Sharkoon is a company that I have yet to have the opportunity to look at any products from. I have seen the name and caught the news release for the latest submissions to our labs. This will be a three part series of reviews, as all three of the latest submissions of cases play off each other designs, but offer a fully customizable budget entry and a more midrange offering with a couple of fans supplied . Lastly, there will be a more top end model with Aluminum as the big treat.
I figured we might as well start at the bottom end and finish the trio with the best offering. The budget chassis of this series offers some nice features, such as tool-less bays and a completely open front bay arrangement, which allows for endless options for drive placement. In the "Economy" model, you still even get wire management options, but there is a complete lack of fans. This will allow for a complete customization of the air flow and noise levels this case will produce. Most of us end up replacing the stock chassis fans anyways, so starting off with this case there are fan choices that will need to be considered as well.
I realize that there are a couple of models of the Rebel9 Pro, but with a name like "Economy" in the title, my hopes aren't that high to be honest. Trying to be as objectionable as possible, I will throw away my expectations and just get to the nitty gritty of what Sharkoon has laid out for us to see in the Rebel9 Pro Economy mid tower chassis. Grab a beverage and get a comfortable seat, while I go through and show just what this bare case concept has to offer, and if you should plan to build your next "economy-build" in this chassis.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The mid tower, Rebel9 Pro Economy, is built from steel and uses plastic and steel mesh for the front bezel construction. The chassis is painted black, both inside and out, something I didn't expect in an economy chassis. Inside the chassis Sharkoon offers nine 5.25" bays, six of which have corresponding, removable covers in the front bezel. For 3.5" drives, Sharkoon offers 3.5" to 5.15" adapters. These adapters are held in with screws, both to the drive itself and to the drive bays when securing it. The rest of the 5.25" drive bays can benefit from the included tool-less clips for both sides of the bays. In the middle of the chassis you will find wire management and CPU access holes around the mounting for Full ATX, ATX, and m-ATX motherboards. In the rear of the case, you will find seven expansion slots and covers held into place with screws.
Cooling inside the Rebel9 PE is completely customizable. By this I mean not that you can put the included fans anywhere you need to, but that there are no fans, so it is up to you to make it perform the way you desire. The plan with the Economy case was to offer a great budget platform that the end user can finish to suit their own personal desires. Not everyone Likes LEDs, and if noise isn't an issue, air flow can make or break a build for some. With the slate being left blank, the options are truly endless for customizing the air cooling system.
Sharkoon has released these chassis' on paper, but they have yet to make it over the pond to retailers in the US. I have read rumors that it is showing up on UK sites, but even then I couldn't locate it in stock. I wasn't able to lock down a specific date to when the cases will be hitting shelves, but it will be very soon. Sharkoon has set an MSRP on the Rebel9 Pro Economy, and that pricing was given to me at 45.99 Euros. With a quick online conversion, that makes the pricing roughly $56 USD. Not all that bad of a price, but let's see just what we actually get for our money.
The Rebel9 Pro Economy starts with saving cost on the packaging. This simple black on white concept works well and still allows for the chassis image and the naming to stand out.
On the side you will find a multi-lingual listing of the chassis features.
The back matches the front, or is it the other way around? Either way, keeping the packaging minimal is helping save us, the end customer, a bit extra.
This side holds the same information as did the opposing side, just this time it is in other languages. At the bottom on this side are the weight specs, and icon for safety and such.
The Rebel9 Pro Economy comes shipped inside, secured in Styrofoam end caps, and with the use of a plastic inner liner.
The Sharkoon Rebel9 Pro Economy Mid Tower Case
The Sharkoon rebel9 Pro Economy Mid Tower Case
The front of the Rebel9 PE is all black with chrome accents. The six, ventilated bay covers can unscrew from the back to allow for 5.25" devices to show through the front bezel. The large area at the bottom behind the Sharkoon logo will allow for a 120mm fan to be placed behind.
The side of the chassis is painted in a matte black, and this side door panel offers room for two 120mm fans to be added if you desire. At the very left edge, you can see Sharkoon uses the large plastic covered, steel thumbscrews to hold the panels in place.
Even the rear of the chassis got the black paint scheme. With a bottom mounted power supply, it allows for the rest of the area for the motherboard I/O, seven expansion slots, and the rest is well ventilated. The fan hole will accept both 80mm and 120mm fan sizes, and below it, there are even holes to pass water cooling through.
The rear panel is very plain. The only thing noteworthy to see on this panel is the finger groove at the right. This will allow you to be able to hold on to something while trying to open it.
The front I/O connections are on the top of this chassis. Behind the large power button and the smaller reset button you will find connectivity for two USB 2.o ports, an e-SATA, and audio in and out connections. Further back, and out of focus, there is a vented area to allow for installation of either a 120mm or 140mm fan.
Underneath of the Rebel9 PE you will find it is supported with rubber feet. In the middle under the PSU, the case is not only ventilated but also offers a fan filter.
Inside The Sharkoon Rebel9 Pro Economy Mid Tower Case
Behind the front bezel you will find room for up to nine devices. In the chassis you get five sets of tool-less clips for the 5.25" devices. The 3.5" drives need adapters, but can go in any slot you find makes the most sense. The hardware box was supposed to be tied to the bays. During transit, it broke loose and was free to go wherever. No damage occurred nor did the hardware box spill even one component.
The motherboard tray will support full ATX, ATX, and m-ATX motherboards. It also comes stamped with three holes for wiring at the right and bottom, and also offers a fourth just above the CPU for the 8-pin CPU power line. The tray is stamped with labeling and numbers to make the riser installation easier, and just above you will find the CPU cooler, back plate, access hole.
The rear of the chassis uses full cover expansion slot covers screwed in to the chassis. Sharkoon also left a cut away in the frame for better access to these screws, something widely overlooked in most designs. To help support the PSU, Sharkoon uses four rubber risers to keep the PSU level and supported, but also to keep it isolated from vibrating the chassis.
Behind the motherboard tray you will find stamped out places for wire tie mounting, to help with wire management even more. Another plus behind the tray is the fact that the tray sits almost " away from the door panel. So even the 24-pin wire can get routed back here and not interfere with the flat door panel being placed back on.
Removing the front bezel was tougher than most, but with a bit more force I was able to get it loose. The power, reset and HDD activity wiring is connected to the bezel, and tightly wired into a small hole. Be careful the first time you remove this. There is the place for the fan at the bottom, and even here Sharkoon offers an intake filter to keep dust to a minimum. This filter is on top of the filtering screen placed behind the bezel that does the same thing.
Wiring is all sheathed in black for the e-SATS, audio, and USB wiring, while the power, reset, and HDD activity wiring is left multi-colored. These wires will make it around to any position on the motherboard, and are even long enough to route behind the motherboard tray.
Accessories and Documentation
In the white hardware box, you will find quite a bit. There are four sets of 3.5" to 5.25" adapters for your hard drives, or floppy drive. The screws for these are found in the baggie at the far left. In the middle you see a baggie that contains your risers, isolating washers, and screws for the motherboard, PSU, and for optical drive mounting, if you don't use the tool-less clips that is. At the bottom right, you get zip ties, a case speaker, and a security loop for the case side panel.
This is the extent of the included paperwork. Not that building a rig is rocket science, nor did I run into any issues, but I do like to have a manual just in case. With the Economy model, you get a paper saying to go to the site if you really need help.
The Build and Finished Product
Getting the build underway, I mounted the adapters to the hard drive, and slid in the optical drive and secured it with the tool-less clips. The hard drive can go in any of the other slots, but needs the use of screws to secure it.
The front bezel takes just as much force to get back on as it did to come off. I like them to be tight fitting, but I almost felt I was going to break it a few times.
Going with an ATX motherboard was not an issue. Everything installed simply and there were no issues during the build. The wire management holes are very well placed and do offer a very clean finished product on the inside.
Adding a black PSU and having a black bracket on the GPU only make the back look even better when finished. I know nobody really pays attention to the back, but Sharkoon offers a clean looking product all the way around.
Wiring behind the motherboard tray was easy. With all the holes in the right locations, the wiring practically manages itself. Just a few ties to keep the wiring secure is all I needed to keep them free from any issues mounting the panel. There is no need to call a friend over to help you get it on like I have to on a lot of cases.
With everything installed, it doesn't change the overall appearance much at all. Aside from the occasional blinking of the HDD activity light, with no included fans, the chassis is quite subdued. With a bit more money you can add any color LED fans or any speed and noise level, to completely change the character of the finished product.
Part one of the series, the Economy end of the spectrum, Sharkoon offers quite the chassis. A completely universal drive bay arrangement, tool-less capabilities, and wire management, all at a reasonable asking price. I know it isn't huge, but the chassis is also all black, inside and out. I know most DIY'ers tend to grab whatever, and paint it themselves, or add their own wire management with a Dremmel. Sharkoon is leaps ahead of you here. Not only do they do the work for you, they aren't asking top dollar to do so.
The chassis, while light in weight, is structurally sound. I would have no issues using it or advising you to either. The performance of the chassis is limited in what I can award it. While it is simple to navigate, the lack of fans doesn't make it a furnace inside by any means, but does hurt what the case can potentially do. While the Rebel9 PE isn't currently in stock from what I can tell, the pricing that Sharkoon has set makes it a reasonable choice to start your build in. While Sharkoon uses the term Economy in describing this chassis, I think that naming is wrong. This chassis offers features that most mainstream mid towers offer. It should be the Rebel9 "Fan-less Edition" in my eyes. Economy makes me think cheap and poor quality, which this case is neither.
If you have a spare $60 hanging around, this case is a good start to a LAN rig, a HTPC build, or even the everyday surfing and e-mail family rig. It is an attractive looking chassis, and the Rebel9 Pro Economy offers things unheard of in other "Economy" cases. Most cases I see in this category are around $40 and are what I refer to as "easy bake ovens" as there is no ventilation, and limited air flow will kill a PC as fast as anything else. Sharkoons MSRP of just over $56 USD makes this a reasonable choice for the options it offers, but realistically, fans aren't cheap, and unless you already have them on hand, you can spend in excess of $100 pretty quick for the case and fans. At that point you are in the league of the Cooler Master Snipers and smaller HAF. Any of you who have seen these know they offer similar features and superb airflow, and that's a hard price level to compete on.
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