Over the last three or four days days, I have been upgrading my production machine. The aging Biostar T6100-939, AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ and 4gb RAM has been struggling to keep up with all that I am doing.. The system is still in the original case, and intact apart from a 320gb HDD. I cleared the 160gb slave, and set it up as the primary drive, running Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. All is well and it is an ideal system for me to keep within the network and to train my granddaughter in the use of a computer.
So, what do I have now? Well, it is another budget system, a Gigabyte GA880GM- UD2H, AMD powered but now by an AM3 Phenom II X4 965. To help it along, there is 8gb of Patriot RAM (2 x 4096), and an extra 500gb of storage space. Graphics in an onboard ATI HD4250. The ‘ UD2H’ in the motherboard model signifies four memory slots, as opposed to the ‘D2H’ model which only has two.
Windows 7 needed one run at a repair install and was good to go from there. And yes, it all works very well indeed.
OK. The boring part is over.
Tower type computer cases are designed for ATX motherboards like the one shown here. Note the massive space between the back edge of the board and the drive bays. The 3.5” drive bays have a case fan mounted forward, and drives can be fixed with four screws while still clearing any connections on the motherboard and the forward mounted case fan.
My existing case is similar to the photo, but my new motherboard extends to the third set of mountings on the base plate. One of my drives is mounted as low as it can be, and it is clear of the motherboard .. JUST. The second drive is mounted two spaces up such that there is plenty of airspace. Unfortunately, three of the five SATA connections are covered by the drive and are unusable. For now, I have forgone the front fan and pushed the drives as far forward as I can, fixing the drives down with just one screw per side.
Basically, the case does not have enough depth from front to back and is too narrow.
Third party case design is in many cases (excuse the pun) appallingly bad, especially at the budget end.. Interior design looks good until you come to fit your stuff in it.
Where the space for the power supply is at the base, this is supposed to make it easier to fit everything in. Certainly, SATA ports will not get covered by drives, but there is going to be a mass of cabling coming out of the back of the power supply which will back up against where you need to install a hard drive or two. In some, the drives slide into a sideways housing, which is probably a good thing.
Vents on top of the case are a great idea but are just calling for small pointy objects or liquids to be administered by young children. I would feel better about them if they had ‘mushroom’ covers over them, but none do.
Lastly, power button and USB port positioning. Buttons in the middle and ports at the base are really annoying if the case is going to sit on the floor. Anything plugged into the ports will end up getting kicked and will break, and even the task of plugging stuff in is a real pain. With the amount of 5.25” bays exceeding the amount of drives and stuff liable to be fitted, I don’t see why the buttons and ports can’t be all in one movable 5.25” bay mounting. This way, they could be set at the top if the case sits on the floor, or in the middle if the case sits on a desk. How difficult would that be?
I want a midi tower, buttons at the top front, top vents which are protected, a side mounting drive bay, and a space for the power supply in the bottom of the case. The case I am using isn’t close to the above, but neither is any other midi tower case that I have looked at so far.
And no, I don’t want a large, ugly ‘gamers’ case which looks like a ‘Transformer’ that has been in a head on collision the ‘Millennium Falcon’.
More to follow..