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Hansan Explorer III Mid-tower Review

Specifications
The Case
  • ATX / Baby AT form factor
  • 1 Touch pull open chassis
  • All interior edges are beveled
  • 200 mm wide x 425 mm deep x 430 mm high
  • Weight with power supply: 12.2 Kg
  • Colors available: Chrome Bronze, Ivory, Jet Black, and Silver Metallic
  • Three external 5.25" (full) bays
  • Two external 3.5" (half) bays
  • Two internal 3.5" (half) bays
  • Accommodates two 80-mm cooling fans

www.hansansystems.com
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
8/10

Many of you are beginning to realize how many case reviews I've done around here. I think its fair to say that I've seen quite a few cases as of late. Every so often, a really unique case crosses my way. That's what happened when I reviewed the Landmark KS-299 mid-tower. That mid-tower case not only has a large amount of storage built in, but also features a very unique design. I personally am not one who likes to have a beige slab sitting on my desk. Recently, I was contacted by Hansan Systems. They not only make cases; they cater to people like me and make great cases with special designs.

According to Chris from Hansan Systems: "About 3-4 years ago nobody knew about 'High End Design Cases' when we had started. Now, computer users are moving more toward this taste. We hope the trend moves faster so people can enjoy Custom Built PC Cases and realize that FLAT-WHITE BOXES are not the only option anymore."

So does the Hansan Explorer III cut it? How does it compare to the other mid-towers I've seen recently? I think the majority of you will be surprised by how well this case fared in testing.

First Impressions:

The case shipped to me was the black colored unit. It was equipped with a 300-watt power supply and what Hansan calls their noise killer. All the pictures on their website show the chrome bronze colored unit, so I was quite surprised to see the black unit when it arrived. I have never been a fan of black cases, mostly because of the problems of finding peripherals that match the black color. Sometimes you can even run into problems matching shades of black between different peripherals and cases.

Even on first sight I immediately liked the look of this case. The black is semi-gloss and really shows off all the curves and recessed areas of the case. All components in the case are subdued, except for the power on switch. The switch is quite large, helping it "break free" of its monochrome background and it is colored a very cool chrome finish. That causes the power on switch to stand out quite a bit while letting the ambient lighting carve out the "textures" of the case. Unfortunately the case is very difficult to photograph, especially when I compared it side by side to a lighter colored case. It was immediately obvious to me that this case was not just thrown together off a drawing and that there was a great deal of thought put into its appearance.

At the bottom of the case, on either side, are intake openings that look like they belong on a jet aircraft. These are not only cosmetic, as they are functional air intake points. Behind these air intakes are two buttons, which when depressed, allow the entire cover to slip forward and be removed. That is very impressive. While I like a good design, I like being able to access and modify at a whim and you certainly can't do that with a case that comes apart in several pieces.

Installation and Testing:

Once again I installed my Abit BX6r2 ATX motherboard. This board has made it into every case I have reviewed for the simple reason that it is representative of most ATX boards and it is larger than my Soyo board. If the Abit board won't fit then you know a lot of boards out there will have problems. Not surprisingly the Abit board fit like a charm. Hansan even threw in the extra I/O plate for the newer style ATX boards that have onboard sound. Little touches like that should come standard with every case but unfortunately they don't. A lot of manufacturer's haven't caught onto including all the possible necessary components yet.

One thing I noticed about this case is that the internal metal framework is thicker than any of the other mid-towers I've tested recently. The picture to the right shows the frame of the Explorer III equiped with a conventional power supply. Another nice touch is the great Moretec 300w power supply shipped with this unit (not the one in the picture to the right). Never heard of Moretec? Neither had I. This power supply features five Molex connectors and two floppy drive power connectors. In the area where the power supply faces the case interior is a large amount of vent holes. Why manufacturers bother to put a cooling fan in a power supply with a few tiny vents I'll never understand. How much air can actually get inside a power supply with that configuration? The Moretec power supply not only offers a lot of intake capacity, but the exhaust fan is actually open to the outside. What I mean by that is that the case of most power supplies only offer small slits that allow the exhaust fan to sit behind them. This exhaust fan is completely unobstructed to the outside and has a simple add-on grill to keep fingers out. When I looked inside the power supply I got a big smile on my face. The components inside the power supply are cooled not only by the air that passes straight through do to the vent design, but they also have large heatsinks attached to them that go from the base of the unit and almost touch the interior ceiling of the power supply. Hansan lists this power supply as being equipped with a "noise killer". I have to admit that I heard absolutely no noise coming from the unit. Major kudos has to go to Hansan on their choice of power supplies. Another great thing to note here is that Hansan can equip your case with any power supply from AMD's Athlon approved list if you don't want to go with the Moretec unit.

For a comparison I placed the Explorer III next to the Palo Alto ATCX mid-tower. They are a similar size and are both in the same price range. Immediately the differences begin standing out since the ATCX has one less 5.25" bay but shares the same footprint. Palo Alto gave up the ability to house another full bay in order to give the ATCX its convertible feature. Then it occurred to me that the ATCX has no intake fan accommodation. I remedied that in the ATCX review by sacrificing the HD holder built in by Palo Alto in order to mount an intake fan. That left me with only one internal 3.5" bay to use for my HD. The Hansan case has one less external 3.5" bay, but then again who has that many 3.5" components in one system to begin with? A resounding thumbs up to the drive layout of the Hansan case. Another point of contention here is that the ATCX is equipped with a 235-watt power while the Explorer comes equipped with a 300-watt unit. The only thing that the ATCX case had that I wish the Explorer case came equipped with was a 92-mm exhaust fan. In order to make up for any CFM loss I inserted a Sunon 80-mm case fan into the exhaust position. This fan easily beats most manufacturers' 92-mm case fans for sheer power, but due to the design of the case, I wasn't able to fit anything larger in the exhaust position. In the intake area I installed another Sunon 80-mm case fan. A quick measurement and I realized that a 92-mm fan would fit well in that area. Most mid-towers these days are only being outfitted with one intake and exhaust fan. Personally, I'd like to see manufacturers installing more fans that are bigger and better for cooling our components. A big plus on Hansan's power supply choice again; the fan in the power supply was pushing out as much air as my Sunon exhaust fan and was whisper quiet.

Pros: Cons:

 

  • Great appearance
  • A quality 300-watt power supply: Quietest power supply I have ever heard
  • Pick your color
  • Solid frame construction
  • More cooling options would be nice

 

Conclusions:

The Explorer III's pricing starts at $107. If you don't have two 80-mm case fans to put into it you can order them from Hansan at the same time. I can't remember listing so many color options for a case. Don't like black? Then at least you have options in that department. I described the Landmark KS-299 appearance as love it or leave it. I've asked quite a few people and have yet to find someone who didn't like the design and appearance of the Explorer III. It is my opinion that the pictures at Hansan's site simply can't demonstrate how nice this case looks in person. I've criticized some mid towers for only coming equipped with two full bays, and while the Landmark case has four, you can't beat the looks of the Explorer coupled with its three full bays.

A big pat on the back goes to Hansan. They designed their case with superior construction, an interesting appearance, and even went to the trouble of finding a great power supply. As far as matching my peripherals I think I would get a little artistic and paint them. Shouldn't be too hard to match them. Who knows, with the interesting color choices available you could probably paint your peripherals a contrasting color? Definitely not a "flat white box" indeed. Those of you who have no inclination towards these colorful tastes can simply order the ivory colored unit. Hansan also can sell you a matching Toshiba 48x CD-Rom, mouse, floppy, and keyboard. That should work for anyone who wants an absolute match with all their components.

Because of the Explorer III's innovative styling, concentration on quality, and inclusion of high end components such as the Moretec power supply, I am making it my choice for the TargetPC Editor's Award. I would hope that other manufacturers begin to offer interesting styling on their cases without sacrificing on the unit's usability or the quality of the components included within. Hansan Systems may be new to the market but, with their commitment to quality, I see good things in store for their future.

Victor Oshiro
24th April, 2000





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