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Crazy Case Design:  Crazy PCís Modded Enermax CS-A1QX-6

By Joel Hruska

Date: January 28th, 2002

One of the market areas thatís experienced tremendous growth over the last few years has been computer cases and, in particular, case modding.  Once the refuge of the extreme techno-nerd, specialized case designs are now relatively common with a variety of boxes being designed for visual appeal, overclocking, or specialized functions (such as internal lighting).

The fact is, however, style or cooling ability alone doesnít make a case a winner.  Weíll be looking at the Enermax CS-A1QX-6 from several angles today, both as a standard case for anyone looking to build a box and as a case modded with an internal lighting kit (as offered by CrazyPC).  Since CrazyPC offers the case both as a standard model (without window) and in a modded design, we will examine the standard case first. 

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Part I:  The Case Itself

 

The case comes with an attractive blue front panel and dual-floppy drive bays in front.  Offering the drive plates with the case is a nice touch. Enthusiasts who build machines often partially salvage parts from OEM systems, many of which use mounted front-plates on a case rather than an all-in-one drive unit.  While a drive remains functional without its front plate it isnít very safe to use one in this matter, and the drive itself looks ugly.  Including the drive plate solves this problem before it ever starts.

The case is heavier than a number of mid-towers, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.  The Enermax is a remarkably sturdy piece of equipment. The metal feels solid and much less flimsy than on many cheap case designs today, while the heavier gauge metal also helps to absorb noise from the interior of the case.  The blue front panels add a touch of color without being overwhelming or appearing gimmicky, and both the power and the reset buttons are easy to use.  The side panel pictured above is also where CrazyPC installs a window mod if one is ordered, but weíll cover modding later.  Both the left and right panels are shaped identically and are both made from the same higher-quality metal that you find in a standard case.  Anyone who works with their machine cover off frequently can appreciate that. More often than not itís easy for an accidental bump or push to warp a case cover, which can be highly annoying.  The higher gauge metal used on the Enermax case helps prevent accidental warping and also helps protect the case internals.  Having covered the external factors, letís move on to the internal design. 

The case is quite roomy on the inside, with room for four 5.25Ē drives and 4 3.5Ē drives (2 with external access).  The case also supports at least two case fans (one in front, one in back) and has ample room between the power supply and the motherboard tray for installing/de-installing a CPU heatsink.  All of the LED cables are of a sufficient length to reach even odd motherboard headers, and the motherboard tray itself can be removed for easy board installation.

Another nice feature of the Enermax case is the space between the 3.5Ē drive bays and the motherboard tray itself.  More than one motherboard manufacturer are now putting the IDE ports in a position where they sit nearly directly under the hard drive once the drive is installed.  This is extremely annoying, as it becomes difficult to reach the drive cables plugged into the motherboard.  By offering a few more inches of space between the drive bay and the motherboard tray, the A1QX dodges an extremely aggravating problem and saves end users quite a few skinned and banged-up fingers as well.

The tray slides into position in front of the rear side panel, as is common in most ATX cases, while the drive bays require the peripherals to be screw mounted, not rack-mounted.  Although rack mounts wouldíve been nice, the roominess of this mid-tower make it less frustrating to work in than many, and the difference is not as large.

This particular case ships without a power supply though a 300-watt power supply can be added for as little as $20.  As always, when buying a case select a high-quality power supply.  An excellent 300-watt unit is a far better choice than a 350 or 400-watt supply from a mediocre company.  Enermax power supplies are an excellent value and typically have very long cords, which are handy for those of you with multiple drives or a need to run cable throughout the machine.  It may be necessary to invest in zip ties, however, in order to keep all the cabling gathered up and out of the way for optimal cooling.

The back plate of the motherboard is standard.  The case has seven expansion slots in back (more than enough for any user) and the ATX bracket plate also supports a motherboard with an optional onboard NIC.  Since more and more motherboards are offering onboard Ethernet as a feature, itís nice to see it built into the Enermax case.

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Part II:  The Light Mod

While the case is an excellent one, itís the Window Kit CrazyPC installs that makes the case unique.  Buyers can choose from a round or rectangular window and can have the plexiglass inside tinted a specific color or left clear.  CrazyPC also offers a variety of neon, liquid neon, and cold cathode lighting kits that end users can install themselves.  Neon lights are available in blue, orange, and green while the cold cathode tubes are available in blue, red, green, and black.  We tested a green cold cathode and were impressed at its quality.  CrazyPC bundles all of the necessary equipment in a light kit, or is willing to sell individual pieces separately for those users who want to do their own construction.

I was extremely impressed by the quality of the case window CrazyPC installed in our Enermax case.  The window was cut extremely well, the glass seated firmly, and the rubber seal around the outside edge had no edges or raised areas that would signify an improper connection.  The window is cut into the left-side panel and the light can be placed anywhere in the case (theoretically) though Iíve found the bottom of the case beside the window works best.

The light kit was easy to install.  CrazyPC bundles specific directions into the light kit, and the hookups are not all that complicated.  One factor I wasnít fond of is the necessity of installing a switch somewhere outside of the case.  In my situation I simply hooked the switch up to the back of the case outside of a PCI slot and sealed the rest of the slot off, but if you want a more elegant solution youíll still have to cut into the case to install it.  Still, this is comparatively minor surgery compared to attempting to cut a perfectly round hole for a window and should be a task most enthusiasts would have little difficulty with.

Weíve included some pictures of our case, the side panel, and how the entire assembly looks when lit to give an idea of the affect.  I must say I truly like the look of the windowed case, especially with the green light on.  It gives a cool look into the heart of the machine and definitely adds an interesting ambience at night with the lights off and the case light switched on. 

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The Cost and the Vendor

Of course, a case (even a modded case) isnít very useful if the cost is out of this world, but the owners of CrazyPC have avoided this problem.  The case itself retails for $59.95 and a 300-watt Enermax power supply is just $20 more.  Additional case fans are available for just a few dollars and CrazyPC is willing to install the window kit for you for a $40 fee.  Considering the quality of their work, this is an excellent cost.  The light kits range from $25 to $40, with the various parts available in a DIY-form for a cheaper price. 

If youíre interested in having the mod work done but donít like the style of the Enermax case, CrazyPC has several other striking cases to choose from, including the MTX2000 with an extremely striking chrome and silver front panel.

If youíre looking for a case thatís roomy, well-built, nicer than a standard beige box, and extremely easy to work in (and donít mind the added weight), then the Enermax CS-A1QX-6 is a keeper.  For a little more excitement / added effect you can add a window mod and light kit to the same case at minimal effort yourself.  In all cases the price is right and the components are of high quality.

Frankly, CrazyPC has been an excellent company to work with and one I highly recommend to readers looking for cooling equipment, cases, or other enthusiast-level parts.  My experience with the staff at CrazyPC has been exceptional.  Every question I had was answered promptly, concerns were immediately addressed, and parts were shipped quickly.  Curious to see if my own experience was typical, I visited ResellerRatings.com (an excellent site for rating online stores. I highly recommend it if you have not visited).  Out of a current 94 ratings from various customers, CrazyPC maintains a 6.9 out of 7.0 rating. An absolutely fabulous ranking that puts it at the very top of stores on the website. 

Itís surprisingly difficult to find good vendors online.  For every vendor that really is great, there are a dozen who arenít, yet who may look as flashy, skilled, and dependable as those who are. Because CrazyPC has obviously committed to serving its customers with the same courtesy, promptness, and skill that they have shown me, I have no problem recommending them as an online solution for all your cooling, modding, and computer accessories.  Excellent prices combined with excellent service make this store a winner.

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