Articles: Cases/PSU

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Now let’s get back to the Hi-Tech 7 Pro and check out its back panel. It is perfectly standard. Like many other developers, AeroCool installed a 120mm exhaust fan here. You can replace it with an 80mm fan using the appropriate mounting holes, but there is hardly any point in such a replacement.

The Hi-Tech 7 Pro stands on four simple conic feet made from rubber. Be careful while you are moving the case around: these feet leave a characteristic black trail.

Finally we’ve reached the interior. It is absolutely standard and you may have already seen the same or similar chassis. The metal is not very thick (0.6 millimeters, according to the developer), but there are no problems with rigidity. Still, I wish the flat surfaces, especially the back panel, did not bend that much when pressed with a finger. Fortunately, the curved-out edges of the holes in the mainboard’s mounting plate act as stiffening ribs. The one-piece drive rack adds to the rigidity, too.

The mainboard and expansion cards are fastened with screws. The expansion-slot brackets are reusable. You don’t have to tear them off as with other simple chassis.

At the bottom of the front panel there is a seat for a 120mm fan. Above it, there is the aforementioned display and fan controller.

5-inch devices are installed using a widespread screwless fastening mechanism. A plastic bracket is inserted with its prongs into the device’s threaded holes and fixes the latter firmly when you turn the handle by 90 degrees. It is a simple and handy mechanism.

Using the same brackets a guide for an external 3.5-inch device, e.g. a card-reader, is fastened in the top bay. This position of the guide is going to be all right if the system case stands on the floor. But if you don’t need it, you can replace it with an optical drive.

The drive rack is a one-piece thing and consists of 5-inch bays only. To install HDDs into them, you should use two brackets that are inserted into the sides of a device. As a result, you have a 5 inches wide contraption that fits into the bay. Besides fastening, the brackets absorb vibrations because their cylindrical parts between the HDD and the rack are made from rubber.

Take note that there are two ways to fasten the brackets on the HDD. The way shown in the top of the photo seems to be more logical but the other way may be appropriate if you are going to install a fan in front of the HDDs. Otherwise the HDD will press against the fan and will not get in.

Assembling a computer in this system case is easy but I had some problems with laying out the cables. The additional wires from the fan controller and the thermocouples (I did not connect them after all) and the short length of the case resulted in a thick and untidy bunch of cables above the memory modules.

I also had some problems with HDDs. First, the case is not long enough for you to install a long graphics card and HDD in one line if the HDD sticks out of the rack due to a front-panel fan. The system case comes without such a fan, but anyway. Take note how far the bottom HDD sticks out into the case – I have installed it in such a way as if there were a fan at the front panel. And you can note how close the graphics card is to the HDD.

The second unpleasant thing is that the fourth HDD (counting from the bottom up) has to stick out into the case. It cannot be installed otherwise due to the protruding top part of the fan seat. That’s why I did not install that HDD at all. If installed, it prevented me from plugging the power cable into the graphics card.

And finally, I was disappointed to see only three pairs of fastening brackets for HDDs. I could not use four HDDs as is usual in our tests. I doubt that you can buy the brackets separately, so you will have to look for some other adapters that allow installing a 3.5-inch drive into a 5.25-inch bay if you want to pack four HDDs into this system case.

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