Chieftec Dragon   
 

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Chieftec Dragon DX01-SLD

Dato: 19.11.2001

Kabinettet har aldri fått så mye oppmerksomhet som nå. Før var PC-kabinettene grå, klumpete og rett og slett lite spennende. Dette har endret seg radikalt. Med Chieftec's Dragon serie ble det satt en standard her i Norge, og med sitt nye DX-01SLD har Chieftec tatt et steg videre.

 

DX-01SLD er nok et eksempel på en oppskrift vi vet fungerer. Chieftec har tatt for seg en av sine bestselgere og ganske enkelt gjort den enda bedre. Med andre ord er dette kabinettet i utgangspunktet identisk med Chieftec DX-01BD som Hardware.no allerede har sett på, men med noen hyggelige forandringer.

Det første man legger merke til er den stilige sølv-metallic lakkeringen kabinettet har fått. Det neste er en 80mm vifte på sidedøren. Har Chieftec gjort noe annet for å forbedre kabinettet sitt? Vi ser hva dette kabinettet har å by på.

Spesifikasjoner

  • Fulltower, 473 x 205 x 522 mm (D x B x H).
  • 1 mm stål i vegger, ABS brannsikker plast i front.
  • Støtter de fleste ATX- og Xeon hovedhovedkort opptil 12"x13"
  • 4 eksterne 5.25", 2 eksterne 3,5" og 4 interne 3,5" plasser.
  • Plass for 4 stk ekstra 80mm vifter.
  • Låsbar dør i siden og i front.
  • Uttagbare harddiskrammer
  • Skrueløst design
  • Ingen skarpe kanter
  • 80mm vifte i sidepanelet

Kabinettet ble levert uten strømforsyning, Microplex gir deg anledning til å velge dette etter ønske.

Montering og smarte løsninger

Det første jeg la merke til var hvor utrolig likt DX01-SLD er forgjengeren DX-01WH. Etter to ukers bruk må konklusjonen bli at DX01-SLD kun er DX01 i ny farge og med en ekstra 80mm vifte. Allikevel er ikke det nye kabinettet vesentlig dyrere enn sine søsken.

En imponerende ting med Dragon-kabinettet er at hele kabinettet kan tas fra hverandre uten å skru ut en eneste skrue. Man må dog belage seg på å skru når man skal montere disker, hovedkort og skinnene til 5,25"-enhetene.

Et skikkelig dørhåndtak på sidedekselet

Sidedøren åpnes lett med det elegante håndtaket vi ser på bildet, og vippes enkelt og greit helt av. Her legger vi også merke til den første nye detaljen på DX-01SLD. En 80mm vifte er montert i sidedøren og blåser kald luft på skjermkort og chipset. Viften i seg selv oppfattes som meget støysvak, men når døren ble satt på kom en meget irriterende suselyd på grunn av turbulens og overtrykk i kabinettet. Med to kabinettvifter installert til å suge ut luften var problemet borte.

Sidepanelet og døren foran 5,25" brønnene kan låses. Denne låsen virker relativt solid, og selv om det ikke er noen innbruddssikring hindrer det småbrødre og andre klåfingrede personer å tukle med datamaskinen din.

Drevrammene fjernes lett ved å vippe hendelen bakover.

Hardisker monteres på samme måte som i øvrige Chieftec Dragon kasser. Det er utrolig praktisk å bare vippe frem en liten hendel for å løsne harddiskrammen, for så i ro og mak kunne skru fast harddisken og sette rammen på plass igjen. På tidligere versjoner av Chieftec Dragon har det vært et problem at denne hurtigfestingen løsner under transport om man fyller rammene med harddisker. Undertegnede opplevde ikke dette problemet på DX01-SLD, men om det er på grunn av individuelle forskjeller på kabinettene eller at Chieftec har gjort noe med problemet er vanskelig å si.

Viftemontering er latterlig lett, men vi savner støvfilter i front

Festet for 80mm vifte i front på hver harddiskramme er også praktisk hvis du har en 7200RPM IDE disk eller raskere SCSI disk som utvikler mye varme. Samme type snap-in fester brukes til alle kabinettvifter, noe som gjør det veldig enkelt å sette inn/ta ut disse. Det vi savner er støvfilter til innsugsviftene.

5,25" enhetene monteres ved hjelp av drevskinner. Man skrur enkelt og greit drevskinnene fast til drevet og presser det inn i kabinettet. Utrolig praktisk. En annen ting å legge merke til er hullene i siden ved 5,25" enhetene som gir de varme drevene litt mer pusterom.

Etter å ha skiftet fra et trangt AOpen HQ-48 kabinett til Dragon gikk prosessortemperaturen ned fra 59°C til 39°C, altså imponerende 20°C kjøligere! Noe av grunnen til dette kan nok tillegges at det var veldig rotete i mitt gamle kabinett, men hovedforskjellen kommer av den sidemonterte kabinettviften og en mer gjennomtenkt konstruksjon. En annen følge av denne bedre og kraftigere konstruksjonen er at støyen gikk ned noe i forhold til AOpen-kabinettet. I tillegg til bedre sammenføyninger og mindre "slark" er Chieftec Dragon noe tyngre, og absorberer på den måten mer av vibrasjonsenergien før den omdannes til støy.

I bruk

En ting vi savnet på de tidligere Dragon-kabinettene var en uttakbar skuff for hovedkortet. Chieftec har heller ikke tatt med dette på DX-01SLD, men det er likefullt latterlig enkelt å installere hovedkort. Kabinettet er såpass romslig designet at hverken strømforsyning eller diskbrønner kommer i veien.

ATX I/O-platen er utskiftbar og forberedt for integrerte lydkort og skjermkort, men ikke LAN. I/O-platen har også fargekoder rundt hullene i henhold til PS99 standarden, noe brukere med gamle hovedkort nok vil sette pris på.

Som sine søsken er heller ikke dette kabinettet perfekt, tross alt. Mangelen på støvfilter i front fører til at støv trenger inn i PC'en, spesielt hvis den medfølgende 80mm viften er tilkoblet. En annen ting er at reset-knappen er utrolig liten. Vi likte heller ikke at kabinettet kommer uten noen form for bruksanvisning/dokumentasjon, da det kan være vanskelig for nybegynnere å skjønne systemet til Chieftec. Døren som dekker 5,25" enhetene er heller ikke perfekt. Chieftec skulle ha gjort det mulig å hengsle om døren da den er i veien hvis du har kabinettet på høyre side av skjermen, noe som på grunn av tastatur og mus er ganske naturlig. En mulighet er dog å fjerne hele døren, men det er ikke noen fullgod løsning.

Konklusjon

Chieftec DX01-SLD er et nydelig kabinett. Selv etter flere ukers bruk er jeg ikke blitt lei av den stilige fronten. Den gir absolutt "server-look", man får intrykk av at man står ovenfor en skikkelig kraftmaskin. Med sølv metallic lakk og ellers gjennomført fargevalg er det utseendemessig en stor forbedring fra forgjengeren. De avtagbare dørene gjør det til en lek å komme inn i kabinettet, og innvendig er kabinettet meget romslig. Hvis du er ute etter god kjøling stiller dette kabinettet sterkt, spesielt med den sidemonterte viften.

Med seks 3,5" plasser, fire 5,25", eget valg av PSU og generelt god kvalitet har Chieftec en vinner til en akseptabel pris. Kabinettet passer ypperlig til hjemmebruk og entusiaster, men er også egnet som serverkabinett for mindre servere.

 

Fordeler
Ulemper
+ Nydelig design
+ Romslig
+ Praktiske løsninger
+ Pris
+ Avtagbare sidepaneler
+ God kjøling

- Ingen uttakbar plate for hovedkort
- Ingen bruksanvisning/dokumentasjon
- Mangler støvfilter i front
- Bitteliten reset knapp
- Få forbedringer i forhold til sin forgjenger

Overklokking.no gir Chieftec DX01-SLD karakteren

 

Chieftec DX01-SLD kan kjøpes hos Microplex for kr 747,-

 


Date: 01.08.2002

Introduction

Despite seeming like a rather irrelevant piece for your computer, the case is in fact one of the most important. It gives you something to show off to your friends, and if you own an expensive computer, you'll want a sturdy case to protect and ventilate your precious components. Components heat up and with the CPU temperature being anything up to 60°C, you'd want all the help you can get with cooling. A constant high temperature will shorten the life-span of components and anyone who has shelled out £1,000 or more for a new computer will want to prolong the life of components for as long as possible.

Nowadays, more and more people are building their own computers instead of buying pre-built machines from companies such as Gateway and Dell. They buy all of the components form online shops having them delivered to their doorstep before assembling it themselves. One advantage of this method is that you can customise your computer to your exact specifications if the funds are available. So now you have the basics of your computer: the hard drive, motherboard, chip etc, but what are you going to put it in?

If you are on the eccentric side, you might want to make your own wooden case (it has been done before) or, you might want to buy your own. Previously, there were two classes of case, the bog standard, average Joe box to put your bits in for £20 (see picture on the right) and the £200 work of art for all to admire and stare at such as the CM210. It now seems that Chieftec have discovered a gap in the case market and have quickly exploited it. They have focused on high quality steel cases rather than aluminium cases since aluminium is expensive. Recently, they have added an aluminium case to their range which is based on the Dragon range. Their series of Dragon and Scorpio cases retail for about £70 ($80 in the US) excluding power supply but is it any better than the standard cases supplied by computer companies?

Specifications and Components

The Chieftec Dragon arrived in a standard cardboard box and upon opening, I have to say that the packaging was adequate and nothing more. There are unlikely to be any breakages or scratches during delivery as steel is a very strong material but it is always better to be on the safe side. The dimensions of the case are: 473 x 205 x 522 mm (D x W x H).

Be careful when removing the Dragon from the case since it is made out of steel and is therefore quite heavy. After removing the case from the box, it should look something like this:

Included in the case is a small cardboard box containing more screws than you'll ever need and four sets of keys. The keys are for the front and side doors of the Dragon (shown above) which can be locked to protect the expensive contents of the case. There are also 8 drive rails attached to the bottom of the case. Before you can get to this box, you will have to remove 2 screws from the back of the case which hold the side panel in place (circled in red). I have to admit, this stumped me for a while and I only realised this after failing to reach the box by putting my arm through the PSU hole.

Apart from the screws and keys, there are two removable 3.5" racks. One for 2 floppy sized drives and a hard disk and the other one for 3 hard disks. The floppy drives and hard drives are actually the same size but only 2 slots are accessible from the front of the case.

The whole front bezel is made out of plastic, unlike the rest of the case which is made out of steel. The front door panel is also made out of a tough plastic. Unlike the CM210, the door is not held in place by magnets but a plastic clip fits nicely into a hole in the main bezel. The power button and reset button are located inside the door so every time you want to turn on or restart the computer, you will have to open the door to do so. One thing to be careful of is opening CD-ROM drives when the door is closed. Most CD drives will be too weak to push the door open.

Installation

An indication of how well designed a case is would be to see how easy it is to install a computer in it. For this case, I will be transferring the following from and old MESH case. Funnily enough, this case was also made by Chieftec but has a slightly different design.

  • AMD XP1900+ (1600Mhz)
  • Abit KR7
  • Thermalright AX-7
  • GeForce 3 Ti200
  • 256 Mb DDR RAM
  • SB Live 5.1
  • 300W generic power supply
  • 40Gb Fujitsu 7,200 rpm HDD
  • 120GXP 80Gb 7,200 rpm HDD
  • SMC network card
  • 3.5" floppy drive
  • 106-S Pioneer DVD drive
  • Teac 24x CD-RW
  • 4 YS-Tech case fans

Well this is what the empty case looks like:

From this picture, you can see that the case does not have a removable motherboard tray, this is not such an inconvenience as the case is so large. It is easy to fit the components even without the removable tray. Before putting in any components, I decided to fit the PSU. It slides into place and is only held up by two flat rails. This seemed a bit disconcerting as having the PSU coming loose during operation would be disastrous, however, there are 4 screws on the back of the case that hold it in place very securely. It being a steel case reassured me as such a strong material would not easily break or bend.

Next, I installed the case fans. Normally, you have to screw them in at each of the 4 corners but Chieftec have come up with an ingenious solution: they have included case fan clips already secured onto the case. As you may or may not be able to see, no screws are required to install the case fans, they simply clip into place, held in place by plastic clips. This makes it easy to remove as well as mount fans which may come in handy should you find the fans too loud for your liking. However, one disadvantage is that you can only use 80mm fans that are 25mm deep. This excludes the Delta high performance fans but most fans are 25mm deep. In this case, there are 4 case fans, 2 at the bask and 2 at the front. One of the case fans at the front is attached to the hard drive caddy serving the dual purpose of ventilating the case as well as keeping the hard drives cool.

After installing the case fans, the hard drives and CD ROM drives come next. All of the 3.5" drives (floppy, zip and hard drives) can be screwed directly to the caddy. The picture below shows the 2 hard drives installed in the caddy with a case fan to help keep temperatures low. To fit the 5.25" drives (CD-ROM's) some drive rails have to be screwed onto the side. They can then be slid into the non-removable drive bay.

After fitting in the rest of the components, the case should look something like this:

To improve airflow, I recommend having the front fans as intake fans and the rear ones as exhaust. Also, the power and IDE cables should be tidied so as not to restrict airflow. Once all this was done, it was time to power up. I have to say, I was impressed with the case temperatures. With 4 YS-Tech fans, case temps were 30°C, while still not as good as aluminium cases, this is cool enough to keep you system running at optimal efficiency.

Conclusion

Like I have said before, ease of installation is important in a case. A bad case design will result in frustration when installing or removing components. The MESH case which housed the parts originally was guilty of bad case design. It was of a similar design to the Chieftec Dragon but smaller so getting to certain screws was difficult. With the Dragon, there was no difficulty in reaching any areas of the case. The inclusion of the case fan clips was a stroke of genius even though they are a lurid purple colour. Having said this, nobody will see them unless you decide to carve yourself a window in the side of your case.

The case is heavy but sturdy as are most steel cases. The finish of the case and bezel is second to none. With most coloured cases, it is imperative that you paint your drives the same colour otherwise it makes the computer look ugly. With the Chieftec Dragon, there is a case door to hide your drives so there is no need to spray-paint the drives. One thing you should know about the case is that there are currently 2 different version of the case in the shops. One of them has a fan grill on the side door, this one is slightly different from the Dragon case reviewed here and the reset button is hard to reach and can only be used with the help of a pencil or pointy instrument.

At £70 without a PSU, this case is both good looking and good value for money. If you can't afford a £200 case and don't want to be seen dead with a generic beige case, this might be your answer. Available in a range of colours including yellow, brown and silver, I would recommend this case for anyone who fits into the category above.

 


 

Chieftec Dragon DA-01BLD full tower case
Chieftec Window Panel SPA-01BLF

Date: 11.09.2002

Introduction

Although the Lian-Li PC7 that my main system lived in is an excellent case it was beginning to get a little crowded, and when I got my hot little hands on some new goodies to add on I decided it was time to find a new home for the RipNet-UK box. It was going to have to be a full tower - weight wasn't really a consideration as the computer was not going to be moved very often, so a steel case would be fine (allowing me to spend far less than an aluminium full tower would have cost...) Factors I was interested in included available drive space, cooling provision, potential for future modification, and last but not least - looks. You're probably going to see quite a lot of your computer case so buying one that is something of an eyesore is not a great idea! A swift browse around the web led me to the Chieftec Dragon series.

The full tower Chieftec Dragon may look strangely familiar - it is in fact identical to the popular Antec SX 1240 case. It features a lockable front door and side panel to keep prying fingers from where they shouldn't be, and stacks of drive space, with 6 x 5.25" and 2 x 3.5" external bays, and 6 x 3.5" internal HDD bays. The tale of the tape reveals that this particular Dragon measures up at a healthy 475 x 205 x 670mm (D x W x H); make sure you've got enough space for it on your desk! The case is Pentium 4 and Athlon MP dual CPU approved, for the full product specifications check out the Chieftec website.

 

So, the case duly arrived, securely packaged up as you'd expect. No damage in transit when Overclock send stuff I can tell you! Opening up the packaging reveals a large and heavy case - the Dragon is solidly built and no mistake. This is not a LAN party case...

The colour is absolutely fantastic, best described as a mid-blue which has a metallic sheen under certain lighting, as you can see in some of the pictures. The front bezel is a plastic moulding, and the windowed side panel is an extra option, but the colour match of both to the steel case panels is spot on. The finish of the paintwork is good too; deep, even colour that looks as if it should stand up just fine to normal everyday wear and tear. The case stands on four large black plastic feet - these provide plenty of stability, important with a full tower, especially if it's positioned where people may inadvertently knock into it. The feet aren't colour co-ordinated to the rest of the case but I personally have no problem with this as they're in shadow below the case anyway, and are very unobtrusive.

Okay, in the finest traditions of RipNet-UK case reviews we'll begin the guided tour. Please follow me...

The case - front bezel

The front bezel is attractively curved, with a set of air louvres running halfway up it. There are also air vents in the right hand side panel. This case is set up to shift a serious amount of air; there are housings for no less than 3 x 80mm inlet fans behind the front bezel, two of them ducting directly through the hard drive cages, 2 x 80mm exhausts at the rear, a further 80mm exhaust built into the side window, and finally room for a 90mm exhaust above the PSU enclosure. This last is ideally sited to scoop out all the hot air that will gather at the top of your case. Note that the only fan provided is the one that's integral with the window.

RHS air vents 90mm fan location
Louvred bezel Window 80mm fan
 

Drive bays take up the top half of the front bezel, all concealed behind a hinged colour-matched door. The door can be removed if you wish, though personally I think the case looks better with it left in place (that said there is plenty of scope for carving up the door a little to give your case a more individual look. Hmmm, must get the Wizard fired up soon). You get space for 6 x 5.25" external drives and 2 x 3.52, all of them with plastic snap-in covers. Immediately below these are the power and reset switches, both recessed as you would expect. There are also the standard hard drive activity and power lights. A more unusual feature is that the door can be locked shut. Admittedly this lock is not going to keep the determined meddler out of your case, but it's more than sufficient to stop casual interest from going a bit too far...

Front bezel - continued

External bays Front door removed Switches and lights...

 

You will need to remove the top half of the front bezel when you're installing your 5.25" devices, and if you're anything like me you'll also probably want to remove the bottom half, if only to see what's behind it! Fortunately removing both is simplicity itself; simply push in the spring-loaded clips at each side of the top half and then pull it clear, whilst for the bottom half you just pull forward on the two retaining clips to disengage them, then push down to release the mounting lugs. Piece of cake. Replacement is just as easy - the retaining lugs are neither too stiff nor too loose, they're just right.

  

Top bezel removed Lower bezel removed
 

This then gives you a good view of the inlets for the front fans. Airflow is good but unfortunately no filters are provided for the incoming air. You'll either need to fashion your own or else make sure you give the inside of the case a regular spring clean - remember that the window will mean everything is on show, including all the dust...

Side window panel

Moving to the left hand side of the case we find the window panel. This also features a similar lock to the front panel, integrated with the panel latch. Chieftec also thoughtfully provide two pairs of keys, so you're covered when the inevitable happens and you manage to misplace a set! (The standard panel is also lockable). Standard of finish on the window is very high - it's secured with rivets in a similar fashion to Lian-Li's panel, so there is no unsightly rubber locking strip to spoil the lines of the case. As mentioned earlier an 80mm exhaust fan is built into the window itself, and this incorporates a black mesh filter / finger-guard - a must if you have kids, who will either stick a pencil into the fan (bad) or one of their fingers (worse!) Removing the side panel to access the interior of the case is a cinch; simply remove the two thumbscrews securing it to the rear panel, operate the latch and lift away the panel.

Window panel Locking mechanism
  

Interior matters

 

Airflow is one of this case's strong points. The three inlet fans and the two rear exhausts all feature Chieftec's lovely fan-holders, so there's no messing about with screwdrivers required. It's just a matter of snapping your choice of fan into the holder and then clipping the entire assembly back into position inside the case.

In the pictures below you can see just how much provision Chieftec have made for getting cool air into and hot air out of your case. At top left and right we have external and internal views of the twin rear 80mm exhausts, then at bottom left and right the 3.5" drive cages with their fan-holders fitted, and the inside of the case front panel with the drive cages removed, exposing the three 80mm inlet fans. Very nice indeed (if a little noisy when they're all running!)

 

 

Towards the top rear of the case is the PSU housing (none is supplied but you can hardly quibble at this price). From what I've seen of various cases one PSU housing is much like another, they only tend to require comment if there is something glaringly wrong with them. This one works as advertised and really that's all that needs to be said about it! Immediately above the usual PSU housing there is room for a 90mm exhaust fan. I used this for a while but removed it to reduce the noise in the case - in its original build state I had 6 x 80mm fans and the 90mm, and it was just too loud for my liking, so the 90 has now gone. In addition I have a switched fanbus waiting for installation which will bring the levels down even further. Of course if you decide you don't need the 90mm fan then you have space available to pop in a second PSU if you so desire - this is an idea I'm toying with although my system really doesn't need it to be honest (but there again do I really need a pair of 1GHz processors, 1GB of RAM, and 100GB of drive space...)

The interior of the Dragon is pretty standard fare for an enthusiast's case these days. That's not to say there's anything wrong with it, rather that for a case to be well thought out and put together is less exceptional now than it used to be. In this case you don't get a removable motherboard tray, but there's so much room to work in that it's by no means a problem. The only very minor difficulty I had was when I managed to drop one of the last screws when I was fixing my VP6 - following Murphy's Law to the letter this little swine managed to lodge itself behind the motherboard, and so some gentle shaking was required until it decided to reappear. There are plenty of spaces provided for stand-offs so a variety of different motherboards can be accommodated. Unlike with the Lian-Li PC7 clearance between the backs of the hard disks and the edge of the mobo was not an issue - just one of the benefits of going for the full tower option.

System installation

Just out of interest here's what the case swallowed up (with plenty of room to spare):

Abit VP6 motherboard
1 GB Crucial PC133 RAM (yes, some of still haven't progressed to DDR!)
Twin Pentium III 933s mildly overclocked to 1001MHz, Taisol coolers
Hercules Prophet II GeForce 2 GTS
Realtek NIC
Twin 30GB IBM Deskstars in RAID 0 configuration
Single 40GB IBM Deskstar in removable hard drive rack
Creative 52x CD-ROM
Trimaxx 200 combined DVD and CD-RW
Digital Doctor 3
Akasa silver braided IDE cables
Generic floppy drive
Generic 350W power supply unit

 Installation proved to be an acid test as usual. I didn't find any sharp edges whilst delving around inside the case, everything has been nicely finished and rounded off to prevent you from getting blood all over your hardware (messy, and doesn't match well with the blue panels anyway). As I said earlier there's a host of bits and pieces still waiting to be added, including a HighSpeedPC switched fanbus, Tweakmonster blue light-strips, some very natty Cyber Cooler blue LED clear case fans, and a Leadtek Winfast TV and FM tuner card - expect reviews of all these items over the coming weeks!

I put the twin 30GB Deskstars into one of the two hard drive cages available. Both these have a plastic clip-in fan holder built into their front end, so your disks will stay nice and cool, and are held in place with the usual simple but effective Chieftec latching mechanism. The 3.5" external bay is held in place with a pair of captive thumbscrews, and then draws out of the front of the case.

 
Motherboard tray 3.5" internal cage
3.5" external bay 5.25" drive rails
 

Another feature I've only ever seen in Chieftec cases is the 5.25" drive retention mechanism. Rather than fixing the drives directly to the case structure as you normally do, Chieftec provide a set of drive rails. These screw onto the sides of your 5.25" devices, and you then slide the whole unit into its bays until it clicks positively into place. The great advantage of this system is that if you want to change things around for whatever reason you just squeeze the protruding sprung ends of the rails and slide out the drive, there's no need to remove both sides of the case and then unscrew everything. Another simple but effective idea.

 

Final thoughts...

And so before we know it we've come to the end of another review; the infamous bottom line, and the $64,000 question - is this case worth parting with your hard earned cash for? Ultimately that's down to you of course, dear reader, but I believe that the Dragon DA-01 will be home for the main RipNet-UK rig for some time to come. It has stacks of space for expansion (must think of something else to put in there!), good airflow, room for a twin PSU set-up if required, and plenty of scope for some case mods in the future. Lots of thoughtful little features all add up to make it a pleasure to work with and use, such as the fan holders and 5.25" drive rails. The colour and the shape of the front panels are superb, and the very well finished window panel allows you to sit back and admire all the hardware you've lovingly fused together. Surely your computer should be a joy to look at as well as a pleasure to use?! About the only real negative I could come up with since I've been using this case is the lack of air filters on the inlets, and I'm working on a remedy for that. So all in all the Chieftec Dragon DA-01 is thoroughly recommended if you're in the market for a full tower with that little bit more...


Chieftec Dragon DA01-BLD Full Tower Case

Date: 01.05.2002

Introduction

Over the past year or so, we've seen an influx of mid tower cases from various manufacturers all over the world. Whether it's the normal steel construction or the lighter aluminium version, mid towers are slowly widening the gap between them and full tower cases. Athough having a much smaller physical size than their full tower counterparts, some boast similar or close specifications and working space that is all so essential to the hardcore end-users like the modders and overclockers. But for some, a mid tower however can never replace a full fledge tower case and that's why there are still folks out there who swears by them. Full towers are also the case of choice for the extreme water-cooling freaks to build a self-contained water-cooled rig with pumps, reservoirs, etc all installed within the case itself. The only problem is that the full tower market seems to be moving at a very slow crawl, with nothing much coming out in terms of new design as compared to the mid tower sections of the market. Honourable mentions in the full tower arena are AOpen with their HX08 and HQ08 series, InWin with their Q500/600 series, Addtronics with their 68xx and 78xx series and a handfull of other OEM and generic case manufacturers.

  

One of the companies that's making headway is Chieftec. Based on their proven mid tower designs made popular by Antec and Alienware, they basically increased the height and expansion on it and made the full tower versions. We folks here in Singapore have had the honour of owning one of their cases thru the good people over at Eclipse Enterprise and today, we're gonna take a look at the Blue Dragon Full Tower Case. We have reviewed the mid tower versions before right here and here, and also used them in a couple of projects like Project Tivoli and Project DiceBox, so we're interested to see what this full tower case can offer that the mid tower can't. So before we go any further, let's take a look at the specs, straight from Eclipse.

Specifications

Dimensions

  • With Door: 475mm(D) x 205mm(W) x 670mm(H)
  • Without Door: 475mm(D) x 205mm(W) x 670mm(H)

Material

  • High-quality 1.00mm SECC
    with rounded edges for added safety during installation

Drive bays

  • 14 bays
    • External: 6x 5.25" bays, 2x 3.5" bays
    • Internal: 6x 3.5" bays

Fan bays with clipon fan mount design

  • Total fan capacity: 5 x 80mm, 1 x 92mm
    • 3 Front 80mm intake,
    • 2 Rear 80mm output
    • 1 Rear 92mm output (above PSU)

Powersupply options

  • Height clearance for ATX & Redundant PSU

Net/Gross Weight

  • Approximately 15/16kg (w/o PSU)

Certification and compatibility

  • Intel & AMD Dual processors approved chassis
  • Fits standard ATX m/b and 12x13 ATX-E XEON m/b
  • Seven standard ATX expansion slots

Special features

  • Large ventilated area for optimal airflow
  • Clipon fan mounts design
  • EZ drive rails for easy 5.25" device installation
  • Swing out side panel with functional handle and lock
  • Detachable 3.5" internal drive bays
  • Grounding shield for Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI)
  • Lockable front door for added security (door model only)

A closer look.....

Typical of a full tower case, these models from Chieftec is one heavy customer at 16kg w/o PSU! A PSU will probably add a couple more kilograms to the overall weight. Approved for use with both Intel and AMD systems, the case will fit any standard ATX motherboard and even ATX-E Xeon Processors motherboards as well. It spots the same cooling vents design with the mid tower siblings, the two 80mm exhaust fan spots and also the easy access side panel with the lockable handle. It also includes an extra 80mm cooling fan on the side panel, a feature only found on the new models of the Chieftec cases. A standard ATX I/O Plate is also provided together with the case. Only thing it lacks here is a PSU, but I'm pretty sure most of ya would've gone out and grab an Enermax, Antec or any other PSU unit with it. :O) There's also a 92mm exhaust fan port at the back of the case, above the PSU location. take note that you can turn the plate around and switch the location of the PSU and fan port. Or of course, you can mod that extra fan port to install a second PSU maybe.

  

And just like the mid tower counterpart, the full tower version is available both with and without the 5.25" bays lockable door. But unlike the mid tower version, the Power and Reset buttons are situated on the outside and not inside where it will not be accessible once the door is closed and locked. Something to think about if you plan to use the case for a server system. Other than that, the size of the buttons are comfortable enough and the Power and HDD LEDs are situated on either side of the Reset button, although they're really screaming for a Blue/White combo!!. The door conceals the 6 5.25" drive bays and 2 3.5" drive bays. But there's still more expansion in there! 6 x 3.5" drive bays awaits you in the inside!! That's a total of 14 drive bays! Enough even for the most demanding user! Some full towers can't even match that! Now that we've seen the exterior, let's see the interior and what kind of accessories the case comes with.

 

Accessories & Getting Inside

The case comes with pretty much the basic accessories for the user to get started. No power cord is provided as the case do not come with a PSU. You will find the mandatory pack of screws and motherboard stand-offs, two sets of keys for the front door and side panel and also 6 pairs of drive rails for the 5.25" drive bays. Having used a lot of cases before, I still favour the rail type mountings for the 5.25" drives. It makes it much easier for you to install/remove your drives.

Removing the side panel just requires ou to undo a couple of larger than average thumbscrews. Once that's done, pull on the handle and remove the side panel. I would've love to see thumbscrews on both side panels though. Once inside, you'll find vast amount of working space within the case, something even the normal PC enthusiasts will appreciate. Imagine all the things you can stuff in there.... water reservior, radiators, tons of CCs, fans, etc... heheh! You get the idea! Like all Chiectec cases, you ain't gonna find a removable motherboard tray, but with all that space available, it wouldn't be a problem with installation and maintenance.

 

In order to install your 5.25" drive bays, you will first need to remove the metal plate covers thats stamped onto the case structure. Before you do that, you'll have to remove the front bezel. Unilke their mid tower counterparts, the front bezel of the full tower is a two-piece design, like a two piece swimsuit! :oP There are two levers on each side of the top part of the bezel. Push them in and pull the top bezel away from the case. Then push the bottom part of the bezel downwards and it will disengage the locking tabs and you can then pull it away from the case structure. With all that parts removed, what's left is the trademark Chieftec durable and strong case structure. This case can really take a beating! But don't be fooled... although its' strong as an ox, the case is built with safety of the user in mind as well. The edges of the metal are nice folded so you wouldn't cut yourself during installation or maintenance work.

 

You will see that all the 5.25" drive bays are covered with the metal covers. Prying it off with a plier shouldn't take you long. Just be careful of the sharp edges of the metal stamp covers. (the only thing that's sharp in the case!) It wouldn't be too hard for Chieftec to exclude them altogether now would it? I mean, most of us would probably be using all the available drive bays anyway. Once you've done that, you can fix the front bezel back to their original positions and begin with the installation. Another thing worth mentioning is the paintwork. I've read a couple reviews on the case stating that the paint is rough/coarse and it scratches easily. I got to agree that yes, the paint does scratches easily if you're not careful. I guess most coloured/painted case do scratches easily. But I haven't known a guy who has nothing better to do than scratches the paintwork of a case! LOL! But as far as the paintwork being rough, I'll have to disagree. Those of you having the normal beige counterparts will notice the "orange-peel' texture on the case, but that's not the case with this blue beast. The paintwork is nice and smooth, the same for the silver coloured version.

Installation

I'm very sure most of ya would skip this part. How hard could it be to put the hardwares into the case aight? Heheh! But for the benefit of the newbies out there or for someone who have not used this case before, I'll show it to you once again! For floppy drive installation, you will need to mount the drive onto the 3.5" slot just below the 5.25" drive bays. The drive bay is removable from the case structure by removing two thumbscrews in the front of the case. Once you have got the floppy installed, just slide the drive bay back in.

 

Use the drive rails to install your 5.25" drives. Simply screw on the rails onto each side of your drives and then slide the whole assembly into the case from the front. The metal spring clip will lock itself onto the case and you're done. Motherboard installation is also pretty much straight forward. Mount the brass motherboard stand-offs on the appropriate locations on the tray and you're ready to mount your motherboard into the case.

  

For hard drives installation, use any two of the removable drive cages in the bottom front of the case. The cages also has an 80mm fan mont located in the front so that you can mount a fan there to help cool your hard drives. But due to the presence of the fan clips, the hard drive would be protruding out of the drive cage and over some motherboards. Could a problem for some but might not for others.

 

The case also has a PSU rest plate installed but it does present a little problem for owners of PSU with an extra cooling fan like the Enermax. The grill from the extra 92mm cooling fan comes in contact with the rest plate and prevents the proper installation of the PSU. Not such a big problem as the rest plate can be easily removed. If you like, you can turn the PSU mounting plate around and have the PSU installed at the upper half but then the Enermax 92mm cooling fan would be facing upwards instead.... :^) The pictures below shows exactly where the rest plate is coming into contact with the PSU.

 

 

Cooling

Cooling is one of the main areas I personally look at when I'm out looking at buying a new case. With all the hardwares inside running at insane speeds, stock or overclocked, it's important to have a constant supply of cold air into the case and also an efficient way of removing all the heat generated. The mid tower Chieftec cases generally have a well-thought out and well-balanced stock cooling system, with two 80mm fan spots in the front bringing in cool air into the case and also cooling the hard drives and two exhaust fan spots in the rear, removing all the heat within the case. With this full tower version, it has a little more cooling prowess. 3 x 80mm fan spots in front of the case bring the cool air in, plus a single 80mm fan spot on the side panel.

 

The fan is situated to blow cool air directly onto the video card position and this fan spot was first seen on the Alienware KoolMaxx™ Video Cooling System. Of course, we modders are the ones they got the idea from right? Here yay! Here yay! And like its mid tower siblings, two 80mm fan spots are situated at the rear of the case to remove the heat. In addition to that, an extra 92mm fan spot is also added, providing another exhaust spot for heat from the 5.25" drives and hot air trapped near the top of the case. All in all, the case has a rather well-balanced airflow system to ensure your precious hardwares inside runs well and cool.

  

 

Mods Possibilities

We wouldn't leave out this part of the review now would we? Heheh! For starters, if you plan on using the 92mm fan spot at the top of the case, you might wanna lose that stamped grill and add your own chrome fan grill or Laser-Cut grills. Or if you plan on installing a second power supply, you can cut out the same shape opening as the one below it to for your second PSU. That second PSU can be used to power up your fans or any water-cooling accesories you might have. Pumps and what-not.

There's also a lot of working space at the top of the case for a chimney or even two chimney fans to help remove the heat from there. Since there's a considerable amount of space between the top and PSU (even when the PSU plate is inversed), you can put a standard 38mm thick 120mm fan at the top without worrying about the fan interfering with the PSU. Since we're in the topic of adding fans to this case, that puny 80mm side panel fan just don't cut it when it comes to cooling your brand new GeForce 4 now would it? :O) A dual fan configuration will not help help cool that beast better, but at the same time, bring in more cool air onto the motherboard and case interior in general.

 

Let your modding imagination run wild with this case peeps! More blowholes, windows, LED mods, etc... :O)

Conclusion

The mid tower Chieftecs has made it's mark with their mid tower cases, made popular by the likes of Antec and Alienware. And their full tower line carries on that tradition. Construction wise, the case is well-built and sturdy enough to stand the test of rigorous everyday use, or the testings done by you! :O) *whirrr! hears the Dremel spinning up!* The metal edges are nicely folded so as not to expose any sharp edges that could hurt you during installation or maintenance. 6 x 5.25" and 8 x 3.5" drive bays will certainly satisfy even the most demanding user among us. The abundance of working space is another welcomed feature for those who likes to swap hardwares ever now and then and for the watercooling freak, it's just heaven-sent! I believe every part of your watercooling rig will fit in the case with no problems at all. If you're not into watercooling but still wants good cooling for your rig, the case does not disappoint. With 7 stock fan locations/cages, your hardwares will stay cool and runs smooth... with the fans installed of course! :oP Like it's mid tower siblings, the lockable side panel and front door prevents unwanted access from nosy friends and relatives! Heheh! Another nifty feature is the drive rails for your 5.25" drives and also the removable 3.5" drive cages. These helps in the installation of your drives and does not require you to remove the other side panel of the case.

Pros

  • High quality material
  • Well-built and sturdy
  • Folded/rolled edges
  • Lots of expansion bays
  • Plenty of room for installation and maintenance
  • Lockable side panel/front door for security
  • Lots of room for cooling/mods
  • Also available in Beige, Black and Silver

Cons

  • One Heavy mutha!
  • No PSU included
  • Paint scratches easily
  • No motherboard tray
  • HDD protrudes from drive cage, might be problem for some. (subjective)
  • No fan filters

If you're in the market for a full tower, I suggest you put this case in your list, if not at the top of theat list! Costing at S$230, it's not cheap but then again, all good things seldom comes at a cheap price. Whether you're planning it for a server or just personal use, the Chieftec Dragon Full Tower will not dissappoint. I would like to thank the good people over at Eclipse Enterprise for providing the case and if you peeps here in Singapore wants to grab one for yourself, head on down any one of the Authorised Dealers listed on Eclipse Enterprise Website.


Chieftec - Dragon DX-01SLD

Date: 20.11.2001

 

Introduction

Ever since I started modding and overclocking, I have admired the Antec case and always dreamed of owning one. But because of other products and lack of time, I never got round to a final purchase. But as soon as I saw the Silver chieftec branded version on Overclock.co.uk, I could do nothing but enter my credit card details. After a delay in the shipment my anxiousness was growing exponentially. When it finally arrived I was not dissapointed. Lets have a look at why....

The case was well packaged and Overclock had sealed the case up with their own branded tape. Trying to take the case out of the box wasn't they easiest, as this bad boy is HEAVY !! But this is made up by the build quality which is excellent. In side you get a box of hardware (screws etc) which is plenty to go round the most securely mounted motherboard and as many drives as you can fit, with more to spare. Also in the box were a second set of keys for the locks, so I should have quite a challenge on my hands if I was to loose all 4 !

On The Outside

Looking around the case you can see this case did not miss out in the style department at birth. It looks tasty and the silver finish makes it look god like among the measily beige models. The case boosts a drive bay door, which helps hide any ugly beige drives you may have. This is a subtle approach which gives it that designer look.

The back panel provides all your usual slots and holes, with an additional 2 spaces for 80mm exhaust fans. The PSU plate has a removable panel so you can turn it 180 degrees in order to match the design of your PSU.

On the underside we can see the four movable feet. These give it a nice sturdy stance on all surfaces and also make it easier to transport.

The side panel offers some additional features which arent included on most cases. The first is a panel handle. This allows you to keep the panel locked in a secure position without the use of the three additional screws. To perfectly support this feature is a key lock which stops people accessing the inside of the case even when the screws are removed. This makes it more secure than your average case and is a nice extra feature I found as i9 ! These coloured models also include a side mounted 80mm fan with a very stylish grill. The fan is rather noisy, but I will look at that more later.

Front Panel

Looking more closely at the front bezel we can see an additional locking mechanism so you can secure the front door with a key. Again another feature I found especially handy at i9 ! I will point out the main benefit of this in a minute.

The front bezel is easy to remove, simply unclip the 6 plastic latches and it is away. But it does require the removal of the far side panel - unless you have REALLY long spider like fingers. Inside the front panel are the power and reset switches, which are black in colour and suite the case well. The leds are for hdd and power, and the normal orange / green combination. But looking inside the front panel you can see that they are 3mm leds in led holders. So only a 2 second job to change (which I did straight away !!)

Looking more closely at the front bezel we can see the quality of the paint job. This I was quite dissapointed with as they had not made the effort to get into all the gaps, and looking at the bay panels you can see that they only painted the front whilst the back is still beige - yuck ! This could have been done much better, and a few coats of laquer wouldn't have gone a miss - you'll see why in the upcoming Silver Dragon Modding Article.

Going in !!

Opening up the case - with the aid of the smart handle, you can immediately see there is plenty of space to work in. The second thing you notice is that unfortunately there is no removable motherboard tray, but this isnt really a problem as there is plenty of space and the two hdd caddies can be removed, by the flick of a switch - a feature rubjonny feel in love with !! - dont ask ! These racks are really useful, each can take upto 3 3.5" devices, with 2 having openings in the front of the case e.g. for floppy drives. The second rack has a bracket so you can mount an 80mm fan to keep those hard disks nice and kewl.

Drive Rails

Another nice feature that this case offers for normal users is that you screw 5 1/4" drives to a set of drive rails, which makes it possible to slide them in and out simply by pressing in the two clips at the side once mounted. This can be a problem if you are trying to fit anything but a cdrom drive as it does not provide normal screw holes. I have a Matrix-Orbital LCD display which takes up 2 drive bays and I have mounted it on 2 instead of 4 drive panels but it isnt really as stable as I would like. But then again it is in the case and I can remove it easily and there isnt really any chance of it falling out, so its just me casting my critical view. The spare drive rails can be stored in the base of the case so you do not loose them which is a very good feature.

Now to cooling.....

As I have mentioned before the case offers great cooling facilities. The front panel has room for a single 80m fan, together with another mounted at the front of the hdd rack. There are then two additional 80mm fan mounts in the back panel which gives a good through-put of air across the motherboard and processor. These fans are easily fitted. Simply remvoe the plastic bracket, clip the fan in and remount the bracket.

The additional side-panel fan on this model aids in keeping your pci/agp cards a little cooler. So if you are a real hardcore oc'er then sticking a full set of delta screamers in there would do some serious heat removal. The fan that comes as standard in the side panel is very loud so unless noise isnt an issue I suggest you replace it. With a set of average cfm 80mm evercools through out my Athlon 1000mhz ran idle at about 35° and maxed out about 40/42°. With no additional fans I found that slowly under constant 20/30% usage the temperatures slowly increased as there was not enough air flow to remove the heat build up. This I expect is due to the solid case structure. With the aid of a holesaw I believe that removing the built in fan grills would knock a few degrees off the temps as they are not the most air efficient.

Conclusion

So thats about it ! In conclusion, I would definately recommend this case to ANYONE without a doubt, as the features is boosts are excellent. The case offers great cooling options together with a spacy and easy to use mounting system. However the top panel is rivited on and the paint job is quite poor. The case is the tank of steel cases and I am sure it would withstand a world war of attacks on it. But this does show in weight department, as it is one of the heaviest I have used. This is not a shocker as it is classed as a server case and not a workstation. So overall if you want something with the looks of an aluminium case but with the features and price of a steel case, this is the puppy for you.

So this case scores a stylish 9/10

 


Dragon Series: DA-01WD ATX FULL TOWER CASE

Date: 12.02.2002

Introduction : Just before Christmas I decided it was time to replace the case I use on my personal system. The brief was fairly simple, I needed a full tower that was made to the highest quality at a sensible price. Of course one of the great advantages in running a hardware review site is that you get to play with a lot of stuff, and both through the site and through my work with PCs I have seen more than my fair share of cases both good and bad.
After mentally sorting the wheat from the chaff, one name kept cropping up on my shortlist and that was Antec, a company that produces cases fabled for their strength, quality and "modability". Although the case on the table today is badged up as a Chieftec case, it's still the same as those available through Antec and it appears they use a different distributor depending on the market.

In the end the name is an incidental, what it all comes down to is form and function, and that's what we're going to be looking at today.

The DA-01BD Black Dragon full tower cases is exactly the same as Antec's SX1240 full tower. This imposing case sports six external 5.25" bays and two 3.5" all hidden away behind a lockable door. It's built like the proverbial brick outhouse and though it isn't exactly dripping with features like front mounted USB and multimedia ports or chromed plastic trim, it remains in my opinion one of the best all round cases on the market today. Let's take a wander through the spec sheet before we move on.

 

 

 

Dimension: 470x 205x 670mm(DxWxH).
Drive: 6 x 5.25"+2 x 3.5"FDD+ 6 x 3.5"HDD.
Fits different size M/B, including 12"Wx 13"L XEON motherboard.
Optional 4 x 80mm cooling fans.
Optional side panel cooling fan.
Install PSII, PSII redundant or standard   redundant PSU.
Net/Gross Weight=15/16Kgs(w/o PSU).
20 feet/270 pieces , 40 feet/550 pieces.
PACKING:1 CTN/3.65'.

 

NO. ITEM Q'TY
1 SIDE PLATE 1
2 FRONT PANEL 1
3 PLASTIC DOOR 1
4 5.25" SLIDER 8
5 3.5" FDD CAGE 1
6 3.5" HDD CAGE 2
7 FAN HOLDER 4
8 I/O SHIELD 1
9 SLOT COVER 7
10 CARD GUIDE 1

A Closer Look :

The first thing I need to mention is that the Black Dragon isn't really black, not in the true sense of the word. It's more your typical charcoal hi-fi gray. This isn't a criticism as, for some reason, this lighter black coupled with the matt finish seems to stop your usual beige drives from looking quite so out of place.

The case stands at a shade over 26" high and is manufactured from 1.0mm SECC sheet steel. Despite its height it does feel surprisingly stable, probably due in part to its weight of around 39lbs. If you want to play safe, the Black Dragon comes with the same swing-out feet found on most of the Antec/Chieftec range. I've read in other reviews that these are easily broken but from my experience they're more than strong enough to do the job they're meant for.

All the external drive bays are hidden away behind a swing-out door panel. This isn't the strongest of structures feels as though it could be fairly easily damaged. That said, its purpose in life is to keep your drives away from prying eyes not protect you from incoming heat seeking missiles. The lock is a nice touch but it needs to be viewed as nothing more than a deterrent. If somebody wants this panel open they'll do it with relative ease, lock or not. Needless to say you get a couple of keys supplied with the case.
For those who's rather remove the panel completely, this is easily done by pressing on the tension mounted pivot. My only complaint would be that I'd have liked to see the door able to hinge from either side.

Just below the bottom of the door panel are the usual power and reset buttons and of course a power and HDD activity LED. The reset button is a nice size, easily pressed with a finger but not so easy to press by accident. It's also recessed slightly to minimise accidental pressing. Both the power and reset buttons feel responsive and have a reassuring "click" to them.

 

Either side of the front fascia is a release button. Pressing both buttons allows the fascia to be removed to gain access to the internal bays. The fascia locates using four guide pegs that in my opinion are a little too long as they tend to wedge when trying to remove the fascia. Once wedged it can be all to easy to snap at least one of them off if you're heavy handed.

On a security note, the left hand fascia release button can only be pressed with the side panel removed so if the side panel release is locked (covered later), it's not possible to remove the front fascia without using force.

 

 

 

With the front fascia removed it's a simple case of snapping off the required bay blank and slotting in your drive/s. The Black dragon uses drive rails which screw onto the sides of the drive and allow it to be easily slid into place.

Below the six 5.25" bays is the floppy drive cage. This nifty idea allows the cage to be removed simply by undoing two thumb screws. Once removed, installing your FDD is simplicity itself and certainly a damned site easier than trying to mess about screwing it into place from inside the case. The two thumb screws on the FDD cage are captive, that is they remain attached to the drive cage even when unscrewed which is particularly useful for people like me who could lose an elephant in a phone box

Just below the two thumb screws are the two release catches used for removing the lower fascia.

 

 

A Closer Look :

In addition to adding a little style, the front lower fascia is designed to offer impressive ventilation without being visible as a gaping hole. Looking at the front grill from a lower angle reveals just how much capacity there is for air to be drawn in unrestricted, an important feature as well discover when we take a look at the drive cages that sit right behind this grill.

 

Moving on to the back of the case gives an idea how much effort Chieftec have put into the cooling side of the design. Those two rear fan grills are impressive and should make for excellent airflow while at the same time keeping out stray objects like fingers and cables. As you can see, this case comes without a power supply which at one time was something I'd have griped about, but with the demands placed on the power supply increasing I'm now of the opinion that it's safer and wiser to specify your own power supply rather than hope the one supplied is worth having. Overclock do a good range of power supplies including a decent 340watt Chieftec unit for a more than reasonable £26.44 inc VAT.

Above the opening for the power supply is a vent for an additional 92mm fan or alternatively you can purchase a plate that allows for the fitting of a second power supply. I should mention that no case fans are supplied with this particular model which was a shame, but again these are available at the time of ordering. This aside, the back features the usual 7 expansion card slots and a colour coded I/O plate.

Another great feature of this and other Chieftec/Antec performance series cases is the quick release side panel. A side panel this size would probably need at least three or four screws to keep it firmly in place so to be able to remove the whole slab with a single pull on the release handle is a great advantage.

The handle itself also locks which not only stops removal of the side panel, it also stops removal of the front fascia which, as I mentioned earlier, can't be released with the side panel in place. As you'd expect with a side panel this size, it does flex a little once removed but considering its size and the fact that there's no structural braces on the back of it it remains surprisingly strong, testament to the thickness of the steel used. Notice also the vent design in the above picture, adding yet again to this case's ability to "breathe".

Okay, so that's the external features pretty much covered, let's open her up and step inside.

Internal Design :

Flip off the side panel and the first thing that hits you is the sheer volume of space at your disposal. You could probably install your system and still find room for your garden tools and a couple of bikes!

From top to bottom we have room for an impressive fourteen drives, six 5.25" at the top on drive rails, two 3.5" in the FDD cage and a further six 3.5" in the two cages slung below. There's room in there for a 12"x13" Xeon board should you want one.

At the back you can see the two blue snap-in fan mounts, these are a great design as they allow 80mm fans to be literally pushed into place with the minimum of hassle and because they clip at the side of the fan there's nothing to obstruct the fan's efficiency. To the bottom right is one of the front fan mounts and a card steady for use with full length expansion cards.

I've knocked cases in the past for using large cross-bracing that cuts the case in half because on many mid tower cases this is a cheap and easy way to strengthen an otherwise flimsy design but with a full tower case there's really no alternative but to do it. Fortunately, rather than just slam in a rectangular slab of steel, Chieftech have contoured it to help keep the moving internally and to make sure the power supply has a constant feed of fresh air from below.

From this angle you can see the circular guides along the top of which the drive rails slide. You can see the back of the FDD cage at the bottom.

Below you can see a closer look at the front fan mount (A), the full length card steady (B) and another welcome feature, the quick release levers for the two 3.5" drive cages (C). Simply pushing on the lever allows the whole cage to be slid out of its cradle so you can work on installing your drives in comfort. The two cages are located towards the outside of the case meaning that, within reason, they should slide out comfortably even with your motherboard and memory installed without fouling it. The locking/release mechanism is very simple but does the job perfectly and feels secure when locked. Notice also that the internal edges are all nicely rounded, I realise that red PCB's are all the rage at the moment but I'd rather they were bought that colour than happen as a result of a gushing wound acquired while working on my system.

Once the 3.5" drive cage is removed, you see where the other two front fan mounts are located. At the front of each of the two cages are two additional snap-in 80mm fan mounts to help keep those hot running drives in step. These can be removed if you'd sooner not use them.

Internal Design :

Another quality touch is the way the same large opening grills have been used behind each of the two drive cages to maximise air flow over your drives. It would have been so easy for Chieftec to just drill a few evenly spaced holes for this task, but again we see they've gone the extra mile in the name of quality.

All in all the internal design of this case is excellent and given the task of creating a full tower case that's both easy to work with, solid and yet stylish, I'm not sure how things could have been done much better on the whole.

System Installation :

As you'd expect from a case of this size, system installation was a stroll in the park, in fact you almost feel as though you could climb inside to get to the fiddly bits. The tapped holes for the supplied brass standoffs were bang on the money in their placement, the drives slid in on their rails and locked with a reassuring "snap" as the spring clips located and the fans clicked into their holders with a gentle push. The only thing you may need to give some thought to is the length of your IDE cables. For drives fitted at the very top of the case you may find your standard cables aren't quite long enough but this holds true for just about all full tower cases.

Your love or hate of the case your using often stems from your initial experiences while fitting the components, struggle for hours to get things aligned and chances are you're going to hold a grudge against that case for the rest of its days, but when things go smoothly first time, as they did with the Black Dragon, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing you spent wisely.

Even in the bottom of the case the space has been used wisely. Here you'll find room to store all your spare drive rails, well eight of them at least. It might not seem like a useful feature but with draws crammed to the hilt with spare PC parts and general junk, I'm happier knowing my rails are here than buried at the bottom of said drawer.

And finally the finished job. The beige drives still look a little alien in a black case but they look less obvious than they did with, for example, the high gloss black finish on the Soldam case I reviewed some time back. Speaking of finishes, one concern I had before this case arrived was that Chieftec had taken a standard beige case and added a quick coat of black to it. This I'm glad to say isn't the case. The finish is the same high quality application as is found on the beige cases and although any paint-on-metal finish can be scratched, I'm no more concerned about the durability of the Black Dragon's paintwork than I would be with any other high quality beige case.

Conclusion :

For some people looks are everything, and a poor quality case that looks cool will take their money every time. These people are probably not going to be won over by the Black Dragon because although it's by no means an ugly case, it doesn't have the chromed buttons, mirrored panels and cosmetic niceties you can find elsewhere.
For the enthusiast, their cases are often seen as friends. They tend to have a fondness for certain makes and certain features that only that particular brand may offer and this is probably why Antec/Chieftec cases have such a loyal following amongst the case modders and enthusiasts out there.
What the Black Dragon offers is a no-nonsense workhorse that does just about everything right. From its cooling to its general quality this case is as good as anything I've used before it and cheaper than a lot of it. The construction quality is first rate and it's this basic strength that makes these cases so popular for modding, you know you can fit a good selection of blow holes and a side window without weakening it to the point that it's about as much use as a one legged man in an ass kicking competition.
I'd love to see this case range brought up to date, it's remained unchanged now for a few years, and much as I believe in the adage that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", I think that the addition of a couple of front mounted USB ports would at least bring it in line with what other manufacturers are doing.

Despite these moans, I still think this and its Antec equivelants represent some of the best value cases on the market today, and what they lack in frills they make up for in solid and efficient design and build quality. For those who value functionality above all else, this is a case unlikely to disappoint.


Antec SX1030B File Server Case (Chieftec Dragon DX-01BD)

There comes a time for every user when upgrading just the components of their computer is no longer good enough. As we accumulate more hard drives, and more CD burners we begin to run out of places to put everything. On the flip side, the mid-towers which used to be good enough for any slot one PIII or Athlon are now cramped, both because many of them placed the powersupply overtop of the processor, and because it was rare they came with more than three 5.25" bays.

With the six month's expiry of my Windows 98SE system (Win98 just seems to die after six months for some reason), it was time for a reinstall, and an upgrade of components. Rather than drop my nice new motherboard and processor into the dusty no-name case I have been using for the last three years, I went out and picked up a black Antec SX1030B full tower case for about $180CDN. That is a lot of money to spend on a case from anyone's perspective, but it is a lot less than the flashy Lian Li cases which retail from around $300CDN. Looking at the shelves of cases at the store I had a choice between no-name beige cases which would get the job done, toy-like mid towers with lots of fake chrome, and flashy aluminum cases that are like some kind of geek status symbol.

The Antec cases (black or beige) were on the pricier side, but I'd read a half dozen good reviews of them, and seen some pretty cool mods that people had done, so I chose that case.

 

Before buying the SX1030B I checked to make sure it had two useable floppy bays (I have a FDD and Zip) and a removeable IO plate. I recently bought a Soyo Dragon P4S and it uses a non-standard port configuration so this was actually quite important. With only three 7200RPM drives and a m478 P4 destined to go in the case I really wasn't too concerned with how many case fans it had, but it was a nice extra regardless.

The Antec SX1030B has two case exhausts located directly behind the processor area, and two intakes situated in the front of the case, one at the very bottom, and the other just in front of the bottom hard drive caddy (for cooling hard drives). Antec ship the case with two exhaust fans, and leave it up to you if you want to buy and install two 80mm fans in the front.

Installation of Hardware

Removeable motherboard trays can be good things if they are really simply designed. We've seen our share of incredibly complicated and difficult to use removeable motherboard trays, and an equal amount of simple methods. Are they really that great? Well it depends on how many cases you are working with frankly. For users who are just installing their own computer I think you can work quite easily with a case that has a fixed motherboard tray - as long as it is not to tight inside.

The Antec has a fixed tray and as the powersupply is mounted above the motherboard area it was pretty easy to install the mainboard. However the edge of the case above the expansion card slots is not recessed so the screw driver did have to go in at a bit of an angle to install the video card and such. That area could stand to be improved if Antec ever release future revisions of the case.

Installing hard drives is another matter entirely. I found their removeable hard drive caddies or racks so straight forward and easy to drop in or pull out that I'm amazed more case manufacturers aren't using similar systems. The catch level is big and easy to engage or disengage, and the frames the caddies slide into are designed in such a way that with the video card installed you can still remove it easily - and without knocking into the AGP card. Only one of the 3.5" racks of which there are two, each holding three devices, comes equipped with a removeable bracket for installing a 80mm cooling fan. This fan also serves as one of the intake fans for the case should you desire a little extra case pressurization.

I removed the bracket however because it made the hard drives stick out a little too far and I didn't want them so tight up against the video card I was using.

Curiously, the 300Watt P4 compatible power supply which Antec include with this case has a difficult time reaching the bottom-most IDE devices in the lower HDD caddy. You would have thought Antec would have measured the distances and extended the molex power cables by another inch or so, rather then leaving them so tight.

Four 5.25" Bays with quick release slides

I have never been too much of a fan of the sliding 5.25" bay mounts for the very fact that you still have to screw the mounts into the side of the device using the correct mounting holes. For some reason I always tend to pick the wrong holes and the CD-ROM or whatever either sticks out too far, or is recessed. There is however no option with the Antec SX1030B to use any other mounting method. The 5.25" are set up exclusively for use with the plastic bay slides which are conveniently stored in a special bracket on the floor of the case so they don't get lost.

Drives can quickly be pulled in and out from the front of the case without having to remove the front bezel. This may seem like a given, but there are a lot of cases out there which use bay slides that inconceivably still require you to remove the front bezel before you can access them!!

Unfortunately, the large holes on the front of the case you place your fingers into to release the clips allow both dust to be sucked in, and noise to exit the case.

Incidentally, the drive bay knockouts come out very easily, with no tools necessary.

Dust Protection Just isn't There

Speaking of dust, while there are twin exhaust fans, and the option for dual intakes there is no mechanism to filter any of that air for dust control. For a case that calls itself a "SOHO File Server" that is a bit disappointing. There is a quick fix if you can stand going down to the hardware store and picking up a small fiberglass air filter like the kind used in gas furnaces. These should be pretty inexpensive to get, costing maybe $6 or so. Measure and cut a small section of the fiberglass to fit over the two intake fans and hold it in place by sandwiching it between the front bezel and metal frame.

As the venting on the Antec SX1030B is spaced well, and the fiberglass filter is made for high airflow environments this little "tweak" shouldn't have too much of an impact on the overall cooling characteristics of the case, and will help to keep out those large, mean dust bunnies.

Access Control

Maintaining control over who can and can't gain access to your computer parts and data is both a blessing and a weak point of the Antec SX1030B. The side lock which prevents users from removing the side panel works well enough, but the front lock on the 5.25" drive bay cover is pretty much useless. The lock on this swing out panel is located at the lower corner and doesn't do much to hold the door closed. If you seriously think it will prevent even the slackest of people from mischievously getting into your drive bays think again.

The door does do a nice job aesthetically, and gives the case those clean lines that keep cluttered computer rooms somehow looking neat and tidy and 'professional'.

As we briefly mentioned, the side panel uses a small lock to prevent a handle from releasing. While the side panel does uses two screws to hold it in place, the quick release door latch is what stops the panel from falling off. To open the door users need only pull on the handle slightly the entire side panel swings open. This has got to be one of the nicest points of the Antec SX1030B and makes getting into the case so easy that you'll end up wishing Antec would sell retrofits for the rest of your white box cases!

Rounding out the case

Rounding out the other little features that you won't probably base case buying decisions on, but will grow to enjoy are fold out feet for stability, a recessed reset button, and a raised power button (makes reaching around the case to power down simple because you can feel where the button is), and a full compliment of expansion port slot covers.

The case comes with a 300W Antec power supply which is P4 compatible, a power cord, some keys for the locks, and a small armada of screws, brass stand-offs and more screws.

The Antec SX1030B fairs very good overall on the two fronts that all cases should be concerned with. Installation of hardware is easy and access is for the most part unobstructed by oddly placed component systems.All edges on the inside of the case are folded over, and we remarkably didn't slice our hands up even a little bit installing the gear. On the outside the SX1030B just looks good. The front venting is actually useful for airflow, and the 5.25" drive bay cover gives the computer a clean look, as none of the beige CD-ROM's are likely to standout.

With a new P4 system inside the case, I have noticed one not too great difference between this, and my old PIII 600 system. The Antec case is a lot more noisy. While most of this is purely a result of the video card fan, northbridge fan, and processor fan, the large and cavernous Antec (I unplugged the case fans almost immediately because of the extra noise they produced) seems to amplify, or at the very least reverberate the sound.

With large intake and exhaust ports cut into the 1mm thick steel sheet metal the case is constructed from the noise on the inside easily escapes to the outside where it is definitely not welcome.

Suffice to say, I have already tracked down some acoustic insulation and will be sound proofing this case in due time (hint: stay tuned for a guide on how it was done).

All things considered, the Antec SX1030B is a really good case, save for the five or so things we didn't especially like. At a retail price of around $180CDN it is a higher end case than most of us are used to, but it gets the job done admirably, and at a much lower price than that of the Aluminum cases out there today. Sound remains the only issue for me with this case, and because it has more to do with the components realistically than with noise escaping via large vents I can't really fault the case manufacturers for this. But, I think all case manufacturers should start designing cases with an eye towards noise suppression.

I would be really impressed the day I see a computer case come with not just a low-noise powersupply but also a full set of acoustic absorption matting, either as an add on kit, or preinstalled on the side panels. Something to think about anyway. :)

The Antec SX1030B supports up to (6) 3.5" devices, (4) 3.25" devices, and comes with two 80x80x25mm case fans and a 300W powersupply.

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  25 mars 2017
 

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