Ah, how time flies when you’re buried up to your armpits in cutting edge tech. I can’t believe that it’s been almost three months since I joined bit-tech and had my first review published, the Akasa Mirage -62.
The Mirage, if you don't want to do all that back-reading, proved to be a fantastically laid out case which was both a delight to build a system in and to have running on your desk, thanks to some wonderful near-silent cooling. While there were a few missing options on the Mirage, namely the possibility of additional cooling, it was a wonderfully crafted case and worthy of a recommended award.
Now we come to the Mirage’s successor, the Akasa Omega and already there’s certainly a feeling of déjà-vu. The black interior, the extended depth and width, the chromed removable motherboard tray - the Omega is startlingly similar to the Mirage.
However, Akasa has addressed some of the shortfalls of the previous design with a significantly improved cooling configuration and a few additional tweaks to further improve what was already an excellent case.
Can the Omega continue the trend of quality cases from Akasa, or is this a needless facelift to an ageing design? Let's find out!
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Alpha and the Omega
Structurally the Omega is near identical to the Mirage (and the Eclipse before that), with the same extended width and depth in comparison to other cases. The shared core chassis of the Omega, Mirage and Eclipse means that the whole case is still constructed of a beautiful brushed black anodised aluminium which just exudes quality, although there have been some important modifications made to justify the new model name.
The trade off between aluminium and steel in modern computer cases is always going to be a tough one. Aluminium is a more expensive building material than steel, so the use of it usually forces case prices up (or profit margins down), and we’ve seen industry giants like Antec completely abandon it in favour of cheaper steel designs. However, we’re still fans of aluminium here at bit tech, if only because it makes the cases easier to get out of their boxes. It not only weighs significantly less, but is also less prone to bending or scratching should your case get knocked around at any point and is for the most part a much more durable material if of sufficient quality.
The differences between the Omega and Mirage are all apparent on the exterior of the case and go a good way towards addressing some of the shortfalls of the Mirage. The first are the quad 120mm fan mounts Akasa have added to the case, with two in the top panel and a further two in the side panel above the expansion card slots. These consist of an easily removed black mesh over the fan mounts, which also fully support any dual 120mm water cooling radiator you wish to throw at them. The mesh panels feel solid clipping into and out of place easily and securely and go some way to break up the large featureless panels.
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By adding the scope for improved cooling, Akasa has addressed one of the most serious shortcomings of the Mirage, and has done so with a level of polish and quality that matches the rest of the case, as well as making the Omega a ready-built platform for dual loop water cooling, or even a high CFM wind tunnel.
The other major modification to the Omega is the front panel, most notably the door. One of the faults with the Mirage was that it used an irremovable non-reversible plastic door which didn’t really fit in with the aluminium of the body. For the Omega, Akasa has heavily modified the door, although it is sadly still irremovable and irreversible. Akasa has now clad the plastic door in curved aluminium with a top to bottom mesh to allow airflow in, giving a nice consistency of design despite resulting in a somewhat featureless fascia.
Akasa has also improved the inside of the door, with a recess in front of the drive bays to allow fan controllers to fit without having to be recessed into the case proper. We fitted a Scythe Kaze Master into the case to test the clearance and it comfortably fit with the door closed, so kudos to Akasa for such an enthusiast targeted inclusion.
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Elsewhere on the door, the dual button returns with power and reset switches on both the door exterior and the case beneath, as well as clearly visible light tubes for the blue power and green hard disk activity lights. Both buttons have solid tactility with the door open or closed, with a good degree of travel and a satisfying click on both. The front panel is identical to that used on the Mirage, with the usual line-up of two USB ports, Firewire and MIC/Stereo out (supporting both HD audio and AC97 via internal connectors) and E-SATA.
The base of the case comes fitted with standard rubber feet, but as before, Akasa has included coasters if you want to give your system a little ground clearance or ride it around like some mad kind of Crysis running go-kart.
With the Omega Akasa has fixed a lot of the problems with the exterior of the Mirage, including some much needed options for extra cooling and significantly improving the contentious door, although we’d still like to see the door made removable and reversible. Let’s see if the interior of the case has had any similar modifications...