Enermax Ostrog Review
Today we are taking a first look at the Ostrog a newly released budget case from Enermax.
It may surprise UK readers that Enermax, best known for their highly regarded PSUs, have in fact eight cases listed on their website. Not heavily marketed in Europe in comparison to some of their rivals, today we find out if their budget friendly 'Ostrog' is worth the meagre £35 asking price.
First up, let’s also look at the competition in this price segment. Hmmm. Well, we have few older Coolermaster cases such as the 330/342. We have tested several setups using these cases and found, they offer average at best build quality, little flexibility for your cooling setup and ‘retro’ (read: out of date) styling. We also have the Fractal 1000 series, slightly less financial outlay, but anyone who has used this case will know that it really is just a ‘box for your hardware’, with very few premium features, and a rather loud stock 120mm fan. Any more for any more? No?
So, onto the Ostrog, and let’s start by get the negatives out of the way, and yes, there are some. First of all panel construction and overall thickness isn’t great. The side panels in particular are very thin and flexible and as such, sometimes require a bit of 'jiggery pokery' to refit once removed. The case also has a lot of fan mounts which has its advantages (read on), but also means they provide very little in the way of sound dampening. There are a total of 6 fan mounts in and about the motherboard area - where of course, most of the system noise is emitted from and as such if you have the case either below or to the the right hand side of you, you'll hear all the hums and whirs your rig creates. The case ships with only one 120mm fan, located in the rear mount, and as such creates a negative vacuum in the case which may lead to dust buildup, as well as a lack of fresh air for any hot running components – GTX 480 and SLI/CFX owners, take note! Cable routing/storage is also an issue here, and space behind the motherbaord tray is limited to about 1cm width. Not too much of a problem, as the HD bays in front of the PSU allow for a decent amount of cable storage if left empty, but could be annoying if you have a particularly thick PSU cable that you want to route around the back. Expansion slot protectors are the ‘bend off and throw away’ kind. Which is fine really, and to be expected, given the price bracket.
It’s important to remember here that this is only a £35 case, so truth be told, we could arguably call these ‘compromises’ rather than true negatives as none of them are deal breakers, just things you want to be aware of when purchasing, and wouldn’t expect in more premium cases.
Now, onto the positives, and by this I mean, things that make this case stand out head and shoulders above the rest of the cases in this price bracket.
The first thing you’ll notice is the cases good looks – admittedly totally subjective, but the Ostrog straddles the line between the clean stylings of the Fractal cases and more NZXT style Gamer cases reasonable well. It has a largely flat and plain façade with a small and unobstrusive Ostrog Logo near the bottom. This is outlined with either a white or black frame, depending on the model you choose. Nearer the top of the case, on a raised section, you can find the usual 3.5mm jacks for mic and speaker, as well as as three USB2.0 ports and a single USB3.0 port. The matte finished plastic here and on the front of the case feels very solid and there are four easy access external 5.25” drive bays and a 3.5” bay too. The bottom two would make a nice spot for a dual 5.25” Reservoir as this would place it squarely in the middle of the case for easy tubing access to the CPU and GPU. Its worth noting though that this case is not ideally suited to CPU/GPU watercooling because the double 120mm mount at the top of the case is placed very close to the motherboard. That said any of the all in one 120mm CPU Coolers from Antec or Corsair would fit just fine on the rear 120mm mount.
Internally the Ostrog steps up to the plate featuring fully painted black interior, as well as easy to use quick release hard drive bays. We’ve used lots of these in the past, and these are the best. Just slide in and twist. Once in place they feel very solid indeed, and I'd have no worries about my hard drives falling about if I were lugging this case to a LAN party. It’s also worth noting that as well as room for more 3.5" drives than it should be legal to own in this day and age (6), we also have a built in 2.5” mount for SSDs or laptop drives. Interestingly, the designers at Enermax have also decided to include a side mounted triple 3.5” bay for those that prioritise easy access to the rear drives over less visibility. Taking its design cues from Antecs P180 this bay can be slid out and replaced with a 120mm intake fan to cool the GPU. This also allows GPUs of up to 413mm to be used – 6990 anyone?
In fact, for such a budget case, the Ostrog has a lot of fan mounts and cooling combinations. More often than not, cases ship with at least one front mounted intake fan and then either a back or top fan mount. The Ostrog eschews this default setup, with the 3.5” in place, and six free mounting points around the motherboard but nothing pre-installed at the front. Cue ringing alarm bells. Except we can’t hear any. In actual fact, we need to ask the question why do you need to draw air in from the front of the case? To cool the hard drives? Most sensible setups these days consist of cool running SSD boot drive and a single, large Media/Steam drive none of which needs significant airflow to stay within operating temperatures. What about GPU cooling? Well, that is taken care of by two 120/140mm fan mounts on the side panel and a 120mm fan mount on the floor of the case. The Ostrog also provides another 120mm mount at the rear and a final two up top (which also take 140mm fans). That’s a total of 6 mounts, all focused around where the hottest running components are located.
Cases at the bottom end of the market often ship with fans that are either loud or ineffective at pushing air, or both. The stock fan on the Ostrog slips more towards the latter, but isn’t so bad to be considered unusable. Most users will want to supplement it with another one or two depending on their choice of components and aesthetics. We would recommend at the very least mounting a fan on the side panel to feed fresh air directly to the GPU and CPU. That said, with the sheer amount of fan mounts, passive airflow into the case is considerable. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the bottom mounted PSU comes complete with an easily removable dust cover, which is a pleasant surprise for such a budget offering.
The evolution of gaming hardware is very easily observed by looking at the case market. It wasn’t so long ago that a black exterior would have cost you extra, and now we have 180mm 'air penetrator' fans, vertically mounted GPUs and water cooling compatible ITX cases. All these military grade marvels eventually trickle down to the lower price tiers and whilst there is always compromise to be made, it’s really very heartwarming to find such a fully featured case in this price bracket. You already know by now that we would thoroughly recommend the Ostrog to those users on a budget. Yes, panel construction could be better, but overall build quality is solid, and at £35 you’d be hard pressed to do better.
Overall Score: 9/10