Colorcases 400 Series Eclipse S Case|
Should you choose a case based on how it looks, or should you base your decision on functionality? Finding the right balance between these two factors can at times be quite a difficult task. There are many cases on the market that look great, but offer very little when it comes functionality. And at the other end of the spectrum, we have cases that are fully functional, but lack the visual appeal offered by their counterparts. Today we're going to take a look at a case provided to us by the good people at ColorCases.com that attempts to provide you with both functionality and looks - the Eclipse S.
The initial visual appearance of this case is quite stunning. The metallic-like silver finish of the body, combined with the dark gray chrome trimmed front bezel give the case a very nice industrial look. Without a power supply installed, this case is very lightweight despite its steel construction, owing a portion of this once again to the plastic front bezel. Overall dimensions of this case measure in at 18" x 8" x 18"(LxWxH) putting it in the middle of the playing field when compared to other mid-tower cases available on the market today.
Owning a case that is "colored" usually means some extra work on your part to keep things looking right. Your floppy, CDROM, and DVD player probably won't match the color scheme of the case, and will require manual painting to keeping things looking copasetic. The Eclipse S attempts to remedy this problem by using a few very nice features. First off, the floppy bay is mounted behind the bezel with a slot cut through it, for diskette access along with a well positioned button that pushes "through" the bezel to depress the eject button. While this method of hiding the front of the floppy behind the bezel is not new to the market, it should be considered a requirement when designing a case with "color".
Next up, in the attempt to keep you from having to paint the front of all your drives, is the fold-down CDROM / DVD covers. These work using the same theory that was implemented to hide the front of the floppy - put a cover over the drive, and make a button that "pushes through" the cover to depress the eject button. But it's not that simple because most CDROM / DVD drives have a drawer that slides out. To get over this hurdle, they've hinged the cover at the bottom, so when the eject button is depressed, the outward movement of the drawer pushes on the cover flipping it down so the drawer can be exposed. This feature does have one drawback though - if you have a slot loading CDROM / DVD Player, these faceplate-masking covers will not function properly.
We've covered most of the things that make this case look nice on the outside, but what about the functionality of the exterior? It does come with two front mounted USB ports, which have a small sliding door to hide them when not in use. A nice feature, but I found the small door to be somewhat flimsy at times, and had a hard time getting it to stay open, and close properly.
Extra ventilation through the exterior walls and floor of the case is achieved through a series of small holes. The access side of the case has a perforated section about 1.5 inches high, and 12 inches long. Nearly the entire bottom of the case is perforated as well, along with a section of the back, near the card slots. I wasn't too impressed with the side or rear perforations, but the ones spanning the entire bottom of the case should give plenty of upwards airflow through this case, if ample exhaust ventilation is provided.
Our final exterior feature is the inclusion of tool-less thumbscrews securing the side access panel. While this isn't a major selling point, it is always a nice gesture when a manufacturer provides them.
Even though this is only a mid-tower case, the inside of the case is quite spacious. There are no support beams blocking access to the interior, the drive bays are all tucked away in their proper locations, and the power supply is snugged up tight against the top. Having all this extra room to move around inside will come in handy when it comes time to install your hardware, since there is no removable motherboard tray. And don't worry about cutting your hands all to hell while you're working inside either, because all of the inside edges are rounded off to make them nice and smooth.
The number of drive bays available, is typical for a mid-tower case. You'll get three 5.25" exposed bays (CD-Rom / DVD) that have the flip down covers over them, one exposed 3.5" floppy bay, and room for two 3.5" internal hard drives. There is also another 3.5" bay that can be used as an internal or exposed bay, depending how you want to use it. However, if you make this extra bay exposed, you'll have to deal with matching up the faceplate, because there is no matching cover for this bay.
We already talked a little bit about ventilation during our discussion of the exterior, but now it's time to talk about keeping things cool from the inside. There are two interior fan mounts available in this case, one in the lower front, and another in the rear wall near the area where your CPU will reside. The rear fan mount is positioned very well, but the "case integrated" fan guard could hinder some of your precious airflow. The front fan mount has some serious issues - when the front bezel was designed, the designers were smart enough to cut a circular hole in the back of the bezel so the fan could draw air through the bezel, but it is not positioned properly (see image below). Both fan mounts are positioned well, and have only minor setbacks that could easily be corrected by a persuasive dremmel tool operator.
You'll find the standard "doggie-bag" inside, with all the hardware you'll need to mount your beloved hardware. Metal standoff pegs are included, which beats the heck out of those plastic ones (those damn plastic ones sure suck don't they!). Two rear faceplates are also included, allowing you to use either a standard ATX motherboard or a Mirco ATX motherboard, and still have your I/O holes lineup properly in the rear. I should also mention the leads for the power button, reset button, speaker, etc. are all labeled well, and should have plenty of length to reach the connecting points of just about any motherboard on the market.
NOTE: The picture below shows the items that were inside the "doggie bag" along with some extra items that the folks at ColorCases included in our sample. The two fans shown in the picture are optional at the time of purchase, as is the power supply pictured throughout this review.
The Eclipse S fairs pretty well in its attempt to bring both functionality and good looks to the table. The designers have done an good job implementing a set of unique features to help improve the appearance of the case, without hindering a great deal of functionality. I really like the flip-down covers used to hide the front of your CDROM / DVD drives. Although more attention could have been paid to the cooling, overall I think this case has a great deal of potential, especially in the hands of someone who is willing to give it a little TLC.
Normally, you won't find a listing of pros and cons at the end of our reviews, but we felt this was the most accurate and concise way to convey our thoughts in this case (pun intended).
The Good Stuff
The Bad Stuff
Excellent color choice (nice paint job!)
Hidden CDROM / DVD bays are very unique
Hidden floppy bay
No sharp edges inside
Bottom ventilation holes
Moderate cooling options
Supports both ATX and Micro ATX
Side panel thumbscrews
No removable motherboard tray
Problems with sliding door on the front mounted USB ports
Covers will not play nicely with slot loading CDROM / DVD drives
Misaligned hole in front bezel (front fan mount)
Guard on rear fan mount could restrict airflow
In a "bare bones" format, this case will run you about $59.00 USD. Adding in some additional options, such as the two fans and an HEC 350-Watt power supply will bring the price around $109.00 USD (depending on the brand of fans you pick). In either event, whether you just need a new home for your existing hardware, or you're building a whole new box from scratch, these prices are comparable to what you'll find elsewhere.
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Published on: 2004-02-01 (7438 reads)[ Go Back ]