I mentioned when we looked at the Rebel mid tower from Sharkoon that it was part of a trio of submissions to TweakTown. The Rebel was built with economy in mind and a fully customizable cooling solution, as there were no fans included. The Economy version could be had for around 60 USD or 45.99 Euros. At that time, I found the near $60 pricing to be a little steep for what was, or rather, what wasn't included in the Rebel.
This time Sharkoon takes the same basic frame and motherboard tray, mixes things up a bit inside, add a fan and a bit of elegance. Elegance is applied with a new front bezel that wears an aluminum cover. The majority of it has a black, brushed aluminum finish, but the edges are ground to expose the natural aluminum as a contrast of bold lines down the chassis. Internally, Sharkoon included a 120mm blue LED fan to act as the cases source of cool air. Just behind this fan is where you will find the other major change in the latest version. The hard drive rack has been turned ninety degrees and now uses tool-less rails to lock them into place.
If you haven't guessed it by now, I am referring to the Nightfall. Revamping the Rebel and offering a new look at an older name wasn't enough for Sharkoon; they want their users to have plenty of optional configurations. Even when hunting down a case on a tight budget, sometimes it is better to pay a little more for things that suit your needs better. I think the Nightfall may be one such instance. I'm sure you are as ready as I am to see what sets the Nightfall apart from its budget brothers.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
I mentioned the only outer change in the Nightfall and that is the sleek aluminum front panel applied to a familiar steel chassis. Compatibility is what you would expect to find in a mid tower and this one fits ATX, m-ATX and ITX motherboards. In the rear you will find seven expansion slots and two holes for water cooling. Going back to the front, but this time behind the bezel, you will soon see the configuration has changed. There are five, 5.25" bays that go through the front bezel, and each have an aluminum removable cover. On the Rebel there were tool-lees clips to hold in all the devises. In the Nightfall you will only find four sets. This is because the hard drive section has been changed. No need for the bulky adapters this time, a simple setup of rails will allow for a tool-less install of the hard drives this time around.
Cooling in the Rebel Economy was non-existent, so it isn't that hard to improve things in the Nightfall. All the same mounting holes are present in the Nightfall that you will see in the Rebel. Sharkoon did add one 120mm fan to the Nightfall. The front of the chassis has a blue LED fan already installed that takes power from both a 4-pin Molex and a typical 3-pin fan connector. The other four holes are left empty. This includes the top, door panel, and rear exhaust holes. If you plan to get great air flow in the Nightfall, plan to buy a few 120mm fans as well.
Since the last review, I have realized that the Sharkoon cases were not intended for the US market, and I am sad to hear that, honestly. Sharkoon does make a nice mid tower chassis that offers a solid, upgradeable foundation to start off in. If you are lucky enough to live on the other side of that little pond call the Atlantic, Sharkoon cases are readily available for you to find at your favorite e-tailers. You should be looking at pricing near the 45.99 Euro MSRP that Sharkoon has set. With that pricing, it will cost you five Euros more for a fan and in my opinion a better hard drive configuration; not to mention the Aluminum front bezel.
Sharkoon proves that simple can work. The plain white box with black lettering and image of the chassis is enough to convey what is inside this box.
Under the large black stripe across the top of the box there are four sections of the features list in different languages.
The back of the packaging mirrors the front. With the side panels spelling out the features, there is no need to get graphic about it if it can save us buyers a couple of extra dollars.
The opposing side panel continues the same list of features, but this time there in five other languages.
Styrofoam protects the top, bottom and the front of the Nightfall during shipping. The Aluminum face has a blue plastic cover. On top of that is the plastic inner liner with extra foam over that to ensure a safe and damage free Nightfall.
The Sharkoon Nightfall Mid Tower Case
The front is black, and I mean dark black. As this photo shows, the five covers for the optical drives are barely visible. What is very visible is the pop of the exposed aluminum edges and the Sharkoon logo at the bottom. This gives the Nightfall a very attractive appearance.
The same door panels are used on the Nightfall as with the other two. There is again the option to install two 120mm fans of your choice here to increase the case air flow.
Behind the Nightfall there are the water cooling holes, seven expansion slots and no fan like we saw in the Rebel. The rear of the chassis gives you the option to place an 80mm or a 120mm fan of your choosing to act as the exhaust.
Nothing worth mentioning changed on the back panel. The same finger dent in the back to remove the panel is all there is to see.
The top of the chassis holds the power and reset buttons along with the audio jacks, USB 2.0 ports and the e-SATA connection. Integrated into the aluminum bezel is where you will find the HDD activity and power indicator LEDs.
Inside The Sharkoon Nightfall Mid Tower Case
Opening things up we get to see the second most notable change. There isn't a full rack of front facing bays in the Nightfall. Here Sharkoon offers a five drive rack facing the door panel. These allow for a cleaner installed look in my opinion, and are easier to use.
All of the front I/O wiring is bundled together, but still allows room to install a drive easily in the top slot. The following four slots have the twist lock, tool-lees clips to hold the drives in place. I mentioned that the hard drive rack is turned, but if you look closely in front of it, you can see the lone fan included in the Nightfall. As you glance over the motherboard tray you will find it is exactly what we saw in the Rebel.
The Nightfall has the entire front I/O wiring group in a length that allowed for a clean install even when hiding them behind the tray. Furthest away is the wiring for the front fan. The length again is long and offers connectivity via a 3-pin or 4-pin Molex.
The rear of the Nightfall is very reminiscent of the image form the Rebel9 Economy case. With no fans in the top or the back, the end user needs to pick these up when purchasing the Nightfall if you desire the added air flow.
With the addition of a blue LED fan as an intake in the front it only made sense that the bottom of the bezel be vented in the Nightfall. If you remember, the Rebel9 has a panel that covers this area pretty good even though it has the same mount for the intake fan. The fan is double screened. There is the bezel mesh and then the removable dust filter, so keeping the inside free of dust is taken care of. Don't forget to be sure the LED wires are free when you pull this front bezel.
The top is lacking a fan as well. A 120mm or 140mm fan can be installed under the mesh in the top panel. The floor of the case gets supported with small rubber feet. The Nightfall also keeps the dust filter to keep your PSU clean when installed.
Hiding wires back behind the tray is pretty easy. With the exposed view through the hard drive bays, hiding wires is a little tougher. Getting tired of fighting extra cable, I got a modular PSU for mid towers. You will soon see just how clean a little case can be when the correct parts are assembled in one little package.
Accessories and Documentation
Like in many other cases you will find the hardware box wire tied in the optical drive bays. Inside this box is a nice assortment of components. You will first find ten rails for installing hard drives. There are five left sided rails and five right sided ones, and both are clearly marked. Between them there is a case speaker, padlock tab for the back of the case and roughly ten zip ties.
As you dig deeper in the box you run across this. There are two 5.25" to 3.5" adapters to be used for a floppy drive installation. This explains the aluminum covered floppy drive cover for the front. Lastly, Sharkoon ships all the risers, screws and washers in one bag.
In the Nightfall you won't find instructions. What you will find is a piece of paper with a web address to finding instructions and images to aid in the installation. I just hope you have another PC on hand. It is rather tough to visit a site when the PC is in pieces.
The Build and Finished Product
Everything went together great. The tool-less locks on the optical drive are very secure with no real need to use screws even if this case is going to travel. Once the drive is in and the bay cover is unscrewed and removed, simply snap the front bezel back in place.
With a modular power supply the installation is kept very tidy. I know there isn't a window to view all the handy work, but with such limited air flow in the case, it is much better to keep it as open as possible.
The second attempt is always easier, and you tend to find where you made mistakes. The rear of the motherboard tray is much tidier this time. I made good use of the supplied tie downs and tried to test the back panel by grouping all the wires together. I lost that battle. Even with the large grouping of wires here, the panel slid right in place without a struggle.
Powered up, the Nightfall takes on the glow of blue LEDs. The black face with bold accents looks even more appealing to me with the subtle glow from the intake fan and the power indicator light.
Stepping back to get this image, I am looking it over and collecting my thoughts for the conclusion.
With the Rebel it was more of a do it yourself economy case. Sharkoon supplied all the basics and it was up to you to figure out air flow and possibly LED lighting of said fans. In the Nightfall Sharkoon at least starts you in a direction. With the aluminum front being so clean and elegant, it would seem a shame not to have some sort of glow of LEDs coming through the vented bottom. Sharkoon stepped up in the Nightfall and set the tone. While it is only one included fan, at least it sets what you are looking for to include with the purchase to fill all the empty holes. As we all know, buying it isn't the problem usually; it's obtaining a concept and running with it. At least here Sharkoon sets the stage with blue lighting, so half of the battle is already over.
The case is easy to install all of my goods into. With the turned hard drive rack at the bottom it made this even easier. Wiring was simple with a great ability to keep things tidy behind closed doors. There really isn't anything I can pick the Nightfall apart for. I mean I would love it to have all the fan holes filled with fans, but even though the Nightfall is classy looking, it is still a budget friendly mid tower. All things considered so far, my money is riding on the Purchase of a Nightfall over the Rebel9 we saw earlier.
I stated at the beginning, sometimes it's better to pay just a bit more to get what you really want, and the Nightfall is just such a chassis. With the pricing being five Euros higher than the base model, why would you not opt for the Nightfall? - It offers an aluminum presentation over plastic, puts a twist on the hard drive assembly and adds a blue LED intake fan to match the activity LEDs. If I was set on a Sharkoon mid tower purchase, as I said, the Nightfall is the choice for my $65 hard earned dollars.
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