Xilence isn't perhaps one of the first names that springs to mind when you're thinking about that new case purchase, but lets not just dismiss them out of hand merely because they're not well known. As a German based company utilising Chinese manufacturing they certainly tread a well worn route with regards to design and manufacturing. So at the very least some of the basics of the recipe are there.
The interceptor is part of a range of 3 cases all with similar rugged looks but with varying specs and capacity. At the bottom of the range lies the smaller "Hornet", and at the top the monolithic Interceptor pro. Here we take a look at the mid range £149 Interceptor. By no means a small case, standing 580mm tall, it's able to accept some of the largest motherboards on the market today, including the HPTX.
Xilence also appear to have included a few innovative solutions in their designs, such as all SSDs and HDDs having hot swap capability and a variable geomety roof venting system. Lets hope they haven't let this get in the way of the basics.
Case material/thickness: SECC 0.6&0.8mm
Front panel material: ABS
Dimensions: 230mm x 605mm x 580mm
Drive slots: 4x 5.25” exposed / 6x 2.5” SSD/SATA-HDD (with hot swap tray) / 2x 3.5” HDD internal (hidden)
Expansion Slots: 10x PCI
Rear Cooling:1x 140mm
Front Cooling: 2x 120mm
Side Cooling: 2x 120mm or 2x 140mm or 1x 230mm (optional)
Top Cooling: 3x 120mm or 2x 140mm or 1x 230mm (optional)
Front I/O: Main case: 1xUSB 3.0 + 2xUSB 2.0 + HDaudio +Reset + Power
Possible Watercooling: 1x 360mm radiator / 1x 240mm radiator / 1x 120mm radiator + 1x 120mm fan
Up Close: Overview
I think it's fair ti say the Interceptor sports quite a rugged look, somewhat reminiscent of the HAF series of cases. As with a great many cases today the roof and front panels are made of a moulded heavy duty plastic. I spent quite a while trying to work out exactly what it was that the edges of the case reminded of exactly before it hit me that they were bringing to my mind the chunky tyre treads you get on off road "mud Plugger" tyres. The case is entirely deep black, with the exception of a red trim which runs across the top edge of each side panel.
The left hand side of the case is dominated by a large mesh area, which stands proud of the rest of the side panel by a good 10mm. The upper part of this mesh area is given over to what is very possibly the smallest case window i've ever seen. More of a letter box than a window to be honest, and i'm hard pushed to think what the point of it is. The thin sliver of a view it affords into the case seems hardly worthwhile. What does appear more worthwhile is the inclusion of a selection of fan mounting options on the interior of the side panel. Should you choose you can mount either 2x120mm, 2x140mm or a single 230mm, but bear in mind none of these are included. To keep your internals dust free, Xilence have also fitted an easily removable washable filter.
The very front of the roof area of the case is where we find our front I/O area. A brace of USB2 ports are joined by a single USB3 port, alongside them lies the power and reset buttons and on the far right hand side the mic/phono jack plug sockets. Situated just off the main control panel area to the right lies a small slider switch which is used to alter the air extract vents. Plenty of room here for a fan controller but sadly there isn't one.
As mentioned above, the roof of the case has variable geometry vents. These can be opened and closed so as to allow more, or less air to escape from the case. From a design point of view they're a nice touch as they do allow you to alter the aesthetics of the case. However from a practical standpoint i'm not entirely sure why you'd want to let less hot air out of a case. I thought perhaps closing them might lessen the perceived noise of fans etc which exists in pretty much any case, but experiments with this proved that having them opened or closed made no discernible difference to noise levels, but did have an impact on the temp inside the case by raising it 5-6 degrees. Not much you might say, but these few degrees may be just the few degrees that keep your CPU or GPU temp just this side of acceptable. The image below left shows the vents closed and the image on the right has them open. not really much difference, with just the addition of serrations allowing a fraction more air to escape.
The front of the case is edged with the same plastic trim as the top, for me, bringing to mind the chunky side wall tread of an off road tyre. As with most cases the front of the interceptor case can be divided up into two sections. The upper section is home to 4x5.25" drive bays, each bay being covered with a gloss black mesh. The bay covers are easily removed enabling the fitting of 5.25" devices such as DVD drives or bay reservoirs. The whole of the front bay area can also be removed if needs be to open up the whole of the drive bay area.
Dropping our gaze to the lower portion of the case front we can see that it is also finished in the same gloss black mesh as the upper section. This time though a left hand hinged door opens up to reveal a veritable feast of fast swap 3.5" and 2.5" bays. I use the term fast swap as opposed to hot swap as it is still necessary to insert the drives into caddies before slotting them into the bays, but that's where the connection issue ends, as all other connections to both power and SATA are already taken care of by some clever circuitry behind the drive bay area. In total there are 6x3.5" bays, and 4 2.5" bays. It is however worth noting that each of the 3.5" bays can also be pressed into service as a 2.5" should you so desire. Cooling is provided by 2x120mm fans located inside the door. The door itself is not insubstantial and closes nicely, retained with the help of magnetic closures. The fans have mesh filters, held in place with screws and although not exactly quick to remove don't really pose anyone with a screw driver and 2 minutes at their disposal much of an issue. The exterior of the case door is finished with a rather nice diamond etched Xilence Logo in chrome.
Flipping things round to look at the rump of the case we see the red and black theme continued. Nice attention to detail, but not really sure who looks at the rear of their case after they've finished building. Cooling is provided by a 140mm fan on extract, with the rear I/O area located immediately to it's left. Moving down the case we are greeted with no less than 7 watercoolong grommeted apertures and no less than 10 expansion bay covers, this latter feature obviously cocking it's head towards the cases ability to accept the HPTX Motherboard. Finally at the base of the case we find the cut out for the PSU, which like the side panel has an easily removable pull out plastic mesh fan filter located underneath.
Up Close: Interior
As you might expect from a case able to accept the bigger motherboards on the market, the interior of the Interceptor is pretty cavernous. That said, none of the space has been wasted, which means that the case's external footprint is no bigger than it need be. The case comes without any of the motherboard stand offs attached, leaving so many holes in the backplate that you'd think someboby had paid it a visit with a shot gun. This isn't a criticism, oh no, far from it. The more holes, the more options we have for our choice of motherboard. A total of 6 good sized grommeted cable management holes are evident, with and 7th larger un-grommeted hole at the bottom being provided for cables as they leave the PSU and start their journey up the rear of the backplate. Turning the case around for a look at this rear area we can see that there's plenty of room, with 20mm of space at the narrowest points and much more in some areas. What isn't so generous is the measly allocation of a staggeringly scant 7 cable tie points, 7 for heavens sake!!! what use are 7? especially as you may well be trying to manage the vipers nest of cabling that comes with a twin CPU multi GPU system. And while i'm having a bit of a rant, why can't manufacturers that make these HPTX capable cases provide a blanking plate to mask off the second CPU rear access hole so that us mere mortals who install simple ATX cases don't have to gaze at a gaping hole poking out from behind out motherboard.
Focusing now on the front drive bay area of the interior we get a better view of the upper 5.25" bays. I'd have to call this a semi tool-less deign, as although no tools are required rather than the snap-lock type fixings we are becoming accustomed to this case actually requires you to turn red thumb screws in order to thread retaining screws into the drives (the cheek of them eh!) The red thumb screws are, as far as I can determine identical in design to those found on the rear of expensive HiFi speakers, used to retain speaker cable, which is no bad thing. Sliding down to the 2.5" and 3.5" bays things start to look a bit less well organised as the drive bay sizes fluctuate. It's no big thing, and by no means affects performance, however I think what looks like a random scattering of drive bays makes this part of the interior look more than a little untidy. Random scatterings aside, aside from the 2x3.5" drive bays located at the very bottom of the case, the most noticable feature of the upper portions of these drive bays are the PCBs mounted to the rear of the bays which allow the fast swapping of drives. A nice idea that allows for some very tidy wiring as each drive can be essentially pre wired into the PCB. What isn't quite such a nice idea is the bizarre choice of Green for the motherboard. Mmmm a black and red themed case....I think we'll choose a 1990s green for the PCBs...
Making our way to the rear of the case we find the PSU mounting area. Being an HPTX capable case there's no real concerns with regards to PSU size, and with an ample filtered vent your PSU should be able to keep itself nice and cool. However vibration free it won't be as there is no evidence of anything so much much as a nod towards vibration and noise dampening. Not so much as a rubber pad to be found. As we've already described the rear of the case from the outside there's no real need to cover it all again from the inside, however I did think a picture of the rather nice red perforated expansion bay covers was worth a showing.
Ok so time for a look at the roof. I guess you're all wondering what size rad it's possible to get up there (and if you're not, why not?) Well the good news is you should have no problems with a full size 360 without any modding. A max depth from the underside of the roof to the Motherboard stand offs of 70mm means you may have to be a bit cautious with regards to thickness as the fans must also be mounted internally to the roof. Anything up to 40mm should be fine though. Watercooling options aside, the roof area is able to accept a total of 3x120mm fans or 2x140mm fans or a single 230mm. However, for a case of this size no fans are included in this location.
Instructions and Accessories.
Xilence have included pretty much the bare minimum when it comes to accessories. A selection of all the screws necessary for assembly of drive bays and Motherboard etc and a measly 3 cable ties. I'm sorry, but 3 cable ties hardly seems worthwhile. It's like leaving a tip to a waiter of 20p. It would actually have been less insulting to have left nothing. Still, with only 7 mounting points I guess Xilence feel you're not going to need any more. I did get rather excited though when I identified the large heavy box which promised the accessories. Like I say, it was heavy, and as we all know, heavy = good. Well it would if 90% of the weight wasn't made up of a set of optional case feet.
Scant though the accessories pack is, Xilence can be credited for having one of the most comprehensive set of instructions I think i've seen for a while. Providing only English and German languages though the booklet does take the system builder through all stages of the build over the course of several pages.
Building into the Interceptor is made all the more easy by the comprehensive instructions provided. Granted, the fast swap bay wiring can be a bit of a fiddle as it's not immediately obvious what goes where, but most of this confusion is born out of the method being different to that which we're used to. As well as having Molex and SATA attachments, each of the individual green PCBs also has a brace of fan headers should you wish to take advantage of any of the spare juice at hand. However, as these headers are no where near any of the vacant fan locations then i'm not really sure how much use they're going to be unless you're willing to trail wires all the way around the interior and up to the roof or over to the door.
With an ATX mother board installed we get a bit of an idea of the space available to us. CPU air cooler installation shouln't be a problem with over 200mm of headroom available even the biggest of fin stacks should have room to stand tall.
You've probably already worked out that accommodating a large GPU isn't going to be a problem for the Xilence Interceptor. Anything up to 14" (360mm) will fit just fine without the need for any modifications, and with 10 PCI expansion bays housing a multi GPU set up should also be a cinch. The case is shown below with my old faithful ASUS EN8800GT and the Havik 120 cooler.
Building into the Interceptor is a pleasant enough affair, as it tends to be with all the larger cases, and although i've slagged of the lack of a blanking plate for the 2nd CPU cut out, the hole provided does make a convenient pop up point for the 24 pin lead. The rest of the grommeted cable management holes are have a clear leaning towards the larger boards, with only the bottom two and the one nearest the GPUs allowing management for ATX and smaller cards. It's worth noting that should you go down the HPTX route, you're going to be covering up these 3 holes. Not a problem at the sides of the board, but really leaves your options limited at the base of the board. It's also worth a thought that should you have a larger board and choose to go down the multi GPU route the bottom of the Motherboard and 10th PCI slot buts right up to the top of the PSU
Performance, Testing and Conclusion
It's a cliche, but beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder. What appeals to one may not appeal to the other. If you like the looks of this case, and others do not, it doesn't make you wrong, or your opinion less valid, it simply means you have different taste. Personally although I like the gloss black mesh, i'm not a big fan of the chunky plastic edging. The variable geometry roof venting does appeal, as although it's functionality is questionable it does enable you to opt for a variation in the looks of your case. If you're a big fan of meshed side panels then again this case is going to appeal. if you like big windows then i'm afraid it's dremel time. With regards to the rest of the looks, the black and red may have a certain appeal if you're a fan of the "red team", that said it's subtle enough not to intrude if red really isn't your thing. What really confuses me though is the choice of green PCB for the HDD fast swap circuitry. I'd really love to know whether this was a deliberate design choice or an oversight. Either way it's pretty unforgivable.
Having mentioned the fast swap circuitry above it's worth reflecting on the impact these PCBs have on the airflow through the case. With only 2x120mm fans on intake at the front and 1x140mm extracting at the rear, airflow is low to say the least. Factor in the baffle effect that these PCBs have on the airflow and you've got the makings of a really hot and stuffy interior on your hands. Sure you can add in some fans to the side panel and some fans to the roof, but you're going to be adding to the cost of your build, and with the dubious functionality of the roof extract system you're still going to struggle to get the hot air out of your case.
Quality wise there's nothing actually bad about the Interceptor, but then neither does it scream the same level of quality as a Lian Li or a Silverstone. That said, it's not priced like wither of those cases either so you get what you pay for I guess. Don't get me wrong, this case isn't going to fall apart over night, or at any point soon, it's just that it doesn't have the "oooh" factor when you start to dig into it's detail points.
For a case that's trying to cut it with the big boys there are a few noticable ommisions that I can't think would have pushed the cost of the case up too much. For beginners a fan controller would have been a great addition, especially with all the additional fan power points provided by the HDD PCBs. Additional cable tie points wouldn't have broken the bank, neither can I think that perhaps a single 140mm roof fan to go with the one on the rear. And if you're going to throw in some zip ties, at least be generous and give us more than three.
It's not all bad though. You are getting quite a bit for your money here. The fast swap HDD and SSD bays are a real win for the Interceptor, as is the ability to take a 360 rad in the roof without the need for modification. And for an HPTX capable case although it's by no means small it isn't going to totally dominate your desk to the extent that you feel afraid it might crush you if it falls.
And so to the competition. It's fair to say there are getting to be quite a few HPTX capable cases on the market. It's also fair to say that most of them cost a little bit more than the Interceptor, and some, quite a lot more. So if we're going to be fair, (and when aren't we), we have to mention the Xigmatek Elysium. Coming in at £20 less then the £150 Interceptor the Elysium offers just as much, if not more, and has arguably more agreeable aesthetics.
And so to the awards. The Interceptor isn't bad, it's a good case, however, i'm afraid it's not a great case because of this I think a Bronze is fair.
Thank you to OCUK for the sample reviewed here today, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D forums.