2003 Winter Case Review Part 2: The ATX Avalanche

Enermax CS-5171LBFS-B, Continued

As case manufacturers begin to dabble with producing cases that include high-gloss automobile style finishes, we are bound to see a new trend emerging. Enermax is leading an effort with the CS-5171LBFS-B, which includes the concept of building "combination" cases, where the focus is more on the quality of the paint than on the rest of the case. What Enermax has done is to use aluminum only for the front bezel of the CS-5171LBFS-B and has chosen steel for the remainder of the case. This accomplishes two things: it allows Enermax to make automobile style paint finishes available to the average consumer at a price they are willing to pay; and keeps the margins in line by substituting metal for aluminum to assist with this cost control.

While we have seen combination style cases that utilize this methodology previously, overall we have not been very impressed with the results. This time, however, Enermax has definitely spent a great deal of time attempting to get this concept right. We believe that the CS-5171LBFS-B has good merit; however, again, the consumer must choose between an excellent paint finish and an average internal construction quality. We have seen other cases from companies such as Cooler Master, for example, that certainly have replicated the high gloss finishes with excellent effect. The consumer's dilemma is clear here. The reality remains that a one-off custom case painted by a professional painter still remains out of the price range of most consumers. After all, who wants to buy a $200 case and then pay more to have a professional automobile paint applied to this case?

Obviously, there has to be a balance and a trade-off someplace; and this is where Enermax hopes to capture the imagination of consumers with a lower priced alternative.

A look inside the CS-5171LBFS-B.

The CS-5171LBFS-B features internal steel construction using a variety of rolled and folded edges to good effect. The inside of the case is of slightly above average quality. We did find a few sharp or slightly blunted edges, but for the most part the internal structure of the case was clean and exhibited an acceptable level of quality workmanship. We have to be somewhat critical of this combination construction methodology; but it is certain that this construction is still better than the majority of other solutions in the $70 to $90 US price range. By our calculations, we estimate that Enermax is charging approximately $40 alone for the painting of the CS-5171LBFS-B. This is a reasonable fee when compared with custom painted options. Still, you have to wonder about the benefit of a $70 case with a higher quality paint job.