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Intake Airflow Path
One of my most important criteria for cases is airflow. Airflow
has to start at the intake, so we'll start there. We've already seen the expanse
of mesh on the outside of the front bezel of the FK-330, but lets follow the
air path to see if the openness carries through the rest of the box. One nice
touch is that Fong Kai has made the front bezel easily removable, via three
clearly marked tabs. Just lift them up and the bezel swings open to the right
With the bezel off we can get a better look at it as a discrete component:
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how a front bezel should be designed!
The grill is open and unobstructed. It's about as open as it can be while
still keeping your cat from crawling inside. It also provides a nice flat
intake area to mount a filter to, should that be of interest to you. (It should
be noted that no filter is included, nor is there an option for one.)
The openness continues past the front bezel and into the chassis. A very good thing; after all, what would the point be of having a bezel that open be if the air couldn't get into the actual case?
A PC speaker comes mounted into the hexagon shaped area on the lower left.
Seeing how a speaker there blocks some of the intake, and because it isredundant
with most motherboard nowadays coming equipped with them onboard, it was removed.
It comes out very easily without tools.
Here's where we really start to see the Fong-Kai tool-less philosophy being
carried through. The optical drives are secured by 4 small pins that protrude
from the sides of each bay. Pulling on the green tab flexes the steel sheet
that the pins are attached to, withdrawing them into the sides of the rack
and allowing the drives to be slid in from the front. Pulling the handle on
this side causes both sets of pins, on both the left and the right sides of
the bay to retract simultaneously, so there's no need to access the left side
of the case to install or remove the drives. A nifty piece of engineering,
it uses only the one sheet of steel, with none of the assorted springs or
clamps needed by other tool-less mounting systems.
Once in place the drives are rigidly secure, but like most other tool-less
mounts, there is no way to fine tune the placement of the drives to get their
faceplates to align perfectly. (Something for obsessive-compulsives to be
Near the top you will also see the switch for the intrusion alarm. It's a bit of a rarity to see one of those on a consumer case these days. Combine that with the cam lock on the latch and the padlock hasp on the rear and you've got yourself one seriously secure computer.
Moving down the front of the case we come to the HDD racks. This rack has
something in common with the HDD racks we've seen in two Antec cases
recently reviewed here, the Sonata and the SLK3700BQE:
The drives are mounted sideways. A .
The rails that mount to the sides of the hard drive are a combination of
a steel spring and a plastic holder, with 3 pins to secure each side to the
drive. To attach the rail to the drive you flex it slightly, until the hook-like
pins engage with screw holes in the drive. The spring in the rail remains
slightly flexed, providing a firm fit inside the rack when inserted. Once
the drive/rail assembly is fully inserted inside the rack the rails engage
a positive lock on the rack sides to ensure a secure fit.
Close-ups of the drive rails: And my thumb makes its Internet debut.
Based on my experience with the FK-330 this mounting mechanism provides a limited amount of decoupling for the HDD. Since the HDD is only touching the plastic rails and the steel springs, some isolation is provided, although not to the same extent as a complete suspension, obviously. It may be difficult to fit any kind of true decoupling scheme for the drive here because of the tight space.
There is space below the HDD rack for the mounting of a 92mm fan. Rather
than being mounted in the traditional way there is a "funnel", for
lack of a better word, that the fan is slid into. It should be noted that
this fan mounts below the hard drives, and they will not be directly cooled
by its airflow. According to Fong Kai this mounting design was chosen for
1: The funnel allows a 92mm fan to be mounted there without tools, while at the same time not being obstructed by the front ports.
2: Putting the fan lower in the case provides better cooling for the AGP/PCI portion of the motherboard.
3: With the open airflow of the front bezel, the HDDs don't need spot cooling.
We'll test their reasoning once the case is fully assembled.
The green plastic ladder directly under the HDD rack is a support for full length PCI/AGP cards. A definite rarity in consumer PC's these days that demonstrates the workstation roots of the FK-330.
You can also see the white plastic cable organizer mounted on the bottom front of the case. It's a nice touch, and really does help keep all the wires coming from the bezel down and out of the way.
Editor's Note (by Mike Chin): In cases where the HDD drive
cage extends all the way down to the bottom, hard drive decoupled mounting
is difficult to achieve without resorting to the optical drive bays, where
the airflow is never as good as in the front bottom area. And the tight frameless
mounting of the HDDs in the FK-330 means there no way to use a real acoustic
insulator like sorbothane, in the 3.5" drive bays. But it's true that
hard drive suspension is one of my pet silencing obsessions, one not everyone
shares. Also, for someone determined to do HDD decoupled mounting AND get
great cooling with that excellent front intake vent, the lower "ladder"
below the HDD mount looks like it comes off with the removal of just four
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