After the previous system case with its huge fan we can now proceed to the compact cube-shaped M40 in which a 400mm fan would be absolutely impossible.
The M40 resembles so-called barebone systems with its dimensions but it is fully compatible with microATX mainboards and thus offers wider opportunities in choosing your PC configuration and fewer problems if your mainboard fails. Some users prefer this type of system cases for being truly desktop products as opposed to traditional tower style enclosures. A system case of this kind is not tall and occupies little space on your desk.
This system case is beautiful, the black plastic of the front panel emphasizing its restrained design. The plastic is matte and almost soft to the touch, resembling the soft-touch material of computer mice. The M40 looks good in comparison with typical system cases with glossy front panels. It just seems to ask you to stroke it. The decorative panels and the surround of the small display are made from glossy plastic that contrasts with the matte one and prevents the system case from looking like an unexciting totally black thing.
The M40 reminds me of the Antec NSK1380, another microATX cube with multilayered noise-absorbing panels. If the AeroCool M40 had dual-layer panels (if its metallic skeleton was covered with the same plastic as covers its front panel), this would make it more expensive but would also improve noise insulation.
The AeroCool M40 is larger than the NSK1380 and can accommodate two optical drives, one 3.5-inch floppy drive or card-reader, a rather large CPU cooler and a standard PSU (the PSU must not be longer than 140 millimeters).
There is a huge Power button in the left center of the front panel. The Reset button is to the right of it, and then goes the Power indicator.
The I/O connectors are in the bottom center of the front panel (by the way, its bottom part is a fine metal mesh). There are no FireWire and eSATA connectors here, but the two audio connectors are complemented with as many as four USB ports. Unfortunately, the USB ports are placed too close to each other in each pair, so you can hardly use both ports in the pair simultaneously.
There is a small display in the top left of the front panel. As opposed to the previous model in which the display was accompanied with four buttons and a fan speed controller, this display is all alone. Its functionality is limited to reporting the temperature inside the case (using a remote thermocouple), the operation of one fan, and the activity of the hard disk.
The mainboard is oriented horizontally, so the mainboard’s connectors are positioned in the same way, too. The expansion cards are vertical here. There are as many as three seats for 80mm fans, so they occupy almost the entire free space of the back panel. The system case comes without back-panel fans, though. You have to purchase them separately.
This system case has an important advantage over barebone systems. It employs a standard PSU. It might seem a trifle, but if the M40’s power supply fails, you will be able to replace it much easier than the PSU of a barebone case. The M40 may also come without a bundled PSU, allowing you to choose the PSU model that suits you best. You only have to remember that the PSU must have the standard ATX dimensions and be no longer than 140 millimeters. Not only entry-level PSUs (like FSP Group’s products) but also high-wattage Corsair VX550W and Enermax’s PRO82+ and MODU82+ meet this requirement.
The M40 stands on massive feet with neat exterior metallization and rubber cores. They are fastened to the chassis with screws.
The chassis consists of two roughly equal parts. The top part can be flipped back on a rotating hinge. I’d like to acknowledge the skill of the designer here: it is only when you take the case apart that you notice that the front panel splits in two. The separation line is so neatly fitted into it as to be almost invisible.
Take note that there is a 120mm fan at the front panel (remember the mesh in its bottom part?), so you should not worry about the cooling of your mainboard. The graphics card should get some airflow, too, as it will reside right opposite the fan.
There is a small ledge nearby for an external 3.5-inch device. The device is fastened with screws to the two plates that stick out of the bottom of the top half of the case. The bay has a neat faceplate, so you can install a 3.5-inch hard disk there, for a total of three HDDs in the system.