IntroductionAt Technoyard in the last few months we have reviewed quite a few cases. Most of these cases were high end and were from extremely well known manufacturers such as Lian Li. To add to that, they were very expensive and in a way suited for specific purposes because of the desk space they take up. So in a way one might argue that they were more directed at the high end users and not the standard desktop users who basically make up most of the PC user market. In a practical point of view most of us who use computers are not overclockers and most of us do not use the pc for anything other than sending emails and word processing. This explains the resurgence of the mATX integrated product market and the growing popularity of the so called "Book PC" (Flex ATX Standard). So today we intend to review a case sent to us by Wahoo Computers, which is intended to serve this market the mATX Chilli Pro Computer Case also known as "guise"!
The unit is shipped out in a well protected case, which is something we don't see quite often.
Its probably one of the best looking cases I have set my eyes upon up to date. Its outer shell is made of anodized aluminium (not painted) which gives it a naturally professional look. You can get it in quite a few metallic colours (we got an ash coloured one). It has 2 visible 5 ¼ " Drive bays covered by drive bay covers screwed in by numbered screws and 2 visible 3 ½ " drive bays for floppy drives, Zip drives, super drives or to be utilised for an extra hard disk. These expansion options actually beats most options that are provided by other micro ATX cases. You would expect to find only one 5 ¼ visible drive bay and one 3 ½ visible drive bay in a micro ATX casing. So this makes it possible for you to accommodate a configuration that is compatible with one most standard ATX cases would be able to offer (Example HDD, DVD Rom, CD Writer, Zip Drive and Floppy Drive) which is wonderful because your computer doesn't need to take half your table in the process!
Apart from the obvious good looks its one of the sturdiest looking cases I've ever seen. Its outer cover with the exception of the bottom panel is made from ¼ inch thick aluminium alloy, yes you heard it right folks ¼ inch thick!!!!!!.
I couldn't quite figure out why they had made the panels so thick since it makes the case quite heavy to move around, which kind of takes away a bit of the purpose of using a mATX based solution as your PC. But I can assure you, you can make this case go through hell and it will still be rocking. But another minor disadvantage of having such thick panels is the factor of heat dispensation. It's a known fact that in a standard pc most of the heat it absorbed by the chassis (Specially the heat produced by HDD, DVD ROMs etc) and then dispensed through the case. The thicker panels make this process a bit less efficient but not by that much since it's only behind gold, silver and copper when it comes to heat dispensation efficiency (especially the alloy versions).Another slight draw back that I noticed was that the internal construction of the drive bay supports was not as sturdy as the external construction. The whole unit is supported by an alloy triangle fixed to the chassis of the case. But the size difference between the upper 5 ¼ bays and the lower 3 ½ bays takes away the real usefulness of having such a support.
We fitted in a standard 300W ATX 2.0 type power supply to the case and had some slight problems getting the psu screw holes to align with the holes provided in the case. Another slight drawback is the fact that the PSU actually fits in the bottom of the case. I think all of you are familiar with the theory that hot air rises (because the density of hot air is lesser than of the colder air). Normally since the power supply is over the motherboard and processor it will also to a certain extent take case of the job of an exhaust fan. Since the psu placed at the bottom of the system this makes it mandatory to have an extra exhaust fan fixed on to the provided vent on top, just to be on the safe side (especially users of AMD processors).
But these are small details which don't take a lot away from the case, and some of them might not even apply to you. But my major concern with regard to the use of this case is that fact that the face plate provided to accommodate the mother board connectors cannot be changed. It's a known fact that a lot of motherboard manufacturers are over stepping the standard AT configuration to include new features such as an on board network card, extra USB ports etc. The motherboard then comes with a face plate to accommodate such expansion. In this case you will need to do some serious sawing and cut out the existing face plat to make room for such a motherboard. At US$189 you don't want to be messing around with this case too much for it really is a very expensive case.
To sum up the Pros and the Cons of this case
ConclusionAll in all I have to say this is a pretty good case. But the problem is what kind of people would be interested in purchasing this case. There is no doubt about it; this is a very expensive case. For about another US$20 you would be able to purchase a Lian Li tower case. It's a wee bit too heavy (as well as expensive) to attract the standard home user, the people who normally choose to use a micro ATX case. Chilli is threading a very fine line with this case in a marketing perspective. The only people who would probably be interested in this kind of a case would be people with a lot of money in their pockets and are quite particular about the looks of their pc. The Chilli in a sense looks as expensive as it is. But I myself cannot envision this case ever becoming a main stream product. Maybe that was not chilli's intention in the first place.