|Ultra m998 Aluminum Mid-Tower ATX Case ULT40069|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Ronald Tibbetts - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 10 December 2007|
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Closer Look: m998 Interior
Inside the m998 is where this chassis really shines, litterally, with a mirrored motherboard tray accenting the matte black finish, creating a silver and black motif. Because the m998 has been painted inside using the same powder coating treatment as the exterior, it will ensure a tough scratch resistant finish that should last the test of many hardware installs. Once again owing to its server design, the m998 is wider (9.45") and longer (20.47") than most mid-tower cases today, and is technically an "extended mid-tower". With this roomy of an interior installing the latest hardware, even long style video cards, should offer little trouble.
Made of 1.5mm thick anodized aluminum sheets, the multi-functional chassis of the Ultra m998 supports ATX, Micro ATX, and 12" to 13" server motherboards (12" and 13" motherboards will require removal of the Powerbar). Roomy is an understatement here as this interior offers a large clean work space. And though made entirely of metal, every edge inside the m998 is either rolled or ground down to equal zero sharp points.
The Ultra m998 uses a standard ATX layout, with handy thumb-screws for the PCI expansion slots, and a 120mm exhaust fan that's whisper quiet (spinning at 1500rpm). The mirror like stainless steel motherboard tray adds the illusion of even more depth to this already roomy interior; by design I'm sure.
Even with a spacious layout, there's no compromise for a removable motherboard tray when doing system builds (if any reader has ever used one they will knowingly agree here). For the m998 motherboard tray Ultra uses high-polish stainless steel, and though most of it will be covered by the motherboard it still offers a nice accent to the interior of the case. Here is also shown the Ultra Powerbar, which requires removal to install extended server motherboards, this being easily done via four screws and stand-offs (more on the Powerbar in a bit). Alongside the Powerbar is a built in cable harness (with attached Pizo speaker) for routing data and power cables; a very handy feature for minimizing cable clutter around the drive stack. Every aspect of installation here is very straightforward, however, when first trying to remove the motherboard tray from the case I was surprised to find it had been screwed into the chassis using two case screws, one above and one below the Powerbar, something I unhappily discovered twenty minutes later, and after several failed attempts at removial... There is no reference to these screws in the maunal.
With all the panels removed, gaining access to any area of the Ultra m998's chassis is convenient and easy. And when stripped down this case certainly qualifies to have a water cooling mod or two done.
The drive stack for the internal 3.5" drives is removable as is the 3.5" external bay via two plastic quick release rivet style clips, first however, you will have to remove the screws mounting them to the case from the front panel (this only took five minutes to figure that out... Again, there is no reference in the manual). The 3.5" internal drive bay is attached via quick release clip to the 3.5" external drive bay, and the external 3.5" drive bay attaches to the 5.25" external drive bay the same way. It is possible to mount the 3.5" internalbay without the external bay, mounting it so will require screwing back in the drive stack, thus losing the quick release feature. It may sound complicated here, but that couldn't be further from the truth as the whole process is set up intuitivly. For maintaining HDD (hard drives) temperature and subsequently the lifespan of drives, having air movement around them is critical. Ultra remedies this by placing the 3.5" internal drive stack directly in front of a 120mm intake fan ensuring a constant air flow over the drives.
Seen here are the cable leads from each of the front I/O ports, each lead is labeled at the end as to what it is, and there are referenced in the manual for correct pin orientation during their install. To help maintain cable clutter for the cables Ultra has used intelligent cable routing via two mounted clips. One aspect I liked about this set-up is the ability to remove the cables you don't need or want, thus reducing the clutter even more.