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Aluminum vs. Steel and other ??s

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June 12, 2004 6:54:59 PM

I'm currently doing some upgrades to my system and want to wrap it all up in a pretty new box. But doing the research is killing me. There are thousands of options. So I'm coming to you for hopefully simple answers to a couple questions.

A)I've been reading that aluminum is better than steel. True? If so, how much better? Is it vastly superior or just a little tweakish better?

B)Airflow-how many fans, minimum? I currently have none (other than the CPU and PSU fans) in my old, beige steel box. My temps currently are fairly stable at 49 C. Will aluminum and more fans help?

C)I would like a little pizzazz, though nothing too fancy. How easy is it to buy a case that may not be perfect, but then mod it to your liking? I ask because I see that most people on these forums recommend the Chieftec Dragon box. I'm not in love with it's design, but if it's not too hard to change may go with that. My current old box has no mod potential (it's just a big clunker) so I have no experience on modding cases. I have built and rebuilt my own systems over the years, so I have the experience to mod, I think, but would like to know before I blow the money on a new case that I don't like and then find out I'm too stupid to mod it.

Thanks for any input. :) 

More about : aluminum steel

June 12, 2004 7:30:54 PM

Aluminium is better than steel in everything but strength and rigidity (lighter, softer, prettier etc.) It's a better conductor of heat too, but the giant heatsink effect of aluminium cases is vastly overrated. There is a silent/fanless 300W PSU that uses heat pipes attached to an aluminium housing, but no aluminium case that I know of exploits the material in this way (apart from that hideously expensive Zalman one)

I prefer steel cases because they are stronger.

As for fans, one front intake and one rear exhaust should be adequate (and most cases can take those without any modding). However, I've found that a side intake fan (as close to the CPU as is possible) makes a huge difference; it stops the CPU fan from recycling warm air, and possibly has more effect on temps than the standard 1 in/1 out layout. Bigger fans are better than smaller ones, but some 92mm fans often have a better noise/flow ratio than some 120mm fans; very few 120mm fans can push more air and make less than noise than a pair of undervolted 92mm fans.

I can't comment on the modding. I don't care what a case looks like; I just want my computer to be cool and quiet.

Axis of Stupid = coop, Kanavit, FUGGER, SoDNighthawk, and ninkey.
June 12, 2004 7:58:53 PM

Thanks for the help. In looking around, I'm leaning towards the Antec P160. It has two 120 mm fans (though I think only one comes with the case, not sure but if I have to buy a second it's no biggie) and looks nice with just the right level of pizzazz for me. A lot of the cases have gone overboard with the modding and just look like 1950s juke boxes, which is cool if you're into that. :) 

I'm gonna go with aluminum since I don't really need the strength or rigidity. I never move the case other than to install/uninstall stuff. And I suppose even a little bit of heat dissipation is an improvement over my current steel box.
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June 13, 2004 5:14:08 AM

A) Aluminum is vastly inferior to steel. It's far weaker and imparts a huge price increase. In fact, a $50 Aluminum case is built just like a $30 steel case. Now, a $30 steel case is very weak, the $50 aluminum case would be much weaker still. In fact, I've seen aluminum cases where pushing lightly against them left finger impressions! Aluminum CAN be made strong, but that usually requires it to be made thick, and you're looking at a huge increase in price. I only recommend aluminum for portability, if your system sits on a desk and is moved very infrequently you're far better off with a top quality steel case.

B)More fans will help, take a look at the classic Chieftec Dragon series, it's a fairly good design, very solid construction, and uses 2 intake and 2 exhaust fans. Antec uses it for their 1080 series cases.

C) There are a few variations of the dragon, some are even doorless, available under other brand names. Also, Chieftec offers a lot of options for front panels now (but those have doors).

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June 13, 2004 6:51:43 PM

Plus the Chieftec cost less than Antec.
June 13, 2004 9:46:36 PM

Chieftec Dragon series sucks. It does not have motherboard tray. It is much larger than my Lian Li PC-68 but cannot even hold as many drive.
June 13, 2004 9:52:54 PM

Aluminum case is not very weak. It is weaker than steel but more than enough for computer case. Most people are very careful with their computer.
June 13, 2004 10:33:32 PM

I resent that, I have 2 cheiftec cases and I think they are great (esspecially for the price).

<font color=blue>P4c 2.6@3.25
512Mb PC4000
2x120Gb 7200.7 in RAID0
Waterchill KT12-L30
Abit AI7
Radeon 9800Pro
</font color=blue>
June 14, 2004 3:31:35 AM

Slide out motherboard trays suck, they add 50% to the cost and 0% to the functionality. Tip out trays have a purpose but I doubt that's what you're speaking of. I mentioned all of that <A HREF="http://www.sysopt.com/articles/CaseOptimization/index3...." target="_new">Here</A>.

The old Dragon design leaves room under the removable drive racks, handy for such things as adding a water cooling kit. But if you really need more internal bays there are other cases, based on the dragon, that have a permanent (non-removable) drive rack turned sideways that goes from the floppy bays to the floor.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
June 14, 2004 3:36:15 AM

Quote:
It is weaker than steel but more than enough for computer case. Most people are very careful with their computer.


Heh, most people buy a case based on looks and price, budget cases are very weak, budget aluminum cases are weaker still. So weak in fact that when picking up an assembled computer, the weight of the parts can bend the case. Pierced card bracket holes are common to most low end to upper midpriced cases, yet aluminum is too soft and you're likely to strip the threads mounting a card. And dropping the case, say, 2 inches when you set it down can cause the power supply to bend the back of the case (maybe that's why we have cheap lightweight power supplies).

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
June 14, 2004 6:45:29 PM

We look at our computer in a very different way. I am willing to pay extra for quality component including a good case. I am willing to pay for the motherboard tray because it is convenient.

Even through I never buy any ultra cheap compenont but I do go to computer shops often. I never seen a case that when picking up an assembled computer, the weight of the parts can bend the case. The cheapest Aluminum case I ever see is $40 including PSU. It is actully pretty strong.

I built my own computer not because I want to save money. If I want to get a very cheap computer I can get it from Dell. I brought a few computers from Dell for my friends for around $300 each.
June 14, 2004 9:55:57 PM

LOL, I choose my cases based on sturdiness and layout alone. I've had cases with slide-out trays and found that they offered no advantage, because I has to disconnect the cables in order to slide them out. I mean, what is a tray other than a case without sides (that's laying down, I'm speaking of the top and bottom). I've found a small convenience factor in the tip-out trays because they make reaching the cables at the bottom easier, but those cables have to be attached after sliding a slide-out tray back in.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
June 14, 2004 9:56:58 PM

What I'm saying is I'm not willing to pay for useless features. We do look at computers a different way, I only pay for things that have a purpose.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
June 15, 2004 2:04:28 AM

Urk, didn't realize there could be such a disagreement over the metal that cases are made from. ;) 

Well, I went ahead and ordered the Altec P160 after my second post (above, and before I saw all these other responses) so I guess I'll see how it stands up to my needs. I want a good mix of practicality and looks, so maybe it will work out. I've never had a slide out tray and it sounded like a cool feature to have. I'll post back and let everyone know how it goes. Wish me luck. :) 
June 15, 2004 7:52:03 AM

Removable motherboard trays are quite handy for the initial build, but they don't help with upgrades etc.

Axis of Stupid = coop, Kanavit, FUGGER, SoDNighthawk, and ninkey.
June 15, 2004 3:37:51 PM

For Lian Li or other cases with great layout motherboard tray is a lot less useful for minor upgrade. The reason I alway thought motherboard tray is useful is because I had a Chieftec Dragon series case (Antec 1030) before. Every time I have to add a new hard drive (never have enough space) I have will have to remove my vidoe card (The most expensive component in my computer) and some other cards out the way. Motherboard tray will definitely be a lot more useful for a case Chieftec Dragon series case poorly designed like Chieftec Dragon series case. If there is a motherboard tray I can just move the cards and motherboard out a little without removing and restalling them all the time.
June 15, 2004 3:40:47 PM

Poorly designed? Loads of cases are based around this case, it takes 2 seconds to remove a graphics card! how often do you change your hard drives?

<font color=blue>P4c 2.6@3.25
512Mb PC4000
2x120Gb 7200.7 in RAID0
Waterchill KT12-L30
Abit AI7
Radeon 9800Pro
</font color=blue>
June 15, 2004 4:07:36 PM

The main reason the case is popular is because it is cheap and the quality is ok. Just like there is a lot more computer use onboard graphic than stand alone graphic card.
June 15, 2004 4:20:11 PM

I did not like to remove the graphic card because I was using a very expensive card for a project. There is also a lot cables in the case which make it hard to remove and install card.
June 15, 2004 8:09:10 PM

Fair enough, but it is the best case in its price region by far.

<font color=blue>P4c 2.6@3.25
512Mb PC4000
2x120Gb 7200.7 in RAID0
Waterchill KT12-L30
Abit AI7
Radeon 9800Pro
</font color=blue>
June 15, 2004 9:51:38 PM

I prefer deeper cases than the Chieftec Dragon, but they're hard to find for a reasonable price. I have seen installations where the drive nearly hit the video card and had to be finagled around it when removing the rack. There are several companies offering the same chassis with a permanent drive rack turned the other way, those also hold more drives.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
!