Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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Founded in 2005, Xigmatek took the same route to the PC components market as its many competitors. Started as a manufacturer of coolers, the company steadily increased its market presence, introducing accessories and liquid cooling systems into its product range. Then it released power supplies and now, computer cases. There are not so many products in the latter category as yet, though. The first model Midgard came out in the first half of 2009. It was followed by the Asgard and, recently, by the Utgard and the White Knight which is a white version of the Asgard.

As you can see, Xigmatek has borrowed its product names, save for White Knight, from Scandinavian mythology. These are the names of the worlds of men and gods and of the outer world. We really wonder if this trio will ever be complemented with a system case named Hel or the world of the dead will be considered an inappropriate association. Anyway, we are going to explore the three other worlds right now.

Xigmatek Asgard

Although the Asgard wasn’t the first case from Xigmatek to come to market, we want to begin this review with it as it is the most basic model. The more advanced products will be discussed below.

 

The exterior design doesn’t provoke any strong emotions. The Asgard is yet another representative of the now-popular class of system cases whose front panel is made from metallic mesh and lacks any decorations. The only more or less decorative element is the vent grid in the side panel which forms some abstract pattern. So, if you want a system case to impress everyone around, this one won’t do. But if a plain black metallic box is just what you need, read on!

The Asgard has two USB ports and two audio connectors on the small smooth patch in the center of the front panel. These connectors are accompanied with two large buttons, Power and Reset. It's hard to read the buttons' labels, so you should memorize which one is which.

Well, the Asgard seems to have some more decorative elements after all. We mean the small holes in the right panel.

The back panel makes it clear that we shouldn’t expect any surprises from the interior design of this product. It seems to be a regular chassis with a top PSU bay. The fan seat on the back panel supports 120, 80, and 92mm fans.

By the way, the two missing expansion-slot brackets you can see in the photo are not a defect of manufacture. We were just not the first to have this sample and its previous owners had torn the brackets off.

The simple feet made from stiff plastic emphasize the fact that this is an inexpensive product.

When we took the side panel off, our last hope of meeting anything interesting vanished completely. This is a regular chassis of the classic layout that must have appeared along with the introduction of the ATX specification. The solid rack with drive bays at the front makes it necessary to measure the distance from the back panel which is crucial for long graphics cards. This distance is 295 millimeters but the installed HDDs will stick out of the rack, requiring some more room. With all the components installed, the graphics card will only have 250 millimeters of space. Moreover, some 20 millimeters may be required by the power connectors.

Despite the low-end positioning of this system case, its quality of manufacture is acceptable. Every sharp edge is finished so that you didn't cut your fingers while assembling your computer in it. The metal is 0.6 millimeters thick in every detail of the chassis. This is quite enough to make it rigid but the side panels, lacking stiffening ribs, wobble a little when you take them into your hands.

Interestingly, although the characteristic cutouts in the drive bays allow fastening the installed devices with screw-less locks, you won't find such locks included with the system case. You'll have to use a screwdriver.

There is no back-panel fan by default. You can only find one 120mm fan at the front panel. Expansion cards are fastened with screws in this system case but the back-panel brackets are not reusable.

Here is the single fan installed in this system case by default. It is fastened to the metallic part of the chassis from the front panel’s side because the drive bays are a one-piece structure. The large exterior mesh of the front panel is covered from the inside with a fine mesh, so there shouldn’t be any problems with too much dust (moreover, the Asgard’s ventilation system creates excess pressure inside, so the air will be exhausted rather than sucked in through the holes).

We didn’t like the fastening of the mesh faceplates for the 5.25” bays. They are loose in the plastic frame and tend to fall inward when you put it back onto the chassis.

 

Assembling a computer in this system case is quite easy but you have to do something about the cables, which is the common problem with such standard chassis. A modular power supply would be most welcome as you could use only the required minimum of cables with it.

The Asgard is rather too short, so a long graphics card may conflict with HDDs in it. The installed HDDs are so close to each other in their bays that we suspect they can’t be cooled properly.

The second negative outcome of the shortness of the case is that the connectors in the mainboard’s bottom right are hard to access. With our components, the installed HDDs blocked the access to the SATA connectors located at the edge of the mainboard and made it difficult to reach the front-panel I/O ports.

Winding up this section of our review, we want to add a few words about the recently released version called Asgard II.

 

This version differs from its cousin with two bright orange plastic stripes on the vertical edges of the front panel. These details change the visual impression from the system case, making it more aggressive.

It is, however, unclear why the bottom part of the front panel is now blank rather than meshed. This can't be good for the operation of the front fan.

The Asgard II comes with two fans, though. Its second 120mm fan is located on the back panel. Otherwise, the interior design is the same except that the Asgard II has screw-less locks for drives and graphics cards.

 
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