A replacement bezel for the front of the very popular Antec/Chieftec/Chenming mid-tower cases – Brian Berryman
SUMMARY: A replacement bezel for the front of the very popular Antec/Chieftec/Chenming mid-tower cases.
The good guys at Directron
were nice enough to send over one of their Chieftec mid-tower front bezels for us to take a look at.
This bezel is an OEM replacement panel for the very popular mid-tower cases mentioned above. It can also be used as an upgrade for an older case that didn’t originally come
equipped with the front access USB 2.0 and Firewire ports.
It comes equipped with a full complement of drive bay faceplates and all of the necessary switches and wires to connect directly to
your PC. It also includes the lock on the drive bay door, but does not include keys. They all utilize the same key, so the ones you already have will work. Directron stocks several colors, so
you may be able to match right up to the color case you have. The quality of this replacement panel is identical to the original, for one simple reason….it’s made by the same people that
made the original.
This article will combine not only the “product review”, but a “how to” on installing it as well.
While swapping out this panel on a fully assembled PC involves a bit of disassembly, the fact that these cases are designed to be “toolless” makes it very easy to do.
None. A phillips screwdriver may be needed, to remove the side panels. If you’re installing this on a running PC, a can of compressed air might be good to have handy to do some dusting
while the panel is off.
The small door in the front pivots up, revealing the two USB ports, and the single Firewire port.
Looking at the back of those ports reveals how the cables are connected. The panel ends of the two cables are plugs which fit onto sets of pins. The USB lead is keyed and can only be installed
one way, if you need to unplug it for any reason. I like this feature, as I don’t own any Firewire peripherals, I can unplug that lead completely rather than have it taking up
space or blocking airflow through the lower front of the bezel.
Make a note for yourself if you do unplug the Firewire cable as to it’s orientation, as it is not keyed like the USB plug,
in the event you want to plug it in at a later time.
As I mentioned, there is a certain amount of disassembly required to install this replacement panel in a fully assembled machine. If your case is bare (empty), you can skip a lot of these steps.
I’ll be installing this panel onto a fully assembled PC, so we’ll walk through the entire process. I’m not going to take a picture of every detail – I’ll hit the “highlights” with the camera and spell out the rest.
Start off by doing the obvious: power down the system and unplug the cord from the back of the power supply. Remove both side panels from the case. The front bezel is held in place by six plastic tabs, and one of them
is only accessible from the right side. Don’t worry about those yet…we’ve got a few other things to do first.
Next, remove any drives/devices that are held in the four 5.25″ bays. Then, remove at least the upper drive cage. If you have a physically large graphics card, you might not
be able to get the lower drive cage out past it. It’s easier with it out, but not critical. Just unplug the power leads and ribbons from the drives and pull the cages out with them installed.
The next thing to do is to unplug the front panel switch/LED wires from the motherboard. Take note of how they are plugged in, if you don’t have the motherboard’s manual available. The front panel is now ready to come off.
Now we’re ready to look at those six tabs. There are three of them on each vertical edge, top, middle, and bottom:
The picture above shows why the top drive cage needs to come out. This is the middle tab on the right side, and is inaccessible without removing the cage. These tabs need to be unhooked from the metal lip
by gently pushing them towards the outside of the case. Once they clear, you’ll feel them start to push forward, as well, and the panel will start to come off.
I find it easiest to do the bottom two, followed
by the middle two, and finally the top. That’s the hole all of the cables will be routed through right next to the tab. When the panel comes fully free, fish the wires up and out of the case.
Do any cleaning you care to do at this point, and meet me over on Page 4, where we’ll put the new panel on, and reassemble the computer again…
For all intents and purposes, this is just the reverse of disassembly, with the additional step of connecting the new USB and Firewire cables.
Start off by putting the panel leads, USB, and Firewire cables through the hole shown here. Route the cables down and then connect them to the motherboard. Refer to your specific motherboard manual for exact pin outs to connect them to.
You can see above I did in fact unplug the Firewire cable from the new front panel. The third, yellowish wire is for my cold cathode light switch…ignore it. I also installed some 1/4″ automotive type “split loom” over the panel’s switch and light wires. I think they look a little neater like this.
Finish up by reinstalling the drive cages and any optical drives or devices you previously had in the top bays. Once everything is installed, plugged in, and the side panels are on, you’re ready to fire it up! If you’re having problems getting the USB or Firewire cables hooked up correctly, I recently wrote an article (knowing full well I’d be writing this article next) on just that subject. You can find that article HERE.
Why don’t you meet me over on Page 5, where we’ll have a look at the finished product.
Directron stocks countless items like this, for upgrading or modding your PC’s home. This panel is but one of them. I’m assuming the colors offered on these replacement panels is the same as the colors of the new complete cases themselves, as the color of this panel is different than the color of my older Chieftec case. But if one of the colors available doesn’t quite match yours, this also gives you the excuse to custom paint your case to any color you like. =)
By the way, while you’re ordering this panel and it’s off, you might check out another item Directron stocks, EL (electroluminescent) wire kits. I reviewed a pair of these HERE. Here’s one more picture, of what those look like installed behind the new front panel…..
I’d like to thank Michael Chang at Directron for sending this our way.