AZZA recently sent us one of their Solano 1000 PC cases to evaluate. AZZA was founded on a simple principle of providing customers with exceptional service and quality for a value-driven price. The Solano 1000 is targeted at gamers and power users, and boasts great cooling and flexibility. Though we found a few nit-picky flaws, we think it’s a generally great case for the price.
- Extended ATX
- Micro ATX
- External 5.25″ Drive Bay: 10
- External 3.5″ Drive Bay: 1
- Internal 3.5″ Drive Bay: 8
- Expansion: 7
- 2 x USB
- 1 x 230mm blue LED silent fan (24DBA) on top
- 1 x 230mm blue LED silent fan (24DBA) on the side
- 2 x 140mm blue LED silent fan (19DBA) in front
- 1 x 120mm fan in rear
- (H x W x D): 21.5″ (545mm) x 8.1″ (213mm) x 19.7″ (500mm)
As we removed the Solano from its retail packaging, it was immediately evident that the chassis is well protected. Setting the case aside, the included parts box contains the brackets and panel needed to install a 3.5″ floppy drive. There are also as many thumbscrews as one could ever want in addition to the normal complement of cable ties and motherboard mounting hardware.
The picture on the box does not quite give one the sense of just how big the 230mm side-panel fan looks in person. Once it’s out, and sitting on the workbench, that fan becomes the defining visual feature of the case. The fan really is massive, and the frame and the window’s lines accentuate it. With the obvious exception of the side window, the case is fully finished in matte black.
Taking a closer look at the case, a few things stand out right away: First off, there is a lot of fan here. Two 140mm fans attached to the HDD cages dominate the front. The giant side fan has a twin in the top of the case that’s hidden behind a finned grill when viewed front-on. Finally, a single 120mm fan is mounted in the rear. AZZA has made sure that the Solano will move plenty of air in a hurry.
Moving on, we found that the side window is shaped well and improves the overall look of the case, but the plastic isn’t of the highest quality. Anyone using this case needs to be very careful because this type of hard, clear acrylic scratches or cracks easily compared to alternative materials like Plexiglas.
The vents on the bottom give us some concern. The documentation states that they are for flexibility in PSU placement, which is understandable. I appreciate having the PSU’s mounts located at the bottom, but these vents are only a good idea if the computer is going to be placed on a desk, or in some other relatively sterile place. Placing this case on the floor, especially a carpeted one, would just beg for dirt and dust in the case. I would think about taping some air filters over those vents in that situation.
The front of the case is lent a sleek and modern appearance with the adoption of the perforated metal mesh that has become so popular. Like other high-airflow cases, this chassis does not have a door, so be sure to purchase black drives to match the face of the Solano.
The Solano also has breakout ports, but they’re located on the top of the case as opposed to the front. Some amongst Icrontic’s staff dislike this configuration as they’re hard to reach if the case is on a desk, and they tend to collect crud more easily than front-facing ports. This all boils down to personal preference, however.
Mounting our test rig in the Solano was a breeze; the case’s interior is positively cavernous. All of components installed without any twisting or angling, and we would be impressed if anyone looking at a case in this price range could pack the Solano to the brim.
The motherboard tray, while not removable, was still easy to access. There are several raised mounting points on the tray, so we only had to install three standoffs to fully mount our ATX motherboard. And since the hard drive cages slide out from the front, there was no trouble getting the cages in and out even after the motherboard and expansion cards were in place. Like the Antec 900, the Solano mounts the front fans directly to the hard drive cage, and we hope to see more of this trend in the future.
The HDD cages themselves are very nice. Sturdy construction, and padded interiors means that your hard disks will operate safely and quietly. The only thing not to like about the cages is that they are secured from both sides. This, of course, keeps them in place nicely, but it also means that the opposite side panel must be removed in order to add and remove hard drives. This case is not for someone who frequently reconfigures his or her internal storage.
There is plenty of room for cable management, and the box of little parts even includes a few high-quality cable ties. Everything except the motherboard is mounted with thumbscrews, and the Solano comes with more than enough to get the job done.
While we find many LED-strewn cases to err on the gaudy side, it’s cases like the Solano 1000 that reminds us of the tasteful ways an LED can be used. The Solano really does look sleek with its matte black finish and gentle blue glow.
The assembled, running case is sleek and visually interesting without being annoying. The side-fan is obviously the visual center of this design, and that’s okay. The top fan, covered with a finned grill, sheds thin lines of light onto any surface behind the Solano. Lastly, the front fans can be seen at certain angles. In all, none of these lights proved distracting.
- The huge side panel fan is stylish
- Plenty of cooling (5 fans)
- External SATA port
- Lots of thumbscrews
- Bottom-mounted PSU
- HD cages have foam lining
- Good price point (approx. $80)
- Ports on top
- No front door
- HDD cage removal requires removal of both side panels.
- Cheap side window material
- Vents on the floor of the case might need air-filter.
- Fans aren’t noisy, but not exceptionally quiet either.
- Available through Directron and NCIX.