Right from the very first look it is possible to see that this case was designed with quality as a top priority. A single curved sheet of aluminium has been used to construct the front, top, bottom and back of the case, giving it a modern and seamless appearance. Unlike many other aluminium cases, the Black Pearl is not flimsy and has panels almost as thick and solid as you'd expect to find on a case made from steel.
A total of 7 external 5.25" drive bays have been provided for maximum expansion. A+
Case have fitted the top two of these bays with spring-loaded, stealthed CD-Rom drive covers and the lowest bay with a 5.25" to 3.5" converter bracket complete with aluminium floppy disk bezel.
The reflective black plastic console at the lower half of the case contains contains the LCD screen for the integrated 4-port fan controller along with the power/reset switches and an illuminated A+Case logo. This is a nice touch and certainly adds a degree of style to the front of the case, however I can see the fan controller and plastic power switches being seen by some enthusiasts as a 'tacky', and quickly replaced with a custom solution.
The top of the case is where the 'WCR' part of the Black Pearl's name starts to come into effect with A+
Case providing two 120mm fan grills at the back for fitting a dual radiator. The spacing between the screwholes on the two grills is 17.5mm, which should be suitable for most radiators. However, through our own testing we've found that neither the XSPC R120-D nor the ThermoChill PA120.2 fit correctly.
Next to the radiator grills are two circular holes suitable for routing tubing (up to a 1/2" diameter) outside of the case. However, each of the radiators tested with the Black Pearl actually blocked a large portion holes, in some cases rendering them totally unusable. We also considered that possibly the holes were designed for the radiator barbs to fit snugly into, but once again the spacing between the barbs on all of the radiators tested did not match up with the holes on the Black Pearl.
At the front of the case are two USB ports, a firewire port and two 3.5mm audio jacks all hidden behind a flush aluminium flap.
Around the back of the case we can see that A+
Case have opted for a BTX-style layout with the PSU at the bottom and the motherboard up-side-down at the top. This offers many advantages thermally, but can be an awkward layout for installing water cooling components. A+Case have also provided two spaces for 80mm fans to be installed just above the PSU, and a 120mm fan complete with meshed grill is already installed close to the CPU area in the middle of the case.
A single spring loaded thumbscrew is all that secures each of the case doors. Once unscrewed, simply pull the thumscrew towards you to release the door which can then easily be lifted out.
The underside of the Black Pearl WCR is certainly sorted for ventilation, with a total of 6 small grills spanning the length of the case. Some kind of filter over these grills would have certainly been benficial as fans inside the case are quite likely to draw dust up from the surrounding surface.
Rather than going for a standard acrylic window, A+
Case have decided to use an aluminium mesh. This still offers good visability for showing off the components inside the case, but once again comes at the cost of drawing in extra dust. Thankfully the mesh window is not bonded to the case, with A+Case using only 3 screws to secure it. This also opens up the possibility that A+Case may decide to sell a pre-cut acrylic window seperately.
Let's move on and see what the inside of the case has in store...