Embedded in the thin strip of clear plastic that runs alongside the door hiding the CD/DVD drive is an LED that flashes on and off with hard disk activity. All seems like standard stuff so far? Well, the clever bit is just how the strip is positioned. By setting it just above the CD/DVD drive activity light it allows the light from this LED to shine through to the front of the case without interupting the front panel. Again, it’s a subtle detail but it all adds up to a better whole.
The same technique has been used on the power button that sits in the top edge of the fascia and lights up a pleasant shade of turquoise when the PC is on and turns to orange when in standby. By adding another strip of clear plastic to the front of the fascia you can see the light from the power button above shining through. This means you can easily see if the computer is on whether you have it on your desk or on your floor.
There is one part that lets the design of the front down and that’s the multi-format card reader that’s integrated into the top. Not only are all the different shaped holes a bit of a mess but the writing, that indicates what type of card each slot can take, totally interrupts the otherwise minimalist look. Unfortunately it’s rather essential as even I forget which slot is for which card sometimes. Maybe they could have been hidden behind a small door along with the USB and headphone connections which would have made the whole thing look even better. One can only assume space limitations restricted that option.
The actual materials used to make the case are nothing special with the whole front panel made of plastic and the body made from steel. So, the case is never going to compete, in terms of looks and build quality, with the super sleek brushed aluminium wonders from the likes of Lian-Li and Silverstone but considering the budget HP would have been working to there’s definetly some kudos owed to the designers of the S3000.
As hinted at above, the front houses only one USB port and doesn’t include a microphone input or Firewire. As it is almost ubuiquitous to have two USB ports, one FireWire, and headphone and microphone inputs on the front of PC cases nowadays it seems the S3000 is rather lacking in this department. However, I guess few people really use the microphone socket, and if you do need more USB ports, there are plenty round the back.