The last three years working for TweakTown have been a blast. I get to see literally tons of equipment and I see innovations of every sort making it into chassis design and development over this time period. I have seen cases come from the basic steel box that just "holds the components" and on the flip side of that coin, I have seen some really well laid-out and fully equipped chassis, too.
What we are about to be discussing takes a hard look at the interior of the chassis as well as coming up with a pleasing exterior for the latest submission takes gaming chassis into the workstation end of the spectrum to deliver a chassis unlike most of the submissions I receive.
On the outside our latest submission has a large and chunky presence. It starts with the large feet and is taken up the front and onto the top giving you a chassis reminiscent of something along the lines of the CM HAF cases, yet different enough to set this AZZA chassis apart if they were next to each other. On the inside things are taken to a whole new level in any gaming chassis I have seen. I have done a few server chassis reviews and even there I have not seen the amount of back planes for hard drive bays. I mean seriously, between the 2.5" and 3.5" bays, there are ten hot swap bays to play with here! On top of that, the only other thing inside the chassis I needed a tool for was the risers and motherboard screws. The rest is completely tool-less or uses thumbscrews.
This chassis I have been describing is the Fusion 3000 from AZZA. While I have hit on some interesting points already, those were just enough to peek your interest and are really just the tip of the iceberg as far as what this chassis offers both inside and out.
I don't want to give it all away up front, or if gives you no reason to continue reading the rest of the review. I assure you it is worth your time to have a look at the latest full tower chassis submission from AZZA, as it seems they really thought this one out in every aspect and are ready to deliver a chassis I can see a lot of people using now and growing into later.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Fusion 3000 is a steel full tower chassis that uses ABS plastic to give the top its cool features and gives the front its chunky styling. I don't mean chunky like the last kid to be picked at Dodge Ball, but chunky like as if chucks are sticking out in various places. In the middle of the front, the Fusion receives a mostly mesh front surrounded by the sculpted plastic sides. While the top offers adjustable louvers to control both noise and temperature levels, the front panel gets a door to cover the access to the 2.5" and 3.5" hot-swappable bays and the door has a pair of blue LED fans to cool all of these drives. The left side of the case offers a cowling style grille that houses a thin window and a large area for fans to be attached. On the right side, there is a similarly shaped bump-out, but this time it is to add room for wiring and there isn't any mesh or window.
Inside of the chassis you get things like four tool-free 5.25" bays for your ODDs, fan controllers or even a bay reservoir since this chassis is fully water cooling ready. The rest of the bays are a mix of four 2.5" drive bays with hot-swap back planes, a rack of six 3.6" bays with similar back planes on them, except this time there are two fan headers on each of the three PCBs for a total of six 3-pin fan headers here, too. In the top of the chassis you can house a triple 120mm radiator and the Fusion 3000 offers very easy access to do so.
The motherboard tray offers room to house Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX and XL-ATX as well as having two socket access holes and a lot of wire management options. In the back of the chassis you get seven holes with grommets in them for water cooling, an additional hole for wiring to pass through and this is on top of the 140mm fan here and the ten expansion slots.
As for the availability of the Fusion 3000, well it is new to the market, but even so I went through the typical Google searches and found only one place in the USA and nothing in the UK market for a listing. For reference, all I can go with is the Newegg.com listing of $199.99 to base the rest of my opinion on. Since it is a new arrival, Newegg is running a special with a mail in rebate that will bring the initial pricing of the Fusion 3000 down to $169.99 and then you add the $28.70 shipping (with restrictions).
So base price, or delivered price with the MIR will leave us still right near $200 US dollars, so let's just see what $200 worth of full-tower chassis gets delivered with the AZZA Fusion 3000!
Fusion 3000 tops the left of the front of the box, balanced with the AZZA "one vision one mission" statement on the right. The majority of this panel is taken with a mesh design behind a side view of the Fusion 3000 chassis. Then at the bottom is the site address in case you need support.
This panel starts with the company name, case name and an image of the chassis from an angle to include the front bezel. Under this you will find the full specifications chart for the CSAZ-3000 chassis.
Just when I was starting to think that the shiny packaging and large images were starting to eat into our case options budget, AZZA pulls through and saves money by having repeating panels on opposite sides of the packaging. This way it looks good on the shelf, but doesn't cost anyone a fortune.
The sides use the same tactic of repetition, so you find the same thing here I discussed when we last saw it on the other side of the box.
The packaging is a little unusual for most cases I see. For one it is rare that the end caps cover the front bezel and the rear of the chassis, it's 99% of the time the top and bottom. Also AZZA stepped up and used high density foam inside of a cardboard form. This not only protects the chassis from harder drops, but the cardboard gives rigidity to both the outer box as well as the foam inside if it. On top of the chassis there is a large white box full of your hardware along with a section of dense foam to protect the front door. The case is also lined in a plastic cover and the sliver of a window has its own piece of plastic for protection.
AZZA Fusion 3000 Full Tower Chassis
Now you get to see what I mean by "chunky" as the front bezel of the Fusion 3000 definitely has angles and parts of the plastic going in all directions, but somehow keeps a style that makes you think its grabbing onto the mesh in the center of it.
Under the four removable ODD covers there is a large door backed with two 120mm fan to cool all ten of these hot-swap drive trays. Look close, there are four 2.5" trays, one of which is at the bottom right of the case and those are above six 3.5" trays. Adding a drive to the Fusion 3000 couldn't get easier!
The top of the chassis keeps hard angles and a few cut-outs to make it feel as if it's part of the front. The most interesting thing I found here is that that slider on the right side actively controls the louvers to open and close.
Focusing on the front I/O, you get a USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 connections, the power and reset buttons and 3.5mm audio jacks. The PC power and HDD activity LEDs are located just above the USB 2.0 port.
The left side of the Fusion 3000 has this cowl hood shape embossed in the side. On that they added a plastic frame that contains a thin window at the top of it, while the rest is used to allow fans to be installed inside and breathe through this mesh panel.
The back has the bottom mounted PSU, a 140mm exhaust fan and the rear I/O hole as do most cases. What I like here is the ten expansion slots, seven water cooling holes and the wiring hole at the top of the case. I also see a pair of thumbscrews on the top, something I need to investigate!
The right side of the chassis offers the same cowling bump as the other side offers, but this time it is left in the full steel construction as its only job is to hole in the wiring I plan to stuff behind it.
Before we tear everything apart and get to the inside of the Fusion 3000, I thought I would spin the case around and raise the louvers so you could see them in the raised position as well.
Inside the AZZA Fusion 3000
This door panel has a lot going on. It has a dust filter that I peeled out of the flip side of the door, but it also has holes for dual 120mm fans, dual 140mm fans, but also the option for a 200mm fan as well. To gain access to some of the holes, the plastic mesh on the outside can be loosened from in here and moved to do your business.
I told you I would get to the bottom of why the top looked removable, because it is. Here you can install up to a triple 120mm radiator and still have room inside to add fans. There are also two large holes, one on either side, to allow wiring the fans and such to go much easier.
The four 5.25" bays offer tool-free thumbscrews that don't fall out. These slide into position over the hole in the device and simply screw in. At the bottom you can see the PCB for the 2.5" hot-swap bays.
Six of the eight 3.5" drives have the dual drive back planes you can see here. These offer Molex connectivity for power, SATA connections to send and receive and even has a pair of 3-pin fan headers per board. Under this setup is the pair of 3.5" bays that use thumbscrews to mount the drives.
The motherboard tray has plenty of wiring options with the assortment of holes with and without grommets and a pair of CPU back plate access holes. With all of the various motherboard form factors that fit in the Fusion 3000, you should be able to have a nice and clean finished product.
The floor of the chassis has a rack for the PSU to rest on, particularly the larger PSUs needed to power dual socket systems with multiple cards stacked in the PCI-e slots. There is room in front for some added fans, but this depends on the length of the PSU as to you using multiple fans here, just a single 120mm fan, or none at all.
Inside of the back of the chassis AZZA also gives you a fan guard on the inside of the 140mm exhaust fan. Holding in the ten expansion slot covers are plastic covered thumbscrews for very secure mounting of even the heaviest card and they can be up to 360mm in length.
Behind the motherboard tray things are pretty simple. With holes everywhere you need them to be, joust point the wires where they need to go and they almost wire themselves in this case.
Just how much room do you get? The Imperial tape show just over ¾" of room. For those who like it in Metric numbers, you will get 20mm here and an additional 4mm with the bump on the door panel, plus or minus some play in the door panel.
The bottom of the chassis looks pretty scratched up, but that is because it doesn't ship with any feet. There is a dust filter for the PSU, but the large mesh area in the middle is left to allow the dust Jack-elopes to build up just as easy.
The wiring from the Fusion 3000 is pretty simple to figure out. There is a lead for the USB 2.0 connection and the lead for the native USB 3.0 as well. Then you will find the power, reset, HDD activity and power LED connections and a HD Audio connection to finish out the wiring.
Accessories and Documentation
If you remember back to the packaging images, this box was sitting on top of the chassis. When you first open it you are greeted with the User Manual on top of all of the hardware included with the Fusion 3000.
First of all we need to get some feet on this chassis and AZZA packed some large ones in the box. They are universal as to which goes in the front or the back and straddle the bottom of the case as they protrude a bit on both sides. The rubber pads are removable to make the mounting easier, but I had no issues installing them as-is.
In a larger bag you find all of the hardware for the installation process. Inside of that bag there is this assortment of seven smaller bags plainly labeled with their contents and destination in the build. Aside from those you also get a trio of zip together ties to help maintain the wiring in this chassis.
Back to the instruction for the next few images as I wanted to show that they do cover everything in this manual and I mean everything. There is the parts list and a few things I skipped past, but I really liked this exploded view of the Fusion chassis to help you get it all apart easily.
The cover how all of the hot-swap bays work, even how to install the 3.5" drives into their trays. It even continues to show you how and where to power the PCBs on the back of the bays.
AZZA also covers the use of the 2.5" plastic containers for their hot-swap bays and for our build I will be using one of each.
I love the simplicity of these containers. You simply open it up and there are four small pins that sit in the screw holes of the SSD. There is a cut-away at the back that is open for the power and SATA connectivity to the PCB.
After that you simply need to close the top over the drive. At this point I just need to slide it back into the bay and I will be ready to boot off it once I connect the back planes to the PSU and motherboard.
The Build and Finished Product
With 95% of the build finished its time to take a spin around the Fusion 3000 and see what's going on now. I only installed one ODD into the chassis and to keep the wiring inside neater, I went with the bottom slot. I don't think the DVD drive breaks up the lines as much as the door does.
Once the feet are added you get two inches more of case. This allows for a good amount of room to supply cool air into the chassis and PSU. I know the motherboard is small, but the wire management is still superb. For all the reaching they do have to make, the build ended very clean.
In the back of the Fusion 3000, the only thing I find missing is another GPU to keep the red single stripe and dual card stripe pattern going. Other than that silliness, there is nothing abnormal to mention here.
I really wanted to test the amount of room there was behind the tray and to do so I wired the front I/O, laid the PSU wires over them and added the SATA cabling over both of them. I figured if the door can swallow this mess, you will have no issues with builds like this or much more involved ones either.[img]38/[img]
I am surprised! I had about 30mm of wiring stacked up there behind the door. Now I was brushing against the panel while I closed it, but the wiring gave enough to allow me to close this door with no deflection in the panel either.
I just added this one as the last image of the Fusion 3000 before I add the power cord and get into the testing.
Once I did power the system, I snuck a look through the window to have a look at what was actually visible. Through the thin opening I was able to easily see the cooler and the LED fan on top of it and I can even see some of the memory heatsinks, but that is about it.
With the Fusion 3000 now under full power, there is a glow of blue LED from the pair of intake fans behind the mesh. If you don't add fans to the door with LEDs or the CPU cooler doesn't have them, the only other lights going on the 3000 are the red and blue LEDs at the USB port.
Now to me Fusion is a great name for this chassis. The Fusion 3000 is a great fusion of a server or workstation chassis and what is expected in a gaming chassis.
One thing I will note that is missing from both types of typical chassis designs and that is the noise levels produced by the chassis. Most server chassis sound like leaf blowers and a lot of gaming chassis are loud as well, AZZA made sure that this chassis would not be classified by anyone as noisy!
The outside is large and has an aggressive look to it with its chunky, industrial look. On the inside there is everything you want and more. Even if you aren't planning to have use now for ten hot-swap bays, it sure is handy to have just in case. I like that the chassis has a red on black theme, but it doesn't list compatibility for HPTX or the standard for the legendary Super Record, multi CPU motherboards that have a matching color scheme.
The thing that puts it over the top for me is that this is a reasonably priced chassis that offers a ton of connectivity options for hard drives, tool-free usage of the 5.25" bays, ten expansion slots for some serious GPU power while leaving room for a sound card or TV tuner if needed. I mean at every turn, even the top, there is more than met the eye with your first quick inspection of the Fusion 3000. Honestly if you choose parts carefully, you could have a triple radiator in the top, a dual on the floor and a single radiator hanging on the back of the case with very little effort and that is just inside the chassis. AZZA provides you even more options for water cooling with the seven holes with grommets to pass tubing through and the wiring pass-through in the rear of the chassis is handy. It just seems that every little detail was looked into and if at all possible, modified in some fashion to either make a styling point or just to make life simple while using the Fusion 3000.
What I am trying to say, is that for $200, there isn't much this chassis doesn't offer. I mean the obvious loss of a docking station doesn't matter with a chassis with ten hot-swap bays, does it? It has a style that will set it apart and is a chassis that once purchased will do you well for air cooling, but as the itch grows, it will also turn right into a water cooled chassis with relative ease. The AZZA Fusion 3000 is very new to the market and with only one listed e-tailer currently, we are stuck with the $199.99 pricing at Newegg.com for now. If you are into MIRs you can save yourself an additional $30 in six to eight weeks time. Either way, AZZA has made me think differently about their chassis designs with what I just saw. In my mind the Fusion 3000 is a real contender in this segment and should not be overlooked when purchasing your next full tower chassis.