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   Review : SuperMicro SC-750A Full-Tower ATX Case »  


SuperMicro SC-750A Full-Tower ATX Case
 Date  : Sept 10th, 2000
 Category  : Cases
 Manufacturer   : SuperMicro
 Author  : Jin-Wei Tioh

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SuperMicro was founded in October, 1993 on Paragon Drive, San Jose, California. Thus, it can be taken as an anomaly as most of the major computer companies had their roots in Asia (primarily Taiwan). SuperMicro has grown at a brisk pace to become a company that is reknowned for its server / high-end workstation solutions. Dating back to March 1996, when it released one of the first dual Pentium Pro motherboards until currently, when it produces many of the solutions which organizations rely heavily on in do or die scenarios, SuperMicro has continued to maintain a strong presence in the server / workstation market.

However, it was not until June 1998 that SuperMicro began making inroads into the computer case business. With extensive experience in the server market, SuperMicro knows precisely what is important in this market segment. Hence, they have designed cases specifically for servers, one of which is the SC-750A. Take a look at the rather impressive features of the SC-750A :

Case Specifications
Form Factor ATX Full Tower
Drive Bays 6 external 5.25"
1 internal 5.25"
1 external 3.5"
2 internal 3.5"
Motherboard Tray Fixed
Cooling Options 3 x 80mm lower front intake fans
4 x 80mm intake fans adjacent to 5.25" bays
     (2 right, 2 left)
L-bracket side mounted 90mm intake fan facing CPU
     (max 2) 
40mm exhaust fan behind CPU
Single / Dual power supply exhaust fan/s
     (depending on PSU model)
92mm exhaust fan above PSU
Additional Features Front bezel locking mechanism
Removable / Washable air filter
     (covers 3 x 80mm lower front intake fans)
Swinging side panel
Chasis intrusion sensor (optional)
Dimensions (WxHxD) 9.5 x 30.5 x 20 inches
210 x 670 x 440 mm
Power Supply Leadman 300W Single Fan PSU
     (ATX 2.01 compliant)
Leadman 400W Dual Fan PSU - Optional
     (ATX 2.01 compliant)

At 30 inches tall, this case makes a huge impression. But what else would you expect from a case that is designed to house a reasonably sized server or a high-end workstation? While there are some other cases which also boast many drive bays and fan mounts, gaining access to the internals of the SC-750A is by far, much simpler and straightforward. Access is gained by pulling off the front bezel (which is made of solid, durable plastic that will not break or chip easily)and partially unscrewing the 3 screws on either side of the case. The side panels then swing out on "hinges" at the rear of the case. The top piece (which is held by two front and two rear screws) is also removable and gives you access to the external 3.5" bay and the internal 5.25" bay. Essentially, SuperMicro's design allows all the panels to be removed with minimal effort.

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Since SuperMicro designed this case to house servers and high-end workstations (which typically include expensive components), security is quite a serious issue. You would not want anyone running away with your processor, RAM or video card, would you? For this reason, there is a mechanical locking mechanism on the lower front of the case, thereby preventing unauthorized entry into the system. The metal used in the locking mechanism is rather sturdy, and one would probably have to smash the front bezel to circumvent it. SuperMicro also offers an optional chasis intrusion sensor, which will send a signal to the motherboard's onboard hardware monitor and indicate that the case was opened upon bootup.

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Moving on, the power button is located at the upper right corner, a convenient location if the case is sitting on the floor. As for LEDs, three LEDs provide power, hard disk, and turbo status. The turbo function had been phased out since Pentium motherboards, and the most that you will find on a motherboard is a connector for a turbo LED, hardly useful since it is permanently on. As such, the turbo LED can be used for any other function, such as indicating LAN activity, power saving modes, or (only on the ASUS P3B-F) whether you have messages waiting.

One are in which the SC-750A shines is cooling. Basically, air flows either in or out of your case. Both air intake and output must be adequate to ensure that the maximum cooling effect is achieved. It is useless to draw in a huge amount of air when it cannot be released fast enough and vice versa. The SC-750A's front bezel features countless, densely packed ventilation holes which maximizes the intake airflow of the 3 80mm fans that you can mount at the lower front of the case. Situated behind the ventilation holes is a removable, washable air filter, an important feature that is often overlooked by manufacturers. Ever heard of garbage in, garbage out? Well, if you do not filter the air intake, the intake fans will spew dusty air into the case's interior. Dust is not good for electronic components.

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After taking in the internals of the case, specifically the number of ventilation holes, fan mounts and its sheer volume, you will realize straightaway that this case has a lot of cooling potential. A total of ten fan locations are standard with the case. The SC-750A comes with three 80mm plastic mounts for the lower front of the case, one 92mm plastic holder allows the mounting of a 92mm fan directly above the power supply, and finally, it comes with one metal L-bracket, which allows one 90mm fan to blow air directly on the processor. At the rear of the case, there is a 40mm fan cutout above the included ATX I/O shield, which is directly behind the CPU. Incidentally, besides the ATX I/O shield, there are also 3 SCSI and parallel / serial port cutouts.

The SC-750A's large size offers a big advantage : excellent expansion. The case comes with a total 10 drive bays; 6 external 5.25", 1 internal 5.25", 1 external 3.5" and 2 internal 3.5". The internal 5.25" drive, external 3.5" drive and all external 5.25" drives are directly mounted to the drive bays with screws. The two internal 3.5" bays are contained within a U-shaped metal bracket. The bracket can slide along the cross bar that runs along the middle of the case. Furthermore, you can mount the bracket on either the upper or lower cross bar, which enables the end user to further increase the expansion capabilities of the case. Working inside the case is extremely easy, as it offers a lot of empty space even with its behemoth expansion capability due to efficient utilization of space.

From a construction point of view, the metal and sheet metal used to construct the case is thick, solid and robust. Sharp edges are virtually non-existent, even around the drive rails which are normally quite sharp. Also, as mentioned earlier, the front bezel is made of solid plastic that will not break or chip easily. Everything fits together perfectly. As a result, rattles were non-existent, even with the large number of fans installed.

In terms of power supply, SuperMicro offers two different power supplies; the "low-end" Leadman single fan 300W ATX PSU, and the best option available, the Leadman dual fan 400W ATX PSU. The SC-750A that BlueSmoke received came with the latter. One 80mm fan is external while the other is internal. Both these fans exhaust air out of the case and together produce a large airflow rate. While this is not quite as good as a true redundant power supply (2 power supplies in one), it offers some degree of security against power supply fan failures, which can cause the power supply to overheat and fail.

[ Note : The SC-750A is pictured in this article with an IMD 300W power supply (ST-301HR) ]

Lastly, the older revision of the SC-750A should not be confused with the newer revision, which is the revision that is reviewed here. SuperMicro has made a number of changes to the original SC-750A which are shown in the table below :

Original SC-750A / SC-750S New SC-750A
A full tower case that can accommodate full AT/ ATX size motherboards, ideal for large Pentium III/II processors Strengthened frame, reinforced tray and base, dynamic air vent
12 AT expansion slots (to match the P6DLH board) Same, reinforced expansion windows slot
7 ATX expansion slots Same, reinforced expansion windows slot
Slide in/out for 6 x 5.25" bays (external) Direct mounting
1 x 3.5" floppy bay (external) Same, with strengthened frame
2 internal hard drive cooling fan mounts, which cover 6 x 5.25" drive bays 4 internal hard drive cooling fan mounts, which cover 6 x 5.25" drive bays
3 fan mounting racks for additional system cooling Same, plus increased air vent
1 8-cm, air exhaust fan on the back 1 9-cm, air exhaust fan on the back plus increased air vent
1 9-cm, back up tachometer cooling fan for onboard thermal control Same, horizontal mounting position, optimizes CPU cooling due to the CPU's location
2 mounting positions for slide in/out 3.5" hard drive bracket (internal) 1 horizontal mounting position plus one extra top horizontal mounting position in/out for 3.5" hard drive bracket (internal)
Removable tray N/A
Easily detachable side door Same, plus louver air inlets to increase ventilation
Security keylock Same, plus chassis intrusion switch (option)
N/A I/O shield window, ATX 2.01 compliant

In conclusion, the SuperMicro SC-750A is an excellent case with solid construction, good expansion capabilities, easy access and good cooling at $160. If you need one of the best cases out there and do not mind its full tower form factor, the SC-750A is definitely worth the price of admission. I hereby give SuperMicro a big pat on the back, as well as our Excellence award!

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