X-Pider Aluminum Case Review
Reviewed by: Admin
Reviewed on: February 23, 2004
We've all seen the Alienware, Antec, Chenming, Chieftec, Enermax, and Thermaltake Xaser cases that look exactly the same. The reason they look the same, is because, surprise, they are made by the same people. The question, who actually makes all of these cases seams to be one of the Tech World's most unsolved mysteries - And a mystery, we'll try to uncover in our review of the Turbo Case X-Pider Aluminum Case. While we're at it, we'll also take time to review the PSU that came with the case, as well as the matching Keyboard and mouse that Aspire kindly provided to us.
The X-pider Case
|Main Board||ATX-Up to 12"W x 13"L|
|Drive Space||4x 5.25"|
|4x 3.5" Hidden|
|Front Panel Switch||Power / Reset|
|Led Display||Power / HDD|
When UPS arrived to deliver the case, I was surprised to find two boxes. I had forgotten at the time that Aspire was sending me a matching Keyboard/Mouse with the case. And sure enough, that's what was included in the 2nd box. Both boxes looked like they were roughed up a bit, but thankfully everything inside was well packed, and undamaged.
A Closer Look
We'll start off looking at the case, then move on to the included PSU, and end up looking at the mouse and keyboard.
The cardboard box labeled the case color as "white," however, I'm told that the actual case color is "pearl white." If you thought finding Aluminum, black, or silver faceplates for your CD\DVD drives was hard, try looking for "pearl white" faceplates. Thankfully, the case has a bit of black on it, as you can see in the image below. The black on the front of the case, and on the buttons, might just make a black drive look ok. Not that anyone would ever notice your drives, unless the door is open. :) Take a close look at the first image (door closed)... notice anything? If you've got a sharp eye, you'll see the bottom looks darker than the top. It's actually the same color, but the bottom of the case is more "textured" and the top of the case is smooth, which causes the top to reflect light better...
If the black center piece doesn't appeal to you, it removes very easily, and has lots of modding potential.
Of course, the entire front plastic bezel comes off as well. Simply unclip the bezel in 6 places, and it's off.
Behind the lockable main door is of course the drive bays, and the power and reset buttons. Both buttons, are recessed in the surrounding plastic, which makes it a bit harder to accidentally press the power button, and makes it a lot harder to push the reset button. I actually had to use an ink pin to press the reset button. Next to the buttons are the LEDs for Power (Yellow-Green) and HDD (Amber) activity. It would have been cool to see the two LEDs here match the Tri-LED fans that come with the case.
Just below the main door, is another small door that flips up to reveal a Fire Wire port and two USB ports. The white case is the only case that comes with USB/Fire Wire. All of the other colored cases come with two USB ports and Audio ports.
Turning the case around to the side, we can see the pre-modded window. When the case was unpacked, there was plastic on each side of the window. This helps protect the window from being scratched during shipping. In the lower left corner of the window you can see one of the four Tri-LED fans that was included with the case. We'll take a closer look at the fans in a moment. The window itself, is held into place by 14 plastic rivets.
Taking a look at the back of the case, the first thing I noticed was the missing PCI slot cover. Guess they figured everyone is going to remove at least one, so they'd do it for us. Kinda makes me feel like part of my case is missing. :p We also have two rear exhaust fans, which are identical to the one we saw on the side panel. The opening side panel, has thumb screws to help for easy, tool less entry. Oddly, the other side, doesn't use thumbscrews, but regular phillips head screws.
A Closer Look
The case stands on four adjustable plastic feet.. what else do ya want me to say about plastic feet? :p
One of the nicest things about the case is the removable 3.5" bays. My Lian Li PC-70 case, has a removable bay that requires you to remove two thumb screws. Where as this case, you simply unlatch and remove. Much simpler. However, where the entire bay removes in a Lian-Li case, in the X-pider case, the support frames are still in the way.
You can see the removed bays in the image below. The lower bay from the case (on the left) has a plastic fan clip, which allows for easy removal of an 80mm fan - This is great if you mount your HDDs in this bay, as you can add a fan to cool the HDDs, and even if you don't mount your HDDs here, you can mount an extra intake fan. The other front and rear case fans, also have a plastic fan mount like this, making adding/removing fans much easier, and no more messing with screws. And, as you see in the 2nd image below, even if you wanted to mount the fans with screws, it's not possible, because the holes are squared for the plastic clips.
One of my biggest peeves when it comes to cases is not having a slide out motherboard trey. Cases have evolved so much over the past several years, adding more and more features and cool extras, but the sliding motherboard trey seams to have died off. This may not be a big thing to some, but when your in your computer every other day add/removing parts, a sliding trey is a godsend. While it doesn't include a sliding trey, the X-pider does have very nicely rounded edges.
Below you see the (nicely bound) connectors for the speaker, power/HDD LEDs, and other parts. Also pictured (and nicely bound together) are the connectors for the USB and Fire wire ports from the front of the case. Every case I've seen with extra USB/Fire Wire has required you to connect the extra ports to the headers on the motherboard. It'd be nice to see someone include an actual USB/Fire Wire connector (or adapter) to allow someone to plug the front ports into a USB/Fire Wire spot.
After I finally got my motherboard, video card, and hard drives installed in the X-pider, I noticed a slight problem. My GF4ti4600 ran right smack between my two HDDs that I mounted in the bay with a fan. I was able to twist my round IDE cable around enough to connect the HDDs, this wouldn't be a problem with smaller video cards, but for those with power, beware. - This might just be one of the few times a flat IDE cable would work better.. There are two options that would remedy this. 1- Mount the HDDs in the other 3.5 bay, or 2- Remove the fan clip and move the HDDs more inside the cage. Either option, is gonna remove the added cooling from the fan. Anyone making use of 6 IDE devices (using the onboard RAID, found on most motherboards) is going to find space a little cramped in here.
I mentioned before, the case comes with 4 fans. Two exhaust, one front intake, and one side intake located on the window. The fans are 12V DC Brushless, with Tri-color LEDs: Red, Blue, and Green. The fan on the window is almost perfectly placed in position with my GF4 cooler. That extra cool air to the GF cooler should help OC it just a tad bit more.
Here you can see the LEDs in action. The blue and green LEDs look great, where the red LED just sucks. Not only does the red LED get drowned out, but it's also a bit pinkish. While I don't have the fancy instruments to accurately measure the dB(A) level of the fans, I can tell you they are very quiet. What I found on the net suggested that the fans were about 30.0 CFM and about 27 dB(A). Again, that's a best guess estimate based on what little info I could find on these fans. If I'm off, sorry.
A Closer Look
I was surprised when I found out that the X-pider came with a PSU included. I've looked at many cases, and just about all cases today come without a PSU. Of course, when cases did come with a PSU, I usually junked it and replaced it with my own PSU. As listed in the specifications, the PSU included with the X-pider is a 420W dual fan PSU. Not bad. :)
The PSU is a Turbolink CWT-420ATX-12, which I found on the net priced anywhere between $35-80. Pricewatch.com had a few listed in the $45-50 range.
You can see below, that the Turbolink PSU really is just a generic two fan PSU. Nothing fancy about the outside other than the gold fan grill on the bottom intake fan. If you look through the grills, you can see inside the PSU the fans are clear. You'll get a better look in a moment.
The PSU has a 20 pin ATX connector, 4 pin P4 connecter, and 6 pin AUX connecter, as well as 5x large 4 pin (Hard Drive) connectors and 2xl small 4 pin (Floppy Drive) connectors. One nice feature about this power supply is the main ATX cable has been rounded with a mesh wrap, and the other cables have been tied together using standard wire ties, as you would expect to see on a PSU made by Enermax, Antec, Kingwin, and others. Sadly, there is no RPM monitoring for the PSU.
Now, it's time to open the puppy up and see what's inside. Before I do, there are a few disclaimers.
1- Opening a PSU will void the PSUs warranty, if it had one to begin with.
2- Capacitors inside the PSU store a deadly amount of electricity. In other words, it can kill you. -Yes, even after it's been unplugged for several days.
3- The PSU was opened by highly trained (or something like that) reviewer, this is not something you should try if you don't know what your doing.
4- Even if you do know what your doing, it still isn't suggested that you open a PSU.
5- Should you electrocute, kill, shock, burn, fry, damage, or destroy yourself, a family member, cat, dog, snake, or anything else living or not, you cannot sue me, OCC, Aspire, Turbolink, or any of their employees, affiliates, shareholders, or anything else for that matter.
Here you see the two heat sinks for the PSU as well as the clear exhaust fan.
Here you can see a closer look at one of the fans from the PSU. As with the case fans for the X-pider, the PSU fans are clear DC Brushless. Unlike the case fans, the fans in the PSU have no LEDs. These did include a model number, which made looking up information on them much easier.
|Noise Level||32.48 dB(A)|
I monitored the voltage of the PSU using Motherboard Monitor 220.127.116.11 for one hour during that time, I used the computer normally, as well as ran 3DMark03, 3DMark01, and Sandra. I then took the MBM5 log, and used the highest and lowest values for the information below. As you can see, there was some spiking, especially on the +12v line.. While I have used this PSU for about a week now with no problems what-so-ever, I don't like using a PSU that spikes like this.
- Special "Fn" Key Function Specifications:
- 7 cursor repeat rates-changed by pressings "Fn" + F1-F7 (2.5 CPS-40 CPS)
- Keyboard Lock ON/OFF by pressing "Fn" + F11
- Windows 2000/XP Hot Keys
- Power Down
- Web/Internet Keys (Back/Forward/Stop/Refresh/Search/Favorites/Home)
- Mute / Volume Adjustment
- Media Control (Previous/Play/Stop/Next)
- My Computer
- Super High Sensitive with 400 CPI
- Advanced Optical Technology
- Rugged Micro-Switch (60gm) Buttons
- Ergonomic Shape
- Plug & Play
- Super Auto Scroll w/o Scrollbar / On Line Zoom (Special Driver Required)
A Closer Look
The Keyboard + Mouse combo was a nice addition to receive for this review, especially since I'm in the process of looking for new keyboard. Don't think I'll ever give up my mouse tho. I had never heard of "Mitsuko" keyboards or mice, however, I have seen them sold with similar cases. The keyboard + mouse can be purchased in, as far as I've seen, any color you can get these cases in.
The keyboard is nice and light, and does have a bit of quietness in the keys, though it's not as quiet as the Dell Quiet Keyboards.
Every keyboard that I've owned that had extra keys other than the 105 or 108 standard keys, have all had either a USB and PS/2 connector, or have just been USB. I was supprised to see that this keyboard, even though it contained several extra multimedia keys was just PS/2. I was even more supprised when I plugged it in and Windows XP picked the keyboard up and everything worked.
Like the keyboard, the mouse matches the case - Black and pearl white. The mouse is fairly simple, 3 buttons + scroll.
One things I thought was strange is the bottom of the mouse is blue, I would have expected it to be black and continue with the black/white color scheme. The LED for the laser was red, which I expected.. not to many different colors when it comes to an optical mouse.
The mouse was extremely smooth, and accurate. However, I did find it's high arch uncomfortable, since I've used a Razer Boomslang for about six months. You can see the difference in my mouse, and the Mitsuko optical mouse in the image below.
Well.. that pretty well finishes up the review on the X-pider, PSU, and Keyboard + Mouse, but leaves one question unanswered.. who makes these cases? We know Alienware doesn't.. they put computers together using other companies parts, and slap on an incredibly high price... Antec, Enermax, and TT are out of the question as well, which narrows the choices down to two:
This is actually where things get interesting... If you click on the company name, you'll be taken to the company's web page. Browse around, take a look and see if you notice anything. Find anything? Take a look at Chieftec's "Company Profile" and then take a look at Chenming's "About Chenming"... see it now? Every image that you see on Chenming's page, is on Chieftec's page... or is it the other way around? Or are they the same?
Well, if you look for contact information between the two companies, Chieftec provides contact info for the factories in China, the entire Chenming site list one contact, and that contact is somewhere in Canada.
If you look at the cases in question, you'll find a "Made in China" sticker on them. The X-pider was the same, and you can see it on the image near the beginning, when I showed the rear of the case.
All answers point to Chieftec as the makers of these cases... unfortunately, neither company has replied to any emails I sent inquiring about this. I'd put money on Chieftec, and I don't think anyone would argue. :P
Well, there you have it. One monstrous review. The X-pider case is a great case, although it is a bit small for my taste, there is a bigger brother to it, that I hope to be able to review for everyone. Though I'm a bit weary of the PSU that was included, a package with pre-modded case, PSU, and Keyboard + Mouse is hard to beat. The case is built sturdy, and I'd be happy to show it off to anyone who came by. If white isn't for you, there is a rainbow of colors for you to chose from.
- Thumb Screws
- Side window looks cool (Some may find this a Con)
- LED fans are quiet and look cool looking (Some may find this a Con)
- Overall nice looking case
- Two sets of keys included
- 420W PSU included
- Keyboard + Mouse included
- Case color choices, helps personalize the case
- Front USB/Fire Wire ports
- Removable 3.5" drive bays
- Able to lock front / side of the case
- Plastic clips for fans
- Keyboard + Mouse are PnP
- Case well built / Rounded edges
- Well packed for shipping
- Keyboard was quiet + extra keys
- Mouse nice and accurate, and moves extremely smooth
- No extra thumb screws
- No slide out motherboard tray
- Not a lot of working room / Small case
- Pre-moded (Some people want to do it themselves)
- Red LED in fans aren't that great
- Plastic font bezel
- PSU doesn't maintain voltage well
- Difference in top/bottom of plastic bezel