Gigabyte iSolo 210 Case

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Product: Gigabyte iSolo 210 Case
Provided By: Gigabyte USA
Price: ~100CDN Online

Introduction:

If you are currently in the market for a case, you've no doubt notice the thousands of different styles, designs and features that are available.  For the enthusiast, the choices are narrowed down somewhat, and popular case manufacturers are narrowed down to include CoolerMaster, SilverStone, Antec, Zalman and possibly even Gigabyte.  Traditionally, Gigabyte has not been included in the high-end case category, but after their introduction of the 3D Mercury Pro, things have changed.

 iSolo Box
iSolo Box

Today we are taking a look at more of a mainstream case - the iSolo 210, and while this case is priced for mainstream consumers, it's feature list is pretty inclusive for a mainstream case.  If you want to check it out as Gigabyte sees it, make sure you look at the Flash Demo.

 

Flying iSolo:

The box looks pretty slick, and the front side is all business.  The back side, although not pictured, is loaded with graphics, images and information about the case.  Once we opened the box, we got a look at the gigaZone magazine, the manual (underneath) and made sure that the case didn't suffer any damage coming up from the USA.

 Free Magazine
Free Magazine
 Case Packaged
Case Packaged

 

Even though the box looks a little worse for wear, thankfully the iSolo showed up in great shape.  It was protected by a couple of heavy styrofoam end pieces and covered in a plastic bag.  The box was heavier that I expected as I had a little about the "diamond cut" finish on the aluminum bezel and power button.

Accessories with this case are a little lean, but that can be a good thing if everything is already pre-installed and works as good as it should.  We received some HDD drive rails, a cleaning cloth, screws, stand-offs, and some cable management clips.

 Bundled Accessories
Bundled Accessories

 

Many cases that are "tool-less" use drive rails for the 5.25" drives as well, but they are not present in the iSolo 210 case.  Hopefully they used the same mechanism as the 3D Mercury Pro case that we reviewed recently.  This tool-less design worked great and held the drives in place very securely - all from one side.  Time will tell as we look inside.  We'll start to take a closer look on the next page.


Closer Look - Outside:

The iSolo 210 is a pretty case.  It's not overly flashy, but it has a certain quality about it that makes it stand out.  I'll be honest though, it looks a lot better in the pictures on Gigabyte's site than it does in person.  It still is a classy looking case, but as soon as we pulled it out of the box, we discovered that the only aluminum in the case is the rivets and some trim on the front.  It's a 0.7mm SECC Chassis and that explains the 19lb shipping weight.  If I would have read all of the information about the case on the website, I would have known that before I opened the box.

 Case Profile
Case Profile

 

As you can see above, the case doesn't come with a clear window.  It comes with a mesh side panel that allows passive airflow (and dust) penetrate the panel and cool down your gear.  The mesh allows light from fans, RAM, etc to be seen, but it helps hide cable clutter, and gives it more of a quality of a "Professional" case instead of a fun gaming case.

iSolo Front & Back
iSolo Front & Back

One of the things that set this case apart in terms of looks is the bottom section at the front of the case.  The bezel has a unique shape and this helps give it that "professional" look I was talking about.  Although I've mentioned that it looks professional, this case is indeed geared for the gamer.  It has a rear 120mm exhaust fan, as well as ports to run hoses for an external water cooling system.  It's ready for prime gaming time or would look great as a workstation.

 

Below are a few more close-up pictures of the outside of the case and detailing.

 Bottom Front
Bottom Front
iSolo Logo
iSolo Logo
 Machined Edge
Machined Edge

 

Features & Specs: 

Before we take a look inside, we'll briefly cover the specs and features from Gigabyte: 

  • Elegant Design
  • Aluminum front panel
  • Silent solution
  • Integrated thermal solution
  • Liquid cooling upgrade ready
  • Modularized housing
  • Tool-less installation
  • Reduction of Hazardous Substances


 Specifications
Dimension 200 x 440 x 485 (W x H x D)
Front bezel Material Aluminum & Steel Mesh
Color Silver / Black / Metallic Gray
Side Panel Ventilated mesh side panel
Body Material 0.7 mm SECC
Net Weight 19 lbs.
5.25" drive bay (External) 5
3.5" drive bay (External) 2
3.5" drive bay (Internal) 3
Expansion Slot 7
Compatible Mother board ATX / Micro ATX
System Fan(front) One 120 mm silent fan equipped
System Fan (rear) One 120 mm silent fan equipped
I / O Ports Two USB2.0 / One IEEE 1394 / HD audio + AC97
* The specification and pictures are subject to change without notice.
* All trademarks and logos are the properties of their respective holders.


Closer Look - Inside:

As we remove the thumbscrews from the left side panel, we start our look inside the iSolo 210.  We start at the front and remove the nice aluminum bezel only to discover that it in fact is skinned with aluminum and is all plastic on the inside.  Each of the drive bay covers have a very fine filter to prevent dust from getting into your case.  This would be a fantastic and perfect solution - if all intake areas were micro-filtered.  Unfortunately, there are vents along the side of the bezel that are not filtered, and dust can get in through these areas.

 Front Filters
Front Filters
 Front I/O Bare
Front I/O Bare

 

The front Input/Output is handled by a couple of USB2.0 ports, a firewire port and the standard headphone/mic jacks.  These are securely mounted to a couple of daughter boards that also provide a home for the front blue LEDs, which you'll see on the next page.

Although the next couple of pictures aren't specifically of the inside of the case, they are as much as involved with the inside as they are the outside.  Gigabyte uses a nice open mesh grill for the 120mm fan that can also support a 92mm or 80mm fan if you desire.  Also involved with cooling, are the ports for routing tubing for an external water cooling kit.  This is a nice addition for those of you looking at mounting an external radiator or complete system such as the Reserator 2.

 Rear Fan
Rear Fan
 Hose Ports
Hose Ports

 

Again on the inside we take a look at the tool-less PCI slots and find that they feel a little more flimsy that other solutions from Gigabyte, but during testing we've had no issues with them at all.  They seem to hold the cards securely and have thus far proven very durable.  The 5.25" and 3.5" drive rails are awesome for holding your favorite DVD, HD-DVD or Blue-Ray drive securely.  They are very simple and work from one side of the case - meaning you don't have to remove both sides to install a drive.  For some 5.25" bay devices, they may not work as slick as standard screws, but Gigabyte has left the screw-holes available if you need them.

 PCI Slots
PCI Slots
 Drive Rails
Drive Rails

 

Up to this point, the build quality and features of this case really haven't blown me away, but for a mainstream case, it's more than adequate.  What some users may miss is a removable motherboard tray and space for more HDD's, but for the average user, this case should provide enough room for most of your hardware.


 

Installation:

Now that we've seen what makes the iSolo 210 tick both inside and out, we'll stuff some gear inside and see how it all works and looks.

As with all systems, we started by installing the PSU first.  That way as we add components like the motherboard and drives, we can keep them all grounded to prevent static shock.  For the PSU, we managed to wrangle an Ultra X3 600W PSU that will also be reviewed shortly.  This case allows for PSU installation before or after the motherboard is installed - unlike many Thermaltake cases we've seen.  With some Thermaltake cases, once the motherboard is installed you cannot slip the PSU into place.  Gigabyte has designed the iSolo 210 better than that and there is plenty of room to install the PSU before or after the motherboard is in place.

 PSU Cabled Up
PSU Cabled Up

 

Hard Drive installation is very slick, and easy for up to 3 drives in the bottom caddy.  Drive rails are attached to the drive, and they can be slid into place and are held there securely by the tab and the back of the rail.  It's idiot-proof and holds the HDD securely.

 HDD Rails
HDD Rails
 HDD Installed
HDD Installed


Next we moved on to Optical drive installation.  On some cases ODD installation is as old-fashioned as sliding the drive in place and installing some screws, other computers require you to either screw or clip drive rails onto your DVDRW drive and then slide it in place.  Gigabyte takes things a step further and simply has you slide the drive in place and then lock it down - all from one side of the case.  There is no need to remove the opposite side panel for most drive and bay devices.  If you need to screw in a fan controller, that can easily be done, but most devices should work without tools, rails or headache.

 ODD - No Rails
ODD - No Rails
ODD Installed
ODD Installed

 

I'm not the best guy in the world to route wires tidy and make a super clean, organized case.  Although I've had lots of practice over the years, I guess I just lack the finesse to make it look perfect.  Below is a picture of the case with hardware installed and ready to go.

 Ready To Go
Ready To Go

 

As you can see above, we've got a fast, but aging 7950GX2 inside this case with lots of room to spare.  We've also got a couple of GB of ADATA PC2-1066, and the CPU is cooled by a stock cooler.  The stock cooler shows that there is plenty of room in this case for aftermarket coolers, but at the time, we don't have anything extra lying around on the bench.

 

Conclusion:

The Gigabyte iSolo case looks very good and has fairly decent build quality.  It's not fair to compare it to the 3D Mercury Pro, or the Zalman GT1000.  To put things into perspective, you can buy approximately four iSolo 210 cases for the price of either the GT1000 or the 3D Mercury.  For a price different of $300, there obviously has to be some sacrifices.

One thing that I love about the iSolo 210 is it's curb appeal.  This case looks sharp.  It comes with a mesh "window" side panel that helps in ventilation, but doesn't look cheap and tacky like some windows.  This case doesn't light up with flashing strobe lights, LED fans or other cheap gimmicks, but it does have a nice LED feature on the front by the power button.

Front Lighting
Front Lighting

 

The lighting effect that you see above, is in fact the only lighting on the case.  It doesn't have a standard power LED, or HDD activity LED.  There are no wires to hook these up.  There is simply a power button connection and a power wire to light up the front.  While some may miss the HDD Activity LED, I haven't yet.

 

The Good:

  • Very classy looking case.
  • Tool-less HDD, ODD, Front 3.5" drives and PCI Slots.
  • "Aluminum" Bezel
  • Quiet - adds a mere 4.4db at 6" to ambient room noise.
  • Fits long VGA cards easily.

 

The Bad:

  • Aluminum bezel is merely aluminum clad plastic.
  • Case is fairly heavy as it's 0.7mm SECC

 

BCCRating


I'd like to thank Gigabyte for sending up this case for us to review.  Please post your comments and questions in the forum at the link below.  We'd love to hear from you.