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Aspire X-SuperAlien Aluminum Case

Friday, August 22, 2003 by TheDoc || [0 Comments]

This somewhat hard to find item turned out to be a real gem for those users inclined towards a 'pre-mod' computer case; the X-Dreamer wasn't overly decorated or modified. Now Aspire has sent us their latest case, and in many ways it's worlds apart from the rather tame X-Dreamer.

This new case, dubbed X-SuperAlien by Aspire, represents a completely pre-modified computer case with an out of this world alien design scheme. Designed for those users who want an extreme case with lots of cooling capability and an whacked out design, the X-SuperAlien is not a product that should be dismissed by people looking for a well designed, high end case.

The X-SuperAlien is made of lightweight aluminum on aluminum design, sporting a pre-mod window on the side and both a top and side blow hole. For cooling, the X-SuperAlien has six UV reactive and LED lit fans. The X-SuperAlien also has 12 drive bays, which include a nifty array of five sideways mounted internal hard drive racks. Finally, the X-SuperAlien has a built-in LCD with thermal probes and temperature display for monitoring vital temperatures inside the case, as well as an array of front mounted ports and two fan controllers capable of controlling the air and noise output of up to six case fans.

  • Super Light Weight Aluminum Server Chassis
  • Colors Available in:
    • Silver
    • Black
    • Blue
    • Green
    • Red
    • Yellow
  • Large See-Through Side Panel Window
  • Front Mounted Control Panel
    • Dual Front USB 2.0+ Firewire + Audio Ports
    • Front Mounted, Back-Lighted LCD Dual Temperature Display
    • 2 Fan Speed Adjuster
  • 6 Blue UV Sensitive 8cm LED Fans installed for max. cooling
    • 2 on Rear, 1 on Side Window and 2 on Front Panel and 1 on Top Panel
    • 2 X-Alien Fan Grills-1 on Side Window Fan and 1 on Top Panel Fan
  • 500W P4 Silent Aluminum 'See Through' Power Supply
    • Fan Speed Adjuster
    • Dual UV Sensitive LED Fans
    • UV Sensitive Wire Sleeve
  • Removable Motherboard Tray
  • 10 Easy Access 5.25' Drive Rails
  • 1 Tool Free Removable 3.5' Drive Cage
  • 12 Easily Installed Drive Bays
    • 5 External 5.25'
    • 2 External 3.5'
    • 5 Internal 3.5'
  • Slide Handle, Lockable Side and Front Panels for Extra Security

Aspire has put together, at least on paper, quite an impressive computer case. A futuristic design coupled to high end features and construction means you should get a lot for your money.

Out of the Box



Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The shipping and packing are par for the course, providing adequate protection as long as the box isn't abused during transit. The Aspire X-SuperAlien is inside a plastic protective cover and nestled in form fitting Styrofoam packing.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
All of the cabling, the PSU, one page manual, rails, and assorted mounting fasteners are packed inside the case itself. Here you can see the case right after unpacking. The side panel window is sheathed on both sides in protective plastic.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The case front is very striking in design, with a prominent red inset that is vaguely alien in appearance. You can see the red insets for the LCD and fan controllers as well. The door swings open to reveal five full sized and two floppy sized bays. The bays are tool-less and use a slide in and spring fit rail system that is common on many cases today.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The back of the case reveals the UV reactive parts of the 500W mod PSU and two 80mm fan exhausts. If you look closely at the bottom left of the PSU you will see where a screw came loose in shipping and the PSU bent the metal slightly. With the plastic coverings removed from both sides you can see the side panel window in all its glory. This is a very oversized window that is rivet mounted in a nice, clean installation. A blow hole with 80mm fan and alien head fan grill complete the layout.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The PSU included in the case is a 500W model that is pre-modified in several ways. Most notable is the see through cover, as well as the UV reactive components inside and out. The cabling is sheathed partially in green wire cover and has UV reactive molex connectors. The back of the PSU reveals one of two 80mm fans, a UV reactive power switch, UV reactive plug, and fan controller knob. The fan controller sets the speed of both LED lit fans in the PSU, adjusting the noise to cooling ratio.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The back of the side panel shows us one of the LED lit, UV reactive fans and the mechanical workings of the spring loaded entry handle. A full shot of the case interior with the door off shows us a total of 12 bays, tons of wiring, a removable motherboard tray, and more.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The PSU is mounted with a bit of headspace to spare. It looks good installed in this case thanks to the mods and should provide ample power. The rear of the case, inside, reveals the PCI slots with fitted covers and the two fan mounts with their LED lit and UV reactive fans installed.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The upper, full sized bays use a snap fit rail system for tool-less mounting and removal of drives; five bays give you plenty of room also. The lower HD rack consists of five bays, more server like in design, with the drives mounted 45 degrees off axis for easy extraction and cabling.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
Be prepared for a lot of wiring. You have an LCD, six fans, standard power connections for your hardware, two thermal probes, as well as the standard pin connectors for LED indicators and switches from the front of the case. The front grill of the case snaps off to reveal the two front fan intakes in their mountings. This is a great feature as it lets you have easy access to the fans for cleaning or replacement.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
Full size rails: Tool-less they are not, as they require you to screw mount them to the drives. It is still better than directly mounting the drives to the drive cage frame in my opinion, making working on your computer much easier. These rails also tend to absorb at least some of the sound generating vibrations of a high speed optical drive. The side mounted hard drive bays use a 3.5' slide out frame for holding drives in place.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
These sliding frames, or trays if you want, are designed to hold the drives from the bottom, which may result in undue vibration being transferred to the case chassis by loud or unbalanced hard drives. The frame work is very solid, though, and I could not notice any extra vibration or noise from a pair of high speed RAID O drives. The motherboard tray is removable via two Phillips head screws that keep it in place over four mounting posts. The tray has handles at the top and bottom to make sliding it in and out easier, albeit the bottom handle is so close to the case bottom that it is somewhat useless once a motherboard is installed. The tray slides on and off easily.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
All five full sized external bays have snap fit covers and are backed by a removable aluminum cut out. The bay covers are standard and color matched, with a design that would allow you to stealth your CD/DVD drives if so inclined. The two 3.5' external drive bays are actually held in one removable unit. This all aluminum unit slides in and out easily and is a tight enough fit that clunky floppy drives should not transfer much vibration at all.
Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien
The removable drive bay uses rails just like the larger 5.25' bays above. This helps to ease the installation and further cuts down on transferred vibration by dampening some if not all of the drive's movement. Here you can see the motherboard tray with a full sized ATX mainboard test fitted. The lower handle, as you may be able to see in this picture, is so close to the mainboard edge that a conservative user will find it nearly useless when reinstalling the tray.


The Good

The Aspire X-SuperAlien is, for a pre-mod in the sub $200 market, one of the best built cases I have seen in terms of quality and design strengths. The riveting is tight and all the internal metal edges are rounded and/or rolled so you won't find any sharp edges where your hands need to go when working on your computer. The design is well thought out, with enough bracing and support to keep the case rigid even with the side panels off.

In general this tool-less case really is pretty tool-less indeed; you will only need a Phillips screwdriver to mount the rails on your drives and for installing or removing the motherboard tray. Other design touches that really set this case apart from mid- and low-end products include the side mounted drive bays inside the front of the case, making it far easier to install and remove your hard drives when needed, an LCD temperature monitor, built-in fan controllers, and a 500W pre-mod power supply.

The Bad

Aspire X-SuperAlienNo case is without its shortcomings, however. The first, and most significant of the Aspire X-SuperAlien computer case is the PSU mounting. The PSU was mounted via four thumb screws in the top of the case. Unfortunately, the thin aluminum metal combined with rough handling and shipping motion conspired to cause the PSU to displace, or otherwise loosen, the thumb screws securing it, resulting in a minor amount of bending of the rear of the computer chassis.

Upon inspection, I came to the conclusion that a simple bit of strapping tape wrapped from the upper cross braces and over the top of the PSU would have kept this from happening, as would the use of normal Phillips head fasteners that could be more tightly applied. I asked Aspire about this and they indicated to me that this was a known issue and I was not the first to notice it; they were in the process of working out changes with the factory that would correct this problem during shipping.

The next issue is the documentation that comes with the case: It's simply not sufficient for a novice user and even experienced computer enthusiasts who regularly build their own PCs will find themselves confused at times. The instruction sheet needs to expand on its series of poorly labeled pictures and become a full set of complete instructions that detail the complicated hook up associated with the fan controllers and LCD display.

Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien

Another issue, one that may not bother most people, but one I feel worth mentioning given the overall cost of this product, is quality control with the paint. The picture on the left gives you a look at the rather nice paint finish; it is not too shiny and it doesn't take dirt or fingerprints easily. The problem is with overspray on the case door, as exhibited by the image on the right - a bit more quality control would be nice.

The last issue, at least in my mind, is with the fan wiring. People who own a case with a window in the side typically strive to keep the wiring as clean as possible and not string long wires for fans and other components in front of the window. Unfortunately, the fan wiring harnesses for the rear and side blow hole fans are not long enough to route inside the case and out of sight. This forces you to leave unattractive wiring hanging in plain sight inside your case as seen through the side panel window.

The Ugly?

On a more subjective note, the alien-like design implemented on the case door and alien-head fan grills may be a turn off for some users, while others will simply love it. While interesting to look at, the alien fan grills are exceedingly common to the point of being over done these days. The bay door design with its non-matching (red) highlights may turn off some people, as might its very odd geometric shapes. I suggested to Aspire, with what I would add was a very positive reception, that they re-design the case door and front panel so that the color insert can be changed; the case coming with a wide range of color choices for you to pick from.

The X-SuperAlien does have some remaining mod potential for users who like the overall design but want to customize it to their own tastes. I know I plan on doing some repainting of the red inserts on the front, replacement of the fan grills and addition of a custom window etching that matches, and possibly more. While not a case hardcore modders would ever consider, us enthusiasts still have some canvas upon which we can be creative with the X-SuperAlien.

Power Supply

Aspire X-SuperAlienThe Aspire X-SuperAlien comes with a 500W P4 Silent Aluminum 'See Through' Power Supply. By 'See Through' Aspire means modded, this PSU having a window modded into the casing so you can see the interior, UV reactive lights, fan controller and UV reactive covering on components inside as well as out. It makes for a striking, and seriously powerful PSU thanks to a 500W rating. Look for an upcoming review of this power supply and many others in the coming weeks.

Cooling and Noise

One key design element of this case is obviously thermal management. With six fans mounted throughout and a PSU with two more fans, giving a grand total of eight fans, this case provides some serious cooling potential for your expensive PC components. The front mounted, dual fan controller on the X-SuperAlien works well, providing precise control of up to six fans without ever letting them stall or produce any high pitched or otherwise annoying whine.

When it comes to noise you would think that the X-SuperAlien with eight total fans would be too loud for most users. Not true, thanks to the inclusion of two fan controllers for the case and one for the PC. At full blast, and with the PSU fan controller turned all the way up, the X-SuperAlien cools quite well but sounds very much like a large room fan; much too loud for users who need a quieter PC. At 1/4 to 1/3 power settings for the fans using the two controllers, you will find cooling is still adequate while noise is no more than an estimated 34db. This case should give overclockers as well as people who need a quiet PC what they are looking for.

The Finished Look

Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien

Aspire X-SuperAlien Aspire X-SuperAlien

Aspire X-SuperAlienHere is a shot from the backside of the case showing how I managed to hide the majority of the wiring. As indicated earlier in the review, the fan wires for the back and side fans are entirely too short, so I lengthened them and routed them behind the motherboard tray. By keeping your wiring clean looking and minimal in the main case area you help airflow inside the case, and thus cooling.

Conclusion

Overall:The Aspire X-SuperAlien is a case with very few negatives and a lot to offer. A very interesting design is combined with light weight and solid construction, tons of great features that make this product very nearly tool-less and a snap to work with, plus tons of cooling capability. Throw in a functional front LCD panel for monitoring temperatures, a total of three fan controllers and you end up with a computer case from Aspire being worth every asking dollar.

On the downside, some people may find fault with the alien head theme of the X-SuperAlien. Other users may find that they are wishing for longer wiring for the fans so they can achieve a cleaner look with the wiring. Additional minor issues are in the details, like a bit of paint overspray on the inside of the case doors, potential shipping problems with an installed PSU in such a light case, and a few design items like the lower motherboard tray handle that might irk some users.

People on the look out for a new pc case that is simple or inexpensive should look elsewhere. Those of you who want to do the modification work for yourself need not apply. For the remainder, the Aspire X-SuperAlien Aluminum Case is potentially a great solution, giving you a good design at a relatively reasonable price that has a somewhat unique look, which is neither over the top nor too tame.

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