I’m in the process of building out a new custom PC for the house – the first one in quite a while now. Contrary to what you might think, as a technology guy I’m usually a little late for getting things up-to-date around the house. As such, I’m replacing an old Intellistation dual-proc Pentium 3 XEON. It sounds phat, but trust me, it’s showing its age.
I tried once to just hit this project with one blow-out purchase and be done. Just as I was ready to do it, something else came up that took priority over discretionary money. As such, I’m going the incremental route and starting with the components that are least likely to change over a short period of time.
This post begins my adventure in building out what should be a great rig.
The case decision has always been a hard one for me. I have a memorable scar on my right thumb where I was attacked by a sub-$50 tower case back in 1996. I was attempting to push out metal break-outs in the case’s rear slots with my thumb. It was difficult at first, but when the razor-sharp edges of the slot sliced off a third of my thumb’s width, it slid in easily. Er – that wasn’t the intention, however. Some-odd stitches later (three through the thumbnail – ouch!), I was ready to get back to work on the case. I used a Clark’s head screwdriver and some pliers to finish off those slots. As fun as the ER visit was to break up my day, I was not entertained by the next case-catastrophe. I wanted to test out the case power and front L.E.D.’s before I began installing components. Holding firmly to the exposed metal from the case’s chassis, I pushed the large power button on the front bezel. Oh vengeful gods! 110 volts coarse through me, there’s a loud crack, and smoke boils up from behind the bezel. Unshaken (actually I was literally shaken, but still determined), I unplugged the power supply and reset the breaker that had tripped. When I investigated the power switch and back-side of the bezel, I found that it had welded itself onto the case. Having the equipment (a hammer and screwdriver), I gingerly broke the weld (gingerly, for an ogre). Turns out, the case’s sharp edges had struck again. During shipment – possibly before – the switch leads had been sliced and exposed. Unbelievably, I replaced the switch and went on.
With the exception of some minor cuts (again from the chassis edges), I experienced no further catastrophes with that case. It wasn’t until I had done some fancy coupling of two power supplies with one switch and electrified the entire case while the system was on that I finally ditched it. Good times.
What this painful experience taught me was that I would no longer spare any expense when it came to cases. Disregarding the beautiful custom cases out there, I seek out full tower cases with lots of room for hard drives, bays, and plenty of cooling options. As you might guess, I also check the status of the chassis edges – deburred or folded are the terms I believe they’re using now. I also look at cases that generally don’t include power supplies (PSU). Included PSU’s are probably cheaply made and may have suffered damage within the case during shipment or installation.
This brings me to my case of choice, the Antec Nine Hundred. It reminds me of the Spartan 300, but has nothing to do with that. My first choice was actually a Gigabyte (3D Aurora 570) tower, but it didn’t go on super sale when the Nine Hundred did. I chased the deal for a little while on the net where it bounced around from site to site at $89.99. I missed the deal on ZipZoomFly where shipping is generally free and got it at Outpost (Fry’s) – there I had to pay shipping and tax, but it was a far better deal than $130+ you see it elsewhere.
As I build out the actual system, I’ll be sure and add my feelings on this case. Until then, here are the spec’s directly from Antec’s site:
- Unique Top mounted 200mm TriCool exhaust fan to cool the hottest system
- Perforated front bezel for maximum air intake
- Two front loaded HDD cages for up to 6 hard disk drives
- The HDD cages act as air ducts to take air in more efficiently. Optional middle 120mm fan bracket to cool the hottest graphic cards or CPU
- Two 120mm TriCool blue LED front fans to cool hard disk drives
- Window side panel comes with an optional 120mm fan mount for maximum VGA cooling
- Top mounted I/O ports for easy access
- Top tray for your MP3 player, digital camera, etc.
- Power supply mounts at the bottom of the case (power supply not included)
- Advanced cooling system:
- 1 top 200mm TriCool fan with 3-speed switch control
- 1 rear 120mm TriCool fan with 3-speed switch control
- 2 front 120mm special black TriCool blue LED fans with 3-speed switch control to cool HDDs
- 1 side (optional) 120mm fan to cool graphic cards
- 1 middle (optional) 120mm fan to cool CPU or graphic cards
- 9 Drive Bays:
- External 3 x 5.25″; Internal 6 x 3.5″ for HDD, or
- External 6 x 5.25″; Internal 3x 3.5″ for HDD, or
- External 9 x 5.25″
- Motherboard: Fits micro and standard ATX
- 7 Expansion Slots
- Top I/O
- Power & reset button with blue LED
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x IEEE 1394
- Audio In and Out
- Case Weight Net: 18.52 lbs, Gross: 24.36 lbs
- Case Dimensions: 19.4″ H x 18.4″ D x 8.1″ W
$105.78 through outpost.com (Tax & Shipping incl.)
Oh man oh man… you are in for a TREAT. Though it’s hard to see, you can see here (in the bottom right) that I’m also using an Antec 900. I’ve built four systems in the past few months using this case and I can honestly say that it is the BEST one I’ve ever had my grubby paws on.
Speaking of building systems, you should give me a call… I have a few “best bang for the buck” tips for ya.