Since the acceptance of USB and Firewire, consumers have found themselves with a plethora of new gadgets and gizmos to clutter their desktop, furthering the tangle of cords behind their PCs. Vendors have started supplying front panel connectors to their cases, adding functionality and convenience to their products. Companies have started adding more features into these panels to compete with each other. Some consolidate fan buses and temperature monitors into their panels. Today we are looking one of Enermax’s entries into the market, the UC-A07FATR2. We are reviewing the black model, but they are available in black, white, and silver.
The Enermax comes packaged in a clear fold-out plastic blister-pack, and is easily opened. Some blister packs are completely sealed, and require forceful destruction with a myriad of sharp objects to open. Inside one will find the product itself, a Firewire extension cable, a USB 2.0 extension cable, Audio extension cables, 2 cable ties, adhesive strips, and a small manual. The necessary power connections, fan connectors, and thermal probes are already fitted into place.
The Enermax encorporates a cage that initially seems larger than necessary. Enermax has designed raised points within the cage to accept a hard drive, or 2 80mm fans. The addition of fans make this panel an effective hard drive bay cooler. The panel and cage is completely aluminum, and is coated with a thick glossy lacquer finish. It is very light, but sturdy. All of the connections were also sturdy.
The tiny user manual did not cover all of the basics, and they left out a lot of stuff on installation (they completely omitted details on how to connect the front IO panels). They just tell you to connect it up, and leave it to the user to match the correct plugs. Luckily, the plugs are wired so that one cannot mis-match them, but it still takes some thinking to match up. All the plugs are intended to basically “extend” from the back panel, and they even give you a card slot cover for you to route the hideous barrage of extra wiring you now have in your case. I would like to have seen a more “OEM” style of cables included, in which the front panel connects directly to the motherboard.