Athenatech A100SC, Continued
One of this case's highlights is Athenatech's use of two rear case fans to help remove heat buildup from within the case. These two fans, as well as the power supply, are relatively quiet, and make this PC well suited for home theatre type applications, and for situations where a silent PC is essential.
The front panel of the A100SC is trimmed with a clear acrylic that accents the silver and gray colors of the front. This is in addition to the large blue light that runs along the front bezel. The USB ports and audio ports are hidden behind a flip door on the front of the case; the door seems well constructed and worked well during our testing.
The only comment we have for Athenatech regarding the A100SC is that it lacks a 1394 port, which is usually included with USB and audio ports. This omission is quite puzzling, since home theatre enthusiasts are a target audience for this particular case. Many users will want the ability to connect their 1394 camcorders or 1394 external hard drives to their PC while it is connected to their television. Because the A100SC is so well suited for the home enthusiast, we wonder why Athenatec left this feature out. We do applaud them for choosing to hide the 3.5" inch bay behind a flip-up door; this is certainly a nice feature to hide that unsightly floppy drive or flash card reader and protect these devices from dust, an important consideration for a case used in this type of environment. The A100SC can either be stacked vertically or horizontally and includes a stand, in the event you decide to stand the unit up. During our testing, we found that the A100SC was one of the best-performing flex ATX/ micro ATX cases in the cooling category that we have seen.
A close up look at the front of the A100SC. As you can see in this picture, the 3.5" bay is covered by a drop down door to keep the dust and dirt out. The only thing that is missing is a front mounted 1394 port, which Athenatech somehow left out of the mix.
The case is of steel construction and uses a very interesting silver finish that appears to have been clear coated to bring out the texture and the unique characteristics of the case construction. This finish is not typical, based on what we have seen from these types of cases previously. As more case manufacturers continue to move toward a more customized and elegant appearance, choosing higher grades of paint for use in their cases is a trend that will continue to grow. The A100SC is sturdy and should be able to withstand other components being stacked upon it in a home theatre or stereo rack. Our test unit fared well in both cooling and performance during our time with it. We were very impressed with the quality of construction that went into the design of this case. For those looking for a flex ATX/ micro ATX solution, clearly the Athenatec A100SC is a good option. We have no problem recommending this case for purchase. Among its features, we liked the additional 3.5" bay for a hard drive, as this allows the purchaser to add two hard drives to the case instead of the usual one. We believe omission of this additional bay is a downfall with many other flex ATX/ micro ATX cases. The addition of a second hard drive is particularly important for PVR (Tivo-type) applications, where storage is paramount. The only problem we found with the A100SC was the omission of the 1394 port on the front; we hope Athenatec will consider adding this necessary feature in a future version of the case.