Introduction and External Examination
Directron SF-201 Aluminum Mid-Tower Case
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.The third in our series of interesting and innovative computer enclosures comes to us from Directron, a large highly respected supplier of computer oriented products. The Directron SF-201 Aluminum Mid-Tower Case was designed in Japan and offers many of the features found in the most popular high-end aluminum cases on the market today.
But, Directron didn’t stop there; they added some of the most sort-after modifications enthusiasts want and in the past, had to do the modifying themselves. Does this mean we should put our Dremel’s away?? Not quite, we’ll explain further on!!
The differences start with the front bezel of the SF-201. It’s a clear acrylic bezel with a thin aluminum plate on the inside, quite a unique feature in that, if they wanted to change colors, only the plate would require changing and the clear acrylic would magnify the color of the plate.
The bezel is attached to the frame of the case by means of six large chromed thumbscrews, the reset button, the power on button, the front USB and Sound access plate all have a chromed finish, all together they give the SF-201 a touch of elegance!!
The bezel removes quite easily with the removal of the six large thumbscrews, but caution should be taken when you actually remove it, otherwise you might damage or crack (made of plastic) the on button and/or reset button.
If you look at the photo above the bezel looks stained or something, it’s not, what you’re looking at is an optical illusion caused by the reflection of the lighting.
Our next photo (below) is a close up of the lower third of the front bezel, showing the air intake and the front access ports. An interesting feature here that I haven’t seen on another case is the orientation of the four USB ports. If you’ll notice, the two on the left have the black insert, while the two on the right have the white insert. Kind of strange, you say?? Not really, once you see the inside of the case, you’ll see that two are meant to connect to the motherboards secondary USB header while the other two can be let out the back of the case and connected to the two external USB connectors in the I/O plate, allowing you to have all four of your USB ports up front, if you need it. Nice touch!!
The two audio connectors finish off in the standard RCA plugs and are meant to be brought through the back of the case to your audio connectors on your sound card. Personally, I don’t have any use for front mounted audio ports, but maybe if I had an MP3 player they might come in handy.
The photo above gives you a look at the side panel mounted 80 mm fan with its gold toned wire grill, as a matter of fact, all the fans except the top exhaust fan sport these fancy gold grills, a nice finishing touch. The location of this fan is well placed as it would blow cool air on to your hot running video card!!
Our next photo below shows the grill work on the top mounted 80 mm exhaust fan, please note that the fan is not attached to the top of the case, but rather attached to a cross member type of bracket. I’ve long been an advocate of top mounted exhaust fans, as they help prevent a pocket of warm rising air from forming at the top of your case thus helping to provide a cooler running environment.
Our next photo and last external shot, is of the back of the case. No surprises here unless you consider two 80 mm fan placements a surprise, for me it was a pleasant surprise. The stamped grill work, as is the case with most case stamped grill work, leaves much to be desired, the first thing I’d do to improve airflow would be to break out the old trusty Dremel and cut them out and replace them with standard wire grills.
Like another brand of case, Directron uses plastic push pins to hold the fans in place, you either love them or hate them, I fall in the first category, and I’ve noticed less vibration when using the push pins when compared to self-tapping screws.
The one disappointing feature seen here is that the top of the case is riveted in position, but yet allot of companies including some of the very high-end ones do the same thing. It’s much easier to build a computer when the top of the case is removable, installing the power supply and even drive cables and audio cables becomes much less of a chore.
More and more cases are being supplied with a color coded ATX I/O plate as is the SF-201. The sides and motherboard tray are held in place by thumbscrews, which are becoming a quality feature nowadays.