Looking at the pictures of the case you might notice that there are a further two drive bays at the top, but these are occupied by a control panel and front mounted port insert as well as a 5.25in to 3.5in drive adapter. The latter can be removed in favour of a drive, but the power and port module need to be fitted to the system. This can be moved further down if you don’t want it at the top of the system, but I’d keep it where it is.
Besides the power and reset buttons and the power and hard drive LEDs there are also four USB 2.0 ports, a single six-pin FireWire port and headphone and microphone sockets fitted to the front module. The cables are very long and should reach even the most awkwardly positioned motherboard connectors. The audio connector supports the new HD audio connections, so it’s compatible with the latest motherboards. The USB connectors are slightly odd in the way that the ground pin is separate to the rest of connector, but this should result in better board compatibility.
The case itself is of course constructed from steel, but several of the parts are made from plastic or aluminium. There’s actually quite a lot of plastic – possibly the reason why the XBlade is cheaper than the CoolerMaster Stacker. Possibly the worst part of this case is the drive rails, as they’re made from fairly insubstantial plastic. The rails didn’t seem to fit quite as well as they should either, but at least they’re screwless.
Fitting drives in the Xblade is a rather different experience to most cases. The aluminium profiles on each side of the case are hinged and open sideways to allow you to access the drive bays. Then you have to remove one of the mesh drive bay covers and fit the drive rails to your drive. Once this is done you have to open two latches on each side of the case – yes this means removing both of the side panels – shove the drive in place, lock the latches back in place and close the aluminium profiles back – done!
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