Palo Alto Products ATCX Mid Tower/Desktop ATXby Mike Andrawes on July 8, 1999 11:51 PM EST
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The high quality engineering and construction is apparent as soon as you get a hold of an ATCX case. The first thing you notice is that the bezel, side panels, and base are made of strong plastic that won't break, bend, or chip easily. A single thumb screw and two plastic clips secure the left side panel and allow for extremely quick and easy access to all system components. The thumb screw is termed "captive," meaning that it stays attached to the panel even when it's not screwed in. The left side panel is lined with metal for EMI shielding purposes. A small clip (shown here) allows the case to be locked and prevent unauthorized entry.
Mounting a motherboard in the ATCX shows yet another of its unique features - its one screw motherboard mounting system. A trick metal clip attaches to the the back of the motherboard (shown at right). That assembly is then inserted into the case and secured using a single screw from the rear of the case. Clip in metal standoffs, which are premounted for the most part, support the rest of the board. While not quite as convenient as a removable motherboard tray for troubleshooting, but it's much faster for OEM's looking to minimize assembly time.
Drive installation is similarly convenient. The top four bays (two 5.25" and two 3.5") are all contained with in one metal bracket that simply slides out of the case, allowing easy installation outside of the case. The floppy and upper internal 3.5" bay offer similarly easy installation through the use of custom brackets that attach to the drive with screws and then slide right in. Once again, this helps minimize assembly time greatly. The last hard drive bay features a very unique vertical mounting configuration. Just drop the hard drive in with connectors facing up and attach with two screws from the front of the case to the bottom of the hard drive. With the airflow setup in the ATCX, most of the cool air enters from the lower part of the bezel and flows right over the lower hard drive bay, affording excellent cooling.
Speaking of cooling the ATCX does a phenomenal job for a mid tower ATX case, as you'll see in our new cooling tests below. An optional 92mm Sunon fan is mounted below the power supply and right next to the processor. There are actually two different configurations available - one with the fan mounted flush against the case and the other a " horizontal fan assembly for enhanced cooling of Pentium II" to quote Palo Alto. Either way, these fans come configured to exhaust air and feature a standard power supply connector with pass through. You can of course replace it with a 3-pin fan for fan speed monitoring purposes. The horizontal fan assembly places the fan just above the CPU. Unfortunately, that also means that access to the CPU is blocked without removing this fan. On the rear of the case, as much metal is cut away as possible to maximize air flow and minimize noise.