The medium price range seems to be the most difficult one for the developers of system cases for the PC platform. On one hand, a midrange system case is not yet as expensive as to appeal to the customer with all the imaginable innovations and improvements that are costly to implement, especially as such a case must have a good power supply (only very expensive system cases currently come without preinstalled PSUs). And on the other hand, the positioning of a product into the midrange segment doesn’t allow the developer to save on everything possible. The customer won’t like to see unfinished edges of the chassis, cheap plastic, thin panels and a lack of system fans as he expects to get a good system case for reasonable money.
So, let’s see what we are offered in this price category by such brands as HEC, Gigabyte and Raidmax.
HEC 6XR8 / 6XR8-PE
HEC’s system cases enjoy firm market standing. The relatively inexpensive products from the 6C series are not exactly popular, but the 6AR series is viewed as an etalon of quality for reasonable money. Some three years ago we singled this series out in our review as one of the best available at that moment.
And today I am going to introduce to you the 6XR8 and 6XR-PE models from the new 6X series. I will give you a detailed description of the former model because the latter is not much different. Moreover, the 6XR-PE does not actually fit into the medium price range, being quite costly with its preinstalled 600W power supply.
So, the 6XR8 model has a restrained and functional appearance. It lacks any special decorations. On the other hand, it is not homely, either. An ornamental chrome strip goes below the middle of the front panel, separating the 5-inch bays at the top from the small-mesh grid at the bottom. The grid conceals a 120mm fan with 3-pin power connector. The fan has a thermal sensor on a rather long cable. You may want to place the sensor into the HDD cage.
The connectors, indicators and Power button are all situated at the very top of the front panel. This is going to be convenient if you prefer to have your system case standing on the floor. The single external 3.5-inch bay is located here as well. It will be handy to use the card-reader or floppy drive (if you still have one) installed in that bay.
So, we’ve got two LED indicators, two audio connectors for microphone and headphones, two USB ports, and one FireWire port here. The Power button is conspicuous whereas the Reset button, which is so indispensable when your system hangs up (I hope it doesn’t do so often), is so small that you can confuse it with the HDD activity indicator located nearby. The Reset button doesn’t shine, though. You will only be able to press it if you’ve got long nails. This protects the button from accidental presses.
The side panels are closed with two handy latches the 6X series has inherited from its predecessors. The top latch has a miniature lock with key.
Besides, the side panels are also secured with two thumbscrews. By the way, the diameter of the threading of each thumbscrew is somewhat larger than the diameter of its shank and larger than the diameter of the screw hole in the panel. As a result, the thumbscrew doesn’t slip out when you have unfastened it but remains hanging in the panel. This solution prevents you from losing the screws.
There are two vent holes in the left panel. The bottom vent is implemented as rectangular perforation opposite the expansion and graphics card slots (it depends on the specific mainboard model what exactly slot will be there). The top vent is located opposite the CPU. It is covered from the outside with a plastic grid and provides for the installation of an 80mm fan.
There is a plastic funnel on the inside of the top vent hole. It is meant to take the hot air away right from the CPU but our earlier tests showed that this solution was not very efficient. It may only be useful for small CPU coolers, similar to the boxed ones, which suck the air in from above. If you’ve got a large and quiet cooler, you will have to remove that funnel.
The back panel of the case is standard overall. It doesn’t differ from the back panel of most other system cases. It is good that the cooling system has remained intact since the 6AR series: the system case has an intake 120mm fan at the front and an identical exhaust fan, with a 3-pin power connector and thermal sensor, at the back.
The I/O shield is unusual here. You have to break it open or push it out in most other system cases, but here it is fastened with two screws. The I/O shield included with the mainboard still has to be just inserted into the hole, though.
Winding up the description of the exterior of this system case, I want to show you a photo of its feet. They are low and made from rigid plastic. This is not a big problem, but I guess that softer feet, like in Antec’s system cases, are better at suppressing vibrations from a working computer.