I would like to thank Aspire for providing the review sample.
Aspire was established in 1999 and they have since been offering Computer Cases, Accessories and Peripherals such as Case Fans, Power Supplies and Matching Color Keyboard/Mouse/Speaker Kits. Their cases are unique and incredibly colorful. Their power supplies are high quality and have the looks for all the modding fans out there.
Today we get to take a look at their X-QPack gamer case. It is small enough to take to LAN parties, but big enough to put in everything you need.
The case comes in six different colors and can be bought with or without windows. This is what they all look like:
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We got the silver version with the windows all around. Let's take a closer look at what the mail man has delivered.
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The packaging itself is simple and functional. The cardboard box has a plastic handle, so the case can easily be carried home from the shop. The case itself is pictured on the big side of the packaging, while the narrow parts have either the features listed or a checklist with all the possible variants of the case. On other products there is a check mark on a list which identified the contents, but Aspire is using a sticker with the same color of the case and the model to identify the contents.
Once opened, the case is revealed. It is packed inside a heavy duty plastic bag. To protect it from bumps during shipping Styrofoam holders are in place in the back and the front.
A closer look
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The case can take two 5.25 inch parts and one 3.5 inch part. The black round button is the power button, which makes it easy to reach for, considering the contrast to the silver. The case has three windows, which are covered with thin plastic on the in- and outside to protect it during shipment, or even during installation. I will not remove the plastic until the installation is completed. The back has room for the installed 12cm fan and the power supply. Below that is the slide out mainboard tray, which will come in handy during installation. Last, I have put one of my aluminum midi towers right next to the Aspire X-QPack, which is much wider, just a bit over half as high, and a bit shorter than the midi tower.
One thing I missed here, were punch outs for legacy connectors like COM ports. There is plenty of unused space on the back of the mainboard tray and making one or two punch outs for such devices may prove useful. I, for one, use a serial port for my remote control infrared receiver.
Once the cover was removed, I noticed that all the edges were not folded, but were not very sharp either, the only two edges which were folded were in the back of the case. Considering that the user may have to stick his/her hand into tight spaces to connect cables, the risk of getting cut is quite likely.
On the inside there was the usual power cable and a little bag of screws.
The mainboard tray comes with removable PCI bracket covers, instead of the punch out kind, which you would have to remove by force. That is great, considering that one could damage the mainboard by having to take the covers off by force after installation, or even hurting ones self in the process. The tray itself is rather fragile, and the back bends easily when no graphic card or other PCI card is installed, which would hold it in place. Aspire decided to cut a hole into the tray and leave a 3-4mm high ledge around that hole.
The hard drive bracket is secured by two screws. Even with the screw in all the way, the bracket still has some free space to move around. My first thought was, that there is no need for such a removable part, but Aspire had to do that, to give the user access to screw in the optical and floppy drive.
The 12 cm fan, which came installed in the back is set to blow the hot air out. As you can see it comes with the 12V Molex connector and needs to be plugged directly into the power supply. A fan with RPM reporting may have been a better choice as mATX boards usually come with one extra fan header besides the one for the CPU. That way the user could possibly control the amount of voltage applied to the fan, thus reducing the overall noise of the system. The fan has blue LEDs embedded in the corners which light up as soon as the power is turned on. This is great, as it will light the interior of the case and the parts installed in it.
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In front of the case there is a small LCD which will display the hard drive and CPU temperatures. Two USB ports, one Firewire port, color coded audio connectors, a green LED for power, a yellow one for hard drive access and a small reset button.
The LCD display has a 12V Molex pass through connector, so you do not lose a connection on the power supply by using the LCD. Along with that, there were the two clearly labeled thermal probes. The USB, Firewire and Audio cables could be removed individually from the front part of the case, further reducing cable clutter if not needed.
Now let's take a look at the included power supply.
The Power Supply
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The custom made power supply, which comes standard with this unit is specified at 420W with a black chrome mirror finish. I placed a standard 350W OEM power supply, which is generally a bit shorter than brand name parts, next to it. The Aspire power supply was still about an inch shorter than the OEM unit. On the bottom the power supply has another blue LED fan, but this time an 8 cm one. While most power supplies come with 12 or even 14 cm fans these days, anything else besides an 8 cm would not fit here. On the top, there is a black label with the specifications of the unit. One of the more important specifications, the 12V rail has a total of 30A, split to 14A and 16A. Let's hope that is enough to drive a high-end graphic card, but more on that later.
The power cables are nice and short, as well as sleeved, that will help reduce cable clutter and improve air flow. On the other hand, the one thing I missed dearly, was at least one PCI-E power connector. There is one 20/24 pin ATX connector, one S-ATA connector, four 12V Molex and two floppy power connectors. I do not know why Aspire decided to include two floppy connectors instead of only one, considering there is only one drive bay for one. A very popular option these days is having a modular power supply, where you can plug in the needed cables. This may be a point of improvement for future revisions.
First I had to collect all the parts needed for this computer and since this case is geared toward the gamer, I wanted to put in everything a gamer needed to play todays games:
The first problem that came to mind was the power supply. While I could only figure out if it could run all these parts by putting the system together and taking it for a spin I had to plan the use of all the available power connectors to be able to connect everything. My biggest concern at this point was my graphics card, which alone took two of the four Molex connectors available since I had to use a PCI-E to Molex converter cable.
Putting it all together
So I started out with installing the mainboard in the slide out tray. The soldered on standoffs fit perfectly. After that I installed the graphics card, the four pieces of memory and the CPU cooler. The Blue Orb 2 was incredibly hard to install as I had to apply a lot of force to screw the cooler on. I was wondering why that was the case but more on that later. I chose a mainboard which has the PCI-E x1 slot right under the x16 slot. That way the currently fairly useless x1 slot gets covered by the graphic card, not one of the only two PCI slots. Right under the graphics card I installed the Surecom WLAN PCI card. As it was small and did not obstruct the fan of the video card. Below that I installed the Pinnacle PCTV TV tuner.
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I was quite happy that the huge Blue Orb 2 fit inside the case, until I pushed the mainboard tray about half way in. Here a little piece of the case was in the way of the heatsink. I had to push down gently on the heatsink, to get each fin under that piece and inside the case.
After that problem was solved, I noticed why I had so much trouble with the heatsink. The Blue Orb 2 installs with a separate backplate for the mainboard (Take a look at our review here). Aspire cut a hole inside the mainboard tray, white a ledge about 3-4mm high. There was not enough room between the ledge and the mainboard for the backplate, so the mainboard was bend upwards a bit. If Aspire would have folded the ledges completely, this would not have happened.
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Now the only things left to do were installing the drives and connecting the power cables. The hard drive holder has to be installed last, as it covers up the mounting holes for the other drives. The thermal probe for the hard drives was placed in between the two Samsung 160GB HDDs and the CPU probe was placed on the Blue Orb 2.
Considering that I completely filled the case, I also managed to use every last screw that came with the case, so Aspire gives you just the amount you need, no more, no less. With everything installed, we are ready to put the cover on and fire up the computer.
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So this is what the case looks like turned off, and then turned on. The blue LED fan goes perfect with the blue LCD up front and the Blue Orb 2, which has LED lights itself.
The point of this case is portability. One of the most important reasons to have this feature is to take the computer to a LAN party. So I hit the lights, and took a few shots of the system in the dark. Now that looks awesome!
The first thing is weight, so let's take a look at what everything weights:
That is a lot of weight for the handle to carry and considering it is plastic worries me a bit. There is no metal worked into that plastic front, it is connected to the rest of the computer by four snap-ins and four screws. I picked the case up a few times to try out the handle, but was very careful with it and it worked flawlessly. Nevertheless I suggest you are careful as well.
This is an area were Aspire could definitely improve. The 12cm blue LED fan is quite loud, but it is pushing quite a lot of air. Since it is connected directly to the power supply there is no turning it down either. The power supply on the other hand managed to power the entire system without any problems and the 8cm fan in the power supply is not nearly as loud.
Value and Conclusion
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The Aspire X-QPack has the potential to be the perfect gamers case. It is small and light weight, but still including a 420W power supply which can handle everything you can throw at it today. The handle lets you take it to your favorite LAN party and the case will surely be an eye catcher, considering the three windows, and all the blue lighting. But there are a few small shortcomings. The most apparent being the noise level of the system. That may want to make you switch back to a normal case and live with the the drawbacks if you are a person who enjoys his peace and quietness. Nevertheless the fan can be replaced by any 12cm fan of your choice, thus I would recommend this case to anyone looking for something small without spending a lot of money.
So what was the temperatures in the pc, like cpu and graphics card while playing a game?
This is a great case! I have two of them LOL I never have any problems with over heating.The CPU never gets over 45C My X800 GTO always runs cool.there is alot of air circulation in these cases. The only down side I could see is if the power supply go's it might be fun to find a new one.
if its a normal sized ATX power supply, just toss it out, put in a enermax liberty or a tagan U15 (get rid of cables your not using on psu)
It's a micro ATX PS and there are not alot of them around.I did find one at newegg 450W so I grabed it for a back up. I also emailed Aspire,and they said that any PS with these dimentions would work.
You can use standard size ATX PSU, 150mm x 145mm x 86mm (5.9" x 5.7" x
3.4") - W x L x H. Just make sure your 5.25" drives are short
all in all, a very capable case if you ask me.
I replaced the PSU with a Seasonic S12-430 -- VERY quiet. 'Replaced the 120mm fan with a Nexus on a Zalman speed controller which reduces its noise to almost nothing. Now the only thing I hear is a -very- quiet tic-tic-tic every minute or so from the HD.
FYI: the Benq 1650 and lite-on SH160P6* DVD's are fine with this case/PSU. CPU coolers are height-restricted with the uATX MSI K8NGM2-FID: I use the retail AMD (3700+) hs/fan, but the Zalman 7000 is widely used also.
Here is the strongest micro PS I could find. Will fit.
I spent a LOT of time working on cooling. Darksabers picts are beautiful, But.(there is always a but) If the Cpu cooler is blowing air down to the mobo and the 120mm fan is sucking air out of the case than they are fighting each other for air. What I did was to put a 90 degree 3" PVC elbow on the CPU fan and out the side. That way it sucks only cool outside air and rams it to the CPU. Than the warm air that is all around the mobo is sucked out by the 120mm fan and the AC cooler fan on the VC.
I used a 2 Full size PS, PC Power and Cooling and a Coolmax.To make them fit I just cut out the back and made it stick out a inch. Actually it was easy.
Sorry bout the fuzzy picts but I made this last year before I became obsessed with wiring.
Anyway, as I mentioned above, I have the Seasonic S12-430 -- very quiet -- and it has the virtue that its cables exit from the left (as viewed from case-front). Thus, there's no cable interference iwith the DVD's as there would be with right-exiting cables. However: the cables are not modular, and as of my purchase (two months ago) they were twisted but not sheathed (save m/b power). 'Think I read somewhere that they've begun sheathing them, but they were already twisted (for interference!) such that they didn't spread out.
My Benq fits as does my Lite-On. Other drives I have would fit if the PSU used 90degree power connectors.
No there is barely room for 1 PS, But I keep changing stuff. Its had 4 diff Power supplies. Excelent Idea about the Seasonic.
Actually you have to trim very little to extend the PS. The structure is kind of flimsey apart but when its put together its plenty strong. (I wouldnt stand on it though)
Also I have noticed people saying the handle is not sturdy. Not true I have had my case for over a year and the handle is still fine.
Another thing about the plastic front, Its easy to remove to paint. I used a color change paint on mine, it changes from green to blue to purple depending on what angle you are looking at it.
markkleb... did you try this PS Athena Power AP-MP4ATX45 450W Power Supply??? It looks and mesures to be just about the same size. I talked to a few others about the PS on different forums,and they never had a problem with it fitting.
It needs an adaptor to attach to the back of the case.
The reviews on Newegg arent so good.
It needs a 20 to 24 pin adaptor (hogs up space inside the case)
Basilisk had a good idea with the Seasonic PS (excellent company)
Would the Seasonic S12-430 fit in the case??
It would be tight but since the wires exit on the left side in the back they wont bother the CDRW.
The more I use this case the more I like it! :) I have another Tray for it,in about 10 minn you can swap every thing out! :)
The only downfall I don't like is the threads have a problem of striping out if you use them alot. Oversized screws aer a must! :)
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