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At the rear of the system are four integrated USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire socket. There's another Firewire port on the Audigy 2, and one on the front control panel as well, taking the total to three. Gigabit Ethernet is also present along with more mundane features such as parallel and serial ports.
The front fascia sports four 5.25in external bays and two external 3.5in bays. Below this is a grille divided into three groovy looking slots, lit from behind by a blue LED. This isn’t the only blue light on this system by a long way, but more on that later. The most eye catching feature on the front though is the swivelling control panel at the top. This contains the power switch, reset button, two USB ports, a Firewire port as previoulsy mentioned, and headphone and line in sockets. However, as the Creative Audigy 2 is used instead of the on-board audio, these front panel audio ports, aren't connected up, which is a shame. The whole control panel can be rotated up and down, so you always get an optimal angle for inserting peripherals. It also has a LED which displays the internal temperature of the system. This is connected to two sensors, that read the temperature of the inside of the case, and the LED switches between them. If the truth be told, this information isn’t that helpful, and it would be more productive to have the CPU and graphics core temperatures displayed, as you could then easily see when these are running too hot. Still, the yellow LEDs do look pretty funky, so we’re not complaining.
Loaded into the top bay 5.25in bay is a cool looking slot-loading Pioneer DVD-ROM drive and below this is a NEC 3500AG drive, which we reviewed here. Naturally both of these are silver, maintaining the look of the system.
Also pretty funky is the side of the case. On the average PC, you need to remove the side panel to see what's going on internally - but there's no need on the Holly. A clear side panel reveals the crown jewels of this PC in all their glory - an Innovatek water cooling system. It is similar in many ways to the set-up that comes with the PowerPack! CoolFX Ultra/2600 TV. Save for the fact that it’s a GT rather than an Ultra, the graphics card is the same with a large cooling block in place of a conventional fan. It also has the same water reservoir and Eheim pump. Where the set-up is superior, is that the water cooling includes the CPU as well as the GPU. In addition there's a reservoir in one of the front mounted 5.25in bays. This extra bay is necessary as with both the graphics and CPU to deal with more water is needed to draw the heat away. Holly has also gone for upgraded tubing over the Gainward kit, which should ensure a more efficient water flow. In fact, Holly should be praised for its attention to detail where as this is an area where the Holly excels. With a water cooling set-up and three hard disks, the internal arrangement could have easily gone awry but the system is actually one of the most carefully put together I've ever seen. The Ehiem pump and reservoir have been firmly drilled into the base, while cable management is superb. Indeed, my contact at Holly proudly recounted a story where one if its machine was mishandled by couriers during a delivery. While some internal components came loose, the water cooling system remained fully intact, with no spilt liquid, which is certainly impressive.
One of the key advantages of water cooling is that it replaces the noisy fans on the CPU and graphics cards. However, it’s not possible to dispense with fans completely as these are used to cool the large radiator, and Holly has attached two fans on either side of it. Sensibly though, these are super quiet 120mm AcoustiFans ensuring that as little noise as possible is generated. In addition, Holly has fitted AcoustiPack lining to the base of the case providing a degree of sound proofing. Holly has even selected the power supply with noise levels in mind. The Tagan features two fans but the second only kicks in when the unit is under high-load. The PSU is rated at a healthy 480 Watts, which is important if overclocking is on the agenda. Using a handheld energy monitor we tested how much power the PC drew from the wall socket when idle in Windows, and discovered it needed a hefty 180Watts. When running 3DMark this rose to 230W. At least you can be sure that the Tagan provides plenty of headroom.