Tagan Black Pearl WCRJun 10th, 2008 | By Jared
Tagan Black Pearl WCR
: 06/10/08 – 04:12:34 AM
Page 1 : Index
Tagan has made quite the impression in the power supply market in a relatively short time since that fateful dinner party at Taipei's Computex in 2001. Not quite as well known as their power supplies are their lines of PC cases and external hard drive enclosures.
Today we have our second visit at Overclockers Online from Tagan in the form of their top of the line case, the Tagan Aplus Black Pearl WCR. The Black Pearl WCR brings a lot to the table and looks to find a home with PC enthusiasts.
Page 2 : Package and Accessories
I'll begin our tour with the packaging and accessories.
As you can see the front and back are identical. There is a large picture of the case along with a few highlighted features in three different languages. Prominently displayed are the case name and also the fact that it is the Water Cooling Ready Edition.
Much like the front and back, the sides are identical. On the sides are a short list of specifications and features along with a view of the inside of the case.
Removing the box, you can see that the case is enclosed in a plastic bag with styrofoam encasing the top and bottom. Pretty standard but effective protection; if it's not broken, don't fix it.
The box of accessories is zip tied inside the case securely and contains the following: 3 different bags of screws and standoffs, a bag of rubber hard drive grommets and wire guides, a 3 pin fan power extension and Intel Xeon backplate. The instruction sheet unfolds with instructions in several different languages.
Page 3 : Specifications
I grabbed the specifications straight from Tagan's website here.
5.25′-Bays: 7 x External
3.25′-Bays: 0 x External, 7 x Internal
Fan (included): 2
Interfaces: 2 x USB2.0, 1 x Firewire, 2 x Audio
Supported Mainboards: Extended ATX
Net dimension: 11′ X 21′ X 23′
Gross dimension: 12′ X 23′ X 24′
Net weight: 27 (lb)
Gross weight: 30 (lb)
Packing unit: 1 (pc)
-High class aluminium case with a beautiful designed meshed side window and removable water tube holes on top.
-Blue illuminated Aplus logo, blue LEDs and backlit power and reset button
-Adjustable 4-channel fan controller with fan speed and temperature display
-Totally 15 drive bays for a lot of different configurations can be installed
-2 x USB2.0, 2 x audio and 1 x Firewire connectors are on top
-Up to 8 x anti-vibration rubber mounted hard disk cooled by the 120 mm fan fit inside
-The 7 external bays are all 5.25 bays supporting a lot of combinations
-All 5.25 drive bays have a one side easy snap design, but additionally can also be fixed by screws
-Two removable hard disk cages can fit 8 hard disks
-Two 120 mm fans, one in the front and one in the back are built in
-Air vents on the bottom for perfect ventilation
Page 4 : Exterior
It's time to begin our view of the outside of the case.
On the front we are greeted with seven 5.25′ drive bays. The top two bays come with stealth drive covers for CD/DVD-ROM drives. The lowest bay comes with a floppy drive cover. Located below these bays are the display for the fan controller along with power and reset buttons. The two tiny buttons on the face of the display are for controlling the speed of the fans. I will cover this more later. The top and bottom edges of the case are rounded.
The front I/O panel is located on the top of the case, hidden under a small cover. Inputs include the fairly basic IEEE 1394, 2 USB along with mic and headphone ports.
The back of the case sports a 120mm exhaust, 7 PCI expansion slots and the all-familiar standard I/O plate that doesn't seem to fit any motherboard these days. As you can tell the motherboard is flipped in this case so that the CPU will be located towards the bottom. The PSU is mounted at the bottom with space for 2 80mm fans just above it.
On the top two corners of the case are the locking mechanisms for the side panels. Both sides feature a spring-loaded mechanism that you unscrew and then pull back to release the panels. No screws to get lost or screwdrivers to mess with!
Looking along the top you can see this is where the Black Pearl gets the WCR (Water Cooling Ready) in its name. Twin 120mm fan mounts and pre-drilled holes for water cooling tubes adorn the top and provide a perfect mount for a radiator.
Since this case opens on the right side, the left side panel is a solid piece while the mesh window resides on the right side for a view of your system.
The side mesh is held in by three screws and is sort of tucked in under the metal runners along the edges. This makes it easy to replace with a different window material if you choose to.
Page 5 : Interior
Now let's move on to the interior.
With the left side panel removed you can see that the case has three different compartments. This method allows for individualized cooling for the various components. There is a 120mm fan in the bottom front directed over the hard drive racks. PCI expansion slots all have thumbscrews and all but three 5.25′ bays have a tool free device. There is a movable vent over the CPU area with a 120mm fan for exhaust. You will also notice plenty of different holes for motherboard standoffs to accommodate practically every form factor.
There are two open slots in between the upper section and the two lower sections for routing cables.
As you can see the right side is open and features many cutouts for cable management. There are notches at most corners to allow for routing of cables behind the tray.
The top panel connections include one USB, Firewire and audio connections for both AC'97 and HD Audio.
The lower bundle includes the front panel connections with the standard connections for power switch, power LED, reset switch, HDD LED and speaker. Coming from the integrated fan controller is a four pin Molex for power, a temperature probe and one extra 3 pin connector for an additional fan. With this fan connector and the additional one in the accessories box there are a total of four possible connections on the fan controller. You can also notice an additional Molex power connection, this is for the A+ logo on the front panel. I like that you get the option to have the logo light up or not.
The front lower fan removes easily with a thumbscrew. The fan has a filter that can be removed to be cleaned.
Like most of the case, the hard drive racks remove with a thumbscrew and feature an interesting take on tool-less installation. As you will see further in the installation section, the hard drives simply slide in and lock into these channels while resting on rubber spacers. While it's not completely tool-free, it is very simple and quick to do.
Before we move on to the installation I want to make one final note. The Tagan Black Pearl will look familiar to anyone that has seen a Lian Li V2000B and with good reason; these are essentially the same case with a few minor differences. This is in no way a slant but rather a praise for excellent quality throughout.
Page 6 : Installation
Installation was a breeze for the most part with a few exceptions.
Installing the hard drives was extremely easy. Here you can see the rubber grommet with the groove and how it slides into the rack and sort of snaps in. This method fits the hard drives in very securely and dampens the noise.
The Ultra X3 1000W is obviously a larger PSU and as you can see there is a tight fit between the divider and the cables.
Quite honestly, the biggest concern with the Black Pearl is going to be cable length. This is largely dependent upon the location of connections on your motherboard. Here you can see that the IDE connection on the Gigabyte P35-DS3R is located towards the bottom of the board; however, when flipped, it's at the top and stretches the included ribbon cable to the max. If you were to use the front hard drive rack you would definitely need long cables no matter where the connections are on the motherboard.
With everything powered up, you can see the front panel display on the fan controller. The power button lights up blue and the reset button lights up red for hard drive activity.
Page 7 : Testing
The following system was installed and used to gather temperatures:
CPU: Intel E4300 @ 2.9GHz (1.32V)
CPU Cooler: Stock Intel HSF
MB: Gigabyte P35-DS3R
RAM: G.Skill 2x2GB PC6400
Video: XFX Geforce 8800GT
PSU: Ultra X3 1000W
HD: WD 40GB IDE
DVD-ROM: Lite-On 18x DVD Burner – SATA
Ambient Temperature: 24-25C
OS: Microsoft Windows XP w/ SP2
For idle temperatures, the system was allowed to stand at idle for 3 hours before temperatures were taken. To achieve load temps, Prime95 was run for three hours and the average peak temperature was recorded. I am including testing with fans at both high and low settings.
As you can see there is a slight difference in temperatures when the fan controller is set to high. It's not a huge difference but the good news is that even on high, the fans are not very loud at all. Not great numbers, but fairly good considering the amount of space inside with only two fans in the case.
With a load put on the system, temperatures rise and we see less of a difference in results between the fan settings. Again it almost makes no sense to run the fans at low since the difference in sound is so minimal; however, the fans are really not that strong and I believe better results would definitely be seen with better performing fans.
Page 8 : Conclusion
Tagan has hit a lot of things right with the Black Pearl WCR case. From tool-less features to many small details for cable management, the Black Pearl WCR was extremely easy to work with. With pre-drilled holes for water cooling tubes and for a radiator, it easily appeals to water cooling enthusiasts.
While temperatures are decent, they could be improved with better performing fans though this could increase noise. Longer power supplies can get a little cramped and long cables are needed in order to utilize all of the hard drive bays.
Even with these minor faults, there are far more positive points going for the Black Pearl WCR to easily outweigh the negatives.
- Quality aluminum construction
- Included fans are weak
- Cable length could be an issue
Overclockers Online would like to thank Tagan for supplying the Black Pearl WCR for review.