A+ Case El Diablo ATX Case Page: 1
Introduction

A little over a week ago Nanopoint contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing a case manufactured by A+ Case. As was mentioned in our recent review of the Black Pearl WCR, the A+ Case company are “part of the MaxPoint group who are also responsible for well known companies such as Tagan and Icybox”. I’ve been a PC enthusiast for a few years and know that both Tagan and Icybox have well respected product lines, so naturally my expectations were raised. A+ Case are rapidly developing a reputation for building quality cases across the budget spectrum, a number of their cases have become synonymous with “extreme” solutions in case cooling. Read on and you’ll see exactly where I’m coming from.

Packaging

The case arrived in a double-skinned cardboard box. The box is adorned with images of the case and references to the case’s specifications.

Box side

end

As the images below suggest, El Diablo is a well protected beast with substantial styro-foam inserts used to protect the case from over-zealous couriers. The inserts also help to reduce the possibility of damage in the event of a sharp object piercing the box. As you can see, there is a good couple of inches space either side of the case sides.

Open Box

foam


Boxed Accessories

As shown below, the case also comes supplied with a small accessories box which includes: tool-free drive rails, motherboard mounting screws, assorted screws, an I/O panel, rubber fan mounts, a case speaker and some relatively basic instructions.

Gubbins


Specifications


A+ Case market the case as follows:

- New special cooling system with an enormous blue illuminated 280 mm fan in side panel and a 200 mm fan in front panel
- High quality front panel with integrated blue illuminated Apluslogo and 200 mm fan with separate adjustment respectively ON/ OFF switches for both fans
- Variable adjustable 280 mm fan in side panel to cool down all components perfectly
- Up to 12 disk drives can be mounted inside the case
- Easy drive mounting with screw less rails
- Easy installation of the PCI cards with clip system
- In accordance with RoHS

Measuring in at 260 x 540 x 600mm (WxHxD) the case isn't as tall as some full tower cases but, due to the diameter of the intake fan, the case is relatively wide.

Full specs. can be downloaded from here.

Lets move onto the next page and see how the case looks outside of the box.

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Appearance - Daytime

Due to the amount of lighting built into El Diablo I've divided the appearance section of the review into two sections, this first section focuses on daytime shots:

If you like your PC case to be “in your face” this may well be the case for you. There’s no denying, the name “El Diablo” is certainly fitting, the huge intake fan located on the case’s front coupled with the sculpted front panel and mesh side panel add to the futuristic no nonsense look. The case also features fold-out feet which help stabilise things which I thought was a nice touch when you consider that the case is not exactly tall.

Case


front

feet

The intake fans looks like something you'd see if you looked into a jet engine.....thankfully, even when running at full speed both fans are nigh on inaudible. In the above image note the two buttons, one located on each side of the fan, these enable the user to power off the front and the side fans. In addition to this it's possible to control the speed of each fan, with a roller adjuster located on the case side as shown here, so if like me you like your pc to be cool when benching/gaming and quiet when browsing the web then these options will allow you to do just that. The panel fit is also illustrated here, as you can see, no unsightly uneven gaps to concern yourself over.

Adjuster

The above image depicts the finish on the steel sections of the case. Looks pretty decent in my opinion. The only downside for me thus far is the apparent bronze/black case colour scheme. Call me a traditionalist but I prefer my cases to be one of three colours, black, black or....black. As you can see below, the 280mm fan mounted in the side panel is a sizeable beast. I had a minor issue with the large side panel mounted fan, when powered up the fan blades were scuffing something. 2 minutes later and all was sorted, the fan blades were contacting the LEDs. A slight adjustment of the LEDs was all that was required to fix it.

Case side

Case side

Also, as shown in the two images below, each side panel has a sculpted section which doubles as an air channel to allow the cool air from the oversized intake fan to make it's way unhindered into the main compartment. This is a nice touch and should help reduce the internal case temps. It should also be noted that the side panels are also held on with high quality thumbscrews.

top

Side

The five 5.25 and 3.5 inch drive bays are hidden behind a plastic door, this does the job of concealing the often unsightly optical drives. It also serves to conceal the power on/off and reset buttons. If I could suggest an improvement here I'd say the latch/closure mechanism could do with beefing up a bit. All in all though, the drive bay door does a good job of maintaining the case's futuristic looks.

door


I/O Panel


Other external features include a top panel mounted I/O panel. The ports are accessed by lifting a small plastic door. I'd have liked to have seen an aluminium door fitted here for durability.

Top I/O door

Ports include: mic, speaker, 2x USB and firewire. This image also shows the case finish, I prefer the satin/flat finish of anodised aluminium but have to say, the case still looks good.

Top IO ports


So, now we've had a chance at reviewing El Diablo under daylight conditions, let's move to the next page where we'll see how the case looks with the lights down and the LEDs on...

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Appearance - night-time

Well, here are the night-time shots. I can honestly say that I've never owned or tested such a well lit PC case before. Some of you out there may look at the images and think "no....too much", whereas those of you who like all things bright and 'blue-tiful' may already be considering a purchase. I'm not a huge fan of in-your-face cases but this one somehow appealed, the lighting seemed to be bang on in terms of it matching the case's styling. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions...

A shot of the front intake, looks pretty impressive...

El Diablo - Intake Fan Lit

The intensity of the lighting can be clearly seen here. Who needs domestic lighting when you've got a case which looks so good with the lights off!

El Diablo - Lighting

The lighting is simply phenomenal, if PC cases could be categorised on the basis of looks I'd say this case falls into the 'futuristic doorman' category!

This case may look good but let's find out what the internal layout is like on the next page...

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Aside from the substantial cooling solution we see implemented in El Diablo the case internals are pretty standard. I'm pleased to be able to say that the materials used in the case are finished to a high quality, nothing annoys me more than a case with sharp edges, thankfully El Diablo is well put together.

El Diablo 'Uncovered'

If I was reviewing a case with a standard 120mm intake fan located at the base of the case front then the orientation of the HDD drive bay may have concerned me. But, given the size of the intake fan fitted to El Diablo this is not such a concern because the fan is able to shift air at an astonishing rate. The case also includes a PSU support rail, with many powerful systems running sizeable 1kw PSUs this feature is essential. If the case did not have this fitted you would run the risk of stripping the threads of the PSU mounting screws - this would have a damaging consequence. I also like the channelling in the motherboard tray, this should allow easy routing of the top panel's I/O cables to the headers which are normally situated towards the lower edge of a motherboard.

internals

As shown below and noted in the specifications, all 3.5inch and 5.25inch drives can be mounted without the use of tools, thus speeding up the install. The tool-less drive rail mounts are also stored out of the way, this is a handy feature (there's nothing worse than scrabbling around for components which arrived with a case that was bought 6 months ago!!).

bays

Another thoughtful feature can be seen below, the case's rear panel has been pre-cut with holes (which need to be popped out before use) which will allow the user to run tubing to an externally mounted radiator. The tool-less retention brackets can also be seen in this image, again, for ease of install these are great but I would question longevity if you're likely to be adding and removing PCI and PCI-Express cards on a regular basis. Note, the case is not shipped with a 120mm exhaust fan, which to be honest, with the amount of airflow this case is capable of I doubt that will cause an issue!!

Rear IO

Fans


Sizeable intake fans = increased airflow....but, there is another point which we've yet to touch upon - Dust. You'll note that the front intake fan shown below does not have a dust filter.

intake fan

intake fan

The side panel intake fan is clearly going to add to the problem, no sign of a filter here either. Though this image does show the duct which allows the air to pass from the intake fan on the front panel, into the main compartment without having to negotiate the HDD cage.

Intake

intake

Now we're familiar with the case internals lets move on to the testing on the next page...


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Testing

So, with all that cooling hardware, how did El Diablo perform?

The test system specification was as follows:

Motherboard - Asus P5K3
CPU - Intel E4300
Graphics - 8800GTS
HDDs - 2x Hitachi 80GB SATA2 configured in RAID0
PSU - Nexus 500W modular

My main aim during the test was to ascertain just how effective El Diablo's cooling is.

Note, all componentry was cooled by the stock cooling solution/s.

Idle tests involved taking 5 temperature readings over a period of 10 minutes, the system was at zero load during these measurements, temperatures were measured using Asus' onboard probes using the Asus Probe software.

Load tests were carried out with two instances of Prime95 running, again, 5 readings were taken over a period of 10 minutes, the first of the 5 readings was taken after the system had run Prime95 for 30 minutes.

Results

Note - ambient temp. was measured at 26 Degrees C.


 

There's no doubt in my mind that the substantial cooling solution provided by the 200mm and 280mm has contributed to a cool running test setup.

On the basis of thermal performance alone, given the relatively high ambient temps. this case is a good performer.

Now let's move onto the conclusion.

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Conclusion

This case is undoubtedly a great performer. If we remove aesthetics from the equation there is no getting away from the impressive idle and load temperatures which were derived from the tests. However, what makes this case such a great performer, may also put traditionalists off. If you have a high specification PC which generates alot of heat and you like your cases well lit, look no further, El Diablo will not dissappoint.

However, if you are a traditionalist who dislikes cases of this ilk then you're missing out on the opportunity of owning what is probably one of the best air-cooled cases around.

Looking at the price, the case is available for around £75. When one considers some of the features and cooling potential on tap I think that's great value for money.

The case is available for purchase from both CCL and eBuyer.

Pros:
• Cooling ability with speed controllable case fans
• Solid good quality construction
• Looks/lighting
• Excellent value
• Some water cooling prep.
• Thumbscrews
• Tool-less drive rails

Cons:
- No dustfilters fitted to the fans
- Large side panel fan LEDs required adjustment
- Looks/lighting
- Plastic top I/O panel door

The A+ El Diablo gets a "Value For Money" Award and a "Recommended" Award because it is a solid performer and it's well within most enthusiast's budget.

Value For $$ Award Recommended Award

Thanks again to Nanopoint for providing this case for review.

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