APNX (Advanced Performance Nexus) is a new sub-brand from AeroCool's parent company, Pro Gamersware (PGW). And its first case, the C1, definitely stands out – especially in the color-shifting ChromaFlare model we were sent. With its approximation of the ChromaFlair paint / finish more commonly used on sports cars, it appears to be various shades of blue, purple, or even pale gray, depending on the light and the viewing angle. This is definitely the flashiest case I've hoisted onto my test bench in recent years.
But the APNX C1 isn't just about its pretty paint job. The mid-tower case emphasizes airflow, with a wrap-around mesh front / rear side that can handle up to six 120mm fans or two 360mm radiators. You can also install up to a 360mm radiator up top, with the modestly sized mid-tower capable of housing up to eleven total fans.
For many, though, the four included aRGB APNX FP1 spinners (three 140mm, one 120mm) will be more than enough. Considering there's also a SATA-powered 5-fan / 5-aRGB hub pre-installed behind the motherboard, and that the white or black models of the case are set to sell for $139 ($159 for the ChromaFlare model we tested), there's a value angle to this case as well, which at least makes it a contender for our Best PC Cases list. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. First, though, let's take a look at the specs of the APNX C1.
|Motherboard Support||ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||19.76 x 9.1 x 18.35 inches|
|Max GPU Length||15.55 inches|
|CPU Cooler Height||6.54 inches|
|Internal Bays||3x 2.5-inch or 3x 2.5-inch|
|Front I/O||1x USB Type-C, 2x USB 3.0, 3.5mm combo audio jack, power and RGB buttons|
|Front Fans||3x 120mm aRGB|
|Exhaust Fans||1x 120mm|
For the ChromaFlare model we tested, the finish is obviously going to be the most eye-catching feature of the C1 case. And provided you like the flashy, glittery paint job, the finish looks quite good. I do, though, wonder a bit about how it might hold up long-term if you're the type who frequently opens your case for upgrades or maintenance.
The exterior of the ChromaFlare finish on the panels looked flawless. But there were a few areas on the inside, around the edges and where the panels brush up against the black steel frame, where either the finish was wearing off or it wasn't quite applied equally to every spot on our sample. That, plus the fact that the frame and the panels are made out of fairly thin steel, makes the case feel a little less premium than it might if aluminum or thicker steel were used.
That's not to say there's much in the way of noticeable flex. The company mitigated this with the use of some smart structural bends and reinforcement rails attached to the inside of the top panel. So the case doesn't feel cheap – it just doesn't exude the premium feel that you might expect from the pretty paint job.
One nice aspect of the C1's design is that its panels (front, top, side, and glass side) all pop on and off without the need for screws, making it quite easy to get down to the bare frame for easy building. The panels are held on by a combination of pins, tabs, and slots, and everything stays in place securely once attached. There is also a removable dust filter behind the front panel, and another on the bottom of the case.
With the panels off, the frame of the case is mostly open and quite light, making it straightforward to build in. The process was made even easier by APNX's inclusion of a 5-fan / 5-aRGB hub, which comes with the connectors for the fans pre-attached.
That said, to get to a spare aRGB header for our Be Quiet cooler, I had to loosen two screws to remove the perforated drive / fan mounting bracket that lives behind the motherboard. And the four aRGB fans that come with the case leave only one spare aRGB header and fan header for adding other components back here.
A few of the frame's internal panels are also designed to be removed. Aside from the drive / fan bracket above, a bracket on the top interior of the case can be removed so you can attach a radiator to it first, then re-install it. A portion of the bottom PSU shroud can be taken out to accommodate a large front radiator. And a cable shroud in front of the motherboard can be removed, allowing for more fan / radiator mounts behind the ventilated wrap-around front panel.
If you remove that section, though, you'll also lose the handy adjustable anti-sag GPU support bracket. You might not need it, though, if you spring for the optional vertical-mount GPU kit ($57, with a PCIe 4.0 cable). Since we wanted to try out the anti-sag GPU bracket, we mounted our AMD RX 7700XT in the traditional orientation.
While we had to loosen a couple of thumb screws to adjust the height of the GPU support, it worked well to keep our graphics card from sagging.
With the system built and the fan our Be Quiet cooler plugged into the hub behind the motherboard, all of the system's RGB was synced and easy to control via the button on the top IO (where you'll also find two USB-A, a USB-C, and a headset combo jack). While your motherboard's software will give you more granular lighting controls, it was frankly refreshing to be able to cycle through a fair amount of unified colors and effects just by pressing a button.
The $159 ChromaFlare version of the APNX C1 case offers unique and flashy purple / blue aesthetics, four aRGB fans and an emphasis on airflow, plus a PWM / aRGB fan header and some other nice features for the price, like built-in GPU support and tool-free panels for easy building and maintenance. And if you don't like the color scheme, the white and black variants deliver all that, minus the shiny shell, for $139.
There's a lot to like here, especially if you're planning on packing in high-end components and want to add more fans to take advantage of this case's heavily perforated panels. It's a solid first effort from APNX, and it's clear that the company has brought over some of its expertise from the AeroCool brand. I'll be interested to see what this new brand does next, and would also like to see some similar ChromaFlare paint options in other color ranges. Purple and blue may be underserved hues in the PC case market, but those colors certainly aren't for everyone.
MORE: Best PC Cases
MORE: Best Mini-ITX Cases
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After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.
The RGBs and the pattern on those panels is just a migraine waiting to happen.Reply
Reminds me of questions you ask someone suspected of a head injury. "What month is it?" "Tuesday" "Ok, we got a head injury here!"
Great if you want to buy a Sharkoon Rebel for more money look it up exact same case for a lot lessReply