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Think-Tank Case by Coms-Com

May 10, 2004 by Russ
Kinder

Product
Think-Tank
Case
Manufacturer
Coms-com
Market Price
~US$40

If the name Coms-com doesn't ring any bells, don't feel bad. We had never
heard of them either. But apparently they are a fairly well established case manufacturer, headquartered in Korea. They are also Antec's South Korean
distributor, which should give the company some credibility in the minds of North American and European buyers. Currently Coms-com cases are
unavailable in North America, but they should be in the near future. One of
the first models to be available will be the Think-Tank.

The Think-Tank is a medium-sized midtower, 7.8"w x 18.5"d x 16"h.
It has a fairly standard allotment of four 5.25" drive bays , one external 3.5",
and three internal 3.5".

Stylistically, the Think-Tank defies its pricing. The mix of gloss and matte
finishes is tasteful and understated, and the central LED information panel
has a quality look to it. The case is painted out in a Sonata-esque matte black.

The various ports are located on the left corner of the front bezel. Any
location for the ports other than the standard "front-and-center"
is likely to trigger a reaction in some users. It's nice to remove the
clutter from the front, and since most people tend to sit the case to their right, having the connectors on the left side of the case would be convenient
for them. But if your case sits to your left, you'll have to reach around
your case to plug/unplug.

Listing from the bottom up, the ports are a firewire, a pair of USB 2.0's,
and an audio. Pretty standard stuff, but nice to see them included in a case
at this price level. Above the audio plug is the feature that I can safely
say makes this case unique and different from every other case you've ever
seen. It's a recharging plug for your cell phone.

Yes, really. Most definitely a feature in search of a need, but interesting
nonetheless. The case ships with an assortment of attachments for some of
the big names in cell-phone business, and a plastic holster that clips to
the side of the case. Whether useful or not, I can report that it works as
advertized. There is even an LED on the front to indicate that your phone
is being charged.

Normalcy returns at the rear of the case, where the design is budget-case
standard:

A single 80mm fan exhaust supplements the PSU. The stamped fan grill is
nicely open, much better than most budget cases. Included with the case is an 80mm Martech fan. No
spec sheets could be found for the fan, but side by side comparison with an
L1A showed it to be decently quiet low-flow fan. Overall its noise was lower
than that of the reference L1A, but so was the airflow.

The generic cheap-case design continues to the interior.

Nothing of particular interest in there. Another 80mm fan mount is provided
at the front. Its cutout is more restricted than the one at the exhaust, which
is likely of little practical consequence, since the intake itself is limited
to an opening on the underside of the bezel.



The fan grill is not great...



.. and neither is the bezel intake. But both can be improved by the modder.

The Control Panel

Besides the cell-phone charging gimmick, the other feature that makes the
Think-tank stand apart from the crowd is information/control panel on the
front. And it is this feature that is actually of use to the SPCR reader.



Image courtesy of Coms-com

The control panel puts several functions in one location:

The Power button, and the usual indicator lights. (The reset button
is relocated to the side of the bezel, with the ports)

Cooling After-Warmth System: Keeps the case fans running for 3
minutes after the machine is shut down, to evacuate the residual heat.
In my opinion, that's another feature in search of need, but it seems
to be showing up on more and more products.

Temperature Monitor Control: The Think-tank includes 3 temperature
probes that can be monitored via the LED readout. The probes are the flat
film variety, and are attached to 18" cables.

Overheat Alarm Control: One of three alarm points, 45°, 55°,
or 65° can be set for each of the temperature probes. The feature
is only partially useful: an annoying beeping alarm sounds when the critical
temperature is reached, but nothing else happens. It would seem more useful
as an alarm if it would speed up the fans, or perhaps shut down the system
at the alarm points.

Fan Noise Control: Allows front of the case adjustment of the
speed of both case fans. The Low, Medium, and High settings correspond
to 7.5, 10, and 12 volts. It proved to be a convenient little gizmo, but
I would have liked to have seen an option to tie the fan speeds into the
temp probes.

The control panel connects via a ribbon cable to the Hub Box, which
sits inside the case. The hub draws its power from the ATX cable directly,
through the short interconnect that gets installed between PSU and motherboard.
Into the Hub the user connects up to 2 case fans, the three temp probes, and
the motherboard power, reset, and HDD LED's.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, the Think-Tank is surprisingly full featured, for its
price. A direct comparison to some of the other cases we've reviewed is probably
unfair. It is half the price of an Antec Sonata or BQE after all. But it does have
its strong points:

  • The full accompaniment of front connectors, and the fan
    and temp monitoring features are usually seen on cases costly significantly
    more.
  • The quality of materials, and their fit and finish is also atypical for
    this price range.

Unfortunately the reliance on outdated intake and exhaust
designs limits the use of this case to moderately powered systems. A single
80mm exhaust and an under-bezel intake is simply not enough airflow to quietly
cool a modern high-wattage system. I'd gladly trade the ability to charge
my cell-phone for a 120mm fan mount.

Note: For those willing to do some tin snip work, a 120mm fan will fit
on the back panel pretty nicely. The intake opening at the bottom of the front bezel can also be expanded at least a little. These changes may be enough to make the case breathe well enough for something like a basic P4-2.8 system.

The single sentence summation: An interesting quiet-minded case for those on a tight budget.

Our thanks Coms-com to for the opportunity to examine the Think-Tank
Case.

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