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AeroCool ExtremEngine 3T

After the compact cube we now return to traditional towers. Next goes the ExtremEngine 3T model which is not new, but highly popular. Some time ago we covered it in a review, but now I want to discuss it once again, especially as the exterior design of the ExtremEngine always attracts buyers.

 

The exterior of this system case reminds one of aviation. This is largely due to the fan located at the bottom of the front panel and designed like a plane’s turbine. The styling is perfect. The ExtremEngine 3T looks pretty and the front impeller of the turbine, even though a decorative feature, is rotating when the computer is turned on. The 250mm fan on the side panel fits into the overall exterior design organically. As opposed to the fan of the Hi-Tech 7 Pro, it does not look an unaesthetic excrescence but is sunken into the case and stylized a little like a plane turbine, too.

There are two metallic doors on the front panel. They have a very secure fastening and special protrusions with magnets and soft rubber pads on the inside. The doors close softly and do not open spontaneously. You have to open them up each time you turn the PC on because the Power button is behind them but most of today’s computers can be turned on by pressing keyboard buttons, so that’s not a big problem. The doors may be a nuisance if you access your optical drives often, so I guess the doors should have been made shorter to offer free access to at least one optical drive bay.

It is the bottom part of the front panel that is the most interesting. Near the center, above the turbine, there are Power and Reset buttons with two LED indicators in between. Centered in the very bottom of the front panel there are I/O connectors including two audio ports, two USB ports and one FireWire. The connectors are placed densely so that you could use them without opening the doors, but it is next to impossible to plug two USB flash drives into both USB ports at the same time.

Right above the connectors there are the control elements of the 3-channel fan controller. It is quite a simple thing. You only have to remember what fan you have connected to the particular channel.

 

The back panel is trivial and boring, betraying an old and cheap chassis. You can install two 80mm or a single 120mm fan there, but the system case comes without any back-panel fans.

Instead of being totally blank, the right panel has two rows of vent openings.

The fan on the left panel is rather small in comparison with the 400mm giant of the Hi-Tech 7 Pro. It is only 250 millimeters in diameter. You can connect this fan to one of the controller’s channels and thus adjust its speed.

The feet betray an inexpensive chassis, too. They are made from ordinary plastic.

The interior of the ExtremEngine 3T is minimalistic. There are no quick fastening mechanisms. Everything is fastened with screws (including the expansion-slot brackets). There is nothing that might catch your eye. The metal is not very thick, but it does not rattle and does not have sharp edges. However, there are a few places in there where you can cut your finger, so you should be careful during the assembly process.

The drive rack is old style, too. It is wider at the top where optical drives are located and narrower at the bottom for HDDs. There are no user-oriented conveniences here.

This photo shows it clearly that the front-panel turbine is a fake. There is a fan behind it that is sucking air in and making the decorative turbine turn around. People at AeroCool seem to prefer large fans: while most manufacturers install 120mm models at the front panel, there is a 140mm fan here.

At the bottom of the front panel you can see the protruding heatsinks of the transistors of the 3-channel fan speed controller.

The respectable age of the chassis is indicated once again by the system case connectors. The front-panel connectors can only be attached as AC’97. The modern HD-Audio is missing altogether, which means that the mainboard won’t be able to automatically recognize that you have plugged your headphones or microphone to the front panel and disable the back-panel outputs. Modern system cases all offer two connectors, and I don’t even mention this in the descriptions of the other products.

It is also unclear why the front-panel fan has an individual power cable. It would be logical if it were connected right to the fan speed controller, saving the user the trouble of messing with the cables.

 

I assembled the test configuration without any problems. The contents of the system case looks neat and tidy, but the convenience is far inferior to what you have with modern system cases that have a dedicated room for cables behind the mainboard’s mounting plate.

 
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