After dealing with so many colored cases lately (mainly black), it?s a relief to know that there are still beige cases out there. Every time I think of "colored cases" I can?t take my mind off those companies that are practically wrecking the case modding market with pre-modded Antec clones. Can you be classified as a "modder" if you buy a pre-modded case? Sure you can, but the question is, can you be proud of it?! We can?t forget about those hardcore modders out there that take the plainest case in sight and turn it into the best looking case around. For this very reason, the only case that Bill over at MNPCtech.com carries is the Addtronics 6896. Often overlooked and underestimated, Addtronics cases are plain beige which makes modding them even more fun! Addtronics, a smaller chassis company, creates nothing but steel systems with great cooling. As you will see in the review below, this case is steel but has PLENTY of cooling to make up for it!
When I first pulled the case from the box, I could instantly tell it was composed of steel. The weight of this case totally STUNNED me as it weighed even more than my Antec Mid tower (and I thought IT was heavy!). I was urged to pull out my trusty scale and plop the case right on top. According to my scale, this case without power supply weighed 23lbs, 10lbs more than the SkyHawk Jupiter Aluminum Chassis! I knew right away that this case was definitely not for LAN use. This heavyweight stands 21" tall with feet installed and 8.5" wide. The size of this chassis reminds me a lot of the smaller Antec series. This brought me to the strength test, where I attempt to stand on the case and wiggle (hoping that the case does not dent or collapse). I was able to put all 115lbs on the top of that case and could not even feel it flexing! So far, other than non-LAN usage, this case seemed great. Let?s move onto the specifics starting on the front bezel!
On first look at this bezel, I found it to be quite plain. I was immediately able to tell that this case could hold three 5.25"" devices and one 3.5"" device externally accessible. I am unable to actually tell what the original grill looked like because Bill from MNPCTech.com pre-installed one of his custom brewed fan grills from his "modders mesh". This is NOT a standard item, but is available for and additional cost of $19.99. I would highly recommend the front grill not only because of the SWEET look, but because it does indeed have less restriction on airflow compared to the stock plastic cover plate. The next thing I noticed on the front panel was a "Lock" at the very bottom. I thought this might have been like a lock that allowed you to power the system like with the old-school computers, but we?ll find out what it really does a bit later. Other than these standard things, I found nothing else that really caught my eye. There were no front USB ports or anything like the newer cases are coming out with which hints to me even more that the case would be better suited as a server rather than a LAN case.
The Top and side panels were pretty standard as well... as I have mentioned previously, the case is that boring beige color, with a fine texture. It is composed of VERY thick steel which explains why the previous strength test was so successful. I also noticed an air vent on both side panels right on the side of the 5.25" bays. The vent is about 4" square, and by looking through it I could tell this was to allow airflow to the two exhaust fans on each side of the drive cages. This is a SWEET idea right here, especially if you have a hard drive cooler housing a 15,000rpm Cheetah which could use a little more air! As far as the rear panel goes, this case has room for 7 PCI cards and I was surprised to see a little 60mm exhaust fan right next to the hole for the IO plate. After I popped the IO plate in the rear of the case, I did notice how it easily fell out with the touch of a finger. Although this is not a totally big issue, it is definitely something to be aware of! I finally got a look at the PSU hole and am regretful to tell you that this case did not have a removable PSU plate. I often talk about this on cases because I am constantly changing hardware for testing and it gets to be a pain in the ass when I have to pull the power supply through the inside of the case and worry about cracking my CPU if I accidentally tap the heatsink.
It was time to remove the side panels to examine the inside of the case. So I pulled out my Philips head screw driver and sat down. Expecting to unscrew the panels from the back, it took me about five minutes until I finally got out the instruction manual and saw that the front panel pulls of just like my YY-cube. That lock in the bottom right that was previously discussed was there to allow you to lock the front panel on and keep any strangers or peepers from opening up your case. In my opinion, this is a very slick design. Without the intruder having the key to that lock, he is totally unable to open your case, but unfortunately he still has access to the reset and power buttons on the front. So, I pulled the front bezel off and unscrewed the panel screws. Again, much like my YY-Cube, the side panels swung outwards toward the rear of the case and were removed by simply pulling up. This was the first time I had ever seen this side panel style on a tower case and I was quite pleased by it because you can leave the side panel attached if you wish- while you are working inside. Less hassle and fewer things to find a place for off to the side when you are putting in parts, etc.
After removing the side panel, I glanced inside with awe - it was like the god of airflow had been in my presence. To my left, on the bottom front panel, there were THREE 80mm intake holes! In the rear was one 60mm exhaust hole and mounted in front of where the heatsink would be was an 80mm fan rack. The fan rack included was able to be angled left and right or just plain removed if you so desired (the pictures can demonstrate a little better). Let?s not forget about the two 80mm intake/exhaust holes on both sides of the 5.25" bays. With some high quality fans, your case temperatures could be close to "room" as ever! Although the cooling does seem great in this case, the way that the metal is cut (with holes) and the plastic fan holders are used, I can almost guarantee 80% of each fan?s airflow is restricted. The first mod I would do to this case is totally remove the built in grill with my Dremel and find another way to secure the fan in place. This mod alone would help out a ton! Aside from the excellent cooling, I noticed that there was not a huge nest of wires coming from every-which-way. This was definitely a turn on because I hate a ton of wires laying around! Also- I noticed that there was a "three section design" on this case. On the bottom section was the motherboard/hanging hard drive cage, in the middle were the 5.25" bays and power supply and on the top was a rather peculiar layout. In order to get a better look at the top layer (because it was so thin), I removed the top panel only to discover a "hidden" hard drive rack which lays above the power supply and the floppy drive as well. One disadvantage to this design may be that if you have a warm-running hard drive in the TOP of the case, there will be a warm air pocket which could eventually wear out the hardware. A simple fix to this would be a top exhaust fan. The inside of the AddTronics 6896 is fairly simple to figure out, it is both spacious and cooled extremely well?
Overall, the AddTronics 6896 was one of those "iffy" cases. If you are not planning on taking this case to any LANS then I would have to say GO FOR IT, but if you are a dedicated LANner, I would have to say to keep searching. This case has a great layout, excellent cooling ability, awesome amounts of space and potential for modding, but it is all taken to shame with the weight of this sturdy, steel composition. If you see an interest in a case with great modding potential, head over to MNPCTech.com and pick one up for around $90.00 (which includes UPS ground shipping) and don?t forget to check out that awesome ?modders mesh? for great looking custom mods! They now offer a newer version of this case called the AddTronics 6896a which sells for $105 (includes UPS ground shipping) and has one 120mm and 80mm intake front and 92mm exhaust versus three 80mm intakes and one 60mm exhaust. Either case is a great decision!