Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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Some users just don’t need a huge computer with superior cooling and capable of accommodating any graphics subsystem possible, and they don’t want to pay extra for features they won’t use. On the other hand, they have no use for a $30-40 tin box with all the downsides of an entry-level system case such as very thin sheets of metal with poorly finished edges, a low-quality bundled power supply, etc. However, there is a multitude of system cases in between the two extremes, and I am going to have a look at some of them in this review.

 

Ascot’s products are known to have a very attractive price/performance ratio. Hopefully, the 6ZRX model will live up to the brand’s reputation.

A decade ago, InWin system cases used to be highly popular due to very modest pricing. Having lost its leading position since then, the company is now just one among many makers of affordable products. InWin has recently introduced a few new models that seem to have good specs, though. I will have a look at two of them: IW-PE689 and IW-MG133.

The last product in this review, the Gekkou Standard, is manufactured by Scythe, the well-known maker of coolers. It is only half as expensive as Scythe’s first system case Fenris Wolf.

Ascot 6ZRX

Ascot wrote its name in history by introducing its legendary 6AR model which was to become a long-time etalon of an affordable, yet user-friendly and high-quality system case. Can the new 6ZRX model keep up that glorious tradition?

  

The exterior design follows today’s trends. The 6ZRX is black and has a fine-mesh front panel with buttons and connectors in its top part. The glossy plastic of the face panel molding enlivens the product’s appearance somewhat (it is black in my sample but there are also silvery and red versions available). So, the 6ZRX looks cute enough.

The rubber strips in the front part of the top panel will prevent a hard disk you may put down there from scratching the surface.

The system case’s I/O ports will be easily accessible irrespective of where you place it. We’ve got microphone and headphone connectors, one eSATA, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port here.

The USB 3.0 port is supposed to be linked to the mainboard’s back-panel connector with a cable that goes through the entire chassis although the latest mainboards already offer internal USB 3.0 headers.

The Power and Reset buttons are implemented perfectly. They are rather stiff and have a long travel distance with a sharp click to help you avoid accidental presses.

The HDD activity indicator is built into the Reset button. The Power indicator is in the Power button. The indicators are blue and bright, yet not irritating.

 

As opposed to the exterior design which follows the latest fashion trends, the interior of the 6ZRX is conservative. The PSU compartment is at the top of the chassis. No fans other than 120mm ones are supported. There is no hidden compartment for cables behind the mainboard’s mounting plate and there is no cutout in the latter for installing/uninstalling the CPU cooler. There are as many as two external 3.5-inch bays (both are suitable for internal 3.5-inch disks, though) but only four internal HDD bays.

Despite the old-fashioned layout, the 6ZRX offers a lot of space for expansion cards. It can accommodate any card up to 275 millimeters long.

 

There are some cheap elements about the 6ZRX. The rear feet are made of pieces of hard plastic, although the front feet are soft rubber. The mainboard is installed not on threaded poles but on the pimples pressed out in its mounting plate.

On the other hand, a few things that the manufacturers often try to cut the cost on are high quality. The expansion-slot brackets are reusable and shaped for higher rigidity (the single-use face-panel brackets are shaped in the same way, too). The chassis has vibration-absorbing inserts for the side panels.

Included with the system case are fasteners (particularly, screws for extra fans and a couple of vibration-absorbing pads for HDDs), a user manual and a black-and-silver Ascot sticker.

The fan screws are cut-down versions of ordinary screws as they have three rather than five turns of the threading. The default system fans have silvery screws whereas the included screws for extra fans are black.

 
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