In and Around the Moneual Sonamu G100

I'll admit to being a big fan of small cases. There's usually a lot of innovation and creative engineering that can occur in trying to cram a custom computer into a small enclosure. You'll remember I liked SilverStone's FT03, which had a very clever design and a unique look that may not have been right for everyone but definitely worked for me.

The black and green two-tone of the Moneual Sonamu G100 ties into the enclosure's environmentally friendly message, but it's also reasonably attractive: green is an uncommon color on cases, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad color. Unfortunately, the front face of the G100 uses glossy black plastic that's extremely prone to smudging, made worse by the fact that to get to the USB and audio ports (and card reader), you have to press the panel to make it spring open. That means your fingerprints are always going to be square at the top of the enclosure. I tried wiping my fingerprints off with a microfiber cloth and met with limited success.

As for the rest of the external shell, the side and top panels are decent enough quality steel, painted black. There are two vents in the left panel, but they didn't quite line up with the processor's heatsink or the PCI Express slot. That's probably just as well, because once we get to the back of the G100 we start to learn that there's trouble in Moneual's green paradise.

First, the secret of the design is simple: a power lead from the wall, and to its left a power outlet. The G100 essentially bridges the two connections and has a little bit of hardware inside that allows the tower to control whether or not power goes out to that outlet. It's not really rocket science, and in fact if any of you out there are old enough you're liable to remember the brief period of time when monitors plugged into a computer's power supply instead of the wall. [Jarred: Raises hand.]

This isn't necessarily anything too new; they just added a couple of extra controls to it. When the computer enters sleep mode, you can have the G100 completely cut the power to anything plugged into it. In fact, if you want to save even more power, there's a master power switch on the front next to the USB ports that can completely shut off the power supply. And that's how you get your "standby zero" as Moneual calls it: you just shut everything off. Of course unless you read a review you won't know any of this because the G100's included instructions are staggeringly bare and have no text about what's supposed to be the enclosure's big selling point.

The exhaust cooling is handled by a single 60mm fan (though there's a mount for a second fan), and the expansion slots aren't covered by brackets but have to actually be punched out of the case. That's not a huge issue when you're talking about cases that are under $100, but keep in mind that the Sonamu G100 is selling for $139. Almost as a token gesture, a single replacement bracket is included with the case. Things get a lot worse when you open up the case.

Inside the G100 lies its Achilles' Heel, the Logisys power supply. This is a $20 unit, cheap by any standard, and flies in the face of what Moneual claims to be trying to accomplish with the G100. It's a low-efficiency, generic micro ATX power supply with a grand total of 16 amps on the 12V rail. And it gets so much worse.

We received a review request for the G100 in January of this year, but you wouldn't know it to examine the insides. While the internal layout isn't particularly poor, the removable drive tray doesn't feature any way to mount a 2.5" drive, and that dismal power supply features a grand total of one SATA power connector. All the individual wires are loose, too, being bound more or less by the plugs at the end, with barely so much as a zip-tie to be found among them.

Overally construction quality isn't what I'd consider poor and the case at least feels fairly sturdy, but between the glossy plastic, the horrible power supply, the fact that the 60mm fan doesn't have a pin header and instead uses a standard molex connector, and the lack of a 2.5" drive mount, it's hard not to feel at least a little ripped off when I look at that $139 price tag.

Introducing the Moneual Sonamu G100 Assembling the Moneual Sonamu G100
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  • tomoyo - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Wow this case sounds like one of the worst ripoffs in a while. At least crap cases like Raidmax with low end power supplies are actually priced properly. I feel like any 3 year old antec case is far more worthwhile then this, at least they mostly all come with decent psus, versus a psu you would only give your worst enemy. Definitely not a company I'll be recommending. Reply
  • Operandi - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Looks like your typical lump of plastic and steel to me, I see no out standing features to justify the ridiculous price tag. I for one don't find overprices low-end cases very exciting.

    Lian Li is making some pretty interesting iTX cases, review one of those.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    If everything we reviewed was a winner, how would you know what was bad? :) Reply
  • ppeterka - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Thank you for occasionally reviewing bad products! I think the answer to the "what's bad" question is more important than the question to the "what's good", given I want to shell out money for something I'd like to use every day.

    And I like the style too. Reminded me of Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson reviewing FSO Polonez. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5gETRjT470
    Reply
  • Operandi - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Really?

    Just browse Newegg and look around, 95% of it looks just like this piece of crap and is just as bad, are you going to review all the POS cases out there?

    Review the stand out products, high quality, innovative, or at least interesting in some way. Ignore the mediocrity and shitty, nobody cares.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, June 08, 2011 - link

    Sometimes it's difficult to really know how bad something is until we have it in-house. Moneual offered this unit for review, why would we assume it wasn't at least halfway decent?

    As it turned out, it wasn't remotely decent. I honestly feel like we're doing the readership a solid by pointing out what a bad deal this case is.

    A reputable site publishes the good and the bad, that's how you know they're not in someone's pocket. If everything we published was golden, we'd be the hardware version of GameSpot.
    Reply
  • Operandi - Wednesday, June 08, 2011 - link

    Negative reviews are indeed essential and valuable to the readership but I don't see the point in reviewing out right junk. Perhaps there is something there that caught your interest before reviewing it but I can't imagine what it was, I saw the picture on the front page and thought "that looks like a piece of crap", the review pretty much confirmed it.

    I guess my main point is there isn't any purpose in reviewing mediocrity. Every product has design goals, and on a case like this the goal was obviously set pretty low. Even if it had not utterly failed, it would still not be an interesting product or review.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Plugging all your non-essential peripherals into a surge protector and turning it off does a far better job of being green, total cost: about $10 for the surge protector. Doesn't everyone do that these days? You would think all the TV commercials urging people to unplug their chargers and whatnot would be taking us in that direction, I guess Moneual's just trying to make a quick buck off the green trend tho. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    I was actually thinking that this was a perfectly serviceable, if ugly, PC case for those on a very tight budget, thinking that $140 was a typo and you meant $40. I was getting ready to thank you for taking the time to review a "cheap" case - then I finished reading the second page.

    W-T-F. You're being far too generous throwing this case in the $50-70 range; it's only worth more than $45 if you're blind and like the way it looks. $140 is so ridiculous it's almost funny.
    Reply
  • L. - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Well .. You're still being generous.
    This is a 100% "made and designed in china" piece of crap, the likes of which cost 40 bucks WITH a 450watt (lolwatts, not real watts) PSU and an integrated LCD + fan control.

    Considering this one has an even worse PSU than the one I'm thinking about, and also lacks the LCD / fan control.. I believe you can at best consider it's worth 30 bucks.. and still -- for 30 bucks you can get a very decent chinese box that has a lateral 220mm fan and no PSU - as you'll have to change it anyway who'd want to pay for that.

    By the way, if you're interested in reviewing cheap, you might wanna take a look at real contenders, because there's quite a few unkown brands that produce stuff much better than Tt / CM / Si / Antec -- Just a bit hard to find sometimes.
    Reply

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