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Bgears b-Envi is an all-aluminum HTPC (Home Theater PC) case, target to media PCs (i.e., computers to be hooked to your home theater system for playing movies and songs) or to users that want a very small case to carry your PC around (LAN parties, for example). It comes with a memory card reader, a touch panel and a 2.5” hard disk drive aluminum enclosure that allows you to easily carry your data around. Let’s take an in-depth look at this case.
This case is available in two versions: with transparent side panels and blue rear fan (b-Envi) or with solid side panels and black rear fan (b-Envi-nw). We reviewed the b-Envi model.
As you can see, this case is very small, measuring only 9" x 11.2" x 14.7" (22.8 x 28.4 x 37.3 cm) (H x W x D), which means that you can only use microATX motherboards with it. The two transparent side panels are an interesting feature if you like the effect of the blue light coming from its rear fan.
This case has two external 5 ½” bays, one external 2.5” for its hard disk drive enclosure (more about this later) and two internal 3.5” bays. On the front panel you have access to the three external bays, to a memory card reader, to three USB ports and to the traditional microphone and headphone jacks. The two lower USB ports are too close to each other, preventing you from installing two “fat” USB devices at the same time. The top USB port is too close to the headphone jack, preventing you from installing a “fat” USB device and a headphone at the same time. The rectangular object that you see in Figure 3 written “bgears” is the 2.5” hard disk drive enclosure.
The highlight of this product is its touch panel. The buttons are only lighted up when the PC is turned on. Then you have available the traditional power and HDD lights and power and reset switch, plus a switch called lock, which locks the front panel, i.e., you need to press it again to re-enable the reset and power switches. This is very useful to prevent resetting or shutting down your PC by accident.
In Figure 5 we have the rear panel. Due to its reduced size, it only has four expansion slots (microATX standard). It also features a rear 120 mm fan that glows blue when the PC is turned on. Also because of its reduced size your power supply can only be up to 6 19/64” (160 mm) in depth (this size is reduced to 5 29/32” or 15 cm if a unit with modular cabling system is used).
Now let’s see how b-Envi looks like inside.[nextpage title=”Inside b-Envi”]
The side panels are fastened to the chassis using thumbscrews, which is great. This case has a removable motherboard tray, which helps a lot the PC assembly process.
In Figure 9, you can see the rear 120 mm fan. It uses a regular 4-pin peripheral power plug, so no monitoring is provided. No screwless mechanism is used to fasten the daughterboards to the case. A case with this quality (all aluminum) deserved at least thumbscrews to be used there.
You can install an 80 mm fan on the front panel, below the hard disk drive bays.
[nextpage title=”The Disk Drive Bays”]
As mentioned this case has two external 5.25” bays, on external 2.5” bay for a removable hard disk drive enclosure and two internal 3.5” bays.
Unfortunately this case doesn’t use anti-vibration mechanisms for the hard disk drive, which is a desirable feature for home theater PCs.
In Figure 13 we show the hard disk drive enclosure that comes with the case. It is targeted to 2.5” parallel ATA (PATA) laptop hard disk drives – pay attention because you can easily find 2.5” SATA hard disk drives around. Bgears sells a printed circuit board for SATA hard drives for USD 9.99 (or USD 15.99 if you want the full enclosure instead of just the printed circuit board). Three and a half-inch (i.e., desktop) units don’t fit the enclosure.
Externally the enclosure is connected to the PC using a USB port (both PATA and SATA versions), so you can’t use this enclosure to hold your main hard disk drive, only a data hard disk. The case comes with a USB cable to allow you to install your data hard disk drive to any PC as an external device.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Bgears b-Envi case main specs include:
- Application: microATX.
- Material: Aluminum (1 mm thick).
- Power supply required: Doesn’t come with the product.
- Available colors: black.
- Side panel: Transparent (b-Envi) or solid (b-Envi-nw).
- Dimensions: 9" x 11.2" x 14.7" (22.8 x 28.4 x 37.3 cm) (H x W x D)
- Net Weight: 8 lbs (3.6 Kg)
- Bays: Two external 5.25” bays, one external 2.5” bay for the hard disk drive enclosure and two internal 3.5” bays.
- Expansion slots: Four.
- Fans: One 120 mm on the rear (glows blue on model b-Envi only). Optional 80 mm fan on the front.
- Extra features: touch panel and aluminum 2.5” PATA laptop hard disk drive enclosure (controlled by an AU6391 chip). Optional SATA enclosure (USD 9.99 for the printed circuit board or USD 15.99 for the whole enclosure).
- More Information: https://www.bgears.com
- Suggested price in the US: USD 89.00 for the b-Envi-nw model and USD 99.00 for the b-Envi model.
B-Envi is an HTPC case targeted to users that want to build a home theater PC and/or to gamers that are looking for a light and small case to make it easier to carry his computer to LAN parties. Here is a summary of what we found about this case.
- Touch panel.
- Very light.
- Reduced size will save you lots of space and make it easier to carry your PC around (to LAN parties, for example).
- Aluminum 2.5” hard disk drive enclosure.
- SATA printed circuit board for the enclosure costs only USD 9.99 (or USD 15.99 if you want a whole new enclosure).
- Low-quality mechanism for the top 5.25” and memory card reader bay covers: they kept opening all the time.
- No screwless mechanism for holding daughterboards. A case on this price range should use at least thumbscrews for this function.
- No screwless mechanism for holding disk drives.
- Not speed control for the fan.
- Use of standard 4-pin peripheral power plugs on the fan, which prevents you from monitoring its speed.
- No anti-vibration mechanism for the hard disk drives.
- Some stores like Newegg.com are selling it at a price tag higher than the manufacturer suggested price.
In summary, it is a good all-aluminum option, but it isn’t flawless product. We expected a little bit more for a product in this price range, even though it comes with a hard disk drive enclosure, which increases its final price. If you won’t use this device then you are probably better off with a different product.