Gigabyte 3D Aurora Case Page: 1
Introduction Gigabyte 3D Aurora
 
Gigabyte is a company that needs no introduction. The Taiwanese manufacturer produces PC hardware ranging from motherboards, graphics cards, power supplies and cooling products - just to name a few. Gigabyte literally have their fingers in a lot of pies.
 
When it comes to purchasing a PC chassis, I usually find myself ogling over the many options available, and ultimately doing a lot of reading and research. Once I've narrowed the field down a little to say five potential prospects, then the scrutinizing really begins. A chassis should: provide adequate, if not exceptional cooling properties; not be back-breakingly heavy; provide sufficient room for the components to be used, and sufficient room for the installer to move when installing said components. I'd also add looks to that list, but looks are a personal and subjective quality.
 
Today I have been given the opportunity to review the Gigabyte 3D Aurora case, which admittedly is not the newest kid on the block, but does offer an amazing amount of features and quality for your money. Let's begin the review by taking a look at the Gigabyte 3D Aurora's specifications.
 
 
Specifications
 
The specifications for the Gigabyte 3D Aurora were taken directly from Gigabyte's product page:
 
Model: GZ-FSCA1-ANB

Case Type: Full Tower
 
Dimensions: 205 x 522 x 510 (W x H x D)

Front bezel Material: Aluminum

Color: Black

Side Panel: Elegant Vent Design

Body Material:1.0 mm Aluminum
 
Net Weight: 7.1 kg

5.25" drive bay (External): 5

3.5" drive bay (External): 2

3.5" drive bay (Internal): 5

Expansion Slot: 7

Motherboard: ATX / Micro ATX

System Fan (front): One 120 mm silent fan equipped with blue LEDs
 
System Fan (rear): Two 120 mm silent fans equipped with blue LEDs
 
I/O Ports: Two USB2.0 / One IEEE 1394 / One audio
 
Let's head over the page to see how the Gigabyte 3D Aurora should arrive at your doorstep.


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Packaging
 
The Gigabyte 3D Aurora comes packaged in a smart looking blue and black themed box. On the front of the box there is an extreme closeup of the prominant front part of the chassis. On the rear of the box, Gigabyte has included a number of text boxes with images highlighting the major features of the 3D Aurora.
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora packaging_front Gigabyte 3D Aurora packaging_rear
Gigabyte 3D Aurora packaging_side Gigabyte 3D Aurora packaging side_2
 
On the left-hand side of the box there is an image illustrating both the silver and black versions of the Gigabyte 3D Aurora, and on the right-hand side there is a multi-lingual layout of the chassis specifications. Opening up the box, we are immediately greeted by the chassis manual sitting neatly encased in the polystyrene inserts. Upon removing the chassis from the box, we can see that it is well protected from impact and scratching, thanks to the inclusion of the styrofoam inserts and plastic bag.
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora box with top open Gigabyte 3D Aurora out of box
 
Let's take a look at what Gigabyte has bundled in with the 3D Aurora, shall we...
 
Bundle
 
The bundle is actually housed within the Gigabyte 3D Aurora itself, but I've removed it so that we can see it. The black storage box below holds all the goodies nice and securely.
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora accessories compartment
Gigabyte 3D Aurora installation manual Gigabyte 3D Aurora accessories bundle
 
As well as the manual, Gigabyte has included the following:
 
2x 4-pin molex to SATA power cables
2x sets of keys
Motherboard stand-offs and screws
Tool-less HDD and 5.25" mounts
Spare screen for 3D feature
Sticky tabs for cable routing

Admittedly it's a small bundle, but Gigabyte has provided everything that you'll need to get up and running in no time. Let's head over the page to have a closer look at the Gigabyte 3D Aurora chassis in more detail...


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External
 
To be honest, I'm a sucker for a black case, as it accentuates the lines a little better, and the black Gigabyte 3D Aurora is no different. Admittedly, the protruding part of the front fascia takes a little getting used to, but overall the chassis is quite aesthetically pleasing.
 
The Gigabyte 3D Aurora has a windowed panel included, so if you don't want to, there is no need to butcher it in the name of modification purposes. The windowed panel features a lockable handle, and the keen-eyed amongst us will also notice the same sort of lock on the front fascia. Both side panels fit extremely snugly and there is not a hint of 'rattle' from either one.
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora side-on Gigabyte 3D Aurora showing other side
Gigabyte 3D Aurora rear
 
On the rear of the chassis, Gigabyte has seen fit to include two 120mm fans to ensure that all available warm air that collects inside during operation can be efficiently drawn out the back. As well as the fans, we can see the rubber grommets in the bottom right-hand corner that will enable the chassis to be used with a dedicated water-cooling setup too should you wish to travel down that route.
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora front Gigabyte 3D Aurora fan inlet
 
The front of the Gigabyte 3D Aurora features a nicely contoured door that extends approximately 2/3's of the height of the chassis. From this front elevation we can see the protruding part of the fascia in a little more detail, and we can see that it is in fact the air intake for a 120mm fan.
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora on/off and reset button
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora front panel connectors
 
Immediately behind the door we can see the power and reset switches, which are nicely recessed into the front to minimise the risk of them accidentally being pushed. On the side of the air intake at the bottom, there are: the power and HDD activity LED's; microphone and audio in jacks; two USB and one Firewire port.
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora case feet retracted Gigabyte 3D Aurora case feet open
 
Like the Thermaltake Spedo I reviewed a short while back, the Gigabyte 3D Aurora also has retractable case feet. The images below show them in both their retracted and unretracted position. All that's needed is to gently swing them out 90 degrees and they lock into position, providing additional stability for the chassis itself.


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Internal
 
The Gigabyte 3D Aurora is surprisingly spacious, and while there isn't a removable motherboard tray, there is a significant amount of room above it to make installation easier. We can see from the image below (showing the chassis with the rear side panel off) that there really isn't much room to route cables behind the motherboard tray itself. As a consequence, it means that cabling will either have to be routed behind the motherboard, or over the top of the tray. Unfortunately, the latter tends to look messy and can hinder airflow through the chassis.
 
As with many budget chassis', the Gigabyte 3D Aurora is riveted together instead of screwed like my Silverstone TJ-07. Admittedly, this is done purely as a cost-cutting exercise, but it's something to remember if you decide that you'd like to incorporate one of these into a mod.
 
3D Aurora rear 3D Aurora front
Gigabyte 3D Aurora 
 
Interestingly though, Gigabyte has included minor cable routing possibilities into the PSU support rails. We can see from the image (above right) that the small clips on both sides can assist when routing cables. I still would have liked to have seen some pre-cut holes in the motherboard tray to make facilitation easier though.
 
water-cooling grommets and blanking plates
 
The PCI and PCI-E blanking plates area sees a rather ingenious way of securing the hardware. At the top of the blanking plates, there is a small lever that, when pulled towards the front of the chassis, releases pressure holding the blanking plates in place. Moving the lever back into the locked position sees everything firmly held in place.
 
 HDD cage HDD cage_2
 
The HDD cage is able to take up to five hard drives due to its sufficient height. Hard drives are positioned into place and retained in position courtesy of tool-less rails that lock into the small holes on the leading edge of the cage itself. The accessories box that we saw on page 2 is situated at the bottom of the HDD cage, and if you want to make full use of the available space, then this will need to be removed.
 
Drivebay shot Tool-less mounting
 Metal plates behind 5.25" drivebay covers
 
We can see that the Gigabyte 3D Aurora can cater to up to five 5.25" devices and also makes provisions for two floppy drives if you still use them. The 3D Aurora also features the tool-less design that we see in many chassis available in the market. I would have liked to have seen black locking mechanisms on this chassis, as the white just looks a little odd, but this is an extremely minor niggle.
 
Behind front fascia
 
Immediately behind the front fascia and above the fan filter, we can see the 3D Aurora's distinguishing feature - the 3D backlight. Essentially, the globe (silver cylindrical shape above fan filter) beams down onto a plastic screen and projects the image/writing onto the area in front of the chassis. In this case, it's '3D Aurora'.


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Installation
 
Installation of the test system into the Gigabyte 3D Aurora chassis was for the most part, a pleasant affair. The height of the chassis allowed additional room to move when installing the CPU heatsink and power supply, as well as routing the cables around the top of the motherboard.
 
PCI locking mechanism graphics card locked in place
 
The tool-less locking mechanism for the blanking plates at the rear of the chassis is probably the best implemented and well thought out of any currently available chassis. The locking mechanism holds everything firmly in place, even when you have multiple cards in the PCI or PCI-E slots on the motherboard.
 
HDD cage HDD cage_2
 
The HDD cage caused quite an amount of anguish when installing the test system today. Firstly, there isn't a hell of a lot of room between the edge of my ASUS Blitz Formula SE motherboard and the HDD cage. This made it incredibly difficult to install the IDE and SATA plugs. Even moving the front panel connector cables didn't seem to provide much additional leverage and room to move. So if you have a motherboard with side-orientated plugs, then it's certainly worth bearing this in mind. Secondly, as there aren't any cable routing holes in the motherboard tray, it means that routing something as simple as a SATA cable can lead to increased cable clutter - especially if you have a number of SATA drives to install.
 
Chassis with hardware installed
 
Gigabyte 3D Aurora front
 
With the system powered on, we can see that the 120mm fans emit a rather pleasant blue hue, both inside the chassis and out. The 120mm LED fans are quite bright, but not overpowering. Should a blue theme not be to your liking, a simple swap of the fans for a colour more suited to your tastes is easy enough.
  
Gigabyte 3D Aurora powered on
 
3D Aurora backlight
 
From the image above, we can see the 3D Aurora backlight projection in action. I was going to swap the standard 3D Aurora one out for something like 'OC3D is teh Shiz', or 'OC3D is t34 1337|\|355 11111', but I unfortunately ran out of time. :D


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Test Setup and Results
 
In order to test the Gigabyte 3D Aurora chassis I have used a standard set of hardware. The hardware has been listed below:
 
System specifications 
 
During testing I will be taking temperature measurements from the CPU, GPU and HDD areas of the chassis. To measure the system temperatures, I used Everest Ultimate Edition. Case temperatures were measured using a common household mercury thermometer. Idle temperatures were taken 20 minutes after the computer has been turned on to allow temperatures to acclimatise, and load temperatures were taken after playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for an hour. Ambient temperature during testing was 25 deg Celsius.
 
Noise readings will be taken approximately 30cm's away from the chassis using a digital sound level meter. All fans have been connected to 4-pin molex connectors on the power supply instead of the motherboard in order to prevent the motherboard controlling fan speed by PWM.
 
Idle temperatures
 
Load Temperatures
 
Sound pressure levels chart 
 
Results Observations
 
The Gigabyte 3D Aurora performed quite well by maintaining reasonable temperatures across the board, in both idle and load testing. One area that the chassis fell down considerably, though, is that of the HDD cage. Due to the tool-less HDD mounts not having any form of vibration dampening material, HDD vibration was extremely noticeable. Running the sound meter during load testing returned a reading of 41.27dBA, which is very reasonable (Sound pressure level chart).


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Conclusion Gigabyte 3D Aurora
 
So how well did the Gigabyte 3D Aurora perform in today's testing?
 
First and foremost I would like to say that it's so refreshing to see a chassis at this price-point with so many features, reasonably good looks and cooling performance to boot. The Gigabyte 3D Aurora isn't the newest kid on the block, but it's quite nice to take a step back and cast an eye over an older case.
 
Admittedly, the Gigabyte 3D Aurora may not be to everyone's liking, as I had reservations about the protruding bottom on the front fascia. But the longer I have spent with the chassis, the more it has grown on me. The case itself is very well constructed, and exceptionally light for its size. Sure it has some design flaws, which we've seen today. The HDD cage can create some issues when plugging in components and the rails would benefit from some sort of anti-vibration measures to keep HDD noise down. All things considered though, it performs quite well.
 
Pricing for the Gigabyte 3D Aurora comes in at an extremely reasonable £70.49 Inc VAT from After Hours Computers. For our Australian readers, Altech Computers has it for AUS$200 inc GST.
 
The Good
+ Lightweight
+ Well constructed
+ Plenty of storage capacity
+ Price
 
The Mediocre
* HDD mounts could be better designed
* HDD cage may cause issues with side-orientated ports
 
The Bad
- Nothing to report
 
Oc3D Recommended Award
 
OC3D would like to thank Altech Computers for supplying today's review sample.
 
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