The visual appeal of a computer case is largely subjective. Some people like flashing lights, LCD displays and other gimmicks, some people look for a cleaner more minimalist aesthetic.
The Sharkoon Rebel9 Aluminum (as it's spelled by Sharkoon) is sure to please those who belong to the second camp, as it’s almost as stripped back as a PC case can be. The clean lines of the design are pleasing and the matt black finish gives the case a sense of gravity; we can comfortably imagine the case sitting in the corner of a super villain’s hideout.
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Things start to unravel under closer inspection, however. Given the name of the case, we were expecting the majority of it to be constructed from light, strong aluminium. In reality only the brushed fascia is aluminium: the rest of the case is made from thin, flimsy steel - we thought a full aluminium case for this price was too good to be true, and our instincts were correct.
The appearance of quality and sturdiness exuded by the brooding matt black finish was further eroded when we got our hands on the case. A number of the front drive-blanking plates were bowed inwards slightly, meaning they didn’t line up with the facia, which again made the case look and feel cheap. We also found that the case wobbled around on our desk like a beached fail whale each time anyone walked by, which was acutely embarrassing.
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It’s not all doom and gloom for the Rebel9 though, the inside of the case is finished in the same black as the exterior of the case, which makes bright components and PCBs stand out and look good. The case also comes equipped with room for five fans, which should be enough to cool even the hottest-running components.
Only one fan comes with the case as standard, but it’s mounted behind the lower portion of the front fascia. We’re dubious about the merits of putting a fan in this position, as the fascia in front of it is solid. There is a slot underneath the fascia through which the fan draws air, but it’s small and is likely to become obstructed if the case is placed on any kind of deep-pile carpet.
The other fan mounts are located around the rear of the case, with a 120/80mm mount at the rear, a 120/140mm mount in the roof and two 120mm mounts in the side panel. However, to fill these with decent fans could double the overall cost of the case. Thankfully Sharkoon has stopped the temptation to use too many fans by making the case too small – the roof and upper side panel mount could only accept a thin 25mm fan at best once we’d installed our CPU cooler, which isn’t large by today’s standards. You can use these fan mounts if you use a smaller cooler.
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The case is fitted with dust filters for the roof and the PSU intake in the floor, but these are unlikely to be enough to keep the case clean, as the side panel fan mounts are protected only by an open mesh – your CPU cooler will drag in fluff, even if an additional exhaust fan doesn’t. It’s impossible to clean the PSU intake filter without completely upending the entire case, and the first time we removed the filter one of the plastic clips holding it in place broke.
The Rebel9 sports a healthy nine 5.25in bays which use tool-less plastic brackets, these feel cheap, but held our optical drives adequately. Strangely, there initially appears to be no 3.5in bays – instead there are three 3.5in hard disk adaptors, complete with rubber grommets to deaden vibrations and noise, in the bits box. There’s also a single adaptor and blanking plate for fitting a 3.5in external device.
Usefully, the motherboard tray includes a hole for mounting CPU cooler backplates without the need to remove your motherboard, and a number of cut-outs to aid cable routeing. The front panel is on the top of the case, toward the front, and contains two USB ports, an eSATA and the two mini-jacks for a headset. The power and reset buttons are to either side of these ports.
Dimensions (mm) 202 x 455 x 440 mm (W x D x H)
Material Steel and aluminium
Front Panel Power and reset switches, 2 x USB 2, eSATA, Stereo, Mic
Drive Bays 9 x external 5.25in drive bays (one convertible into external 3.5in, three convertable to internal 3.5in)
Form factor(s) ATX, micro-ATX
Cooling 1 x front 120mm fan mounts (fan included), 1 x rear 120/80mm fan mount (fan not included), 2 x side panel 120mm fan mounts (fans not included), 1 x 140/120mm roof fan mount (fan not included)