Aopen HX08

Blast from the past: originally published October 6th 2000.

It’s a sad time when I can’t get in any game playing, but that’s what happened this week.  I’ve beaten most of my games in single player mode and look for the challenge of multiplayer mayhem, but none of my friends were available.  I know I could just log in and fight a stranger, but what’s the point of that? I want to team up with a friend and then crush strangers into dust.  Otherwise why play games at all?  When Conan was asked what was best in life, he replied: “to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women”.

I’m still waiting for my new Antec case, but thought it wise to discuss the case I’ve been using the last three years.  I now have three Aopen HX08 full tower cases in use; check here for a detailed diagram and full installation instructions. (editor’s note: not available anymore)

Why is the case important? Let’s look at two scenarios: big name brand computer or “white box” clone computer.  With the big name brand PC you don’t get a choice in case design; you get what you get which is mostly a mini to mid tower case.  With a white box computer you can choose the style and size you want, varying from a low profile desktop to a giant full tower or even a server case.  The only limit is cost; a mid tower can be had for $60 while a full tower is $125 and a server case is over $400.

Most users are happy with the case they received with their system, as the only upgrade they may perform is a card or drive addition.  The mid tower serves it’s purpose and gets the job done; that’s why almost every computer you can buy comes in one.

Why do I want and use large cases?  I’m looking for expandability, flexibility and features.  I like to have my computer on the floor, so a full tower sits on the floor and gives easy access to the floppy and CD-ROM.  I want to be able to load up a bunch of hard drives, CD-ROMs, tape drives and DVD-ROMs without worrying about space.  I like to have three or four cooling fans in the case to keep everything running smooth.  Basically no matter the situation I want the case to handle it.

I originally chose the Aopen HX08 because that was the best available at the time.  While the three I have show a design evolution on Acer’s part, I’ll only talk about the current design.  Standing a little over two feet with the base attached, the HX08 shows one 3.5” and five 5.25” external drive bays.  The 5.25” bays are blocked internally by a piece of steel, which had to be removed by rocking it in place until the two tabs snap.  The outer case is removed in three pieces by sliding the top off then the two sides.  This is a gripe on my part; I hate having to slide the top off, then slide the side panel the length of the case before it comes off.

Inside are seven more 3.5” bays; three in front under the 5.25” bays and four more above the power supply.  This arrangement is good for SCSI systems where the cables can reach the top, but for IDE systems you’re pretty well limited to the front three bays for hard drives.  The top spot for the floppy drive is convenient for day to day use but awkward inside because the cable is at it’s length. Both 3.5” internal drive cages are removable for easy mounting, held in place by screws.

The motherboard tray is removable, making mounting quite easy.  Of course this case has tons of room inside already, and truth be told I’ve never needed to remove the tray.  Cooling is provided by one front mounted 80mm fan and two rear mounted 80mm fans above the power supply, all of which are optional.  The two rear fans require additional hardware to mount, and really cool down drives mounted in the rear 3.5” cage.  My cooling gripe is that there is no fan mount at the rear of the case at the processor level to take the hot air that comes off the CPU fan. To be fair the ATX 300 watt power supply has an air intake on the bottom that pulls a fair amount; as well as handle all the power demands I’ve placed on it.

All in all I’ve enjoyed the Aopen HX08 cases for their sturdiness and ability to take what I throw at them.  They retail for around $130, which is in line with this size case.