Antec A+ Black Pearl
The A+ Black Pearl is also shipped under the Tagan brand. The close relation of the two brands can be easily discovered: the website with the description of the A+ Black Pearl also lists Tagan power supplies (don’t be surprised at the address: you are redirected to that site after you type www.aplus-case.de in your browser). And there is exactly the same model with the same name and even with a characteristic logo at the Tagan website. Anyway, we are interested in the system case regardless of how you call it.
This black aluminum thing is huge even in comparison with other products of its class. It is 60 centimeters tall and over half a meter long. As opposed to the Antec Twelve Hundred, it does not look like a functional worker. It is rather a stylish dandy in black suit. It has a conventionally smooth front panel that transforms seamlessly into the top and bottom. 5-inch bays and an acryl insert with small display are the only protrusions in this smooth surface.
The design of this case is not standard, though. You can see this as soon as you take a look at its left panel. It is not black but has a huge window at the top, covered with a mesh. So, the mainboard is fastened to the opposite side and the interior layout is turned upside down. That is, the mainboard’s expansion slots are at the very top. The CPU is lower, and the power supply is at the bottom. This is an interesting component layout, but we don’t think it has any fundamental differences from the ordinary one.
There is a 120mm fan at the back: it is placed next to the CPU.
There are two vent grids for two 120mm fans in the top panel but no fans. You have to install them with your own hands.
At the back of the top panel there are two holes for the pipes of a liquid cooling system (if you need to take them out to an external radiator). The holes are covered with caps that are fastened with screws. There is no rubberized edging and the pipes may eventually cut on the edge. The position of the holes is questionable. The pipes will spoil the appearance of the system case unless you are going to put the radiator right on the computer. And if the radiator stands next to the system case, the pipes have to stretch quite a long way.
In the front part of the top panel there are I/O connectors covered by a neat flip-back panel. We’ve got two USB ports, two audio connectors and a FireWire port here. The connectors are too close to each other. You won’t be able to plug in even two not very wide flash drives simultaneously.
We’ve forgotten about the front panel and buttons, though. The Power and Reset buttons are designed in an ordinary way and located at the side of the acryl panel. They differ in size but the Reset button is not protected against an accidental press.
Now let’s take a look at the small 2-line display in the center. Running a little ahead, we can tell you that this display allows monitoring the temperature of an external sensor and the speed of fans connected to a special controller.
Besides the display, there is a shining logo and two small buttons on the acryl panel. The buttons can be used to adjust the speed of fans connected to the controller. Frankly speaking, this adjustment is implemented in a rather limited way. The buttons are small and unhandy and their functions are somewhat illogical: the left button steps up the speed of the fans while the right button steps the speed down. Most people would expect the opposite.
The bottom panel is perforated for ventilation.
The feet resemble those of the Zalman Z-Machine GT1000. These are soft supports with shiny rims. The feet match the appearance of the case but ordinary black columns wouldn’t be much worse (and it is not often that we see a system case with feet, anyway).