Mountain Mods Bob Slay Review

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Nice acrylic case although with some QC issues – Kyle Lunau

The appearance of one’s PC is becoming more and more important to the computing populace. Your computer is really becoming and extension of who you are, not too different from something like a hotrod. With this trend moving forward, Mountain Mods has come out with a series of cases that really makes a statement.

Not only is the functionality excellent (a lot of their cases support more than one PSU and a plethora or fans in all the right places), but they also make a statement. This statement is something along the lines of “My computer is a fire-breathing 18 by 18 by 18 inch cube and it will eat your Dell for breakfast!” Although this has been the appearance of most of Mountain Mods cases so far, they recently came out with the Bob Slay, which being a bit of a step away from the rest of Mountain Mods case line is a rectangular Plexiglas case.

The model I’m reviewing today is the tinted model, but the case is also available in clear, mirror, and blue UV reactive. The dimensions of the Bob Slay are ‘only’ 14.5 by 11.1 by 12.2 inches, making it much smaller than their famous UFO case. It is still fairly large, but your components will fit snugly inside without too much wasted space. But enough talk, lets get some shots of this monster!

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Since Mountain Mods sells their cases as well as making them, I’m going to go over the shipping package in a bit more detail than normal. On the outside it is just a normal looking box…

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…with a smaller box inside, supported by 4 foam corner pieces and some packing peanuts. Taped on top of the smaller box are the drive mounts and fan/case screws:

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What’s this – a handle? Hmmm… looks portable:

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Time to pull the veil off this bad boy!

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There are a few features that are really obvious from this angle:

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  1. The case has an awesome set of buttons / LED holders
  2. The I/O panel and expansion slots are coming out the side!?!!
  3. There is a GAPING fan hole at the front for none other than a 120 mm fan
  4. The empty 5.25-inch drive bays are not covered
  5. Where the heck are my 3.5-inch drive bays? (Says the guy who has had frequent uses for his DOS boot diskettes)
  6. What the hell is that weird text on the motherboard tray? (I will get to that later)

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This case is very difficult to photograph, it has a very interesting combination of transparency and reflective-ness, which is really quite cool to look at.

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Around the case we go! Notice the nice reflective PCI slot covers. You can also get a better look at the bottom portion of the case, which will hold your PSU, up to 3 HDs (with the optional brackets, which are only $5) and 2 5.25-inch devices.

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Check out the nice metallic handle (and the writing in Russian underneath 🙂
{mospagebreak}

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Now you can better see that way that you mount your drives – they screw into the outside body of the case and you attach your other drives to those drives using the included brackets. A little confusing isn’t it! Also notice that you have room for a PSU that is over one foot long – look out 1 KW, here we come!

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The PSU mounts in a fairly normal fashion, screwing right into the case. Notice the straight through airflow path that the fan mounts create. This should provide excellent cooling for all of your components.

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What on earth does that say?

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You have four sets of cables to connect; unfortunately they are all the same colors, which makes it necessary to pretty much wing the wire installation (although I got it wired okay on the first try :). The connectors are labeled but you will have to figure out which is positive and which is negative, and how they fit on your board (if you are used to red and black cables like me). Also the cables are not sleeved, IMHO a fairly inexpensive addition which can make the case look a LOT cooler.

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In case you haven’t figured it out, this is a custom lasered motherboard tray that Mountain Mods did for this case. I knew they needed a challenge and I figured putting some Russian text on it would do it! And man – does it look awesome! In case you don’t know what it says, it says, “You must think in Russian” in what else – Russian!

Anyone who knows what the quote is from gets a cookie (not really). FYI, normally the mobo tray is the same tint as the case, but I was originally going to review the clear model and the board tray was already lasered, so I opted to stick with the same tray.

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And finally I put some hardware in it! But not without some problems – well a lot of problems actually; I will talk about those later.

The system that is in here is an Athlon XP 2500+ at 2.2 GHz with 512 MB of RAM (would have been a gig but one of my sticks is busted) with an old FX 5700 256 MB GPU, two HDs, an old SoundBlaster card, a DVD-Rom and CD-rom drive, all being powered with a Thermaltake 420 watt PSU. The CPU is being cooled a modified Thermaltake Volcano 11 with a custom mount and a ducted 120 mm fan (that’s what the big white mess is :).

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The setup is pretty clean up here, considering the amount of hardware in the case, although the front panel wires were too short to route around the perimeter so they are going right over the board.

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Geez this thing needs a close encounter with a dust buster! Check out that duct action and how clean the edges of the acrylic are (the edges of my acrylic cuts look nothing like that).

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That is a LARGE fan! Luckily I had a spare grill lying around or this thing would get really dangerous really fast!{mospagebreak}

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If you were wondering were the mess was hiding here it is. Unfortunately this PSU is not modular and I had plenty of connections to make, so the result was not pretty! Also notice the brackets for the drives – a bit unconventional, but they work very well.

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Notice how the bottom PSU fan is sucking air over the HDs. I don’t know if this was deliberate or accidental, but it should keep the drives fairly cool.

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The HDs are mounted together with brackets, just like the optical drives.

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Make sure you place the case so no one can see in here!

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From the top you realize that this case couldn’t get any smaller – the motherboard has only a tiny bit of space on each side except on edge, where you connect cables where there is about ¾” clearance for wires.

Problems

As I mentioned above, using this case was not without its fare share of problems, well maybe more than a fair share. Here is a list of all the problems I had during the install:

  1. Screws didn’t line up: I presently have 6/10 screws installed on the top of the case, 6/8 on the side, ¾ on the PSU, ¾ on the motherboard tray, and ¾ on the bottom optical drive, all other screws were installed
  2. One of the acrylic blocks interfered with the bottom optical drive; I had to remove the block to get the drive to fit, and this is by no means a long drive
  3. Motherboard tray must be unscrewed and moved to install certain expansion cards because of its design. My sound card went in okay, but the same thing cannot be said about the video card
  4. Optical drives must be grouped and screwed together with brackets before installing in the case; this is not a big problem, just something to note
  5. Front panel cables were a bit short and could not be routed around the outside edge of the case, they had to go right over the board
  6. A few motherboard standoff holes did not line up correctly – while the board is being supported by 5 standoffs, I want to use all 8 for extra security

  7. The expansion card retention mechanism leaves the slot covers fairly loose, and I don’t know about you but I don’t want metal slot covers raining down upon my motherboard when I move the case.

{mospagebreak}

Complaints

  1. WHERE IS MY 3.5 INCH DRIVE BAY! I don’t know about you but I still use a floppy drive frequently. I would really like to see one on this case
  2. No fan grills. I would prefer it if the case came with some and I could choose whether or not to use them, simply because it’s one less thing for me to go out and buy
  3. Buttons aren’t labeled. Now this is just a personal preference, but since the two buttons are identical and if I’m not using the system every day, I might forget which is which, which isn’t a big deal but a little lasered “P” and “R” would fix it right up
  4. Doesn’t come with fans, another thing for me to go out and buy. If you don’t include them with the stock model, at least add them as a cheap option (I realize that Mountain Mod’s also sells fans, but if I was a complete newbie I might not know what type of fan to use with the case)
  5. You have to rely on your PSU fan to cool your HDs and optical drives, I do NOT recommend running 10K or 15K RPM drives in this thing unless your PSU has a high flow 120 mm or 140 mm fan. A fan mount near the HDs would have been appreciated

  6. If you only intend to install one 5.25-inch drive, you will have a gaping hole in the front of the case

Positive Remarks


(Yes there are some!)

  • Custom lasering looks sweet
  • Attracts attention at LAN parties (I tested this one:)
  • Is fairly compact considering the amount of stuff you can put in it
  • Is made ¼” cast acrylic, so it is fairly durable
  • Has a handle for transporting to LAN parties
  • Fits a Full or Micro ATX board
  • Can fit a GIGANTIC PSU
  • Doesn’t weigh too much (10.5 pounds)
  • Has EXCELLENT COOLING (my Athlon + motherboard never broke 30ºC in this case with only one fan!) via good natural convection and airflow
  • High quality switches / LED mounts
  • Clean cuts all around (no rough edges)
  • Nice looking slot covers
  • Comes well packaged
  • Being made of acrylic would make it VERY easy to mod when compared with a steel or aluminum case.
  • The price is fair at $149.99 USD

Ideas for Improvement

These are some ideas I have come up with to fix pretty much all this product’s problems; if the manufacturer does any of these, it shows real customer devotion:

  • Add a mounting position for a 80 mm or 92 mm fan at the back of the case behind the HD’s exhausting out. Put some mesh over it to protect fingers and make it look nice. A lot of people have a spare 80 or 92 mm fan lying around that they could use to keep their drives running nice and cool
  • Put some more mesh over the front and back fan holes; offer any mesh on the case, at least silver and black if not more colors. Alternatively install fan guards at these locations
  • Laser a little “R” and “P” under the Power and Reset buttons
  • Add an option to add fans under “additional options”
  • Add a 3.5-inch external drive bay – I don’t care where it is, but I want one (maybe in the lower right of the front of the case or on the side or back somewhere)
  • Include one 5.25″ drive bay cover, so people who run one drive don’t have a gaping hole in the front of the case
  • The mounting solution for drives was a little weird and I would like to see drives mounting to a cage and then the cage mounting to the case
  • Modify the expansion slot system for more secure mounting so that I don’t have to move the motherboard tray to install an expansion card
  • Use screws with larger heads and purposely drill the case holes larger so that the screws will have a little play and will line up correctly
  • For the motherboard tray holes, I recommend going back and measuring their positions again – I have 2 or 3 holes that are off by just enough to make it impossible to get screws into the standoffs
  • Trim the acrylic block that is on the middle/bottom of the left side so that optical drives will fit with the block installed
  • Add another 3 or 4 inches to the front panel connections and sleeve them. Black is fine and goes nicely with the case, but offering multiple colors would be best. It would be even better if the case had wire clips along the top edge to secure those cables to the sides and away from my lovely motherboard

That’s pretty much it. If it would be possible to do all or most of these things for maybe a $25 to $35 price increase, it would GREATLY improve the value and fit/finish of the case.

Conclusion

The Mountain Mods Bob Slay is an excellent case in form, but presently drops off when it comes to function. If you like the look of the case and don’t mind performing a few mods to get everything working correctly, then I by all means recommend it. But if you object to cutting up a $150 case, then I would hold off until Mountain Mods addresses some of its issues.

Kyle Lunau

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