AeroCool Sixth Element White edition
Testing and Conclusion.
The ease of build into a case is determined by many factors, the greatest of these being the space available. Being a mid-tower case space is always going to be at a premium on the inside. Where a manufacturer can make a difference is in how they organise the internal space and to what extent they include features that make the system builders life easier. Well AeroCool tick a lot of the boxes. Lets start with cable management. We get three good sized holes, each of which is rubber grommeted. "So what" I hear you say, "surely this is to be expected these days". Not so. Ever taken a look inside a CM-690? The grommets are a bit on the flimsy side and did dislodge when cables were poked through, but thankfully only took a second to refit. The space behind the motherboard isn't vast, you're going to have to think carefully about how you route some of the chunkier cables, and may run into problems if you're into using pre braided cable extenders. That said with a bit of careful planning you should be OK. The inclusion of eight cable tie mounts grouped around the cut outs should make a neat cable job considerably easier to achieve, especially as Aerocool have been thoughtful enough to include a handful of black cable ties, and of course the GPU securing mechanism should you choose to use it. So what else have we got that makes our build and hence life easier? Well good sized CPU cut out makes installing and changing heat-sinks considerably less tedious for a start. Additional little details like filters for the PSU and isolating rubber stand offs for the PSU add to the overall impression that this is well thought out case interior. The ability to remove the upper HDD rack is a nice inclusion at this price point, increasing the max GPU length from a reasonable 280mm up to more than adequate 400mm. Removing the upper HDD rack also serves to improve the airflow through the case.
So what of airflow? There's no denying that although they look interesting and add a certain individuality to the looks of the case the triangular vents do somewhat impede airflow through the case. To a certain extent this can be mitigated by adding a rear extract and perhaps some side window fans, but in stock form airflow isn't the best. Is it adequate? Yes I think it is, but better solutions are out there if max airflow is your prime concern.
Overall build quality is good, the paint paint finish is good with no discernible imperfections or inclusions. The plastic used on the roof, door and front of the case is reasonably thick and feels sturdy enough. The Steel used is on the thin side at 0.6mm but again it's thick enough for the job in hand. All internal edges are rolled, even the ones under the grommets which would indicate that the AeroCool QA chap has been out and about. It does however appear that he had a day off when the Motherboard standoff holes were drilled as the burrs on the reverse side of the tray (where you do all your cable management) have not been removed, instead simply painted over. The edges are sharp enough to snag cable braiding and most likely leave you with a few cut fingers and knuckles as a memento of the build if you're not careful.
When a manufacturer builds a case, or any product for that matter there is always a balance to be struck between the quality of the materials used and the features included. You might think a manufacturer would just build a case and see how much it costs them to do so, then sell it for a percentage more. Not so, The eventual price point of the case is often one of the first factors to be determined. Why? Well the manufacturer will want to produce a product to compete in a certain sector of the market, a certain price point if you will. Once that is determined they will then establish a budget for the case and set about producing the best item they can. But what does "Best" mean? Does it mean feature packed or high quality? Most likely a bit of both, and this is where the tightrope walk begins. Include too many features and you have to crop the quality of the parts used to keep in budget. Concentrate too much expenditure on ensuring only quality parts are used and you're going to come up short when you want to dip into the budget for the features you wanted to include. So many ways to get it wrong, and a narrow route to stay on to get it right.
So how well have AeroCool walked the line with the Sixth Element? Remember we're looking at a case that retails in the region of £78 here. Well it ticks the boxes with regards to features without a shadow of a doubt, but does it stray too far that way? The best way to answer this is to ask the question of yourself "what would I like to improve, and what would I be happy to give up to get that improvement" Personally, with the exception of the burrs I think the Sixth Element walks the line pretty well. So why no silver or gold award? Well at the "about £80" price point there's a lot of others who also walk that line pretty well.