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A couple of years have passed since Enermax released the first Hoplite case, which was largely a well received product. Fast forward to today, and we have a remake called the Hoplite ST. There aren’t a whole lot of similarities between this case and the original Hoplite, other than the name of course. As with any product refresh, additional features have been added and others have been updated to comply with more current standards. We all know how competitive the sub-$100 chassis market is, so let’s dive into the Enermax Hoplite ST (ECA3261-W) and find out if it’s a solid competitor.
Specifications and Features
Here are the specifications as provided by the Enermax Product Page. Note the two different model numbers, which indicate the two available colors (black & white). In addition to having a lot of of drive bays and a SATA dock at the top, it looks like we have a white case on our hands with a window built into the side panel… Nice!
Enermax Hoplite ST Specifications Model ECA3261-B ECA3261-W Dimension 487(D) X 200(W) X 496(H) mm Material SECC 0.6mm Drive Bays 5.25″ 4 3.5″ 6 x hidden ( 3 x removable) 2.5″ 6 (converted from 3.5”) M/B Micro ATX, ATX I/O USB 2.0 x 2, USB 3.0 x 1, HD Audio, Top SATA Dock Cooling Front 12 cm LED fan x 1 12 cm LED fan x 1 Rear 12 cm fan x 1 12 cm LED fan x 1 Side Acrylic window w/12 cm fan slot x2 (optional) Top 14/12 cm fan slot x 1 Expansion slots 7
The features are highlighted by a 3-speed fan controller, tool-less ODD/HDD drive installation, and up to 20 mm of cable routing clearance behind the motherboard tray. While 20 mm isn’t a huge amount of room, we’ll see how it plays out once we assemble a system. Images below courtesy of Enermax.
- Top I/O interface for easy access and fastest data transfer
- Top SATA dock with dust shield
- 3 x USB ports for simultaneous use
- Internal USB 3.0 support
- Integrated 3-step fan speed controller for instant airflow adjustment (up to 3 fans)
- Acryl window with clear view to show off interior rigs
- Easy installation
- Enermax exclusive ODD tool-less design
- Tool-less 3.5” HDD tray (compatible with 2.5”devices)
- Removable HDD cage for high-end VGA card installation (up to 403 mm)
- Cable management cut-outs with rubber grommets
- Ample room behind motherboard tray for cable routing (up to 20 mm)
- Removable PSU dust filter for easy cleaning
You won’t find a lot of fancy high-gloss imagery on the packaging, but rather a brown box with blue and red graphics… and that’s fine by me! The front and back of the box are identical, and the two sides have the specifications and model number appropriately identified. The box top is home to additional Hoplite ST and Enermax branding.
Inside, we find the Hoplite ST wrapped in a plastic bag and secured in its environment with… wait for it… the omnipresent Styrofoam blocks. I know, not very exciting, but I tried! You’ll also find the side window has been protected with a plastic film on the inside and outside.
The accessories are found in a plastic bag, wire tied to the drive bays. The accessories include a bag of mounting hardware, two Velcro cable ties, two zip ties, and the user’s manual. There isn’t an over abundance of accessories, but enough to put a system together.
A large window is built into the left side panel that has two areas where a fan can be mounted. There are three sets of holes at each fan location that can handle an 80/92/120 mm fan. Aesthetics wise, it looks rather odd if you decide not to put any fans here. Personally, I’m not a big advocate of making fan openings in windowed side panels. They are for seeing through them after all and not for blocking the view with fans. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and some of you may like the way this looks.
The solid flat right side panel has no distinctive designs, other than the depression for grasping the panel for removal.
Moving around to the back of the Hoplite ST, we find a bottom mount PSU design and seven ventilated expansion slot covers. There are a total of four rubber grommet holes for water cooling tubes, and of course, the 120 mm exhaust fan opening and I/O shield cutout. Each of the two side panels are held on with two thumbscrews, and the left side panel has a nifty fold out handle to aid in its removal.
The front panel is rather classy looking and features a large mesh area at the bottom to protect the front fan. Above that are four 5.25″ drive bay covers. The covers all have filters on the backside of them, but none of them have a removable center that can accommodate a 3.5″ device. I would think with four 5.25″ drive bay covers, at least one of them could have had a 3.5″ option built into it.
The top panel is home to the case’s I/O features. Here we have one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and mic jacks, and the switches for power and reset. Additionally, there is a three position switch to control the fan speeds and LEDs for HDD activity and power. Behind the I/O area is a SATA dock that accepts 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives. The dock area has a fold down lid to keep it protected when not in use. At the back of the top panel is another large mesh area to provide filtration for an optional 120/140 mm fan.
At the bottom of the Hoplite ST, there are four feet that are taller than what you normally see. I like this a lot because of the additional airflow it can provide to the PSU. All four feet are outfitted with rubber pads for minimizing any vibration and to provide surface protection. There is also a filter covering the PSU, which can be slid out from the back when it needs cleaning.
Other than the lack of a 3.5″ opening in one of the drive bay covers, I’d have to say I really like the looks of the Hoplite ST. No major complaints so far! Let’s pop the panels off and see what the inside has in store for us.
At the bottom, we can see the PSU rests on two “bumps” at the front and a folded over piece of steel at the rear. There are no rubber pads applied to any of these areas. Above the PSU opening are the seven expansion slot covers, two of the four water cooling tube holes, and an additional ventilation area. All of the expansion slot covers are held in place with thumbscrews. Rounding out the back of the case’s interior is the 120 mm white LED exhaust fan. Just above the fan are the last two water cooling tube pass-through holes.
Exploring under the top deck, you’ll find a place to mount an optional 120 or 140 mm fan. You should be able to get a 25 mm thick fan either between the top deck and the removable top panel or under the top deck without hitting the motherboard. There won’t be enough room to hang a radiator here, but the rear exhaust fan area should support an all-in-one unit. The only other option for water cooling would be an external setup. Next to the top deck fan opening, you can see the power and data cable connections for the SATA dock.
Moving over to the 5.25″ drive bay area, we see four bays that utilize a tool-less installation design. There are tension bars on the right side of the bays and “twist dial” removable latches on the left that perform the retention duties.
Below the 5.25″ bays, we come to the 3.5″ HDD cages. The upper cage is removable to accommodate larger video cards. With the upper cage removed, you can install a video card up to 403 mm (15.8 inches) in length. Each of the HDD cages have three slide out trays for installing 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives.
The motherboard tray area has a very large cutout for accessing a CPU cooler’s retention bits and several of the motherboard standoffs have been pre-installed. There are three cable management pass-through holes that are protected with rubber grommets. Two of the pass-through holes are in a vertical position on the right side of the motherboard tray, and the other one is located near the bottom in a horizontal position. There isn’t a massive amount of room between the back of the motherboard tray and the right side panel (22 mm or 3/4″), but with a little pre-planning it’s workable.
With the front panel removed, I found that all of the drive bay covers and the lower mesh area had a thin foam filter behind them. The best way to clean any of these filters is to simply rinse them out because removing them would be quite a chore. The bottom intake fan is installed on a removable plate that makes for easy access and cleaning of the fan. It only takes removal of a single screw in order to take the plate off, and the fan will come out with it.
I mentioned earlier the top panel is removable and once removed, we get a good look at the top mesh area and the inner workings of the case’s I/O area. The mesh area does not have a foam filter attached like we saw in the front panel. Close inspection of the I/O circuit board revealed no concerns with the connections or soldering.
Taking a look at the right side and behind the motherboard tray, we find several loops for securing cables with zip ties. There are a few more cable pass-through holes tucked under the top panel. These should come in handy for fan wiring and the CPU ATX12V power cable.
Other than the wiring for the fan controller and SATA dock, the rest is standard fare found in most cases. The fan controller can accept up to three fans and also has a dedicated Molex power connector. The SATA dock has a very long cable that includes a locking latch and of course, the accompanying Molex power cable. I think SATA power connections for both the fan controller and SATA dock would have been a better choice. Chances are, you’ll already have SATA power close by that could be used to power these. If you use a modular PSU, you would have to attach a Molex power cable just to power the SATA dock and fan controller.
Now that we’ve had our exterior and interior tour, let’s toss a system in the Hoplite ST and see what we can come up with!
Putting it all Together
ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Motherboard (Overclockers Approved)
AMD A10-5800K APU (Overclockers Approved)
2×4 GB Kingston HyperX Memory
Toshiba HDS721050DLE630 500 GB SATA 6 Gb/s Hard Drive
Super Talent TeraDrive CT3 SSD (Overclockers Meh)
Thermaltake Smart-M 750 Watt PSU (Overclockers Approved)
Sapphire HD 7770 Video Card (Overclockers Approved)
HP CD/DVD SATA Rom Drive
Evercool HPQ-12025 Venti CPU Cooler (Overclockers Approved)
To begin this section of the review, I thought you might be interested in seeing a HDD and SSD mounted in the SATA dock. So, here are a couple pictures of them installed.
The next two pictures show a 3.5″ HDD and SSD installed in a drive tray. The 3.5″ HDD is a tool-less operation via four pins that align with the screw holes on the side of the HDD. Two other holes are on the side of the tray that you can use to further secure the HDD with screws. If you mount a SSD in one of the trays, you’ll have to use screws to attach it at the bottom. Once your drives are secured to the trays, simply slide them into place.
Once all the other hardware was installed, I had a jungle of wires behind the motherboard tray to deal with. With the limited space between the back of the motherboard tray and the right side panel, it took a little work to get the cables organized well enough to get the panel back on. With a few well placed cable ties and a little patience, the job was accomplished.
When it was all said and done, the system came together rather nicely. This isn’t the biggest mid-tower case you’ll ever see, but there is enough room to get quite an array of components installed. I didn’t have any problems getting the cables where I wanted them, and the cable management system worked very well. About my only complaint is the limited amount of space behind the motherboard tray and right side panel. It’s not impossible to work with, but just a little more room would have been nice. Here is a group of pictures taken of the completed build.
…And some glamor shots, thumbnail style!
The Enermax Hoplite ST is currently available at Newegg for $74.99, which is a very fair price for all you get. The SATA dock is a feature usually reserved for cases costing more than this one, and I’ve seen other manufacturers charge a premium for the white color. Tool-less drive installation, good cable management options, and the included fan controller all add value to the Hoplite ST. Aesthetic wise, the Hoplite ST is a classy looking affair that incorporates a lot of mesh into the design. The side window is a nice touch, although I’m not particularly fond of fan mounting options on a clear window.
About the only gripes I have are the lack of a 3.5″ external drive option and the limited space behind the motherboard tray. A 3.5″ external drive option could easily be made by simply making one of the drive bay covers with a removable center portion.
So, to wrap things up here, we have a solid choice for a mid-range to budget build. If the Hoplite ST has the kind of features you’re looking for and fits into your price range, then I have no problem recommending it.
-Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)