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Old 12-27-2005, 11:36 AM
newmedia42 newmedia42 is offline
Sage Advanced User
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 76
The A-Tech HTPC case...

I haven't seen anyone really talk about these cases first hand, and I wanted to upgrade my existing Sage system, so I took the plunge and picked up two of the A-Tech Fabrication's HTPC cases, and thought I'd share my thoughts on them for those interested; you can check out everything they have here:

One note of caution though, their cases are EXPENSIVE, and I do mean capital letters expensive - prior to these cases I had a Silverstone case which I was pleased with. Anyway, the two cases I purchased from them were the Mass-Storage 4X and the A-Tech 3000.

First off, both cases are pretty much the most well manufactured product I think I have in my house. Everything has a consistent finish, doesn't show anything close to a manufacturing defect, and is very heavy duty - I've had more than my share of aluminum cases, but none can compare for the sheer bulk and strength of the components. Everything also comes more or less dis-assembled - in the case of the 4X, it's completely in pieces; with the 3000 the main body is assembled, but you still need to assemble the lid, any accessories, install the power supply, etc. They provide specific screws for each piece (not your typical case screw bag), which are all allen heads (they also include allen wrenches for all the sizes as well).

Now, the 4X is an external case for up to 4 SATA HD's, with vibration dampening, sound isolation, and heat dissipation - pretty much everything you need to keep things running smoothly. Assembly is pretty straight forward albeit time consuming, and a bit of a chore getting all the cables living happily inside (make sure to buy the smallest ones you can find online, and get some of the L-type SATA ends as well if you can find them). I don't have any hard and fast numbers, but in the past I've built many systems using the SilentDrive enclosures which cut down on HD noise substantially, while making the drive much warmer. The 4X doesn't eliminate as much noise as the SilentDrives would in the same environment, but the drives run much cooler, and the noise level is greatly reduced over my previous setup which was 4 drives inside the Silverstone case.

The 3000 is the actual HTPC case itself, and while it's meant to be able to have everything in it (up to 2 HD's), I obviously opted to have the HD's external. I also bought the power supply they sell, since the case requires a 2U power supply and I didn't really want to look around to try to find a quiet one. Installing was a breeze, I also installed the big Zalman flower CPU cooler in the case without any snags. I didn't buy the Griffin knob option (I've subsequently bought one for my main PC), and I wish that I had because it's a really nice piece of hardware and would have been a cool addition to the case. Cooling wise the case does well, of course it doesn't have any HD's to worry about, which helps quite a bit. There's basically 5 fans in my case, the CPU, the power supply, 2 in the case and one on the video card - on the video card I use of 3rd party fans that vents out the back of the case to help keep things cool as well. At the end of the day with all those fans running keeps the case probably around 10 degrees above ambient room temp.

My only real complaint about A-Tech is the ungodly time it takes from when you order to when they ship. In the case of the 4X it took almost 5 months! That's right, you read that correctly, 5 months! Now, when I ordered the 3000 (which was after I got the 4X and was soo impressed) it only took about 2 months, which is much better, but still hardly the same as stopping by Fry's on the way home. The reason it takes so long is obviously because they pretty much build them to order, so there's definitely a limit on how fast things will ever be with them. They also told me at the time I ordered the 3000 that they were going to start having 4X's always on hand, so those could be turned around quickly (I assume because you really can't customize them).

Overall, is what I bought worth the money? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to the average HTPC user? Absolutely not. Almost 1/3 of my system cost now is the case, which I really don't get much direct value out of, as opposed to say, another 4 hard drives which would double my storage space. But if the price isn't an issue for you, from what I've played with and seen you can't get anything better. Now, I would recommend the 4X to any HTPC user, since it's price is much more on the reasonable side, especially when you compare it to the cost of 4 drive noise isolation cases, then add to that the cost of making it in an external enclosure.

I hope someone finds this informative, and feel free to ask me anything else. If you want pictures, I recommend just going to their site and checking out their assembly guides - they've got loads and loads of pictures.
3.2Ghz / 8Gb (ESXi virtual machine), HDHomeRun, LSI Raid-5, (4) 2Tb HD's, Windows 7 (all updates), Latest (last) SageTV.
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Old 01-03-2006, 12:01 AM
fasteddielv fasteddielv is offline
Sage User
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Vegas
Posts: 30
Hi, I also have an ATech 3000 Case. It is an awsome piece. If you want something to match your other highend components, this is the case. Plus you can order a rack mount faceplate or rack ears among many other options.
I also tried the flower heat sink, but found it to be ineffiencent in this case. Due to it blowing the air all around the case as opposed to out the back. I gave up on air cool and installed the koolance water cool system. It's been in use for over two years now without issue.
Insanity, "To do the same thing and expect a different outcome"
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