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2003 Winter Case Review Part 2: The ATX Avalanche

The Review Process

To review each case, we used an established, standardized process : we built each test case using the same setup, including use of the same cables and same power supply. We believe it is critical to test "real world" functionality of each case using a "real world" standard setup to yield more accurate information as to the performance of each case. Our sample-testing configuration was as follows :

Sample Testing Setup
CPUAMD Athlon 3200 XP - 400 MHz FSB
CPU Heatsink & FanVantec Aeroflow - VA4-C7040
MotherboardABIT NF7-S
RAMCorsair TWINX1024-3200LL - 1 GB
VideoATI Radeon 9800 Pro - 256 MB
Hard Drives2 Seagate ST3120023AS - 120 GB
Optical DrivesAsus 16X DVD DVD-E616 / Asus 52X CDRW - CRW-5224A
Floppy DriveMitsumi
Power SupplyAntec TruePower - 430 Watt - TRUE430
Additional Case FansAntec 80mm, 92mm and 120mm fans - Used where necessary to add to cases that did not include all fans. All possible fan slots were populated with the largest fans available for testing when the case would accept more than one size.

As mentioned in previous reviews, due to the growing popularity of rounded cabling, we used both rounded floppy and IDE cables during our testing. Each system was pushed for a continuous 4-hour period, running 3DMark 2003 in a loop to make sure that the system and the case were up to proper temperature. All of the cases reviewed passed this test setup. However, we did maximize the number of fans by adding Antec fans to the cases that did not include a sufficient number of fans, or where there were empty fan mounting slots because the manufacturer chose not to include them.

Temperatures for the CPU were within a range of 47°C/116°F to 50°C/119°F. The ambient temperature within the case ranged from 35°C/95°F to 40°C/100°F. All tests were run in an environment with an ambient temperature between 70°F to 75°F. Although we monitored the ambient temperature, since we did not use an isolation chamber for testing these temperature measurements are given only as a general guideline. (Our new temperature testing process is coming soon and might be ready by the next case review, if all goes well !) These measurements are based on the information provided by the hardware monitoring that is built into the ABIT NF7-S motherboard, as well as some additional temperature measurements made with our Raytek, and these temperature ranges were well within acceptable limits. None of these cases failed due to a cooling issue, even when the system was at its hottest. These temperature measurements were taken several times during the 6-hour test period. We chose to increase our testing period to a continuous 6 hours, which better emulates a typical workday.

Just to let you know that we have problems too, we encountered a power supply failure when we were about halfway through this test. We were forced to replace the power supply and re-test all of the cases again to make sure that our results were consistent. (The power supply that failed was not an Antec power supply.) The retesting delayed this article for some time.