Single page Print

With the glass panel out of the way on the left-hand side of the case, we can get a good look at the main chamber of the P7-C1.

Like many other modern cases, the P7-C1 has a full-length metal shroud covering its power supply and hard drives. On top of this shroud, we get two 2.5" bays. Unscrewing the captive thumb screws on these sleds allows for the required slide-and-lift motion needed to remove them. Aerocool does provide a cable pass-through for these SSD trays, but it only provides direct access to the rightmost such tray. Certain SATA power or data cables might not play well with the tight distance between the left SSD tray and the top of the shroud.

This case can accommodate graphics cards measuring up to 14.8" (375 mm) or 15.8" (400 mm) with its front fans removed, as well as CPU coolers up to 6.5" (165 mm) tall. Why anybody would go to the trouble of discarding the included fans to install a lengthier graphics card is beyond me, though.

Once we remove the metal right-side panel, we get our first look under the PSU shroud. That panel slips into place using the rather finicky tab-and-slot system we'd expect to find on less-modern cases. Just forward of the PSU mount, we get a dual-drive 3.5" drive cage. The drive cage holds two tool-less 3.5" bays. There are two 2.5" bays mounted to the back wall with slots and thumb screws to keep the bays tight, as well. Aerocool has also provided many points to secure cables to make everything look clean and allow proper routing. Cable management space varies from 19mm up to 29mm.

The build
On to the build. For the first time in a long time, I had to install a few motherboard standoffs in the P7-C1, but that task was made easier thanks to an included thumb-screw driver. I was happy that I didn't have to go dig out my driver set to get the required standoffs in place.

With the motherboard installed, I opted to install a 120mm radiator in the rear exhaust position, so I moved the preinstalled fan to the top of the case. As I started lining up the 120-mm exhaust fan with the top mounts, I was quickly surprised by how much the sides of the fan-and-radiator turret were bent out of position right out of the box. I had to bend one side of the turret out and the other inward to make them square up with the screw holes on the 120-mm fan.

Like I noted in my overview of this case, six of the seven expansion covers on the P7-C1 are punch-out-style covers. It's been a long time since I've had to deal with these type of covers with any case, let alone a $165 chassis like the P7-C1. Most modern cases use thumb screws and reusable slot covers. I only had to remove one of these covers from the P7-C1 to make our test system's graphics card fit, but builders with more complex expansion plans might end up with some gaps in the P7-C1's rear panel if they adjust their complement of expansion cards over time.

When I installed the power supply, I had to remove the 3.5" drive cage to provide enough room to route my cables. I didn't have any trouble removing the four screws holding the cage to the chassis, but when I pulled the cage out, it was obvious that the cage was bent out of shape. Removing the plastic hard-drive tray from the case was tricky prior to reshaping the cage by hand. These types of build-quality issues just shouldn't pop up on a case this expensive.

Overall, building inside the P7-C1 Pro wasn't much of a challenge. I'd appreciate the convenience of pre-installed motherboard standoffs and a better layout underneath the power-supply shroud for easier cable routing, but that complaint applies to all cases with full-length power supply shrouds, not just the P7-C1. I ultimately was able to get my cables routed cleanly through this enclosure, but the process wasn't as simple as I would have hoped.

Now that we have the P7-C1 built up, let's see how it performs.