Date Posted: June 8, 2002
It seems like it was only yesterday when aluminum cases made their first big splash in the PC market. How times have changed. Aluminum cases are no longer for PC enthusiasts looking for something different, they are for everybody. Want proof? Go to any online shop that sells cases. Notice that new and improved aluminum cases are coming out everyday, while the market for steel cases just continues to dwindle. Don't get me wrong; steel cases will always have a place in the PC market. Aluminum isn't strong enough to handle heavy-duty applications.
Think of a company that makes aluminum cases. I am willing to bet that the first name that you thought of was Lian-Li. While Lian-Li makes great cases, they are wearing thin on me. Every case they make seems like the last one with a new feature added. Enter, please don't laugh, Super Flower. Super Flower is a Taiwanese company that has been manufacturing cases and power supplies since 1991. Their flagship case, the Black Pearl, is in direct competition with the Lian-Li PC60, in both price and features. The Black Pearl has several different names. It is known as the Melody, Black Pearl, and Super-Aluminum case amongst several different vendors. The actual model number is SF-201.
The case arrived in an average sized brown box. The UPS packaging slip indicated that the case weighed twenty pounds. The box had some external damage, so of course I was concerned with the condition of the product inside. After opening the box my fears were put to rest as I discovered that case didn't have a scratch.
- Aluminum structure with acrylic front panel: The entire case is made with a special polishing process.
- More drive bays than most other PC cases: 4 x 5.25" and 3 x 3.5" exposed drive bays.
- Plus 5 x 3.5" hidden hard drive bays located behind front case fans for additional cooling.
- Can work as a light-duty server chassis with a total 12 drive bays.
- Slide-in removable motherboard tray fits ATX and Pentium 4 motherboards.
- I/O Interface located at the front panel: 4 USB ports and Audio ports.
- Thumbscrews are used for easy removal of side panels and add-on cards.
- Airflow holes around the entire case for the best heat dissipation.
- One 80mm fan in top panel exhausts the hot air which rises and accumulates.
- One 80mm fan mounted in side panel drawing in cool air onto the AGP and PCI slots.
- Plastic covers on edges to protect your fingers.
The Black Pearl is a hard anodized case. So often aluminum cases scratch, bend, or crack due to abuse. The Black Pearl seemed to be very sturdy, and the aluminum was much thicker than the aluminum that the Lian-Li PC60 uses. The Black Pearl's thick aluminum may weigh it down a bit, but I would much rather have sturdiness than lightness. After hauling the Black Pearl around to several locations, I am happy to report that it is still as nice looking as the day it arrived.
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