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The A-Top AT900 Case

The computer case industry is a tough market to be in, as there are a lot of different manufacturers building very similar products. A-Top is one of those manufacturers, and their AT900 product is hardly any exception for similarity.

Yet, this is the first truly tool-less case I have worked with (I am a little behind the times), so I was fairly impressed with just how easy it was to tear down the AT900. However, I was a great deal more impressed with the slide-out motherboard tray, as this is the only really distinguishing feature of this product.

First Impressions

Features
The Case
Specifications:
  • Main Board: ATX
  • Drive Bays:
    • 5 1/4": 4 bays 
    • 3 1/2": 2 (exposed), 2 (hidden) bay
  • Power Supply: 250W ATX
  • Dimensions: 21" H x 7.5" W x 17" D
Features:
  • Slide out main board tray
  • Quick release FDD/HDD cage
  • Second fan (optional)
  • Snap on/off front bezel
  • Quick access rail system.

First impressions are important, no matter if you are looking at a person, or a product. As soon as I pulled the AT900 out of the box, I was thinking "generic". The fascia of this case is extremely bland, and therefore not to my tastes. On the other hand, looks are not everything, and some people even like the conservative looks of things.

A-Top calls the AT900 part of their Corporate Series, so obviously they donít expect people to buy this case for a home computer.

Analysis

This case is also very heavy, coming in at 24 pounds out of the box. When I was giving the case in initial glance-over, I noticed a black scuff on the bottom of the fascia, but I could get it off later with some soap and water on a rag.

After getting past my first impression of this case, it was time to open it up. I undid the thumbscrews on the back, and proceeded to slide off the side-cover. The thumbscrews are handy, but they come out all the way. Some cases I have seen have thumbscrews that stay in the hole after you unscrew them, therefore preventing you from loosing them.

By actually physically manipulating this case, I could tell that the quality of the construction was not of the highest order, especially as the side-cover made a loud "pop" as a slid it off. Looking inside, the first thing that grabbed my eyes was the motherboard tray. I flipped the single tab in the back and slid it out easily. I was very impressed by this feature, as it looked like it would make upgrading a system, or swapping out boards very easy.

All of the power supply cables were nicely tied together, and the edges in the case were acceptably dull. There was also a good fan located on the front bottom.
As any decent case should have, it came with drive rails, but not the fully removable type as some prefer. These slide out for "quick access". My own drives stay put anyway. The power supply is a 250-Watt, which is adequate for most hardware situations. However, if you have a few big hard drives, lots of PCI/ISA cards, and fans to keep your over-clocked CPU cool, you better get something with 300-Watts.

Right now, there is a special on the AT900 at pccase.com, as it is priced at $79, down from the regular $99, which really makes it a decent deal for sure. You also get a free second fan that apparently goes on the side of the case. The unit I got did not have this, however I am sure it would not help that much since this case is large and has lots of open space on the inside to help dissipate the heat.

Conclusion

Overall, I would say this case would be a very good choice for server or workstation environment, but not for the home or even the average computer guru. This is a very large case that would barely even fit under my desk, and the 4 drive bays are overkill for most people, including me.

However, at $79, this case offers good value to someone looking for that type of room in a computer system. The motherboard tray is an excellent feature that gives the AT900 an advantage over most other cases, therefore making this product stand out from the crowd, even if its looks donít.

Eric Murphy
00/03/24





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