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Scan Windows 7

The best case on the market today?
Product : Coolermaster ATCS 200 Case
Available from : Scan
#Price : 222.08 (price includes VAT)
Related articles : [Globalwin 802]-[Juno P6]-[Powercase Oblivion]
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Introduction

A case to many is just a box in which computer components are housed. However to the informed user or computer etthuast it is something that is as important as the computer itself. Recently case modifications have been popular with overclockers/power users, either by drilling blow holes on the side panels of their cases, installing viewing panels with neon lights, or just painting the case a different colour to the usual beige.

All of these "home made" modifications are usually very well made and a lot of effort is put in, however here we have a case which is simply stunning to look at without the need for any modifications. The ATCS 200 doesn't come in a standard beige colour, it has blow holes, and has more fans pre-installed than you can shake a stick at.

First impressions

Once you open the box and remove the packaging, it doesn't take a genius to realise that this is no ordinary case (I suppose the price of it tells you that too). The extra-ordinary amount of detail that has been put into this case shows from the start, right to the outside down to the thumbscrews (which are provided). The front has a very smart looking polished aluminium finish, and the rivets used to hold the black aluminium panel which borders the 5.25" drive bays is in a gold colour (We aren't exactly sure if they are actually gold plated, but they still have a nice finish to them). The side panels are a discrete grey colour, which compliment the front aluminium panel. Even though the front is aluminium the whole case has an air of discretion to it, and it doesn't use the "in your face" colours like the Juno P6.

#Coolermaster intend this case to be used by people that feel spending over 200 on a case is worth it, only if they get good quality and good performance. In the quality department they certainly succeed, and they have tried to make the case functional as well as making it nice to look at.

Underneath the skin

Coolermaster call this case a "Value server case", and there are several features that make it considerable as a low end server case. There are 6 hard drive bays which is quite a number more than tower cases we have reviewed in the past (the Juno P6 only has 2 hard drive bays), and two fans which suck air inside the case. This is not an ingenious idea, but it is very effective, and helps especially if you have high RPM SCSI drives, which are often to be found in servers.

The fans used to circulate air within the case are all 80mm in size and have been finished off very nicely by being fitted with chrome grills. You can really see the attention to detail Coolermaster has paid. Each fan has a hologram sticker with the company logo on, something you don't see in your run-of- the-mill case.

The fans are arranged so that there is one "chimney" fan at the top, one exhaust fan, and two fans which are positioned in front of the hard disk rack. The chimney fan has the hole cut out of the top panel, however Coolermaster has gone for a discrete, and different approach. Rather than a round blow hole, they have made a flush finish with the case.

While there are so many fans within the case, Coolermaster has put a huge filter in front of the two fans that suck air into the case. This means that the air that is filtered without dust. I have seen many filters that don't do a very good job, like the one that comes with the Globalwin 802 case, however in the near 2 months we have been testing this case, the inside has been almost dust-less. There is no accumlated dust on the underside of the fan fins and fans that don't have in-grained dust work more efficiently.

One of the main advantages of using 80mm case fans rather than the more powerful 120mm variety is the noise factor. 80mm case fans make a considable difference in the noise levels, and if you are working for any length of time you will notice the difference between a 120mm and 80mm fan. Even though on average 80mm fans shift around 34 - 37 CFM and some of the high end 120mm fans shift over 100 CFM, the fans supplied in the Coolermaster produce a fair breeze.

Ambient temperature within the case was measured at several occasions, and even though there is a wide range of variables that affect the temperature, however there was very little difference between the Powercase Oblivion and the Coolermaster. On the face of it, it might sound like the Coolermaster case performed better, however we have to take into account the fact that the cases are of different sizes, and the Powercase does not have an exhaust or front mounted fan which sucks air into the case, instead it relies on the two 120mm YSTech fans which suck air in. These two fans together have over 250 CFM, however the fans are positioned strategically over the PCI/ AGP slots to cool those, while convention (and elementary physics) tells us that hot air rises, the air that does rise has been warmed up by coming into contact with the VGA card.

The air flow in the Coolermaster isn't 100% efficient either, with the two fans that suck air into the case are usually covered by hard disk drives. Hard drives aren't really aerodynamically designed, and so they are able have air flowing over them as efficient as a brick. As always, you have to look at btoh sides of the coin, and while the airflow into the case is hampered by the hard drives, if the hard drive rack wasn't there then you wouldn't be able to have the number of hard drives that you are allowed.

Conclusion

Coolermaster have made a case which is very desirable, but also out of the reach of many, due to it's high cost. As with many things in life, you do get what you pay for, and if you do decide to purchase this case, then you will not be disappointed in the level of detail and the finishing that Coolermaster has put on this case.

Coolermaster sell this case as a low end server case, however I find that while it has many #internal drive bays, and good cooling, very few people would spend over 200 which uses ATX form factor. People that are more serious about servers will go for the WATX form factor, but there are several other ATX cases which can do the job of housing a number of hard drives. We were taking a look back at the Globalwin 802, and we were still surprised at the number of drive bays there are. When you take into consideration the difference in cost between the Coolermaster ATCS #200 and the Globalwin 802, there is nearly a 200 difference, which, for this use (low end Server) I would not pay the extra to for the Coolermaster. Another factor is, why would anyone make such a beautiful case become a file server?

The main thing Coolermaster has to overcome is to justify the high price of the case, and while the price rules out many prospective case buyers, it does bring in the sort of people who really care about detail.