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Enermax Steelwing Premium Aluminum Chassis Review

Enermax Steelwing Premium Aluminum Chassis Review

The Steelwing Premium Aluminum Chassis is one of the best computer cases we have ever seen from Enermax. Join us for our full review.

@chad_sebring
Published Fri, May 5 2017 8:46 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Enermax

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

Enermax Steelwing Premium Aluminum Chassis Review 99 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 35 IMAGES

Just about every case company out there is willing to make a chassis from aluminum, but to find ones who deliver such products that are not a simple cube form is rare. When this occurrence does happen, we would not expect Enermax to be the first company to pop into your head if asked about such cases, as it was not our go-to answer for such a query. However, Enermax is indeed now one of those companies, and with the chassis, they have brought to us now, we can see a new leaf has been turned.

This new chassis is not only made of aluminum, but it is also thick, which makes it structurally as sound as possible too. It also boasts a wing-shaped profile to improve airflow, and the entire chassis has been sandblasted and anodized to fight corrosion and fingerprints. Along with a unique style in this new case, Enermax has jumped on the glass trend as well, and offers a full-view side panel contained on this chassis. This new chassis is intended for compact space requirements and houses Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboards, yet it is still modular and supportive of more than what you see at first glance.

At this time, we would like to introduce you to the Enermax Steelwing Premium Aluminum Micro-ATX case. While we may not have used the word steel in the name, as only the screws and odd bits are made of it, but the name is certainly catchy. The pitch of Enermax with this chassis is to provide an exquisite aluminum chassis with high levels of craftsmanship, it uses a panoramic view inside with the use of tempered glass, and adding in a patented circular type LED fan that can be seen through the front. In just one glance of the chassis, we can see a lot of aluminum and some high-end styling is being offered, but it will take a bit of digging into the chassis and usage to see how well Enermax has done with everything else.

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Inside of the chart provided by Enermax, the first thing we notice is that this Steelwing comes with color options. There is the ECB2010R which is a red option, and we are given the choice of green as well with the ECB2010G model. Either of the cases is 387mm from front to back, they are 176mm wide, they will stand 300mm tall, and the only indication of weight is the fourteen pounds listed on the shipping label. As we mentioned earlier, the chassis is constructed of extruded aluminum parts, which are then sandblasted for a textured appearance, and then anodized silver or red in this chassis. Enermax also opted to use 3mm thick, tinted, tempered glass for the left side panel, and this is also where the Steelwing name is etched into it.

Inside of this Steelwing, you can choose to use either a Micro-ATX motherboard or a Mini-ITX motherboard to start the build. Connectivity from the chassis to the motherboard is simplified, as there is a single native USB 3.0 connection supporting two ports, HD Audio connectivity, and three small connections for lighting and power. For storage, there are a couple of options. There is a bracket inside of the front of the chassis, which currently supports a 120mm red LED fan, but that bracket is also used to allow for AIO support. In this context, it is also drilled out for a 3.5" drive to be mounted on it. The rear HDD bracket as they call it is found on the floor and is made to house a 3.5" drive and a 2.5" drive at the same time. The last thing shown about the Steelwing is that it has three expansion slots in the rear of the chassis, which means there are more options than just a single dual-slot video card too.

There are three restrictions to the Enermax Steelwing, which can easily be overcome. First of all, the PSU needed to power this case will have to be an SFX type, as there is not enough room for, nor are there mounting holes for a PS/2 ATX unit in this design. Since the front of the chassis is angled, this allows the Steelwing to have 290mm of space for video cards, but due to the location of the power supply, CPU cooler clearance is cut down to just 80mm.

Shopping around to locate both versions of the Enermax Steelwing, we find that a high-end design does come with a premium price tag, but we fully expected this as well. Our first stop was at Newegg.com, where we see both the ECB2010R and the ECB2010G listed with identical pricing, which is currently $161.54. We then looked at Amazon.com, and we find slightly better pricing, but both versions of the chassis do not share the same prices. The ECB2010R that we are showing you today is listed at $149.99, which is great, but the ECB2010G is listed at $155.39 at this time. Still, not bad, but we do not feel color should matter in such a design as to the cost to the customer. We will be holding the Enermax Steelwing to higher expectations due to what we read in the literature and because of the higher price point, yet feel that with what we have seen so far, they are on the right path with the Steelwing Premium Aluminum Micro-ATX chassis.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

Packaging

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Using a black background and a bright red stripe along the bottom, Enermax attracts your eyes immediately to this box. The Enermax name and logo are found at the top, angled views along with front-on views of both cases can be seen, and they even ghost an image of the fins on the front of the case into the background. Along with a trio of wings, we see the Steelwing name nearly in the center and a notation that this is from the Aluminum Series.

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The black and red continue around to the side, where we again see the Enermax name and logo at the top. The bulk of the panel is used for the large specifications chart, and in the red stripe at the bottom, the dimensions are listed again, just much larger and easier to read.

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The back of the box offers the company name and logo again, but this time there is also a QR Code to access the product page. Both models of the chassis are shown at the top, while seven other images point to various features found in, on, and around the Steelwing chassis.

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The last panel we see is used more for shipping information than anything else. We do see that this is where one can verify which of the two cases is inside of the box, and the dimensions are found at the bottom again.

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Enermax wraps the chassis in a clear plastic liner, which is there to keep the anodized finishes intact and pristine. The chassis is then set into a pair of high-density foam caps which are huge compared to the amount of case they protect. One thing we do not usually see with tempered glass cases is that Enermax ships the case without the side panel attached. It is found in the dense foam on the left of the chassis to ensure no mishaps occur in transit.

Enermax Steelwing Micro-ATX Chassis

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The front of the Steelwing is near industrial looking with the seven fins on the right next to the red side panel, and the left side made of aluminum as well, to offer room for the I/O panel and a sticker to be placed. The sticker Enermax placed on the front is easily removable, but is one last chance for them to point out the tempered glass side, the full aluminum craftsmanship, liquid cooling support, and the use of a circular LED fan which is almost visible through the steel mesh.

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The front I/O is placed higher up on the front panel for easy access, and it starts off with a metal power button which uses a mix of blackened metal and exposed ring and power icon to allow it to stand out a bit. Under the button, we find the pair of USB 3.0 ports, and below those, we can see the pair of 3.5mm jacks for the headphones and microphone.

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The fins as well as the thicker side strip curve gracefully over the top and extend back a few inches before coming to an end. The top panel drops down a bit and has a rectangular mesh area for passive ventilation, and then raises a bit as it makes its way to the curve around to the back of the chassis.

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The entire left side of the chassis is covered with a slightly tinted, tempered glass side. This 3mm thick glass is held into place with four thumbscrews, and the glass follows the chassis shape, but is larger than the frame that supports it. We also find that the Steelwing name has been etched into the lower right-hand corner of the glass.

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At the back of the Steelwing, we can see Enermax strays from the typical layout with this chassis. The rear I/O is at the top, but rather than a fan next to it, Enermax makes room for the SFX PSU to mount there, with passive venting slots between them. At the bottom, we then find the three expansion slots, which are accessed from outside of the chassis.

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This is not a trick with the lighting; the pinkish hue is the way the red anodization appears when done on top of natural aluminum, working much like a candy paint job. Four thumbscrews keep this panel attached to the chassis, and we can also see the Enermax name carved into it, right across the middle of it.

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Under the Steelwing, we see that the panel is nearly solid except for a few holes. The entire chassis is screwed together as we see at the front and the back, and while the feet at the front are narrow in placement and wide at the back, this chassis is stable and stands on sound footing.

Inside the Steelwing

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In the way this chassis is shipped, you will have a view of the interior right away, and the panel is not there to block this view. We find the front I/O wires are bound together and laid in behind the HDD bracket. This is also where Enermax ships the hardware box, and without a panel to be damaged in transit in place, these are free to float around without worries of damage.

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We took this image to show how the PCB is mounted on the inside, and where all of the wires stem from, but we can also see that to remove the mesh front panel, you have to unscrew it from the inside of the chassis to clean it.

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Lower on the front panel, we find that Enermax has shipped a 120mm fan inside of this removable bracket. There are two screws on the right side of the bracket that need to be removed, and once done you lift on the bracket and slide it off a pair of pins holding the left side to the chassis.

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After removing the front bracket, we have some choices to make. We can either change the fan if we wanted, install a 120mm AIO radiator onto it, or by using the innermost holes; we can also install a 3.5" hard drive here.

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The motherboard tray is a flat expanse of textured aluminum, and we find that all of the standoffs are already installed for a Micro-ATX motherboard. The power lead from the fan is also visible, where we find a 3-pin coinfection near the end, but can also be powered via Molex connectivity.

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The floor of the chassis is where the second storage drive bracket can be found. This bracket is intended to have a 3.5" drive slid into the bottom with a 2.5" drive slid in at the top, both of which require screws for secure mounting.

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The storage bracket is removable once a single screw is removed and the bracket is slid towards the front of the Steelwing. This makes it much easier to install drives, and if left out of the chassis, leaves the floor wide open for custom mounting options for anything you may feel inclined to add.

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From the inside, the back of the Steelwing does not offer much more to see than what we gained from the outside. The only thing we can see now that we couldn't before is the tab of aluminum which helps align the PSU, and is a guide as to how tall the CPU air cooler can be.

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Behind the motherboard tray there is nothing of value to find, nor is there any room. The panel screws directly to the back edge of the chassis, and at the front, it screws into the fin support bars. All we see here is textured aluminum and some blow-through around the holes from the coloring process.

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There is no reason any of these cables should not reach the appropriate spot on the motherboard, as they are all longer than the case is. From top to bottom, we can see the Molex connection at the end of the fan lead; there is a native USB 3.0 connector, the thin wires from the power button, HDD activity LED and the power button LED, and then we locate the HD audio connection.

Hardware & Documentation

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The basics for mounting everything is what we have here. Across the top, there are eight screws to mount 3.5" drives, an extra standoff, and six hex head screws for PSU mounting. The sixteen M3 screws at the bottom are used for 2.5" drive mounting, and are also used on both sides of the standoffs, both to mount it to the chassis and to mount the motherboard to them.

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Without any signs of wire management inside of the chassis as far as holes or raised notches of material, Enermax offers a solution. There are four Velcro straps, two red, two black, two long, and two short. Between the straps are the four thumbscrews used to attach the tempered glass side panel to the chassis, but only after installing the plastic washers to keep the screws from scratching the glass.

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The manual is made from one large sheet of paper and is folded many times so that it will fit in the hardware box. In this manual, you are given a parts checklist, and with many individual steps, Enermax covers installation and options, and as long as you do not have components conflicts inside, will allow someone with limited knowledge of case building to complete the project without issue.

Case Build & Finished Product

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Without a drive bay breaking through the front of the Steelwing, there is no way to detract from the looks of it. We have made sure to remove the sticker from the left side, and we could have changed the fan behind the bezel, removing that glow of red through the fan blades.

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Once everything is installed, we placed the glass panel back on the left side, and are afforded a great view of all of our components. Our Micro-ATX motherboard fit, and complicated using the H80i. A Mini-ITX motherboard would have worked better for this, but the PSU we have works well without blocking much of the view, and the video card clears the drive tray at the bottom by quite a bit to allow it to breathe.

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As always, we did fit a dust shield into the back of the Steelwing too and found no issues or complications there. The PSU slid into place without any hassle, but keep in mind it can complicate CPU air cooling choices. As to the video card, we did not have to flex the chassis to align the screws, and with access from the outside, there is no problem getting a screwdriver to line up with them either.

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Replacing the right side of the Steelwing is simple too. With nothing behind it to complicate returning this bright colored panel, all we had to do was align the holes and insert the thumbscrews to lock it back onto the chassis.

Enermax Steelwing Premium Aluminum Chassis Review 31 | TweakTown.com

From just a bit of distance between you and the Steelwing, the tint in the glass does cut down on what can be seen from this angle. Still, though, the Enermax Steelwing is a slick looking chassis designed with airflow and sophisticated style in mind, and it hits on both points.

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Powering the Steelwing does require the cable to reach the top of the chassis, but with the open design of the Steelwing, the blue LED glow under the power switch illuminates the inside of the frame, the button, and even the front of the chassis and the nearest fin.

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There is more of a LED light show if you move to a head-on approach to the Steelwing. Behind the fins, behind the steel mesh, the red LEDs glow through as they encircle the frame of the fan. They are much brighter than they appear in this image in real life, glowing onto the fins outside of the chassis, but out lighting has killed the effect here.

Final Thoughts

For such a small Micro-ATX chassis, Enermax has packed a lot into this design. You are smacked in the face with the use of aluminum with a textured finish from sandblasting it, and the mix of silver and an almost blinding red anodization. The fins on the front are the best way to allow air into the chassis, and the mesh used behind it is not so tight as to stifle the amount of air that can be sucked in through it. We like the look of the red LEDs and the brightly colored side panel which is to match, and we feel that the green version is just as attractive. From every aspect of looking at the chassis, we see nothing but attention to detail and the use of top-tier engineering to deliver a chassis such as this. Enermax even goes as far as to etch the side panel with the name of the case on it, and ships it in its own containment to ensure nothing bad can happen to it. On a basic level of construction, layout, and options, we see nothing wrong with what Enermax has done here.

As far as the feature set and customization are concerned, we feel that Enermax offers quite a lot within the confines of this compact chassis. We like the removable fan bracket at the front, which makes cleaning much easier and also provides room for an extra 3.5" drive. The second drive bracket is also well placed, and delivers options as to what sort of storage drives can be used inside. At the same time, we have two minor points to make for informational purposes. The PSU fits, all of the wires run where they are needed, but with it placed where it is, you are left staring at a section of flat steel through the tempered glass window. Our other concern is to the AIO compatibility. Using one requires it to be a single thickness radiator with Micro-ATX motherboards, or they will conflict with each other. If you opt to install a Mini-ITX motherboard, a double thick radiator will fit without conflict. The instructions do show a thinner radiator based 120mm AIO being installed, just keep this in mind, as it can also restrict push/pull fan setups. Again, this comes down to the choices made when buying the parts to fit in the chassis, and with all of the information in hand, you are full aware of the situation and can make the right calls the first time.

For most, the price will be the real deal killer, as they see such a small chassis and think that size alone dictates cost. Considering that Enermax makes no other case similar to these two Steelwing color option cases, new tooling is needed to build such a case. On top of that, they opted to extrude quite a few of the aluminum pieces; some are even 3.5mm thick and opting for tempered glass and a fancy anodization of the opposing side of the case, we can hear cash register noises going off in our head as we mention each of these things. As shipped, the chassis is near silent at 27 dB of noise, and while there is a premium price associated with the Steelwing, we feel that at $149.99 for this chassis, you do get quite a bit in return for the investment. For those of you who appreciate unusually attractive chassis design, or for anyone looking for a high-end chassis to save room with Micro-ATX builds, Enermax has what you need. The Steelwing may not be everyone's cup of tea, yet at the same time, it is likely to make fans of the direction Enermax has taken into the realm of high-end, top-tier chassis designs.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance93%
Quality98%
Features92%
Value90%
Overall93%

The Bottom Line: Enermax's Steelwing is near spectacular! Using high-end materials with a layout and features better than what is expected for a chassis this compact, there is much to be appreciated. The price is a tad high, but then again, nothing this nice comes cheap.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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