There are apparently two versions of the English language going around the technological world: One is the version manufacturers use when they say things like, “The NZXT Alpha also enables the user to fit large expansion cards like the Nvidia 8800 GTX.” The other version is the kind we use, where the word “fit” doesn’t suggest a large bucket of grease, a hammer, and profanity that would make a longshoreman blush.
In our last big case roundup (April 2007), Gigabyte’s Aurora 570 earned top marks for its excellent design and convenience as a chassis. But Gigabyte certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels since then—the company’s designers have gone back to the drawing board and given us a case that rivals the coolness of its predecessor. Gigabyte calls it the Mercury Pro; we would have named it the Monstrosity Pro if we were in charge. That’s because this case isn’t just a run-of-the-mill chassis. It’s a fully functional (armed and operational?) water-cooling/case hybrid. Take a moment if you need to collect yourself.
For a change of pace, we’ll start with our biggest critique
first—literally, the biggest. Thermaltake’s Xaser VI chassis (the
air-cooling-specific VG4000 model) is the Godzilla of cases. It’s heavy
enough to make carrying it an awkward, hernia-inducing experience, and
that’s before you slap a system inside. Heaven forbid you make full use
of the case’s eight (?!) hard drive bays and seven (?!?!) 5.25-inch
expansion slots. Add water cooling and you might want to invest in some
wheels and a dolly for transporting the beast.
In yet another example of a design that likely looked way better on
paper than in practice, we find ourselves struggling to come to terms
with the Cooler Master 690’s more unique features. We can’t fault the
company for trying; in some ways, we applaud Cooler Master’s attempts
at distinguishing the 690 from the rest of its cadre in the crowded
Ultra’s m998 is a sad combination of two phrases: “Looks are deceiving.” and “A for effort.” Funny, because when we consider the case strictly on face value, it’s anything but a cliché. For starters, the m998 is wider than the standard cases we’ve tested, but the aluminum body keeps the enclosure rather light.
When it comes to case design, innovation is a double-edged sword. If a company gets it right, it can win attention and accolades for introducing a fresh and functional approach to an otherwise stale and unchanging market. Let’s face it, a lot of new cases look just like the plain ol’ boxes of yore, with maybe a couple of new fan holes here and there.