Sleek Designs, Little Innovation: 4 Barebone Cases Compared

Aplus Blockbuster II BM - Impressions

Aplus Blockbuster II BM

Looking at it from the outside, the Aplus Blockbuster II BM appears very compact and massive at the same time. However, the case only weighs 6.4 kg. The two 5.25" drive bays that are accessible from the front are covered by plastic fold-down doors. These swing down on two hinges when the disc tray of the optical drive that can be mounted here slides out. A restoring spring, which looks like it could be used in a ballpoint pen, automatically closes the door.

Behind the third plastic door we find a 3.5" drive bay that can either house an antiquated floppy drive or a more modern card reader. Finally, we find one more plastic flap a little to the left that hides the front connectors for USB, Firewire and audio. The large power button is lit blue when the unit is on. The case's dimensions are a little unconventional. The Blockbuster is not only very high but also long, which certainly limits the places where you could put it. After all, do you really want to have such a clunky case sitting in your living room?

Still, the Blockbuster's design has its advantages, too, especially since it lets you use a broader choice of components. Aside from the motherboard, which has to conform to the micro-ATX form factor, you're mostly free to use standard components. Just make sure you don't choose an especially large cooler. Better to pick one that is a little flatter but wider, such as the Zalman CNP8700 LED or the Coolermaster model we use here. Unlike the XXL monster coolers, these models are well-suited to the case's form factor.

Frontal View of the Aplus Blockbuster II BM with the plastic drive lids closed.

The back of the empty case shows the I/O panel and the three fan mounting points.

The case's lid is fixed in place using five screws. Apparently, the manufacturer forgot about the existence of thumb screws, which would make life much easier for the buyer. Opening the case reveals a very well laid-out interior. All edges are smoothed to prevent injuries and cuts. Using the two latches inside, you can release the top part of the case and flip it over sideways on a hinge, making hardware installation much easier.

The front connectors for audio, USB and Firewire hide behind another plastic lid.

The upper part of the case can be flipped over to the side.

Siggy Moersch