The outside panels of the chassis are all painted
black, and while the case does require a tool to yield internal access it is
easy to get the side panels off. A small set of vents on the side of each panel
provide a little extra ventilation to HDD's and other devices in the bays. There
are a total of four 5.25" bays and three 3.5" bays, with two available for use
with a floppy drive or ZIP drive for example. The hard drive rack (the three
3.5" bays) comes off of the frame with just one screw giving users
some flexibility when installing drives in tight spaces.
The motherboard tray is not removable, but at least Aopen use good
quality brass standoffs instead of some (super cheap) spring clips as we have seen
in the past on similarly priced cases. CDROM's and other 5.25" drives screw into
place in the bays, and the power supply (300W) is P4 compliant.
QF50A case comes with a full set of
PCI expansion slot covers, IO shield, power cord, and assorted screws. Cooling
is a decidedly simple affair on this case - there are no case fans so everything
is passive, or drawn by the fans in the power supply. Some venting on the
front of the metal chassis, and the vents on the side panels make up the bulk
of the intake ports.
rear of the chassis there are
two positions where 80mm exhaust fans could be installed. Since the metal frame
is punched out more like a sinks' drain hole cover than a fan vent, airflow will
not be very good, and so noise will be created. I would not recommend using these
ports for active case cooling as they simply won't be very effective.
galvanized sheet steel is pretty
thin in this case so weight-wise we're looking good at only about 15lbs in
total. In addition to the 7 PCI expansion slots available, the case has a
removable IO shield so if you upgrade to a non-standard ATX, MicroATX for
FlexATX motherboard you can pop in the IO shield the mainboard manufacturer
Lastly, it might be worthwhile
to mention that since the sides of the front bezel flare out an inch or so at
the top of the case, the Aopen QF50A can't readily be placed flush to anything
(case, wall, shelf, etc.). This may work in favor of the convection cooling
which makes used of the side vents, but for tight fits in computer desks, or
systems placed side-by-side, this could be inconvenient.
a nice black and silver front bezel, and a good amount of expansion space,
the Aopen QF50A is a good option for those of us on a budget who
are tired of the same old beige computer chassis. With a set of USB
and audio ports hidden under a little trap door at the front of the
case, and a very clean and user friendly control panel (power and reset buttons, two
activity LED's) the QF50A is easy to work with.
the cables that lead from those two sets of front mounted ports can be tricky
since they are designed to be compatible with many different types of
motherboards. In fact, Aopen don't actually give you any explanation of how to
hook up the fifteen or so single wires ,
but if you examine the mainboard's manual it is easy enough to figure out
the process. Each wire is individually labelled, and it is just a matter of
connecting the right wires to the right headers on motherboards which have an internal USB
port header (not for first timers to be sure).
exactly is the bottom line on the
Aopen QF50A budget case? Well, it's inexpensive, and Aopen package a decent power
supply for standard desktop applications for starters. The case looks nice,
and while the metal frame is a little light weight for my taste, it gets the job
done reasonably well and is tough enough for the office or home environment.
Mainly though, this is the type of case you buy based on the price tag first,
and there's nothing wrong with that is there!