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Ultra m998 ATX Mid-Tower Enclosure

By: Mike Wright | Mid-Tower Cases in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Apr 29, 2008 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Ultra




Taking the side panel off shows us something that is truly out of the ordinary. While we expect the exterior to have a nice coating of paint, very few manufacturers add this concept to the interior of the case. All surface areas inside are coated with the same paint as you see outside. This helps protect the metal from mars and nasty fingerprints. In general, you would have to carefully take apart your case and paint interior surface areas yourself to get this kind of treatment. Very nice indeed!


Of course, having that dark an interior can make for an awfully macabre system, so to lighten things up a bit a mirror finish on the motherboard tray has been added. While your mainboard will cover a good portion of this tray, all of the surrounding edges will be readily visible. Add a little cold cathode low-level lighting and you will have a truly remarkable looking system, even with the side panel installed.


You will also note that there is a large diameter hole in the tray for those motherboards that require this feature. It will also keep the metal away from aftermarket coolers that have large mounting plates on the bottom of the motherboard.



With the exception of the interior paint, the optical drive tower is pretty standard and there is nothing out of the ordinary in this area. This makes sense, though, since I was always taught that if it isn't broke, don't fix it.


From this angle you can also see that each optical drive bay has a small rail in place to make installation easier. There is not, however, a rail system in place for installation so you will have to resort to the screws and a screwdriver to mount your drives. Not a huge hit, but many folks like a rail system.



Dropping down to the hard drive tower shows room for five hard drives to be installed. This entire drive tower is actively cooled by a 120mm fan installed in the front bezel, so you can run your high-speed drives without fear of burning them up. This gives you room for a boot drive and a 4-drive RAID, but if that isn't enough room for you, then you can still make use of the two externally accessible 3/5" drive bays directly above this area to expand even more. This should be enough space for even the most demanding of power users.


Like the optical bays, there is not a rail mounting system in place, but each slot has a small rail for easily installation of your hard drive.



As noted in our introduction earlier, this enclosure has some major differences from other cases on the market. Above is one of the primary features that Ultra has included, called the "Ultra Power Bar". It is a feature that is designed to keep cable clutter to a minimum. It does this by allowing you to plug in your Molex and PCI-E8 cables to the upper ports pictured on the left in the photo above. This set of ports are positioned close to the upper section of the case where you can wrap up your PSU cabling and keep it stored high so that it does not interfere with airflow. Next, you use the included cabling harnesses, which are slim in design, to connect the ports on the bottom to the devices mounted in your motherboard. This minimizes the amount of cabling that can interfere with airflow and makes cooling an easier beast to handle.


This is an interesting device that worked surprisingly well during our tests. I was able to use some zip ties to bundle up a majority of the cabling from the power supply and keep it stored above the airflow channel. The thin wiring harness provided uses shorted cables that are easy to control and the amount of clutter blocking airflow was reduced.



WOOHOO! Finally, somebody has gotten it through their designers' heads that removable motherboard trays are a good thing. While this isn't exactly a small case, it is so much easier to install a system when you can remove the entire motherboard tray and get your major components mounted without scuffing up your knuckles. This is especially important for folks, like me, who happen to have large hands. The addition of a motherboard tray will always be a big plus in my book, and I know of many others who agree with this sentiment.


From this angle you can also see that there is cooling provided on the back edge of this enclosure as well. It is another 120mm fan that is matched up with the front fan to create a sufficient amount of airflow. During our tests I did not have any problems with temperatures using just the included fans, even when running a dual graphics setup with a pair of X2900XT video cards.



Our final stop on our tour of the interior is the PCI retention devices. While thumb screws are handy, they can sometimes be difficult to maneuver, like when they are mounted close to a metal wall. While this would normally be a bad thing, remember that this enclosure has that removable motherboard tray, so getting to the screws is pretty simple.


From this angle you can also get a good look at the potential for that mirror finish on the tray itself. I would imagine that there are several readers who are already getting ideas as to lighting effects that could be used to best effect with this little baby.


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