Enermax is a brand name well known by many for its range of top quality power supplies and more recently its Cluster and Appolish fans. Something many will be surprised to hear is Enermax has its own range of cases as well, one of which the Staray we have here for review today. Available for under £35 from many UK stores could this be the bargain case you have been looking for, or looking to avoid? OC3D break out the test system to try and find out. Here is the Staray specifications shamelessly copied from the Enermax Website:
Model description Staray Model ECA3170 Colour Black / blue Apollish front fan (ECA3170-BL) Black / red Apollisch front fan (ECA3170-BR) Type ATX Midi Tower Case Dimensions D485mm x W185mm x H420mm Material SECC Drive Bays 5,25“ 4x (external) Drive Bays 3,5“ 7x = 1x (external) + 6x (internal) Expansion slots 7x M/B ATX / Micro ATX Front I/O 2x USB 2.0, HD/AC97 Audio I/O Fan slots Front 1x 12 / 9 / 8 cm Fan slots Back 1x 12 / 9 / 8 cm Fan slots Side 2x 12 / 14 cm Openings for water cooling 2x
So without further ado lets head over the page for our first look at the case.
Enermax Staray Page: 2
Immediately the cost cutting is apparent with the Staray as it arrived in a brown box with minimal printed details, just enough to tell us whats inside and some basic specifications. An amazingly printed box is something that only reviewers really get to judge, as when buying online when has the box of your prospective case purchase actually been displayed or even been factored into your decision?
Inside the box you find the case protected by two polystyrene end caps and a thick plastic bag style coating. This is also where you find the brief user manual, a selection of screws and some Enermax branded velcro cable ties very similar to what Enermax ship with their power supplies.
First thing that strikes me with this case is how small it is even for a midtower. I have been spoilt of late with the size of the cases in for review, never the less this case is very compact and light. The side panel vents and the front panel came with a protective plastic coating to help protect the glossy plastic beneath.
We can see 4x 5.25" optical bays at the front, and 2x 3.5" bays, one of these bays houses the 2x USB ports, microphone and headphone jacks. It also has a 'light' button and I will explain more about this later. To either side of the 3.5" bays you have the power and reset switches which both light up red, the reset switch flashes as a HDD activity light. Moving round to the back of the case we can see a standard ATX layout and 2 handy watercooling grommets.
Its time to peel the Starays side panels off and take a perverted look under her clothes.
Enermax Staray Page: 3
Removing the side panel it becomes very apparent where Enermax have saved some money as the the way the door fits the case is very basic and flimsy, with only small notches on the sides of the doors to fix them to the case, no rails or any form of locking mechanism to make it feel secure. This actually makes the doors quite difficult and fiddly to fit. A closer look inside bring on a severe case of deja vu, the case feels very similar to another one. After 10 minutes moving my head from side to side like a confused puppy I realise why, the base chassis is exactly the same as the Cooler Master Elite 330.
Removing the front panel I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the mesh optical, 3.5" and 120mm fan grills have removable dust filters. The 4x optical bays, 2x external 3.5" bays and 5x internal 3.5" bays all feature tool less fittings, a simple twist of the red dial releases and locks the mounts. Peering through the hard drive bay you can see the 120mm Enermax Apollish red LED fan, the front 'light' switch enables you to not only enable/disable the LEDs on the fan but set it to chase mode where the LEDs rotate around the fan. Unfortunately the case does not come with any exhaust fan, I would have personally preferred a lesser front fan and Enermax have used the savings on supplying an exhaust fan.
Taking another look at the side panel you can see the small locating notches I spoke about earlier, but also the mounts for the 120mm and 140mm that you can fit if you wish. If you decide to use these as intakes to help feed your GPUs with fresh cool air then the grill also features a dust filter like the front of the case.
Its time to head over the page for installation and testing.
Enermax Staray Page: 4
The Staray isn't the biggest case in the world, but the OC3D case review system is far from basic and I did encounter a few problems when trying to shoehorn the hardware into the case. For starters my regular heat sink, the Nexus HOC-9000, would not fit as it fouled the power supply. So for testing I will be using the old faithful AC Freezer 7 Pro. Enermax do list a maximum GPU size on there website as being 252mm, the 4870's used in the test system are 252mm including the power connector but there is no way you would be able to fit a graphics card and a standard hard drive on the same level once you have added the necessary cables into the equation. Talking of cables there really is nowhere to hide or route them properly.
The size of the case becomes apparent with dual graphics cards in the test system there is only 15mm of clearance for the bottom card to breathe. Also with the card in the bottom slot you can see if it was not for the design of the Velociraptor you would not be able to use a hard drive in the bottom slot and a second graphics card.
Test Set Up
Intel Core2Duo Q6600 AC 7 Pro Asus Rampage Extreme 4GB Corsair XMS3 PC3-12800 Ram @ 9-9-9-24 1.9v 2x HIS 4870 1GB IceQ 4+ Corsair HX1000w Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB Windows 7 x64 Ultimate Added Yate Loon D12SM-12 120mm Exhaust Fan
Idle temperatures were taken after thirty minutes of booting up, and load temperatures after thirty minutes of torture tests using Prime95 to max out the 4 cores. Ambient temperature during testing was 22c controlled by an air conditioner. The Staray was tested against a HAF922 for comparison.
• Everest Ultimate was used to monitor temperatures
• Prime95 - CPU & Ram testing
• HD Tach - To Simulate random Reads on the hdd
• ATI Tool - GPU testing
The Staray performs admirably well again the 922 in the hard drive tests, surprisingly well to be frank, just goes to show simple can be effective. The real heat sources in the case like the graphics cards and the processor are 3 degree's hotter when compared to the 922 which isn't exactly a huge difference when you consider the price.
Even when we stress all the components the Staray still stays within 4 degree's of the 922, the Yate Loon fan may be going some way to helping as the exhaust did feel warm, but this just shows that a simple front to back airflow pattern works. If the cabling was easier to make tidy I think this would have performed even better.
The Staray has surprised even me with the testing results, so lets head over the page for our conclusion and to see my ugly mug in the Overclock3D case review videos.
Enermax Staray Page: 5
Have to start by reminding you all this case can be purchased for under £35, so it was never going to be perfect. The way the side panels attach does feel very cheap, and space is somewhat limited. Other than that though I think this case is an absolute bargain. All the fan intakes have dust filters including the optional side panel fans. Even though the cabling was quite messy inside the thermal performance was quite respectable considering the amount of hardware we shoe-horned inside the tight spaces inside the case. The test gear really did feel like a well endowed gentleman trying to squeeze into something tight!
If you are looking for a budget case, maybe something small and light to take for a LAN event that can get battered in the back of the car without having to worry too much, then this is definitely a case that should be going on your sub £50 recommended list.
- Dust Filters
- Compact Design
- Front LED Fan lighting options
- Full length GPUs can be an issue with Hard Drive Location
- Side panel fitting is difficult and feels cheap.
We would like to thank Enermax for sending us the Staray for review, you can discuss this and many others in ourforums.