Xion Predator Gaming Series AXP 970 Review

Compxpert - 2010-08-20 00:51:03 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Compxpert   
Reviewed on: October 4, 2010
Price: $79.99

Introduction:

With new video cards coming out all the time its getting hard to keep up. Don't they just seem to be getting longer and longer too? Something important to consider in any build certainly is a video card but another concern revolves around the length of the card. Will the case you get hold your new monstrous behemouth or will it struggle to contain it. Not only is it important to consider what length cards your case can handle but it's also just as important to buy a case that can hold everything else and keep it looking nice. A great case should not just simply hold your computer componets but should keep them cool and keep your setup expandable while staying affordable and stylish. Today, for review, I have the Sion Predator Gaming Series AXP970. For a modest price the AXP970 offers many great features. The AXP970 is capable of having up to two 120mm side panel fans or one 200mm. It also allows for two 120mm fans to mount under the top panel which is also able to accomodate a radiator. So does the AXP970 have it all? Let's read on and find out.

Closer Look:

The box really doesn't offer that much to see. Both the front and reverse sides of the box are the same. On these sides we have the full model number displayed at the top along with the Xion brand name just under it to the right. Displayed under that is basic picture of the front right side of the case and just under that is the designation that this case is part of the predator 970 gaming series of cases. Like the front and back, both of the sides of the box are the same. Both of the sides display a list of specifications about the case. Notable here is the one line that says "3.5" x 2 (hot swappable tray)". What this is getting at is this case has the capability to hotswap two drives. Wow, can't say I've ever reviewd a case that had a hotswappable drive bay in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once out of the box we have the case sandwiched between styrofoam and covered in a plastic bag.

 

There is much more to see than just a case in some packaging. I'm just itching to peer further. With features like a hotswappable hdd tray I have to wonder what else this case has to offer. Read on.

Closer Look:

To begin we have the right side panel. Notable here is its ability to sport two 120mm fans or one 200mm fan. Of course no side fans are included sadly. Looking at the front of the case we find ourselves a fan, but more on that later. There are plenty of other things on the front of the case as well, such as the front panel LEDs, connections, and switches. To note it has a total of two usb ports, MIC, audio out, Power and Reset switches, and eSATA. Finally we move on to the least eventful side of the case or rather the left side. It bears the same design as the right side however it of course doesn't support fans nor does it have holes in it.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on to the back of the case we have our other included 120mm fan. We also have a total of 7 expansion slots as well as grommets fitted to the case for watercooling tubes. Also of note in this case, the powersupply mounts at the bottom. Next we have the very top of the case. The top has an arrow design  and holes to allow air to flow through. Below this panel the case is able to house two 120mm or 140mm fans. On the bottom of the case we have four rubberized feet. Also here is a fan filter should you choose to mount your PSU fanside down. Lastly we have a closer look at the other side of the right side panel.

 

 

 

So far so good. Wow, pretty nice case and they even included two fans. Beyond that this case has a lot of potential being able to mount four additional fans if all are 120mm or three if you choose 140mm for a side fan. It's also great to see included watercooling support.

Closer Look:

Finally to the guts of this beast. With the side panel removed we get a first glimpse of the internals. Just look at the space between the expansion slots and front of the case. A quick measure reveals this gap to be 13.75". Though no features list was given with this case on Xions site one such feature boasts that this case, "fits at least I'm performance graphics cards, like the ATI 5970." So they claim at least I'm which is very close to what I have. This case definitely has some room for any current cards and any potential new ones should they continue to get longer. So not only is this case sleek and stylish but it can contain newer and much more monstrous video cards. If you hadn't noticed already then take note that the entire inside of this case is painted black. Also take note of the tool-less solution for 5.25" devices. The knob is capable of moving backward and forward depending on where the screw holes for you device are and then once lined up with the holes you turn the knobs so they screw into the device. Moving on we have a closer look at the motherboard tray. I like the many holes I see here and especially the ones I don't see due to the grommets. Nice job Ion, finally a case manufacturer that knows wire management is important. Also of note is the biggest hole of all on this motherboard tray which is pictured next. This hole is very important because it allows you to swap out heat sinks or water blocks without the need to remove the motherboard from the case. Lastly, here we have our power supply fan filter. Should you choose to mount it upside down this is a nice feature to have to keep dust from your PSU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured  here first we have the I/O board panel for the hotswap drive bays in the front. This board is powered by a single molex connection and allows two drive and two fans to be able to run off the panel. Once the SATA data cable is plugged in from here to the motherboard and provided you give the distribution board power with its molex connection, you are then able to swap drive in and out of the bay just behind it. Next up we  have a closer look showing just how much space there is for all your 5.25" devices. Ion has kindly provided a solution for those of you moving onto Solid State Drives. Pictured here is a provided method to be able to mount up to four 2.5" devices. Of course you could be mounting laptop drives here as well but I'm sure you're more likely to have an SSD if your using these bays. Next up we have two 3.5" bays for hard drives. There is one other 3.5" bay not pictured which is just below the hot swap drive bay at the very bottom of the case.

 

 

 

Here is the left side panel of the case and of course what is behind that in the next picture. Notice the amount  of holes leading to back here which makes for easy wire management.  Onward we have the front of the case with the front panel removed. This clearly shows where the hot swap drive bays are at as well as the fan in the  next picture which is on the back of the front panel. When I had to take this fan out to get pictures it wasn't very cooperative. The clips that hold the fan in place are very sturdy almost to a point where it hurts your fingers to try to pry the fan out.

 

 

 

Here we finally move onto  a picture of our reading material and our box of hardware. Pictured next is our wires for our front panel LEDs as well as the accompanying Power and Reset switch wires. Further on we have more  of our front panel wire connections. Here we have our USB and AUDIO headers. In the last photo here we have a close up shot of the expansion slot area. If you've noticed the only tool-less solution absent in this case is in the rear expansion slots. Not only that as a bit of a thumbs down the case  has punch outs  for these expansion slots and includes  no expansion bay covers. I suppose however as feature packed as this case it's not so bad they cut here.

 

 

 

First up is a shot of a great feature this case has. Here is the top with the plastic cover off. To remove one must remove the front panel and then remove the top panel by removing two screws from the rear of the case and then sliding it forward. This top area is well clear of the  motherboard area which I found to be a plus. You will be able to fit a push-pull configuration 120mm heat sink in anyway you wish and still have two 120mm or two 140mm fans. Next up is the panel that was detached in the  previous shot with a view from the bottom side. Now on to fan specifics. There are a total of two fans  included in the setup which is great for a minimum number of fans. Both fans are 120mm and the front fan is a blue LED fan. Other than those facts no other useful facts are to be seen in the picture or the specifications. Last but not least of the great features is the hotswap bay. Located on the front of the case just under the fan the hotswap bay has a door which when pushed in unlatches to reveal two drive bays. To the right on both the bays in the photo there is a tab which when punched allows the bay door to slide forward and you to pull the bay out. Simply swap in a drive and close it back up and when you need a different one you can easily swap in a different drive. Just a friendly note you need to enable AHCI settings in your bios for your sata chipset or you might have some trouble swapping drives.

 

 

 

Moving on to our last set of photos we have all our provided hardware. Ion included all the screws you will need to get going with setting up anything you need in this case. Also included are some zip ties and a speaker for motherboard beep codes. Also pictured here are your tool-less solutions for 3.5" hard drives. There are only two sets here though there are 3 total 3.5" bays but that is because the very bottom one does not use a tool-less solution. Moving on to some photos of the finished install we have the front of the case. The front fan glows a nice blue which goes along with the  shade  of  the power LED. Last but not least we have the finished build picture. The build went flawlessly and wire managment was quite easy with the large number of provided holes as well as nice amount of space between the left side panel and motherboard tray. I could have probably gotten better with the wire management but I didn't really take my time with this one.

 

All in all this case seems to pack some awesome features. The number of holes in the motherboard tray allows easy access to specific areas so you can hide wires behind the tray and bring them right through where you need them. Not only that but the expandability leaves a lot of options for future add ons. This case may be feature packed but how well does it stand up to some others when under some testing? Let's find out.

Specifications:

 

Case Type:
ATX Mid Tower Steel Chassis
Color:
Black Color
Material:
Black Interior Steel
With Power Supply:
Not Included
Motherboard Compatibility:
ATX, Micro-ATX, Baby AT
Expansion:
External 5.25" Drive Bays : 4
External 3.5" Drive Bays : 2 Hot-Swap Enabled Front- loading Trays for SATA HDDs .
Internal 2.5" Drive Bays : 4
Internal 3.5" Drive Bays : 3
Expansion Slots:
7
Front Ports:
eSATA, USB 2.0 x2, 7.1 channels Audio x 2
Cooling System:
Front: 1 x120mm Blue LED Fan (included)
Rear: 1 x 120mm Black Fan (included)
Side: 2 x 120mm or 1 x 200mm fan (optional)
Top : 2 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm fan (optional)
Dimension (D x W x H):
8” x 17” x 18” (W x H x D)
Weight:
16 Lbs (7.28kg)

 

Features:

All information courtesy of Xion @ http://www.xionusa.com/Product-case-AXP970-001BK.asp

Testing:

Testing is simple. I run the case through the usual gauntlet of tests that all cases I test go through. Every component in the computer is tested for its idle and load temperatures. I apply load to the CPU, GPU, HDD, RAM, and Chipset using a variety of different programs such as Folding@Home for the GPU, Prime 95 for the CPU, RAM, and Chipset, and the hard drive is stressed using HDTune. For all of these load tests I let each program run for an hour to stress the selected components. After an hour I record the results and shutdown the program. In testing for idle temperatures I simply allowed the computer to idle which is to say do nothing for an hour. After an hour I record the temperatures. In all tests lowest is best.

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly for some reason the AXP-970 pulls numbers a little higher than the average. Though it did fall right along side many of the cases in nearly all of the tests some tests like with the chipset it came in a little higher than the rest. The poor chipset results could possibly be attributed to the fact there is no side fan to pull air in over it. As for all other tests it came in on par with a couple of the cases but was still higher than the rest. So it doesn't perform the greatest but it could be improved by adding more fans and the case is quite feature packed so there is always room for improvement.

Conclusion:

Though the case didn't perform as expected in testing it does have quite a few nice features which does makes up pretty well for it. On the up and up unlike a lot of cases on the market the AXP-970 is painted black inside and out. Also unlike many others this case supports two fans on the top panel which can be either 120mm or 140mm or even a radiator with those same size fans. This case also offers great expandability in that with the fans you can add those two to the top and even add another two 120mm fans to the side or just a single 200mm fan. A great feature I've never seen in any other case at least at consumer and not server level is of course the hot swap drive bays. Of course if you do intend to buy this case to utilize these keep in mind that AHCI needs enabled in BIOS in order to take advantage of the hot swap feature set. Though it was sad they had punch outs for the rear expansion slots and no slot covers they did include other features like a couple of tool-less solutions. It's great to see case manufacturers trying to make it easier and quicker to install and remove hardware using tool-less solutions and not every case manufacturer does. Last to mention is probably my favorite feature. Included with the case are several holes built-in to the motherboard tray which are outfitted with grommets for wire management. This allowed me to run many of my wires behind the motherboard tray and only through the hole and straight to the component I intend to connect it to. Price is also important to consider when buying any case and when it comes to getting more for your money you definitely aren't getting ripped off here. This case fetches a very nice and modest $79.99 on newegg which I must say is very impressive considering how much is really offered with this case. If you happen to be looking for a case and want my recommendation then yes I say this case has got to be the best bang for your buck.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: