Avance Technologies 8B04 ATX Mini Towerby Mike Andrawes on September 2, 1999 12:03 AM EST
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Once the cover is off, Avance's secret to making the 8B04 so small becomes obvious - the power supply is a unique design that's never been seen before at AnandTech. Avance claims it follows the "PS/8" standard. Whether or not this is a standard, for all intents and purposes it may as well be proprietary, the power supply cannot be replaced if it fails since "PS/8" power supplies are not readily available. Regardless, the power supply is extremely thin and its fan is mounted outside of the case as shown below. This allows the 8B04 to be extremely small in stature without blocking access to the CPU.
Expansion is covered by 3 external 5.25" bays, 1 external and 1 internal 3.5" bay. As noted above, the bezel is molded such that only a floppy drive can be used in the sole external 3.5" drive bay. Drive rails are used to install devices into the top two 5.25" bays, while the last 5.25" requires devices to be mounted with screws directly to the frame. This strange configuration was done such that the bottom bay could be used for a 3.5" device without any adapters. The rails simply clip to the drive and don't require the use of screws. Both dedicated 3.5" bays are contained within a single removable bracket that is released at by pressing a small metal tab. This bracket is optionally secured with a standard case screw.
All that's required to install a motherboard is press two metal tabs that release the mounting tray. Once outside the case, just screw in the metal standoffs included with the case. Avance offers a very unique set of standoffs that allow the motherboard to just clip in, similar to the plastic standoffs that many manufacturers use, but this time they're metal. Unfortunately, as hard as plastic standoffs are to remove from a motherboard, the metal ones are even worse, which can make future upgrades harder than they need to be. Due to the positioning of the drive bays, some larger motherboards will not fit. For reference, our test bed ABIT BX6 Revision 2.0 fit with a little bit of room to spare. The BX6R2 is a fairly large for a single processor board, but most dual processor boards will not fit. Of course, this is to be expected in a mini tower so small - many other cases this size would not be able to accept the BX6R2 so easily.
Inside, a clear effort has been made to remove all sharp edges on the sheet metal and they've done a good job of getting the most risky areas. However, it must be noted that there are a few places where sharp edges do exist. Nevertheless, the 8B04 is still safer than many other cases out there.
In AnandTech's cooling duties were left completely up to the 92 mm power supply fan that exhausts air out the back of the case. The power supply is vented well enough to allow good air flow out the back of the case. Above the CPU is a mount for an optional 120 mm fan, which is quite large and, thus, possibly difficult to come by. This fan blows out vents that are in the left side panel. At the front of the case is another optional fan location that can take an 80 mm fan. In the case of the two optional fans, the venting in both those locations is not particularly well done with a lot of potential air flow blocked since much more sheet metal could be removed.