Thinking About An Acrylic Computer Case?

Acrylic cases have been around for some time now, but only recently have prices dropped below $100 on several of these cases. The Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T acrylic ATX cube computer case just happens to be one of these sub $100 acrylic cases as the case we are looking at today was snagged from the guys over at CrazyPC for $81.99 plus shipping. The UFO Acrylic Cube Case comes without a power supply, but does include a pair of 120mm blue LED fans.  These fans not only help things stay nice and cool, but also improve the appearance of the chassis as the blue light looks great at the edges of the acrylic. If you want a clear case to show off your prized computer read on as we build a system in the Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T and give you honest feedback from our system build.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

When the package arrived from CrazyPC it was clear that the case was not assembled and that we had some work to do. This was expected as acrylic cases are usually weak as no metal is used to strengthen the chassis.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

A little box inside the big box was found and inside this inner box was each individually wrapper piece of acrylic that would need to be assembled.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

Once everything was removed from the box and laid out we figure out we had a pretty big job in front of us.  It took one hour to assemble the case from the time that the pieces laid till the system was fully installed into the case. The included instructions were found to be lacking some pictures and text that could have been helpful, but common sense helped out.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

Mouting the hard drives meant that acrylic spacers had to be screwed into each hard drive and then then screwed to the hard drive and optical drive frame.  The clear window on the Western Digital RaptorX hard drive looks great, but remember the motherboard will soon be sitting above it.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

Since the case is acrylic and all the wires could be seen the Corsair HX620W power supply was chosen for it's nice black finish and the fact that it is modular.  The massive 120mm fan will also help move air on the lower section of the Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T computer case as no fan mounting systems are supplied for the bottom.

The Finishing Touches

Model ACUF-T
Motherboard Type ATX (maximum size: 31*25CM or 12.2" x 9.84")
Frame Material 100% High Quality Clear Acrylic Case
Cooling Fans 2 x 120mm Fans with Blue LEDs included
Mounting Kits Included
Hard Drive & Power LEDS Included
Ports 2 x USB 2.0 Ports, Speaker and Microphone
Total Bays 4
External Bays Available 2 x 5.25"
Internal Bays Available 2 x 5.25" (with adapters for 2 x 3.5" drives)
Actual Dimension H 300mm x W 295mm x D 380mm (11.8" x 11.61" x 14.96")
Number of slots 7
Power Supply NO POWER SUPPLY INCLUDED

With the power supply and pair of hard drives installed we can move along to installing the motherboard, video card and memory modules. Installing the motherboard was found to be just like any other case. By simply installing the metal standoffs into the pre-drilled and threaded mounting holes on the acrylic bottm the motherboard could be easily secured.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

 It was after the EVGA 680i SLI motherboard and XFX GeForce 8800 GTX video card were installed that a critical problem came up that couldn't be ignored.  For starters the video card was longer just a hair longer than the depth of the case, which meant the side panel couldn't be installed.  To make matters worse the pair of 6-pin PCIe power headers mount from the top on the GeForce 8800 GTX meaning that the top acrylic piece of the cube could not be installed. Basically any owners of the Geforce 8800 GTX, GeForce 8800 Ultra, and ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT video cards will have some panel issues due to this.  

SATA Cable Issue

The motherboard also has some mounting issues as the primary and secondary SATA headers on many newer board as stacked on the edge of the motherboard as seen above.  The older DFI NF590 SLI-M2R/G motherboard was found to have issues as well as all of the newer NVIDIA designed 680i SLI and 680i LT SLI based motherboard boards were found to have SATA issues with the side panel. If the case was just a little taller and a tad deeper these issues could have been avoided.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

With the motherboard and video card installed the optical drive was then installed.  There isn't a spot for a floppy drive in the Sunbeam UFO Acrylic case, so if one is needed keep this in mind. The pair of Western Digital RaptorX hard drives are mounted and ready to be put in RAID0, but will these drives do okay with no cooling on the lower half of the case?

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

Here is a look at the back of the case with everything installed except for the 120mm case fans and the cooling solution for the Intel QX6700 Quad-Core processor that is being used.

Temperatures and Final Thoughts

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

To help cool the Intel QX6700 processor a Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX HSF was used, but once again the heat sink was sticking out above where the top panel was supposed to go.  The pair of 6-pin PCIe power cables can also be seen sticking out above the top of the case in the above picture. If a standard heat sink, mainstream video card and a motherboard that isn't branded by NVIDIA the case should do fine, but it's obvious that it might have some issues with pretty common hardware.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

Without the pair of 120mm case fans the system temperature on the EVGA 680i SLI motherboard was found to be 41C with the GPU temperature hovering around 65-66C. This seemed a bit warm for a system with no front or top panel installed, so we added the pair of supplied 120mm fans.

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

With the case fans installed the system temperature dropped by 4C and the GPU core temperature also decreased by 4-5C, which is a significant decrease in cooling by just adding a couple 120mm case fans!

Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case

Final Thoughts and Conclusions:

The Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T acrylic ATX cube computer case looks great, but for the system that we wanted to use it for the case couldn't be fully enclosed.  The majority of users out there don't have an NVIDIA chipset on their motherboard, but with several generations of NVIDIA boards have SATA connector issues this is worth pointing out.  The inability to fit a GeForce 8800 GTX due to it's length and the height of it's power connectors is also not uncommon, but applies to several video cards (GeForce 8800 GTX, GeForce 8800 Ultra, ATI HD 2900 XT).  If you run an SLI bridge between two video cards the SLI bridge will also stick out above the top of the case.  Due to the motherboard, video card and CPU heat sink and fan sizes we were unable to install the side and the top on the Sunbeam UGO ACUF-T acrylic computer case.  If the case was an inch or two bigger in every direction these could all be avoided.

Heat was also an issue as the pair of 10,000 RPM Western Digital RaptoX hard drives had no way to be cooled.  Using our infrared digital laser pyrometer we were able to find out the temperature on the acrylic glass directly in front of the hard drives, which was found to be around 41C.  The other issue that was noted with the case was something a bit unexpected and that is Electromagnetic Interference or EMI. All acrylic cases may be subject to EMI and such should NOT be placed close to other electronic equipment, but even with a PC running in the Sunbeam UFO case we noted interference with our Terk TV36 Medium Directional VHF/UHF/FM Yagi-Uda Antenna that is used to get local TV channels.

Overall we had mixed feelings with the Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T acrylic ATX cube computer case.  It fails to fit a vast number of hardware configurations, has EMI issues and the hard drives have no cooling fan near them.  If the case was just a bit bigger and had a way to mount a cooling fan on the lower portion of the case we would give it the thumbs up.  For now this case is reserved for those that have a simple system.  If you have integrated graphics and a factory AMD or Intel heat sink and want a case that isn't boring then give the UFO a shot.  At just $81.99 over at CrazyPC it is a bargain for those that can use it.

Legit Bottom Line: The Sunbeam UFO ACUF-T acrylic ATX cube computer case looks great, but make sure your hardware will fit in it before you order one!