive) builders beware!

Another thing struck me as a bit odd was that I saw no lights on the front panel when I powered up the case. The little window on the front panel doesn't line up with the LEDs underneath at all – it's off enough that you can't see the LEDs behind it at all even in a dark room. This wasn't a misalignment at the factory; the panel just isn't designed properly and the LEDs don't line up with the window.  They need to be moved up and in towards the center of the case to even have a hope at being visible in operation.

 

 

Once the fans were enabled via the "please torch my CPU" buttons the case lit up in a nice red glow from the front panel. It did not create this glow quietly though as the included fans are quite audible. Overall the styling isn't too bold nor is it very plain. The whole case at this point is screaming at me for a budget build… but if you haven't looked at the price on the first page go do that now. For the $89.99 asking price I expect a lot more. A working fan controller, front panel indicator lights that actually work, and better overall build quality without rattling buttons are all things that should be something included by default on a case in this price range.

Specifications:

Model:
XON-980-BK
Case Type:
ATX Mid Tower
Color:
Black w/red LED Light
Material:
Steel/Plastic, Meshed Front Panel Design
With PSU:
Not Included
Power Supply Mounted:
Bottom
Motherboard Compatibility:
E-ATX/ATX/Micro ATX
5.25” External Drive Bays:
3 w/anti-vibration rubber pads
3.5” Internal Drive Bays:
7 w/pull-out cages
PCI Slots:
7
Front Ports:
USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, Audio x 2
Case Dimensions:
21.8” x 8.3” x 20.5” (555 x 210 x 520 mm)  (H x W x D)
Package Dimensions:
25” x 11” x 22” (H x W x D)
Weight:
19.5 Pounds
VGA Clearance:
13.4” (340 mm)
CPU Heatsink Support:
6.5” (165 mm)
UPC Code:
842431021823

 

Features:

 

Cooling:

 

 

Testing:

Testing the XION XON-980 required pushing my hardware to heat things up! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Recently OCC has upgraded to the ForceGT 240GB SSD from Corsair and has removed the HDD temps from case reviews. HDTune is no longer a part of the Case benchmarking process.

Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs, and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well there's not a whole lot to talk about here. The XION XON-980 performed relatively average when it comes to the GPU and chipset temperatures falling right into the middle to upper-middle of the results. However, one measurement did stand out: the CPU temperature. This case, to put it mildly, heats up your CPU like most cases don't. The idle and load temperatures were up there with the hottest cases we've ever tested. Even the far less expensive Cougar and Thermaltake cases soundly beat out the XON-980 when it comes to CPU temperatures. This is a bit baffling as this case does include relatively loud fans in its stock configuration but after re-running the tests to verify the results there's no disputing them. This case, even if you remember to turn all the case fans on, just doesn’t play nice with your CPU temperatures.

Conclusion:

Coming into this review I wasn't sure what to expect. I haven't ever worked with a XION case before so I had high hopes for this one when it showed up on the porch. The styling isn't something I'd call attractive personally but everyone has different tastes. If you haven't read the review and skipped straight to the conclusion, I'll go ahead and give you the quick run-down now: the fan controller is useless, the front panel doesn't match up with the indicator lights, the build quality feels inexpensive and rushed, and the CPU temperatures leave quite a bit to be desired.

To be perfectly honest for the asking price this case leaves a lot to be desired. There's nothing to really redeem the faults I encountered when examining this case. The cooling fans, for the noise they make, should keep things cooler especially in a smaller mid-tower case. The fan controller, if you can really call it that, is one of the most useless things I've ever seen included on a case and it's downright dangerous to have something like this without even a mention of it shutting fans completely off in the installation guide. If this case was coming to market at the $59.99 level or below I could understand the kind of manufacturing shortcuts that produce a case of this caliber, but at the $89.99 price point it just doesn't even have a horse in the race. If you're looking to build a new machine please look elsewhere unless you want to be disappointed like I was.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: