MGE Reloaded: The Titanium Case

By Victor Loh  |  Posted 2005-08-24 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Review: More than mere homes for components, PC cases are increasingly becoming personal statements. MGE's Titanium case targets discriminating PC enthusiasts who demand performance in a civilized package. Does it deliver the goods?
  • When we received the MGE Titanium case for review, we didn't know quite what to expect. In 2004, MGE launched two new product divisions, XG and ione, each with very different goals. XG, short for "Extreme Gamer," targeted the "hardcore PC gamer" audience while ione focused on providing more-civilized products for "everyday lifestyles from the home to the office."

    That's all well and good, but MGE's last effort at a gamer case, the Viper Gamer, proved to be an ordinary case built into an ugly exterior. Has the company learned from that lesson?

    Shortly after unpacking the ione-branded Titanium, it became clear that the case we received was virtually identical to another MGE case sold under the XG line, the Quantum. The only real difference between the two is color. The Titanium comes in silver, while the Quantum ships only in black. Color considerations aside, we wondered if this case could appeal both to serious gamers and casual home users. Read on to find out. Continued... At first glance, the Titanium resembles an enormous subwoofer, with its predominantly bare front bezel and dark circular side vents. The eggshell-finish silver paint has a healthy shimmer that seems practically immune to fingerprint smudging. Ominous blue LEDs illuminate the various fan ports and side vents, but the effect isn't overdone. Our attention gravitates toward the round chrome-framed LCD on the front bezel. The overall design is sharp and stylish without being overtly ostentatious.

    Conveniently hidden behind a small door on top of the case are the USB 2.0, Firewire, speaker, and microphone ports. Rubber-padded feet underneath the case can be folded out for added stability.

    You might recall from high school chemistry class that the metallic element titanium (Ti) has the atomic number 22. It is durable, lustrous, and resistant to rust and corrosion from seawater and chlorine. Unfortunately, this case does not contain any of it, despite what its name suggests. A case composed of actual titanium parts would likely cost substantially more than this MGE case.

    The bezel door is made of aluminum and allows access to the power and reset buttons as well as all five 5.25-inch drives and both 3.5-inch open drive bays. The power and reset buttons are relatively large and easy to press, even for people with big fingers. Since both buttons are usually covered by the door during normal use, there's little risk of accidentally pressing either.

    Behind the aluminum door is a second plastic door that contains the drive bay covers and grill for the front fan port. What's behind door number two? Here you'll find a removable dust filter for the front fan and access to the side door's locking mechanism.

    The bulk of the case consists of sturdy 1.0mm SECC steel, which holds up well against the abuse of frequent hardware swaps and moving the PC from place to place. Continued... The retail package includes the case, mounting hardware (including tool-less drive mounting clips), two 80mm fans, three 92mm fans, two batteries for the LCD screen (it only requires one to operate), and two generously filled pouches of silica gel desiccant.

    The installation of our ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard was a snap. The Titanium uses a combination of traditional screw mounts and plastic pins to lock it into place.

    For the power supply, we went with a Vantec VAN-470A. We had to first remove the top fan to get it in there, but it felt very secure once it was in place. A crossbar runs along the length of the case adding structural rigidity and serving as a platform for the power supply. MGE also offers an optional nylon-sleeved, SATA-ready 500W power supply.

    We ran into a small snag during the video card installation. The design of the Titanium's "tool-less" PCI slot solution did not take dual-slot cards such as our Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI into consideration. As you can see in the picture, the plastic mounting tab design creates a barrier where the dual-slot mount would need to go.

    Luckily, the entire tool-free plastic mounting apparatus can be removed by three screws on the back of the case if traditional screw-in mounts are necessary or preferred. Alternatively, a little modification to the offending plastic bits with a small saw could allow you to keep the tool-free mount option for your dual-slot card.

    Just to be sure, we also installed a single slot BFG GeForce 6800 GT graphics card with the tool-free mount and did not encounter any problems.

    Both the perpendicularly mounted hard drive bays and 5.25-inch drive bays employ plastic snap-in rails that eliminate the need for tools. A drawback to the transverse hard drive placement is that the wiring from the fan controller board runs across the mounting area, making hard disk installation a potential hassle. Good cable management in this area is recommended for anyone planning to swap drives often.

    Other than the motherboard and 3.5-inch drive bays, all hardware installation and removal can be accomplished without tools.

    Perceptive case manufacturers like MGE seem to have caught on to the fact that PC modders do not particularly enjoy working cases full of razor sharp edges only to emerge with Enter the Dragon-style lacerations on their hands. The smooth Titanium internal edges left ours unscathed. Continued... Air circulation is handled by three 92mm and two 80mm fans. Two 92mm fans are mounted on the fold-out side panel, above the typical location for CPUs on motherboards. They blow directly onto the motherboard, CPU, and GPU where cool air is needed most. The third acts as the rear exhaust fan. The two 80mm fans are mounted on the top and front of the case, but their cooling effect appears to be limited by their obscured locations.

    In sum, the cooling appears to be more than adequate for all but the most demanding applications—especially for a case in this price range.

    One of the most striking features of the Titanium is the programmable LCD on the front bezel. It displays temperature readings, time, and date, and another section of it cycles through the fan speeds (in RPM) of up to seven fans. You can manually raise or lower the individual fan speeds with buttons located below the LCD screen. There is also an option to sound an alarm if your temperature sensor reaches a temperature of your choosing. The factory alarm is set at 65 degrees Celsius. There is a button to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit units behind the LCD, next to the battery. If you are concerned with anyone tampering with your settings, there is an option to lock the keypad with a code of your choosing.

    One thing worth noting that's neglected in the user manual: If you decide not to plug all seven fans into the fan controller board for the LCD, an annoying five-chirp alarm will sound every time you power up your computer. To disable this alarm, set the DIP switches corresponding to the unused fan numbers on the board to "off."

    Adjusting the fan speeds is simple. The downside is that you can only adjust a single fan at a time, and there is no way to save presets to regulate all fans at once for a specific need—gaming or quiet operation for example. This makes frequently changing fan settings rather tedious unless you only need to adjust one or two fans. Another drawback is that the LCD is difficult to read from an angle, particularly if you are looking down at the case underneath a desk while seated in a chair.

    Internal issues aside, the case looks pretty darned cool, and delivers those looks at an affordable price. Continued... We tested the Titanium's noise level at a point 1 foot above and away from the front corner of the case. Our ambient "quiet room" sound level, complete with fire trucks and honking horns on the street below and building HVAC all around, measured at 38 dB. With all the fans set on their lowest speed, we measured the sound level at 45 dB. All fans set to the highest RPM raised the noise level up to 47 dB. The flexibility of the fan speed adjustment really shines here, since you can fine tune the volume of your wind section with the push of a button.

    Cleaning
    The filter for the front fan is easily accessible behind the plastic bezel door for cleaning. The side fan filters can be reached by simply removing the side cover and snapping the fans out of their clips. Neither of the round side cover vents possess any dust filtration, which is unfortunate, because more dust is likely to be drawn into the case from those. Continued... The MGE Titanium case has appealing features that will satisfy both gamers and PC enthusiasts with more conservative aesthetic tastes. It is a bit noisy, though, for normal offices, though hard-core gamers tend to be more forgiving, especially if they're overclocking the system. With five fans, an appealing LCD with customizable fan control, and just enough LEDs to make it stand out without being offensively bright, the Titanium combines elegant, classic design with useful features like temperature monitoring and cooling management.

    Product: MGE Titanium Case
    Company: MGE
    Price: $109 check prices
    Pros: LCD with integrated fan controller; cooling capacity; attractive, refined looks.
    Cons: Power supply not included; no dust filters on side vents; could be mistaken for a subwoofer.
    Summary: This well-designed case has the features gamers want with the broad appeal of classic styling.
    Rating:


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