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Enermax CS-656TA Enermax CS-656TA: We take a look at a case, complete with a side window, an adjustable speed dial and a backlit temperature display.
Date: August 11, 2004
Provided By:
Written By: Brook Moore

Removing the windowed side panel allows me to view the internals, glaringly absent is a removable motherboard tray. This limitation will probably cause several of us that constantly upgrade our machines to think twice about purchasing this case. Taped to the bottom of the case is a box that contains the required screws and the supplied rear I/O panel, notice the lack of a manual for the case, tsk tsk.

The internal 3.5" drive bays are oriented towards the back of the case, just as the 5.25" bays are. The internal connectors for the IEEE 1394 and 2x USB 2.0 cables are all individual plug ins. Didn't we decide that a block connector is much more efficient along time ago?

Installing the motherboard took a little twisting and tweaking, as seen here; it can be a tight fit. Once I got the motherboard past the Cable Hold down clamp and installed, I removed some of the front covers and installed the 5.25" drives.

The very top drive did not have a steel cover plate behind the plastic cover plate, but all of the other ones do, curious. Enermax does not use a rail system to install drives in their bays, its once again old-school, slide the drive in on a small lip and screw it in from both sides (after removing the other side panel). This is also true for all of the 3.5" drives. A nice feature Enermax has employed is using thumbscrews for the AGP/PCI card hold down, this allows for easy, tool less installation.

Installation of the floppy drive was without fanfare; it went in simply and utilized the included front slit nicely. The internal 3.5" HD bays also installed without an issue, although I would truly like to see the bay oriented out towards the side of the case instead of towards the rear of the case. The only advantage to not using a rail system is that unless the rail system is built well, there is a tendency to rattle when your HD or CD-ROM spin up to speed. With the drives screwed directly into the side of the case, this is rarely an issue.

There was ample room to install the power supply and route the cables so that airflow would not be compromised. Enermax does not use a support rail from front to back that assists in holding up the power supply; they instead, force the screws to carry almost the entire weight. I would have liked to see a better power supply support mechanism in place here, as PSUs are getting beefier as power requirements grow.

Now that everything is installed it is time to connect and route the cables. There is ample room to route and hide the cables effectively, especially considering this is a mid-tower design. I connected the front I/O cables to the headers on the motherboard (can you say PITA) and proceeded to connect the power cables and SATA/IDE cables. I closed her up and plugged everything that needs to be plugged in externally. On initial power up I couldn't help but notice the reduction in noise from my previous case. The front "Arc"has a nice background blue glow to it, adding that "High-tech" look some of us like to see. The blue seeps in through the back so there is a slight blue glow through the windowed side panel.

Test System

Foxconn 875A02-6EKRS, Intel P4 2.4C (ThermalTake Silent Tower), Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM 8MB Cache SATA Hard Drive, ATI Radeon 9600XT 128MB

The CPU and system was brought up to 100% load and temperatures recorded over a 2 day period at various intervals, with the final results being an average of the initial results.

XP Cases Alien Case
Enermax CS-656TA-S
Hard Drive
Video Card

As you can see, the P4 and Hard Drive run slightly cooler in the original XP Cases Alien Case, the motherboard is almost no change and the Radeon doesn't budge. This is actually a very good showing for the Enermax case, as the XP Cases Alien Case is nothing short of a leer jet taking off when it comes to ambient noise levels, whereas the Enermax case is fairly silent. Of course, the Enermax has 3 fewer fans cycling air in and out.

Final Words

The Enermax CS-656TA is certainly a serviceable case, as it provides a fair amount of internal working space, built-in fan control and a temperature readout. There are several areas that do need to be addressed though, though none critical to the operation of the case. A removable motherboard tray would be nice, as well as drive rails and perhaps a side mounting scheme for the media drives.

Enermax has done a respectable job at delivering a case that performs well, fits in many places and gives you a design that is pleasing to the eye without being "out there". Although there are several things I would like to see included or changed in this design, for the price point and the market segment they are going after, it could be a good fit for you.

Pros: Stylish design with the ability to add some modification. Decent cooling with minimal noise levels. Front Temperature probe readout. Ability to manipulate up to four internal fans to get the cooling to noise ratio that best fits your needs. Ample internal space in a Mid-Tower design.

Cons: No removable Motherboard Tray. Independent connectors on the Front I/O cables. Internal 3.5" mounts rear facing. Does not use slide rails for easy mounting of 3.5" and 5.25" drives. The Flip Down Front I/O panel does not open on carpeted floors. Power Supply has minimal support.

Bottom Line: If you are in search of a case that is not plain vanilla and yet not on the extreme side of design, then we may have found a nice fit. That is, as long as you don't have to switch out motherboards often. With efficient air flow and the ability to control the noise level, this case can be that quiet, stout corner piece in your office.

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