2003 Winter Case Review Part 1: MicroATX Case Madness

Yeong Yang - Casper YY-A204, Continued

As far as special features go, beyond the air guide the YY-A204 is somewhat Spartan. It includes a door that is held by a small magnetic catch to conceal the optical 5.25" bay device and a selection of two USB ports and an audio and mic jack that are concealed by a door at the bottom of the case. It is worth noting that Yeong Yang has included an air intake below this door that conceals the USB/mic/headphone jacks, but there is unfortunately no front mounted fan that exists to assist air intake through these vents. Yeong Yang has included, however, a series of vents on both the top and bottom of the case that are mounted in a channel that runs the length of the case from front to back. Certainly, this will help in exhausting heat from the chassis; however, the thermal design of the YY-A204 is most dependent on the air guide, which clearly is the special star of this case's show.

During our testing, we found that the YY-A204 to be one of the noisiest of the cases tested. We believe much of this can be attributed to Yeong Yang's use of the air guide, which allows more sound to escape from the chassis of the case instead of the more sealed configurations found in other Micro/ATX configurations. This extra noise did not really hamper or detract from the performance of the YY-A204, but it is or could be more of a concern comparatively speaking. Still, to the YY-A204's credit, it was not the noisiest of the cases we have tested for use in these types of applications.

A more detailed close up of the YY-A204 with the 5-¼" optical device door and the front port I/O doors open.

While the YY-A204 may not set the world on fire, we found it to be a quality constructed case that offers an innovative thermal solution clearly ahead of other Micro/ATX cases. Many users will be drawn to the compact footprint that the YY-A204 offers in comparison with many other Micro/ATX solutions. We must admit that when we first opened the box for this case we weren't sure what to expect; we were quite pleased, however, compared to several of the other cases we reviewed. While it is clear that the case configuration may not be ideal for every user due to the limits imposed by the 3.5" floppy drive single bay and the lack of a second hard drive bay, the YY-A204 still warrants consideration due to the simple fact that it offers the best cooling solution through its use of a thermal air guide that is not offered in other case solutions. While the ambient noise of this case as compared to all of the cases in a group might be louder than some might choose, it is obvious that a cooler PC will protect your components better over the long haul than a less efficient thermal design.

It would have been a design improvement if Yeong Yang could have figured out how to cram a mounting bracket inside the YY-A204 to get a second internal hard drive into this case, which is so critical to DVR/Tivo style applications that may be used with this case. Still, this is one of the best cases in both quality and construction that we tested in this review. While the "cube-type" PCs are still smaller, Yeong Yang has shown that it is possible to build a smaller Micro/ATX case that offers more "bang for the buck."

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