Ahanix dboX - IntroductionIntroduction
Taking you back to the early 1990's, does anyone remember what the cases looked like? I mean did anyone ever pay attention to how cases looked back then? I can tell you I remember. Big, ugly, dull white cases sitting under my desk. These "dull" cases as I call them, had your average external drives with a power button, reset button and "Turbo" button. Let's not even get into the Turbo button uselessness.Now bringing you back to our time, the new millennium, consumers are looking more and more into having a nice case. Would anyone ever buy a top of the line system in the ugliest 1990 case? I wouldn't, and I'm sure you wouldn't either. Does this mean this sector of computing has matured greatly over the last 10 years? Of course it does. More and more retailers/manufacturers are getting into making their cases better looking.After getting all that off my chest, one thing comes to mind. Shouldn't cases be efficient? I mean looks are great but how about all the features we love. For example, a slide out motherboard tray? Faceplates? Thumbscrews? Retailers/manufacturers have also looked into this and are considering all those features that we love. More and more cases come out with more and more unique features.Today, is another special day in Canada for TweakTown. We are doing our first case review on the ExoticPC's creation, the dboX. Is it another mock? Flop? Or does it blow us away? Only one way to find out, keep reading.
Ahanix dboX - Specifications & FeaturesSpecifications:
Front fans 1 x 120mm (included)Rear fans 1 x 80mmExternal 5.25-inch bays: 4External 3.5-inch bays: 1Internal 3.5-inch bays: 7Rear expansion slots: 7Features:
The world's first PC case with an integrated circuit board Tool-less operation Support for Flex, Micro, and Full ATX motherboards EMI protective shielding Snap-on replaceable faceplate Front-accessible USB and IrDA ports Optional side window Automatic shutdown to prevent overheating 10-speed automatic fan control 3-channel thermometer Soft-touch buttons Time-delayed reset button.
Ahanix dboX - The ExteriorThe Outside
The dboX arrived to us in this fancy box. A lot of cases usually don't have colorful box art to help cut down on cost. But Ahanix has decided to list a lot of the dboX features as well as colorful pictures on there boxes to attract even more buyers. Of course, this would be only useful in a retail store where buyers would see the boxes.
When you first crack open the box, this is what you will see. The case is wrapped in some plastic and protected with styrofoam. ExoticPC also has this new machine that creates "air bags" that go around the case to prevent any dents. I really enjoyed this idea since I have had bad experiences with UPS and my packages.
Once the case is removed from the box, this is what you see. The design of the front panel is very nice and sleek. Two things caught my eye when I first looked at it. One is the little black screen on the bottom with the four buttons and the second one is the faceplates included on top! We will get into these more as the review goes on.
Above is the top of the front panel. The dboX has two faceplates that cover up your CD-ROM drives. This is a good feature because usually CD-ROM drives are white or beige and that spoils the unique colors of different kinds of cases. You also have a face plate that covers your 3 1/2 " floppy drive. At the very top you have your power button which is blue when you turn your computer on.
This is the most interesting part of the dboX. On the bottom of the front panel you have a display with 3 buttons that control it. Have you guessed yet? Well if you haven't picture this. A case with a built-in Thermometer. That's what this is. It lets you monitor temperatures in three areas of your case. For example, your case temperature, your CPU and your GPU.
Above you can see the three sensors that you will use in combination with the LED screen on the front of the dboX. They are all the flat thermometer type which can be used everywhere you can think of. They are all labeled as "CH1", "CH2", and "CH3" which correspond to the channel lights on the screen.
At the very bottom you have a small latch. When you open it you can discover two things. The first is two USB front ports which you hook up to your motherboard. This could be useful if you are using a device which you regularly take in and out. To the left of that you have an IR device. The controller card for this is optional and can be purchased for the dboX in the future.
Both sides of the case are the same. Nothing really special here. No window or fan of any sort is included on the side of the case but you can purchase a optional side panel w/ window from ExoticPC for this case. It does have a nice black matte finish though.
Above you can see the back of the dboX case. Thankfully, they have used thumbscrews to screw and unscrew the panels. You can see there is room for one 80 mm fan in the back. Unfortunately there is no slide out motherboard tray.
The top of the case has nothing special either. Although you have enough room to do a nice mod and put a 120 mm exhaust fan up here. Maybe our next modding article will be based on taking a Dremel to this dboX? You never know.
Ahanix dboX - The InteriorThe Inside
Once I removed the side panel of this case, I discovered the heart and guts of this case. On my first observation a few things popped out at me again. The first one was that I once again was disappointed not to find any sort of slide out motherboard tray. I also noticed two fans, one in the back and one in the bottom-right. The case is also very roomy and easy to work in.
The front of the case has tons of room for all your 5.25" and 3.5" needs. They are basic bays which use screws to hold your parts in. The slide out and slide in plastic devices never really worked so most cases use the ordinary screw in method. At the bottom you can see the monster 120mm fan pushing air into the case. If you place your hard drives in front of that fan, it will definitely keep them cool and eliminate the need for an extra HDD cooler.
Above is a close-up of the 120mm fan at the bottom right of the case. Unfortunately, I could not find the exact CFM of this fan but I wouldn't think it pushes more then 70-CFM since it is very quiet. You can also see where it would be ideal to place your hard drives.
As we mentioned above, there is room for one 80mm fan in the back for exhaust purposes. This fan is placed right above your CPU to remove all the heat your processor generates from the case. This also has a low CFM of about 30-40 CFM probably. It does provide quite a good noise/performance ratio from my testing.
Above you see your basic motherboard tray. It does not slide out or pop out, it is a fixed tray. It uses your normal brass stand-offs to install your motherboard to your case. It has enough room to even fit a huge dual CPU motherboard (attempted with a MSI K7D Master L).
Above you see the a picture of the top of the case. I have noticed that there is more than enough room for a future exhaust fan (92mm or 120 mm). This is a good idea if you want to maximize your cooling in this case.
Ahanix dboX - LED ReadoutLED Readout
This is what I call the "climax" of this review. The best part of the dboX is the LED readout featured in this case. This is basically like a Digital Doc built in to your case. It features three thermo sensors that you can put anywhere (CPU, video card etc.).You can also set it up to turn your computer off automatically if your computer reaches a certain temperature. This is much more accurate then your motherboard shutdown warnings. It also controls the fans in your case with 10 speed variables. Below you can see a few pictures of this readout in action.
This is the display panel located at the bottom of your case for the LED readout. You can see the buttons that control this system are up top and the screen is located below that.
The top part of it consists of 5 buttons. The middle button is the power button and to the right of that you have your reset button. On the far left you have a "select" button which is used to go through the three sensor readings on your screen. The two bottom buttons are used to control the speed of your fans. You have 10 speed settings plus the option to turn the fans completely off.
Above you can see the LED screen in action. In the middle you have the reading of the thermo sensor you have selected. On the bottom it shows you which thermo sensor you have selected. And finally, on top, you can see at what level your fan is set at. In the picture all the green lights are on which means it is at its max.
Ahanix dboX - BenchmarksTest SetupProcessor:
Intel Pentium 4 2.4B GHz Northwood Motherboard:
Asus P4S8X SiS 648Memory:
Corsair XMS 3200 CL2 512 DDRCases:
dboX (1x 120 mm fan, 1x 80 mm fan), M25 (2x 80 mm fans), Lian Li PC 60 (3x 80 mm fan) NOTE: All cases use the stock fans they come withVideo Card:
ATi Radeon 9700 Pro Video CardHard Disk:
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV 60 GB HDDDrivers:
ATi Catalyst 2.3 Operating system:
Windows XP ProfessionalBenchmarks
At idle, the dboX edges out the Lian PC 60. It seems that the 120mm at high output performs well. The M25 is about 5-6 degrees behind both cases.
We used CPU Toast to stress our system to the max. As you can see, the dboX only budges 1 degree Celsius while the Lian Li shifts up 2 degrees. The M25 still holds it's ground in the 35 degree range.
Ahanix dboX - ConclusionConclusion
The case market has come a long way since the early 90's. Today it holds it's own ballgame between manufacturers trying to out do one another. It seems Ahanix might have outdone a handful of them.The dboX is definitely a unique idea. Not too many cases, if any at all, have all the integrated features this case has. The biggest concept that makes this a true winner is their LED readout idea. Not only does it let you monitor up to three temperature readings, it also lets you control your fans at 10 speed settings. Another great addition to this case is the faceplates that cover up your CD-ROM drives. This is essential to keep the slick look of this case.Unfortunately this case does not include a slide out motherboard try. That is essential for those who always change things in their computer. From another end, this case retails at about US$100 at ExoticPC; you can't really complain.Overall, this is a great case for any of you looking for a nice case with tons of features without putting a big hole in your pocket. We would like to thank ExoticPC for sending over this review unit.- Pros
Good looking caseExcellent performanceTons of interesting featuresGreat price- Cons
No slide out motherboard trayRating 9.5/10