Introducing the Cubitek HPTX ICE

Aluminum has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance in the notebook industry, spearheaded largely by Apple and now Intel's ultrabook initiative, but as a construction material for desktop enclosures it's largely been a specialty item. Most manufacturers use it in isolated places, usually as an accent, with entire cases built out of it becoming largely the purview of Lian Li...and not too many others.

Cubitek, on the other hand, has seen fit to employ it for an entire new line of cases under the "ICE Series". Five enclosures all using an almost entirely aluminum chassis and finish, ranging from the Mini-ITX "Mini ICE" all the way up to the grandaddy of them all and the enclosure that we have in for review today: the "HPTX ICE." The Cubitek HPTX ICE is as big as it gets and is able to support the biggest motherboards on the market, every spec from Mini-ITX all the way up to EATX and HPTX, and it has a supersized price tag to boot. Is it worth it?

This is the first time we've had an enclosure in for testing from Cubitek, and the brand isn't as well known stateside. In fact none of the ICE series is readily available yet, and reviews are scarce. That's all the more reason to familiarize ourselves with their enclosures. After all, if we've learned anything from Bitfenix, it's that just because a brand hasn't gotten that much exposure in the states, it doesn't mean it isn't worth investigating. Here's the quick overview of the HPTX:

Cubitek HPTX ICE Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX, XL-ATX, EATX, HPTX
Drive Bays External 5x 5.25” (includes removable 5.25"-to-2x3.5" cage)
Internal 7x 3.5" and 2x 2.5" (converted from one 3.5" bay)
Cooling Front 1x 200mm intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top 2x 140mm exhaust fan
Side -
Bottom 1x 140mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 10
I/O Port 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 180 mm
PSU 400 mm
GPU 17" / 430mm
Weight 19.6 lbs.
8.9 kg
Dimensions 9" x 22" x 24.1"
230mm x 559mm x 613mm
Special Features Completely aluminum shell and chassis
USB 3.0 connectivity via internal header
Adaptor cages for 5.25"-to-2x3.5" and 3.5"-to-2x2.5"
Price MSRP $359

Off the bat, the most noticeable thing about the HPTX ICE (at least for me) was the price tag. At an MSRP of $359, the HPTX ICE is the most expensive enclosure I've ever reviewed, which means it has some mighty big shoes to fill. Of course, that's no doubt due to employing aluminum over the entire enclosure. Cubitek also makes a point of using thicker aluminum, stating on their site, "Thicker materials mean less vibration," and we'll look into claim that later in the review.

The other place you're going to notice the aluminum, however, is the weight. The HPTX ICE is roughly as large as the SilverStone FT02, but it weighs half as much. That makes it substantially easier to manipulate, so if you have depressingly tiny chicken wing arms like I do, it'll be a nice change of pace.

As far as the specifications go, everything here is fairly standard for a full tower. Ten expansion slots, a wealth of internal and external drive mounts, and support for just about every motherboard standard you'd need concern yourself with. Cubitek is employing what is currently the bog standard cooling design, essentially negative pressure channeled through the front intake fan and at an angle up and out the rear of the case. What astute readers might notice, however, is the lack of allowances made for any kind of liquid cooling beyond a basic 120mm closed loop radiator and just two routing holes in the back of the enclosure. The two 140mm exhaust fans in the top of the case are mounted separately and there's no way to mount a double-length radiator instead.

That's enough of the basics. Let's see how it all comes together and performs.

In and Around the Cubitek HPTX ICE
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  • Samus - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    I've owned this case for nearly four years.

    It's called the Silverstone FT02, as you referenced to in your weight analysis. This Cubitek company completely stole the design schematics and made it out of pure aluminum (the Silverstone unibody is steel, panels are aluminum.)

    So now that we're on the same page, how is the build quality compared to the FT02? Did they manage to copy that? If so, it's quite a compelling alternative when cost is considered.
    Reply
  • Samus - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Wait, it's $359? Fail. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Interior design is different, materials are different, and build quality is different, hence it's not just a clone of the GT02. Unfortunately, it's also worse in almost every respect. Reply
  • randinspace - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    LOL You just spoiled the restraint Dustin was trying to show by saying exactly what he seemed to be thinking. But GT02? Long day? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Meh, fat fingered it. That's what happens early in the morning after being sick all week. :-p Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    I know! Mr. Sklavos wrote the nicest negative review ever. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Its an FT01 clone, not FT02. And using the word clone is somewhat of an understatement when you look at the 2 side by side... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    As I said before, internals matter. Here are three shots showing the interiors.

    HPTC ICE: http://images.anandtech.com/doci/5816/Small%20(8%2...
    FT01: http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/cases/2008/sil...
    FT02: http://images.anandtech.com/doci/4620/internals.jp...

    Calling something a clone because it's a big case with rounded corners is a bit much, considering everything inside looks different. And we're talking cases, so there's not a whole lot you can do -- especially with conservative styling -- that would be "different". Big, black, rounded corners. Yup. But again, FT01/FT02 generally seem like better cases and cost a lot less.
    Reply
  • Alecthar - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    If by "FT02" you mean "FT01," then yes, you're correct. Reply
  • lbeyak - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    I just don't see any reasons at all why I would want this over the PC-90 "The Hammer".

    Another good review Dustin, I appreciate it.
    Reply

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