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ASUS Vento 7700

Date: June 1, 2007
Author(s): Greg King

Long known as a high quality motherboard manufacturer, Asus isn’t normally included in conversations about computer chassis. With their Vento line of gaming cases, Asus looks to expand their reach even further into the gaming industry. Is it worth it or should they stick to motherboards? We intend to find out.



Introduction


When we think about computer cases, the companies that come to mind usually don’t include Asus. While Asus is known the world over as a top manufacturer of first class motherboards, a quick look at their web site shows their just how diverse they really are. Not only do they pump out boards for OEMs and DIYers alike, they also manufacture routers, switches, phones, notebooks and cases.

We have enjoyed a strong relationship with Asus over the years, taking looks at motherboards, notebooks, video cards and routers, and today we are working with their latest chassis offering to gamers, the Vento 7700. The original Vento received a lot of positive attention for its flip up front door and its unique design.

Asus looks to take what they learned with the first Vento and build off of it. Does the 7700 deserve to stand side by side with their other first class products? By taking a look at the build quality, features and the ease of installation and use, we look to get a good idea of whether or not Vento 7700 is worth your money or if you should look elsewhere.

Closer Look

As with all Asus products, a lot of effort is spent on the outward appearance of the package. Keeping this attention to detail, the box that the Vento comes in is well done and full of information and pictures of the case.

Moving around to the back of the box, a group of pictures show the many appealing features of the Vento 7700. Most notably, the “magic mask” is carried over from the original Vento but more on this later.

When opened, we see that Asus surrounds the Vento in s thick Styrofoam shell to protect the case from damage that could occur in shipping.

Enough of the box. Let’s take a look at what’s inside.



Interior and Exterior

As stated earlier, if anyone has seen the first Vento, the case is not one that is easily forgotten. With its automotive like intakes at the bottom of the front, along with its front door that folds upward, the original design was without a doubt one of a kind. With the second version, the 7700, Asus as ditched the large intake look but kept the curvy design and fold up door. Offering front I/O ports, and a back lit power button, the 7700 is armed with more than enough up front to keep pace with the other big name cases available today.

At the front of the case, on the bottom, the Vento has four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port as well as audio out and microphone in. I personally prefer the I/O ports to be a bit higher, as my case sites on the floor under my desk, but for those of you who set their case on top of the desk, this is an ideal location for the USB and audio jacks.

As stated earlier, the front drive bays are well hidden behind what Asus calls the magic mask. This mask is spring loaded and when the bottom is pushed, the door pops upward and over the top of the case. When the bottom is pressed, one can either guide the door up or let it go up on it’s own. While not dangerous, it does get up and over in quite a hurry.

Just below the door and directly above the USB ports, there is a silver piece of plastic with the Asus name molded into it. Adding to the overall look of the front, the piece actually has functionality to it as well. Underneath the silver logo is open space intended to be used as a handle when transporting the case to and from LAN parties or friends houses.

This is the first case that we have used that actually incorporates not one handle, but two into the design. After loading up the inside with hardware, having the ability to transport the Vento anywhere I choose was a simple task thanks to the handles on both the back and the front of the chassis.

The handle on the back of the case isn’t hidden near as well as the front but with it being in the back, it really doesn’t take anything away from the overall look of the Vento. This is thanks to the long silver trim that runs from the front of the case, up the side and along the top towards the back. The handle continues the silver piece around the back sending it back along the top of the case and then back down to the front.

Moving onto the side of the case, there is a large vent in the upper back corner of the side panel. Also, at the bottom, towards the front, Asus has replaced the intakes of the first Vento and instead opted for a simple grill style vent. These front vents are both lit up with white LEDs when the case is powered on, adding to the appearance of the Vento when used in dark environments.

Also, on the top of the side panel, there is a small arrow. This is to help when putting the panel back onto the case. When the arrows are pointing towards each other, the panel is where it is supposed to be. While convenient, this can also be determined by looking at the back of the case.

The back of the case shows off my least favorite feature of the Vento 7700. The dual 80mm fan approach is something that I thought I was done with when I switched cases from my trusty Antec 1080B SOHO chassis. While not bad, a single 120mm is more often than not quieter and can move a good amount of air. Clearly my complaints with the dual 80mms is out of personal preference and the use of 80mm fans does help to keep the case a little bit thinner than most other cases available today.

As is normal with most other cases, the PSU is positioned at the top. The I/O shield goes just to the left of the fan grills and below that are the PCI brackets.

To secure the side panel onto the body of the chassis, there is a pair of aluminum thumb screws. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary but the fact that the screws are attached to the panel is. I can’t count the times I have lost the thumb screws on countless other cases (not counting the incredibly large thumb screws on the Thermaltake Kandalf) so for Asus to make them a part of the panel is convenient.

Popping the side panel off reveals an interested piece of information about the 7700. Since the entire outside body of the case is plastic, Asus had to attach the plastic parts to an aluminum case that sits underneath. This isn’t a bad thing, but something that we found interesting.

Once inside, we can see the back of the 80mm fans, both of which use a small 3 pin connector. This is a convenience and allows the fans to be plugged directly into a motherboard or fan controller. On the motherboard tray, which is not removable, Asus as eliminated the need for stand offs by simply raising the areas that need to be elevated to install a standard ATX motherboard.

To connect the front USB, FireWire and audio jacks to the motherboard, the Vento has standard plastic pin plugs. Each pair of USB ports has a plug, the FireWire port has its own and the audio jacks have one of their own as well. To add to the compatibility of the case, each plug has independent pins that allow the installation on motherboard that might have different pin header configurations.

While this does add to the compatibility of the case, it looks ungodly bad and in my case, the bottom PCI slot was used for an Asus Ageia PhysX card and the pins would clank against the fan when powered on. This was easily solved with a zip tie and with the Vento lacking a side window, the individual pins are nothing more than a minor eye sore and shouldn’t be seen as anything that might prevent someone from choosing this case for their PC build.

To hold the optical and hard drives, Asus has approached things a bit differently than other case manufacturers. To make the case relatively tool free, there is simply a metal piece that can be rotated down into the screw holes of the drive. When the tabs are in the holes, they can be locked into place by pressing the mechanism down onto a metal pin. This isn’t much different than the way Thermaltake locks down their drives in the Armor and Kandalf.

On to installation and testing!



Installation, Final Thoughts

With the case itself examined, the installation of hardware into the Vento is our next step. With the raised pieces on the motherboard tray, there isn’t any need to screw in stand offs so all there is to do is install the I/O shield and then secure the hardware onto the chassis.

With the tool less PCI brackets, the installation of the audio card, Sapphire x1900 XTX and Asus PhysX card are installed without problems. Simply press the black plastic back, install the card and rotate it back into place until it locks. It’s simple and to the point and the plastic pieces feel far sturdier than the Cooler Master i930 that we took a look at a few weeks ago.

With everything installed, we quickly recognize the convenience of a modular power supply but that’s for another article all together. The hard drives are mounted 90 degrees from what is normally their place in other cases and the top, unless full of optical drives, is more than roomy enough to hide the extra power supply cables should you not have a modular PSU.

With everything in place, it does look cluttered but with a side panel that lacks a window, there really isn’t a need to take extreme care in cable management. This is of course up to the discretion of the builder but for sake of time, the hardware was installed and left.

Testing and Final Thoughts

With everything installed, the PC was powered on and left for an hour. After that time the temperatures of the CPU and the Video card are recorded. This is repeated again with the CPU and GPU fully loaded and those temperatures are recorded as well. Before we get to the results, the hardware used in the testing of the Vento 7700 is:

We are using the same hardware installed in a Thermaltake Kandalf chassis as a comparison. The Kandalf uses a pair of 120mm fans, one in the front and one in the back, as well as a single 80mm fan at the top to move air into and out of the case. The results are pretty much spot on with what we thought they would be.

The reduced air flow of the single 80mm fan in front clearly hurts the overall temperatures but it should be stated that while higher, the Vento easily kept the E6600 at a reasonable temperature. When the x1900 XTX temps were recorded, it was more of the same. The x1900 is a hot chip to begin with but in our tests, the Vento was again, slightly behind the Kandalf.

Our experience with the Asus Vento 7700 was a pleasant one overall but there are certainly a few things that we would like changed. In my opinion, there really isn’t any reason to use 80mm fans. The Vento is specifically marketed towards gamers with it’s aggressive design and unique features. It’s a pretty safe bet to say that gamers, above all other users like to use the latest and greatest hardware and unfortunately, new hardware more often than not means hotter hardware.

One can look to each new GPU that comes out to confirm this unfortunate trend. With that said, the use of 80mm fans is absolutely silly and unneeded. Heck, the first Vento had a 120mm in the back… what happened Asus? With that out of the way, the rest of the case is great. The handles are an incredible feature that anyone who attends LAN parties can immediately see as a benefit. The tool less design is a solid one and aided in the installation of the hardware used in testing.

Finally, the front door, which was a favorite of many on the first Vento, is completely bad ass. My only complaint with it is that it could extend up a bit more. With it as it is now, if a CD or DVD drive is installed at the top, the door can partially block the ejected tray.

All in all, the Asus Vento 7700 is good case that with some redesigning, could be great. I am a bit hesitant to recommend anyone who isn’t completely in love with the looks of the case because not only is the airflow poor, but the price of $130 (US) is a bit steep as well. I personally dislike aluminum cases greatly because they feel flimsy but in the Vento’s case, all of the molded plastic on the outside add a great amount of rigidness to the case and this is welcome in my book. Taking everything into consideration, the Asus Vento 7700 gets a 7 out of 10.

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