Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570 Case Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     April 4, 2007

Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570 Case Review
Availability: Now (in Black and Silver)
Price: $185CAD

Review Layout:

1- Exterior Impressions
2- Exterior Sizes
3- Interior Impressions
4- E-ATX Compatible?
5- Interior Dimensions
6- Installation
7- The Projector
8- Benchmarks…for a case!?!?
9- Airflow Analysis
10- A Cheap Solution to Lower Temperatures
11- Conclusion

Gigabyte’s Pitch to you…

There are countless people out there all looking for that perfect case with an equal blend of form and functionality. The problem is that the “perfect” case for one person may be pointless for someone else. Thus, manufacturers have to either release a case that fits general criteria well but does nothing to exceptionally stand out among the hundreds of other cases out there. Instead, some manufacturers shun this Swiss Army Knife approach and built application-specific cases that are good for niche markets (water cooling, low noise etc.) but end up costing a fortune and may not be suitable for many consumers out there. Into the gap between those two extremes comes Gigabyte….

Gigabyte is pitching this case at enthusiasts who want everything possible in one product with the possibility of expandability in the future….at a reasonable price too. On the surface, this case seems to be the Holy Grail of cases. Let’s see if this case holds up to some serious scrutiny….

1-Exterior Impressions

Instead of the usual packaging photos I have decided to go straight into the exterior pictures since I have a lot of things to go through in this review. Let’s just say that this case comes in a big box, ok? Duh…

Looking at the exterior, we can see that this case is completely black except for a few silver and blue highlights. In my opinion, the finishes have been chosen in such a way that this case just oozes class. Nothing about the design is over the top and the general look that Gigabyte has gone with is very understated. I know that the look of a case is very subjective and changes on a person-to-person basis but I love how this case looks. Pictures cannot do the brushed black steel finish justice.

The blue accent color can also be found in all of the lights on this case. All of the fans of blue LED lights, the power button glows blue as does the hard drive light. In addition, Gigabyte has installed a “projector” system into the front of the case (more on that later)

You can also see that the front panel I/O panel holds:
2x USB 2.0 ports
1x IEEE 1394 port
1x Mic port
1x Audio port

The Hard Drive light is also located on the I/O panel. You may want to know that the HD light can also dub as a spot-light in a dark room. I had this case set up in a 15’ x 20’ room and every time the light came on, the wall opposite the case was completely lit up by the blue HD light. Yikes.

One thing that struck me right away was how light the case was. I am not the biggest guy out there but I was able to pick it up and haul it around with only one hand. Even though it is light, it feels like it is built like a tank.

The front door is a thing of beauty (finally, one that swings the “proper” direction!); it is made out of 3/16” thick steel which I am sure can stop a bullet. The door is screwed onto a metal (no plastic here, folks!!) hinge and is held in place by a magnet that needs some serious upgrading. The magnet is more than sufficient for keeping the door closed when the case is upright but the second you move the case you better be wearing shin pads and a jock strap because that heavy door comes a-swingin’.

Behind the armor-like door, we find five (5) 5 ” and two (2) 3 ” drive bays. Every one of these is usable should you need them. Both the power and reset buttons are located behind the door as well.

There is a 120mm fan located directly behind the I/O panel.

The side panel has a metal grille inserted into it which is supposed to provide some measure of cooling. For those of you who want a direct line of site to the inside of the case or find it too noisy, Gigabyte provides an acrylic window to replace the grille. Brilliant!! The side panel is easily removed by unscrewing three thumb screws and pushing open the main latch.

The rear of the case shows two 120mm cooling fans and two well thought-out grommet holes for water cooled setups. Supposedly, with very little modification (read: a few holes being drilled) there is enough space on the back to mount a small Gigabyte water cooling radiator. Since the power supply is mounted from inside the case, there is no removable back plate for it.

You can also see that there are thumb screws for the opposite side panel as well.

Gigabyte has also installed adjustable feet for stability which have three positions: closed, partially open and fully open. I think that the feet in a closed position provide enough stability if the case is on the ground but if you install this case on top of a desk you will want the completely open.

Something that bothers me about these feet is that there are no rubber glides on the bottom. Pushing this case across a hardwood floor had me cringing in pain. The sound is right up there with nails across a chalkboard.

Compared to my old Antec Sonata II, this case is wonderfully huge!!

2- Exterior Sizes

If you plan on putting this into a desk, make sure you have the place for it first….

3- Interior Impressions

Without a doubt, this case has tons of space inside. There is a small plastic removable toolbox taking up three hard drive mounting areas and three pre-installed Gigabyte 120mm fans. Something I first noticed was the nearly ridiculous number of cables in the case. Wire routing is already starting to look like a bit of a nightmare….

Luckily, Gigabyte is pretty much two steps ahead of my thinking as they have provided both clips and wiring channels for cable routing. These little additions are very welcome in a case that is so large.

Opening the other side of the case reveals the perfect place to do some wire routing. There are holes cut in just the right spots and the outside panel is about ” away from the motherboard panel which is perfect for running cables out of sight. Installation should be fun.

The front panel can be easily removed by unclipping three plastic hooks on either side of the case. Once removed, we can see that there are metal plates (supposedly to counter EM interference) which must be removed before installing any drives.

The front 120mm fan is clipped in place with a metal bracket. It has a thin filter to take care of any dust which might be sucked into your case. The problem with this setup is that in order to clean the front filter you have to remove the entire front of the case.

All three pre-installed 120mm fans are connected together into one 3-pin motherboard connector. While this does cut down on cable clutter, it very much limits your options if you want to upgrade one of the fans. This is because Gigabte cut down the length of the fan cables to such a short lengths, they will not reach your motherboard fan headers. This also prevents you from using these fans in other applications if you choose to remove them.

Inside the toolbox you will find the usual standoffs, screw and hard drive rails as well as some unique additions. These additional pieces are:
- Keys for the two locks on the case
- A cloth for cleaning the outside of the case (it works really well)
- Cable tie-downs (they stick like crazy but can be removed by heating them up with a blow-dryer.)
- Power extension cables
- A replacement transparent projector panel

The toolbox can be easily removed by loosening the two screws holding in and then pulling for all you’re worth.

4- E-ATX Compatible?

According to the imprinted information for the motherboard hole locations, this case is E-ATX compatible even though Gigabyte’s own website lists it only ATX compatible. So is this case really E-ATX compatible? Yes it is with a bit of modifying. All that has to be done is to remove the plastic wiring clip and voila, an EATX compatible case. There just won’t be much room to work with.

5- Interior Dimensions

The interior of this case can accommodate even the longest graphics card and has plenty of room to work with.

6- Installation

To begin the installation, I removed the metal cross-brace in order to install the power supply

This can be done by removing a few screws and sliding the cross-brace out from the case. This is something I always look for in a case since it avoids having to completely remove your motherboard (if you have an aftermarket cooling solution installed on your processor) when installing a new power supply.

It is virtually impossible to remove the metal shields with the front of the case still on. So, in order to install a disk drive you will have to completely remove the front of the case. Since the front was already off I decided to take the opportunity to remove a few cables I was not going to use:

After removing two screws, the front I/O panel pops right off and I started removing a few of the wires. I simply pulled out the IEEE 1394 and the front audio connectors after tracing them to the panel. Remember that huge pile of cables from when the case was opened? Well, there are now two less cables getting in the way.

After removing the metal plates, installing the drives is as simple as pushing the drive in, sliding the bracket forward and then pushing down to lock the drive in place. After installing and uninstalling quite a few drives, I can say that it works very well for a tool-less design.

Installing the motherboard itself is like you would expect in a case this size. There is enough space that a removable motherboard tray is pretty much pointless.

While Cable routing I ran into a bit of an issue:

I wanted to pass my PCI-E connectors through the hard drive cage so they wouldn’t have to run near the motherboard. I just wish that these holes would have been made a bit larger. Not only would it have helped with cable routing but (as you will see later) it would have increased airflow within the case.

The plastic rails are simply pushed onto the hard drive without much fuss. It can then be pushed into the hard drive cage and removed just as easily.

Installing expansion cards is just as easy as installing anything else in the Aurora. All that has to be done is open the retention bracket, slip out one of the metal covers, install the card(s) and then clip the retention bracket back into place. The issue I have with this is that the bracket does not hold my 8800GTS cards very well at all. When installing the power connectors onto the cards the bracket always comes loose. While this may seem like a small problem, it sure is annoying.

20 minutes of wire routing can give some pretty impressive results with this case.

So here is the final result when compared to what this same setup looks like in the Antec Sonata. Quite a difference isn’t it?

7- The Projector

Gigabyte supplies an interesting little addition with this case: a tiny projector panel. Basically, an LED light from inside the front panel shines on a piece or hard clear plastic to project the 3D Aurora logo onto the floor. It looks something like this:

While it does not add any convenience to the case, it does add a cool factor.

You may have noticed that Gigabyte has provided an extra plastic projector panel in the toolbox. With this you can make your own custom projector logos. All you have to do is download a document from Gigabyte’s website, print up your logo on a laser printer (use laser-printer grade Mylar) and then attach it to the blank projector.

Here is the document:

8- Benchmarks…..for a case?!?!?

For benchmarks, I installed the same components that I had in my Antec Sonata case into the Aurora. I then compared temperature levels. Yes it is comparing apples and oranges but it shows a possible upgrade path for someone with the Sonata.

System Used:
AMD X2 3800+ @ 2.6Ghz
Arctic Cooling Freezer 64Pro
2GB Corsair XMS @ 520Mhz
DFI Lanparty SLI-DR Expert
Samsung Spinpoint 250GB
OCZ GameXstream 700W PSU

Room Temperature: 23.7C

Note for these tests I removed the toolbox from the hard drive case of the Aurora and kept the metal grille installed.

These are some very interesting results for this case. The ambient temperature was lower but we can chalk that up to the Aurora being the bigger case. The CPU temperatures are a quite a bit better than that of the Sonata but the GPU temperatures are downright shocking. A 4-5C increase in load temperatures is HUGE for a difference between one case and another. You may notice that the Sonata has a 120mm pointed directly at the graphics cards.

9- Airflow Analysis

What can really be said about airflow in this case? In my opinion it is next to non-existent and surely not enough for a pair of 8800-series space heaters. G80 cards require a constant supply of fresh air in order to maintain a lower load temperature and the Aurora just doesn’t supply enough of it. Here is one of the reasons:

Not only does the front 120mm fan run at an extremely slow speed (1000Rpm) but the hard drive cage provides too much restriction for the small amount of airflow from the front fan. It would have been even more restricted if I would have kept the toolbox in place.

Even the two rear fans do not move enough air to inspire much confidence. The bottom-most fan (which is mounted directly above the graphics card) expels waves of heat which makes a rear-mounted radiator a very bad decision.

I am all for quiet fans but there comes a point when silence has to be sacrificed for airflow. The best thing Gigabyte could have done would have been to increase the speed of the fans and provide mounting points for a 120mm fan on the outside of the HD cage. Or at least provide adjustable-speed fans like Antec Tri-Cool models.

10- A Cheap Solution to Lower Temperatures

Not willing to go quietly into the night, I decided to work out a solution to lower the temperatures in the Aurora.

What you will need:

- Velcro Ultra Mate adhesive ($5)
- 120mm or 92mm fan ($6 - $20)
- Scissors

Basically, the Ultra Mate is a super-Velcro which is sticky on one side and holds onto whatever you stick it to no matter what the ambient temperature is. Ultra Mate also has a much stronger hold than the regular product.

In this case I installed a 92mm fan to the side grille by attaching the male side of the Velcro to the corners of the fan and the female Velcro to the grille. The fan then blows directly at the graphics cards. If you do not want the fan in this location after a little while, you can remove it easily and then peel off the Velcro pads.

The same thing goes for this 120mm fan which I installed on the outside of the hard drive cage. This Ultra Mate stuff is pretty amazing.

So, what differences do these extra fans make?

This comparison is done with ONE extra fan installed in the indicated location. The room temperature was measured at 23.5C throughout this test. The 120mm fan was blowing at 1800rpm.

Amazing isn’t it? This is what a bit more airflow will do in this case. It shows that the potential for great airflow is there and all that is needed is ONE more fan.

12- Conclusions

After using this case for nearly two weeks now I have really come to appreciate what Gigabyte has done with this product. They have shown that it is possible to build a case that does nearly everything above and beyond its competitors while catering to certain niche crowds (like the water cooling beginners out there) at the same time. They have succeeded in bringing an extremely well-constructed and well priced product into a high-end market segment. The Aurora offers space, functionality and plenty of bangs and whistles to anyone looking for a well-rounded case that offers the potential for future expandability. It even has a completely tool-less design which you will probably really appreciate since it prevents you from fumbling around with tiny screws.

Of course after two weeks of heavy usage there are a few minor issues with this case which I have already discussed. The only major issue I had with this case is the lack of airflow for dual high-end graphics cards for which I would have really appreciated the option to control the speed of the fans. This should by no means dissuade you from purchasing this case if you have a system like mine because with the addition of a single fan, this case is really able to shine.

Please feel free to discuss this review here: