I haven't had the opportunity until now to actually have a Raidmax product in my hands. I do remember looking deeply some time ago at their cases when I bought my first case outside of an OEM built computer. At that time I passed for some reason or another, but I am here today to give Raidmax a fair unbiased shakedown, as I really have nothing to go on for build quality or feature expectations. What I do know is that most of the time, Raidmax products don't tend to empty your wallet when purchasing their products.
While Raidmax offers coolers and power supplies, I have been given a chassis from the Elite series of their chassis'. This group includes ten various chassis designs and variations within some of those ten designs as well. The chassis we are going to look at today for example is one variation of four in its design. Nothing odd here, I have seen this done by many companies, as personal tastes can vary and manufacturers try to accommodate as many as reasonably possible. Changing LED colors or having a windowed panel version is a very common practice.
There are variations of the Skyline that include a full panel door and have silencing material installed into the chassis and a windowed version. Both the windowed and non windowed versions come in another choice of blue or red LED lights. Today we are about to get up close and personal with the Skyline with blue LEDs, a window and a rather bold, brushed aluminum face plate. Enough of the banter; let's have a look at the specs and get right into the images and description.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
On their own website, Raidmax doesn't supply too much information about the chassis at all really. They will say that there are five external drive bays, plus a bay for a floppy drive and three internal hard drive bays. They also mention that the Skyline supports micro-ATX and ATX motherboards and the rear supports up to seven expansion slots. Aside from that there is very limited information. For my measurements I used the tried and true tape measure; it's pretty easy to see what those numbers are, but I can only guess at the weight. And to be honest, I'm not that good at guesstimating. I can say the chassis feels light, but I have chassis' that cross the desk weighing in at over forty pounds empty, so "light" is very subjective.
Personally I would have liked to see some specs on the included fans listed with the chassis on the site. Looking around to see if maybe they listed the fans separately came up empty as well. What I can tell you is that the Skyline ships with a total of five fans, four of which are 120mm fans. These have a black frame and a set of seven blue blades to move the air. Two of them are in the top of the chassis blowing out, one is in the rear blowing out and one is in the front blowing into the chassis. The fifth fan is located in the windowed panel and this 80mm fan has blue LEDs to help illuminate the interior.
While the Skyline in its many forms can be found at a few retailers, it isn't what I would say is widely available. Taking a bit of time to price things out and look in Google shopping, I found only three pages of listings. That means that there are a lot of places that carry a Skyline, but many of the hits were repeating e-tailers just showing another version, too. Some of the links aren't such a great deal, asking almost $70 for the chassis and then wanting shipping on top of it as well. I was able to do a little better. Looking where we usually do, I found it lists at Newegg for $69.99, plus standard shipping charges.
Raidmax makes the Skyline in two flavours with a window. This is the red version of the Skyline on this side with an all black front.
On this side there is a view of all four versions of the chassis above a very basic specifications list. For your information, the egg crate foam sound deadener does not ship inside the windowed versions.
This is the version of the Skyline we will be looking at. Not only did the LED color change to blue, but the accent piece of aluminum that is blackened on the red version is left natural here.
Here we have a mirror image of the other side, seems like a lot of wasted space where they could have featured more about the chassis inside.
Out of the box, we can see the Skyline is shipped really well. The high density foam on both ends really absorbs the bumps and shocks of shipping much better than does Styrofoam. Under the foam is a typical plastic liner, but under this is a doubled up layer of tissue paper to protect the window and aluminum front from minor scratching.
The Raidmax Syline Windowed Mid Tower Case
The Raidmax Skyline Windowed Mid Tower Case
Even all the layers protecting the Skyline we have already seen, it takes just a bit more to make the skyline presentable. The window has static clinging plastic inside and out, and there is the blue plastic covering the face plate.
The Skyline is almost egg shaped, or at least a little fat in the middle. The shiny black plastic surround and slot covers are highlighted with the bright aluminum accent plate. There are five external drives plated as well as a floppy drive cover. The bottom is used to allow for air intake and a bit of LED lighting.
From the side the Skyline does show more of an art-deco look of older city skylines. The bold chrome window accents on the window, and the way the chassis looks like it's moving with the swept back top reminds me of pediments and figures on top of those structures. The sides carry that piano black, super shiny look too, so this chassis is prone to be a fingerprint magnet.
The rear of the chassis is not painted, and keeps things pretty simple. The removable I/O shield pops right out to allow you to install the appropriate one, and the fan next to it is not as open as I like to see, but will allow the 120mm fan to do a pretty good job. Under those, there are the seven tool-less expansion card slots with a bit of added ventilation to the side. That leaves us with the obvious spot for the power supply.
I had to look down on the chassis to keep from getting an image of myself. Even the back of the Skyline is highly reflective. The paint job on the Skyline is silky smooth.
The top of the Skyline is slotted and vented to allow for the placement of two 120mm fans that exhaust air through the fine mesh.
The front I/O is pretty simplified with just two USB 2.0 ports and a microphone and headphone jack. At the bottom is the power and reset buttons on both sides of the power and HDD activity lights. Take note of the screws in the front most panel, these need to be removed later to allow the front panel to come off.
Inside The Raidmax Skyline Windowed Mid Tower Case
From the inside of the door on the Skyline, we can see the chassis is all SECC coated then the exterior is painted. The artsy window holders are screwed into, through the window holding the 80mm blue LED fan, with the eight screws seen here. When trying to remove the panels, I found they are very tight fitting and require a fair bit of brute force to get them to slide back so they can be removed.
Inside the chassis, sort of loosely traveling in the Skyline, the included hardware and manual were found where they sit. They did bundle the wires though, as they can scratch on the inside of the window during transit.
The wiring from the front I/O has the longer USB and audio wires on the left, and the fairly short power, reset, HDD activity, and power LED connections. The wire lying in the background is a 4-pin Molex connector for the LED lighting near the bottom of the front bezel. Take your time checking to be sure on the riser placement there are no markings to aid in your needed placement.
Inside the front you find five tool-less 5.25" bays with bold blue locks. Just below these is the spot to install a floppy drive. Just under the floppy drive bay is a yellow tab, lift it up and the cage spins out for easy access and is cooled with a blue bladed, 120mm fan to match the locks on the sides of the drives. There are tool-less slides for this that you will see in the hardware section.
In the back there is a matching, blue bladed, 120mm fan to help exhaust the warm air from inside the chassis. The seven expansion slots have break away covers, but utilize a tool-less clip that can be assisted with screws to mount in the cards.
The floor of the chassis is solid and does not allow for the PSU to be installed fan down, so the PSU will pull out air from inside the Skyline and add more exhaust flow. The roof of the Skyline has another set of the blue bladed, 120mm fans, again exhausting air from inside the chassis.
Accessories and Documentation
The user manual is very, very basic. This side of the fold-out covers the motherboard installation and some of the front panel connectors.
The reverse covers the rest of the front panel connections, removal of the front drive covers and the installation of the various drives and expansion cards. There is no mention, however, of the removal of those pesky screws in the I/O shield I mentioned earlier. Without removing the screws I can easily see a user snapping this cover right off the chassis.
Inside the little Raidmax box you can find the included bits of hardware. There are six, yellow, hard drive slides to be used in the swiveling cage. Between them you will find a motherboard speaker, one tie strap, a set of motherboard risers, optical drive screws and motherboard screws. The bottom row consists of a bunch of washers to isolate the motherboard, some self tapping screws, and the power supply mounting screws.
The Build and Finished Product
Like I said near the beginning, there are two screws that need to be removed from the front I/O to allow the front cover to be removed. Luckily I had a 2mm wrench to remove the hex head screws, or I would have been up a creek without a paddle. With this done you can now remove the front bay covers as needed and remove any bays cover steel pieces if you are adding more optical drives.
There is a lot of room around the back of the drives and under the motherboard tray support rail. It took very little time to get a good layout for the wires and just a few extra tie straps and this is what you can end up with.
Removing the stock I/O plate and replacing it with this one just requires a bit of twisting and the plate snaps right out. Then simply snap in the right one. With just the plastic tabs holding in the 9800 GTX+, it allows the card to lean quite a bit; I do suggest you install the screws as well.
A bit of creative wiring and the Skyline can still stay pretty tidy inside. There isn't a whole lot of extra room for much larger graphics cards either. Getting all the parts installed went pretty well with nothing too notable to mention stalling the process.
Don't forget to leave a 4-pin Molex connection close by. When the door goes back on, you need to have it handy to power the 80mm, blue LED fan. The window gives an excellent view of everything inside the chassis, easy to check on things with just a quick glance.
Powered up, the front of the Skyline has two bright blue LEDs to light the slit in the Aluminum, and it also floods out the bottom a bit as well.
The blue LED fan in the door actually makes the edge of the window panel glow like a blue halo. This fan and the front LEDs are the only included lighting; a blue fan in a PSU can do nothing but accentuate the look of the blue lit interior.
The Skyline leaves me a bit torn. I like the concept and styling of the chassis, but Raidmax didn't sell me fully on it. Just simply painting the interior would have even sold the idea. The streamlined looks and bold accents are nice, but with the large window, the piano black exterior is almost lost looking at all the coated steel. I liked that the chassis was mostly tool-less. The drive bay locks worked really well, but I can't say the same for the expansion card locks, they are flimsy at best. Lastly, getting the panels on and off was quite a chore, but they do lock in place very solidly once they do go on, and this kept any vibrations at bay once under power.
Powering up the Skyline, I really expected it to be quite noisy, but to my surprise it really isn't. Feeling around the chassis, the fans are a bit impeded by the various meshes and grates, but still make for very effective air flow and circulation. The front of the chassis is slotted and well ventilated to allow the 120mm fan in front of the hard drives to feed the chassis, and also allows air flow coming in an easier time trying to equalize this negative pressure set up. The three other 120mm fans in the chassis are set to exhaust out the top and the rear well overpower what the intake and doors 80mm fan can provide to compensate, so any extra air coming in through the front is greatly appreciated to keep ambient inside low.
The Raidmax Skyline with a window and blue LEDs is an eye catching mid tower chassis, and could be right at home almost anywhere. The price of the chassis doesn't hurt things either. With low pricing like $69.99 at Newegg plus shipping, I feel Raidmax offers quite a bit for your dollar. There are cheaper chassis', but they don't carry this art-deco theme and classy look. While some parts don't work out all that well, and I did just a bit of damage to my thumb, Raidmax offers solutions to the expansion slot issue simply by adding screws.
The Skyline from Raidmax is attractive, simple and easy to use. If you need an attractive addition to house a rig in and don't want to break the bank doing it, have a look at one of the four variations of the Skyline.
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