Date: July 1, 2011
Author(s): Ryan Perry
Sentey is a name you may not heard of before, but the company has been around for quite a while. It’s recently been focusing on its chassis line-up, and with its full-tower Arvina, it hopes to deliver gamers and enthusiasts a feature-packed offering for around $150. Let’s take a look and see if it can compete with other well-established models.
No matter what you plan on buying there are always a few brand names that stand out from the crowd. From clothing to cars to, yes, even computer cases, there are some companies that are so well established that it sometimes seems like people are tripping over themselves to buy a product simply because of the name.
So what’s in a name? I hope to find out as I look at a case from Sentey, a company that many may not know of. A quick look through its product list shows some unique offerings including the Arvina series, one of which is on the review table today, the GS-6400B. This case belongs to Sentey’s ‘Extreme Division’ series so let’s see just how extreme it is and if potential buyers should look past the name stamped on the box.
Also available in high gloss black or red, the blue version of this steel and plastic constructed case supports micro-ATX, ATX and extended-ATX motherboards. We don’t generally don’t show any packaging during our reviews but it’s nice to see that extra attention has been given to how a product ships with the Arvina series coming wrapped in a cloth bag.
The box that our review sample arrived in was battered and beaten (thanks, UPS!). The foam end caps and cloth bag that the case was wrapped in did a great job but the shock from the bumps and drops had knocked out two of the drive covers, scratching them in the process along with a few nicks at the bottom of the front panel. After a further damage check and fix up, the case was ready for action.
The front of the GS-6400B features a 140mm blue LED fan at the bottom hidden behind a black mesh cover. This cover extends all the way to the top with a silver Sentey logo front row center. Just above the logo is where the four 5.25″ drive bays begin.
The top two drive bays have a nice little surprise in the form of flip down covers. In the bottom right corner of each of these is a button that makes contact with the open/close button on the optical drive installed behind it. When the tray comes out, the cover flips down, so this would be a great solution for those who like a clean exterior or have an optical drive with a different coloured bezel. At the very top of the front panel is a card reader that can accept CF/MD, XD, SD/MMC, TF and MS/M2 cards. The entire mesh area of the front with the exception of the top two bay covers has a removable foam dust filter to keep the bunnies out.
Moving around to the left side finds the panel held in place with two plastic tipped thumbscrews. Once these are removed there is also a latch system that keeps the panel firmly in place. Pulling the release latch towards the back of the case disengages the catch so the panel can be slid back and pulled away. The latch is built into a plastic accent with an odd, transparent design that serves two purposes. First, it allows for a bit of style by letting light from the internal LED fans to shine through and second, it acts as ventilation for said fans thanks to the small holes around the outer edge.
Around the back at the top left corner is the motherboard I/O opening. To the right are two holes with rubber grommets for running hoses if water cooling is used and a 120mm blue LED fan below. Moving south, there are seven vented, break away PCI slot covers and to the right, a small vented area. The red tabs that can be seen are from the tool-less retention mechanism for the PCI slots. Pulling the tab out releases the “lock” so cards can be added or removed. You’ll see why I put the word ‘lock’ in quotations a little later on. Finally, as usual, at the very bottom is the opening for the power supply.
The right side doesn’t have much going on except for the same quick release latch that may very well become a favorite feature on this case if fast, frequent access to the interior is needed.
On top at the front is a large power button that glows blue when the system is powered on. Behind it are four silver buttons that act as on/off switches for the four channel fan controller, each with a red LED to indicate if the channel is active. The clear cover behind the fan controller slides back to reveal two sets of nicely spaced USB 2.0 ports on either side of the 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks.
To the right are the red hard drive activity LED and a small silver reset button above it. Need more? Behind all of this at the back are hot swap SATA power and data connections and an eSATA port. The rest of the top is covered by a mesh area that hides two 120mm blue LED exhaust fans that can be swapped out for two 140mm fans if the user wishes.
The bottom of the case is dominated by a plastic filter that runs about 3/4 of its length behind the bottom panel. This filter can be removed but requires the user to remove several screws from the inside. At the front are two rubber pads on each side and another on each side at the back to help keep the case from sliding and absorb vibration.
Ok, it’s time to get nekkid! Well, not me. Nobody wants to see that, but in the case of the GS-6400B, let’s see what else it has to offer.
The front panel is removed by pulling out on the bottom and then on both sides near the top. The 140mm intake fan is at the bottom behind a honeycomb grill and the breakaway but reusable 5.25″ internal drive covers are just above. The inside of the front cover shows the removable dust filters in place for the fan and each of the drive bays except the top two. At the very top is the PCB for the card reader and the wire that runs to the system to provide connectivity. I wasn’t able to disconnect this wire from the header on the PCB so it looks as if it needs to be disconnected from the motherboard in order to remove the front panel completely.
With the right panel off we get good view of the business end. At the bottom right are hard drive trays that are capable of supporting either 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives. Since the trays are spring loaded, they gently pop open when the red button at the front is moved towards the back of the case. Once removed, 3.5″ drives can be secured without tools by moving two hinged tabs on the right side out of the way, pressing the drive into the tray, and then moving both tabs back into position. 2.5″ drives will require tools and are secured with screws through the bottom of the tray.
Users also have the option of removing the hard drive cage entirely by pushing down on the red tab above the top tray. The cage then simply slides out allowing users to work away but also gives access to two of the screws that need to be removed in order to take off the bottom panel to clean the air filter.
Above the hard drive cage are the four tool-less 5.25″ drive bays. The bay is unlocked by pushing down on the red tab and the black lock will pop up allowing the drive to be installed. Once it’s in place the lock can be pushed back down where it clicks and secures the drive.
Moving back to the main section of the interior shows an arm with two 80mm blue LED fans mounted on the backside allowing air to be pushed directly to the GPU.
Pressing in to the right of the Sentey logo allows the arm to swing open and can be completely removed by pulling out near the top hinge. Both fans draw power from a metal contact pad on the left side meaning there are two less wires that need to be run through the case. Just below the arm is a small kit secured to the bottom of the case, but that will be looked at soon enough.
On the bottom are the openings for either a 120mm or 140mm fan to be added by the user and the opening for the power supply bringing up the rear. The power supply sits on two foam pads while the back rests against a foam gasket that runs around the perimeter of the opening to help absorb any vibration from the fan.
The motherboard tray sports a good amount of options for cable management. Down the right side are three large openings and one small opening to route power leads and data cables to the connectors on the motherboard while the opening at the bottom is for running power leads directly from the power supply. There is also a generous opening in the motherboard tray to help with installation of CPU coolers that feature back plates and another small opening in the top left corner to run fan cables and the 12V power lead.
Looking at the rear of the interior shows the inside of the plastic “lock” (there’s those quotations again) to keep expansion cards in place. Above that are the 120mm exhaust fan and motherboard I/O opening. Way up top are the two 120mm exhaust fans that are a little oddly spaced.
There isn’t too much happening on the back of the motherboard tray although Sentey has chosen to include four adjustable cable ties. These are stuck on using double sided adhesive pads and will allow cables to be secured against the tray. With a little over half an inch of clearance between the motherboard tray and the side panel these cable ties should come in handy.
I don’t mention connections unless there is something new, unusual or missing. I’m happy to report that there’s nothing missing, in fact it’s quite the opposite thanks to the multitude of options that were covered when looking at the top exterior. What I wanted to show is the clear sleeving job that has been done on the power, reset, power LED and HDD activity LED wires.
It’s now time to have a look at that kit that I mentioned earlier. Inside are a small screwdriver, two plastic motherboard standoffs, a spare, gray PCI slot cover, a speaker, and a bag containing brass motherboard standoffs and screws to secure the motherboard and power supply in place. There is also a small cloth included to help remove finger prints from the case seeing how the finish makes it a magnet for them.
In a separate bag are the user manual, product brochure and a mini-CD containing the driver for the card reader. A white box secured inside the case contains a spare SATA data cable and a SATA power extension lead. These are use for the hot swap connection on the top of the case. Rather than installing a drive into a hot swap bay, the cables are attached to the case and then to the drive in order to draw power and transfer data.
The Arvina series offers a lot of useful features, but if they aren’t functional users will run into some problems when installing their gear. That portion of the review is up next.
Starting with the motherboard, only one brass standoff was installed in the top left corner from the factory but the rest went in by hand. On some cases with painted interiors the paint makes the holes too tight but these could easily be installed by hand. The motherboard went in cleanly and looks tiny inside the spacious interior.
Installing the power supply was also easy enough as it slid into place and secured without issue. The opening at the bottom of the motherboard tray directly in front of the power supply allowed all cables to be run through without any space problems and that is even after having to add an additional SATA lead.
When it came time to install the hard drives, the 3.5″ one popped into the tray and secured in place without tools and there is absolutely no movement when the tabs are in place. A solid-state drive used for mock up purposes only and not in the final build was secured from the bottom of the tray. For some reason Sentey chose not to include screws for this so I had to steal a few from my own personal stash.
Another thing that I’m not a fan of is the fact that 2.5″ drives mount in the middle of the tray instead of with the back edge with the connections flush against the edge of the tray. Not everybody will have a spare power connection at the end of a lead and using one in the middle requires the wires to be bent back harshly. Even then still puts strain on the connection on the drive.
The optical drive used for mock up purposes also installed cleanly once the front panel was removed. When locked in place, there was a very small amount of movement front to back but nothing that users should be concerned about. When the system was powered on, the drive covers did exactly what they were designed to do and flipped down and up when the drive was opened and closed. When the drive is opened the button to close it is covered over so the tray needs to be pushed in before the motor takes over and finishes the job.
All of the wires from the top panel were long enough with the exception of the audio, which needed to be run all the way to the back bottom corner of the motherboard. There was not enough slack to run it cleanly through the cable management areas so the AC ’97 connector was used to provide the extra distance. This cable could likely be run across the GPU and under the space near the SLI connector but that is not the ideal option – plus for those running full size ATX boards, there’s a good chance that this cable will not reach at all no matter how it’s routed if the connector is further than half way back on the bottom edge of the board.
Remember how I kept putting the word lock in quotations when I was talking about the mechanism that keeps expansion cards in place? It’s because I use the term very loosely due to the fact that it wouldn’t, well, lock. When the GTX 470 was installed, the plastic shroud that covers the heatsink and fan meant the end wouldn’t fit over. All modern reference cards, regardless of what team they come from will have plastic that runs all the way to the metal on the PCI bracket so this is a gross oversight. Using a good old fashioned screw to keep the GPU or any other expansion cards in place is recommended.
On the back of the motherboard tray there was an issue as well when a few of the included cable ties attached by adhesive pads pulled away from the tray when I was tucking cables into them. Going with the commonly found metal loops bent out of the motherboard tray and zip ties would have been far superior to this solution since the painted metal does not provide a good surface to form a bond. Another point to note is that the connectors leading to the fan controller cannot handle 4-pin connections so keep that in mind if switching out the stock fans is in the game plan.
While this case doesn’t allow for the level of cable management that some do, it does allow for a fairly clean build. It’s not perfect but there is nothing in this build that should affect airflow although the hard drive cage pretty much negates any air brought in by the front intake fan.
There felt like there was more room to hide cables on the back of motherboard tray than I originally thought after measuring how much room there would be. Normally I have to fight a little bit to get the right side panel in place but this one seemed to go on effortlessly. Part of the reason for this is likely because the case is so deep front to back that the cables can be spread out instead of lying on top of each other as well as having a ton of room to tuck cables behind the hard drives.
Unfortunately the motherboard that we use for testing doesn’t have the connector needed to fire up the card reader but we were able to test the top hot swap SATA connection. I’ll say right up front that I don’t like the implementation due to the fact that the drive isn’t secured as it would be in an actual hot swap bay and there’s nowhere that I would reliably rest the drive. With that said, drives are picked up automatically and there were no issues reading or writing data – so it does what it’s supposed to do.
All of our testing is performed in a near steady 20°C ambient environment with readings taken before and after with a standard room thermometer. AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the testing process.
Windows is allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes after startup to ensure all services are loaded before recording the idle CPU and GPU temperatures. CPU load temperatures are generated by performing a 20 minute run of OCCT LINPACK using 90% of the available memory, while GPU load temperatures are generated by OCCT’s built in test, also for 20 minutes.
Stock CPU settings were obtained by setting the AI Tweaker option with the BIOS to Auto and the maximum stable overclock frequency of 4.0GHz was obtained after extensive testing to ensure stability. The final clocks for the GPU are 760MHz on the core and 1000MHz QDR (4000MHz relative) for the memory with the voltage increased to 1.087V using MSI’s Afterburner overclocking utility. As with the CPU overclock, testing was done prior to ensure full stability.
The components used for testing are:
Techgage Test System
Intel Core i5-661 – Dual-Core (3.33GHz)
ASUS P7H55D-M EVO mATX – H55-based
Corsair Dominator 2x2GB DDR3-1600 7-8-7-20-2T
EVGA GeForce GTX 470
Western Digital 2TB Green
Antec TP-750 Blue
Corsair Obsidian 650D Mid-Tower
Corsair SE White 600T
SilverStone Raven 03 Full-Tower
Corsair H60 (Exhaust Configuration)
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
The Arvina case checks in with respectable results across the board although the CPU temperatures are a little higher than I would have thought given the cooling setup. The fans seem to move a good amount of air as well but with only 2 degrees difference between it and the Thermaltake Level 10 GT, which is the current king of the hill, I don’t see any reason to be upset.
GPU temperatures are well in line with the rest of the pack due to the fact that the stock cooler is so powerful when it cranks up to 90%+.
For having a large number of fans, two of which are 80mm that tend to be louder than the 140mm monster fans that we have today, I found this case to be pretty much on par with the amount of noise created by the Corsair 650D/600T Graphite. Seeing how both of the Corsair cases feature two 200mm and one 120mm fan, I’d say that this is an accomplishment in itself.
With middle of the road performance and lots of features, some of which work while others don’t, is the Sentey Arvina series worth your hard earned dollars?
The answer to the previous question, for me at least, is “no”, this case really isn’t worth your hard earned dollars. This is simply due to the fact that some of the problems were quite major, even though it did manage to do a lot of things right.
All of the components except for the GPU installed as they were intended, there are tons of features, oodles of room for expandability, loads of room to work in and I think it looks great for the most part. Then there are bonuses like quick release latches on the side panels, the tool kit that can be secured inside the case and taken on the road as well as Sentey’s decision to wrap it up in a cloth bag to help with shipping.
Personally, I’d like to see this series re-launched, because there is nothing here that cannot be fixed and there are few companies that do this regularly. The PCI retention system can be replaced by the tried and true method of securing drives with screws and leaving out the current method all together while at the same time making the slot covers reusable.
Adding extra length to the audio cable would be even easier and for another couple of cents there could be some screws thrown in to mount 2.5″ drives seeing how many people buy OEM drives that do not come with hardware. I don’t feel that there should be reason why any of these problems are found in a case in this price range.
Speaking of which, the Arvina series of cases are priced at ~$145 putting it in direct competition with heavyweights like the Antec 183P, BitFenix Colossus and Cooler Master HAF 922, all of which are very solid both in form and function.
At its core, the Arvina series is an average case with average thermal performance that has above average looks and features but at an above average price, which at this point cannot be justified until at least the major issues are addressed.
July 5th Addendum: Sentey has contacted us to let us know that the Arvina is available at Newegg for $99 USD.
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