Computer/Embedded Technology


Some tips for choosing an aluminium computer case

22 May 2002 Computer/Embedded Technology

The Sky Hawk Group, founded in 1988, is a specialist in the wide range of computer peripherals and network system solutions. Represented in South Africa by Pyramid PC-Technic, the company produces a wide variety of aluminum and steel cases, everything ranging from rack mounted cases to cabinets.

Aluminium has become the metal of choice for enthusiast cases mainly because of its light weight, good looks, and cooling abilities. Aluminium cases transfer heat a lot more readily than their steel counterparts. Here follows a decision guideline that can help when deciding what type of enclosure to use for your PC or server system:

1. What size of case do you need: How many bays are required? What size motherboard is going to be installed?

2. What quality of surface coating of the aluminium material is required?

Painting: this method usually is used only on the outside of a computer's side and top panels, while the inside of the case may be anodised, waxed, or unprotected.

Waxing: produces a layer of wax in the aluminium surface instead of the anodising. This coating does save much cost for manufacturers but the anti-oxide layer (wax) does not last as long and the oily surfaces look darker and attract dust very easily.

Anodising: is a type of electrolysis used to place a protective oxide coating on metal. The metal acts as the anode (positive pole) of an electrolytic cell. Negatively charged oxide ions pass through a solution called an electrolyte, and oxidises the surface of the metal. Special treatments give the metal a porous outside layer that can absorb dyes, making it possible to produce coloured surfaces that cannot be rubbed off or scratched. Anodising can produce a nonconductive aluminium surface that can cause a poor grounding connection and might not pass an EMI test by FCC. The advanced anodising technique that Sky Hawk uses produces a conductive aluminium surface that overcomes this problem.

3. What is the intended function of the case? Consider the following: cooling fans; front access to ports; expansion card holders; removable motherboard tray?

4. Cost of the case: Finally, what is your budget for the new case?

DIY coating test

If you are unsure about the coating of the surfaces, use a white tissue to wipe the aluminium surface in one spot six to 10 times. Now check the tissue and the surface. If the tissue turns to black and the wiped aluminium surface changes colour then the surface is not anodised aluminium. If the surface has an oily look then it is waxed. A nonconducting aluminium surface can be easily tested by using a multimeter to check resistance.

For further information contact Pyramid PC-Technic, 011 974 8996.





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