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DETAILS: BACK & SIDES
The pack panel is nicely laid out with a 120mm fan vent. It uses the kind of grill described by Intel as a waveguide fan grill. Intel has stated that a problem with more open vent grills is that they do not provide good EMI protection. The solution for low impedance airflow and good EMI protection is to make the metal spaces in between the holes substantially thicker. This can be seen in the second photo below: The grill is actually three times the thickness of the main panels. The main "skin" has been bolstered by two more layers that are pop riveted at the corners.
Square waveguide pattern grill for 120mm fan on back panel.
Estimated Free Area Ratio (FAR - a term coined by Intel) is ~69%.
There is nothing but straight sheet metal to show on the right side of the case. This panel can be taken off with the removal of two screws on the back panel. The motherboard mounting panel takes up all but a small strip along the top. The three slots provide access to screw holes to tighten up optical drives in place.
The left panel provides access to the interior, and it can be removed with a simple downward push on a lockable sliding button. It is spring loaded so that when the cover is positioned and pushed into place, the latch springs into the lock position.
There are two ventilation holes on this side panel. One is in the area over where the CPU would be on most current P4 motherboards. It has a duct attached to it, about 10.5 cm diameter and 6 cm long. The other vent is a rectangular pattern of holes over where the AGP/VGA card would be. These two vents comprise the essence of Intel's Thermally-Advantaged Chassis Guide mentioned briefly at the start of this review:
"Thermally advantaged chassis: A chassis that has been designed to meet the required thermal specification of a 38°C fan inlet temperature for the Intel® Pentium® 4 processor Extreme Edition, or Intel® Pentium® 4 processors based on 90nm.
"A thermally advantaged chassis can be recognized by a hollow tube attached to the side panel called a chassis air guide which has flared ends. This tube will funnel cool air towards the processor passively, without fans. It's reliance on the internal system fans to guide air across the processor and other system components is achieved through a ventilation hole within the side panel that is required in order to function properly.
"Chassis Design Guide version 1.1... defines increasing the side-panel air duct to 80mm and the rear chassis fan to 92mm... [and] introduces a new side-panel vent opening above the graphics and add-in card slots... to provide additional cooling for high-end discrete graphics and peripherals."
The gist of the idea is to keep the intake air temperature for the hot Intel CPUs (and VGA cards) at 38°C or below. What better way than to open up holes in the case near those parts to let the cooler room air in? This approach has an impact on noise in that the noise sources (CPU cooling fan and VGA cooling fan) have a nearby and direct path out of the case.
The big downside of these vents is that they are not filtered. So never mind the big screen filter in front, the dust bunnies will certainly collect inside as a result of these unfiltered vents. But this is not a difficult problem to solve, as you'll see later.
The CPU duct is secured with four screws.
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