The chassis is made entirely of sheet metal -- not aluminum like most of the current designs from other manufacturers. That means two things: the Nitro AX is heavy, but it is also durable. As a former owner of an aluminum computer case, I can attest to the fact that they're all looks and no substance. If, like the majority of computer users, you don't move your computer around on a regular basis, its weight should have little or no meaning to you.
Like nearly all other computer cases, the Nitro AX has a front door that covers more or less everything that you need to access -- the power button, frontpanel connectors, and drive bays. There is a flip door for a single 5.25" optical drive (it flips open when the CD-ROM drive door motors out) at the top, but it's hardly adequate. This is pretty much the situation with all computer cases that have front doors -- you have to open and close the door every time you want to access any of these necessary components. I-Star came up with a fantastic and innovative solution to this dilemma: they made the door so that it can actually slide along the side of the case, safely taking it out of the way without having to physically remove the door. So you open the door, move it so that it is parallel to the left side of the chassis, then you give it a push and it will slide along the side. I know that sounds strange -- no other computer chassis I've seen can do this -- but it's true, and it's a major selling point of the Nitro AX.
Internally, the Nitro AX reminds me of the Antec Sonata II. There are drive caddies for the hard drive bays, and the only internal fan is a 120mm at the back (although there is a bracket for another one between the drive cage and the front faceplate). The lack of small fans means that the I-Star Nitro AX will not make a lot of noise.
You could almost fit a family of four inside of the Nitro AX -- there is plenty of room to work with, and enough expansion capabilities that you'll never have to worry about outgrowing your chassis. I'd almost say that there's too much room in the Nitro AX; I can't imagine filling all of the drive bays with viable devices.
Lastly, there is a removable motherboard mounting plate. I have never found such things useful, but it's there for people who like that sort of thing.
The Nitro AX is available in two colors: black (S-10000B) and silver (S-10000S).
The unit I tested did not come with a power supply. The S-10000B Nitro AX can optionally come with a 350w I-Star ATX power supply, though, and you can certainly add in your own ATX supply.
As mentioned above, the front door will slide along the side of the case so that you can regularly access the components and connectors that it hides.
The left side of the case has a really cool latch -- it looks like a crescent, and when you slide it to the right, the locking mechanism releases. At a glance it just looks like a cool design on the side of the case.
A CPU hood is included with the chassis. I'm not a fan of CPU ducting -- it's just one more thing to remove and replace when you need to change out internal components. But again, it's there for those who like that sort of thing.
I can't think of a better large-capacity workstation chassis than the I-Star Nitro AX S-10000. It's strong and durable, supports a staggering number of drives and peripherals, and is stylishly designed. But the best part is, the stylishness does not necessarily interfere with the operation of the chassis. If you don't like the front door, it's easily moved -- not removed.
The last point about the Nitro AX is its price. I found it on Newegg for $109, which is about what you'd pay for chassis with less creativity and innovation.
|Device||Workstation tower chassis|
|Device support||ATX motherboard (12"x10", with seven peripheral card slots); up to five 3.5" hard drive bays; two external 3.5" drive bays; five 5.25" external drive bays; frontpanel audio (in/out), USB (two) and FireWire (one) connectors.|
|Price (retail)||US ~$110|
|Product Web site||Click here|