How about those little things that make a system special?
The Mesh chassis has quite possibly the best side panel mechanism we've ever seen. To get access to the internals, simply rotate this knob at the back, then pull on the catch at the side of the unit. The panel simply hinges off with ease. We used it repeatedly to get a feel for how well it would wear, and it was as easy to use the 50th time as it was the first. A damn good answer to the side panel problem, especially when so many companies don't even ship thumbscrews with their cases!
The rig has a couple of USB ports at the front, but lacks audio. With the included X-Fi, we would really like to have seen the accompanying breakout box included for a full complement of front panel audio options. The power supply is by HEC, and is rated to 550W. We found it to be perfectly stable in testing, with plenty of juice to power the hungry graphics subsystem.
The case has an interesting way of retaining expansion cards. They're held in by a strip of metal that affixes to the case. It looks like it could be an efficient design, but in reality it's a real pain in the butt. Holding multiple expansion brackets in place whilst trying to affix this we found to be a complete nightmare. There's no way to hold one card in at a time - this is an all or nothing approach. Frankly, we'd rather a decent set of thumbscrews.
Overall, there was not much to complain about when looking inside the system, although the quality of the cabling and assembly was not on part with the sublime Alienware Aurora 7500
- although, with the Alienware, you are paying a few hundred quid just
for the neat assembly. Wires are tidied and tied nicely in the case, although with this amount of kit, a slightly larger case would make for a neater interior. One of the nicer things about this case is that the hard drives are mounted with the connectors facing towards you as you open the case, making it easy to fiddle with connections and cables.
However, there's not much room for expansion inside the case, should you decide you want more. There is just a single hard drive bay free. Although there is only one expansion slot free, chances are that there's nothing more you'd want to add to the backplate, save a modding device of some sort.
The system certainly isn't the noisiest high end system we've heard, but then it isn't exactly the quietest either. The noisest fan in the system is the chipset fan, which spins at an ear-bleeding 8000RPM. We've already suggested that Mesh should have included the ASUS A8N-SLI Premium motherboard over the noisy A8N-SLI Deluxe.
The Akasa fan also makes quite a racket and, given the small size of the chassis, enabling Cool 'n' Quiet fan throttling didn't make much difference. The rear exhaust fan is 120mm, and this is on full pelt all the time, making it pretty loud. A half-speed 120mm intake on the front would make a massive difference to the noise in this case, enabling the rear fan to slow down to half-speed too - however, there's no airflow for it. We also found that the hard drives made a bit of a racket with no dampening or sound-proofing.