Editor’s Note (Oct. 1, 2010 – 9:09 a.m.): The manufacturer offers Overclockers.com members an exclusive discount 20% OFF discount on this case. Click here for details.
When I first received the Crystal Edge Acrylic PC Case from My Open PC, I felt that this case could bring out a new level in my ability to make computers look attractive. When you look at a case, sometimes you just want to know what’s in it. You want to see what’s going on. You want lights to blind you as you look past the fans and at the hardware. I had never used an acrylic case before, and have always wanted to make a computer out of one. After working with one, I never want to touch one again.
Packaging and Specifications
|Compatible Mainboards:||mATX, ITX|
|Compatible PSU:||mATX only|
|Dimensions:||6.5″ x 16.1″ x 13.1″ (166mm x 410 mm x 334 mm)|
|Expansion Bays:||Four 3.5″ bays or Three 3.5″ HDDS + one 2.5″ SSD and one 5.25″ bay|
I was a bit surprised that this case was not already built when I got it. There is no issue with me building a case, I have just never done so before. I like the idea though. It makes it seem like I am building a playground for my computer.
The experience was not all that bad. It was very simple for me to follow the instructions and put everything together. The only down part of this build was the screws. Of course, it will have its own screws, but it was a bit hard to determine which was which with the small diagram given in the instructions. The Screw case does also state which screw is which, but My Open PC put multiple types of screws into the same section. A shadow outline would have been better.
There were two hiccups I had during the build, and they both were with the final attachment. It was a bit rough pushing it into its slots, but it worked. If this was my own case, then I might have sanded it down to make it easier. The other problem that I had was how the screws fit for the front fan grill. One out of four of the screws actually threaded properly.
It’s All Clear Looking Through the Crystal Ball
When it came to the interior of this case, there was not much to it. Everything connects to the walls of the case. There are no HDD cages (unless you count the brace walls for the “more than one HDD configuration”). It was nice not having one, as it allowed the one HDD configuration to create more room, but with more than one HDD , it creates problems.
On the floor of the case, there is a horribly positioned fan. It is right up against the PSU, which can cause a lot of problems with cables getting in the way. The other two case fans are right where they should be. One in the front towards the middle, and one in the rear near where the CPU fan should be exhausting its hot air.
Now lets look at this case with hardware in it. At first, I wanted to go the approach of low end media / storage computer. Something you would probably have in your living room or theater room to show off to the guests. I used my low end hardware with a single slot GPU, with 2 HDDs and a DVD drive. Everything fit in pretty smoothly, no real issues.
I would like to state that I could have done a better job with cable management. The problem is that with such little room and such few places to tie down cables, it really becomes a four hour cable job. I spent about an hour and half on this sad look.
One other hiccup was where the HDDs are positioned over the motherboard. There is a good chance that you may cover up some SATA or IDE connections. This may require a creative layout for the cables. For me, I had to bend the SATA cables at a 90 degree angle in order to fit underneath the HDDs. I was not to comfortable with this, as it could have caused errors in the transfer of data.
For my second round with the case, I went the gamer route. In my old days of LAN parties, I saw a lot of people doing the all acrylic case. They were fun to have as they created a huge glow in the room. This case would be great for that as well, since it is sturdy as a rock. It may not look like it, but if you screw down everything nice and tight, the case becomes a rock. Now, when it comes to LAN PCs, you are not looking for a huge power house, just something that can play the games you want.
I took out one of the HDDs and put in a dual slot GPU. This is where the issues occurred for this case. I could barley fit the GPU into this guy and put the HDD where it was. The only way to fit the HDD in the case was to use the side wall mount. This created a lot of issues with cable management, and even comfort room. The heat pipes on the card came out from the top. These pipes were only a half of a centimeter away from the HDD. This can cause some serious heating issues.
As for the cable management, it was a bit difficult with trying to lay cables for the HDD while also trying to close the box. Again, perfecting this box to look nice will take a long, long time, but I can see that it would be worth it.
Wrapping this review up has taken me some time. When I was working with this case, I hated it. I absolutely despised the fact that it took me more than two hours to put everything in, and cable everything up. From start to finish, I would have to say that this case would take close to four hours, with proper cable management. The instructions were not the best, and identifying the screws needed via the picture diagram was horrible. Getting everything in and finally closing it up also took more time than needed, as you had to lay cable while closing it up. This should never happen. The side panel should be left alone. If something is needed to be attached to it, there should be cable runs to control where the cables go.
As I look back on it now, I believe I could have done better. I start to see what this case could really do. Even though it may take four hours to really get everything together and running, you could take even more time to make things look brilliant. That is the broad sword of an Acrylic style case. To the amateur, it will look like a tornado went through. To the expert, it is another challenge. With the right amount of time, patience, and hardware, the case can look brilliant. In fact, in the time I was writing this I thought about putting together a media PC with some neon lights on the floor and on the wall.
So, the dirty blunt truth is this: the case is utter rubbish in the hands of the inexperienced. A normal PC user will find this a nightmare to work with, and to get everything installed. But since this is Overclockers.com and we are not normal PC users, people here may find this case to be a challenge. I would only suggest this case to enthusiast users that have a complete plan laid out for the case. If you do not have an idea for this case from the start, you are going to end up with a mess. Use this for showing off your media box, or to blind your competition at the local LAN, and you will get ooh’s and ahh’s, where ever it goes.