While the system case may be an afterthought to many buyers, it is actually a very important part of the overall configuration and provides a base for the motherboard, add-in cards, storage drives, and other peripherals. It is essentially the foundation of any new system build, and choosing wisely now, can really pay dividends in the future. There are really two schools of thought when it comes to high-end system enclosures, with one sticking with a more conventional, though still very functional, configuration, and the other side promoting a more radical and eye-pleasing design, while still providing all the standard features and requirements.
Both of these paths can yield a kick-ass computer system at the end of the day, and it really comes down to personal choice, as well as the actual function the PC will perform. Basic home or office systems might be better suited to a standard "beige box", but when it comes to a serious gaming system (that you might also want to take to LAN parties), we would opt for a bit of flash and dash. In this review, we'll be checking out the eye-catching XG Dragon case, and making sure there's some steak to go along with that sizzle.
In many ways, the Dragon case is similar to an upgraded version of the XG Viper, at least in terms of its overall look and feel. However, where the Viper offered a flashy exterior matched to a very rudimentary interior, the Dragon takes XG to the next level in both areas. The Dragon's exterior is very nice, and the front of the case is a sculpted design, complete with a silver front bay-door, LCD display, and chrome-like fan grill. The front door lights up blue when the system is active, and displays a large Dragon logo. The LCD display and grills are also illuminated in a blue color, and the overall look is actually quite impressive. The light is also not overbearing, and the only time we had to get used to it was when the bay door was open, which makes the internal lights more visible.
The front-mounted LCD display certainly deserves special attention, and it's the most comprehensive model we've seen from XG. While most of these displays offer similar features, the XG Dragon provides a laundry list of potential temperature, fan speed and time-related options. This is performed through a series of buttons (+ / SET / -) below the LCD, which is similar to functions on a digital watch, and allows multiple displays and increased flexibility. The CPU/system temperature reading (through an internal sensor - it's your choice where to mount) is the primary display, and can be shown in either Celsius or Fahrenheit. It features a configurable "CPU Alarm Setting", which goes off if the temperature readings go too high. There are also three fan speed readings, and the ability to display the current time, or to set a timer.
The display features are excellent and the LCD works as advertised, but there are a few potential design issues. Since the actual display is mounted at the bottom of the XG Dragon's front panel, below the bay door, adjusting it can be difficult when the case is on the floor and you're sitting at a desk. Viewing the LED is also not as easy as with some models, as the case door can cut off much-needed information, and as the LCD is recessed inside the grill, the overall viewing angle is fairly tight. We found it very easy to view the LED readout on the XG Viper, but we needed to lean over a bit to get that same angle with the XG Dragon.
The XG Dragon offers a top-mounted set of controls, including on/off and reset buttons, and Power and HD LEDs, that are located right on the top edge of the case. Behind these controls is a small pop-up door that reveals USB, audio, mic, and Firewire ports. The XG Dragon case includes removable side doors, with the right panel featuring a standard one-piece, solid design, and the left panel offering a case window, air intake vents, and an air funnel that sits over the processor. This last feature can be adjusted or removed and even fitted with an 80mm cooling fan. Each of the side panel doors is removable and these both have a pull-handle for easy installation.
The XG Dragon case is a high-end design and features a 100% aluminum chassis constructed of 1.2MM aluminum alloy, making this an extremely light model in its original state. The empty case was very easy to lift, and even the bundled 500W power supply was a relatively low-weight model. The Dragon unit also has a handle on the top of the chassis, and this is well positioned and comfortable to use. This single handle format is much better than the dual-rails used with some other XG cases, and is also extremely sturdy. After the reference system was fully configured, we ran the handle through a variety of real-world stress tests, all of which it passed with flying colors.
Speaking of colors, the XG Dragon is available in a wide variety, including black (our review model), silver, red and blue models, but sadly, the dark purple pre-release case doesn't seem to have made it to final production. The primary color choice permeates the entire outer shell, from the side panels to the carrying handle, and even down to the drive bay covers. The silver front door and chrome grill accents are the only real deviations, and even the on/off button is the same base color. This creates a very pleasing appearance, and the overall aesthetics of the XG Dragon certainly get high marks.