Apevia X-Plorer2 Case

Apevia X-Plorer2 Case Review

Add Your Comments

Today I’m making like David Livingstone with a brand new Apevia X-Plorer2 Mid-Tower Case (X-PLOR2-NW-BK450). This gamer oriented case has a textured black aluminum finish with a high-gloss plastic front panel, without some of the “flair” and side window of other available X-Plorer2 cases. Each person has his own preference, however as an Overclocker my preference is function over form. From the outside this case appears to have the structural features to deliver. For a closer look as we leave familiar harbors and set out to explore all this case has to offer; I’ll cover what you get, what you don’t get, and wrap things up in a tight package in the conclusion.

Apevia X-Plorer2 Case Introduction

Apevia, the artists formerly known as Aspire in the earlier part of this decade, offer their company info on their website for those interested. But wait, who the Hell is David Livingstone you ask? He was a Scottish “X-Plorer” of the 19th century whose most famous quote I’m personally fond of:

“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”

Before we leave shallow waters for the high seas you’ll find a shot directly below to get you familiar with the X-Plorer2 “mid-tower gaming case” as its described on Newegg, offered there at $59.99 as of this writing. This puts the case at the lower half within Newegg’s second largest pricing segment of $50-$75 cases, the largest segment being those priced $25-$50. To most BYO PC consumers this makes it a budget minded product aimed at the mainstream crowd. We should expect some modest sacrifices to hit the price point, however there should be some perks which bring a bit of spark to the table. At first blush with its front panel mirror sheen balanced by the reserved geometrical mesh inlays and the matte finish of the side panels, I find its spark easy to recognize. Note the small LCD panel near the top also. You may also recognize my urban camo hoodie in the reflection; while an easy target for finger prints, when wiped clean this front panel really looks sharp.

Why is the Rum always gone?

Why is the Rum always gone?

Packaging

Let’s rewind a bit and start in dry dock however, covering packaging and condition of arrival of this sample unit provided by Apevia. The box was shipped via USPS Ground from California to Ohio, who appeared to have handled the unit in standard fashion. It arrived with a couple partial punctures in the cardboard demonstrating minor stress in its travel but nothing out of the ordinary for a package with these relative dimensions. It’s packaging is minimal. 2 large Styrofoam pieces offer structural reinforcement and padding, along with a plastic bag protecting the unit from dust and moisture, and finally a standard light adhesive plastic applied directly to the face protecting the gloss of the front panel. Score one for the “green” proponents among us, however I would have liked to have seen Styrofoam sheets protecting the sides and face. That said, with what appears to be typical handling the unit arrived entirely unscathed and I’d expect the packaging to be sufficient so long as it doesn’t meet any sharp protrusions in shipment.

Printed cardboard controls packaging cost

Printed cardboard controls packaging cost

The right side of the case lists options for all X-Plorer2 models

The right side of the case lists options for all X-Plorer2 models

The left side lists available window model numbers

The left side lists available window model numbers

The No Window models, with PSU included

The No Window models, with PSU included

Packaging when first breaking the seal

Packaging when first breaking the seal

Packaging Unboxed, reasonably sufficient

Packaging Unboxed, reasonably sufficient

Accessories

Aside from the standard selection of boring essentials to plug everything together and the manual, I see two primary items of interest in this category – the presence of a front panel temperature LCD display and the presence of an included power supply in the windowless versions of this model.

Included power supply? Cases in this price range cost as much or less than a good quality PSU alone, so included PSU’s in this segment typically mean you are getting a garbage power supply, a garbage case, or possibly both. The power supply determines the quality of power you are giving every other component you’ve invested in thereby also affecting the longevity of your parts. A higher efficiency PSU can save you considerable money through the course of a year on your electric bill not to mention pay for itself over the lifespan of the unit, which can be reused through multiple system builds or upgrades. Bottom line, a case without a PSU is generally a better choice. Check the power supply reviews at Legitreviews and JonnyGuru and invest in a unit you can be proud of. Not including a PSU with the window versions of this case is a solid choice by Apevia, but I don’t know why they tossed one in with the solid case panel versions.

For the sake of completeness, here’s a boring shot of the odds and ends included inside the case. It also comes with a well illustrated manual I promptly discarded, as should any self respecting overclocker in my opinion!

Zip-ties are included to help with cabling, and tool-less drive rails to accommodate 2 hard drives making basic installation and removal a breeze

Zip-ties are included to help with cabling, tool-less drive rails to accommodate 2 hard drives making basic installation and removal a breeze, and a mobo speaker so you can enjoy obscure beeping when the system is upset about something

Hands On The Internals

Ready to set sail? Think again, Apevia didn’t pull the anchor… The first thing to do when unboxing a unit is to take off the side panel and review the included components to ensure you have everything which should be there. Surely, at this price point there will be some rough seas, but I was hoping they wouldn’t hit so soon… I had to resort to the toolbox to get this sucker open. Apevia was smart to include 4 thumbscrews securing the side panels for easy access. However after wrenching my bare fingers sore and ample grunting, (audio sold separately) the screws still wouldn’t budge and I pulled out the screwdriver. When assembled at the factory, these things were tightened too firmly. I had my screwdriver set nearby but I was hoping that would remain a precaution, not a necessity to get inside. Fortunately, this is only a problem when first getting inside, and once opened initially these thumbscrews would make it convenient to get into in the future.

The side access panel had an overtightened thumbscrew requiring a screwdriver to remove

The main access panel had an overtightened thumbscrew requiring a screwdriver to remove

The rear access panel was stuck also

The rear access panel was stuck also

Getting right to the internals, you’ll find shots and descriptions of specific case features below. The hard drive bays are directly behind the front panel 120mm intake fan in the front of the case, with a 120mm exhaust also included in the top rear of the unit. The front panel leaves a bit to be desired with airflow – the mesh on the front panel is the only space for air to enter the case, and is minimal. It also would not accommodate aftermarket fan filters – if you are concerned with keeping out dust you would need to come up with something of your own. I found a problem with the mobo back panel opening for AMD systems, meaning only Intel systems may benefit from its convenience. Otherwise, the internals of this case can be considered fairly standard. The following pictures cover particulars:

Internal layout

Internal layout

4 External 5.25" bays, 1 External Floppy bay, 5 Internal Drive cages

4 External 5.25" bays, 1 External Floppy bay, 5 Internal Drive cages

Front 120mm fan included

Front 120mm fan included

A second 120mm fan for rear exhaust, 2 grommets allowing water cooling tubes to pass through the rear panel conveniently, and 7 punchout panels for the expansion slots. I would like to see clamps on the expansion slots, a simple convenience rather than screws for securing components. Hard to find that in this price range, but without any air filters this would be a nice addition to the internal features.

A second 120mm fan for rear exhaust, 2 grommets allowing water cooling tubes to pass through the rear panel conveniently, and 7 punchout panels for the expansion slots. I would like to see clamps on the expansion slots, a simple convenience rather than screws for securing components. Hard to find that in this price range, but without any air filters this would be a nice addition to the internal features.

Disappointment. The rear access panel which should allow easy access to replace the HSF baseplate for after market cooling does not accommodate my AMD system.

Disappointment. The rear access panel which should allow easy access to replace the HSF baseplate for after market cooling does not accommodate my AMD system.

The backpanel for the mobo includes a legend for installing mobo standoffs for different form factors

The backpanel for the mobo includes a legend for installing mobo standoffs for different form factors

Standoff locations are marked according to the legend, to help you install things correctly for ATX, Mini ATX, or Micro ATX

Standoff locations are marked according to the legend, to help you install things correctly for ATX, Mini ATX, or Micro ATX

1090T, TA890FXE, HIS Radeon 4890, OCZ Vertex SSD... Not enough PSU connections to plug everything in. Too few 4 pin connectors to use 6 pin adapters for GPU, only 1 4 pin connector for CPU power circuit. It was enough to power the system on, but not for long...

1090T, TA890FXE, HIS Radeon 4890, OCZ Vertex SSD... Not enough PSU connections to plug everything in. Too few 4 pin connectors to use 6 pin adapters for GPU, only 1 4 pin connector for CPU power circuit. It was enough to power the system on, but not for long...

External Features

While the internals wavered between sufficient or disappointing for my test system, the externals look to offer some redeeming qualities. Of particular interest here is the LCD panel inlaid on the front panel. A neat feature not found from any other Case manufacturer in this price segment on Newegg. At a glance this gives you an idea of just how hard your system is working and how much heat is building up inside, reflecting the temperature reading taken from a thermistor inside the case. Here’s a closer look at all the externals.

Top panel grill can accommodate 2 120mm fans, or an external radiator.

Top panel grill can accommodate 2 120mm fans, or an external radiator.

The PSU is bottom mounted allowing cool air to be pulled in from below. The grill dimensions look a bit anemic for PSUs with larger intake fans, but still better than pulling in warm case air.

The PSU is bottom mounted allowing cool air to be pulled in from below. The grill dimensions look a bit anemic for PSUs with larger intake fans, but still better than pulling in warm case air.

The front panel LCD displays the case temperature reading from the internal thermistor.

The front panel LCD displays the case temperature reading from the internal thermistor.

Opening the front panel door reveals the external bays, while nicely concealing the wiring for the electronics on the front panel.

Opening the front panel door reveals the external bays, while nicely concealing the wiring for the electronics on the front panel.

The external bays are sleek by default, and the door closes to conceal removable media drives.

The external bays are sleek by default, and the door closes to conceal removable media drives.

The mesh grill is great for looks, but seems moderately restrictive for the intake fan behind it.

The mesh grill is great for looks, but seems moderately restrictive for the intake fan behind it.

Exposed on the front panel are standard front panel USB and audio jacks. Additionally an external sata connector is present for convenience.

Exposed on the front panel are standard front panel USB and audio jacks. Additionally an external sata connector is present for convenience.

The power and reset buttons fit in excellently with the aesthetics of the front panel.

The power and reset buttons fit in well with the aesthetics of the front panel.

While the power button may look good with the front panel, and also offers a satisfying tactile feedback when pressed… It was a matter of seconds after pressing it when things went bad.

What’s That Smell?

This is where it gets really bad. I pressed the power button to ensure the system powered on and take pictures of the front panel while its illuminated. In less than three minutes of being powered on I heard a loud pop and the power cut out. The dreaded smell of fried electronics was unmistakable. With concern for the testing components, I shut down the power supply, removed all connections, and took everything out of the case. Attempts to power on the power supply by shorting the green and black wires did nothing – it was dead. I opened things up to take a closer look at what may have happened, and found no burn marks, exploded caps, or popped mosfets like I thought I might. With the PSU opened up, again I tried to short the green and black wires and this time I got a response -a bright white spark erupted from the area near the large capacitors mounted on the circuit board. With that, I was satisfied that this meant my testing of this case was complete. Fortunately, though the power supply was dead it didn’t take any other components with it – everything tested fine on my benching station powered with a quality BFG LS1000 PSU. Here’s the shots of the failed PSU, a Turbolink 450W PSU – obviously not something I can recommend in a case targeted at the gaming crowd like this one.

Not much good can be said about the build quality or the cooling here.

Not much good can be said about the build quality or the cooling here.

Capacitors and Layout

Capacitors and Layout

Sloppy soldering

Sloppy soldering

Yellow Goop is a key component of the PSU. This stuff is slopped on generously in various locations.

Yellow Goop is a key component of the PSU. This stuff is slopped on generously in various locations.

The spark I witnessed emanated from the bottom right area of this picture.

The spark I witnessed emanated from the bottom right area of this picture.

Conclusion

This case looks a lot better from the outside than it does from the inside. The LCD panel on the front is a nice upgrade which is unique to Apevia cases in its price range. I find the front panel design attractive, and the black theme is accented well by the blue LEDs of the logo. Internally you get standard features you should expect in any Mid-Tower ATX case, with a few added perks in the rear grommets accommodating water cooling tubes, large top and side grills for airflow or radiator mounting. I could have lived without the exploding PSU and the scare of it killing my test rig components.

All things considered, this unit doesn’t measure up well against its competition… While there are plenty of options in this price range, the most popular of those would be the HAF 912 and the Antec Three Hundred standing out as alternatives with solid reputations. You would sacrifice the front LCD display the Apevia X-Plorer2 offers, but you’d be spared of the PSU which proved to be a disaster waiting to happen. However if the X-Plorer2 fits your needs and you like the positives it offers, with all things considered above I’d feel fine recommending any of the windowed models available at Newegg, with PSUs sold separately.

As for the model in this review however, it’s fate was sealed with the smell of fried electronics. As sold with PSU, this unit is a risk, if not an eminent threat to whatever components you connect it to.

Matt Bidinger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discussion
  1. The rig I built four years ago with a Sandy 3700+ and a 6800XT began life in an Aspire X-Navigator aluminum case. It was okay, I guess build quality was run of the mill.

    I shudder to think that I ran that rig for about six months with the 500w power supply that came with the case. :shock:

    I threw the power supply away but I still have the case. I don't know why I hang onto it. The cooling isn't quite up to today's standards, but if you change out the fans that come with it and do a little modding it wouldn't be a bad case, and it can fit nine hard drives in the cages alone, even more if you decide you want to take up some of the external bays!

    EDIT: Then I realized that there were good cases out there, like Antecs, Silverstones and Lian Lis.
    I had an Apevia case. It lasted for a couple years. It had LED's on the front of the case that died after a couple months though. There was also a TEMP Gauge on the front, it died even quicker. The PSU it came with was unstable. It would frequently shut itself off, even under minimal load.

    Loving the rum cameo by the way lol.
    They have a great quantity and selection of units on newegg. The case quality actually seems standard, and they hit the same price as comparable cases like mentioned... but including psu's like this is no good.
    I knew what to expect in the review as soon as I saw the Apevia. I had one similar to this one except it came with a 400 watt psu http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811144102

    The only positive thing i can say about it was it looked good while it worked but by the 3rd day the drive bay door snapped off on both hinges and their was a high pitched squeal coming from the psu so upon removing everything to rma it 2 of the cap shields fell out of the bottom of the psu. luckily it didn't fry or take anything else with it. I consider the quality of their stuff to be the absolute bottom of the barrel and would never attempt trying out another case or psu for that matter.