GlacialTech Altair A381The Altair A381 comes in three versions, our review unit is the "iMON" version which features a 4.3 LCD panel controlled via the iMON software.
The other two are simpler versions, the VFD variant uses a system information display while the standard does away without any displays and acts simply as a case with a power supply.
The standard version of the Altair A381 can be had for just $150, the VFD version costs more at $200, and the fully fledged iMON costs $230. Keep in mind these prices also include a 270w quiet flex-power supply, which is both an advantage and disadvantage.
While having a power supply included in the price is a bonus, the user is limited to this particular unit, so 270 watts had better cut it, which should be the case for most users. Also keep in mind that if the unit happens to fail in the future, replacing it may not be a cheap exercise.
The Altair A381 is a good looking case, using a simple yet effective design. The aluminum front panel looks quite nice, though the silver buttons come a little strong. The I/O panel is hidden away nicely behind an aluminum folding panel though getting it open can be tricky if you dont have long finger nails; a push and release design would have worked better.
Behind the I/O door you will find two audio jacks (mic and headphone), two USB ports and a card reader. Above the I/O panel is the external 5.25 drive bay. GlacialTech used an aluminum drive plate to hide the optical drive faceplate, allowing it to blend in with the case. Lining up the panel on the drive is done easily so it can open and close correctly.
On the right side of the front panel is a large volume knob that doubles as a power button. This happens to work very well and looks quite impressive. Then on the opposite side we have the VFD and quick button function.
The case measures 17" wide, 4" tall, and 16" long. Because it is constructed largely of SECC steel it's quite heavy for such a small case. The steel panels have been painted in a matte finish and are very rough to touch. Personally I don't really like the look or feel of the paint job, but since you are unlikely to see it once the case is installed, it's probably not a big deal.
At the rear of the case there are four low-profile expansion slots for add-in cards and the I/O panel for the motherboard. The small power supply is visible on the right side of the case. Although there are no rear case fans, the back of the Altair appears to be reasonably well ventilated. Then at the bottom of the case there are four gold feet that lift the case about half an inch off the ground.