Introduction - AZZA Toledo 301 ATX Mid Tower
Azza is not an unfamiliar face around these parts. We here at Legit Reviews have had a look at a number of Azza's Mid-range and High End cases. Most recently, we looked at the Hurricane 2000 Full Tower from Azza, and aside from a few minor complaints, it was an overall good product. While some AZZA cases have aggressive styling like the Toledo 301 and Hurricane 200, the Solano 1000 & Helios 910 both have more subtle design elements showing Azza is not just a one trick pony.
Today we'll be looking at the Toledo 301 which is a budget friendly case designed for gamers with a side mounted 230mm fan designed to cool off even the hottest graphics cards on the market like the AMD Radeon HD 6990 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590.
Azza has a few words to say about the Toledo 301's design principle:
The AZZA Toledo 301 should end your unremitting compromise between value
and budget! With performance, features, and quality found only in
high-end cases, designed with an eye-catching exterior, AZZA invites you
to build your next power rig with its Toledo 301.
Currently, the AZZA Toledo 301 comes in with a 1 Year Warranty at $69.99 with free shipping from Amazon.
Azza Toledo 301 Specifications & Features
|Type:||ATX Mid Tower|
|Color:||Black (exterior)/Black (interior)|
|With Side Panel Window:||Np|
|With Power Supply:||No|
|Motherboard Compatibility:||ATX, Full ATX, Micro ATX|
|External 5.25" Drive Bay:||4|
|External 3.5" Drive Bay:||1|
|Internal 2.5" Drive Bay:||3+2 x 2.5"SSD, HDD Drive Bays|
|Internal 3.5" Drive Bay:||4|
|Front Ports||2 x USB, Audio, Mic|
|250mm Fan:||1x250mm Blue LED fan on the side
|120mm Fan:||1x120mm Blue LED fan in front, 1x120mm Black fan in rear|
|Dimensions (H x W x D):||19.5" x 9.1" x 20.1" (495mm x 231mm x 510mm)|
Ultimate Cooling System:
|1x250mm Blue LED fan on the side for air intake for VGA card and CPU
1x120mm Blue LED fan in front for air intake for the HDD
1x 120mm black fan in rear for hot air exhaustion
2x120mm fan on top (optional) to exhaust hot air
|Support Water Cooling||support water cooling radiator up to size 240mm|
|Support Longest VGA card||support up to 340mm (ATI 5970) VGA card|
|Bottom Mount Power Supply:||Power Supply located on the bottom, two ways to install power supply; providing more efficient airflow|
|Cable Management:||Cable is hidden behind the pre-drilled motherboard tray; better cable management and better air flow|
|Maximum Compatibility:||Compatible with ATX, Micro ATX and all kinds of Nvidia, ATI long graphic card up to 340mm, and all kinds of water cooling system; support radiator up to size 240mm|
|Easy installation of CPU Cooler||A pre-cut hole for an easy installation of CPU cooler, eliminating the need to remove the motherboard|
|Screwless design for HDD||4x Easy Screwless HDD trays and 90 degree turn for HD cage for easy installation of HD, support 3+2 x HD holders for 2.5" SSD and HD|
Unboxing the AZZA Toledo 301
Here is the front of the box from the Toledo 301. It came a little beat up, but rest assured that everything inside was fine.
Here is the right side of the box that repeats the features and specs listed on the front page.
Here's the left side of the box. It is a repeat of the front page and right side of the box.
And here's the backside of the box, which is almost a repeat of the front side. Truth be told, there's nothing special about the box, really.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen more photos of the case itself on the box. Preferably, some nice demo photos like Thermaltake did with their Armor Series of cases.
Let's move on and open this box up to see the case inside.
Toledo 301 Exterior Impressions
The front of the Toledo 301 comes with a "feature" I haven't seen on cases in a while: an external 3.5" drive slot is present. No, this isn't a hot-swap bay. It is still interesting nonetheless, as normally these drive slots are adapted from 5.25" bays. It's nice to see, considering 3.5" Multi-card readers are still sold rather cheaply and are easy to access when placed on the front of a case.
The Toledo 301's left panel is extruded out to give you more room to hold cables behind the motherboard tray.
Some folks don't like this as they think it ruins the design of a case; personally, I'm indifferent to it.
The Toledo 301's right panel has the same design as the left, but this allows the 230mm x 30mm fan to be just about 10mm farther away from everything so it doesn't mess with CPU coolers and can still be in place to provide plenty of airflow to the GPUs in the case. This side panel also allows you to mount up to 2 x 120mm fans or 2 x 140mm fans.
The Toledo 301's backside features a rather traditional design except it uses circular venting holes instead of hexagonal shaped ones. This really shouldn't alter the noise pattern or airflow much, though. Two 1/2" outer diameter water tubing holes are present on top, and two are on the lower right hand side, next to the GPU area. The power supply is also mounted at the bottom.
Exterior Impressions (Continued)
The only interesting aspect on the bottom of the Toledo 301 is that, unlike some other budget cases on the market, it does not feature an air filter on the PSU Section. Alternatively though, it does feature a 140/120/92mm fan mounting spot to add extra airflow to the case. The bottom mounted feet are bolted on and are 1/2" tall, made of rubber, and do a good job of keeping the case lifted off the carpet or any hard surface.
Another shot of the rubber feet on the Toledo 301 shows these are a thick, hard rubber. This is a nice alternative to some of the plastic and metal case feet on the market, as they won't scratch up a hardwood surface.
Here's the front panel of the Toledo 301; it has enough of a lip all around to hold a flash drive without it sliding off to one side or another. Though it's not quite large enough for a smartphone. You have your standard assortment of 2 USB Ports, a Headphone, and a Microphone jack. The large silver button illuminates blue around it when the computer is powered on (if you have that plugged in) and the small yellow light glows faintly and flashes with HDD activity. The small silver button is your reset switch.
Here's the top panel of the Toledo 301. Unlike a case we reviewed in the past, the Rosewill Thor, the fins on the top of this case cannot be removed. The rear logo for Azza is also obscured from sight most of the time, due to the angle of it. Functionally, there's plenty of room for any top mounted fans to let hot air escape.
Toledo 301 Interior Impressions
Opening up the case, it first greets you with the accessories package. A bag of screws, case speaker, some extra screws and white washers (which the manual does not say what these are for) and 5 reusable cable straps. Personally, those cable straps are my favorite as they work in almost all cases and unlike normal zip ties, can be reused or re-purposed as much as you want. Azza's user manual was surprisingly detailed, though it did not tell me what the white washers were for.
Opening up the case reveals the inside which is rather spacious looking for a budget case. The cable holes are nice and wide. The CPU Backplate cutout looks a little bit short, though. Unfortunately, this case is missing a hole to route the CPU Power connector. The cables also, unfortunately, come in a rainbow array of colors and the fans use permanently attached molex connectors for power (so no connecting to a fan controller.)
When working inside the case I also happened to notice some paint imperfections. While this is not a deal breaker, I've seen a better job done in the past on budget cases and it doesn't really give me the idea, as a system builder, that this is a case I want to reuse in the future.
Space to route cables in this case is also very slim; it relies heavily on the extruded side panel as the biggest space is behind the Hard Drive rack which is only 3/4 of an inch wide.
Internal Impressions (Continued)
Azza chose a very odd tool-less mechanism for the 5.25" Drive bays that I feel is rather cheap. It also is hard to work with, as it either hooks in all drives, or unhooks all. No way to operate on one bay device at a time. Thus, it's rather clumsy to use.
Using screws to secure the ODDs is out of the question as these clips block you from doing so. Though, they do not really hold the drive bay in place. AZZA should have skipped this system all together and included screws as they would have been much easier to work with.
If you remove the top panel you can see they had the idea of giving you space to mount a radiator up top. Though, you are limited to 25mm thick radiators or fans. Any thicker will not allow the top of the case to close back up.
The hole spacing for these 2 x 120mm spots does not match common radiators like the Swiftech QP220 or the Black Ice SR1 2 x 120mm. So I do not know which Radiator Azza used for this spacing, but the two I have just do not work.
Behind the front panel are 2 LEDs inside a tube to amplify and spread the light from the LEDs to give the front of the case that ambient glow. These are powered by the 5v rail of the PSU via a 4pin molex pass through connector.
Finally, here's the side panel of the case, with its 230mm fan. While this is one of the most densely populated fans I've looked at in this size category, its overall shape makes it look like it could be loud. The blade design, plus the number of blades, could be both a pro and a con for it depending on the max RPM of the fan. Too high and it could be very loud; too low, and it won't push any air. We'll be testing this fan and the 120mms in the coming pages.
Building in the Toledo 301
Building inside the Toledo 301 was a big issue; many of the design choices and places that they skimped on cause problems when trying to install components. As you can see with the Hard Drive sled, you are forced to have the hard drives face the open part of the case, making the cables visible as well. Most system builders will not like this. Also, because of the odd ODD mounting system, I was unable to mount my DVD Drive in place without it sliding around.
Here's a big issue with cable management; when using this case, you're limited by the fans you can install if you want to install a radiator as well. Inside there is only 12mm of space between the top of the motherboard and fan mounts, making any internal fan installs very difficult and very tight.
Here is another issue with the case; when installing the 24pin ATX motherboard cable, I found I had to bend the wires and cable a great deal to actually route it. This is making me worried about possible issues with routing any more cables through that section.
Another issue you can notice with this picture is that the motherboard mount doesn't line up with your standard size ATX motherboard, which also hangs over the cable holes.
I do not know what size motherboard they used to design this case with, but it doesn't exactly work. If you have a board as long as theirs, you cover up the mounting holes. If you mount a normal board, you still cover up some of the cable holes, making cable routing tight.
Like I said before, the holes make routing cables hard; a standard SATA cable has to bend a great deal to fit in the hole for routing, which also made me worried as the cuts on this case for cable holes were sharp and I feel they may cut into the cables over time, causing a short or worse.
Testing the Included Fans
Today we'll be testing 3 Aspects of the included fans:
- Sound Pressure Level (recorded in dBA)
- Airflow (recorded in CFM)
- Heat Tolerance (testing done at 30*C)
The Testing Equipment that I will be using was purchased by myself. It includes:
- General Tools DCFM8906 Digital Air Flow Meter
- Tenma Digital Sound Level Meter
- Kintrex IRT0421 Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer
- Universal Enterprises DM383B Digital Multimeter
Temperature used for testing is an artificially created one, designed to simulate a system at load, which would increase the internal case temp beyond that of the ambient room temp. An adapter is used to accommodate the 230mm fan in today's case.
I'd like most readers to keep in mind that 3dB(A) increase is an apparent doubling of the sound pressure, while a 10dB(A) increase is an actual doubling of the sound pressure.
These two distinctions can lead to some confusion for readers.
Airflow is good for a case; generally, I like to see around 50 CFM for the Intake or Exhaust fans when they are 120mm as that usually leads to a nice balance of sound and airflow that's just enough for gaming rigs while still staying relatively quiet.
The sound pressure testing of these fans is very disappointing. They're loud and do not really perform well. The size and blade shape should make them quieter than they are, as a 120mm fan generally has an Airflow to Noise ratio of 2:1 but these fans are more like a 1.5:1 which you would get on a 92mm fan.
The 230mm fan wasn't really a disappointment, but all 3 fans rattled while installed.
Let's wrap this review up on the next page.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
Azza came to the market today with a new case, the Toledo 301, which boasts a price tag of $69.99 with free shipping and a 1 year warranty. This is obviously a budget case targeted at gamers not looking to break the bank, but with that in mind, it seems Azza hit their target audience with the ascetics of the case. 230mm Side fan for direct GPU cooling, LEDs in the fans for case lighting, and accented, LED lit portions of the case.
Azza designed the Toledo 301 to use an ease of installation system with cradles for the Hard Drive bays, and tool-less mechanisms for the optical drive bays. Though, ease of installation was not the case. The tool-less drive bays didn't work. Hard Drive cradles were very stiff, and while held the drives in place, the rubber "anti-vibration material" didn't really do it's job because the drives were held so tight.
Overall, I wasn't impressed with the build quality, either. Azza's tower had plenty of blemishes on the inside where paint looks like it was either rubbed off or never made it on. It also is a very rough paint, which I wouldn't normally complain about, except that because it's so rough, handling the case with your bare hands can lead to skin flakes being visibly stuck to it, and it's not easy to clean.
Another point of concern is it seems that Azza chose to either go with a low end OEM for the fans, or just in general, low quality fans as they were noticeable most of the time, without actually pushing a whole lot of air. This really was a disappointment.
Overall, it felt like Azza made a lot of bad design choices, even in the case's fundamental framework as the cable routing holes did not line up with ATX boards well, and the motherboard mounts themselves also did not line up.
I've spent a lot of time with budget cases in the past, but I feel like this is one that simply should be passed up. The build quality is poor, features are lacking luster, and overall it doesn't feel like the case holds much value to it.
Legit Bottom Line: Azza's Toledo 301 is priced too high with too many poorly designed features, surpassed by better options on the market.