Enermax has been struggling to enter the market of computer cases. Despite the company's vast experience in developing power supplies and fans, its system cases have been deficient in design and ergonomics, even though they have generally been eye-catching. Can the new Hoplite model change the company’s fortune or is it just yet another original mediocrity?
Closer Look at Enermax Hoplite
People at Enermax compare the front panel of their Hoplite with scale armor but I think it’s rather a strained simile. The Hoplite’s got a rather conventional meshed front without any distinguishing features except that the fan is placed somewhat higher than usual (the bottom part of the chassis is the location of hot-swap disk bays, hidden behind a decorative faceplate). The Hoplite shares its key traits with those of many other midrange products. It is a medium size, it's black inside and outside, and its front panel is trimmed with metallic mesh with foam-rubber padding. It has a bottom PSU bay and a lot of fan seats. If you take a look at system cases selling for $100-150, you'll find twelve such models in each dozen.
Although not eye-catching, the Hoplite features a nice-looking exterior with straight lines, high quality of manufacture and conveniently placed buttons and connectors. I like the manufacturer's attention to small details such as the rubber inserts on the front-panel covers for opening them easily.
The lack of originality is somewhat made up for by the opportunity to customize the fan’s highlighting. There are a dozen blue and a dozen red LEDs here capable of working in ten different modes. You can also turn the highlighting off altogether. I guess that the first three modes are the most practical. It's when either the blue or red LEDs or both are glowing constantly. The rest of the modes involve some blinking or rotating, which is rather distracting. If you’ve got fed up with that illumination, you can disable it by switching through the modes until you find the Off one or by keeping the highlight switch pressed for three seconds.
The fan, like the system case itself, bears an Enermax logo. The speed controller can set the fan’s voltage at 6 to 12 volts, the resulting minimum and maximum speeds being 900 and 1800 RPM. The fan is perfectly inaudible until 1300 RPM but becomes rather uncomfortable at the maximum speed.
The Hoplite can offer something that most competing products lack. It supports USB 3.0, being in fact the most affordable system case that I know of to do that. It also offers a couple of hot-swap bays and allows to quickly connect an external 2.5- or 3.5-inch SATA disk via a connector on the top panel.
There is a box with accessories and user manual inside the Hoplite. Besides various fasteners, the box contains a pair of plastic single-use straps, a couple of reusable straps with Enermax logo, and a PC speaker.
My first impression about the chassis was rather favorable. Despite the thin metal (0.6 to 0.8 millimeters), the chassis and the side panels are robust. The details of the system case do not wobble when you touch them.
The sufficient rigidity of the side panels is ensured by their having extrusions. The extrusion in the panel behind the mainboard provides more room for cables whereas the one in the other panel is in fact a vent grid and has mounting holes for optional system fans. It can be a single 200mm fan or a pair of 120mm ones.
Another pair of 120 or 140mm fans can be installed in the top part of the case after removing the decorative cover. The installation procedure is easier than, for example, with the Cooler Master 690 II, because you only have to unfasten a couple of thumbscrews and push the cover backwards.
There are also signs of stinginess on the manufacturer's part. The Hoplite stands on primitive feet made from hard plastic and has single-use expansion-slot brackets (but they do have vent slits). These cheap things look odd considering the lack of such stinginess in the rest of the product.
Besides the mentioned expansion-slot brackets, the back panel features a couple of holes for the pipes of a liquid cooling system, an opening for USB 3.0 cables, and an exhaust fan. Oddly enough, the fan is manufactured by Power Cooler rather than by Enermax itself. It is connected to a PATA power plug and rotates at a speed of 1270 RPM. Although not really silent, it does not cause any discomfort.
As is typical of today’s system cases, the power supply bay is at the bottom. The PSU is installed with its fan facing down, so the bottom panel is perforated. There is a removable dust filter with a plastic frame there.