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View Full Version : Review: Aerocool M40 Cube case by DrumThumper



Drum Thumper
03-06-2008, 09:30 PM
http://www.thebestcasescenario.com/jdbnsn/worklogbanners/aerocoolbig.png

Before I begin this review, I would like to take a moment and share a bit of my personal work history and my thoughts regarding Xoxide (http://www.xoxide.com/). I have worked various forms of retail related jobs for the last 10 years, including a one year stint with an E-Commerce company that dealt primarily in consumer electronics. I like to think that I know outstanding customer service when I see it. Xoxide has completely changed my outlook on how E-Commerce should go. Never in my life have I seen such fast responses to emails from an E-Commerce company. My average response time (there were a total of four emails sent between Xoxide and myself) was less than five minutes. That, my friends, is not only Customer Service, but dedication as well. Kudos to Xoxide!

Aerocool M40 Specs: (http://www.xoxide.com/aerocool-m40-cube-black.html)

Case Type:
Cube

Form Factor:
Micro ATX

Dimensions:
233mm x 295mm x 348mm

Drive bays:
2 x 5.25" (external)
2 x 3.5" (internal)
1 x 3.5" (external)

Expansion Slots:
4 regular profile

Front Panel:
USB 2.0 x 4
Headphone/Mic jacks

Cooling System capabilities:
1 clear 120mm fan included; 1200 RPM, 3.25 DB, max output of 41.8 CFM
Lower Deck has 2 mounts for 80mm fans
Upper Deck has 1 mount for 80mm fan

M40 Features
Split Level design
Lower Deck front panel is meshed for greater air flow
Tool Free drive rails for 5.25" bays
LCD display, shows case tempurature and HDD/Fan status

The Aerocool M40 case is a Small Form Factor Cube (http://www.xoxide.com/small-form-factor-cases.html) style case. This case will look quite at home with AV equipment, so therefore it is quite suited to be used as an HTPC or a Jukebox. One other use that comes to mind is a LAN party box. I personally purchased this case to be used as a Jukebox; and there is always the possibility that another M40 might be in my future for use as a HTPC down the road.

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0023-2.jpg

Xoxide's packing material is more than adequate. This becomes quite evident once you see the nice thick styrofoam that AeroCool uses to pack their products:

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0025-3.jpg

You could drop the box that this was in from 20 feet and it wouldn't hurt the product one bit. Yes, I am speaking from a similar experience here...

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0027-2.jpg

Five screws on the back hold the cover on. As an added (and delightful I might add) bonus, the cover itself is one piece, which makes for less parts to track down once you have your motherboard and related items installed.

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0029.jpg

Screws and front panels, instruction sheet and front USB/headphone/mic header information sheets.

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0030.jpg

Slide the two latches and remove the thumbscrew and you are able to open this puppy up:

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0032-1.jpg

Look at all the wires there. This is quite possibly my biggest beef with any and all case manufacturers. Why do you have to make the cables so long?!?!? Ah well, nothing a bit of cutting, splicing, soldering and sleeving won't take care of. Yes, I know doing that will void my warranty, but isn't that what casemodding is all about?!?

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0033-1.jpg
The 120mm fan. Of course this is going to be swapped out for one of these (http://www.xoxide.com/quadledred12.html).

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0035-2.jpg

While being made of plastic, the latches are actually quite sturdy. Then again, this isn't a case that will be opened and closed frequently either.

The box that the M40 came in states:
M40 DOES NOT SUPPORT LENGTH OF POWER SUPPLIES LONGER THAN 140MM. Of course, I had to mock up one of my regular sized modulars just to see:

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0037.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0039-1.jpg

As you can see, there is less than an inch of clearance. Looks like I'll be buying a different power supply (http://www.xoxide.com/arrow-matx-300w-psu.html) for this case. And while I'm on the topic of the HDD cage, one screw and one springform latch is all that keeps it in place. At first, I was a bit concerned about that, but it seems to be sturdy enough for the job.

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0042.jpg
One final glamor shot of the front. Very sleek.

So the case has good looks. How easy is it to actually work on? The answer is extremely easy. Unlike some other SFF cases on the market, this one is actually easy to work on. Due to the unique split level design, I found that there is quite a bit more real estate to work with when it comes to cable management and installation of hardware. I can also proudly attest that this is the first case that can be considered a SFF case that I have worked on that didn't bloody my knuckles up. That in and of itself, to me, is nothing short of amazing.

Is it ATX???

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0043.jpg

Or does it matter? This motherboard tray is tapped for ATX and BTX. Very cool, and now I wish I had a micro BTX board to see how everything would line up.

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0044-1.jpg

It never fails--computer case companies never send enough standoffs with their cases. Being the good modder that I am, I have extras of nearly everything on hand. However, chances are very good that your MicroATX/BTX board will not need to use all the standoffs, as seen in the following picture:

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0045-1.jpg

My Socket 478 board is small. I didn't realize how small until I installed it in this case.

My only beef with hooking up the LEDs and the power/reset switches came when I attempted to hook up the power LED. This was the only set of leads that wasn't in a block formation--rather, the LED was set up using two separate leads. The instruction sheet was of no help either. While this wasn't that big of a concern for me, a less experienced system builder might be scratching his or her head trying to figure out which way is right. Thankfully, LEDs are forgiving items, and if they are hooked up bass ackwards, it will not hurt them.

Optical Drive Installation

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0047-1.jpg

Again, this is a very easy case to install components in. Optical drives are held in place semi-toollessly, as the left hand side is locked into place with one of the two provided 'button locks', as seen here:

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/IMG_0049.jpg

Your mileage may vary, but I would strongly recommend screwing the optical drives in place as well.

And this case is designed for instant stealthing of optical drives. The false front panels are spring loaded, and the eject switch is spring loaded also. And since not all optical drives are created equal, the backside of the eject switch is adjustable.

Modability

This case is not really suited for the standard 'window' mod. However, there are other mods that one can apply to this case, such as LED fans. I would highly recommend swapping the included 120 mm fan out for something not nearly as flimsy. Red illumination would look nice with this case, especially since the LCD screen is backlit by red as well.

Conclusion

I am going to rate this case 4.8/5. My only major complaints are with the leads for the power LED and the flimsy 120mm fan. Everything else with the case from the construction to the ease of installing optical drives is top notch.

If you are looking for a SFF case for a HTPC or MP3 Jukebox build and don't wish to spend upwards of $400 USD on the case alone, I highly recommend the Aerocool M40.

The boy 4rm oz
03-08-2008, 08:18 AM
I love cube cases. Sucks that most of them are only m-ATX, that's why I am gonna make my own lol.

koz303
08-20-2008, 09:04 PM
I have the same aerocool m40 case and the biostar board showed in the review, these items rock together. I agree you need to replace the fans to red heavy duty fans. I have 3gig cpu, 2gigs of memory, and 1gig nic card. great review.

nevermind1534
08-20-2008, 09:12 PM
They did the same kind of thing in cases when they were transitioning from AT to ATX.

The Great Destroyer
08-27-2008, 07:52 AM
i'm interested in how well it cools. my friend had one of those LAN cases with a handle, but with an 8800GTS, it got pretty hot, even with 4 fans in it.

Drum Thumper
08-27-2008, 05:08 PM
I will tell you this--I have 3 80mm fans installed, along with a different 120mm. This thing is LOUD. However, I think most of the noise is coming from the cheapo no name psu fan. I haven't had a chance to isolate yet--school's been kicking my ass left and right.

The Great Destroyer
08-27-2008, 07:14 PM
i dont blame you on the school thing. i have calcI 5 days a week (thats A LOT of homework!), 3 books to read for anthropology, chemistry where the professor treats us like 5th graders, and macroeconomics.

Drum Thumper
08-27-2008, 11:12 PM
i dont blame you on the school thing. i have calcI 5 days a week (thats A LOT of homework!), 3 books to read for anthropology, chemistry where the professor treats us like 5th graders, and macroeconomics.

I'm on my final class now. Java programming. 8 and a half weeks of coding then I'll become the first kid out of my generation of cousins and whatnot on my dad's side to have a degree.

Plus, I'm refreshing my memory on the A+ tests at the same time. Planning on taking that by the end of next month if not sooner.

lgitton
10-12-2008, 05:32 AM
Hello,
well i'm searching to make a small PC in order to link it to my Wide screen TV.
I want to use a DFI micro ATX lanparty motherboard and i'm looking for a suitable case to put it with 2 crossfire linked Radeons 4850.
Do you think the M40 can handle this ?

Thank you

Laurent

The boy 4rm oz
10-12-2008, 09:10 AM
I think there should be plenty of room.

lgitton
10-15-2008, 07:25 PM
Thank you, and my last question is about the power supply, i'm looking for a good and silent one to fit in this case.

Thx

The boy 4rm oz
10-16-2008, 12:06 AM
A Corsair PSU or and Antec would do the job perfectly. Quiet, many different wattages, modular and reasonable prices.

x88x
10-20-2008, 02:05 PM
@lgitton: Unfortunately, you'll probably have to choose between the second 4850 and the HDD rack. Since the rack sticks down below the case split, the second 4850 will probably run into it. I think the rear end of the rack is about 155mm from the back panel. If you only need one HDD, you can mount it in the 3.5" bay, and you could probably move the HDD rack to the empty space next to the PSU (or build your own rack there) if you need more.

Raz1r
10-21-2008, 11:04 PM
You should go for a Lanbox lite with the Palit "shorty" 4850s. They're cheaper and actually cool compared to the stock cooling. That'll allow you to use the HDD cage

I recommend the Corsair HX520 for your setup, plenty of power. As for an HSF, you'll have to check around. The Silverstone NT05, NT06-E (NOT Lite, has to be the E version unless you buy a different backplate), Enzotech Ultra, Artic Cooling Alpine Pro 7 are confirmed working.

Disregard the TRUE.

faildisk
01-04-2009, 09:42 PM
Just out of curiosity, the powersupply shown in as being too big, whats the make/model of that or how wide is it? How far from 140mm?

Drum Thumper
01-04-2009, 10:27 PM
Just out of curiosity, the powersupply shown in as being too big, whats the make/model of that or how wide is it? How far from 140mm?

I'd have to get out the tape measure and get the precise measurements, but yes, it was a very tight squeeze. As for the make and model of the PSU, it is one of those run of the mill power supplies that case manufacturers feel that they need to supply with low end cases. I've got five or six of them floating around, and as long as power requirements are not that high, they work.

And welcome to TBCS!

Drum Thumper
01-24-2009, 04:20 PM
Not to be outdone by SgtM and his review/search query:

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d146/drumthumper5150/m40search.jpg