If geeks love it, we’re on it

AZZA Solano 1000 review

AZZA Solano 1000 review

azza-logoAZZA 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.

Specifications

Motherboard Compatibility:

  • Extended ATX
  • ATX
  • Micro ATX

Expansion:

  • External 5.25″ Drive Bay: 10
  • External 3.5″ Drive Bay: 1
  • Internal 3.5″ Drive Bay: 8
  • Expansion: 7

Front Ports:

  • 2 x USB
  • e-SATA
  • Audio
  • Mic

Cooling System:

  • 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

Dimensions:

  • (H x W x D): 21.5″ (545mm) x 8.1″ (213mm) x 19.7″ (500mm)
The shipping box.

The shipping box.

Initial impression

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 little pieces

The Solano 1000's accessories.

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.

Details

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 Solano 1000 out of the box.

Right out of the box.

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 Solano with it's face off.

The Solano 1000 with its face off.

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.

The buttons and ports are on the top of the case, instead of on the front where they belong.

The buttons and ports are on the top of the case, instead of on the front where they belong.

Installation

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.

There is plenty of space indide this box.

There is plenty of space inside this box.

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.

It's rare to find a HD cage that's cool looking on it's own, but here we have one.

It's rare to find a HDD cage that looks cool on its own, but here we have one.

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.

Everything connected except the power

Everything connected except the power.

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.

Finish

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.

Sleek and stylish.

Sleek and stylish.

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.

an impressive grill.

An impressive grill.

Overview

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • Ports on top
  • No front door
  • HDD cage removal requires removal of both side panels.
  • Cheap side window material

Other points

  • 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.

Comments

  1. Harudath
  2. Colgere
    Colgere
    Harudath said:
    Antec 900 much?
    ^ this.
  3. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster Its such a simple thing, but I really appreciate the fact that they took the time to cut out ample slots on the sides and above the motherboard to facilitate cable management behind the motherboard tray. All too often a perfectly nice case is ruined by poor cable management, does not appear to be a problem here.

    Looks like a nice piece of hardware.
  4. CB
    CB
    Harudath said:
    Antec 900 much?
    Yeah, it's large, black, and rectangular. It's exactly like the 900.
  5. airbornflght
    airbornflght Not only that, but the front design, front port area, storage tray, and top fan have an uncanny resemblance...

    As well as the side window and fan design, along with the beveled corners on the front. This is a blatant rip off.
  6. mas0n
    mas0n Love it or hate it, the 900 set the bar for affordable performance cases. There are going to be many "rip-offs" for quite a while because it's a damn good design. The end result will be better cases for consumers, so I don't understand why people whine about it. For example, this case looks to be almost identical to the 900 but adds some cable management features (which the 900 sorely lacked) a place to mount a bottom fan, a larger side fan, and a nice hard drive cage.

    WIN.
  7. iceman99
    iceman99 This Solano 1000 does remind you P900 or P1200…so it’s not that original, but it has much improved function and more drive bays than P900 AND the inner black paint is pretty cool. I checked the price on ncix.com and directron.com, it’s only $80 after MIR. At this price, it’s a super deal for a case like this, what more can you ask for??????
  8. Connor
    Connor "Antec 900 much?"

    Well, if you can't beat the case itself, just take it and add some more features to it! Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, after all.
  9. Leonardo
    Leonardo
    Love it or hate it, the 900 set the bar for affordable performance cases.
    Then Antec designed the 900 II and set the bar even higher:
    • same outside dimensions as the 900 but with more usable interior space
    • integrated, well thought-out cable management
    • integrated fan speed adjusters on the outside of the case for all four included case fans
    • same excellent build quality and sturdiness
  10. PYRO404
    PYRO404 I have a 900, a 902 and a Solano 1000. I find all these morons that complain about "rip-offs" and such quite amusing. How many different forms of computer cases do you expect companies to come up with? I could go on all day listing how many cases are almost identical to others but I rather waste my time ranting on you rather then with you. Everyone has their own opinions on what makes a tower look good and thats what the majority of companies market for. Some companies offer stock performance cooling Azza and Antec is NOT of them but the Solano beats the 900 out for stock cooling hands down. 900 was ok and has now been outclassed by it's cousin Solano...deal with it and stop whining. THAT SAID...wile the solano 1000 is my fav of my cheap towers my favorite towers are my Tt Tsumani Dream and my Tt Kandalf and my Kandalf if with out a doubt my fav case.

    Anyway..I'm done ranting and offering my two-cents. I'm sure people will reply but I probably wont see it. Have a great one felow Azza users.
  11. DrLiam
    DrLiam I really need to invest in one of the above cases.. My ANTEC 'Silence' case isn't cutting it anymore.

Howdy, ! Got something to say?