If you are not familiar with the brand name Ikonik, fear not. You will find yourself in the majority. Ikonik is a relatively new company that is gearing a product line and aiming at the enthusiast. While not a huge market segment, we are a very vocal one and our opinions often filter to the more mainstream buying channels.
So enter these new guys with an idea of not only selling a product, but being willing to back it up in the event a problem comes up. That is the business philosophy of Ikonik, and it is one that may very well take them far down the road to a loyal customer base.
So what will we be looking at today? How about a mid-tower enclosure that offers some rather unique features and has a nice sleek look to it? Sound good so far? Then read on as we dig deeper into the Ikonik Zaria A20.
According to the Slavic mythology, Zaria is the Goddess of Beauty. Given that enthusiasts often are very persnickety about their computer systems, this isn't really such a bad concept when creating the component that everyone will notice first; the enclosure. With a brushed aluminum exterior and a little electroplating surrounding the front bezel, the Zaria gives an elegant appearance right from the start.
The enclosure is all aluminum in build, so is lightweight, but without any unusual balance issues. Whether the box is empty or has a system installed, there is a nice balance to the enclosure that makes it feel stable.
As noted at the beginning, Ikonik has some features that are a bit out of the ordinary. One of those features is an entertaining way to start up your system. While those who like to ride dirt bikes may be familiar with kick starting their motorcycle, the Zaria A20 allows you to kick start your PC. If you will notice the square panel at the lower left corner of the front bezel, you can see that it doesn't sit exactly flush with the surrounding panels. This is because it is a "kick plate" that is actually a start button for the installed system. So starting up your beat is now just a matter of giving the bottom corner a nudge with your toe.
Don't worry... those who are not comfortable with this can still crank up the system with a start button positioned with the I/O ports, which we will cover in just a bit.
Opening the door to the drive bay area shows space for up to four optical drives and also an externally accessible 3.5" drive bay for those who still use either a floppy drive or a multi-function device that uses this size bay. Since these bays all have covers, your system will still look sleek and neat if you do not require all this functionality.
The front I/I ports... wait a minute, I thought they were here somewhere.
Ah, here we go. The front I/O ports offered feature a good deal of flexibility and they are positioned on the top of the case to keep from being an eye sore. The rubber covering shown in the first image of this area is affixed with a magnet, so you can either rotate the cover out of the way to access the ports or just pull it off and store it for later use.
Ports available on the Zaria A20 include a pair of USB 2.0 ports, the expected microphone and headphone jacks, one IEEE1394 Firewire port and one eSATA port. Also present is the promised power button for those who just have a hard time kicking their pride and joy.
Moving to the side of the Zaria shows a large opening that is fitted with a mesh material. This opening takes up a majority of the side panel and allows a lot of additional airflow into your rig. For some, though, this added airflow isn't really necessary, or you may not like the look of a mesh side panel. Whatever the reason, if a mesh covered side isn't you cup of tea, Ikonik has the answer with an included Plexiglas panel that can be used to replace the mesh one.
Above is that panel sitting next to the installed mesh one. All it takes is removing about a dozen screws and the replacement of the mesh with the plastic. Replace the screws and you now have a clear side window that does not offer added airflow (or intake of dirt). While several enclosure manufacturers offer you a choice of side panel options, I don't know of many that include the ability to change them out like this. It is a nice touch that shows Ikonik sees a need and addresses it.
Moving to the back of the enclosure shows a pretty standard layout, but this is expected. After all, a fancy back panel won't do you much good if your industry standard motherboard cannot be accessed.
There are seven expansion slots and an empty space for the cutout provided with your mainboard. There is also a large 120mm fan for exhaust and a pair of rubberized grommets toward the bottom to handle the tubing used by those who have an external reservoir for their water cooling system. The power supply is mounted at the top of the back panel and the rails on which it rests have a slim rubber lining to keep vibration under control.
So far, it appears Ikonik has researched the needs of the power user and made accommodations for those needs. But what about the inside?
Once we get the side panel off we get to see the interior. Since it is a mid-tower enclosure, there isn't going to be a huge working area. There is, however, plenty of room for a mATX, ATX or CEB (dual processor server-style) motherboard. The enclosure is also set up to offer a tool free installation, but we'll detail that in just a bit.
Starting up toward the top brings us to the CD drive bays. Each bay has its own rail to make installation easy and to ensure that the drives are more securely held in their respective slot. Directly below the optical drive bays is the 3.5" external bay. All drive bays also have a small metal strip that functions as a small spring. This presses lightly against the installed drive to act as a damper for vibration. It is small details like this that can make or break a product.
In keeping with the tool free concept, all optical drives and the floppy drive are held in place by the simply expediency of pressing a button. Once the drive is inserted, just line it up and punch the black button to lock it firmly in place. To release the drive, simply slide the oblong latch and the button releases the drive. This is one of the simplest tool free drive locks I've seen.
Moving down the drive tower brings us to the hard drive cage. Here you will find room for a total of five drives, each of which will be installed without tools. The rails you see above have small tabs that hook into the screw holes on your hard drive. Once you align the rails on the drive, just slide it into place. Also of note is that the rails have a rubber strip that keeps vibration under control.
Another feature of this enclosure is the fact that you can reverse the direction the hard drives face. Just remove the far side panel and you can insert the drives in from that side. The bays are universal in their layout so can be accessed from either direction. This can be handy if cable management is a concern to you.
From this angle, you can also see the large 120mm fan that is installed behind the front bezel. Intake for this fan is situated low, so fresh air comes in from the bottom of the bezel. Given the low footings used on then bottom of this enclosure, you will want to make sure you have this case set off the carpeting if you want to optimize your airflow.
Positioned just behind the hard drive tower is another vented area that is filtered. While there is no fan attached here, this filter is set up to be a mount for an additional 120mm fan. Since the fan would be situated at the bottom of the box, it is recommended that an installed fan here be used as an intake. Also, the same note as mentioned above applies here in that you will want this enclosure sitting on a smooth hard surface and not on carpet.
Moving back a little further shows us the PCI retention system, also a tool free feature. There is a single bar that rotates upward to unlock all of the peripheral slots. It is a simple yet effective method of retention that works well and maintains the tool free concept that Ikonik is building. It is also effective with tall cards, like high-end video boards, due to the fact that none of the locking device goes past the slot. There is nothing to get in the way of these taller boards and make you have to resort to screws.
SIM - System Intelligent Management
Another feature of the Ikonik Zaria A20 is an option called SIM, or System Intelligent Management. This is a device that is both hardware and software based, and is designed to help you monitor the system to make certain that everything is working as it should be.
Above is the far side panel removed and if you look at this side of the optical drive tower, you will see the heart of this system. Let's take a closer look.
This is the SIM unit. In a nutshell, it has the ability to work as a rheostat device (powering from 7v to 12v depending on temperatures), a system temperature monitor, and a control device for cooling a reservoir. On top of all this, there is an included driver disk that allows you attach the USB cable to your system to give you access to the data and make changes to the parameters in which fans will work faster. This is done by means of temperature thresholds that you set. Choose the temperature for a given zone in which you want to have a set temperature, and the SIM will automatically monitor this zone and give more voltage to the fans in that area to attain your desired results.
To accommodate this functionality, the Zaria A20 comes with four thermal probes that connect directly into the SIM module. There are also four fan ports on the SIM that coincide with the thermal probes, so you have the ability to set certain fans to certain monitored zones. Use the software portion of the system to adjust your desired temperatures and the SIM will take care of the rest.
Just make sure to connect a Molex power coupler to the SIM to make it all work. The probes and the fans require power (of course) and the Molex is where it gets that power.
Positioned just to the rear of the SIM you will find a pair of slim line fans to help you with the need to exhaust that heated air that is rising from your components. Partially tucked in behind the power supply, there is enough of a gap to effectively remove that hot air from inside the box and allow your system to properly breathe.
By default, these fans are connected to the SIM module, but you can change this is you desire. The flexibility of the SIM allows you to set up your own zones and cool them in accordance with their needs. Since many of us are already proficient in monitoring the temperatures, this just makes things that much more customizable to your own system.
With so many choices in the mid-tower enclosure market, it is up to the manufacturer to come up with something that will motivate you to purchase their product. There are many considerations in this effort including cooling potential, aesthetics, room, features and price. All of these options will play a part in your buying decision.
So does the Ikonik Zaria series have what it takes to be a good deal? Let's summarize to try to find out.
The Zaria A20 is a solid mid-tower sized enclosure that measures roughly 200mm x 440mm x 490mm. It is not a huge enclosure so will fit almost anywhere. It has a brushed aluminum finish with a shiny ridge that goes around the front bezel giving it a clean appearance. You get to choose whether you want a mesh side panel or an acrylic window, both of which are included with the package that includes the SIM.
The entire case is set up with a tool free concept. The mainboard and PSU will require normal installation, but that will pretty much be the extent of your need for tools. The mechanisms to effect the tool free installation are simple and very effective, so should produce no problems for either the veteran system builder or the novice.
Most of the components that have vibration issues will have a rubber strip of some sort to handle any excess rattling, which will help the system remain as quiet as possible. The fans included are also designed for minimal noise, using a 120mm fan in both the front and rear panels and a pair of slim fans on the far side. There is also the ability to add an additional fan on the bottom panel for cool air intake, and it is even properly filtered!
There really isn't too much bad going for this enclosure. Better positioning of the slim fans on the panel above the mainboard might have been nice, but their effectiveness will still satisfy your needs for removing that heated air. A removable motherboard tray would have been a nice addition, but this is getting to be a rare find in the mid-tower designs. A higher stance would also have been a nice touch to allow for a more user friendly choice for those who generally keep their systems on a carpeted floor.
Beyond that, the only main issue is price. At the time of this writing, you will have a difficult time finding the Zaria series enclosure on your favorite online store shelves, but that will change once the company gets it out to the stores, which is supposed to be relatively soon. Starting price for the base Zaria A20 case will run you about $129US for the base setup or $159US for the version with the SIM. While not an outrageous price tag, it does fall into the upper echelon of the pricing range when looking at this size enclosure.
Overall, if you have the cash on hand and like the feature set, the Ikonik Zaria A20 with SIM is a worthy contender for your consideration. It has plenty of space, offers an easy system installation, and provides enough cooling to handle most rigs being used.
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