Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside
With all exterior packaging removed, we have the AZZA Spartan 102 in all its glory. Measuring 44.5cm tall, 21.1cm wide and 52.1cm deep, the Spartan 102 is a decently sized mid-tower chassis. With just 21.1cm of width, you might run into some issues with taller tower-style heatsinks later on. Constructed out of SECC (Steel, electrogalvanized, cold-rolled coil) for the side panels, and plastic on mostly the front panel, the build quality of the Spartan 102 at first impression is very sturdy. Its SECC construction and implementation also gives the Spartan 102 a sophisticated appearance to the chassis. The front of the case features a door that is held closed by a small magnet. Behind the door lie four 5.25" drive bays, and two external 3.5" drive bays. It's always nice to see the external 3.5" drive bays included, as they adds compatibility for an internal flash card reader, or even a floppy disk reader, if you still use one. At the top of the front door is AZZA's logo colored navy blue, as well as the power and reset buttons situated right in the middle. Situated below that are slotted silver accent plates for low resistance air intake to the front 120mm fan.
On the side is the Spartan 102's transparent side panel. The windows are split into two distinct sections. However, the actual plastic window itself is one uniform piece at the back. It is uniquely shaped, and accommodates a preinstalled single 120mm fan in the upper portion of the window. Below that, AZZA decided to include a predrilled section for the possibility of adding an optional 120mm fan for additional cooling on the motherboard core components. The side window is held in place by a set of plastic mounting nails that lock the window in place. As you can see on the left side between the two windows, there is a latching mechanism that locks the side door in place. Normally, I would like to have a chassis with the interior black in color if it features a side window for aesthetic reasons; however with this budget minded approach, it is really not that big of a deal. The side doors are built fairly well, though the latching mechanism could be easier to use -- in that sense, it was not completely obvious how it functioned at first, and instructions were not provided in the manual. The same latching mechanism is featured on the right side panel as well, sans the windows, of course.
At the rear of the case, the Spartan 102 has support for a top mounted power supply. Many new cases now feature a bottom mounted power supply, so it is nice to see companies still following the traditional approach of having a top mounted power supply. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the benefit of having a top mounted power supply is that, as heat in your case normally rises to the top, you will obviously have less heat generated at the bottom. The disadvantage is more heat congestion around your CPU area. Below that, there is the standard I/O panel, followed by seven expansion slots, which is more than enough for even the most complex setups. To the right of the I/O panel is a single 92mm fan that comes pre-installed with the Spartan 102. Although I do wish that this was a 120mm fan instead to lower both noise while being able to push more air, do keep in mind that this is a budget oriented case. Many other budget oriented chassis' fans are not even included. Still, it would be better if AZZA made the opening bigger to be able to accommodate both 92mm and 120mm fans, so users looking to upgrade the rear exhaust fan can do so in the future.
At the very top of the case, there are the standard front panel connectors with two USB ports, 3.5mm mic input, and 3.5mm headphone output. I was quite disappointed not to find any eSATA connectors at the front, as I think that eSATA, now being a pretty standard connector, should be featured even in a budget gaming chassis. AZZA could definitely make some changes in that regard.
The bottom of the AZZA Spartan 102 is fairly simple. Four plastic feet raise the chassis up for some space between the floor or your desk. This allows a bit of clearance at the front of the case for the front intake fan to take fresh cooler air into the chassis. It would have been nice for AZZA to have rubber feet instead of just plastic to prevent the case from sliding on the desk too much. Otherwise, it is just a standard bottom of a case -- nothing particularly special, haha. You'll notice that unlike the previous two case reviews we've written here at APH that feature bottom mounted power supplies, this one has no ventilation holes here, as it has a top mounted power supply design.
Both the side panels feature latching mechanisms that hold the side panel in place, as aforementioned. To remove the side panel, just remove the thumbscrews, and push the latch forward and slide the panel out. I think this is a nice addition to the case; however the plastic latch feels somewhat flimsy. Higher quality materials could be used to make this mechanism studier, and a lock would be nice for those that take their computers to LAN parties. This tool is similar to the one utilized in the Antec Sonata III, but designed a lot simpler. Of course, this is a value oriented computer case, and it is important to keep its price point in mind at all times.
As mentioned before, in addition to the plastic latch, thumbscrews provide another form of security that hold your side panels in. This proves to be a valuable asset on the AZZA Spartan 102 in the sense that, should the side panel latch break, you won't end up with a case lacking a side panel. It's also a definite bonus to have a degree of tool free side panel removal even on a budget chassis. Two thumbscrews hold in each side panel for a total of four thumbscrews. I believe that the side panel is a bit prone to denting as well, and thus stiffer materials could have been used. We can see where material costs were reduced by the manufacturer to put this case into its price point.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion