System Assembly Inside Enermax Hoplite
It is easy to assemble a computer in this system case. The fastening mechanisms are effective and handy whereas the numerous openings for putting the cables out of the main compartment help reduce the clutter above the mainboard. The Hoplite is compatible with expansion cards that are up to 315 millimeters long (any modern graphics card, excepting the Radeon HD 5970, is going to fit in). The cable compartment isn’t wide, so the side panel may bulge out a little. On the other hand, the main compartment can accommodate CPU coolers up to 178 millimeters tall (if there are no fans installed on the side panel).
The fastening mechanism for 5.25-inch devices is close to ideal. It doesn't require a screwdriver but is not exactly screwless. There are slim steel springy plates on one side of each bay that fix the device firmly in its place. On the other side of the bay, there are screws with large plastic heads. The fastening is as secure as if you used screws (you can actually fasten your device with screws from both sides but this is hardly necessary), yet you don’t need any tools. In fact, I only needed my screwdriver three times: to install the mainboard, to fix the graphics card at the back panel and to install a HDD into the hot-swap bay.
The main disk rack doesn’t call for any tools to be filled with HDDs. There is a thumbscrew holding the rack cover. After you unfasten it and open the rack, you can insert your HDDs or SSDs (there are two bays for 2.5-inch devices above the 3.5-inch bays). Then you just close the cover and fasten the screw. This installation mechanism is easy and fixes the devices properly, but the traditional screw-based fixation is more secure, especially when it comes to HDDs which are squeezed in between two others.
The downside to this solution is that your drives will be very close to each other in the rack, so you may want to avoid filling the rack full in order to ensure proper cooling. There is no protection against noise and vibrations. The metallic cases of HDDs have direct contact with the metal of the bays, so their noise is not suppressed in any way.
Yet it is the cooling of hard disks that’s the most serious problem. There are but a few small vent holes in the HDD rack where it faces the front-panel fan. And there is also a detail of the front panel in between them that blocks a large portion of the air flow, up to one half of it.
The fan is equipped with a primitive dust filter (a perforated sheet of plastic) which weakens the air flow much more than a woven fine mesh would. This is odd, considering that the power supply bay is equipped with a much better filter. The plastic filter is very easy to take out for cleaning, though.
With so many obstacles on the way of the air from the front fan, it is easy to predict that HDDs are going to be cooled poorly in this system case, especially if the fan speed is set low.
The hot-swap bays are even worse in terms of cooling. They lack any active cooling and can only hope for an occasional gulp of fresh air from the front-panel fan.
Besides ventilation, the plastic rails in the hot-swap bays are designed poorly. They allow fastening an HDD with only two screws at the sides. The heads of a second pair of screws just won’t fit into the guides inside the bay.
On the other hand, you can use the bottom mounting holes of your HDDs. This method works for both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch devices.
The hot-swap bays have a special card with a 4-pin PATA power connector, a connector for the front-panel fan and a 3-pin connector for some other fan.
The Hoplite’s exhaust fan has a PATA connector but you can power it via this card, too. This seems to be the most reasonable solution, especially if you lack PATA power plugs on your PSU (another PATA plug is necessary for the disk connector on the top panel of the case whereas modern PSUs usually come with only one PATA power cable).
Besides the hot-swap bays, the Hoplite features a quick-connect plug for 2.5- and 3.5-inch disks on its top panel. Unfortunately, there are no guides or anything there, so you have to find the correct position of the disk by touch and may damage the connectors while doing so.
Now, what about the problem of HDD cooling? If I were to modify the Hoplite design, I’d make the vent grid in the front panel larger, like the fan grid in the back panel, and replace the front filter with a woven one like the dust filter in the PSU bay. I'd also make the vent holes in the disk bays larger as well, retaining the required rigidity by making their side panels thicker (these panels bulge out noticeably when HDDs are installed, by the way). I would also replace the top hot-swap bay with a fan for cooling the bottom one. It's better to have one disk which is cooled properly rather than two which lack cooling.
The cutout opposite the CPU socket in the mainboard mounting plate is so large that you can replace your CPU cooler with a back-plate without taking the mainboard out of the system case whatever the mainboard model is. Besides, there is a handy opening for a CPU power cable in the corner.
This opening is also necessary for connecting the front-panel USB 3.0 ports. You can use it to route the cables to the mainboard's back-panel USB ports without cluttering the main compartment of the system case. The USB cables have to be separated from the bunch of cables they are originally attached to. Otherwise, they will prove to be too short.