DynaPower Blackwidow

May 12th, 2005 | By

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DynaPower Blackwidow


Date
: 05/12/05 – 03:32:26 AM

Author
:

Category
: Cases


Page 1 : Introduction

Manufacturer
: DynaPower USA

Price
: $69.00 (60.00 at NewEgg)

DynaPower isn't the most commonly known manufacturer around, however they have made a previous appearance at Overclockers Online when I took a look at the DynaPower Spiden back in 2002. You can catch up on the review here.

When DynaPower contacted me this year, I was eager to see what they had coming in. The previous case I looked at was made available just around the time SpiderMan was released, and it had a very SpiderMan-ish feel to it given the webbing and eyes on the side panel. This time around, they asked if I was interested in the DynaPower Blackwidow; it doesn't get any closer to a spider when it comes to the case name. I was eager to see what kind of bite this spider had, so we'll cut to the chase and begin our look at the
DynaPower BlackWidow
.


Page 2 : Package

The case left its home and made its way to my place via FedEx. A couple days later, it arrived at my door without any problems.

The cardboard box DynaPower uses is pretty basic but that doesn't make it dull.

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Where most companies would show you what the case looks like and list a few of the features, DynaPower opted to take a creative spin and put some art that's spider related.

The side of the box doesn't have any pictures, but instead lists the product item, quantity, weight and volume. At the very bottom of the side are a few standards the case meets and how the package should be handled.

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All in all, a relatively simple packaging that tries to get your attention when you're at the store. A picture of what the case looks like on one of the other sides would have been a nice touch so you know what it'll look like on your desk.

Once we open up the box, I got my first look at what the case looks like. A specifications sheet and a brief manual are included inside the box.

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As I pulled out the case, its clear that it is nicely protected in Styrofoam and layers of plastic.

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Finally, the case itself.

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Flip to the next page for a quick look at the specifications before moving on to the exterior.


Page 3 : Specifications

The information below was taken from DynaPower's website.

Model: Blackwidow

Case
: ATX Mid-Tower

Color
: Black

Material
: 0.8mm SECC Steel

Drive Bays
:
External: 4 x 5 1/4", 2 x 3 1/2"
Internal: 4 x 3 1/2"

Expansion Slots
: 7

Front Ports
: Two front USB, audio for easy access

Power Supply
:
Award 450w ATX12V V2.01 with 2 Double-Ball Bearing Fan
One fan is with colored LED
Compatible with INTEL LGA775

Cooling System
:
1 x 120 mm rear fan with 4 colored LED
1 x 120 mm front fan optional

Motherboard
: ATX / MicroATX

Dimensions
: 8(W) x 19 1/4(D) x 17(H)

Features
:
Color-Change (Blue to Red)
Spider Thermal Indicator
Stylish punched-hole metal side panel
Thermal management to control the rear fan speed

On paper this product looks like it'll perform pretty well; great cooling, ATX12V V2.01 power supply and a few extras make it all look good.

Now that we've got the basics covered, we'll know what sort of details need our attention in the following sections.


Page 4 : Exterior

When I pulled out the case, I marveled at how glossy the bezel was and how the webbing on the front bezel was coated to produce a mirror image.

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From the three-quarter angle, we can see the shine on the paint and on the web. It's also clear what DynaPower meant by the punched out side panel.

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A good chunk of the side panel has been punched out. This helps in how well it looks, but I'll be more interested in seeing how it affects the thermal performance.

We'll jump back to the front of the case where most of the interesting features are located.

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The focal point of the front is the gap between the "eyes"; all the webbing starts and spreads from this point. At the very bottom of the front is the cover for where the USB and audio outputs are located. Without the feet installed, it is impossible to access the ports.

If we rotate to the edge of the front bezel, we see the hinge for the door and a little indentation to grab hold of the edge.

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A small little pull on the groove and the front door opens without any issues.

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The front door is held on by magnets, so if you're driving this case to your next LAN and the road is bumpy, you should consider taping the door down so it doesn't pop open and smack anything.

A look inside the front cover reveals the power and reset button.

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The paint on the buttons make it very shiny. It'll be interesting to see what happens after repeated abuse. It is actually reflective enough to use as a miniature mirror.

The rest of the sides are pretty dull as they are just painted black. However, the top cover is removable and it does beg to be modded.

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Begs for holes to mount additional fans or a radiator.
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Can't do much on this side.
Looking at the back of the case, we see a massive meshed out area. Behind this mesh is a 12cm fan that will vent out all the hot air generated by your system.

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The I/O panel is removable and reusable. It also appears that this motherboard does not have a removable motherboard tray.

Once we take off the power supply, we get a clear look at the punched out side panel and gain access to the interior of the case.

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It's clear that the meshing is a different piece of metal that is attached the side panel.

With access to the inside, it's time to explore the interior!

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Page 5 : Interior

With the side panel finally removed, we can pull out the rest of the contents and see what we have. For starters, DynaPower has tucked away all the goodies in the drive cage and taped the cage opening so things don't fall out and fly over the place during shipment.

I've pulled out all those goodies and took it all out so we can take a good look at what's in stock.

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A bag of screws, extra expansion slot covers, two speakers, some tape, 4 case feet with a mirror finish, quick locks for a 3.5" drive and a 5.25" drive, and the decorative spider for the front bezel.
Also inside the case are the pins to activate the USB and audio ports, pins for the power and reset buttons, and connectors for the thermal sensor.

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USB and Audio
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Power and reset
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Thermal sensor related connectors
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Additional thermal sensory equipment as well as the power molex for the back fan.
At the back end of the case I can easily remove the 120mm fan and support bracket. There are little clips that peel back a tiny bit to unhinge the bracket from the case and the fan from the bracket.

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The fan DynaPower uses is made by
CherryKing
with model number RB12025SM.

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Another fan with mystery specifications hits the labs at O². The only thing we know about this fan is that it has 4 color LEDs. As soon as I power up the fan, I'll get a better sense on the color of the LEDs and how well the fan performs.

Behind the fan is a large portion of the chassis punched out for maximum ventilation.

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Moving on to just below the fan are the expansion slots.

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This tool-less design makes it much easier than squeezing in a Philips screwdriver. To operate, simply flip the lever up and slide it across.

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Once you've got the card installed, just bring the lever down to lock the card in place. It will be interesting to see how these levers come into play when you have cards that require two expansion slots. I don't think it will be much of an issue. However, if you do run into a problem, there's nothing a little dremel action can't fix.

It is also possible to remove one of the levers….

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I don't recommend this because you will eventually break the tabs… then again if you're going to pull out the dremel, it won't matter.

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The white area on the blue plastic shows high levels of stress in that area.
Above the 120mm fan is the power supply, however I will leave that for the next section in this review. If I remove the power supply, we get a good sense as to how much space there is.

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It's not exactly spacious, but it'll do for most simple desktop machines.

Here's a good shot of the inside near the front of the case:

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Again, notice the large punched out area for maximum case ventilation.

I can pop off the front bezel by tugging on it a tiny bit. There are no screws to undo. Once that is off, I can take off the other side panel and the top panel to reveal a very simple frame.

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I noticed that without any support, the motherboard support tray was able to flex and it could flop between two angles without any issues. Also, behind the motherboard support tray, the holes have not been deburred. This means that you really shouldn't visit this area if you don't want to get cut!

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Very sharp… almost knicked myself a few times.
By looking at the underside of the bezel, we can see the eyes will light up thanks to some LEDs and that it could be possible for DynaPower to add a FireWire port to the front panel.

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Pictures of the front access panel opened will be shown as soon as we can open it. Without the feet installed, this panel will simply not open.


Page 6 : Power Supply and Case Assembly

In contrast to all the black paint, the provided power supply is painted a red color.

The specifications aren't all that impressive; as a matter of fact these specifications
do not
meet ATX12V 2.01 standards.

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Only 1 12V rail at 18A.
ATX12V v2.01 requirements states that two 12v rails must be present; notice the missing 12V1DC and 12V2DC readings…. only a +12V is listed. However the addition of the 24 pin main power connector and the single SATA connector does comply with the code.

With 2 fans to cool the PSU, we should be glad that it won't be overheating on us.

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Opening up the power supply, there are two decently sized aluminum heatsinks.

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In addition, we see 2 very tall capacitors: 200V, 680 microfarads rated for operations up to 85C. The 85C is printed on the other side of the capacitor.

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Here's one last shot at the power supply's board; pretty clean and spacious if you ask me.

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Bundled in this power supply are a 24 pin main power connector with a 4 pin auxilary connector, four 4 pin molex connectors, 1 floppy disc connector and a single SATA connector.

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The 24 pin main power connector can be used with 20 pin systems simply by detaching the 4 extra pins.

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To assemble the case, there are 2 things you need to do. The first one is to pop in the four feet to elevate the case. This is done by taking a foot and pressing it into the holes at the bottom of the case.

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Once that is done, we immediately get access to the front panel.

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Finally, some clearance to open up the panel
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The last thing to do is to plug in the provided thermal sensor, the spider. It only goes in one way and should not be forced in. Once it is plugged in, we can give it some juice and watch the color change from red to blue as the thermal probe switches from a reading of 80F to 100F.

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We'll see pictures of all this later in the review, but first let's put a machine in this case!


Page 7 : Installation

DynaPower does not preinstall any motherboard studs for you, they provide 8 studs in the bag of screws and it is up to you to choose where you want to install them.

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Once the studs are in, you'll need to change the I/O panel depending on your motherboard. There's a little tab on the inside of the case which you pull into the case ever so slightly and push up.

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A picture of the provided I/O panel.
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The Abit NF7-S I/O panel installed.
Once those two steps have been completed, lay the motherboard down and secure it to the studs using the provided screws.

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The CPU and memory for my system have already been installed. I'm only switching cases so I didn't feel the need to take everything apart.

With the motherboard in place, pop out any necessary expansion slots and install those cards. Since the expansion slots are not reusable, DynaPower has kindly provided 2 spare covers.

To install an expansion card, you must first open up the tab so the card can be put in.

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Next, close the tab ensuring that the little pin fits through the screw groove on the expansion card and fits in the hole in the chassis.

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Everything is now lined up.
Finally, bring the lever down to lock the card in place.

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With all the expansion cards in place, you'll want to go ahead and install your hard drives and optical drives.

I noticed that if you have your memory sticks in place, you will not be able to slide in any hard drives to the external and top internal drive cages. This isn't a huge issue, as it only takes about 5 seconds to remove a memory module.

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I decided it would be even less work if I picked one of the many other drive cages. Now that my hard drive is in place, DynaPower's tool-less solution involves a plastic lock that fits over the drive screw holes and secures it essentially by pushing it right against the cage to support the weight on two screw sized tabs.

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If the lever is parallel to the base of the case, the drive is loose; when the lever is perpendicular, the drive is locked in.

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A pretty simple system, though a shame DynaPower only provides one 3.5" mount and 5.25" mount, so for the rest of your devices you'll need to grab the Philips screw driver.

With everything in place it was time to plug in all the connectors and bring in some juice.

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With the minimal amount of power connectors, it's not very hard to hide everything somewhere. This is especially true when you only have the bare minimum tools to get a system running! Flip to the next page as I take a look at how everything performs.


Page 8 : System Stress

To kick off this section, I'll give you the full specs on the system I installed.

Abit NF7-S Motherboard
NB cooled with ZM-NB47 J
AMD Mobile 2500+ XP @ 200*11 1.65V
Volanco 9 w/Vantec 80mm Stealth Fan HSF
Ultra Products 2*512 MB PC3200 DDR RAM
HIS 9550 Video Card
Generic 8X DVD-ROM
10GB WD ATA 100 Hard drive
The two cases we'll use in our tests:

Ahanix D.Vine 4

DynaPower Black Widow

My newly installed system posted without any issue.

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However, things quickly turned sour….Upon putting the system into full load via RC5, the system would automatically shut down. Keep in mind that nothing in this computer changed except for the case and power supply. This actually also occurs when the system is idling, just not as frequently. I pulled out my multimeter and checked the rails…both the 3.3V and 5V rails were perfectly fine. When I checked the 12V rail, it read 11.97, not bad. When I went to compare these values with Motherboard monitor, MBM5 was recording 11.75 voltages.

How very strange. Here's how things get even more bizarre.

I pulled out the 350 v1.3 Watt power supply that Ahanix uses; I know this works as it has been running since December without any problems. This time there were no problems with the system shutting itself down, however the voltages were now even worse. I read 11.75 with my multimeter and MBM5 was reporting 11.55V, 5V and 3.3V were okay.

Taking a look at the DynaPower Award power supply, I didn't see any visible damage. After taking a quick smell, it smelled like burning PCB. Very strange….

Anyways, to continue with our thermal testing, I put the system into full load using RC5 with the Ahanix power supply. I let this run for 1 hr and after I recorded the temperatures with motherboard monitor. I then turned RC5 off and let the system idle for 1 hour without any intervention. The room temperature hovered between 22 and 23 degrees as I took these tests over a period of 2 days. I will be focusing on the change in temperature which eliminates any inaccuracies in MBM.

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Despite changing the power supply to one with only 1 fan, the temperatures were very impressive. The 120mm exhaust fan compensated for the aluminum chassis that Ahanix uses. As a matter of fact, the improved airflow greatly improved the temperatures; 6C in load conditions and 3C in idle conditions.

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Here's what the fan looks like powered…nothing like some color to spice up the back of your case.
If you're wondering about the fan, I switched it to full blast by dipping the thermal sensor in hot water. It quickly picked up the pace and blasted air out. While on silent mode, it made a very light hum, easily drowned out by other fans. On full speed, it was a bit louder, but you'd probably never notice it playing video games or sitting farther away from the box.

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If you pull out the spider, you discover its nothing more than a piece of plastic and a dual color LED does all the work.

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Page 9 : Conclusion

As I wrap up this review and get ready to start another project, I can't help but wonder what would of happened if I loaded up the power supply on my main power hungry machine. The mere thought of it destroying hundreds of dollars of equipment and then losing all my precious data is not a happy thought. I'm glad that there was no damage done, but it is a concern that most definitely is something DynaPower
must
address in future power supplies.

That doesn't mean this case was a complete disaster; we saw an improvement in temperature and a very simple tool-less system for expansion cards and drives. The thermally controlled fan and visual sensor will be nice for those looking for a flashy case that doesn't require any mods.

Advantages

Tool-less expansion slot and drive installation
Quiet operation on low speed
Unique bezel design

Disadvantage

Power supply does not conform to v2.01 specifications
Power supply did not sustain a stable system during operation

Overclockers Online would like to thank DynaPower for providing this sample.

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