That's right, this case isn't exactly perfect, although it is pretty close! There is one minor gripe I have to bring up before we get to the cooling performance... This is what you get with the ports:
The front ports have a bundled cable that leads to the back of the case, taking up a CPU slot. From there, you use a proprietary connector, and make your connections on the back. This makes for not only a lot of extra cables around (and inside) the case, but I also don't like the way the USB connections are done.
Most motherboards worth buying will have at least 2 extra USB pinouts on the motherboard. They usually include a PCI backplate for users who require more than the pair found on the ATX backplate. I would have liked to see SkyHawk use these ports, adding a pair of USB outputs, rather than simply extend the two current ports.
Of course, you could always install the PCI backplate that came with the motherboard, and extend THOSE to the front, but then you're bringing in even MORE wires, and more PCI slots are taken.
Like I said, a minor gripe, but I have to have SOME criticism don't I? After all, you'll see that the performance more than makes up for this shortcoming.
To test performance, we put together the hottest system we have around, based on one of the hottest CPU's currently available: The AthlonXP 2100+.
To test CPU temperatures, we used our brand new Thermaltake Hardcano 2 HDD cooler/system monitor (see review here). We had the thermistor properly installed on the TOP FACE of the CPU, as close to the core as possible.
I wanted to emulate both a regular style CPU cooler, and a high end ultra loud cooler for you freaks out there. The Thermaltake Volcano 7+ was perfect for this, as it allowed us to change the fan RPM from a nice quiet 3000 RPM all the way up to a shriekingly loud 6000 RPM.
To measure ambient case temperature, we placed the two thermistors in different sections of the case, ensuring that the readings would not be affected by air flow. One thermistor was placed in the top corner of the case, near the 5.25" drive bays, and one was near the bottom corner of the motherboard. We used the median temperature of the two readings. The Volcano 7+ was set to 6000 RPM for these readings.
We ran two tests, one with the intake and exhaust fans on, and one with them all turned off. We also ran a test on a regular OEM ATX case. Just like any low priced OEM ATX case you'll find on the market, there were no intake or exhaust fans installed.
To keep the CPU at full load, we used the Prime95 torture test, available on our Downloads Page. Room temperature was 21 degrees.
First let's do the most important test; the ambient case temperature.
With the fans on, and the CPU at absolute full load, the case temperature hardly went over room tempertaure! This is a pretty amazing feat, especially when you compare it with what someone with an OEM ATX case will get. With the fans turned off, respectable performance is offered by the highly efficient aluminum the case is made from.
I noticed that when the fans were turned on, the case was very cool to the touch, and when the fans were off, the case got rather warm. Just like a regular heatsink!
Now let's see how our CPU temperatures were affected by the performance...
This chart proves that without proper case flow, even the baddest heatsink on the planet isn't going to do you much good. I did confirm these numbers with our heatsink test results (which we always do WITHOUT a case, as you can see how that can affect scores), and they held up.
With the case fans turned on, we saw a drop of almost 6 full degrees with the high end cooler. As you can see, the low end cooler didn't see much benefit from the lower case temperature. As much as the aluminum case tried to keep cool, the hot air just kept accumulating off the heatsink. This is perfectly fine for the non-overclockers out there, but isn't it great to see that all the effort and money put into an aluminum case with good airflow can really make a difference?
So if you plan on making full use of your spiffy loud heatsink, you're going to need to get some cool air running through. The SkyHawk MSR-4610 is definitely capable of doing that.
There's no wonder why Shuttle would enroll SkyHawk to manufacture that AWESOME little aluminum case everyone is raving about.
If you're in the market for a high end aluminum case, you cannot go wrong with the SkyHawk MSR-4610. Whether you're keeping it just the way it is, or turning it into an all out fully modded beast worthy of Geoff The Goat's attention, you are going to be pleased with the performance, styling, fit & finish of this awesome case.
Final Score: 96%
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