2003 Winter Case Review Part 1: MicroATX Case Madness

Athenatech - ShockZ-100, Continued

Removal of the bezel is essential to be able to life out the 5.25" bay so as to make installation of your motherboard into the Shock Z-100 easier. Unfortunately, the assembly of the ShockZ-100 case itself is considerably more complex than any of the other MicroATX cases assembled for this review. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you do need to allow significantly more time to assemble your system inside the ShockZ-100 than with other case offerings reviewed here.

Unfortunately, the ShockZ-100 does not offer front-mounted 1394/Firewire capability, which is almost essential for most home theatre applications to connect Camcorders and/or external 1394/Firewire hard drives. This is a puzzling omission, since the quantity and rat's nest of cables within this case seem to have included everything but the kitchen sink!

Cooling potential-wise, the Shock Z-100 does accomplish its cooling mission well with an 80mm fan in the front of the case and two 60 mm fans in the rear of the case. Using this setup, the ShockZ-100 can move a great deal of air through the case.

The innovative door styling of the ShockZ-100 covers the selection of front-mounted I/O ports.

Overall, the ShockZ-100 is not a case that would be first on our list of great cases. The more difficult assembly required for the Shock Z-100 and the trials and troubles that we experienced with our sample unit lead us to be less than enthusiastic over what the ShockZ-100 offers. Its design is unique, in that it more resembles a James Bond type of briefcase than a computer; however, some obvious revision work still exists to get this case to where it needs to be. While we like a lot of the features we have seen, we are still surprised as to how Athenatech is going to handle the assembly problems that many of the typical users will encounter. Don't count on the included two-page documentation to be much help. We even found major errors and omissions within the users' manual; less experienced computer users should steer clear of this case until Athenatech makes some additional revisions to their users' manual.

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