In and Around the Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra

Interestingly, Rosewill's aesthetic for the Blackhawk Ultra is very staid and conservative, which is welcome. There's a glossy plastic trim which looks a little chintzy, but the predominate motif is "ventilation." The entire front and top of the enclosure is essentially just a black mesh grill, and that includes the shields for the 5.25" bays.

Given the sheer size of the Blackhawk Ultra, I'm surprised Rosewill only included four 5.25" bays. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I've maintained that 5.25" bays are essentially an albatross hanging around the neck of modern enclosures, and one of the only things they're truly needed for that can't be handled by an external enclosure and a USB cable is for storing coolant reservoirs. Certainly you could install a healthy liquid cooling system in the Blackhawk Ultra, but I suspect that's not what the case was truly intended for. If you pop off the front fascia, though, you can see they did something interesting with the 5.25" bays: outside of the standard bay shields, the metal pop-out plates inside feature mounting points for another 120mm fan and can be reinstalled after they've been removed.

The top of the case is roughly as minimal as any other part of it; the I/O cluster features a healthy four USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports, and there's an inclined SATA hotswap bay. On the back are a substantial number of radiator hose routing holes, but the most notable feature is probably the secondary power supply bay in the top of the enclosure. There's a shield already in place, but it can be removed, though as I mentioned you'll have to remove one of the top 230mm fans to use it.

Rosewill secures the side panels with thumbscrews per usual, but frustratingly, the side panels are notched. This is baffling given that the Thor v2 uses hinged panels, and hinged panels (or another solution) should really be standard when you're paying this much for a case. The Blackhawk Ultra is enormous, and having to spread yourself out to place pressure on all four corners of a side panel to secure it is difficult to say the least. They couldn't help adding more fan mounts to the side panels, though; if you're so inclined you can actually mount nine 120mm fans to the left panel and even another 140mm one behind the motherboard (located directly behind the CPU.)

When we do look inside the case, there aren't actually that many surprises: this is a giant ATX case. Rosewill has toolless clamps for the 5.25" bays and ten metal drive trays that use rubber grommets to dampen vibration from 3.5" drives. There are routing holes for all motherboard sizes from ATX on up, but when you're looking at the size of the holes and how they're arranged, something should be sticking out: the ones near the power supply bays. Power cables are the thickest ones in the system, yet these holes are actually fairly small. You'll see later that this materializes into exactly the kind of problem you'd expect.

There's also one major omission in the Blackhawk Ultra's design that was forgiveable in the essentially value-priced Thor v2 but less so here: fan filters. There's only a single removable filter on the bottom of the case for the PSU; all of the other vents in the case are filter-free. I've seen what can happen to a Thor v2 when the grills aren't dusted out regularly, and I can't imagine the Blackhawk Ultra will fare much better on that front.

All in all there aren't too many surprises with the Blackhawk Ultra's design; that wouldn't be an issue ordinarily, but remember that this is a $179 case. In that light, it can seem strangely conservative and even a bit archaic in some ways.

Introducing the Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra Assembling the Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra
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  • lwatcdr - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    You see I feel the opposite. I would like to see more cases with just optical drive bays. It is easy enough to put in adaptors for any drive you want. What I really want is an ITX or mATX case with just 4 optical bays. I can get two 2to3 hotswap bays and make a NAS then. I would take six bays as well as then I could use two 3x5 bays and build a 10 drive NAS. In a way I do agree that we need more extreme cases. I would like to see some with no optical bays, some with only optical bays, and some with a mix of bays. Reply
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    I do not think that the Blackhawk competes with the Phantom 630 but with the 820, the Switch 810, and other cases that support E-ATX and larger motherboards. The 630 is a great case but is a good bit smaller. If you want to do a build a really complex water cooler loop system, or run a quad SLI system then you need a case like the Blackhawk. The 630 is a great case but not really in the same class as the Blackhawk. The Switch is and frankly maybe the better case for a lot of builds.
    The one place that Blackhawk and it's twin the Xigmatek Elysium really shine is if you want a dual CPU workstation. They have the cutouts to support dual CPUs. That is also probably why they have such conservative looks. If you are going to build a dual 2011 system with a Quadro card and maybe a Tesla card or two then you really don't want it to look like a transformer. Lots of space and cooling for a really large system for a really low price.
    Reply
  • SunLord - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    I have this case which I'm setting up to run a water cooled Dual Opteron server. This case is perfect for crazy large water cooled builds. As you can easily run 1 200MM on top, 1 3x140mm on bottom, and 1 140mm radiator on the rear with little trouble. You also can in theory fit in a 2x140MM radiator on the side of the hard drive cage but it's a bit of a pain as the case isn't meant mount one there. You also have the option given all the hose holes to use external radiators. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Honestly, two big fans directing air through filtration from bottom to top is all you really need to properly cool a case. I still think that the modern redesign of the old layout has a long way to go. How these companies situation the goods inside the case could use some re-evaluation.

    It would be best served towards the front bottom of the case, below the drives for cable routing. The PSU needs to be a source of filtered cool air INTAKE. The out other intake needs to be filtered air through the bottom rear of the case flowing directly into the video card. If you want, an optional third intake can be window mounted with direct ducting to the CPU cooler.

    The top of the case needs one giant quiet fan in the middle to expel hot air. Hot air rises, so it will rise to the top naturally and be expelled from the case by the fan. Positive air pressure is not necessary as long as the rest of the case is sealed up and the only intake possible is through the filters.
    Reply
  • lwatcdr - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I think you underestimate the value of positive case pressure.
    1. It is pretty impractical to seal a case so it can only intake air from filtered sources. USB ports, side panels, and other ports and connections are almost never air tight.
    2. Higher air pressure means that you have denser air which means more mass to carry away the heat. Of course just to make life hard when you compress a fluid like air you heat it. Light positive pressure supplied from filtered intakes.
    Reply
  • sulu1977 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    What I want to see is a case with a filter so that no dust or insects can get inside. Also most of USB ports should be at bottom of front panel, behind a simple hinged cover. Reply
  • Ammohunt - Thursday, April 4, 2013 - link

    I would like to see this case built with every fan position filled. Reply

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