Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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The cutout in the mainboard’s mounting plate for accessing the CPU cooler is the largest among the three system cases included into this review. There can hardly be a mainboard whose CPU socket would not match it.

 

The compartment for cables is not very large but sufficient, although the side panel bulges out a little against it.

Like in most of new system cases, the PSU bay is at the bottom. The mounting holes allow installing the power supply in two positions. There are vibration-absorbing pads in the bay along the line of the PSU's contact with the bottom and back panels.

 

If the PSU is installed with its fan facing down, the fresh air will be coming in through the large-mesh perforation in the bottom panel, covered with an easily removable dust filter in a plastic frame.

The XPredator comes with only two preinstalled 230mm fans (measured by the manufacturer along the longer edge of the fan case whereas the impeller is actually 185 millimeters in diameter, which corresponds to the impeller size of the 200mm fans of the other system cases).

 

The front fan has translucent orange blades and an always-on amber highlight which gets brighter when the speed is increased. However, the thick sheet of foam rubber behind the front panel almost completely obscures the highlighting. You can barely see it in the photo above.

The fan’s LEDs are actually bright as you can see with the front panel taken off.

The top fan is black and lacks any highlighting. Both fans are manufactured by Flyalpine Electronics.

Despite the identical electric parameters specified on their stickers, the fans differ in speed a little. The front intake fan works at 780 RPM when the integrated speed controller is set at the maximum; its minimum speed is about 340 RPM. The top fan is somewhat slower: 730 RPM at the maximum and 280 RPM at the minimum. The difference is actually within the range of 750±100 RPM as specified by AeroCool.

The fans were rather quiet at any speed. Their noise didn’t change much when their speed changed from the minimum to the maximum. Therefore we'd recommend you to use these fans (or at least the front fan) at the maximum speed. This won’t affect your acoustic comfort but will ensure better cooling, especially for your hard disks which reside behind the thick foam-rubber sheet that weakens the air flow.

By the way, that very foam-rubber sheet, the quiet fans and the vibration-absorbing fastening of HDDs makes the XPredator the quietest of the three tested products. Although it may prove to be rather too loud for fastidious users, it is definitely quieter than the other two.

Besides the pair of preinstalled fans, there are seats for single 120/140mm fans on the back and bottom panels as well as the opportunity to install four 120/140mm or a single 180/200mm fan on the side-panel window. The bottom-panel fan seat is the only one to have a dust filter.

The vent slits in the transparent plastic of the side window raise our apprehensions. If fans are installed on the side panel, the air passing through them may produce a lot of noise.

We also have to tell you about one unpleasant defect. After working for a while at the minimum speed, the fans suddenly stopped, their highlighting went out, and an obnoxious smell came out of the system case. That was the death of the controller the fans were connected to. We continued our tests by connecting the fans to a second controller, but our impression about the XPredator was somewhat marred by the incident.

 

With the system case filled with our testbed components, the top illumination looks good but the front fan’s highlighting is almost invisible.

Highs:

  • Huge interior
  • Easy to assemble
  • Handy and efficient fast installation system for expansion cards
  • Vibration-absorbing boxes for 3.5-inch drives
  • Compatibility with 2.5-inch drives
  • Two speed controllers (for three fans each)
  • Rather quiet preinstalled fans
  • Good noise insulation thanks to the thick foam-rubber sheet behind the front panel
  • 10 expansion slots
  • Rich selection of front-panel connectors including USB 3.0
  • Good protection against dust (except for the optional side-panel fans)

Lows:

  • Unreliable speed controllers
  • Poorly designed vent grids for side-panel fans
  • The thick foam-rubber filter of the front fan weakens the air flow and dims the fan’s highlighting
  • No rear exhaust fan by default
  • No Reset button
 
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