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Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570

Date: June 5, 2007
Author(s): Greg King

Although they are one of the most popular motherboard manufacturers in the world, Gigabyte is not often referred to for their cases. With the 3D Aurora 570, they look to build on the momentum they have with their other products to make an impact in the gamer chassis market.



Introduction


When setting out to build a new PC, one of the hardest pieces to pick out is the chassis (at least for me I should say.) When I go into a build, I know exactly what I want in a case and if possible, I try to find a case with as many of these features as possible. For instance, I have to have 120mm fans. This is primarily because they are large, move a fair amount of air and are usually quieter than its smaller, 80mm brother. Another personal preference is the size of the case.

For me, I like large, open cases that allow plenty of room to work in, plenty of room for storage and plenty of room to appropriately hide the power supply cables not being used. Also entertaining the idea of water cooling in the back of my mind, it’s these features that I have to have in a case.

With what I want clearly spelled out, the search begins. In the chassis world, the usual suspects come to mind. It’s easy to think of Antec, Thermaltake and Cooler Master but how many of you have ever given Gigabyte a passing glance? Long known for their excellent (and colorful) motherboards and video cards, Gigabyte is a component manufacturer that many people might overlook in their search for the perfect PC case.

Today, we are taking a look at Gigabyte’s latest offering to the enthusiast, its Aurora 570 gaming tower. Keeping the favorite features of the original Aurora, the 570 keeps the twin 120mm exhaust fans at the rear of the case as well as the opening for water tubing should a radiator be installed externally. With all that the Aurora 570 offers, we intent to see just how useful of a case Gigabyte has released.

Closer Look

Being well known for their colorful products, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the packaging of the Aurora 570 is full of pictures and vital information about the case.

Once opened, it’s clear that Gigabyte is looking to protect its product during shipping by securing it in a thick foam shell on the top and bottom of the case. To protect it against scratches, the case is also wrapped in a plastic bag. On the top piece of foam, there is a small compartment that houses the users manual.

If you’ve had enough of the box already, let’s get right to unpacking.



Unpacking

Once out of the box, we start to see that the Aurora 570 is a large full ATX chassis. For me, this is a good thing. Offering five 5.25” drive bays and a pair of 3.5” FDD bays, the Aurora 570 has more than enough space for any CD, DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, floppy, fan controller and ZIP drive that you might want to install. Most of us only have a pair of drives and maybe a fan controller but there are those who will appreciate the extra expandability of the Aurora 570. There is also the fact that 5 bays is pretty much standard for most full ATX capable cases but who needs details?

The drive bays are hidden behind an attractive brushed aluminum door that swings open to the right. Just under the door is the I/O ports and on the bottom, there is metal mesh to let the front 120mm fan pull in cooler outside air into the case. Also in this area, there is a unique feature only found on the Aurora 570. Gigabyte has given the user the ability to “project” a logo or text of their choosing onto the desk that the case is sitting on. We will cover this more in depth later in the review.

As stated earlier, the Aurora 570 has the obligatory I/O ports on the front of the case and for the most part, they are easily accessible. There is a single FireWire port, a pair of USB ports, a hard drive activity light and set of microphone and audio out jacks. This area is set in a transparent blue plastic and when powered on, this will glow blue.

With the door open, directly above the I/O ports, the power and reset buttons can be found. I personally like having these behind a lockable door as anyone can come by and reset your machine of they wanted to. Not a huge deal, but something small that I can appreciate. The power button glows blue when the PC is powered on as well.

Speaking of a lockable front door, here is said lock in all its glory.

Moving around to the side of the Aurora 570, Gigabyte took ventilation seriously and the side panel proves this. Where most companies would place a window, Gigabyte has put a black metal screen on the side panel to allow the video card and CPU to get as much outside air as possible. While this looks great as it is, Gigabyte has also included a clear plastic window for those that prefer to see their hardware rather than let it breathe a bit easier.

As with most PC cases, the side panel can be removed with the use of a simple lockable handle. This allows easy access to the inside of the PC should an upgrade or quick fix be needed.

The back of the Aurora 570 offers the same features as almost any other pc case on the market today but with the addition of another 120mm fan. This can be viewed a couple of different ways. This allows the use of a pair of silent fans which push less air but since there are double the fans, twice as much air will be pushed out of the back of the case.

For me, the most attractive use of the double 120mm fans is when water cooling the PC. Most companies that deal in water cooling offer many different 240mm radiators. With the Aurora 570, this radiator can easily be installed and the tubing can conveniently run through the pass through holes on the back and into the case itself.

Just as one would expect, the Aurora 570’s layout is similar to most other PC chassis available. The power supply resides at the top and the motherboard is positioned just underneath. With its nickel plated back, the Aurora 570 definitely looks good from any angle. Also, notice that the fans are not screwed onto the case itself but rather are attached with rubber rings and a push pin. This is to cut down on vibration noises when running.

As stated earlier, at the bottom of the case, just to the right of the PCI slots, there is a pair of rubber rimmed holes. These are to be used of an external radiator is used such as Gigabyte’s own 3D Galaxy II. Again, Gigabyte has demonstrated that they understand what enthusiasts look for in a computer case and have addressed these desires.

To assist the side panel’s handle in keeping the door on the side of the PC, Gigabyte includes thumb screws to be used to secure the panel onto the back of the case. These are nice for quick entry into the inside of the case. This is also a better picture of the way that Gigabyte attached the fans to the back of the case.

Interior and Features

Removing the side panel, we get into the inside of the Aurora 570. Lacking a removable motherboard
tray, Gigabyte makes up for this omission with a sturdy tool less design and plenty of room to work. The basic layout of the inside is the same as most cases. The hard drives sit perpendicular to the motherboard and are installed and secured using drive rails.

As the outside of the case showed, Gigabyte has designed the case with a keen eye at the details. One of the worst parts of a DIY PC build is working with the cables once everything is installed. Cable management has given more than a few system builders a headache and Gigabyte knows this. To help combat this, they have used a cable clamp to keep everything together.



Interior

Another beautiful feature that I wish other companies will follow is that Gigabyte has run all of the case fans, 3 in total, into one cable. This then can easily be plugged into the motherboard and forgotten about instead of three separate cables on different ends of the case. Instead of letting this cable hang down, Gigabyte has chosen to run it along the top, inside one of the power supply support bars. This is such a simple thing to do, and can easily be done with a zip tie on the end user’s side but Gigabyte took the liberty and did it for us.

Out first experience in the Aurora 570’s tool less design is the media drive bays. In most cases, the optical drives are installed either on rails like the hard drives are in this case, or they are physically screwed onto the case itself. While there is nothing wrong with this, Gigabyte has taken a slightly different route. With their system, the middle tab is pressed up which unlocks the horizontal slide. Simply install the drive into the bay, press the horizontal slide all the way towards the front of the case and lock it in place with the vertical slide. It’s a simple process and for the most part painless.

At the bottom of the hard drive cage, there is a small black box. This can be used to store spare parts, manuals, the occasional Red Bull. Or, you could even put your weed in there.

The back of the case continues the tool less theme of the Aurora 570. The PCI slots are covered on the end with a long piece of aluminum that runs the entire length of the brackets. When locked in, the PCI adapters -should- be locked into place. This was the case for us in our testing except for the bottom bracket. When we installed our Ageia PhysX card, the card would hang down a bit as if there was nothing holding it in place. To fix this, we simply placed a screw in the back to hold it in place and since the aluminum PCI lock was flexible, this was not a problem at all although it is something that Gigabyte should address.

To connect the front buttons and ports, the Aurora 570 comes with plenty long enough cables. Not only are there the usual power and reset buttons, hard drive activity, USB, FireWire and audio ports, but Gigabyte also included adapter cables for those who might have hardware that does not match up with the FireWire pin settings.

Also included in the bundle are the necessary drive rails to mount the hard drive into the drive cage, but also the motherboard standoffs, screws, an extra set of keys and cable organizers. Nothing over the top, but rather just enough to get everything installed. For those of us who might not have a power supply with SATA connectors on it, there is also a pair of 4-pin Molex to SATA adapters.

Light Beam Projector, Installation and Testing

One of the most unique features of the Aurora 570 is the use of a small light at the front that projects the Aurora logo down onto the desk that the case is sitting on. This is done with an LED shining through a black piece of plastic with whatever logo you want displayed cleared out.

It’s a rather simple idea but one that some might find appealing. Others might not care for this but personally, I fall into the first group. Any and all DIY information on how to manufacture your own logo can be found here.

As we covered, the projector is housed at the front of the case, just underneath the “belly” of the chassis. It’s a simple premise and easily accessible by removing a plastic “door.”

When the PC is on, the Aurora 570 will project the logo in blue on whatever surface the case is sitting on. The text is clear and easy to read which for the most part, was surprising considering how simple of a device it is.

For those who are interested in swapping out the mesh side for the window, the process is a simple one and can be done by removing 10 screws on the inside of the side panel and because of this, the panel must be removed from the case prior to installation.

When everything is put back into place, the results should look similar to ours.

Whew, let’s move on to testing!



Testing and Final Thoughts

To test the performance of the Aurora 570, we used the same setup we have used in the past.

As we start to review more and more PC cases, we will compare them to past review results and put them all in a convenient graph. While this is inherently flawed because of the difficulty in creating the exact same ambient temperatures in each test, it is done as close as possible and should provide a decent idea of cooling performance. One thing we can gauge is the sound that the cases produce and in our tests of the Aurora 570, we are happy to report that even with three 120mm fans running, the audible noise put off was barely noticeable above the ATi stock fan.

In our tests, we taxed the CPU up to 100% usage by running CPU Burn-In on both cores for 45 minutes. After this time, we recorded the temperature of the CPU and then canceled the burn-ins. To work the GPU over, we simply looped 3D Mark ’06 for an hour. Once the time was up, we used ATi’s Catalyst Control Center to get the temperature of the x1900 XTX’s core.

Surprisingly enough, the results show that the Kandalf barely beat out the Aurora 570 in each of the readings despite having an extra 120mm fan. This can be blamed on the hard drive cage blocking a lot of the cool air being brought into the case by the front 120mm fan. However, the differences were not great and do not concern us at all. The results are show with the mesh side on and with the clear side as well.

As the graphs indicate, there wasn’t much of a difference but the Aurora did fall just behind the Kandalf in each of the tests. As stated earlier though, there is a certain amount of a margin of error so these results can’t be taken as 100% fact but rather, a general idea of what the Aurora 570 can offer in terms of cooling performance.

Conclusions

The Aurora 570 is a solid PC chassis. Unlike our recent review of the Asus Vento 7700, Gigabyte has actually appeared to put a great deal of effort into the design of the Aurora line of gaming cases. With their keen eye to the small details, Gigabyte has produced a solid chassis for everyday gamers and enthusiasts alike.

The ability to easily integrate a water setup onto the case is a huge bonus and one that we feel should not go unnoticed. The dual 120mm fans on the back, while silent, don’t move a great deal of air. This can be remedied by placing a more powerful set of fans on the back of the case but with that, comes noise.

The provided fans are decent, but I wouldn’t recommend them be used on a radiator in a water setup. With its tool less design, water ready features and its $169.00 (US), the Aurora 570 has earned an editor’s choice award. While it’s our personal pick for a new PC build, the cost of just under 170 dollars isn’t cheap and in my opinion, aluminum is lighter than steel but far less sturdy.

Thanks to its 1.0mm thick panels, the Aurora 570 is sturdier, but I personally prefer the sturdiness of steel. Because of these reasons, the Aurora 570 gets an 8 out of 10.

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