I’ve recently been tidying up and getting rid of a lot of things before a house move in the new year (goodbye beautiful new office). I came across a whole bunch of PC components and decided to build myself a new NAS with a bunch of them. I’ll be catching up on the NAS build in the new year but for now wanted to focus on the case.
The only component I didn’t have spare was a case to house anything in. I’ve been trying to get the blue and orange themes split equally in my office so decided to go with an orange case. The only other requirements were that it had to support a full ATX board and have at least 5x 3.5” bays and 2x 2.5” bays. Sounds easy enough but it turns out most people don’t want orange cases and those who do don’t tend to have full sized ATX boards. Thankfully I discovered a case I fell in love with the looks of – the Aerocool DS200. The case is reminiscent of my favourite car I ever owned – simple orange and black paired together and nothing flashier than that, but my favourite colour pairing.
Finding a supplier in orange proved hard but I did find a single stalwart supplier in Scotland that got it me next day. Whilst I’m sorting out all the details for the NAS post I thought I’d give a review of how I found the case.
For around £80 this is almost half the price of the Phanteks Enthoo Pro Luxe that I used in my Xeon build this summer. With the Phanteks being the only non-rackmount case that I’d built with in the best part of a decade the DS200 was being compared to steep competition.
It came pretty well packaged and nothing was broken – always a good start. The first thing I noticed thought was just how orange this case is – and it makes me want to get the green one to match if the colour profile is anything to go by. It has orange along the front and top with an LCD display and a series of buttons and ports on the top of the case. If you want to use water cooling or have additional air intakes on the top then the top orange panel can be removed and replaced with a black mesh panel. This is the first gripe I have – if you are in that situation (and luckily I’m not) then you’re losing 50% of your orange surface area – a colour-coordinated mesh would have been a great bit of detail.
There are other places the detail lacks as well. The LED control panel doesn’t actually have orange as a colour (it does, however, match every other possible case combination) – but thankfully the yellow is almost orange so I can try to ignore it… I’ll always know it’s supposed to be yellow though. I also feel the black side panels could have had a bit more flair for detail to tie in with the orange theme although I can see how that may have been overwhelming for many.
The case was reasonably easy to work with but there were a couple of issues – the biggest was the lack of space when using a large PSU and full sized ATX motherboard. The whole of the case was filled and there would be nowhere else to fit an additional water cooling hardware other than a radiator in the top. The included fans weren’t great either – a little noisy, no PWM and not actually connected to the included fan controller (which is connected to the three not-included fans for some reason).
The biggest problem of all was how little space was behind the case for cable management. I felt like I was going on a six week holiday with only a cabin-sized suitcase and I literally had to put my feet against it to convince it to shut when I filled all the drive bays and routed all my cables behind the motherboard. I should say that it was manageable and with fewer drives in use (I had 6 wired up) there would be no problem but if you are maximising this case then you need to bare that in mind. There is the option of a see-through side panel for the case but I’m not yet convinced I can make the insides beautiful enough that I want to show it off – I think I need to get back to some more cable management and colour co-ordinating some cables to compensate before I take the plunge.
There were a lot of nice features though. The hard disk trays, although made out of really cheap plastic, were incredibly easy to mount and the 3.5” ones in particular just “clicked in” to the drives. They’re also designed that the ports face the rear-side of the case helping with cable management. If you have an optical drive the case also comes with a matching orange plastic cover to go on the front of your drive so that it blends in meaning you don’t end up with white plastic ruining your build. Did I mention it’s orange? If that’s not enough the coloured section of the case has a really pleasing soft-plastic feel to it. Some people have described the feel as leather, I’m not sure what kind of hide they’re used to though so I wouldn’t get your hopes that high. Finally the top panel actually works out really nicely. I wasn’t sure how I felt about top-mounted rather than front-facing USB ports but having used this thing for a couple of days I’ve actually quite liked them and the included temperature sensor (which I’ve placed between all my hard disks) is useful to tell at a quick glance how the cooling is going.
For around £80 I was happy with the case – I think it looks distinctive, I love the LCD display on the top and I got a build done in about an hour including trying to route all the cables neatly and I’m really happy with the end result. It’s not in the league of the Phanteks but it was still a great case to work in and whenever I see that glowing orange hunk on my desk it cheers me up.
In a couple of weeks I’ll be posting about my new 16TB NAS build that went in here. It’s been a fun build (it’s both virtualised and physical simultaneously) but for now just a taster of the case whilst I get ready for Christmas.