Xigmatek Aquila Review
It has to be said that with a few notable exceptions, Xigmatek are best known for rather aggressive looking budget mid tower cases. The sort of thing someone on a tight budget might buy for their first build. Take a look at Xigmatek's portfolio though and you'll see that a few cases with quite a bit more finesse are starting to filter into their ranks. It's into this latter category that the Aquila falls. With its symmetrical geometric aesthetic and mirrored carry handle/foot bars it's certainly an eye catcher, reminding us faintly of a larger and ninety degree rotated BitFenix Prodigy or early Apple Mack, neither of which is a bad thing.
Xigmatek give the dimensions of the case as 390x403x265mm (LxHxW). In reality we found the case to be 390mm in both height and depth (Yes we measure the cases ourselves as opposed to just trusting the manufacturer’s figures). Either way, the Aquila is a bit of a porker and to refer to it as a mini tower, as Xigmatek do, is perhaps stretching the meaning of the term "mini" a little. Still, if BMW can get away with calling something the size of a small van a Mini then why not Xigmatek. The ample proportions are in no small part due to the horizontal motherboard layout, and with the M-ATX format supported along with M-ITX there are a good four expansion bays begging to be used, meaning that fat graphics, or multi card set ups are possible, just remember that the lateral most GPU will be hard up against the case side panel. It’s also worth noting that with no drive bays up front to get in the way the Aquila is able to accept Graphics cards up to 330mm in length no problem. The roof/foot bars also make the Aquila appear larger than it is, adding some 63mm to the height of what is actually a 327mm high enclosure. At first view we thought these bars, obviously intended not just as an aesthetic but for lugging the case around would be too flimsy to be up to the job, but with the case fully laden with kit our fears appeared unfounded.
Inside there's plenty of room for kit. Ventilation comes from a large orange 200mm fan up front and a white 120mm in the rear. If you want to add to this then the front fan can be changed out for a 120 or 140mm unit and up to a pair of 120s or 140s can be placed in the roof. If you're planning on air cooling the Aquila then having 180mm of space between the motherboard and roof will enable you to fit pretty much any tower CPU cooler on the market today, just make sure it doesn't over hang the edges of the motherboard as this is placed up against the case side panel. Water cooling is where it's at these days though, and although Xigmatek don't make any wet dream claims in their literature, the Aquila is able to accept 240mm rads up in roof, and with all that head room, if you're going down the custom loop route big podgy rads such as the Monsta will be an option open to you. Sadly though although twin 140mm fan mounts are available, there's not enough room at either end of the case for the end tanks so 280mm rads are out. All is not lost though. If you opt for the smaller M-ITX boards the HDD rack can be removed opening up a space of 140mm behind the front fan grill. This of course means that there's yet more room of fat radiators, but again sadly there’s a down side. Although there's 327mm of height to play with, which is more than enough for a 240mm and some 280mm rads, with the front of the case only set up to mount 120mm 140mm and 200mm fans there's neither the ventilation area not the mounting points available. How great would it have been for Xigmatek to have ditched the 5.25" bay and 200mm fan and instead opted for a single 140mm fan and the ability to take up to a 280mm rad in the front. Still, we ought to be grateful for what we have, as really it's not bad at all, and it has to be said, if everything was perfect dremel would go bust. As it is, this is a case primed for having a fat 280mm rad modded into o the front of it.
While not in the realms of Silverstone or Lian-Li, the build quality and finish of the Aquila gave us no cause for complaint, even if the instructions could have been a little better, or at the very least looked less like the guy who was writing them got fed up towards the end. We'd quite like to have seen some thin rubber isolation pads on the foot bars also and perhaps some rubber grommets on the two management holes that lead the cables up from the PSU area on the lower deck. Being a two deck design, there's no traditional "behind the motherboard" cable management space, there is however plenty of room below to manoeuvre and stash unwanted lengths. It's also worth noting at this point that you're not going to need to keep your PSU length below 140mm as to go any longer will cause untold problems bending the cables round out of the rear.
At £70 the Aquila isn't bad value, certainly when you consider all that it is able to offer. Regardless of the nomenclature used by Xigmatek, to compare it to other Mini towers such as the Prodigy and Phenom etc, or for that matter other small form factor cases would be unfair. Even when compared to mid towers, which is really what the Aquila is, it still stacks up pretty well. Granted there are others that offer the same level of support and water cooling options, they do however fail to offer the same aesthetic, the only real exception being the Corsair Graphite 380T and that's a full £40 more expensive.
In short what we have here is a £70 case that’s able to accept M-ATX as well as M-ITX. There’s room for fat graphics or multi card set ups as well as big tower CPU coolers. Add in the ability to take at least two AIOs or custom water and we think you’ll agree we have a gold award winner on our hands.
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