Hard disk drives are installed into a separate cage that can be moved out of the case. An important thing, the cage doesn’t move towards the expansion cards, but across the case. As a result, you can install or uninstall your hard drives without bothering about the expansion cards. You don’t have to remove your graphics card, for example, to do that. The cage is secured in the system case by means of two thumbscrews.
There is no need to take the whole cage out of the case, though. It has individual holders for HDDs and each holder has a handle. You only have to press the sides of the handle a little and the holder slips out of the cage.
You don’t need screws to install a HDD into this holder. The HDD is fixed on both sides with two plates each of which has two juts. The plates are equipped with special silicone pads that reduce vibrations.
I assembled my test configuration within this system case easily, yet there are two things I’d want to note. First, the cables of the junior of the two available power supplies are too short and have too few connectors (I will discuss this in more detail shortly). And the second problem is about the HDD cage. More exactly, I had problems connecting the power and interface cables to the HDDs. The handles of the HDD holders got in the way when I tried to lay the cables out more or less neatly. This may be a serious problem if you are going to use a PSU whose cables have stiff sleeves and a long distance between the power connectors. It is desirable that the HDD power connectors were T-shaped as it makes the laying out of the cables far easier.
Therefore I want to thank the manufacturers for the almost accomplished transition from PATA and SCSI to SATA and SAS. It would have been most difficult to lay out the broad cables of the parallel interfaces. So, if you are going to use hard drives with the older interfaces, you should think twice before purchasing this system case.
And finally, I want to cover the differences of this system case from the 6XR8-PE (PE stands for Premium Edition).
These differences are almost purely cosmetic, actually. The external 3.5-inch bay is now occupied by a card-reader by default. The card-reader is quite ordinary. It offers four card slots and an additional USB connector. This is actually a trifle you can implement with your own hands (such card-readers cost just a few dollars). More importantly, instead of the interface connectors on the front panel there is now a logotype and text informing you that this is a special version of the system case.
The connectors have moved up to the center of the top panel of the case and are covered with a neat cap. Frankly speaking, I find this solution to be questionable. Yes, it is handy to use the connectors if the case stands on the floor. But if you put it on your desk, the connectors won’t be easily accessible. They won’t be accessible, either, if the system case stands somewhere deep under your desk because they are far from the front panel. Moreover, most users often keep some small things on the system case such as flash drives, various papers, books or manuals, USB-connected external drives, etc. This position of the connectors eats up a large part of the useful space on the top panel. I personally prefer the solution implemented in the Antec Nine Hundred: the connectors are placed closer to the front of the case and there is a handy groove behind them for storing those various small things.
As a kind of consolation, the selection of connectors has become broader: two USB ports, two audio connectors, a FireWire port, and an eSATA port. It is good to have the fast external interface eSATA. Unfortunately, it is only available in this special version of the case. Note that the new position of the USB ports now allows to plug in two broad devices, but not two thick ones, simultaneously. I don’t know why they could not be placed a little apart from each other as there is quite enough free space for that.
The interface connectors are implemented by means of a plastic cap screwed up to the top panel from the inside. A pack of cables goes out of the cap to the mainboard.
And there is one more difference of the Premium Edition model from the ordinary one. The cooling system now has a third 120mm fan located instead of the three bottom brackets of the external 5.25-inch bays. It is good to have one more fan, but its position is questionable. In fact, it is driving the fresh air towards the mainboard only, improving the cooling of the memory modules and CPU somewhat.
The 6XR8 model came to our lab together with an HEC Silent Pro A-450 power supply. The 6XR8-PE was equipped with an HEC Super Silent Pro Active A-600AP.