Aerocool GT-S Black Edition Review

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Brand: Aerocool
Model: GT1 Mid Tower
RRP: ~£101 (At time of review)

Aerocool were founded in the U.S in 2002 with the aim to combine high technical expertise with innovative design to provide a total thermal solution. Nowadays Aerocool also provide a multitude of different case solutions ranging from the relatively small Dead Silence series for the ITX form factor, all the way up to what we have on test today, the colossal GT-S Black Edition. Like the InWin case that I reviewed previously, the GT-S has taken some of its inspiration from the automotive industry, so it will be interesting to see what sort of route Aerocool have decided to go with. Coming in at a shade over £100, the GT-S is entering the full tower case market at a tough price point, directly competing with the NZXT Phantom 530 and the Fractal Design Define XL R2. Let’s see if the Aerocool GT-S has what it takes to beat the competition but first a little bit about Aerocool themselves.

What Aerocool have to say about themselves:

AeroCool.US is established in 2002 in the US and is committed to share our technical expertise and innovative design in providing total-solution for thermal management. Although AeroCool.US is a new player in the cooler market, but we offer the latest cooling technology and solution for industrial and personal computers. Our strengths lie in our RD abilities, advance manufacturing facilities, strong cooperative partners and high performance and unique products.

Our engineering and RD staffs specialize in airflow analysis, material conductivity, heat transfer technology and efficiency design. AeroCool.US not only has expertise in cooler technology and product design, but we also play a vital role in the enhancement of production efficiency and marketing analysis. We are constantly developing new products and technology to meet market demands and to generate new markets for our thermal products.

As a thermal solution provider, AeroCool.US will continue to expand and lead the market in technology. Ours mission is to work closely with our partners and customers and to continue to manufacture the highest quality products to satisfy the market demand. We will continue to strive to achieve our goals and continue to improve our marketing and customer services through “e-business” and “e-marketing”. We always welcome customer suggestions and recommendations.

Specifications

Case Type Full Tower
Material 1.2mm SECC
Motherboards FLEX ATX / Micro ATX / ATX / MINI ATX / SSI CEB / SSI EEB(EATX) / XL-ATX
Chassis Dimensions 255mm(W) x 640mm(H) x 560mm(D)
Drive Bays 5 x 5.25″ (Exposed) / 7 x 3.5″ HDD or 2.5″ HDD (Internal)
Expansion Slots 10
Max length space available for PCI slots 333mm
I/O Ports 2 x USB2.0 + 2 x USB3.0 + HD Audio / Mic + Fan Control
Height limit for CPU coolers ( Without side fan ) 185mm

Features

1. High-performance case for DIY enthusiasts and heavy-duty gamers.
2. Easy to use clip-on bay covers – no need to remove front panel.
3. Removable Magnetic front door can be placed in any location on the front panel or completely removed.
4. Support high-end VGA cards up to 333mm.
5. Support CPU cooler height up to 185mm.
6. Dual color chassis design with MB plate, HDD trays, PCI tool-free slots and ODD tool-free knobs in red color for the GT-S Black version and blue color for the White version.
7. Customized Aerocool-style MB plate design with Aerocool logo supports Micro ATX, ATX and EATX motherboards.
8. Up to 10 x Tool-free PCI slot to support quad VGA cards.
9. Include 5 sets of ODD screw-less kit.
10. Include 7 sets of Easy-to-use press and pull HDD trays for 3.5″ HDD or 2.5″ HDD/SSD.
11. Include fan controller function supports up to max 25W combined.
12. Include 1x20cm LED fan (Front), 1x20cm LED fan (Top) and 1x14cm LED fan (Rear).
13. Include removable and washable dust filter for PSU.
14. W/pre-drilled CPU holes for easy mounting and removing of CPU cooler.
15. W/cable routing management and rubber grommet protection.
16. Pre-drilled water-cooling holes with rubber protection.
17. Supports 2x USB3.0 and 2x USB2.0 + audio & Mic.

 

Closer Look – Exterior

The box which the Aerocool GT-S comes in is nothing short of massive. The last week or so that I have had this case here for test it has been sitting next to a BitFenix Shinobi XL, which in itself is not a small case, and even that box is made to look small. As we see with the cast majority of cases on the market today, the boxes with either come with an illustration of what to expect will great you when you open it up, or a high resolution photograph. The Aerocool GT-S is no different. On the front of the box we are greeted with a large black box that has a frontal shot of the Aerocool GT-S chassis. We can also see two photos showing the GT shield up covering the drive bays, or down covering the lower grill. For those of you that cannot see it in the picture below, Aerocool have decided to carry on with the sporty, automotive theme on this picture by having, what appears to be part of a racing car faded out being the main picture of the case. Lastly, we can see that Aerocool have put their branding in the top right hand corner of the box as well as having the Aerocool website address at the very bottom of the box, in the middle.

On the opposite side of the box we can see that Aerocool have once again gone with the large font, GT-S Black Edition with the Aerocool logo in the top right hand corner. We also have a long list of the case features on a small font, which were on the specifications page of this review.  On this side of the box we also get a better view of the race car which has some of the aesthetical aspects of the case integrated into it, this is the same image which has been faded on the front of the box.

Taking a look at features side of the Aerocool GT-S, it shows the different features, which are on the back of the box, in other languages. These include; Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, French, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, South Korean, Japanese and Chinese, so i think that is most of the key languages covered!

On the specification side of the box, there is the same list as is shown in the specifications table on the previous page. Unfortunately for us, City Link decided to stick the postage label over it, so all I can do is apologise for that. This specification list would be helpful to anyone buying this case in a shop as it give you the information you need to see whether your chosen components will fit.

The front panel is, in my opinion, pretty standard. It is mounted facing almost upwards towards the ceiling. It consists of two USB 2.0 ports as well as the 3.5mm input jacks for headphones and a microphone. Aerocool have also managed to include dual super speed USB 3.0 ports, which is a nice feature to see as more and more cases i see are still coming equipped with only a single USB 3.0 port on the front panel. Also in this picture we get a view of the GT branding just below the front IO, along with a little inscription saying Aerocool design. This is etched into a piece of plastic which has been given a treatment to look like a piece of brushed aluminium.

On the rear, we are given a black back panel; the finish of the paint is the same as the rest of the case. At the top of the chassis, we can see where the plastic roof panel meets the top of the chassis. There is a cut out there to allow any user a hand hold to remove the roof panel, be this because you want to change or install fans or modify the chassis in any way. Below that we can see that Aerocool have given us 4 rubber water-cooling grommets to get hoses into and out of the case if you wish to use an external water-cooling set up. We can also see a large vented fan mount which comes stock with a 140mm red LED fan. This mount has also been tooled to accept a 120mm fan if that is what you desire to use. To the left of the fan mount we can see an IO cut out for the motherboard IO and will accommodate the IO shield. Below this is are 10 PCI expansion slots, all of these come with removable, red, vented slot covers, which allow a decent amount of air through them whilst keeping out as much of the dust as possible. These are not break offs, like we saw in the InWin chassis, but are re-fittable thanks to the tool-less PCI expansion slots, but more on that later. Below the PCI expansions is the PSU cut out. This has been tooled for a range of screw lay outs so you should be able to mount your PSU into the case securely no matter what orientation the PSU manufacturer has decided to go with for the screw holes. Lastly we have the feet for the case and a removable dust filter for the PSU intake in the floor of the case. This is a nice feature as it means that you do not need to flip the case over to remove and then re-apply the filter for cleaning, simply slide it out, wash it, and clip it back in.

Closer Look – Exterior Cont.

Starting with the roof of the case, we can see that the aesthetic of the panel is dominated by large vented panel. Looking at the roof, I cannot help but think they have drawn their inspiration from the engine covers of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. With the deep, recessed vents, sporting quite an aggressive design which definitely ties in with Aerocool’s styling for this case, but also providing a good amount of ventilation for the roof fans to exhaust any hot air out of the chassis. The hexagonal mesh which can be seen on the roof panel is part of it, we are not looking through six big cut outs and onto the chassis itself, Aerocool have decided to mesh the whole underside of the roof panel, which is a good move in my eyes, as it means that you can do some modifications to the roof of the chassis, and then clip on the panel and effectively hide all your work from view and making people think that it is a stock case until they have a look inside.

Moving onto the roof of the Chassis itself. As you can see below, it comes with the stock set up of a 200mm LED fan, but you may also notice that there are mounts there also for 2x 140mm and 2x120mm fans. This is a good move on from Aerocool, as it not only allows for users to mount any of the All-In-One cooling solutions on the market, Such as the Corsair H100i or the Corsair H110, but also accommodates for some custom watercooling set ups. The roof section also opens up some modification opportunities. The roof panel and the interior are big enough to house a 360mm radiator; all you would need to do is cut out a small section of the roof panel in line with the existing 120mm mounts, and then drill the holes for the fans. The fans can then be mounted outside the chassis and hidden underneath the roof panel; this would then allow a 360mm radiator with a maximum thickness of 45mm as 60mm is cutting it tight. If you were to consider doing this I would recommend measuring the space between top of your motherboard to the roof, I had approximately 50mm of room with the fans mounted outside the chassis. This then brings me onto some improvements for Aerocool to make. First of all, to make the case more friendly for water-cooling radiators, it would be nice to see Aerocool offset the mounts towards the window side of the case, this would possibly allow for larger radiators to be mounted in the roof of the chassis as it would reduce the risk of the motherboard heat sinks or RAM being fouled. It would have also been nice for Aerocool to put the third mount in the roof for a 120mm or 140mm fan as this would have increased the cooling potential for any user, whether they would want to watercool or aircool, as there is plenty of room there to allow for it.

Moving around to the right hand side of the case, we can see the power and reset switches as well as the HDD activity lights. These lights flash red upon activity, which tie in with the overall red and black theme of the case nicely. The furthest button to the left of the case is the power switch with the one next to it being the reset switch. Both of these buttons feel sturdy and give a reassuring click to let you know you have pressed them.

On the opposite, left hand side, of the case we find these two buttons labled speed- and speed+. These are the controls for the fan controller. There are no obvious noises to let you know whether you have change the speed of the fans, I found that I just had to listen to the audible change in pitch of the fans ramping up or slowing down. Also, as far as I could tell, the fan controller work by switching between 5v, 7v and 12v. Whilst this is quite a basic refinement for a fan controller at least it gives you the choice for the three speeds and allows you to find the best one for your needs whether it be silence, pure performance, or that happy middle.

Now for the front of the case. Aerocool have implemented a shield on the front which is magnetised and attaches itself to the metal meshing on the drive bay covers as well as the meshing on the lower grill for the fans air intake. The have adorned this shield with two racing stripes, which again ties in with the automotive inspiration for the aesthetics, and also put the same GT branding on it that we saw around the front panel IO. you can also see the two lights on the front bezel, two on each side, which illuminate with a red glow when the system is switched on.

Here is a closer look at the lower grill and air intake for the front fan. Aerocool have used a fairly non-restrictive mesh which allows for maximum airflow but also looks really good. They have also put a plain and simple GT logo in the middle of the grill, which to me looks like a manufacturer badge that you would see on the front of any modern car. Tucked away at the very bottom is the Aerocool logo, which is black and silver, which suits the colour scheme nicely. You might just be able to make out the dust filtering behind the front grill, this is fine foam and whilst it is not removable to wash, you should be able to vacuum most of the surface dust off and bash the rest out of it.

We now see what the front bezel looks like with the shield down covering the lower bay. This reveals the 5 x 5.25″ optical bays which in this case have all their covers on. As with the lower grill in the previous picture, the drive bay covers are covered in the same meshing and have the same sort of foam dust filtering on them. This again, allows for a good amount of air flow through them whilst stopping any unwanted dust from entering you system. The covers themselves use a small red latch on either end which is sprung loaded, when you push both these in, in tandem, it releases the latches on the side and allows you to remove and replace them with relative ease. One small downside with the shield, as you can probably see in the picture is that it partially covers the lowest optical bay. Whilst in this configuration it is not an issue, it could be a problem if you were to populate that bay with a DVD or other optical device.

Here we have a closer look at the bay covers so you can get a better idea of the sort of foam that Aerocool are putting being the mesh on the front panel.

Here we have the other side of the entire front panel. Now you can clearly see the latching mechanism used for the drive bay covers as well the foam used to dust filter the covers and the lower grill. Also visible is the wiring for the 4 lights that illuminate the side of the front bezel when the system is powered on.

Here we get a better look at the front of the chassis. In its stock configuration, the Aerocool GT-S has the 1st and 5th optical bay free for use, with metal break offs blocking the 2nd, 3rd and 4th bays. We can also see the holes running down the left and right hand edges of the case where the front panel clips into the chassis as well as what appear to be cable routing holes above and below the fan grill. Lastly we have the fan grill itself which has been tooled solely for a 200mm fan. This is disappointing in my eyes and I feel that Aerocool at the very least could have made the grill a slightly different shape and put in mounting holes for a dual 120mm and 140mm fan setup as well as maybe extending it up to a 3rd 120mm or 140mm fan mounts going into the metal break offs in the drive bays using a similar style to that of BitFenix on the Shinobi XL. It would have also been nice to see the drive bay cage and the HDD cages secured in with screws, mainly so that if you did want to remove them all from the front of the case to fit some large radiators, the 360mm Alphacool Monsta springs to mind, then you would be able to and it would then allow you to put the case back into its stock configuration if you ever wanted to move onto a new case. With these small allowances for water-cooling, Aerocool could have made this case an absolute beast for the water-cooling market.

Now onto the bottom of the case. We can see that there are rubberised feet, one in each corner to stop the case from sliding around your floor at home. We can also get a better look at the included dust filter for the PSU. I like this implementation for the dust filter as it allows the user to easily slide it out from the back of the case, clean it then clip it back in. There is none of the case tipping that is involved in some of the cruder and cheaper solutions on the market. We can also see the optional fan mount in the bottom, this will take either a 120mm or 140mm fan, which is ideal for shooting some fresh air straight into the middle of your system for anyone air cooling. The feet on this case are also quite large, and inch or so, giving the case a nice clearance off the ground. This goes a long way to helping stop any fans you have in the floor of the case sucking any dust off debris straight into the chassis.

Lastly for the exterior we have the massive window side panel. Whilst i do not like seeing fan mounts in windows, as the consensus is that it generally ruins the aesthetic of a window, I can see why Aerocool have done this, as it appears to be primarily marketed towards the air cooling crowd. The window features mounts for a single 200mm fan or dual 120mm or 140mm fans. This should provide you with a strong airflow over the motherboard and those users running multi-GPU setups will find this helpful if they are struggling with temperatures. The window itself is nice and large and covers the vast amount of real estate inside the case that you would want to see.

 

Closer Look – Interior and Installation

On first appearances, the Aercool GT-S is an absolute colossus, swallowing up my test set up and leaving plenty of room to spare. This case has the ability to house motherboard from ITX form factor all the way up to XL-ATX, and Aerocool have put mounting options on the motherboard tray to secure any board you would wish to use inside it. The red and black colour scheme from the outside of the case continues inside, with the interior being dominated by an almost scarlet red motherboard tray, which then contrasts nicely with the black chassis and HHD/optical bays in the front of the case and the black rubber grommets for the cable management. Aerocool have used rubber grommets on all of the cable management holes, they have also included an 8pin CPU power cut out too. One small oversight from Aerocool in this department is that i had to use an 8pin CPU power extension to get the power to the motherboard using the cable management holes. This is mainly because the case is so colossal that it simple does not reach. With some of the extras that Aerocool included with the case, one of these being a USB3.0 header to USB2.0 motherboard header, which I think is a stroke of genius if you have an older board with no USB3.0 connectivity, it is a shame that they did not see the need to include an 8pin CPU extension cable for this exact problem. There are some case manufacturers out there, Nanoxia being one, that include these extension cables with the case as they are aware that some PSU’s on the market will struggle to reach the CPU power. We can also see the dust filtered 120mm or 140mm fan mount in the floor of the case, if you felt that you needed that extra little airflow. As you can see, I am only using one GPU here, and it is the massive Asus 7970 DirectCUII TOP card, which is triple slot. Even with the second card in this case it still looked like there was plenty of room inside and the case performed admirably in keeping both cards cool. The red and black colour scheme of this case will appeal to those users going for an Asus ROG theme or an MSI gaming series theme, which is what I have tried to do here.

Taking a closer look at the PCI expansion area of the motherboard. The GT-S come equipped with 10 PCI expansion slots, finished with red, ventilated slot covers. This will allow you to use the largest of motherboards and have enough PCI slots to cover any solution you may wish to use. As for the tool-less PCI slots, Aerocool have decided to do away with the traditional thumbscrews and use this design. Essentially they are levers which then move a contact plate which applies constant pressure to the PCI slot hold the device or slot cover in place. While this design has been implemented well, and worked when I was testing it, the aesthetics can be a bit marmite, and personally I do not think it helps the appearance within the case.

In the roof we have the 1 x 200mm top exhaust fan which is shown in its stock configuration. This fan can be mounted inside the chassis, as shown or outside the chassis. This is the same for the 120mm and 140mm configurations as well. If you were to mount the fans outside the chassis it would give you plenty of room for a radiator in the roof, mine was about 50mm, so you could use a custom 45mm watercooling radiator maximum or use a H100i on push pull configuration. As will all radiator setups, I would urge you to make sure you measure the space that you have with your components before buying any radiator. We can also see the BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro2 cooler mounted in the case. Whilst there is not a massive amount of spare room between the top of the cooler and the window panel, it is a few millimeters, so most coolers should fit in this case without a problem.

With regards to the amount of cages for your storage devices, in the GT-S there are plenty, seven to be precise. These are made from a very rigid plastic and are quite deep which would allow you to double up your SSD’s if you were to have more than seven, this is something that I have done in the picture below. Again, they are a red color, which ties in nicely with the aesthetics of the case and provide mounting holes for both SSD’s and HDD’s, Aerocool have even gone to the trouble of providing the users with a short screw to secure your devices, so that you do not damage them.

Now for the tool-less optical drives. There are five of them in total, each fitted with the same tool-less fittings. These consist of a red dial, which can be turned 90 degrees to the left to unlock it. This then allows you to move the whole of the fitting around until you get you device lines up and then turn it another 90 degrees to the right, so the GT logo is in the same position as the photo, to look the optical device in place. The only negative i can find with this tool-less implementation is that there is nothing to physically hold onto when using it, so it can be a little difficult to tighten the dial up.

 Moving onto the back of the motherboard tray. The first issue that hit me was the fan controller. It is primarily using Molex power connectors to the fans with is ok with the stick configuration, but will cause issues with aftermarket fans. Also, because they are all using Molex connectors, you have to daisy chain them all up together, and this then means that most of the clutter lies behind the HDD cages. Another issue I found, and this picture illustrates it well, is that you generally will need to use a CPU power extension, like I have done, if you want to hide your cables behind the motherboard tray. The reason for this is simple, the case is so vast, most of the PSU’s do not come with a cable long enough to stretch this vast distance. It would have been nice for Aerocool to include a small extension in the box of accessories for this eventuality as I am sure it is a problem for most users, I have four different power supplies here from different manufacturers, and none of them could span this distance. The last issue with the back of the motherboard tray is the the lack of cable tie points. The vast majority of the points are focused along the left hand edge of the motherboard try where a lot of the rubber grommets are. However, there do not appear to be any along the right hand edge of the motherboard tray where you would typically route the CPU power and any fan cables. The downside to this is that you generally concentrate all the cables in one area, thus making it a bit harder for you to keep the cables tidy and stop them bulging the back panel out. I will apologise for not doing any cable management with this case, unfortunately I ran out of cable ties when doing this part of the review.

 

Conclusion

Having used the Aerocool GT-S for just over a week now, getting a feel for the performance it has to offer in everyday usage as well as heavy gaming, and having some time to appreciate its aesthetic, I feel that i am now prepared to give you a conclusion to this chassis

As with Gavin’s review of the Antec GX700 chassis as well as my own review of the InWin GT1 chassis, a lot of the appeal for the Aerocool GT-S case is going to be coming from the looks department. I would say that when I look at buying a case it is 50/50 between aesthetics and compatibility. However, I do know that there are people out there who will buy a case specifically for the looks of it, and worry about if their parts fit later. Well, being such a large case Aerocool have got these areas covered too as it will fit most mainstream motherboards with ease and even accommodate multi-GPU setups, and has plenty of room in to roof to accommodate a good size water-cooling radiator or a solution such as a H100i in push pull if you mount one set of fans outside the chassis, underneath the roof panel. The chassis is also machined from thick, high quality steel. This meant that there was practically no flex in the side panels or the case itself. Also because of this construction the case lends itself to modifications, such as modifying the front of the case to accommodate a 240mm radiator or the roof to accommodate a 360mm radiator. I like the design of the front panel. The meshing is a nice black and gives a good overall look, whilst maintaining optimal airflow. This same feature has been carried over to the optical bay covers and gives the whole front panel a nice uniform look. Also, kudos to Aerocool for dust filtering the whole of the front panel, and most of the case for that matter. If you were to orientate your fans in such a way that the case maintained positive internal pressure, then dust would be at an absolute minimum. The red and black colour scheme may end up limiting people buying this case to an Asus ROG or MSI Gaming theme, as they are the main two that spring to mind for a red and black themed build. The cooling performance of this case is also very good. It was the best case that we have tested on the i7 under load, and that is in its stock configuration. If you were to fill all of the fan slots, this case could be an air cooling demon. The acoustics were not too shabby as well. It would appear that Aerocool have used silent case cans which have a good air flow at low RPM. The inclusion of LED fans is also a nice touch as it gives a nice red ambient glow to the chassis when it is in use, and matches the four red LED’s on the front of the case nicely.

Moving away from the cooling, there is ample room for multiple storage options, whether you prefer SSD’s or HDD’s, as well as providing an ample amount of 5.25 drive bays which means if you did want to watercool you could fit a dual bay pump and res combo with a DVD drive and a fan controller if you so desired.

An area that I feel Aerocool could have done much better on is the cable management side of things. Other than the plethora of cable tie points running down the left hand side of the motherboard tray, there are virtually none in the middle or right hand side. This essentially means that you have to concentrate all of your cable management in the middle of the case, which may cause issues trying to keep it tight and tidy and stopping the cables putting a bulge into the side panel. If they had put a liberal spread around the whole of the motherboard tray, it would have helped the cable management out no end.  The fan controller, whilst good with a stock fan configuration, will be useless if the end user decides to use aftermarket fans. Consider Aerocool do have a line of fan controllers in a variety of formats, it would have been nice to see them refine one of the full size versions for this chassis, as it really does lend itself to filling up all of the fan bays.

In conclusion, I feel that the Aerocool GT-S is a great all-rounder and was very competitive in all of your tests so far. For us at Play3r, it is early days with case testing, and we will see how well the Aerocool GT-S performs while we continue to populate our database with results from other cases. I am going to award the Aerocool GT-S a Design and Performance award. I feel that there are only a handful of small design flaws with this case, the biggest of them being the need for an 8pin CPU power extension. However, I hope that upon reading this review Aerocool will sort this issue and provide a small extension cable with the case. The performance award speaks for itself, as it stands, it is the best performing case we have currently used, and I am confident that it will be nipping on the heels of the competition. With a few refinements, Aerocool can get themselves into class with the likes of NZXT and Fractal Design, which is where I feel they deserve to be. In regards to the pricing. I feel that at £101 it is dangerously close to the NZXT and Fractal Design cases, and because of that people will go for those over the offering from Aerocool. That is not to say that it is not worth £101, because it is, it is just far too close to its main rivals who are offering slightly more refined, and in some cases, tasteful chassis.

I would like to take the time to say thank you to Aerocool for the sample and we at Play3r look forward to seeing more in the near future.

 

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

Upon receiving the Aerocool GT-S I was not sure what to make of it. To begin with I thought that it would just be a big chassis with poor refinement, and how I was proved wrong. Over time, the Aerocool GT-S has grown on me. Not only has it been a pleasure to build in and work with, but is aesthetically pleasing too. Thanks to its strong thermal and acoustic performance, with high build quality and plenty of options for air or water cooling, i feel that the Aerocool GT-S is fully deserving of its 4.7 stars.

4.7

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