Aerocool Strike-X ST Case Review
Today I am reviewing the latest case from Aerocool that they have called the Aerocool Strike-X ST. The ST on the end stands for Super Tower and is no idle boast. This case is huge and I can't think that anyone would have trouble fitting their system into it. I have installed a Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5 full ATX motherboard and Noctua NH-D14 cooler with an Sapphire Radeon 6950 full length graphics card and Antec 1200w power supply which are all very big components and it still looks empty! The actual outside dimensions of the case are 635(H) x 230(W) x 700(D)mm.
Anyway on to the actual review in hand. Apart from the size the case is nicely designed in keeping with the most modern trends of bold and military looking. This particular model is black with red features although other options are available. Of course this is mostly skin deep and underneath this mainly plastic outer shell the Japanese SECC 0.8 steel chassis is extremely stong and well built.
The front of the case from the bottom up starts off with the Aerocool badge. Above that is the first intake fan. This is mounted on the fascia and is a huge 200 mm model with red accent LEDs. All the fans on the case are Aerocool's own product which can be purchased seperately if more are required to match the existing compliment. They are red fins with a black housing and the aforementioned red LEDs. They go by the name of Shark and rather than the usual seven blades these are equipped with fifteen each with special air cutting protrusions to aid efficiency. Quietpc.com generously donated some extra models to enable me to make the build a bit more full as the case will take up to a maximum of 21 fans if you felt the need.
In front of the fan there is a removeable fine mesh filter to help stop dirt and dust particles from entering the case and clogging up the internal components. This just pulls out sideways without any tools required. It can then be simply washed and refitted. Above this is a slotted grill for more air intake which is passive by default. Another fan can be utilised here though. Continuing on up there are four 5.25" removeable slots covers for optical drives and any larger components that need front access. These are also tooless and just require grasping of the two tabs and pulling inwards to release them. The covers have the StrikeX logo emblazoned on them. To the right hand side are two buttons, the power switch and the reset switch these have red and blue LEDs situated next to them. The red one is for the HDD activity. I don't know why they decided to use blue here for the power rather than the red used elswhere but it still looks neat. Right at the top there is another StrikeX logo in red to make it stand out just in case you have forgotten what it is called!
Onto the top and there are the usual USB2.0 ports (a pair of them) alongside two USB3.0 ports. (These ports are arranged with an option on the connecting cables. One type will allow for an internal connection as most modern motherboards have headers for this or the other with the older fashioned external connector. Unluckilly I was sent the one with the external style but I have seen pictures of the internal USB2.0 and USB3.0 header cables and they are much better. If quietpc or Aerocool is reading this I would appreciate a pair of these cables please.) The normal audio I/O is catered form here too. Behind these ports are three seperate fan controllers. These are labelled from the left Side, Top and Front fans. By default they are connected to the three fitted fans in the relevant areas.The bonus is though that each of these fan control knobs connects up to a block inside the main compartment that will enable five more fans to be controlled by the same knob. There is a maximum of 20w per channel and the control range is between 60 and 100% speed.
Next comes a double trapdoor which hides a Hot Swap bay and has doors for both 2.5" and 3.5" drives to slot into with connectors for both power and data underneath. The doors are spring loaded and flip back closed when the drive is removed. Along the sides of these controls and ports are two long LED strips that illuminate red when the power is on. Covering the large central area of the top is another perforated grill with a large embossed X in it. This is red painted to match the other highlighted sections of this case and covers a large 200mm outlet fan. Again this has the obligatory four red LEDs. At the rear of the top section is another slotted grill area that is passive by default although would take a fan if required.
On the left hand side panel unusually these days there is no window but a large area of red grill panel with predetermined fixing points for more intake fans. It is possible to mouint up to nine 120mm, four 140mm fans, or a single 200mm option. All the fixing points have silicon rubber mountings fitted so it doesn't matter which you choose as they are all catered for. The side panel is held on by two thumb screws so no tools needed here either.
Around to the rear of the chassis and I notice that there are two options for attaching the PSU, one at the top and one at the bottom, or even two PSUs if you really wanted a power build. There is an outlet for an included single 140mm fan matching the rest. Aligned down the right hand side is a row of seven grommited circular access holes mainly with watercooling pipework in mind. Here again the size of this case shows with ten full expansion slots underneath the standard motherboard I/O panel cutout.
On around to the right hand side panel and where I would normally expect to find a plain slab of metal here is another perforated section for a 120mm fan. This will allow cold air to be blown onto the rear of the motherboard around the CPU area. I fitted one of the extra supplied fans here and was surprised how much of a difference it actually made. There is a good amount of room between the case side panel and the non removeable motherboard tray for cable routing. I like to see this as it does make keeping the mass of cables tidy so much easier. There are plenty of cable tie fixing points too.
OK, time to open the case and have a look at the internals. As I mentioned before , it is absolutely massive and this makes building the system so much more straightforward. The only trouble you might encounter is the length of your cables being long enough! There are ten hard drive mounting bays up the right hand side and these are available via a slide out tray system whuch just needs the two tabs squeezed together and it will pull straight out. Each tray has silicon mounts included already. Above these are the four 5.25" drive bays. Another tool lessfitting here. Just slide and lift is all that is required to unlock the clamp. These clamps are only on one side though and I would prefer to see them fitted to both sides, although screws can be used as well as the clamps or instead of if you don't feel it's safe enough on their own. The internal metal structure is extremely strong and well fixed together. Again it has a kind of military feel to it.
The motherboard tray will take just about any motherboard that you can throw at it and then some. The standoffs are already fitted but can be unscrewed and moved if the points don't suit your board's holes. A good size hole has been cut to allow access to the rear of the motherboard around the CPU area to make swapping heatsink mounts etc without having to remove the whole build. On the subject of access holes there are twelve fully gromitted cable access holes ready for cable routing and they are well spaced to enable easy reach of all areas of the mainboard. Again this makes for a nice clean build.
The base of the motherboard section of the case is fully perforated and includes a fine mesh filter so that any air drawn in through there is cleaned. The chassis is stood on four solid rubber feet but Aerocool even supply a set of wheels, two of which have locking brakes, that can be fitted which makes a lot of sense as being a large case when full with computer equiptment it is going to be unmanageable otherwise. There is a full compliment of screws, castors and accessories included and so apart from maybe some extra fans it is unlikely that you would need to purchase anything extra.Overall this is a very nice case. It is a shame that the plastic on the front and top feels a little light as the rest of the case is very sturdy. I think Aerocool would do well to offer a side panel with a window instead of the panel with the perforated area as an option. It certainly has enough scope for multiple builds so it is something that should have a long lifespan and with the size you are unlikely to outgrow it. It has some nice added extra features that everyone likes to see included. I award it 10/10. Well done Aerocool.
Supplier : Quietpc.com http//www.quietpc.com Price : £184.99With special thanks to Ellen Brook from Quietpc.com for her help in arranging this case and fans for review.