Reviewed by: Alan Wong
Edited by: Paul Mazzucco
Manufactured by: Ahanix
Provided by: Colorcase.com
Computer cases are hard to choose now-a-days. The last few years have given rise to cases with modded windows Ė a practice previously unheard of. Now itís a growing a trend to have a modded PC case with a side panel window. Add some rounded ATA cables, cold cathode lights, a few LED fans in addition to your standard PC components (motherboard, CPU, HDD, Optical Drives) and voilaÖ pretty soon you have a decked-out and modded case. With so many options available as to what can be done to a case, it is no wonder there are myriad cases from which to choose.
Choosing a windowed/modded case is not simple at all. You have to take into consideration color, style of window side panel (e.g., large window, butterfly logo, customized insignia, etc.), how many fan outlets, type of power supply, etc. An annoying "feature" some cases have is that, sometimes, the dull white/beige color of your optical drive doesnít match the color of your slick new case (take for example a beige CD burner and a shiny silver case). Doesnít it just gross you out, even just a little? With the help of ColorCase.com, we were able to choose arguably one of the best looking modded cases out there
THE CASE DID NOT COME WITH A POWER SUPPLY UNIT, SO PLEASE BE AWARE OF THAT IF YOU DECIDE TO BUY THIS PRODUCT. SORRY IF THIS IS ANNOYING, BUT SIMILAR MESSAGES LIKE THIS WILL BE SEEN TO ENSURE THAT CONSUMERS DONíT MISTAKENLY BUY THIS CASE EXPECTING A POWER SUPPLY.
Today, we take a look at the Ahanix dboX Silver. Just looking at the case might start to make your mouth water. The Ahanix dboX Silver has a Light Black/Grayish Black body with a slick silver front cover, which includes the unique silver CD bay bezels. The case has a large window side panel for those gamers/modders who like to mod their case with led fans, cathode lights, and other modding accessories.
The features of the Ahanix dBox are quite promising. The case has a side panel window, can hold up to 4 5.25" drives, 1 external 3.5 floppy, and 5 internal 3.5 drives. It has a thermometer which monitors the case temperature (and even shuts the computer down when it reaches 70oC) and even lets you control the speed of your fans via front panel buttons. *Note: In our testing, we purchased separately an Allied 400W Power Supply. THE CASE DID NOT COME WITH A POWER SUPPLY UNIT, SO PLEASE BE AWARE OF THAT.
Motherboard Support: Full ATX, Micro ATX, Flex ATX
Dimensions: 8" x 14" x 18.75" (Width x Height x Depth)
Weight: 17 lbs
Power Supply: None Included
Bays: 4 5.25" Bays
1 Exposed 3.5" Bay
6 Internal 3.5" Bays
Cooling System: 80mm Fan (For Exhaust)
120mm Fan (For Front Intake)
Expansion Slots: 7 Expansion Slots with Removable Covers
Case Material: Steel (Also comes in Aluminum)
Colors Available: Silver & Black (Also comes in Sony Blue & Silver and Whole Black)
Special Features: Thumbscrews
Built-in Thermometer on Front Panel (a.k.a. ICB)
Fan Speed Adjustment via Front Panel
Alarm built into case to ensure no overheating
When I first received the box, I was quite surprised. Usually, most cases that you buy come in those rough surfaced brown boxes and sometimes donít even have the brand name and/or the companyís contact information. The Ahanix box came clearly labeled with photographs and illustrations printed on it. Although it doesnít prove much about the case, it does give you an impression that the company has a little prestige.
The packaging was good. There are Styrofoam boards on the front and rear panel of the case and Styrofoam holsters for the top and bottom part of the case. The whole case was wrapped in a bag and the side panel had plastic wrapping to protect the window from scratches and the sort. All in all, the packaging was standard and pretty good.
Included inside the case was a small instructions manual on how to configure the ICB (Integrated Chipset Board), including how to set up the thermal sensors, and how to set the fan speed. A bag of various screws and washers were included as well. Ahanix generously offered an extra CD bay bezel, allowing users to cover up to 3 drives without having to buy an extra bezel.
CD Bay Bezels:
One of the first things that caught my eye when I took the case out of the box was the silver CD Bay bezels. These bezels are used to stealth the optical drives and have a pop-out panel where your CD tray pops out. These are primarily used to ensure that the optical drives are covered from the exterior and did not distort the slick look of the silver front panel. Unlike many CD Bay Doors that usually come with tower cases, the bezels help users gain instant access to their drives, just by the press of a button. Although bay doors do cover up drives, they sometimes are inconvenient to open in tight spaces and sometimes even annoying when you constantly use your optical drives and have to open the door every time to do so. That is why bezels are more convenient than bay doors. However, the thing that ticked me off was the fact that I was not able to put my Memorex DVD Burner into the top first 5.25" Drive Bay. It got stuck in between while I was sliding it in, and I looked to see what the cause was, but couldnít find out why, so I had to settle for the second spot (This may or may not happen for you). This doesnít mean that the CD Bay Bezel is wasted, because you can rearrange the bezels to whichever 5.25" bay you want it to cover. Also, be sure that your optical drive tray does not have "ridges" under it. Otherwise, the bezels will make a "pull the chainsaw line" or "pull the lawnmower line" sound (the best way to describe it would be like someone pulling that line that starts up a chainsaw or lawnmower or whatever , except it would sound much softer). *Note: Most drives donít make this sound (since most drives arenít ridged under their tray) and will make very little noise. I just happened to use a Memorex DVD Burner, which did have ridges under the tray.
Side Panel Window:
The window design is excellent. It has a large area and almost all the components in the case is visible. This way, if you plan to add some cathode lights, the glow can be seen throughout the case, assuming that the Cathode Light is bright, as the window also has a slightly dark tint.
There isnít anything special about the floppy. It doesnít actually cover the floppy drive but helps camouflage/blend the floppy in, rather than just having it exposed totally like most cases do. There is also a small "bulb" so that when your floppy reads a disk, the light can illuminate through that "bulb."
Whether you are a newbie who is not familiar with opening a case with a screwdriver or an expert PC junky, thumbscrews make opening this case a whole lot easier. In contrast to traditional screws, thumbscrews only require you to twist the knob to open and close the case. Traditional screws require screwdrivers to open a case but these thumbscrews prove to be a great improvement in convenience when opening your case. *TIP: When screwing, make sure to not overscrew. Otherwise, the case will make some rattling sounds.
Blue LED Light:
The Blue Oval LED light gives the case a nice touch, especially in the dark. It is located just above the highest 5.25" bay. It illuminates very well in the dark but looks very light in the light. It uses the HDD Activity light as a source of power. Suprisingly, the LED light does not blink even though it is technically a HDD Activity Light. The blue light is solid, which is a good thing. If such a large light was to blink constantly, it would be extremely annoying, but luckily it doesnít.
Integrated Circuit Board (ICB):
The case has what Ahanix calls a Integrated Circuit Board, which is what controls the speed of the case fans as well as monitors the case temperature. The external part of the ICB is basically a display monitor that tells you how the case temperature. The ICB uses 3 sensors to detect the temperature and each is suppose to be placed near the CPU, Hard Drive, and GPU (Video Card). With the front panel buttons, you can switch to whichever sensor you want and can increase the case fan speeds in increments of up to 10 levels (If you hate the case fans, you can set it at level 1 and have the case fans off). The green lights indicate the fan speed and the orange light indicate which sensor it is on.
The Front USB Ports are covered by a sort of flap. When I say flap, I donít mean that it is loose. When you open it, the cover is positioned horizontally and is in a fixed position, ensuring that the flap does not come loose. Inside that covered compartment, there are 2 USB ports and one IrDA Port. The IrDA port uses wireless technology and is what receives signals that use IrDA techonolgy. It is used for relatively short-ranged use. Bluetooth is a good example of this. To enable this port, you must serperate the front panel from the case and plug the IrDA device in the back of the IrDA receiver.
The inside of the case is basically an average case. Although it is ordinary only to have one exhaust fan, Ahanix could have done away with those virtually useless I/O ports below the exhaust fan and could have made enough space for 2 exhaust fans instead of 1. Unfortunately, Ahanix bases most of their mid tower on this internal structure. The edges of the case were rolled up.
The power supply mount is standard and can fit most power supplies. *Note: This case did not come with a power supply. One must be purchased separately.
The case has four 5.25" drive bays. Pictured here is the rear view of the CD bezels that cover stealth the optical drives.
The bays only require you to screw the drives on the side facing the window. The other side of the case does not have any holes to screw screws into, On the side that does allow screws to mount the drive, the bay is numbered to help you keep track of precisely where your drive is, which is a useful tool when using it as a reference point to try to slide your optical drive in just the right position so that the 5.25" bezel is in the right position to trigger the eject button on the optical drive.
The cooling system consists of only two fans: the rear 80mm fan and the front 120mm fan. For those people who like to keep lots of quiet fans running in their case to keep their system quiet and cool, this may not be possible. Unfortunately, there isnít any other place to put a fan even if you wanted to. There is only one 80mm exhaust fan slot and one 120mm fan slot in the front, both of which are taken up with the included fans. There is no side fan panel or top fan panel For alternative methods of cooling, the only options would be to get a power supply with a circulating fan at the bottom and/or get one of those very common pc coolers (the ones that go on the expansion slot). This may help with cooling, but they arenít as good as traditional fans (since those items sometimes mess up air circulation in the case).
The fans use 2-pin connectors for power and therefore are able to connect to the motherboard however, they do not have the yellow wire, and so tyour system would not be able to detect what RPM the fan is running at. They were meant to be connected to the ICB and not the motherboard, that is why there are only 2 pins for the included fans. The 2-pin male connectors from the fans are connected to a female 2-pin connector and that connector leads back to the ICB, where you are able to control the speed of the fans manually. You always have the option of taking off the included fans and adding your own case fans. If you choose to install any 3rd party fans fans, you have the option of plugging it into the ICB 2-Pin Female connector, but since the connector of the ICB is only 2-pin, your system would not be able to detect the RPM of that fan.
Another convenient part of the case is the removable expansion slot covers. Itís as simple as pushing the expansion slot cover inward from the outside and the cover instantly comes off. This way, there wouldnít be any hassle to try to bend the face plates off and take them off permanently like conventional cases. The Expansion slot covers were not sharp at all and so you donít need to worry about cutting your fingers.
How would we know if a case is good unless we actually install all the components of a PC in it and run it?
We decided to install the essentials of an everyday PC:
Processor: AMD Athlon XP 2800+ (Barton Core)
Cooling: CoolerMaster Aero 7 Lite CPU Fan
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-7N400 Pro2 Motherboard
Graphics Card: PNY GeForceFX 5200 8x
RAM: Patriot 512 MB PC3200 DDR400
Hard Drive: Western Digital 200GB Hard Drive w/ 8mb Buffer (Model WD2000JB)
Optical Drive: Memorex Dual Format DVD Recorder
Power Supply: Allied 400W PSU w/ Bottom Intake Fan (Purchased Seperately and is not included with the case)
Cables: Cables Unlimited Rounded ATA133 IDE Cables
Installing the components into the Ahanix dBox wasnít that hard, however, there were some small annoyances. There was the alarm stuck in the middle of the case and to be honest, it was basically a nuisance. When I received the case, one of the alarm wires was disconnected and so it didnít work. The alarm also made it difficult to install my motherboard, since I had to tilt my motherboard when trying to place it in the case so that I could avoid scratching my motherboard with the alarm. (If you look very carefully at the picture, you will notice that the red wire is connected while the black one isnít).
When we started up the system, it was relatively quiet. We put the temperature sensor in between the optical and the power supply so that we would get the most accurate temperature reading. Also, our room temperature was 90oF.
The default fan speed was set at Level 3, which kept the case at 42oC.
We then set the fans at Level 10 (the Maximum). The fans noise increased so much that the sounds of my CoolerMaster Aero 7 Lite Heatsink (at maximum RPM, which is pretty loud) was not audible. The only things audible were the 2 cases fans. The temperature at Level 10 was 40oC.
These temperatures werenít attractive at all. Usually case temperatures are in their 30ís. The fact that this case only has one exhaust fan is a drawback and is probably the cause of such high temperatures. My PCMCIS 2008G Case (which had an included Generic Case fan and a secondary CoolerMaster DAF-B82 Case Fan) had temperatures around 38oC at most. Overall, the case temperature wasnít unbearable but it wasnít that good either. You might want to try getting the Aluminum version of the dBox if you are a cooling fanatic, since aluminum conducts heat better than steel.
Since we are drawing near to the end of the review, we will go over a quick overview. The case is black with Silver Front Panel. There are 2 pre-installed Silver CD Bay Bezels to help cover up your optical drives while at the same time let you open the drive by popping the disc tray out of the bezel. This feature is one of the unique highlights to this case, since it helps you cover up any ugly colored optical drives from mixing with the slick silver of the case (and many other cases donít have these). There is big window side panel which holds high potential for all sorts of modding (e.g. Cathode Lights, LED Fans, EL Wires, UV sensitive ATA Cables, etc). There is also the Integrated Circuit Board (ICB) which is located at the front of the case and monitors the case temperature and lets you control the speed/loudness of your fans. Opening and upgrading this system is an ease with the Thumbscrews as well as the removable expansion slot covers.
The thing that was distasteful about the case was the cooling. There are only 2 fans (one front 120mm fan and one rear exhaust 80mm fan). Despite the fact that there is a 120mm fan, cooling wasnít exactly great, since it reached up to low 40ís when in use. There arenít any other more places to place fans into the case. The only alternative to cooling would be if you added some 3rd party cooling accessories (e.g. Expansion Slot Coolers).
Even though cooling was mediocre, with a great slick look, convenient front panel case fan control, LED Case temperature display, as well as a big window side panel, the Ahanix dBox receives a SLRating of 9/10. We would like to thank ColorCase.com for providing us with the Ahanix dBox.
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