Enermax Staray Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on August 4, 2009


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Staray is available in two versions: with one Apollish fan with blue LEDs (ECA-3170-BL) or with three Apollish fans with red LEDs (ECA-3171-BR-AP), which is the model we reviewed. Of course the model with three fans is more expensive than the model with just one fan. Let’s see if this case is a good pick.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 1: Enermax Staray (ECA-3171-BR-AP) case.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 2: Enermax Staray (ECA-3171-BR-AP) case.

The front panel of Staray is completely meshed with dust filters. As you can see in Figure 3, this case has four external 5.25” bays and one external 3.5” bay. Both versions from this case have a front 120 mm Apollish fan. Apollish fans feature a magnetic bearing, a series of 15 LEDs connected to an on/off switch and spins at 1,200 rpm, plus a cool metallic looks. The retail version of this fan has a thermal sensor to control the fan speed (between 700 rpm and 1,700 rpm), so the Apollish fans used on Staray aren't identical to the retail version. The fans used on Staray have only two wires, being connected to a standard peripheral power plug, so you can’t monitor their speed using a fan monitoring program. On the front fan the on/off switch from the LEDs is routed to the front panel, however the side fans don’t have the same privilege, as we will talk about later.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 3: Front panel.

Introduction (Cont’d)

In Figure 4 we show the back side from the front panel. Notice how each bay cover has a dust filter just like the fan mesh.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 4: Back side from the front panel. Notice the dust filters.

This case comes with two USB ports, which are placed away from each other, allowing the installation of two “fat” USB devices at the same time. The problem is that the microphone and headphones jacks are located between the two ports, so if you have a headset installed you probably won’t be able to install “fat” USB devices without disconnecting it from the case. No eSATA or FireWire ports are available. Also notice the on/off switch for the LEDs from the front fan.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 5: Connectors from the front panel.

The rear panel can be seen in Figure 6. It follows the traditional ATX layout, with the power supply located on the top part of the case. A place for installing a 120 mm, 90-mm or 80 mm fan is available, but this case doesn’t come with a fan here. This case has holes for passing hoses from liquid cooling solutions, and these holes are protected by rubber covers, so you won’t need to break anything on Staray to use them.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 6: Rear panel.

Now let’s take a look inside Staray.

Inside Staray

The left panel is attached to the chassis using black thumbscrews, but the right panel is attached to the case using regular screws. The interior from Staray isn’t painted black, as you may have already noticed from Figure 6.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 7: Inside Staray.

The motherboard tray has no holes or windows, features found on more expensive units that help routing cables and replacing the CPU cooler back plate without the need of removing the motherboard from the case.

In Figure 8, you can see the rear panel from the case viewed from inside. Staray features a screwless mechanism for holding daughterboards based on a single metallic piece. The slot covers aren’t meshed and you need to literally break them to use the slots.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 8: Rear panel.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 9: Slots.

Depending on the version of Staray you choose (ECA-3170-BL or ECA-3171-BR-AP), the right panel will come or not with another two 120 mm Apollish fans, having the same specs published on the first page. In Figure 10, you can see one of these fans turned on outside the case, where you can see the really unique effect created by its 15 LEDs. On the bottom left corner from this picture you can see the on/off switch for the LEDs, which is the most significant weak point from Staray. When turned on, the fans have their LEDs turned off by default. If you want the LEDs from the side fans to be turned on, you have to open your case and manually press two switches, one for each fan, and then close your case. What a bummer! This doesn’t happen with the front fan, as its switch is already routed to the front panel.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 10: Apollish fan turned on.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 11: Staray with its side fans turned on.

Now let’s take an in-depth look at the disk drive options from the reviewed case.

The Disk Drive Bays

This case has four external 5.25” bays and seven 3.5” bays, all using a terrific screwless mechanism for installing drives (see Figure 12). From the seven 3.5” bays available, the top two come with screwless mechanisms for holding floppy disk drives, but the case has only one opening for using an external 3.5” drive – the second 3.5” external opening is used to hold the USB ports and microphone and headphones jacks. The good news is these two top bays are compatible with hard disk drives, but you will need to use regular screws on them. In summary, you can have up to seven hard disk drives installed if no floppy disk drive is used (five using screwless mechanisms and two using regular screws). Of course if you have an external 3.5” device (floppy disk drive, memory card reader, etc), the limit drops to six.

Enermax Staray Case
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Figure 12: Disk drive bays.

Main Specifications

Enermax Staray case main specs include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

Enermax Staray is a mid-tower case for users that want a good case but don’t want or can’t pay more to have a case with superior quality. Here is a summary of what we found about this product.

Strong Points

  • Good quality for its price point.
  • Amazing number of hard disk drive bays that will please even very high-end users (seven).
  • Dust filters on the front panel.
  • Meshed front panel.
  • High-end fans.
  • Screwless mechanisms for holding daughterboards and disk drives.
  • No sharp edges where you could cut yourself while building your PC.
  • Very good cost/benefit ratio.

Weak Points

  • You need to open the case to turn on the LEDs from the side fans (ECA-3171-BR-AP model only).
  • No anti-vibration mechanisms for the hard disk drives.
  • No eSATA port.
  • Doesn’t come with a rear fan.
In summary, we think this is a very good option for the user that is looking for good mid-tower case but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money to have one. As explained, this case is available in two versions: ECA-3171-BR-AP, with two side fans, and ECA-3170-BL, without them. The only thing we really didn’t like about the ECA-3171-BR-AP model is that you need to open the case whenever you want to turn the lights from the side fans, but for the price it is still a very good buy. The ECA-3170-BL model has as advantage costing only USD 59.00, but you will need to install at least the rear fan on it, which of course will increase the total cost of your system. Of course if you want a case with more features then you will need to spend more money and buy a different product.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Enermax-Staray-Case-Review/778


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