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The Review Process

The Lazy Days of Summer Case Review
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To review each of the cases, we used our established standardized process : we build a computer in each case using the same setup for each one of the test cases ; we use the same cables and the same power supply. We believe that it is more important to test "real world" functionality of each case using a "real world," standard setup in order to yield more comparable and accurate information as to the performance of each case. Our sample testing configuration was as follows :

Sample Testing Setup
CPU AMD Athlon 3200 XP - 400 MHz FSB
CPU Heatsink & Fan Vantec Aeroflow - VA4-C7040
Motherboard ABIT NF7-S
RAM Corsair TWINX1024-3200LL - 1 GB
Video ATI Radeon 9800 Pro - 256 MB
Hard Drives Two SATA Hard Drives
Seagate ST3120023AS 120 GB
Connected To The RAID controller on the motherboard.
Optical Drives Asus 16X DVD DVD-E616/ Asus 52X CDRW - CRW-5224A
Floppy Drive Mitsumi
Power Supply Antec True Power - 430 Watt - TRUE430
Additional Case Fans Antec 80 mm, 92 mm, and 120 mm
Used where necessary to add to cases that did not include all fans.
All possible fan slots were populated with the largest fans possible when the case would accept more than one size.
All testing was done with all possible fans installed in the case.
Operating System And Software Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1 w/all updates applied as of the date of this article. Futuremark 3DMark03 Pro - Version 330

As we have explained in previous reviews, due to the increased popularity of rounded cabling, we used both rounded floppy and IDE cables during our testing. Each system was pushed for a continuous four-hour period, running 3DMark 2003 in a loop to make sure that the system and the case maintained proper temperature. All of the cases reviewed passed this test. However, we did maximize the number of fans by adding Antec fans to the cases that did not include a sufficient number. In instances where we needed to use a Micro ATX board or Flex ATX board, we substituted the Asus A7N8X-VM. (In this review only the Athenatech A100SC required a Micro ATX board.)

Temperatures for the CPU were within a range of 47°C/ 116°F to 50°C/ 119°F. The ambient temperature within the case ranged from 35°C/ 95°F to 40°C/ 100°F. These measurements are based on the information provided by the hardware monitoring that is built into the ABIT NF7-S motherboard, and these temperature ranges are well within acceptable limits. (We verfied this information using our new Superflower SF-609 Fan Master which as part of it’s feature set includes tempature monitoring.) None of these cases failed due to a cooling issue, even when the system was at its hottest. These temperature measurements were taken several times during the four-hour test period.

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