ProSource XClio High Tower PC housing
ProSource, a company working at the development and manufacture of PC housings mainly for the value market, has recently renewed its product line a bit. We must admit, the replenishment proved really marvelous! Who could ever imagine that for merely half a year this company was able creating a truly fashionable, stylish, and practical PC housing? Yours truly is asking your apologies for the prejudication to the subject of the review, but we admit even ourselves sophisticated enough in this area of modern computer market did not expect to come across that miracle.
So, what's so magical that ProSource has prepared for us? First, it is an Achilles housing which doesn't stand out with its inner elegance but offers a rather interesting design and trendy fans. Secondly… That is a true revelation! Frankly, we did not expect such a move from ProSource which produces albeit successful but not outstanding and "simply good" produce. To bring in a model of scale comparable to that of Chieftec or Inwin to the market, indeed much effort and time goes into it. As can be seen, time has not been spent in vain - two models of the XClio series have hit the retail which are meant to prove that the manufacturer is able standing out with not only a huge product line but the quality of manufacture. We'll tell about three housings in turn.
Today, we are introducing you to the most interesting model – XClio Big Tower which we regard as the best housing offered by third-rank manufacturers. We still can't say what to say about the release of this model – perhaps it is the desire for self-assertion, to prove that "we can if we want". Or perhaps it is a running in of technology, and we see the birth of a new brand of housings comparable to Chieftec. Running ahead, we say that there have been release two housings in the XClio series - a huge Big Tower, and XClio Junior Midi Tower of desktop sizes. Some web sites would call these housings as pre-modded, or modding things which do not need further overpatching. There are two categories of modders - those in one category enjoy making all with their hands, with others prefer nice-looking modern things but have neither time nor desire for manual work. This kind of produce is released just for this category.
We should make a reservation over here that the housing we'll be talking about in what follows, namely the ProSource Xclio, can't be regarded as falling within the value category. As is known, pleasures and conveniences have to be traded off – that applies to XClio as well, but believe me, the housing is no second at anything relative to the more famous "colleague" Chieftec MX-01SLD-U, and at some aspects it may be even superior. Therefore, XClio is indeed worth of the funds invested into it (complete with a Navi 340W PSU, it costs about 110$), so is unlikely to disappoint the owner.
Traditionally, we start with the technical characteristics of this housing:
• Housing frame material: steel
• Material of the front, top and side panels of the housing: plastic
• Dimensions: 460 mm x 210 mm x 530 mm (length x width x height)
• Color of the housing: silvery metal with black inserts on the front panel and with a black metal grid on the side lid
• Supported form-factor: ATX, Micro ATX, AT, Baby AT
• 5 external 5.25" compartments
• 2 external 3.5" compartments
• 6 internal 3.5" compartments
• 7 slots for AGP\PCI cards with a self-closing (screwless) fastener
• Integrated inputs: USB 2.0 x 2 and IEEE1394 FireWire (on the top lid of the housing)
• Integrated controller for the fan RPM (for 4 devices)
• Special lock blockable with a key, designed for opening-closing the front panel of the housing (for details – read the description in what follows)
While describing the product, we can't help mentioning the package bundle:
• HiTower ProSource XClio housing
• PSU Navi 340W
• One 120x120 mm neon fan installed on the rear panel of the housing
• One 80x80 mm neon fan installed on the side lid of the housing
• One preinstalled blastic block for a 120x120 mm fan on the front panel
• A kit of six fastener pairs for the hard disk designed for holding the device in a special place
• A kit of five cradle pairs for the CD-ROM drive designed for installing the device into an external compartment
• A kit of two cradle pairs for FDDs designed for installing into external housing compartments
• Special kit of studs to install a motherboard, PSU, and additional fans into the housing.
Rather rich, unusual, and perhaps even luxurious for a representative of this type of value-class products. But don't forget that this product already exceeds the limits of "low cost" and, due to its essentially advanced interior it can be compete versus many competitor products by Chieftec, Inwin, and others.
Xclio is the name of a new line of computer housings by ProSource that stands out among the others for its peculiar trendy design that combines not only a neon illumination of the fans but also the specific «latticed» windows on the side wall of the housing, as well as stylish door that hides the external compartments on the front panel. For now, this model includes merely two names: XClio (our specimen in question), and XClio Jr., an essentially diminished and interior-improved replica of its «elder brother» (its detailed description can be found in this review). Now let's turn straight to the design of the XClio product line.
At first glance, you recall analogies resembling something seen formerly like ThermalTake's Xaser series, or Chieftec's Matrix (MX) series. Indeed, XClio by no means is copying the more eminent representatives of the industry – ProSource's housing is aimed more at the youth audience, and that means you won't do without a great number of LEDs. That's just it!... The blue LEDs that XClio is abundant with are even fitted under the feet of the housing which in turn may remain hidden at all.
The silvery color of Xclio, or at least its dominant part, and the outstanding dimensions, accentuate not only the stylish design of the housing but point to the user's intent to keep up with the «computer fashion». The color of the housing may prompt some individuals the idea that it is made of aluminum, although it is made of high-quality steel.
The front panel of XClio greets its potential buyer with the huge letter X on the door of compartments where the user can stick any favorite logo. A bit below, there is a small oval window through which you can see the OLED display – it is a temperature sensor, of which we are talking when reviewing the interior. Below that, i.e. below the door, there is a special lock that allows not only blocking the position of the compartment door but also gives access to fitting 5.25" and 3.5" drives into the housing. While gradually moving to the bottom of the housing, the user can see the gaps between decorative plastic panels – that is ventilation which provides effective and noiseless operation of the fan (missing in the package bundle) fitted into a special box on the front panel and cooling of the hard disks, which has recently become an important parameter.
Behind the conventionalized door, as it should be for HiTower housings, there are 5(!) external compartments for 5.25" drives and a pair of 3.5" compartments. Also there are main buttons for controlling the operation status of the computer, that is, "Power" and "Reset", as well as one more new-trend thing - a fan RPM control, of which we are talking a bit below. The door, due to its technical interior, has a double wall inside and thus quite closely adjoins the 5.25" compartments. It's just this fact that may prevent the user from fitting such modern devices like external temperature sensor inside the system, a fan RPM controller, or various multimedia trinkets. On the other hand, the first two above mentioned items were already thought out and integrated into the interior of the housing. ;) In the closed state, the door blocks very well, so you even sometimes have to put efforts to open it. So, be careful with it and don't let the drives open with the door closed - this may result in mechanical damages.
Another extremely interesting exterior item of the XClio - its left-hand wall is by the way the only removable element of the whose housing frame. For almost the whole width of the wall, there is stretched a latticed window with a neon 80x80 mm fan in the middle. Again, however strange it is, the window is made in the form of the letter X, but a bit thicker. It is hard to express the stylistics of this window, so it's better to look at it on the photo. I note that the innovative ProSource's idea – to make the windows not of plastic but with a metal grid – also gives this housing advantages over the competitors. Besides, it imparts quite a pleasant look (especially in the switched on state), and the air can freely enter and go out of the housing.
To our regret, the rear and right-hand walls don't stand out with anything – all is standard, and the right-hand wall is welded to the housing frame, i.e. is nonremovable. On the upper lid of the housing, there is a block of additional interface inputs: two USB 2.0 and one IEEE1394 FireWire connectors. In the idle state, this block is closed with a lid, thus not spoiling the exterior.
The last thing to be discussed is the feet of the housing. As was already said, they are "stuffed" with blue LEDs and, as it should be, complement the picture in the switched on state. Of course, don't forget about their major function - to reinforce the position of the housing on the surface. If positioned properly, they either minimize or eliminate the housing vibrations.
As you may have guessed, access to the interior is possible only upon direct removal of the left-hand wall. That's what we'll do.
Already the first look into the housing interior brings positive emotions only. All is well thought-out here and no worse from the technology side than in the solutions by eminent competitors. XClio is made of thick and very strong steel. Just this good-quality thick steel imparts the housing such a formidable (!) weight.
Fastening of the motherboard within the housing, unlike most modern housings, is performed not with copper threaded bolts but directly – on the right-hand plane of the housing there are 9 bulging points specially designed for fastening the motherboard on. Basically, there are no essential difference in that - just a move by the developer.
Take a look at the rear panel of the housing. In the usual place, there is not quite a usual and thus not useless 120x120 mm fan placed into a special box. Like most components in this housing, the fan has a pair of embedded "neon lights". The major job of the giant is to withdraw hot air outside the housing, and it does its job fine!
Below, there are seven slots for AGP/PCI expansion cards with screwless fastening. Annoying is that the caps for the slots have to be broken off which won't be inserted back. On the other hand, the mechanism of screwless fastening is made in an excellent way - all the slots are reliably closed with one bracket using a special ear on the latter.
Now look at the bottom plane of the housing. Apart from the numerous wires stretching towards the housing feet, on the bottom of the XClio there are two small green textolyte boards. One of them offers a plugged in temperature sensor and thus is also a fan RPM controller. There are four Molex connectors to plug the adjustment objects to it. Note that both the fans which are shipped with the housing have these Molex connectors, which is pleasant of course. On the second board, there are contacts for plugging in the main LEDs of the computer plus one 4-pin power connector for powering on all the LEDs. Distracting a bit from the description, I'd like to express my opinion regarding the gadgets embedded in the XClio: in my view, buying a housing like that, a PC enthusiast, or a fighter for quietness, may save on purchasing similar device (for controlling the fan's RPM and temperature monitoring) whose price may exceed 50$. Isn't it good?
Finally, the front side. The first what catches the eye upon looking at is the queer box screwed into the box for hard disks. Don't worry - that is merely a small box designed specially for storing all currently unused cradles, keys, screws and whatever the user normally holds in hands. Quite a smart solution. To fully examine the front side of the housing, we should use the key to the lock on the front panel. Insert the key, turn it up to the stop and neatly remove the front plastic lid of the panel. Behind the plastic part there are all the above mentioned compartments for drives closed with plugs which whenever necessary have to be broken off again. On each side of the compartments, there are guides for cradles. Below the compartments, there is an empty box for the 120x120 mm fan similar to what is on the rear panel. The fan positioned over here could actively cool the hard disks as well as provide air circulation inside the housing but itself is missing, unfortunately. In any case, it is no problem making such a specimen available on sale.
Another interesting side - the box itself for hard disks. Like inside Chieftec's AL-03-BK, it is turned by 90 degrees relative to the standard position. Emergence of such a position for the second time suggests the idea of its gradual introduction to practice. Who knows - this may be the way in the nearest future, but for now such a turn of fate makes the user consider buying a good-quality PSU together with this housing. On the other hand, such a thing won't be excessive, or maybe to the better!
Here we have come up to the assemblage of a computer inside the XClio. Due to the well thought-out inner design, this job turns into a sort of a pleasure. If you have read the previous paragraph attentively, you must have understood all the positive and negative sides of assembling a full-featured PC in this housing. If nit, let me add something more.
Once the AGP and PCI slots are fitted, a special bracket will press them in the necessary position. Don't you want to use a bracket? Here you are, use the fasteners having regular screws - there are even matching holes in them.
Fastening a hard disk and optical drives into the cradles should not bring any issues at all because the engineers at ProSource not only used cradles for fitting all the devices into the housing but also provided their screwless fastening to the devices themselves. Just put the cradles to the matching holes on the device and - that's it! A serious move towards creating an ideal "screwless" housing. The undoubted advantage of the cradles is the possibility to quickly remove or insert the required device into the housing of your computer.
To fit a PSU into the housing, first bind it to the special bracket on the rear wall of the housing. Inside the housing, a universal double-sided bracket is used - it will suit to both the standard ATX and PSII, PSU for servers. Presence of such a bracket makes you think that XClio may be a solution for server "machines", to which its overall dimensions hint.
Fastening of the PSU to the bracket, like most installation steps, will not take much time. All the wires from the PSU come out of it, and redundant power cables can be fastened to one of the frame edges so that they not hang loose and not hinder cooling.
The last strokes. We plug in all or, if possible, the loudest fans to the board with a RPM controller, plug in the second board with diodes into the mains, and we can power it on! This is how a computer assembled inside a ProSource XClio housing looks:
At work. Tests
Many readers must have guessed that XClio mostly catches attention while the PC is working. That's just it!... To say that the room is filled with blue light when the PC is powered on is to say nothing. The following photos were taken in the night hours and give the idea of what it is like. In advance we bring apologies for their not high enough quality:
During the operation, we tested the temperatures of the CPU, SYSTEM and that of the hard disk. We did a comparison versus the housing by an unknown manufacturer - a regular representative of such a produce made in China. The tests were run in the premises of 25 C ambient temperature.
• Motherboard: Elitegroup K7S5A (SiS735 chipset with aluminum radiator on the north bridge)
• Processor: AMD Athlon 1200 MHz (Thunderbird)
• Cooling system for the processor: Evercool ND15-715
• RAM: 256MB PC2100 DDR
• Video card: Prolink GeForce4 Ti4200 with AGP8x 128MB
• Hard disk: Maxtor 40 GB 7200 rpm
Processor temperature :
|Housing name||ProSource XClio||Noname ATX Case|
These results were produced during measurement of the temperature in a quiet state, i.e. without much load upon the CPU. The measurement was done with Everest program, and the commercial version of AIDA32. Then, there go results produced half an hour after using the CPUBurn BurnK7 utility:
|Housing names||ProSource XClio||Noname ATX Case|
As is seen already from the first test, ProSource XClio by its results overtakes cheap Chinese analogs, as was expected. Two powerful fans positioned at 90 degrees relative to one another do their job fine - they effectively disperse the hot air inside the housing and withdraw it outside.
Temperature of the north bridge
|Housing names||ProSource XClio||Noname ATX Case|
A situation is similar to that in the previous test. The same applies to the results produced with CPUBurn BurnK7, a utility for fast "heating" the system.
Hard disk temperature
|Housing names||ProSource XClio||Noname ATX Case|
Surprised? No wonder really.. The cause of the peculiar result is not only the lack of air flow near the box for hard disks but also that the box is not positioned in the usual position.
Noise characteristics? Here, the integrated fan's RPM controller comes into play. The initial level of rotation in the pre-installed fans is not only too high – it is scaring, but with the controller the situation is easily corrected to the required level, and the temperature of components blown by the fans is almost not increasing, which is nice of course. No doubt, high-quality and thick steel of the housing also reduces the noise from the system components at work, but that is only a complementary part for the controller. By the way, during the use following its direct purpose, we noticed that the brightness of LEDs on the fans faded as the RPM was going down - isn't it an intelligent system? There is albeit minor a shortcoming of the system - a lack of a handle for controlling the RPM, and you have to do all with a cross screwdriver. Who knows, maybe some will take a liking to it..
Conclusion. Final Words
• Extraordinary and very stylish design of the front panel of the housing.
• Sliding lid of the front panel of the housing.
• Two neon fans on the rear and side walls of the housing.
• No bolts for fastening the walls and the upper lid of the housing on the frame.
• AGP\PCI devices can be fastened with a special bracket, without bolts.
• Hard disk is fastened on cradles within a special bin.
• FDD and optical drives fastened in special boxes with cradles.
• Easy access to the inner cavity of the housing.
• Temperature sensor and fan RPM controller in the package bundle.
• Almost screwless system of assembling the computer inside the housing.
• No fan on the front wall.
• Nonstandard positioning of the bin for hard disks, turned by 90 degrees.
• Lack of any lever to control the fan's RPMs
Summing it all up, we arrive at the following conclusion. ProSource XClio – an incredibly high-quality, very stylish and very well thought-out housing, free from any shortcomings. In any case, when buying a housing like that the user may stay assured that there won't be problems related to the computer assemblage in a cheap housing of poor quality and thus problems with its further use, that buying it you get a true quality product of sane price.