For many geeks acrylic cases are a dream coming true. Sunbeamtech currently manufactures five models and even though theoretically acrylic is a material more expensive than steel, Sunbeamtech is able to market their acrylic products between USD 50 to USD 85, which is a real bargain. Today we are going to take an in-depth look at their most expensive model, AC-9B-HUVB, a mid-tower case featuring nine 5.25” bays, a hard disk drive cage for up to four drives and space for installing up to six fans (the case comes with three 120 mm fans that glow blue when they are turned on). Check it out.
Even though the final result is really beautiful, acrylic is a very complicated material. It can be easily scratched or cracked and it tends to make the computer internally hotter compared to steel and aluminum cases, as it doesn’t dissipate heat very well.
To avoid scratches and cracks during transportation, acrylic cases come disassembled. So you will have to assemble them yourself and because of that the whole process of building your PC will take a lot more time (at least one extra hour). If you don’t like building kits this case isn’t for you, but if you are a geek that loved to build model kits when you were a kid you will love this case.
As you can see in Figure 1 the package from the reviewed case is far smaller than any other case we’ve reviewed to date.
On the pictures below we show all the parts that come inside the box.
[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]
[nextpage title=”Building the Case”]
You have to be very careful when building this case in order to not scratch or crack it. We recommend you to build it on top of a carpet. Do not apply too much pressure on the screws to avoid cracking the acrylic. The case comes with a pair of gloves to avoid your from scratching or leaving lots of fingerprints while building the unit. Even with all our care we made a little scratch on the bottom panel from our sample.
The manual, even though is written in “Engrish,” is very detailed and easy to follow. One thing that helped a lot was the fact that all screws came in individual little bags with stickers telling their part numbers (used on the manual) and their use. The main screws are thumbscrews, which is great.
We took pictures of the case after the completion of each building step present on the manual; so on the pictures below you can follow the birth of our acrylic case.
[nextpage title=”Building the Case (Cont’d)”]
On Figures 15 and 16 you can see the case completely assembled, without the fans. Since there are several options for the fans, we will talk sepa
rately about them in the next page.
Our main concern about this case was regarding its internal ventilation, as PCs built on acrylic cases tend to heat a lot more. This case, however, surpassed our expectations: you can install up to six fans on it. Four of these places are fixed: one 120 mm fan on the rear panel, two 120 mm fans on the left panel and one 80 mm fan on the top panel.
The problem is that this case comes only with three 120 mm fans and there is no cover for the top 80 mm hole. So unless you buy an 80 mm fan you will have a permanent hole on the top of your case.
The fans that come with the case use 3-pin connectors for you to install them directly on the motherboard, allowing you to monitor their speed through your favorite monitoring program. Each fan also has a power adapter allowing you to connect them directly to the power supply if your motherboard hasn’t enough fan connectors.
The holes for the fans don’t offer any kind of protection. At one hand this is very good: traditionally cases use a meshed protection that blocks part of the airflow. So on this case all fans will provide 100% of their airflows. On the other hand, you can hurt a finger or break something by touching the fans. Also, since there is no dust filter, the fans will blow a lot of dust inside your case. The case comes with one grill, but the manufacturer recommends it to be installed on the optional fan that goes in the middle of the case (see Figure 21). We think that this case could come with four more grills.
The two additional places you can install fans are the front panel and inside the case, in the same fashion used on Silent Storm case from the same manufacturer.
The case comes with an adapter for you to install a 120 mm fan on the front panel (see Figure 4). This fan will take three 5.25” bays. The preferred place for installing this fan is in front of the hard disk drive cage, but you can install it on any three bays you like. You will need to buy this fan. If you use any of the fans that come with the case you will have an open hole either on the left panel or on the rear panel (if you look closely to Figure 18 you will see that the lower hole on the left panel is opened).
In Figure 19, you can see the optional fan that can go inside the case, to be placed around the front side of the motherboard (this fan is called “core fan” by the manufacturer).
[nextpage title=”Ventilation (Cont’d)”]
Below you have some pictures of the case in the dark with all the fans turned on (the middle and front fans don’t come with the case). The acrylic used on this case is bluish, as you can see.
[nextpage title=”The Disk Drive Bays”]
This case has nine external 5.25” bays, coming with adapter pegs for one 3.5” device. It also comes with a hard disk drive cage supporting up to four drives. This cage takes three 5.25” bays and you can install it on any three bays you want, it doesn’t have to be the lower three bays, even though this is the most common configuration.
So if you don’t have a floppy disk drive and have only one hard disk drive you can install up to eight 5.25” devices, by removing the hard disk drive cage and installing the single disk using the four pegs that come with the unit. If you have a floppy disk drive then you have to use the hard disk drive cage. In this scenario, which is probably the most common one, you have five 5.25” bays, one external 3.5” bay and four internal 3.5” bays.
This case does not implement any kind of screwless mechanism, so you have to use screws to fasten all drives (and the hard disk drive cage) to the case.
It also doesn’t bring any kind of mechanism for reducing the noise produced by the hard disk drives.
[nextpage title=”Building a System”]
We built a PC using the case to learn how it was like building a system using the reviewed product.
The building experience was very positive. The motherboard is attached directly to the right panel through a series of transparent standoffs, which are far taller than the traditional brass standoffs used on regular cases. This makes the motherboard to be at a very good distance from the right panel, improving the air flow and preventing overheating.
The side panels are attached to the case using thumbscrews, making it very easy to close or to remove them.
The only thing we didn’t like about the building process was the fact that for fastening daughterboards regular screws are used. We think the manufacturer should have included thumbscrews there, especially when you think that the case comes with 60 thumbscrews to be used on all external parts.
On the pictures below you can s
ee our mid-range PC built using this case.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Sunbeamtech 9-Bay Acrylic case (AC-9B-HUVB) main specs include:
- Application: ATX and smaller form factors derived from this one.
- Material: Acrylic.
- Power supply required: Doesn’t come with the product.
- Available colors: Bluish transparent.
- Side panel: 100% transparent with manufacturer name engraved.
- Dimensions: 18 7/64” x 9” x 18 1/2” (46 cm x 23 cm x 47 cm) (H x W x D).
- Net Weight: 14.1 lbs (6.4 Kg)
- Gross Weight: 16 lbs (7.3 Kg)
- Bays: Nine external 5.25” bays, one external 3.5” bay (converted from one of the 5.25” bays) and four internal 3.5” bays inside one hard disk drive cage (this case uses three 5.25” bays).
- Expansion slots: Seven.
- Fans: Two 120 mm fans on the side and one 120 mm fans on the rear (all glow blue when turned on). Optional front 120 mm fan, middle 120 mm fan and top 80 mm fan.
- More Information: https://www.sunbeamtech.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 85.00.
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
Sunbeamtech 9-Bay Acrylic case (AC-9B-HUVB) is a 100% transparent case targeted to the average user that wants to build a system with a very different looks.
- Excellent material.
- Excellent cost/benefit ratio.
- Excellent ventilation, with places for up to six fans. Big holes with no mesh for the fans allow the fans to deliver their maximum airflow potential.
- Very light.
- A delight for DYI users.
- You have to be very careful to not scratch or crack your case.
- Requires extra time for you to put the case together, increasing the PC building time by around one hour.
- Holds only up to four (or five, if a floppy disk drive isn’t used) hard disk drives, so high-end users will probably want to look for a different product.
- No screwless mechanisms or thumbscrews for holding daughterboards, optical drives or hard disk drives.
- No anti-vibration mechanisms for the hard disk drives.
- The reset and power buttons are too tight in their holes, making them to get stuck sometimes.
- Comes with only three fans. It should have come with at least the top 80 mm fan and one more 120 mm fan for the front panel.
- No cover for the top 80 mm hole. If you don’t buy an 80 mm fan your case will have a hole on its top panel. This is the main aesthetic flaw from this case.
- Comes only with one fan grill. Most fans will remain “open,” being injury hazards.
- No dust filters for the fans. Your PC components will be filled with dust in no time.
- The two USB ports are too close to each other, preventing the installation of two “fat” devices at the same time.
- The presence of the manufacturer name on the left panel may be a non-desirable feature by some users that want a 100% transparent case.