Aspire X-QPack M-ATX Case Page: 1
Introduction

Today i'm going to be looking at the X-QPack MATX case from Aspire. On paper, this case appears to have all the features of a full sized case but at only a fraction of the size. By the looks of things, it could well be a good contender for the LAN party and HTPC market. Lets see how it gets on...


Packaging

Aspire Box Aspire Box

Aspire have gone for a clean and simple look here. Numerous images of the X-QPack in its multitude of colours are displayed on all corners of the box. On one side of the box, you will find the case specification, which thankfully spells out in upper case lettering that this is a MICRO ATX case.

Aspire Box Packaging

What i found most interesting printed in the features list on the box was: "High-Gloss Mirror Finish". The review sample certainly didnt show any signs of having a mirror finish. Infact i would have called it a powdercoat finish if anything.

As you can see above, the case is protected from damage by polystyrene inserts and covered with a plastic bag to prevent scratches and dust.


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Specification

* Compact, portable and tasteful design
* 3 x side see-through windows
* Front 2 x USB2.0, 2 x Audio, 1 x Firewire
* 1 x front LCD temperature readout
* 1 x 120mm blue UV LED fan at rear
* 5 x drive bays: 2*5.25" + 1*3.5" + 2*3.5"(int)
* ATX 420W 12V power supply
* Removable motherboard tray for easy installation
* Sturdy aluminum contructed for best cooling

Specs


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Appearance

Aspire have done a great job on this case. It's got timeless styling along with desirable 'case moddder' features. It would have been nice to see the front USB/Sound ports hidden away under a flap as they look a bit tacky, but thats just a matter of taste.

Aspire Case Aspire Case

Aspire Case Aspire Case

It's clear to see that Aspire have taken some time to add finishing touches, such as its LCD temperature sensor, carry handle and thumb screws. All which make you feel like you've spent your money well.

Inside Inside

Inside Inside

The inside of the case is well layed out and the removable motherboard tray is a massive bonus, making the installation a breeze. The hard disk holder is also removable and can carry up to 2 hard disks.

Its nice to see that Aspire managed to squeeze in a 120mm fan. This could come in handy if you are planning on installing a mini water cooling system. The only problem that i can forsee is that Aspire opted for a 'punched' grill rather than using a removable one. Not only does this reduce airflow slightly, but can also make it difficult to install some water cooling kits as the surface is not flat.


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Power Supply

PSU Rating PSU Lights

Included with the case is a rather nice looking 420w PSU. The finish is very similar to the Thermaltake Purepower PSU we reviewed not so long ago, and the installed Blue LED 80mm fan adds a little bling to the mix.
I was supprised to see that the PSU had dual +12v rails rated at total of 30a which theoretically should be able to power a pretty beefy system.

Aspire Cables Aspire ATX

The number of connectors may seem a bit short, but don't forget there's only a certain amount of equipment you can fit in this case. However, it would have been nice to have more than 1 SATA connector - after all, the case has space for 2 hard disks.

The ATX connector is 24-Pin, but can be converted to 20-Pin if required - a feature included on almost all modern Power Supplies.

There is a lack of support for PCI-E, which is a bit strange, considering almost all 24-Pin ATX motherboards are PCI-E nowdays, and the specs of the unit should easily be able to handle a mid-ranged PCI-E card.

12v Idle 12v Load

As with all PSU's that pass through our hands, we had to rig it up to our custom PSU tester to see how it performed under load. Disappointingly, under 30a load on the +12v rails (15a per rail), the PSU only managed to output 9.79v which could cause serious system stability issues or may even damage hardware.


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Installing Components

No good case review is complete unless you actually put components in it. So for this part of the review, i'm going to be fitting the following into the X-QPack:

Asrock M-ATX Motherboard (Radeon 200)
Intel Pentium D 805
1gb Corsair Value Select
Gainward 6600 Grahics Card
120gb Maxtor SATA Hard Disk
LG DVD-RW 16x
Generic Floppy Disk Drive
2x 12" Cold Cathodes


Case Case

Case Case

Installing the components went without a hitch, and the removable motherboard and hard disk trays made the process much easier. The rounded edges of the case were a major bonus and i sustained no injuries during the install despite the tight spaces i had to get my hands into.

I was worried that the 12" cathodes i purchased would not fit inside the case, but i'm glad to say they fitted perfectly, with less than 1mm to spare.

A full sized ATX power supply should fit inside the case, bit it would certainly be a tight fit, and you may need to move the CD/DVD drive down to the lower bay to free up some space.

In The Dark In The Dark

After all the cables had been tidied away, there was a fair bit of room left at the front of the case, which makes me think that maybe we could squeeze a small water cooling system in here. But thats a job for another day ;)


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Conclusion

The X-QPack is a great looking case with great features to boot. Currently retailing for £80 at XCase its by no means cheap. I cant help but think it may appeal to more people if they removed the PSU and lowered the price as the included PSU is quite inadequate for the modern high-spec system.

However, if you're looking for a M-ATX case thats pre-modified and you're not going to be putting any power hungry components into the mix, then this could quite well be the case for you. Just remember to buy some cathodes to take advantage of all those windows :)


Pro's
- Windows, windows, windows!
- Classy looks
- Removable Motherboard tray
- All Aluminium construction
- 120mm fan
- LCD temperature sensor
- Carry handle

Con's
- Poor performance PSU
- Lack of PCI-E connectors
- No 'Mirror Finish' as advertised.

Recommended

Thanks to Aspire for providing this Unit for review :)



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