Don’t let the uninspired name fool you: Kingwin’s SK-523BKW is one of the best enclosures we’ve seen at this price. Thanks to its all-steel body and aluminum front bezel, the SK-523BKW is light yet feels sufficiently sturdy when you’re working in it. The front bezel features a swing-out door that’s bathed in the soft glow of an integrated red cold-cathode light. On the right side of the bezel, a small door flips open to reveal two USB ports and a single SATA port, which you can connect to a SATA port on your mobo using a pass-through cable. It’s not useful now, but it could be if external SATA catches on.
The interior of the chassis is identical to the excellent Cooler Master Cavalier, with one exception: The three-drive hard drive cage is turned sideways, so the back of the drives face the side door, making drive swaps incredibly easy. Snap-on drive rails that are a snap—literally—make swapping disks even more effortless. Sliding levers lock optical drives into place, and PCI cards are secured via a nifty tool-less retention mechanism.
The included fans—two big, quiet 12cm jobbies—intake and exhaust more than enough air, and operate quietly to boot. You can even adjust the front fan’s speed using a knob on the front bezel.
As far as we’re concerned, the SK-523BKW’s only flaw is its paint job. The flat black finish is much too scratch prone. A videocard we set on top of the case in the course of our tinkering might as well have been a feral cat, so severe were the resulting scratches.
Month Reviewed: May 2006
+ COLD CATHODE: Good cooling, sleek design, and easy to build in.
- COLD CASSEROLE: Exterior scratches easily, and cold cathode light is bright.