Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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Despite the compactness (the manufacturer mentions that the PC78131 is a mere 3 liters in volume), the system case is compatible with tall memory modules. A Corsair XMS3 memory stick with a tall aluminum heat-spreader fitted in perfectly as if designed especially for this chassis (of course, such high-performance memory is not really meant for tiny system cases but we just didn't have any other stick at hand).

You can only have some difficulty installing and connecting your hard disk. You can install two devices, actually: two 2.5-inch HDDs or SSDs or one HDD/SSD together with a slim optical drive. They are fastened to the detachable frame under the system case cover.

You may find it hard to put the frame with installed drive(s) back into its place. And you should also be careful not to damage your SATA device's connectors when putting the frame back or plugging cables into the device.

 

The power adapter is manufactured by Seasonic and looks like a typical compact power adapter for a notebook. Instead of 19 volts necessary for notebooks, it delivers 12 volts, though.

The other voltages required by desktop PCs are produced by the power system residing on a PCB inside the chassis. We can see a couple of chokes and high-quality electrolytic capacitors from Rubycon and United Chemi-Con here.

The developers have made a slip when designing the power system of this system case. While it can accommodate two SATA devices, there is only one SATA power connector available. There is no appropriate power adapter in the box, either. It must be an adapter from a floppy-drive plug to SATA or a splitter from one to two SATA power connectors (there are no other power connectors in the system case except for 20+4-pin and 4-pin cables for the mainboard) but the most popular variety is a PATA-SATA power adapter, which cannot be used here. So, if you really want to install a pair of SATA drives into this system case, you may have to make such an adapter yourself out of a PATA-SATA one.

It is going to be simpler to install an optical drive along with a hard one, but you have to look for an adapter from a slim optical drive’s connectors to a standard SATA interface cable and a floppy-drive power connector. An adapter of this kind is included with the other Chenbro but the PC78131 lacks it. You have to buy this adapter separately.

The PC78131 comes without any fans but has a seat for a 60mm fan on the side panel (with a dust filter) and another seat for a 40mm fan on the rear panel. We don’t think such fans would be of much use, though. They are too small to be efficient unless you set them at a very high speed, in which case they will be way too noisy. On the other hand, our test configuration, which seems to be even excessively advanced for such a system case, had no cooling related problems.

 

The ventilation efficiency depends on the location of the mainboard’s CPU socket. It was away from the largest vent grid with our mainboard (the position of the grid in the top panel of the case is indicated by the mounting frame for 2.5-inch devices in the photo above). That was not optimal in terms of cooling.

There are a number of optional accessories available for the PC78131, for example a VESA mount that can be used to attach it to the back of a VESA-compatible LCD monitor. If you like to have everything neat and tidy, you may want to purchase the plastic box that helps hide the cables going out of the system case.

The working Chenbro PC78131 looks almost as dull and unassuming as in its out-of-box state except that the blue highlighting of the Power button adds a lively touch to its otherwise plain appearance.

The photo of the back panel makes it clear how very small this system case is. Just note how much space is occupied by the standard mainboard's back panel.

Highs:

  • Very small
  • Has an integrated card-reader
  • Easy to assemble thanks to an external power adapter and pre-routed power cables
  • Comes with a stand for vertical installation
  • A number of extra accessories available for ordering

Lows:

  • Bundled power adapter may not cope with configurations that include a desktop CPU with standard voltage (but an optional 96-watt power adapter is available for ordering)
  • Only one SATA power connector, although the chassis can accommodate two SATA devices
  • Ventilation efficiency depends on the position of the CPU socket on the mainboard
  • Exceedingly stiff Power button
 
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