Moneual MonCaso: Touchscreen Gadgetry and Solid Cooling in One?

Cases|Damping
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FANS

All four of the included fans are identical. Judging from the model number, they are low speed and sleeve bearing, but the original manufacturer could not be determined. The electrical rating of 0.14A is very high for a low speed fan. If we had to guess, we'd estimate the maximum speed at 2,000~2,500 RPM. All four are thermally controlled, with the thermistor located about half an inch off the outer frame.

Although they bear the same model number, the two rear fans differ from the drive bay fans in one important respect: Header type. The exhaust fans are intended to run off the power supply using Molex connectors, while the two drive bay fans use the 3-pin header found on most motherboards.


This mysterious label leaves no clue as to the original manufacturer.

INSTALLATION

The photo below does a good job of summing up the installation process. It involves cables. Lots of them. By and large, the most difficult work has already been done; the various gadgets on the front panel are all wired to each other correctly, and have reasonably well labeled cables ready to be hooked up to the motherboard. With the possible exception of the control buttons, all of the cables are more than long enough. This is a good thing, as the sheer volume of cables made routing them a nightmare. Think the cable nest on back side of your home theater compressed into the case itself. There are cables going to and from everywhere, and it requires considerable foresight and planning to prevent them from tangling.

There are a total of separate connections that need to be made for a complete installation:

  • Front Audio Ports
  • Front USB Port
  • Front Firewire Port
  • Internal USB connection for flash card reader
  • Internal USB connection for IR port
  • Internal USB connection for touchscreen
  • Power switch connection to motherboard
  • Power connection for IR port (tapped from the Main ATX connector for +5VSB)
  • Molex Power connection for LCD monitor
  • Molex Power connection for blue power LED around the power button
  • VGA connection for the touchscreen


Every one of these cables needs to be hooked up.

Although the instruction manual is detailed and well illustrated, it is very easy to miss one of these connections. Making matters worse is the fact that it's quite easy to pull out some of the pre-installed cables by accident while working with the drive bays. We learned this from experience after we accidentally disconnected the power switch and spent half an hour panicking about whether or not our motherboard had died.

You'll need a motherboard with at least four internal USB ports to get everything working, so if you intend to install the USB backplate that comes with most motherboards, you'll want to spring for a high end model that has a couple extra ports available.

The empty socket on the far left taps the +5VSB signal on the power supply and allows the system to be turned on via remote control. The far right cable is the power switch, and is very easy to pull off accidentally.

Installing the drives is a matter of sliding the drives into one or both of the drive bays and screwing them into place. The drives have about an inch of play, allowing them to be pressed flush against the cooling fan or extended out into the center of the case. From a cooling perspective, it's probably best to leave a gap between the drives and the fan, but pushing the drives too far out will most likely cause space issues for cables if both drive bays are in use. The best configuration depends on the number of drives in use, but somewhere in the middle should work most of the time.

Be sure to leave a gap between the hard drives and the fan. Note the green thermistor poking up from the corner of the fan.


With four drives installed, there will be very little room in the middle for cables.

Aside from the cable issues, the Moncaso is a dream to work in. It's wide open and very large. We had no problem maneuvering the motherboard into place even with the CPU heatsink pre-installed, and there are no riser cards to futz around with, making the graphics card a piece of cake.


Fully installed.

However, as the photo above shows, finding a place to put all the spare cables is a challenge. Even using cable-ties to form bundles of spare cable didn't do much more than contain the worst of the mess. The worst section is shown in the photo below.


A cable nest may be inevitable...



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