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Reviewed: AOpen QF50 Case
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: March 12th, 2003
Page: 2

A good case can be defined in numerous ways, since they have all sorts of purposes. A bare-bones case for the smallest profile, for example, is set up for minimal hardware to be put in. A high-power computer case, in mini-tower or full-tower spec, needs to have enough room and drive bays to satisfy the users that would come after it.

Let's start with the front: The AOpen QF50 line carries four 5 1/4" bays, three 3 1/2" bays, and a frontal bay with two USB connections, headphone, and microphone connection. With the right motherboard, the frontal USB connectors are great, and headphone jacks have become more and more necessary as speaker manufacturers quit putting headphone pass-throughs in.

On the other hand, you'll note the bay area in the front, with vent and mount holes obviously left over from earlier case designs. You can't actually mount a fan in there, since the bottom fan mounts would be where the USB/headphone access panel goes through. Frankly, I can't say I much like that move; the realities of PC systems today are that hard drives almost exclusively come in 3 1/2" bay size, and users are unlikely to have more than three 5 1/4" drives: one CDRW and one DVD, perhaps another CD-rom for copying purposes, or a 5 1/4" slot cooling fan. It'd have been better for AOpen to dump the bottom 5 1/4" bay, shift the power panel and three 3 1/2" bays up, move the fan mounts up accordingly, and then put in an extra pair of 3 1/2" bays for users that carry three hard drives or (as is becoming more and more common) are running a RAID setup, either with a PCI controller or built in to their motherboard.

Meanwhile, the back of the case is standard but full featured:

 

At the top is a 300X power supply; AOpen ships with your choice of 250W or 300W P4-compatible power supplies, but since users can and will upgrade that, more important to note is that it's well placed, high and out of the way of the CPU's fan. This is important, since side-mount power supplies often don't leave enough room between the side of the power supply and the CPU cooling fan, which can mean problematic heat buildup, especially since the side-mount design also doesn't leave any room to put in any extra exhaust fans. The QF50 actually has room for two, which will make for a powerful (if noisy) cooling design that moves quite a bit of air.

Also worth noting is that the case has a full 7 slots, which are aligned very well with the motherboard screws; the case is obviously set up for a full-size ATX motherboard, carrying an AGP slot, 5 PCI, and either a sixth PCI or the "AMR" slot that nobody ever uses. Still, that's room for 6 devices plus a bracket-held USB 2.0, 1.1, or other output connector if the motherboard provides it, enough to satisfy almost all users. 

Overall, it's not a bad motherboard, just a little confused; the back is equipped for a power-hungry system, while the front can't quite handle the number of drives that users with a high-end motherboard and RAID capability will throw at it. Lack of capability for a front intake fan is also somewhat problematic, almost requiring users who want that portion of their system balanced to leave off front covers or throw in a 5 1/4" slot cooler. 

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Added:  Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Score:
Page: 2/3

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