Date: December 19th, 2002
Article by: Burt Carver (Hardware Reviewer & Newsposter)
Product was donated by: Skyhawk USA
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PRODUCT PICTORIALS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The case arrived in a rather sorry looking box courtesy of the shipping company.
Upon opening the box, the case inside appeared to be none the worse for wear. The case came securely packed as illustrated below.
The front acrylic bezel was shipped with a protective film on it, which kept some of the cardboard fibers from marring the smooth face. Once the protective film was removed, the front of the case is actually quite attractive.
The kit I received was shipped with the optional side panel, and incorporated a clear fan in the center of the acrylic side window.
This case had some unique features. The side panels are secured with thumbscrews, so access is simple. From the perspective of someone who accesses the inside of their case a lot, the folding metal handles on the side panels were a nice treat.
From a connection standpoint, the front panel hides a variety of connectors including a firewire port, 2 USB ports, a microphone jack and a headphone jack. These connectors are well hidden behind a small door at the base of the case. The one concern with this set-up is that the connectors are designed to plug into any motherboard configuration. This eliminates the need for a bundle of wires running through an open slot to the front panel, but if you are not COMPLETELY familiar with how to read the connection diagrams on your motherboard manual, forget it. Each wire is split into an individual connection, and wiring all these up requires small fingers and miles of patience. Here is the tangle of connectors.
Remember, the connectors in the above photo only reflect the additional connectors not normally included with a standard case. Depending on the layout of your motherboard, this could create a real spiderweb of wires inside a case.
This case came equipped with no less than four fans. One 80 mm fan is mounted in the front bezel, one 80 mm fan is mounted on the side panel, one 80 mm fan is mounted in the 'plastic wind-tunnel' and a smaller fan is mounted on the rear of the case.
This is the aforementioned 'plastic wind tunnel'.
I have several issues with the fans that are mostly to do with the practical application. The front bezel fan has virtually no airflow, as the front connection panel is mounted below the fan and restricts much of the flow of air. In addition, the case suffers from the all too common 'tiny slot' at the base of the bezel. If this case were placed on carpet of any depth, the front airflow would likely be choked off completely.
The 'wind tunnel fan', while innovative, has certain stumbling blocks. Depending on what CPU / Heatsink combo you are using, this fan likely will not mount above it to exhaust the warm air. In addition, despite the fact that it can be installed over virtually all the PCI slots, any full height cards will interfere with the installation. In some cases, depending on how many slots are full, this fan may not have a place in the case. Another issue with this unit is that no matter where you place it, it is clearly visible through the window cut in the side panel. Depending on any fans / power supply fans that the end user may install, it may be a good idea to balance out the airflow. This is not a problem exclusive to Skyhawk cases, but all cases that have more than one fan sucking or blowing. If all the fans are sucking, "Houston, we have a problem". Be aware of the net flow of air in your case to avoid heat problems.
It sounds like I am bashing the case, but the concerns mentioned are minor. A little attention by the end-user will result in a well performing case. It just may not arrive that way.
On the positive side, the fans are all very quiet. The acrylic may have something to do with dampening the sound, but with the four case fans plus a CPU fan and my PSU fan running, this baby was quiet.
POLISH AND ASSEMBLY
The case is well built, and has a faintly industrial appearance. The front bezel is acrylic unabashedly fastened with rivets. The side window is also riveted to the case, and gives the case a rugged appearance. All the inside edges have been rounded off to prevent that 2 am trip to the emergency room after too many javas and a slippery screwdriver. The motherboard tray is not removable, but after you remove the 'wind-tunnel', the case is completely open and very easy to work inside.
A word of caution: the outside of the case is aluminum, but has been coated to reduce scratching from incidental contact. The inside of the case has not been. If you let that motherboard touch the tray, be prepared for some significant scratching. Trust me. I know. Case 1 - Burt 0.
The case came supplied with ample fasteners and the like.
Finished Product and Final Thoughts...