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Antec ISK110 VESA Case Review .............................. ....................

Antec P280 Case and HCP1200 PSU ....................

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Cooler Master ATC-710 Case Review

80mm -> 60mm Fan Adapter

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Socket-A Cooler Roundup 

Promise FastTrak SX4000 RAID Card













Cooler Master ATC-710-GTX2 15th October 2002

Today we will be reviewing the Cooler Master ATC-710 Midi Tower ATX Case which has a number of very useful features that other manufacturers are beginning to copy. It comes securely packaged and weighs in at a hefty 13kg (15.7kg gross weight). Once the packaging is out of the way you are left with an attractive looking case.

Things to note are the large flap covering the bays and the quite substantial air intake. More on these later. The first thing that will strike you about the construction of the case is that it's all steel - no cheap alloys here, and not thin steel but very strong, for example the front plate alone (which is not an essential part of a case) varies in thickness between 3 and 5 millimeters. One omission seems to be the lack of a drive activity LED (and there is no corresponding wire for motherboard connection) which is still useful to many of us to tell whether our machine is paging heavily or has crashed. Have a look at the back.

You can see that a power supply is not included but this helps to keep the cost of the case down and most of us will have our own requirements for a PSU (lots of power for a dual CPU rig, ultra quiet etc.). For the purposes of this review we used an Enermax 431W PSU which should be enough for most uses and has a variable speed fan with the controlling knob on the back to adjust noise to a comfortable level. This fitted very snugly without any of the slack found in some cases. One thing to note is that the fan grills have large holes in them. This allows for a maximum surface area for the transmission of exhaust air while still preventing a finger from getting to the blades. The side panels have an interesting design with a lockable handle as well as 4 screw slots per side. In fact you don't really need the screws as the panels lock into place with a solid click with the handle alone. Lets take a look inside.

Again the quality of the construction is obvious. You can see 3 purple 80mm fan holders that are easy to remove and snap firmly into place so you don't need to screw them in. What's not obvious is the 4th fan holder that attaches to the front of the lower of the 2 drive cages. Together these front intake fans sit squarely in front of the large intake space. While it's not as large as the open design of some Chieftec cases it also incorporates a surprisingly efficient dust filter that does a superb job of keeping virtually all dust out of the case. It does mean you need to go over the front of the filter with a vacuum cleaner maybe once a week but this only takes about 10 seconds and then it looks good as new. The balanced airflow (2 fans in, 2 out) and large air intakes/exhausts mean the air in the case is cycled very quickly and our tests showed that the case temperature remained at 2 degrees above ambient on a 2Gz P4 system and 4 degrees above ambient with a dual Athlon MP system (and 4-drive RAID array). Good news for overclockers as there is less incentive to cut extra holes into the case (be warned though, if that is your intention you will have a hard time with a rotary tool - the metal is that strong). The drive cages are a breeze to install - they just slide in and the big metal lever locks them soundly into place. So what can we fit inside?

Here we have an MSI K7D Master 760MPX Dual Athlon board which is the largest we currently have. It has no problem fitting inside and the case allowed us to use all 9 mounting holes with standoffs to hold the board securely. The fans look large because we are using 80mm ones on 80mm-60mm adapters and despite the additional height of this HSF combination we still have plenty of clearance from the side panel. Of more importance here is the positioning of the DIMM slots which is a common layout for dual CPU boards. You can see that a hard drive will stick out enough to be over those slots. In most cases this would be a problem (in fact this problem exists for all our standard cases including Inwin ones which were so popular a year or so ago) because there is not enough clearance and you could not have drives in those bays. Here we have no problem because the cages are off center and even large DIMMS can fit without touching a drive. Opening the flap reveals another useful feature.

5.25" Devices are not directly screwed into the case but rather the case comes with 8 sliding rails so that you can attach one to each side of your DVD drive etc. and then slide it into the bay until it locks. Close the flaps on either side of the bays in it looks like a normal fitting. To remove a device just open the flaps, press the metal levers on either side and just slide out - it takes about 2 seconds. Having a sturdy, well fitting flap also reduces noise from CD or DVD but remember to open it before ejecting (particularly if you have locked the flap). Having the power button within a lockable enclosure means someone cannot accidentally turn off the machine.


This case is currently available in the UK for about 100 inclusive of VAT (approximately $150) and at this price point represents exceptional value for money. From its sturdy build quality to ease of installation it is a joy to use. You don't need screws to fit any of the fans; the easily removable rails and cages mean you can fit your devices outside the box and slide them in without using screws. Removing the side panels is just a case of pressing the handle and pulling. Those of us used to having dust coat our motherboards and expansion cards (reducing heat dissipation) will be delighted with the filter which just seems so good as to not let any dust through. This will particularly benefit users of heat-sinks with closely spaced fins that can clog up with gunk over time and need removal for cleaning. The only thing missing is a front HDD LED but this is no big thing and isn't really missed. This is a great case and I can't imagine anyone not being happy with one.

Our thanks go to Lawrence Lo of Cooler Master UK for providing us with a review sample ATC-710-GX2.

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