2003 Winter Case Review Part 2: The ATX Avalanche

Athenatech: 7800 Series, Continued

The construction of this case is good, but not excellent. We found a number of areas within the case that were sharp and unfinished. This means the user must be very careful of their hands while assembling the 7800 Series case. We were impressed with the general configuration of the layout offered by the 7800 Series, but this did not sway our overall opinion of this chassis.

The beige top mounting for the ports just doesn't work at all. It is the wrong color, to begin with, and if it is going to be on the top of the case, it should be mounted flush to the top of the case. A very bad design, if you ask us.

The 7800 Series features a top-mounted access area that protrudes from the top of the case, almost like a growth that pops out of the case. This small "bubble" provides ports for the headphones, MIC and two USB ports. While a knockout is provided for a 1394/Firewire port, no cabling was included to make use of this in our test unit. The overall finish of the chassis is a cross between black and beige. The front bezel consists of two doors that allow for either top or bottom section access to the case. The bezel is manufactured of high-quality, injected plastics, so it should prove durable over time. However, the color of the plastic and the paint that adorns the 7800 Series does not match. As you can see in the accompanying photos, there is not a good blend to these features.

As we indicated in the introduction, we are very puzzled by the use of the beige trim on the feet, top-mounted ports and latches that hold the side panel onto the chassis. Quite honestly, its appearance just looks 'wrong.' However, some may point out that a case of this type is not primarily for its appearance, but rather for its functionality. The 7800 Series is certainly functional, but we were left with significantly more questions than answers when reviewing this case.

The 7800 Series from Athenatech exhibits a fair quality and an interesting design perspective that will certainly appeal to some. Its emphasis on internal functionality and the lack of attention to details that are necessary to vault the 7800 Series from a very niche market player to a more mainstream oriented market design are severely lacking. For example, our test 7800 unit did not even include any type of documentation, which made the assembly process more time consuming than it should have been. While the cooling potential of this case is average, this must be of concern to those who would load the case with a full complement of devices.

We have come to believe that the 7800 Series should be further refined and honed before taking its position in such a critical market place. While the 7800 is not a bad case design, it is targeted at a specific market area that may or may not like what the 7800 Series has to offer.