Azza GT1 Full Tower Case Review

Azza always has a full tower for builders who want enough space for their enormous hardware. Today we examine the firm’s latest iteration.

Introduction & Specifications

What does one call a case that’s tall enough to hold XL-ATX motherboards (13.6” top-to-bottom), yet deep enough to also hold full E-ATX (13” front-to-back) motherboards? One that’s still just a hair smaller than HPTX, yet still big enough to hold nearly anything short of that rare mark? Unlike motherboard form factors, which are dimensionally precise, terms such as “Full Tower” and “Super Tower” are far more flexible. Azza calls its GT1 a Full Tower.

So how big is this thing? Here’s a look at the basic stats:

Specifications

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Exterior

Most of the GT1’s depth is designed to allow long graphics cards and big drives to fit at the same horizontal level, and the case even has nine 5.25” front-panel bays to allow installation of hot-swap backplanes, digital fan controllers, USB 3.1 breakout panels and the like. Those without a bay panel adapter such as the one included with ASRock’s Z170 Extreme6 are stuck with a pair of USB 3.0 Type A and a pair of USB 2.0 ports.

Arguments whether a USB 3.0 front-panel header can handle USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfers are mute, due to combined cable-length concerns. This prevents motherboard manufacturers from considering the front-panel header’s practicality for direct-plug devices such as Type-C thumb drives, though applying a “Gen 1” label to a Type-C front-panel port might be an option for case manufacturers. Until engineers can reach an agreement on front-panel Gen 2, we’re told that the only options are an old-fashioned I/O-panel extension cable hanging out the back of a case with a repeater on the port end, or a bay device.

Hiding around back, the GT1’s not-so-secret added features include a removable/reversible motherboard tray, a cover over the power supply, and an extension power cable mounting hole next to the power supply cover. Those latter two items hint to an internal power supply mount.

Interior

Removing the side panel, we find three screws at the front of the motherboard tray which secure it to the drive cage, in addition to the six bolts at the rear. We also get a peek at front-panel power supply mount and the relatively vast space reserved for hiding power cables.

With the face off, we can see the front-panel power supply mount fully exposed, along with four break-away EMI shields and five adapter trays drilled for both 3.5” and 2.5” hard drives/SSDs. A clip on the side of the cage releases these trays, as well as any other pin-securable 5.25” bay devices.

Supposing you don’t want to use the bottom of the front panel as an exhaust for a front-mounted power supply, the GT1 includes a clipped-in 90x15mm intake fan. Though the fan could be flipped to pull exhaust heat away from a power supply, the case doesn’t include the power extension cable that would have made that mount most useful.

The GT1’s top panel holds up to two 230mm fans, but it only comes with one (in exhaust orientation). Alternatives consist of up to four 120mm fans, and Azza even included enough space at the ends of those fan mounts for the end caps of a 4x 120mm radiator.

Two filters slide-out of the bottom to prevent dust accumulation in the lower 140mm intake fan and both power supply locations. The bottom panel also supports dual-120mm-fan radiators — that is, if you’re willing to settle for justone power supply.

Remembering that the motherboard tray ships upside-down and can be flipped, the GT1 includes cable pass-through for the bottom edge Micro ATX, ATX, and XL-ATX motherboards, another passage for ATX12V/EPS12V cables, and forward cable passages for boards up to 11.3” deep.

Descriptions get a little tricky from here, since the GT1 includes a card brace bracket mounted only 10.3” forward of the I/O panel. It can be moved forward 1.6” to alternative mounting holes, or removed completely to open up the entire 14.6” internal depth. While E-ATX boards fit, the GT1 doesn’t have the fourth column of standoffs needed to secure the front edge of 13”-deep boards.

The Build

Azza’s GT1 installation kit includes two card braces in addition to the factory-installed pair, a handle for the removable motherboard tray, a pair of additional drive adapters, a pack of screws, a PC speaker and a package of screws with standoffs.

A standard ATX board leaves much room to spare, and the card support bracket can be moved or removed for even large boards. The GT1 main chassis has rails on both sides to accept the motherboard tray, allowing it to be installed traditionally (CPU on top facing out to the left side) or upside-down facing the “wrong way” (as delivered).

Notice that the last card brace is slid to its farthest position with the graphics card “one slot from the top”: The card brace is only able to brace top-slot cards when the tray is re-installed “right-side up”.

Azza still supports AC’97 audio headers, even though every board we’ve seen for the past decade or so has used the also-supported HD Audio standard — better safe than sorry?

The GT1’s five 5.25”-bay adapter trays are drilled for both 3.5” and 2.5” internal drives.

We try to test cases in as-delivered configuration, so the GT1 gets tested with the motherboard upside-down. Installing the tray in the other direction would have resulted in the components showing from the other side, but the side panels are swappable to put the window on the showy side.

In addition to the top, bottom, front and rear fans, Azza adds a 120mm fan to the upper mount of the right side. Had we flipped the motherboard and swapped the side panels, that fan would be on the lower mount of the left side.

How We Test

The components we used in this article only deviate from our official 2015 Reference system in motherboard. We swapped out the reference system's 10.5"-deep MSI X99S XPower AC for a standard ATX (9.6") model: the X99S Gaming 7.

Test System Components








Noctua’s NH-U12S fits a myriad of cases and motherboards, but cooling our overclocked Core i7-5930K is more challenging for its single-tower sink and one fan, compared to the firm's larger designs. Triple axial fans in Gigabyte's GV-N970G1 Gaming-4GD keeps its GPU exceptionally cool at moderate noise, while dumping its heat directly into the case. Power comes from the 80 PLUS Platinum-rated Dark Power Pro 10 850W by be quiet!

Settings

CPU4.2GHz (42x 100MHz) @ 1.2V Core
MotherboardFirmware 17.8 (02/10/2015)
RAMXMP CAS 16 Defaults (1.2V)
GraphicsMaximum Fan for Thermal Tests

Drivers

GraphicsNvidia GeForce 347.52
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.2.1019

Benchmark Suite

Our new test platform runs hot and quiet, negating the dramatic performance differences its predecessor was designed to produce.

Prime95 v27.964-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
Real Temp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting

Noise is measured .5m from the case’s front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard — used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers — by subtracting six decibels.

Comparison Cases

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Test Results & Conclusion

Likely due to its upside-down default orientation, the GT1 skews temperature away from the CPU and towards the GPU. Anyone who thinks this isn’t an adequate selection of cases for the comparison should consider airflow, rather than size, as airflow is the greater share of cooling performance.

Unfortunately, the GT1’s tiny front panel fan is a little noisy. Due to its size, it’s probably also unnecessary.

Moderate cooling performance and excessive noise from the front fan cause the GT1 to rank poorly in our cooling-to-noise ratio chart.

The cooling-to-noise ratio also hurts the GT1’s value score, in spite of its moderate $120 price.

Of course, some readers are willing to pay more to get a larger case. If we offset the price of the GT1 by -$40 to account for its greater mounting space (supporting more drives and larger motherboards), its value score climbs to 5% above average, while the Z11 Neo’s drops to 33% above average. Plus, if we disconnect the front fan to reduce noise, its value score climbs further to 18% above average while the Z11 Neo’s drops to 27% above average. We could have also reassembled the system with the motherboard tray flipped, but I think the average reader already gets the point that the GT1 can deliver reasonable value to builders who need its extra size.

Conclusion

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Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Cases, Cooling, Memory and Motherboards. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • BigBadBeef
    While their performance has definitely improved over the years, despite all the visual nooks and crannies, pc's are still vertical boxes... its dull, its old-fashioned, its cliché and I don't like it anymore!

    It is within the power of modern engineering to create computer cases that would make Picasso jealous, but instead we are stuck with this archaic method of sheltering the insides of our computer.
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