Cubitek XL Tank Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside

Marketed as a case for "high-end gaming PC users", the Cubitek XL Tank certainly looks the part with its sleek black color scheme for a subtle yet outstanding appearance. Measuring in at 230mm width, 490mm depth, and 525mm height, it is constructed from sturdy anodized aluminum, and has a distinct brushed finish (As visible in the following photos), which gives the case a feeling of luxury and high quality -- both in feel and physical appearance. This subtle effect accented the quality of the case material used. The front of the case is what you would expect to see in most chassis designs: A very clean and simple exterior with four removable panels for installation of 5.25" optical drives. Covering the lower half of the front panel is aluminum mesh, which incorporates a monstrous 240mm intake fan for optimum airflow under the hood. The Cubitek badge resides inconspicuously at the very base of the front panel.

The side panels on the XL Tank are about as nondescript and standard as you can get. They are each formed from a single sheet of the same slick looking brushed aluminum. This makes for a very clean and refined design. Two thumb screws firmly attach each side panel to the main frame of the chassis. There are no holes or vents for airflow, but rather, the ventilation fans are located under the top panel of this case. While this layout makes for an aesthetically pleasing design in conjunction with efficient airflow thanks to heat rising naturally, it is not the optimum method of preventing dust from falling into your case when your computer is turned off.

If you are wondering what on earth those two small black handles are there for, I too was wondering the same thing as well, until the time came to remove the side panels. Once I removed the thumb screws, a slight pull on the handle easily slid back the relevant panel. Transport of the case is also facilitated, as the handles can be used as an impromptu grip when carrying the case. In this aspect of design, it is clear that Cubitek has carefully thought about the needs of the end user.

Most of the cooling action in the case happens courtesy of the twin large exhaust fans fixed to the top panel, both of which reside under a section of the same type of aluminum mesh that covers the front intake fan. While having two exhaust fans drawing in air directly over the CPU heatsink greatly aids cooling, top mounted fans also have their serious drawbacks. When your computer is turned off, dust can easily fall into it. This issue is compounded by the fact that these fans have no dust filter to alleviate this problem, and hence, leaving the chassis at the mercy of whatever amount of dust that may be floating around. This design can also inhibit air exhaust under certain circumstances, such as if the user places papers or miscellaneous items on top of the case. This is a somewhat concerning issue that we would suggest Cubitek's designers take into consideration when designing future cases.

As seen in the above photos, Cubitek has made both a practical and stylish design choice by mounting the front panel connectors at the top of the case; this design gives the user easier access to the power buttons and USB, audio, and eSATA ports, and their alignment subtly complements the clean lines on the top panel. With such a setup, no longer do you have to fumble at the base of the front panel to plug in your peripherals. The power button especially seems to have been given considerable thought in design, and gives excellent tactile feedback when pressed.

The rear side of the Cubitek XL Tank has been left in its original aluminum unpainted state, which provides an interesting contrast to the sleek dark appearance of the rest of this case. Giving it a black finish like the other panels would have provided a more aesthetically pleasing level of uniformity to the case as a whole; however, having said that, it is true that the average user will not see a great deal of the back panel once all components have been assembled, so this is an issue of secondary importance. That is not to mention aluminum is considered a high class material for computer cases, so why not leave it bare for showing off?

We can see the usual abundance of eight expansion slots and mesh, as well as the care taken to provide sufficient cooling. As expected, a 140mm fan is mounted at the top right, just above the I/O panel and expansion cutouts, and behind a large circular grille. There are also two rubber-lined holes horizontally adjacent to each other, which are used if the user wishes to install a liquid cooling solution. The thumb screws that secure the power supply and each side panel are visible from this angle, as is the cutout for the power supply, as well as the aforementioned handles.

Laying the chassis on its side, the four low cylindrical feet on which this case resides on are clearly visible. They provide another level of airflow under the case, as well as also offering stability by preventing the case from sinking into or becoming somewhat unstable on deep pile carpet. Covering each foot is a layer of stiff plastic designed to minimize indentations and damage usually inflicted on the carpet from the sharp edges with which aluminum is typically finished. You can also see the sizable aluminum mesh panel located towards the rear of the base, and incidentally just under the location where a power supply would be installed. This also aids airflow, allowing power supplies with bottom mounted fans to quickly draw in outside air for cooling.

The Cubitek XL Tank is overall a very sturdily engineered case, built out of sturdy aluminum for a generally thought-out design. But we have only gone through half of the case; let's now take a look at its internal features.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion