ULTRA Aluminus With 700 Watt XVS PSU Review

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Attractive case – Kyle Lunau

As you may know, the last ULTRA case I reviewed was the m998, a very beefy and industrial PC chassis. I really liked the m998, so hopefully ULTRA can impress me again with their Aluminus chassis. The Aluminus is an all black chassis with aluminum being the primary material used (hence the name), the version I’m reviewing also comes with an ULTRA 700 watt XVS PSU.

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The back of the box shows a more specific and descriptive look at the case features, plus provides views of the case.

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After pulling it out of the box we can see that the case is wrapped in plastic and is protected from shipping damage by foam inserts.

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After removing the foam and plastic we get a much better view of the Aluminus. As you can see it is completely black right down to the interior.

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The front panel will look very familiar to most as the chassis design is based on the very successful Chieftec Dragon (and a few other cases as well).

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On the front door there are openings that allow the power and reset LEDs to be monitored without opening the front door.

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Opening up the front door we can see the case’s five 5.25″ drive bays and two 3.5″ external drive bays…

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Plus the power/reset buttons and power/hard drive activity LEDS. There is also a lock that prevents access to the secondary door, unfortunately there is no lock built into either side panel so this feature is a little useless.

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The hinges for the drive door are very simple and unfortunately a wee bit stiff.

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This small tab allows you to easily open the secondary door.

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Opening this second door allows full frontal access allowing you to easily access drives for installation or removal, and access the front fan area for installation or cleaning.

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Looking closer we can see the front panel switches, LEDs, and case speaker, plus the metal tab that interfaces with the lock mechanism. Its good to see a strong metal-on-metal contact here, which should make the locking very secure.

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The front fan mount supports a 120mm fan, simply push the fan onto the studs to install.

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The front panel slats should allow the front fan to breathe very well.

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From the back of the door we can see the other part of the lock mechanism.

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The secondary door uses strong and smooth metal hinges.

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The case includes a removable rack for the external 3.5″ drives.

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The drive blanks are the standard break away variety. Oddly they can’t be reattached using screws, but this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

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Moving to the left side panel we can see it uses a similar configuration to the m998’s side panel with a CPU duct and a VGA vent in similar locations on both, although the Aluminus does away with the ULTRA fan grill and replaces it with a more attractive wire grill. Also notice that the side window is protected from damage on both sides with a thin plastic film.

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The view into the interior clears up a bit with the removal of the exterior film.

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Moving up to the top panel we can see that this case lacks external ports or ventilation in this area.

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The window is attached to the side panel with very shiny chrome uh.. things.

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I took a shot without the flash to illustrate how shiny the finish is and that it does have a considerable “orange peel” to it.

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Moving around the back we can see a very standard motherboard and cooling fan arrangement plus the placement of the included 700 watt PSU.

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Look closely around the screws used to mount the PSU bracket, notice how the paint is peeling around the screws, not good.

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ULTRA uses a hexagonal vent pattern similar to the one on the m998. This should provide some of the best possible airflow without resorting to wire grills or no grills at all.

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The left side panel includes two thumbscrews allowing for tool-free access to the interior of the case.

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Moving around to the right side we see nothing remarkable.

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Moving back to the left side panel all looks well with the interior plastic removed.

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Popping the side panel off we can see that ULTRA includes the same CPU duct as the m998. This is the length of the duct when it is fully retracted.

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This is the length of the duct when it is fully extended, hopefully it will reach the top of the CPU fan when the side panel is installed.

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Moving to the top front interior of the case we can see that ULTRA has placed a large piece of metal with their name embossed on it so it covers up the external drive bays.

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The panel is attached with a total of 4 screws, 2 at the top, 2 at the bottom.

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Moving down we can see the bays for up to five hard drives, but I’ll get into more detail on this area later.

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Moving back a little we can see that the two boxes used to store the case accessories are well secured using twist ties.

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ULTRA packages one 120mm fan with the case as well as a generic I/O shield plate.

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Moving up we can see that the included PSU is well protected by foam inserts on all sides.

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After removing the boxes we can get a better look at the inside of the chassis. Notice the pre-installed standoffs and one of the handles on the removable motherboard tray.

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Moving back to the twist tied items we can see that there is one white box and another package wrapped in bubble wrap.

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Upon removal of the bubble wrap we are left with a case manual, PSU manual, power cable and two white boxes.

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The case manual is pretty basic, but should be a great help to first time PC builders.

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Same story with the PSU manual.

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Moving back to the boxes we can see that one contains the modular leads for the PSU, while the other contains the various case accessories.

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The PSU cables are all black and thanks to ULTRA’s Flex-Force technology are flat and easy to route around the chassis.

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The other box contains a front port panel, a 120mm fan filter, a bag of screws and standoffs, and two keys for the front panel lock.

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The final side of the case to check out is the bottom. The bottom of the Aluminus is a pretty standard affair and includes four fold out feet. These are the feet when retracted.

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And these are the feet when extended.

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Moving to the included PSU we can see that it is of standard design and uses a rear 80mm fan for cooling. On the other end is another 80mm fan, plus 6 connectors for the modular cables.

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Both the 24-pin and 8-pin power connectors are non-modular and can also be changed into a 20-pin power and 4-pin respectively.

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THE TEARDOWN

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The first things to come out are the five hard drive trays. Simply screw a drive into the rubber grommet mounts in either direction and then slide the tray in until it clicks, couldn’t be easier.

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Looking back through the hard drive rack we can see that there is plenty of space to route cables back there.

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Removing the right side panel and swinging around to that side we can see just how many holes there are to send cables through.

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It’s unfortunate but the interior finish isn’t exactly super sturdy. Expect quite a few marks with anything but the most ginger handling.

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In order to remove the motherboard tray you must remove two thumbscrews on the interior of the chassis. The first is located here.

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And the second is located here.

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With a gentle pull the tray comes off it’s mounts and out of the case. As you can see it literally is a tray, complete with a pair of handles. This type of tray can really be integrated into any existing case design and is a lot less useful than the style of tray that is on the m998.

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Remove two screws and tug upwards and the entire door assembly comes off the case.

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The case is looking pretty bare at this point.

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And we are left with a decent sized pile of parts.

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THE BUILD

This time I enlisted a friends help and we put a brand spanking new quad-core system in the case.

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We start with the parts going into the chassis. The system consists of a Q6600, a P5N32-E SLI motherboard, 2Gbs of Kingston HyperX DDR2 1000mhz, 3 Seagate 500Gb HDDs for some RAID 5 action, a DVD and a floppy drive, and a good old RIVA TNT to hold the place for a pair of 8800GTs until someone gets some in stock 🙂 (my friend now has one of his two 8800’s).

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The hard drives are mounted on their trays and installed.

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Next comes the motherboard.

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Then the RAM.

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Expansion cards get installed.

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As do the optical drives.

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Then all the cables are connected. As you can see the Aluminus allows for very clean wire routing.

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Finally the side panel is reinstalled, as you can see it is a very clean looking system and the included CPU duct matches up with the CPU fan nicely.

SIZING IT UP

The exact dimensions and weight of the Aluminus and m998 are:

Dimension

Aluminus

m998

Length

18.6″

20.5″

Width

8.7″

9.5″

Height

20.6″

18.1″

Weight

10 pounds

17 pounds

So the Aluminus is smaller in length and width but quite a bit taller. Also notice that the Aluminus shaves 7 lbs off the m998’s weight, but at the same time is far less sturdy.

PSU SPECS

Output

  • AC INPUT: 115V/230V, 10A/6A, 50/60Hz
  • Efficiency: 78% Typical at Full Load and Nominal Input Voltage
  • AC Input Currents:
    • 11A (RMS) for 115VAC input
    • 6.5A (RMS) for 230VAC input
  • MAX OUTPUT CURRENT
    • +5V – 34A
    • +3.3V – 30A
    • +12V – 40A
    • -5V – 0.6A
    • -5V – 0.6A
    • +5VSB – 2A
  • Total Ouput Pwer: 700 Watts
  • Maximum Combined Power:
    • +5V and +3.3V: 200 watts
    • +12V: 480 watts
    • -5V: 3 watts
    • -5V: 7.2 watts
    • +5VSB: 10 watts

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PSU TESTING

Since this version of the Aluminus includes a 700 watt XVS PSU, I had to put it through its paces as well. For this I ran 3 instances of Prime95 using a total of 75% of available memory. To add to this I also ran ATI Tool on “check for artifacts”, loading both the newly installed 8800GT and the remaining CPU core.

Finally after running for 10 minutes at this condition, I recorded the voltages through Everest Ultimate. The system remained stable throughout this testing. Assuming all the system components are being stressed (which isn’t the case), the power draw would be 398 watts (according to Outervision’s PSU Calculator), well within the operational limits of the PSU.

Rail

Voltage

Variance

+12v

11.58 – 11.71

-3.5% / -2.41%

+3.3v

3.23 – 3.25

-2.12 / -1.53%

+5v

4.97 – 5.00

-0.6 / 0%

According to the ATX 2.2 specification, all of these values must have a variance of less than 5%. That being said, it looks like this PSU has reached its limit on the +12v and it looks as though my friend is going to have to get a better PSU when he puts in his second GT.

LEADS

Quantity

Cable Description

Length (inches)

1

20/24 Pin Motherboard Connector

19

1

4 Pin +12V Motherboard Connector

19

1

8 Pin EPS Connector

19

2

6 Pin PCI-Express Connectors

19

1

5 Pin SATA Power Cable (2 Devices)

21.5

2

4 Pin Power Cable (2 Devices)

21.5

1

4 Pin Power Cable (2 Devices + 1 Floppy)

21.5

FINAL THOUGHTS

My experience with the ULTRA Aluminus was quite good. It’s a nice case with a lot of nice features, but doesn’t really bring anything new or interesting to the table. The included PSU is decent, but high end users with quad CPUs or SLI/Crossfire setups will want to get something with more amperage on the +12v rail. So onto the Pros/Cons

Pros

Case:

  • Large enough to hold all manner of gear
  • Excellent cooling
  • Glossy black exterior finish throughout
  • Nice window with good vent locations
  • Easy component installation
  • Extremely light
  • Removable motherboard tray
  • Plenty of space to tuck spare wires
  • Amazing cable routing possibilities
  • Included front fan filter
  • Front ports can be moved and installed in 5.25″ or 3.5″ drive bays

PSU:

  • Decent cooling with dual 80 mm fans
  • Modular
  • Single +12v rail
  • Decent finish
  • Flex-Force Cables
  • Supports new and old systems with 20/24-pin main power and 4/8-pin auxiliary

Cons


Case:

  • The removable motherboard tray seems to have been an afterthought
  • Interior finish is not very durable
  • Screwdriver heavy installation
  • Not all intake openings are filtered
  • Front 120 mm fan not included

PSU:

  • +12v rail cannot handle high end setups
  • One large fan would be better than two small ones
  • Only two SATA power connections

Recommendations

Case:

  • Redesign with full motherboard tray (like the one on the m998)
  • Use a beefier finish on the interior (powder coating would be SWEET)

PSU:

  • Add more SATA power connectors

Conclusion

The ULTRA Aluminus is a good case, not a great one but a good one. While it lacks in new or interesting features it makes up for in value and appearance. The case looks very good and while it carries an MSRP of $119.99 USD (the case alone), it can be found for far cheaper.

The included PSU is also quite good, but power users will want to buy the case without the PSU and add in a higher end model
of their choice. All in all with a combined price tag of $169.99, the Aluminus/XVS combo is a great deal for those looking for a new case and PSU for a mid-range rig.

Kyle Lunau

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