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Conclusion

Cage Match: Four Open-Air ATX Chassis
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Each open chassis we got our hands on today had its own strengths and weaknesses, with each suiting a slightly different market better than its competitors. But some readers are probably wondering which one we’d pick for our test labs. That choice again comes down to the peculiar preferences of each reviewer, but we do have a few casual observations.

Of today’s candidates, the easiest-to-use test bench is probably the inner frame of Antec’s Skeleton. Though its outer cage is more difficult to work with when swapping out hardware, convenient slide-in drive access and unobstructed motherboard access is the result when its outer frame is removed. Though doing away with the less-convenient parts also does away with the front-panel connectors and power button, many motherboards have power and reset buttons right on the PCB. The two biggest concerns with recommending it to a wide variety of testers is that the internal portion doesn’t have its own card support, and that most people probably won’t know what to do with the nicely-made outer part once they’ve decided to use only the inner part.

A close second choice for hardware testers is the Danger Den Torture Rack 2. Its exclusive use of screws for securing drives is perhaps the most notable inconvenience when components are constantly being swapped.

We’d love to use Microcool’s Banchetto 101 for hardware testing, with its beautifully-designed motherboard tray and triple-fan radiator support, but its expansion card stands aren’t secure enough for constant component changes, its reverse-mounted power supply causes cable management difficulties, and it still has the unfortunate need for screws to hold drives in place. Yet, its good features are so overwhelming that this tester is constantly considering modifications to improve its utility.

Buyers who don’t constantly swap-out components should take a closer look at each chassis evaluation page for details that could help in their own purchasing decision.

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