Intro

At my house, we have a music room. Normally it houses a piano, a 5-piece drum kit, three acoustic guitars (one is a 12-string), one electric bass, a djembe, two amps, a cheap 8-channel ADC (balanced to light pipe), two PA speakers, a few mics, and a computer. For us, it's all about functionality: we like to play music and sometimes we even like to record what we do. We're not professional musicians, but we enjoy our hobby.

While I'm quite lucky my wife shares my interest in music (and it was still difficult to convince her that we really didn't need a dining room), she doesn't really like having computers randomly strewn throughout the house. Actually, that's putting it nicely. Regardless of the fact that it is useful to have a computer in the dining... err... music room, she still doesn't like the fact that it looks out of place and messy. Granted I don't use cases at all in my house, but even a standard monolith of a computer case wouldn't do much to impress.

Different people have different preferences, and I generally hate generalizations. I feel like the key is to understand generalizations have plenty of exceptions, and just go from there. It does seem that women tend to place more value on the appearance of things in their home than men do. Sure, there are neat and organized men out there (I'm not one of them), but the hard and often downright ugly look of technology seems more often to be excused by men than women - and that's perfectly fine. Why shouldn't technology be functional or beneficial and fit the décor of a room?

The trend to improve the WAF (or Wife Acceptance Factor) of technology has been increasing in the CE market, as the industry has begun to realize that it is ridiculous not to address the desires of people who place a high value on the comfort, look, and feel of their home. There are people out there who want technology and the benefits it can bring into their lives, but who aren't willing to sacrifice their comfort to attain it. After all, we have to live in our homes and we see the things in our homes every day. If the simple look of something in your living space offends you, that's simply not acceptable.

The PC industry hasn't gotten as much attention as the CE industry in this area. With the exception of the HTPC, the desktop computer isn't really a living room sort of device. However, what about those people who want and need access to a powerful computer that will be positioned in an exposed prominent area of the house? You can't fit a full sized ATX system with a quad-core CPU and a RAID array into an HTPC case. Besides, go look at the cost of nice looking furniture, and suddenly a few extra hundred dollars to make your PC fit the décor is a pittance! There are people willing to pay a lot of extra money for something that has the right aesthetics, so it's hardly a surprise to see PC manufacturers catering to their needs.

In our search for something workable, we stumbled upon a very interesting oddity at Spotswood Custom Computers: a round, wooden PC case. It even looks like a kick drum. Hell, you can even get one with drumheads on it. How awesome is that for an extension of music room décor? Of course, with look taken care of, we do need to investigate functionality. This thing needs to be capable of everything any other computer case is able to handle and more. Can it meet your look-and-feel needs while also providing a robust computing solution?

While Spotswood builds each case to order (which means the cases can be customized to exactly fit the needs of your computer), they are all variations on a theme. The basic options are 18", 20", and 24" round cases in one of two styles: C and L. Spotswood sent us a C series case with the hardware required to turn it into an L series case. First, we'll look at the C-24 setup and then we'll look at it as an L-24. Following our look at the case itself, we'll install a system and document our experience.

The C-24 Case
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  • Spotswood - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    As the President, builder and designer, I have a responsibility to clarify a few points in this review that are inaccurate, misrepresented or not at all addressed. I offer the following facts and information.

    - The two rear ports aren't meant for mounting case fans, rather they are there to access the inside of the case without having to remove a side panel/head.

    - The hardware to convert the C-24 to an L-24 was provided to the author solely for the purpose of not having to supply two separate cases for review. An L-24 case normally has all of the hardware already attached to it.

    - The mounting position of the motherboard tray is adjustable. The issues with the length of the PSU cables would have been eliminated if the author mounted the motherboard tray lower and more toward the front of the case. The instruction manual explicitly details the adjust-ability of the motherboard mounting.

    - In the future, the motherboard tray will be revised with large holes to help facilitate routing cables from behind and underneath the motherboard itself.

    - The case supplied for the review was built to have airflow move from the bottom to the top. However, when placing an order the customer is free to choose the total number of case fans (0-9), there location, along with the make and model.

    - The three fans supplied with this particular case were SCYTHE S-FLEX™ 1200rpm fans (SFF21E). These fans are highly regarded by enthusiasts for there high CFM and low noise.

    - The author failed to present any temperature or noise measurements prior to offering a series of solutions to perceived problems with cooling and noise.

    - The case was built to be reviewed as a water-cooled case. A complete CPU water-cooling rig (D-Tek Fusion waterblock, Swiftech MCP655 pump, ThermoChill PA120.3 radiator, etc.) was supplied to the author for the sole purpose of this review.


    Richard Chomiczewski, President
    Spotswood Custom Computers, Inc.

    Reply
  • cggkevin - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    A better deal would be to go to a pawn shop and pick up a drum set for a couple of hundred and then just set a real PC case inside. This is kinda like a non-mini mini-ITC project. Reply
  • MagnumMan - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    So basically they've tried to put a square peg in a round hole, on stands. Yuck. Reply
  • steveyballme - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    WOW! a castle computer!


    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com">http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
    Reply
  • KIAman - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    LOL, people have forgotten that style AND good performance should be considered in a case design.

    Drums? Come on, where's the creativity? I can brainstorm about 4 other designs without blinking.

    1. Empty 5 gallon Aquafina jug
    2. 1/8 scale model of Hummer
    3. A 1 foot radius Earth globe
    4. Toy model castle
    Reply
  • steveyballme - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    You guys got your pics mixed up.

    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com">http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
    Reply
  • mikeblas - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    "(think oil rather than musical)"

    Are you sure? Because it looks way more like a musical drum than an oil drum, to me. And the review even says it's designed to look like a kick bass. Who edited this? Were they awake?
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    To me the article was not the most clear on the difference between C and L series cases, but as far as I could tell the C series are cylindrical but just have plain endcaps, not the drumheads and hardware. So sitting with the cylinder axis vertically and no bass drum hardware, it does sort of resemble a sawed-off oil barrel. Reply
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    I've always been skeptical about case designs, such as acrylic cases, that lack a metal exterior that can act as shield against the computer radiating electrical interference. This seems like it might be a particular concern in an environment where you are using analog audio equipment, such as in home theater, music server and music recording applications.

    While that's the theory, does anyone have some practical experience with regard to this potential problem?
    Reply
  • wisfal - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - link

    I think that the style and uniqueness of the case is pretty good, I never thought of turning my drum kit into a computer case. I would go great for anyone with a music oriented room. But for a price like that, I could go to a pawn shop and Home Depot and build 10 of them for the price of one. Reply

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