I would like to thank Aerocool
for supplying the review sample.
|Aerocool Strike-X Advance
||Plastic & steel mesh front panel, SECC 0.6mm body
||9 x 5.25" (Exposed) / 6 x 3.5" HDD or 2.5 HDD
|| 465mm (H) x 190mm (W) x 490mm (D)
||2 x 120 mm RED LED fans (included)
||1 x 120 mm RED LED fan (included)
||1 x 140 mm RED LED fan (included)
|| 1 x 140 mm fan (optional) (Fan screws must penetrate the dust filter)
||1 x 120 mm fan (optional)
||1x USB 3.0 |
1x USB 2.0
Aerocool ships the Strike-X Advance chassis in a full color cardboard box. In terms of design, it is pretty simple with flames all around. On top of that it holds images of the chassis, specs and features all around the package. Interestingly enough, the big box comes with a plastic handle, making transport a breeze.
Two Styrofoam spacers hold the chassis in place within the package. A plastic bag further protects it from scratches and fingerprints.
You will receive quite a bit of extras with the chassis - which is a good thing. Five trays for 3.5 or 2.5" hard drives, which may also hold a cooling fan on the underside, a few zip ties and a 3.5" adapter for one of the big 5.25" bays. Eight bags of screws, neatly sorted and numbered are also part of the contents, but it seems like Aerocool is not too good at math. You will receive eight PSU screws, when only four are needed. 24 screws for the plastic trays and 24 for 2.5" drives - which translates to seven respective parts to be installed, but the X-Strike Advance can only hold six 2.5" drives. Basically, you will get more screws than you need - which is great, until it comes to the 3.5" hard drive ones: Aerocool only includes twelve of those - for a total of three drives.
A manual is also part of the chassis and looking through it, I noticed that they mention a nifty USB 3.0 & 2.0 combo cable - which I had only seen in the BitFenix Raider before. Keep this image of page five in mind, as we will see what cable we end up within the Strike-X Advance.
A Closer Look - Outside
Taking a first look at the chassis, considering the price tag of 60 Euro it looks rather spiffy, but in terms of quality, it is nothing mind boggling. While there are cases out there with a sturdier frame and the same price, you will be hard pressed to find a case with red interior and four fans inside it on top of that.
The entire front is made up of drive bays - nine to be exact. The metal mesh covers are in a darkish red color - not quite the bright red one would expect. Peeking at the rear it becomes apparent, that the entire interior is of that same color as well. Considering the price tag of the chassis, it has quite the good paint job as it is thick enough to withstand some torture. The main side of the chassis has a large, extruded X shaped window made of red mesh as well. This adds to the overall look and goes well with the name of the case series, but may be mistaken by some for the Xigmatek X. I would have liked to see a bit of shaping on the other side panel as well, just to keep things uniform and add a bit of additional room between motherboard tray and side panel in the process.
Taking a closer look, the only thing telling you that this is an Aerocool chassis is a tiny logo on the very bottom drive bay cover. Each of these have a dust filter in them to protect the insides of the case. Two embedded strips in the center of the case will light up red when the system is turned on. A Strike-X logo has been placed on the top of the chassis, much more prominently than the company logo itself.
In the rear, we have the mentioned PSU bay in the bottom, which has two sets of holes so that you may mount the unit with fan facing down- or upward. Above that are the seven expansion slots, each protected by individual, metal mesh covers. Aerocool has placed two large openings for water cooling tubes just between these and the 120 mm exhaust fan. This cooling unit comes equipped with red LEDs and pulls air out the back of the chassis.
Before I continue, there are two things that should be noted in this area of the chassis. The good: Aerocool has applied handles to both side panels, making it quite easy to pull them off once the thumb screws are removed. The bad: there are two definitive weak spots within the case structure. Other manufacturers cut, fold and tool the rear out of one sheet of metal, with the mainboard expansion slots usually added separately. Aerocool does things differently, with rivets and a separate little metal sheet used to connect two individual pieces together.
The Strike-X Advance comes with a very basic set of plugs, consisting of the usual audio plugs and someone weird choice of I/O as one USB 3.0 and one 2.0 variant is highly unusual. Considering that either header on the motherboard is intended to drive two connectors, Aerocool should have gone with two of the newer version instead. Two small LEDs on the right side are used for power and HDD activity. The one for the power is not really needed due to the two large red lights embedded into the front.
A Closer Look - Inside
Before we dive into the interior of the case, let us take a quick look at the X-shaped side panel. There are four large folds, but only two of them have holes to attach a single fan to. Aerocool did not add such an option on the bottom two, as a fan here would conflict with the PSU bay.
The insides of the case are quite simple, as the entire front is made of 5.25" drive bays. There are three openings in the mainboard tray for cable management, but with only around 12 mm of space between the tray and side panel things will get tight in this area quite quickly. A cutout in the motherboard tray should give you access to the CPU cooler backplate.
Due to the choice of case front, the drive bays are quite simple. They are of the usual kind for such a configuration, but Aerocool has installed two of the plastic trays for hard drives and placed them in the front of the chassis with fans attached to them. This brings the total cooling units up to three so far. Seven of the nine drive bays have a screw-less system with a large X shaped lock and it should be noted that these ones really looks like the Xigmatek emblem to be honest. You will only be able to utilize these parts if you are installing a 5.25" device, as the hard drive trays will require the use of specific screws.
In the rear, there is nothing out of the ordinary really. The bottom mounted PSU bay is lined with basic foam as an anti-vibration measure, but still requires the use of normal screws. Above that are the seven expansion slots, each using thumb screws for easy removal of the covers. The top fan comes with clear red blades, a black frame and the Aerocool logo in the center.
Taking a quick look at the top of the case, one can clearly see the fourth fan, which is of the 140 mm variety. This one pulls hot air out the top of the case as well and has been placed in the center, to go with the red X on the top panel. A large dust filter has been placed on the floor of the Strike-X Advanced. It is glued to the chassis, so you won't be able to remove it for cleaning.
Remember page five in the manual? The Strike-X Advance we received comes with an external USB 3.0 cable. Apparently Aerocool offers the chassis with both types of cables and it is up to the importer/distributor to choose which one is wanted. I see absolutely no reason for two such models. The company should go straight for the internal variant, ditching this one. This is not 2010, when there was no internal header on modern motherboards!
Installing the motherboard within the Strike-X chassis is done with the included spacers. Aerocool mentions a maximum length of 295 mm for the graphics cards, which in turn also means that you will not be able to use any of the bays next to the cards. Even with GPUs shorter than this, there is simply no way one can use these. In reality the maximum length in combination with a full bay is probably somewhere around 250 mm. While the large Phanteks cooler does fit, it is quite close to the top of the chassis. In the end, most coolers - including 120 mm tower variants should have enough room within the Strike-X chassis.
You will have to secure both 3.5 or 2.5" drives on the trays with the supplied screws. Once attached, simply slide the unit into place. As you can see, a 3.5" drive extends well beyond the wall of the bay itself. This is due to the front fans, as they take up a bit of space. By removing these, you should be able to slide the hard drive tray in further. Black pointy screws are used to hold these plastic parts in place as the locking mechanism cannot be used here.
There is a spot for an SSD on the floor of the chassis, but you can only screw it down with two of the four holes, as the feet below the chassis cover the rear openings.
Installing an ODD is quite simple and does not require any tools. Just detach the lock and slide the drive into place. Then put the plastic parts back where they belong. Due to space restrictions, the very top and very bottom bay do not have this feature, thus I installed a drive into the top two bays. The plastic locks work quite well and holds the drive securely.
Placing the PSU within the system is done by traditional means. Four screws hold the unit in place and there is plenty of space for long and powerful variants.
With everything installed, there is still a bit of a cable mess. This is simply due to the fact, that I did not route every cable behind the motherboard tray. There is not enough space to squeeze every cable through here and close the side panel successfully as well.
Once everything is in place and the system is turned on, the Strike-X Advance does make a pretty cool impression. Considering that the chassis is geared towards budget gamers, which do not tend to fill their case with a high-end SLI or CrossFire rig as I have done in this review, the looks make up for some of the internal shortcomings.
As you can clearly see, I have routed the USB 3.0 cable through the water cooling hole in the back. I strongly suggest you ask your local retail which version they are offering, as one with an internal USB 3.0 header would be much better. The tiny power LED in the top of the chassis lights up blue - which seems a bit out of place.
Value and Conclusion
- The Aerocool Strike-X Advance goes for 60 Euro (incl. taxes).
- Cool looks
- Four fans included
- All fans equipped with Molex and 3-pin connectors
- All fans with red LEDs
- Up to 3.5 or 2.5" drives may be installed
- Single 2.5" SSD slot on floor
- Tool-less locks for 5.25 inch bays work well
- Dust filters on the drive bay covers
- 5.25" to 3.5" front included
- Dust filter on floor of chassis
- Anti-Vibration foam on PSU bay
- Cool red interior
- Quality of frame a bit weak
- Rear side has two weak spots
- Very basic I/O - only one USB 2.0 and one 3.0
- 295 mm long graphics cards will only fit under ideal circumstances
- No dust filter on the side panel
- Dust filter on floor cannot be removed
- Not enough HDD screws, but too many other ones.
- External USB 3.0 variant should be avoided
- Very basic cable management possibilities
Aerocool has chosen a very specific path by offering the Strike-X Advance chassis at a very competitive price point, with four LED equipped fans and fairly elaborate looks and red interior. To do so, you will have to turn a blind eye in terms of quality and cannot expect to see any true innovation within the case.
The Aerocool Strike-X Advance is clearly to be used as a basis of a budget gaming rig. This is further underlined by the fact, that the chassis barely holds 295 mm graphics cards which will blocks multiple HDD bays. Another confusing aspect are the two individual USB connectors, but Aerocool has told me, that the newest revision of the chassis should have an internal USB 3.0 header. Interested buyers should ensure that their case is up to date in this regard.
The biggest downside is probably the overall quality which feels a bit crude at times, but all in all, the X-Strike Advance offers the mix of cool looks, basic functionality and good cooling out of the box. This makes it a good alternative for those on a tight budget, wanting a spiffy looking gaming enclosure.