Startech Cool Aluminator: ATX Computer Case with Motorized Door

Reviewed by: Thomas V. Kappel, send e-mail
Manufactured by: Startech, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: $239.99

In my mind there are three groups of people willing to spend a couple of hundred dollars for a computer case. The first group is populated by gamers who are at the forefront of the latest hardware computer craze - case modification or moding for short. These build-their-own-rig enthusiasts want the fastest, most unusual, latest, overclocked, most powerful game machine on earth. They've built cases and computers into neon wall martini glasses, model airplanes, machine which look like a mass of toxic waste, and ultraviolet and neon lighthouses. I doubt this group would be interested in this computer case, but some of them should be, because, as you'll see from the rest of this review, this case is very professional, has lots of features and a lot of class.

The second group interested in this case is the build your own machine do-it-yourselfer. This group is highly technical. They like to pick out their own motherboard, drives, memory, and all the rest of what goes inside the case. They take pride in their technical knowledge and ability. They enjoy upgrading what they build to stay constantly in the forefront of computer technology.

The third group I see are those, like me, who have the ability and the need to build their own machine, but don't have the time to get as involved as the other groups mentioned above. My group is composed of power users that have need for a machine that has some of the latest technology inside, room for future expansion, plenty of cooling, multiple connections for things such as peripherals, digital cameras, PDAs, DV Camcorders, optical burners of all kinds and external storage devices.

Let’s take a look at exactly what this case brings to the table for our consideration.

The case design is classy, with a finely brushed light silver finish on the body, a darker gray front, shiny silver strips down the front and rounded case edges that give it a smooth modern look. The front of the case holds a motorized translucent Plexiglas bay door that slides up and down to cover and protect the drive bays from dust and damage. The side panel, called a Q-Window by the manufacture, is designed like a futuristic porthole. Its clear Plexiglas covered openings show you the inside of the case and all the expensive hardware and motherboard you're bound to be so proud of owning. In addition, the aluminum material used in the case has a hardness scale of 3 that fights off scratches, dings and other disasters. Finally, the LCD display mounted on the front of the machine is capable of displaying the internal temperature, the time and the status of the hard drives. The system, power button and LCD backlight provide an eerie glow in a darkened room. By the way, the motor driven door, the LCD display and the luminescent backlighting keep working even when the system is off.

The aluminum case, designed for durability and maximum heat dissipation, can hold a full-sized ATX motherboard and big power supply and features 10 drive bays and 7 expansion slots. I love cases with lots of room for things as well as room for my big hands trying to move around hooking up cables and installing hardware. A little door in the front of the case covers the connections for two USB 2.0 ports, an IEEE 1394 (Firewire) port, a microphone jack and an headphone jack. The power button is also concealed behind this door, protected against accidental shut downs.

In addition to the aluminum case material designed to aid cooling there's room for a couple of fans on the back panel and there is a mesh port vent in the back and also a hole in the center of the porthole to mount a lightweight fan or just allow airflow through the case.


  • Enclosure Construction: 1.0mm anodized Aluminum Alloy
  • Coating: Hardness scale - 3
  • Case Dimensions: 7.9" W, 16.2" H, 19.3" D
  • 4 x 5.25” external drive days & 2 x 3.5” Drive Bays
  • 4 x 3.5” internal drive bays
  • 7 expansion slots with screwdriver-free thumbscrews
  • Mobo: ATX or Micro ATX
  • Front Jacks: 2 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x IEEE 1394, 1 mic input, 1 headphone jack
  • LED Indicators: Time, Temperature, Hard Drive status, System status

Please note that the motherboard compatibility for this case is ATX or Micro ATX only. Be careful and check what you own or intend to buy before you purchase this computer case.

The computer case is great, but how is the company? As near as I can tell, they seem to be first rate. Their web site and published information is first class. They provide a downloadable manual in PDF format on the web site for this case. The shipping, delivery quality of the case and packing are first class. One thing I particularly like about the web site is the equivalent product list from other manufacturers.

If you're searching for a computer case that looks professional yet somewhat custom at the same time, this case fits the bill. Check out Startech's other hard-to-find computer products on their web site or call for their product catalog and guide. Right now, I'm off to stick my hands back into this computer case, twiddle some bits, move some wires and see if I can't squeeze out a few more MHz from the processor and motherboard. 0 to 60 in 3.0 MHz!

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