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Aspire X-QPack Case Aspire X-QPack Case: Bored with the current SFF choices? If you're itching to build your own, you may want to checkout this new chassis.
Date: May 17, 2005
Supplied By:
Written By:
Price:

Installation and Use

While we didn't receive any instructions, installation isn't really much different from setting up your typical case. The motherboard standoffs are already preinstalled, so simply place your board on top and secure it.

As you can see above, a FlexATX motherboard will fit, and in the case of our Soltek board, the PCI Express graphics slot is useable. Keep in mind though that the X-QPack is designed for Micro-ATX, and you should probably go that way to get the most out of the motherboard and case as you may lose the ability to use either an expansion slot or something else if you use a different form factor board. For the Soltek SL-B5A-FGR, we lost the use of the sole PCI slot, but the PEG slot lined up perfectly with first expansion slot on the rear of the motherboard tray.

Installing the rest of the components work as usual, and Aspire includes all the necessary screws for this. If you wish to make use of the front LED display, make sure you attach the thermal probe to the CPU heatsink and hard drive.

Hook up the power cords to the appropriate peripherals, and close everything up.

Cooling

As shown above, we used a Soltek SL-B5A-FGR motherboard with a Pentium 4 560 with stock cooling (Arctic Silver 5 was the thermal compound of choice) as we were unable to get a Micro-ATX board in time for testing. A GeForce 6800GT, MSI DVD, and Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 rounds out the rest of the components installed into the Aspire X-QPack case. Our comparison chassis was the QBIC Mania the Soltek board was extracted from.

We fired up Folding@Home and a batch script of Doom 3, Far Cry, and UT2004 benchmark to load the system up. Ambient room temperature was maintained at ~23°C/74°F. Both cases were "closed" during testing.

CPU
HDD
System
X-QPack
68°C
45°C
38°C
QBIC Mania (IcyQ On)
69°C
47°C
42°C

Both setups rely on the rear fans for cooling as neither have front mounted intake fans. The X-QPack had better cooling performance across the board, though the CPU cooling was not improved too much. In terms of noise, both setups were about the same. The CPU fan was slightly quieter in the X-QPack, but the overall noise was about as loud as the Mania since the Aspire case only has one "layer" to buffer the fan noise.

Final Words

We liked some of the extras, such as the temperature LED and carry handle. The handle makes transporting the case more convenient than holding it under your arm like a football, and is solid enough to support the weight of computer. The temperature LED can be useful if you want a quick look at the load temperatures, but in actual use, we didn't refer to it too often. The LED fan and case windows are a nice touch for those of you into that sort of thing.

While the case itself is fairly solid, we did find the build quality to be lacking in a few areas. First off, the aluminum is very thin, so the case isn't very forgiving if you're not too careful when moving it around. We were also not too impressed with the paint job and surface scratches on the windows, but that may have been a problem exclusive to our sample. Since Aspire markets the X-QPack as a Micro-ATX chassis, we can't really penalize them too much for it, but keep in mind that you really are limited in the motherboard form factor as other small motherboards (Mini-ITX, FlexATX) may not be the best choices for the case. The thumbscrews for the case are nice, but we wished Aspire would have used thumbscrews as well for the removable motherboard tray.

Working with the X-QPack is about as easy as mid-to-mini towers. The motherboard tray helps, and installation of the peripherals isn't too difficult. The power supply should be sufficient for the majority of designs around Micro-ATX, and it ran reliably throughout testing. The aesthetics are something you'll need to judge for yourself as the X-QPack is far from classy looking, and more loud and in your face. Everything a LAN party PC should be.

Pros: Allows for any Micro-ATX motherboard. Decent cooling performance. Easy to use.

Cons: Poor paint job, minor scratches on windows, no thumbscrews for motherboard tray.

Bottom Line: Those of you looking to build a SFF PC from scratch will want to give the Aspire X-QPack a close look as it offers more in terms of options from most pre-built SFF PCs. Overall, it's a decently designed chassis though it doesn't stray too far from the basic fundamentals of a "cube" SFF.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.

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