Pulling off the side panel gives us access to the inside of the case. Nothing much to say here, as there are no removable parts other than the PSU and fans. The motherboard tray is integrated into the case, but give the straight edge design of the interior, we did not have any problems working with the Cobra.
For cooling, RaidMax has you well covered by allowing up to 7 (!) 80mm fans to be installed. Two fans are included and are placed in the rear as exhaust fans. The above image to the right are the fan mounts and ventilations holes (these are just behind the three ventillation openings on the front bezel) for four additional fans. While the intention is good, we think it would have been better to cut down on the sheer number of fan options and go with 120mm fans instead as they would make a lot less noise and make the case more attractive to those who favor water cooling (which typically have 120mm radiators these days).
The rear PCI plates are cut from the case chassis, meaning, once you pop them out, they are garbage. Raidmax includes three extra ones which can be screwed in should you decide to retire a PCI card in the future.
As is often the case with "budget" cases, a PSU is included with the Cobra case. While it doesn't offer anything fancy like dual +12v rails, it is 420W which is above average from our experience. The PSU has six 4-pin Molex connectors and two floppy connections, along with the ATX and 12v AUX connections. For cooling, there is an external 80mm installed, but given the amount of working room inside, it should not cause any issues with optical drive installations in the top external bay.
One thing worth mentioning is the internal drive bays are "traditional", in that the rear of the hard drive will face the inside of the case. Lately, we have seen more and more cases with hard drive racks turned towards the side. Is it better? For noise, perhaps, but I have had problems on other cases with the SATA wire not fitting properly in that orientation. With SATA, it's not recommended to bend the wire at a 90 degree angle, but when the wire is stuck on the side window its hard to install it another way. Not so with the Cobra.
While we did not have any major problems with working with the case, we did have a small issue when it came to setting up the front sdound panel. To connect to the front jacks, you need to attach 2 wires from the back of the sound card itself. For that you need the special bracket (included) that you insert in one expansion slot at the back of the case. When it's internal you don't have to plug and unplug your speaker to be able to plug your head phone. Yes it's easier to put up at first, sometime its hard to get the mic and line-in plugs directly on the board but in the long run, that can be annoying.
Athlon XP 2600+ OC @ 2.10GHz
Crucial 512MB DDR400
AOpen AK77 600 series
HDD - 2xMaxtor 60GB (Raid)
Both cases will be tested with their stock cooling installed.
Quite a difference between the two here. The overclocked Athlon runs a good 7°C cooler under full load on the Cobra.
Given that we only used two 80mm fans in the Cobra, it still outperforms the Zizon in system cooling. Outfit the Cobra to the maximum capacity, and you can expect to see lower temps.
I have to say that for the price, , you have little to lose if you're in need of a new case and have no desire to spend over $150 for something exotic. At this price point, the RaidMax Cobra case is almost in the low budget range, but for this price, you get an awful lot for your money, including a 420W power supply. In terms of the appearance, I think RaidMax did a great job and obviously put a lot of work into the paint job and paid a lot of attention to every detail.
Cooling is very well done, but we think they could have substituted the sheer number of 80mm fan options with fewer larger fans. While the cooling is efficient, it is noisy if you plan on using all the available fan mounts. Granted, given the Cobra case is aimed at gamers, the noise will probably not be much of an issue.
While we credit the superb paint job, it does chip fairly easily, especially if you're constantly opening the side panel to change components. We were also a little annoyed with the work needed to setup the front panel sound, and RaidMax should consider direct wiring into the motherboard in future revisions.
These days, companies are confronted with 3 problems... unique products, good designs and price. I don't know how they managed to put this case together for this price but if you are on a budget and you want a really good case, the RaidMax Cobra Gaming case should be considered.
Regular Hard Drive rack (easier for SATA drives)
Good power supply: 420 watt
Not too expensive
Paint can chip easily (removing the panel repeatedly)
Front audio panel needs an external wire
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