Pros: Cooling/ Usability
If you swap out computer parts as much as I do, you learn to appreciate a tech station. The convenience of an open air test bench is brilliant. Highspeed PC is the true original of PC workbenches, and for over a decade they have been giving hardcore geeks easy access to their hardware. I will be building a XL-ATX Top Deck Station, and showing how beneficial an open air test bench can be. The XL series is the best all-around PC test bench Highspeed PC offers, and is highly customizable. Lets take a closer look at these claims, and see how an open air test bench can benefit you.
The XL tech station features:
- The Top Deck brings the motherboard to the top level for easy access.
- 10 Add-in card expansion slots! Perfect for your 4-Way SLI/Crossfire motherboard.
- Neoprene on the lower deck makes for a great removable static-free work mat and non-slip storage for your optical drives, PSU, etc.
- Convenient, easy access storage of hard drives in a slide-in rail system under the upper deck. Choose between 3.5" or 2.5" HDD during assembly. Swap anytime! Or add a second set of Drive Rails in the options above. Each set holds either two 3.5" or three 2.5" drives.
- 120mm cooling fan pushes air over both motherboard and hard drives, while two more are dedicated to video card cooling.
- Add-in card support brace keeps cards firmly planted. 10 Nylon thumbscrews included.
- Rubberized feet, and solid heavy duty bench materials keep the bench right where you want it.
- Non-conductive materials for static-free/ESD compliant environment.
- Sturdy, stable, and safe for storing and testing your gear.
- Very efficient footprint - XL-ATX Tech Station size: 15.75"w x 11"d x 13.5"h
The XL station was shipped and packaged well. It arrived on time, and no damage to any parts. Depending on your order check everything because these units can be customized in different ways to your liking.
The accessories included and warranty:
- Two-tier work bench, easy to customize
- Add-In Card support brace with 10 thumb screws (4-Way SLI/Crossfire support)
- HDD Rails for storage/cooling for either two 3.5" or three 2.5" hard drives (can be expanded)
- Secure rubberized motherboard standoff system
- 3x 120mm fans: 1x HDD/Mobo cooling, 2x Vid card cooling
- Neoprene mat for non-slip lower bench surface or removable work mat
- Assembly & usage details
- Securely packed and shipped
- Lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects
ATX Control Kit :
- Mini On/Off & Reset Switches
- Power & HDD LED's
- System Speaker
Design/ Build log
I will be doing this review a bit differently, and doing a build log while going over the design features the XL station provides.
The XL test bench is a great home for your hardware. It is based on the XL-ATX form factor for motherboards. The surface area is 15.75x11" on each bench, and provides good surface area. The top shelf proves safe motherboard placement with high friction rubberized standoffs. The add on cards are securely locked in place with thumbscrews, and provides an easy work environment.
The instruction for the XL station are really easy to follow. I will be going over my build process as I unbox my tech station through this review.
The first step was to secure the rubberized standoffs to the top deck of the station. The tech station is made of non-electrically conductive, scratch resistant high grade polymers, and is ESD compliant.
To install the stand offs you have to decide your motherboard size because this affects where you place specific parts for the test bench. I chose the regular ATX standard, and you can see where the plastic post keeps the motherboard secure when placed on the upper deck.
After the standoffs were finished I installed the fan brackets to their proper placement per the manual. The three 120mm fans can definitely keep your hardware cool. They also offer 140mm fans as an add on to the bench. The 12V 120mm fan on the left side pushes critical air over your components like HDDs, and motherboard. The two 120mm fans on the back are dedicated to cooling your video and add on cards.
Once the fans brackets were set in place I moved on to the HDD rails. I was sent two sets, one for your traditional HDDs, and one rail for SSDs or 2.5 drives. The rail system makes sliding in and out drives extremely easy. They are made of non conductive acrylic, and suspend your drives under the top bench. There is also a nylon stopping point that prevents the drives from touching the 120mm fan.
After the rails are secure, you are half way through the build process. The next part of the build process involves screwing in the posts which attaches the two shelf's together.
Once you have the front posts secured, you're going to want to attach the brackets and bar for the add on cards. The bar is easily screwed into the post, and to finish the post you place the black plastic tops to cover it. Then place your thumb screws into each hole on the bar.
The bottom shelf is designed to load it up. The lower shelf allows stacking of drives, and your power supply. The included neoprene mat makes the entire shelf a non-slip work surface.
Next your going to mount the 120mm fans with the screw provided to the brackets we installed earlier. Be sure to also install the metal grills that are provided in the kit.
Once your XL test bench is complete it should look something like this, or a similar setup.
Here you can see examples of how I used my test bench configuration. You can expect various noise levels depending on your setup. Having the test bench in open air exposes all your system noises, and contributes to your background noise. The included system fans are 12V 3 pin fans, but do not seem to be too noisy compared to all my other systems components.
One of my favorite features are the included control kit connectors. They allow motherboards that do not have a power on button on the motherboard itself to have an easy on/off function for your motherboard.
The Xl test bench offers plenty of room to work. With the motherboard on the top shelf, it gives you room for massive CPU coolers, and AIO cooler support. Swapping parts in and out of the bench couldn't be any easier.
The are a few cons I can think of that make an open air test bench intimidating:
- Intimidating to new builders
- Not ideal in busy areas
- All parts are exposed in the open (Kids, pets, liquids, foods, etc..)
You have to consider while using this setup, all your invested hardware is in the open. It would not be a good in areas with lots of traffic or where possible spills or accidents can occur. That being said, there are lots of advantages as well. Having all your parts in the open does provide better temperatures, and easy access to swap parts in and out. Personally I highly recommend a setup like this for any enthusiasts who enjoys PC building. You can easily change out parts to your heart's content, and get yourself that new GPU you've been eyeing. Highspeed PC offers and entire range of test benches that can fit anyone's needs. So if you want a smaller, or larger test bench you can find what works with your budget. I can offer a 10% discount code store-wide for my readers, use code R7LTR815. You can buy the Highspeed PC XL test bench for $170.00 on the Highspeed PC website.