When it comes to case modding, the biggest decision one faces is choosing the right case! Often modders choose Lian-Li cases because of their kick-ass aluminum architecture, but not everyone has hundreds of dollars to spend on one. SkyHawk Aluminum, one of the lesser known Aluminum Chassis Manufacturers, has allowed us to take a look at their newest case: the SkyHawk Jupiter!
Shortly after receiving the Jupiter, I was surprised by its weight. It felt like a feather, even lighter than my Lian-Li PC-7! I just had to weigh this case, and sure enough it was significantly lighter than other aluminum cases I had reviewed. The gross weight on this case was only 15 lbs. and that?s why I call it a featherweight. This featherweight stands approximately 16" tall and has a width of nearly 8". This case comes standard with four 5.25" bays and dual 3.5" bays, which is pretty much standard for this sized ATX case. Starting off with the overall construction I was VERY impressed! I thought that such a light case would have strength issues, but this one stood no chance of being dented or crushed under normal daily activities like LAN?s. Although I usually do conduct the strength test by standing on and placing all 115 lbs. of my manly muscle on top of the chassis, I decided not to do it this time (like I do on all aluminum cases). Although aluminum is fairly strong to minor things like dents, one of the weaknesses is its ability to be crushed. This was a risk I was not willing to take. Another quick thing I noticed was the Jupiter?s beautiful "grain." Like all aluminum cases, this one did indeed have the brushed look, but the brush on the SkyHawk was quite noticeable as it seemed a bit coarser. This coarser look definitely won my heart!
Speaking of hearts, the "heart" of the Jupiter would have to be its appealing front panel. Composed of everything from plastic, aluminum and even Plexiglas, the Jupiter could, quite possibly have the most beautiful front I have seen yet. To give you a little comparison, this definitely beats the ever-so-popular "block" style fronts on most Lian-Li Chassis?. The Jupiter front has four; rounded plastic corners coated in chrome, which gives a great look. Not only does it match the power/reset buttons and screws on the 5.25" bay covers, it adds a great accent to off-set the case! Another feature I noticed on the front was how SkyHawk decided to use Plexiglas over the brushed aluminum, which totally reminded me of one of bit-tech?s guides that I have always admired. Another great idea would be to use LED?s to light the Plexiglas from the bottom of the case and have the whole front light up, but once again, SkyHawk has you covered! You guessed it ? the lower display panel on the front of this case not only has a built in temperature monitor, power led, hard drive activity indicator AND time, but allows you to change colors from the woman?s favorite (purple) to green, red, teal, blue and the less popular yellow! This means that this case can be used to suit anyone?s flavor from a child to an adult modder! The last thing I noticed, which is becoming a little more popular with newer chassis? is the lower front access panel. Included in the access panel are two USB 2.0 ports, firewire, microphone and speakers. This makes working with digital cameras and gaming especially easy when you don?t have to climb under your desk to hook up your connectors behind the chassis. Although I often bypass these features when it comes to installing a system, many people do find it useful and SkyHawk amazed me once again by including the always forgotten? instructions! Believe me, without instructions, hooking up those USB ports, 1-pin at a time would be hell. As I had mentioned previously, the power and reset buttons are chrome, but the size greatly concerns me! Rather than having the buttons pop out of the Plexiglas, they are inset so it may make it difficult to reset and power on/off the computer for people like me who have fat fingers. Ok, I really don?t have fat fingers ? but this could be a problem for people who do (like our senior editor).
The top, left and right panels were all fairly standard for aluminum cases. Their grain makes them look extremely elegant, and the side-panels are light enough to where I could actually play frisbee with them?not joking! Walking around the back of the case, things looked pretty standard. This case has slots for up to 7 PCI and the basic I/O Panel. One thing that I did notice is that it has optional cut-outs for the older style AT computers with the separated serial and parallel connections. I was however really disappointed to see such a great case without the removable PSU plate. The removable PSU plate allows for easier install and uninstall of the PSU through the back of the case rather than having to pull the entire motherboard out of the case to prevent cracking the CPU when you pull the PSU out. If you have read earlier case reviews, you know how I love fine detail and SkyHawk did just that! In order to avoid those dents in the side of the case to use as a handle when removing the side panel, SkyHawk installed these little Chrome "C-shaped" handles on the BACK of the panel making it easier to pull the panel off. I am sure the pictures can give you a better idea of this. Let?s move to the inside of the case.
Inside the case, immediately after removing the side panel, I couldn?t help but notice the HUGE mess of wires inside. I was surprised that my system wasn?t even in it yet and there was such a mess already! Just as the outside had a great color and grain so did the inside. The inside of this case looked almost like it had a whitewash on it (it was really light colored). From what I could see, the Jupiter had 4 internal hard drive slots along with the previously mentioned two floppy bays (which could easily be used for hard drive mounting as well). In the front of the case was an 80mm intake fan powered by molex which pulls air right between any hard drives installed. In the rear of the case is a thin 60mm exhaust fan and this bulky 80mm exhaust fan mounted in a position that would pull air straight from in front of the heatsink. This was a rather original design, as I had only seen it once before on a Nikao case, but they sure do take a away room. But if you are afraid of running out of room, they have designed this duct in such a way that it can easily be removed by unscrewing two screws from the outside of the case. Very easily fixed. Not only this, but they also designed it so it can be moved in front of the PCI cards and that is exactly where I put it! I felt that my power supply fan would, along with that 60mm fan, pull enough air away from my processor so I used the duct as a PCI cooler. Very good idea if you are over-clocking your video card! As far as the issue with removal of the PSU, this case did not seem to pose a problem. Once I finally got a look inside this case, I saw that a power supply could be easily removed without any careful maneuvering to avoid a collision with the heatsink. Although, they have once again addressed this issue, it still would have been easier to remove the power supply from the rear.
Included in the "goodie box," was a ton of thumb screws to use for even PCI screws, along with the usual motherboard leads, component screws and PCI covers. I was very impressed to see that finally someone is producing a case that has a full array of thumbscrews all the way around. It makes installation and un-installation of components much easier at LAN parties so you don?t have to worry about bringing any tools! Overall, I was fairly impressed with the SkyHawk Jupiter. Everything from the detailed and original front to the processor duct impressed me. A few minor design flaws including the separate PSU plate and cable mess but those would not stop me from buying this case if I were using it for a server or a more stationary computer. Aluminum does have the ability to lower case temps, but you often times have to baby an aluminum case to keep it from being scratched. When this case is released to the general public, it will be available for around $90 which is extremely cheap for an aluminum case. Something like this from Lian-Li might cost all the way up to $150.00! Other last minute options from SkyHawk include a pre-modded side panel and pre-installed power supplies!
Above is a sequence of the different colors which the front can display. The pictures just don't do justice, as these colors are much more "bold."
More Pictures on Page 2!
Next Page 2/2 >