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917J Mid-tower ATX case

According to directron.com, this case is made by a company called "PSI." As I cannot find any information to the actual maker of this case, it will be referred to as the 917J. A US-based distributor, An Labs, has further information on this case here. Update 2/27/01: PSI has been found here!

front shot  rear outside  side shot

This case represents the very cheap end of ATX computer cases. I picked it up for $26 from my distributor for a PC which had a very, very limited budget. It has 3x5.25" exposed bays, 2x3.5" exposed and 1x3.5" internal. Dimensions are 7.9" (width) x 13.8" (height) x 17.3" (depth). Stock PS is a 250 watt unit and there is 1 80mm front fan mount, no rear fan mount. Small plastic feet are provided, but are simple round units that do not provide additional stability.

logic PSThe "Logic Concept Technology" 250watt PS seems decent (although it doesn't inspire confidence), nor does the construction of the case-- the side panels flex easily and I suspect an accidential kick would leave visible damage. In any case, for $26 it's about as cheap as you can get and it has both removable side panels and a motherboard tray, so it's convenient. 2 screws remove each side panel, and the PS is mounted so that it swings away from the motherboard with the removal of a single thumbscrew to help compensate for the lousy positioning of the PS in the case. The PS mount is above the ATX I/O panel and is very close to it-- clearance is less than a few inches and I suspect people using heatsinks taller than 60mm would have clearance problems.

intake fan mountfront bezel holesThe cooling ability of this case is anemic, at best. The stock 80mm front fan mount is decent, but the ventilation it gets through the front bezel is extremely poor. There is no rear fan mount which makes cooling hot processors such as Athlons potentially very problematic, and the heatsink height restriction makes the thought of even overclocking to be very, very problematic. You can also note from the picture on the left that the 3.5" cage is not of boxed construction, and hence is not very sturdy. It has a strange set of 4 tabs hanging down from the bottom as well, almost as if that's meant to allow you to install an additional hard drive. It would probably work in a pinch, but without any HD cooling I would not recommend the use of those mounts. The 3.5" cage is secured with two ordinary case screws and is well-marked with plenty of screwholes for drive installation.

intake fan mountThe motherboard tray is removable and uses squeeze-in metal standoffs. There are standoff holes for fairly large motherboards, but I would not use any motherboard larger than approximately 8"x12" as that would make accessing the DIMM slots difficult. The tray removes easily with a few screws, but the slide-in tabs are not very good and reinstalling the tray could be easier. Also, once the motherboard is installed and the LEDs are hooked up, be warned that the LED wires are very short-- to remove the motherboard you will probably have to uninstall the LED plugs from the case.

With the PS removed, it can be clearly seen that the case does not have any reinforcement inside of the case-- it's a simple 4 sided cube. Due to the small size of the case this is probably not a problem, although the case remains a low-strength solution. The blank I/O panels left in the ATX expansion slots are made from the same metal as the rest of the case, and their very flimsiness makes removing them more of a chore than it should be. Sharp edges were not too big of a problem, but they are present in this case. 5.25" drive installation is simple due to the lack of drive rails, but otherwise things are utterly ordinary.

This case is an excellent example of "you get what you pay for." It's thin, cheap, lightweight, and downright irritating to work with. Building a PC with it is not too bad as you can remove the PS entirely for system installation, but troubleshooting hardware components is likely to be unpleasant at best. The small PS, lack of cooling and cramped conditions mean that installing anything more than a non-overclocked Celeron or Duron with a single 5400rpm harddisk is all I would recommend for this case.

Also, a final note. Enlight 7237's and In-Win S500's can be had for $40~60 on-line and are far superior to this case in terms of construction and ease of use. Don't buy this case if you have a choice and can spare the extra $30. Period.

side shotdrive cagesbackpanelcrammed below the PS
right side angle shot3.5inch cage shotfront left anglePS swung loose
MB tray visible without PS rear inside without PSdrive cagesside shot with system installed
PS to heatsink clearancecrowded casedrive cages filled side low angle

Looking at the pictures you probably won't find anything really wrong with the case. The lousy PS placement and poor front bezel design are about it. However, the very thin sheet metal creates several problems of its own. The side panels feel (and sound!) extremely flimsy, the HD cage is flismy (the 3-sided construction contributes to this problem), the metal tabs blocking the ATX expansion panels are hard to remove, and things in general feel less than secure. Note in the final few pictures with the motherboard (Abit SL6) and expansion cards installed (the video card is a TNT2 32MB) that the PS is very close to the video card, and that the case is hopeless in terms of cooling. The distance from the PS to the drive cages is very small and makes cable clutter difficult to deal with. Surprisingly, the ATX I/O panel, while flimsy, is not exceptionally flimsy. The good qualities about this case are the fact that it has removeable side panels and a well-marked 3.5" cage. Almost everything else is negative, from the poor construction to short LED wires...