|by Misoprostol | May 25, 2007|
Highspeed PC Tech Station Review
HighSpeed PC Large Original Tech Station Review
Price: $138.24 at Directcanada
Manufacturer Part Number: Tech_StationLRG-BLACK
Table of Contents
3- Instructions and Assembly
4- Exterior Impressions & Size
6- Installation and Compatibility
7- Brief Assessment of Functionality and Value (or “Conclusion” if you will)
Targeted at the frequent hardware swapper, today we'll be looking at the E-ATX version of Highspeed PC's Original Tech Station Computer Case. The Tech Station allows hardware changes to be made to a system safely and efficiently. The Tech Station is not meant as much to be a computer case as it is meant to be a work bench for troubleshooting hardware, or for hardcore benchmarking. The model we have today, the original Tech Station is aimed more at professional users who will have a permanent motherboard, video card, and CPU, but want to be able to change out the power supply, hard drives, or other components that are connected by a cable to the motherboard.
The HighSpeed PC Large Original Tech Station (which I'll be referring to as the "Tech Station" from now on) came snugly packed in a nondescript, but functional plain white box with a label outlining some of the features and benefits of the Tech Station.
While some people may like eye-catching retail packaging, the plain presentation of the unit is appropriate for what it is. This isn't meant to be a fancy toy. It's a practical tool that should help make your life a little easier (assuming your life involves endless tinkering with computers like a certain hardware reviewer who shall remain nameless).
This is an area that I felt was "good", but not excellent. The instruction booklet contained colour pictures, and detailed write-ups, but I found myself skimming because I couldn't be bothered to read that much detail.
More illustrative pictures and shorter bullet points may have made it a little bit easier to digest.
The assembly process was relatively painless, but it took a little bit longer than I would have liked because of how often I found myself re-reading the instructions, and undoing things that I impatiently put in the wrong place due to my skimming.
The first thing is to find the right orientation of the motherboard holes on the bottom and put the plastic screws through the top and bottom motherboard hole on the left side of the board.
I ended up putting a motherboard on top of the bottom deck of the tech station because I couldn't figure out which way to orient it
After that, you screw in the rest of the motherboard supports. Careful not to screw them in too tight. Notice that mine supports E-ATX. This probably isnt necessary for most users and there is a less expensive model available that is ATX and mATX only.
Here's the motherboard laying down on the completed bottom deck. The two posts closest to the camera have black marks on them. Make sure to install that side facing up with the pilot holes facing the I/O area of the motherboard.
This next step was very well labelled and I felt much more comfortable with which pilot hole was for what part of the Tech Station. I installed the quiet sleeve bearing fans first, and then the hard drive rails.
When installing the neoprene mat on the top deck, make sure to stretch it out a little bit. Mine ended up bunched up a bit in some places. The instructions recommend a power screwdriver here for driving the 4 screws into the support posts, but I was able to do it without one.
The completed tech station with the PCI/AGP/PCIe card support brace installed. Make sure you orient it so the holes are closest to the inside of the tech station, not to the outside of it.
4- Exterior Impressions & Size:
The Tech Station is all business. Its non-conductive, non-slip surface is meant for IT professionals, overclocking aficionados, and other computer hobbyists rather than for case modders and gamers. My Tech Station doesn't look particularly fancy, but there are other colours available for users who want to personalize their Tech Stations a little bit, or use them as a full time computer case.
My unit is E-ATX compatible, and measures 33cm x 36cm and is 21cm high (and NO imperial conversions, heh).
5- Interior Impressions & Accessories:
The Tech Station doesn't come with much in terms of "extras", but they do include one extra of any piece you are likely to misplace during assembly (ie one extra of each screw, one extra washer, etc.) as well as an excellent little package called the ATX Control Kit.
I haven't gone a day without using this little piece of fantastic gadgetry since I brought the Tech Station home. It's so much better than using a screwdriver to short out the power switch, and since very few people would actually go to the trouble to plug in the reset switch and more than one LED, you can even use the included switches for a couple of test benches.
My first impression of the interior of this case was that I loved the amount of room for PCI expansion cards. You could put a dual 8800 card on a single PCB (if such a thing were ever created) in this case without any problem at all. The end of the card would just stick out the front of the case. No matter. The only thing that I was concerned about was the installation of oversized heatsinks. In order to test the clearance for tower heatsink installation, I put in a Noctua NH-U12F. More on that in the next section.
6- Installation and Compatibility
As you can see, it did fit, but with very little room to spare. Any taller than the NH-U12F and I think it would be quite difficult to install the motherboard in the case.
My 8800 GTS tester card installed with no hassle and I was able to hook up a couple of hard drives using the hard drives rails, an optical, a floppy, a modular power supply and my memory without running into a single wiring problem.
From the back, it's not the tidiest looking thing with the wires hanging over the edge, but I think it would look right at home on the test bench of a computer technician or just someone who likes to play with hardware a lot.
From this angle, you can also see the extra room for an ATX board.
One thing's for sure, it's much better than the cardboard box I used to use for hardware testing. It elevates the board on rubber standoffs, provides a non-slip, non-conductive surface on which to put other hardware and doesn't take any more time for installation than my cardboard box method.
I certainly get better ventilation with the Tech Station than I did with my old method thanks to the two 120mm fans that keep my hard drives and motherboard cool. From the side you can see it pretty clearly
Honestly I love this thing. I can install a motherboard on it in under 30 seconds (probably closer to 15 or 20), have a power supply plugged in in another 30, and if I were to forgo screwing in PCI brackets, I could probably have a whole system installed on this case in less than a minute. That's truly remarkable. I don't know of another fast-access computer case that can actually have hardware changed in and out of it that fast. One complaint I do have is that I have found myself wanting to access the bottom shelf more often than the top shelf.
Highspeed PC has a product for people like me. The Top Deck Tech Station. Besides giving much easier access to the mainboard, RAM and PCI(e) cards, it also allows for any kind of cooling system to be installed on it. In retrospect I think I should have requested a Top Deck Tech Station, because it's better suited to water cooling testing, and RAM/CPU benching. That said, if the purpose of this test bench was to test for dead hard drives, optical drives, or power supplies, the Standard Tech Station would be a better fit.
Highspeed PC advertises and easy access, non-conductive, professional work surface for computer technicians and computer enthusiasts. They have delivered exactly that and I love this thing.
I'm awarding the Highspeed PC Standard Large Tech Station the Hardware Canucks "Dam Good" outstanding achievement in the field of excellence (ok I made that last bit up) award.
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