APEVIA X-Master AL/500 Review

ajmatson - 2008-09-11 05:41:23 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: September 14, 2008
Price: $69.99

Introduction:

At one time everyone had to have the biggest and fastest computers that could be built, but as time goes on more and more users are wanting smaller, quieter and more power efficient computers. With more home users wanting convenience and us techy guys wanting to expand our system count, many builders are putting together HTPC computers. What is an HTPC, you ask? HTPC stand for Home Theater Personal Computer, which is a computer that is hooked up to a multi-media system and a TV. HTPC computers use the same components in a regular desktop computer but in smaller cases to fit in with multi-media systems and blend in.

HTPC cases have been around for a while now but they have are becoming more popular since components being released are using lower power and generating less heat than before. HTPC cases come in a variety of  shapes, sizes and colors. Today we are going to take a look at one HTPC case from Apevia, the X-Master AL/500, which can be used as a small desktop case, media server case, or an HTPC case.

 

Closer Look:

The case arrived in the actual box it is sold in, which is very sturdy packaging. The front and back of the packaging have different pictures of the case in the standing and horizontal positions that the X-Master can operate in, along with the roles that it can be used in, such as a media server, HTPC, and more. On the sides are the different color options that are available for the case and the specs of the Apevia X-Master. Note that the specs side shows that a 500w power supply is included.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the packaging was opened, I was able to slide out the inside onto the table. The case came surrounded in a plastic bag covering to keep dust and scratches from damaging the case. It was also sandwiched in between two foam layers that kept it from sliding and being damaged from the package being dropped in transit. Apevia also includes the accessories needed to get you system up and running with ease. Included with the X-Master is the power cable, a POST speaker, mounting screws, drive rails for the 5.25" drives, rubber case feet, and the manual.

 

 

Now that it is out of the box, let's get a better look at the case itself.

Closer Look:

Now that we have the Aspire X-Master out of the package, we can see what it has to offer us. The case is a compact desktop style case with the drives mounted sideways instead of the traditional horizontal way. This allows for a more compact, space saving design that takes up little room but offers enough expansion for what you will need. We reviewed the case with the silver colored bezel, however Apevia offers several other colors, such as black, green, blue, and red in addition to the silver. All of the Apevia X-Master cases come with a 500 watt power supply included, which we will take a better look at later in the review. There are two spaces for external 5.25" drive bays and one 3.5" external drive bay in the front as well as the vent for the power supply to the left of them. On the left side of the case (top if you lay it flat) there is a vent which allows for the PSU to pull in cool air to keep the temperatures down. In the rear toward the bottom of the expansion bays there is the power plug connector for you to plug the case into the wall for power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Removing the side panel (top) we can get a better look at the inside of the X-Master. The case is small to conserve space but has enough room on the inside to work and place your components. The power supply is mounted to the left of the drive bays, which is why a pass through cable is needed to connect the power supply to the power connection at the rear of the case. When you pull off the front panel you see what I mean as a power cable extension comes from the back of the case and loops through to the power supply. To the right of the power supply are the external drive bays for your CD and floppy drives. You can also install an HTPC media panel in one of them if you desire. All the way on the right hand side is the single internal 3.5" bay for your hard drive (Apevia states three internal 3.5" bays though there is only one dedicated bay; you can use the floppy bay and the second 5.25" bay if they are not being used). The front panel of the case has a power button, reset button, a power and reset LED, two USB ports, a Firewire port, and a headphone & microphone port.

 

 

 

The back of the case has two 60mm rear exhaust fans (Apevia says they are 80mm but they only measure 60mm wide). There are also seven expansion slots that are available since the X-Master can take up standard ATX size motherboards. Next to the expansion slots is the power cable extension that allows the power supply to be mounted at the front of the case.

 

 

Now let's take a look at the power supply that is included.

Closer Look:

Apevia was generous enough to include a 500 watt power supply with the X-Master case. The power supply is a standard ATX power supply (150x140x85mm) so it can be changed out if a stronger one is needed. The power supply is black to match the case and all of the cables are sleeved with black colored mesh sleeving. Opened up you can get a look at the guts of the 500w power supply. Just a note, OCC and I do not recommend ever opening up a power supply as it will not only void your warranty but it can cause serious harm or even death. Inside you can see the components of the power supply, including the two large capacitors and the heatsinks used to cool the components of the power supply. To cool the power supply there is a 120mm Blue UV fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the connection available on the 500w power supply Apevia has included a 20+4 main ATX connector, a 4-pin CPU power connector, six 4-pin Molex connectors, two floppy connectors, two SATA power connectors, and one 6-pin PCI Express power connector. I am surprised that the CPU power connector is only a 4-pin instead of an 8-pin for newer boards since the case accepts full ATX boards; however, this power supply is not made for high end systems so the 4-pin connector will work for boards with either 4-pin or 8-pin connections. Also, there is only one PCI Express plug, so no SLI or CrossFire will be run on this system with the stock power supply.

 

 

 

Now let's put it all back together and get to the testing phase of the review.

Specifications:

Model
X-Master AL-500
Case Material
Metal SECC; Front panel:Aluminum/ABS
Color
Silver
Main Board

Standard ATX/ Micro ATX / Baby AT

Window
No
Power Supply ATX 500W power supply
-1*120mm built-in UV blue fan
-Wire management:all wires are sleeved
-Standard size:150 x 140 x 85 mm (W x L x H)
Expansion slots
AC INPUT
115V/230V - 60/50Hz
DC OUTPUT
+3.3V
+5V
+12V1
+12V2
-12V
-5V
+5VSB
500W
Max
Combined
Watts
25A
30A
16A
18A
0.6A
0.6A
2.6A
500W
Power supply Connectors
  • 1 x 24pin 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" / 1x3.5" / 3x3.5" (hidden)
Motherboard Size
up to 9.6" x 12"
Expansion Slots
 
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 fan - left side (optional)
1 x 120mm fan - right side (optional)
2 x 80mm uv blue fan - rear (included)

Front Thermometer
N/A
Front Fan Controller
N/A
LED Display
Power / HDD
Shipping Weight
15 pounds
Dimensions (DxWxH)
17.7" x 14.5" x 5.5"
Cu'ft
1.32 (Container: 20'-780 units, 40'-1560 units, 40'HQ-1800 units)

 

Features:

 

Testing:

Testing the Apevia X-Master case will be a two step process. First, I will test the temperatures of the case and the components under idle and load conditions. Then I will compare those temperatures to ones I collected using the same components in other small cases. All components are exactly the same in each case and will be run at their stock speeds, timings, and voltages to keep any variables from interfering with the scores and throwing off the comparison. The temperatures that will be collected will be from the CPU, the video card, the hard drive, and the chipset of the motherboard. To simulate an idle state the computer will be left untouched for 30 minutes making sure nothing is active (except what loads with Windows) and then the temperature readings will be taken. Then to simulate a load state I will run Prime 95, HDTune, and 3DMark Vantage at the same time for one hour and then the temperatures will be taken. To gather the temperatures I will use Real Temp 2.7 for the CPU, ASUS PC Probe II for the chipset, HD Tune for the hard drive, and Catalyst Control Center 8.8 for the video card. Cooling for the cases will only be the stock cooling that came with the cases, no fans will be added and the CPU cooler will be the stock Intel cooler that came with the CPU.

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power Supply:

 

The temperatures for the X-master were a little higher than the other cases. I expected this since the only fans that are in the X-Master are the two small exhaust fans at the rear of the case.

Conclusion:

Overall, this was a nice case to use. The temperatures were a little higher using the included stock cooling but two optional 80mm or 120mm fans can be installed on the sides of the case to increase air flow and help lower the temperatures. The X-Master has a lot of room to work with inside and does take full size ATX boards if needed, so you do not need to skimp on features using a smaller board for your project. There is only one dedicated HDD bay in the case, however you can use other bays not in use for more drive space if needed. Having two 5.25" external bays is really nice because you can have one for a DVD drive and one for a media panel display if desired. Also, the colors available will give an accent to anyone's home media station.

Being designed as an HTPC or media server I am shocked that there is only one internal dedicated HDD bay. You can use the external bays if needed but that takes away from being able to use devices in them. Also, the power supply only has a 4-pin CPU connection so you will not be pushing high end boards in this computer with the included power supply. There is only one PCI Express plug, so if you plan on gaming on this system then you might want to consider replacing the PSU if you want to go SLI or CrossFire. All in all, this is a very good case and at $69.99 that is a no brainer. If you are looking to build a media server or an HTPC, I would really recommend the Apevia X-Master AL/500. You will have the room and features you need without sacrificing quality or money.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: