Beginning with the front side of the box, we can already see an immediate improvement over many of the designs hitting the market place right now. The Aguila has gone with a full sized door panel that offers full protection and also helps hide off-colored optical devices. Also, take note of the cutaway corners at the bottom of the door. These sit a good distance away from the front bezel and offer excellent airflow for the front fan system. The fuzzy looking top portion of the door is also made of a mesh-type material that also allows air to flow freely. This all adds up to good airflow for an optimal cooling setup.
Opening up the front door shows a lot room for expandability. The default setup allows room for 6 optical and 2 3.5" external devices. If you are wondering how we get these numbers, take a closer look at the layout above. You can set 4 of your optical drives in the easily seen spaces for them. Another will fit vertically to the left of the fan, and the last will go just beneath the fan. As for the 3.5" devices, one fits in the housing that holds the power button and the other is situated just above the fan.
Another item of note is the flexibility of the layout. If you don't like the power button being at the top, just pull out the tray and mount it into another 5.25" slot and you're done. While not quite as flexible as the Thermaltake SHARK series, this one comes close and allows you a lot of room to customize.
Opening the bezel gives us another view of the layout of the front panel. The fan you see is a very nice 120mm model that provides very good airflow with a minimal amount of noise (only 17 dBA). You can also see the mesh-like material of the front door from this angle.
Above is a closer look at the front cooling included in the base model. You can also see that all front cover plates are covered with a foam filter material. Most folks who have read my past reviews know that I am critical toward any product that does not provide for some sort of filtration for all intake areas. The Aguila has addressed this concern in a very satisfactory way. When these filters get dirty, you need only blow then out with some canned air or even a vacuum cleaner. If they get very dirty, just carefully remove the filter and clean it in warm water. With a little care, they will last you a long time.
Moving to the side area we see a large window. Since windows are generally a matter of personal preference, the Aguila series is offered both with and without a window. I like them myself, but others may prefer this case without, so you have the option to get what you want.
Regardless of which design you prefer, there will still be what is referred to as a "ventilation opening" in the side panel. While Thermaltake recommends you use this as a passive exhaust, I would encourage you to add a fan here for a more effective airflow pattern. There is already a mesh covering in place with push pins, so a nice 92mm fan will work perfectly here and enhance the overall airflow of the enclosure.
To keep everything secure on the inside, you have a dual latching setup and thumbscrews. The top latch also has the obligatory locking mechanism for those who are either in a working environment and need people to stay out, or for those with small kids with an inquisitive mind. If you don't need the door locked, just leave the latch unlocked and it works normally.
The thumbscrews are larger than you might be used to so grabbing hold is easy. Even when tight, I had no problems removing the thumbscrews without tools.
As with most enclosures, the back of the Aguila is an industry standard layout. Since we have to use normal components to create out system, there is just not much you can do in this area. There is, however, an included 120mm fan to aid in the cooling of the computer. The fan used here has the same specifications as the front fan but also includes LED lighting. This sets off the interior nicely through the large side window.
Our final stop on our tour of the exterior of this enclosure will be the top. Easily accessible I/O ports have become a staple in modern case designs, but they are not always created equally. The Aguila design has these ports sitting under a cover on the top of the box so they are hidden when not needed, but still accessible. Standard headphone and mic jacks, two USB 2.0 ports and a IEEE1394 port are included.
I have heard that some folks have had issues with top mounted I/O ports since they are hard to get to when the case is sitting under a desk. While this is somewhat the case here, you should have little trouble since this enclosure is over 2" shorter than a full tower enclosure (2.28" shorter, or 58mm shorter for those who are not metrically challenged).
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