Assembling the Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra

One of the nicest things about working with a case the size of the Blackhawk Ultra is that it's huge: you very seldom find your hands getting cramped into uncomfortably narrow gaps, and so getting everything installed an in place can be a lot easier. One of the worst things about working with a case the size of the Blackhawk Ultra is that it's huge: whenever you have to move the case itself, it's unwieldy, and it's heavy. This case is 36.6 pounds before anything is even installed in it; our full fat testbed can bring the system weight to roughly sixty pounds, or a little under half of my body weight.

Rosewill ships the Blackhawk Ultra with motherboard standoffs installed for an XL-ATX board, and it's a consideration that's appreciated. I had to move three standoffs to get our ATX board installed, which is still a lot better than having to install each one by hand. Users who do opt for a standard ATX board in this case will be treated to a lot of clearance and healthy cable routing options surrounding the tray itself.

Installing 3.5" drives involves screwing them into the bottom of the fairly rigid metal drive trays; 3.5" drives benefit from rubber grommets for dampening noise. 2.5" drives are also screwed into the bottom of the trays. Meanwhile, installing a 5.25" drive can be more problematic. The size of the front fascia makes it a bit difficult to remove, but with the proper application of force to the bottom it comes off, and you must remove it to remove the bay shields. The blu-ray drive we use for our testbed ran into a clearance issue with one of the 230mm fans, though; it fits, but it's pressed snugly against the fan. The toolless mechanism Rosewill uses at least feels secure, though I have to wonder if at least a little bit of that stems from the drive simply not having anywhere else to go.

Getting our video cards and power supply into the Blackhawk Ultra was also basically a breeze, though it's worth noting that side-oriented SATA ports can put undue pressure on cables when you try to route them, and this seems to be a common problem. Case designers place a routing hole next to where the SATA ports will be, and that's good, but the hole is narrow and doesn't really take into account the way one might have to bend the cables if the motherboard orients them facing outward as our test board and indeed most enthusiast boards do.

Where things start to go awry with the Blackhawk Ultra is where I said they would, and where they usually do. In the Blackhawk Ultra it's a little more egregious, though: this is a case designed to accommodate a boatload of hardware, and boatloads of hardware demand a lot of power leads, so why are the routing holes next to the power supply bays so small? Cabling everything should've gone at least a little easier than this, but I found myself having to really work the modular leads through the holes and I'm not looking forward to when I have to tear down this build to do the next case review. The fan hubs also use traditional 4-pin molex connectors, and honestly I'd really like that standard to just die in favor of SATA power leads. Closing up also proved to be a bit of a challenge, but that stemmed more from the notched side panels coupled with the sheer mass of the Blackhawk Ultra.

It's not that assembling a system in the Blackhawk Ultra was difficult so much as that it could've been much, much easier. I can forgive the fan clearance issue with the optical drive; our blu-ray drive is actually a bit deeper than optical drives typically are. Rosewill also does a lot right by nipping fan cable management in the bud. Yet the power cables proved to be a real sore spot, and notched panels just don't belong on a case this size.

In and Around the Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra Testing Methodology
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  • GUYFIERI - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Whats wrong with the title? Reply
  • epoon2 - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    it's all in the last page:

    given the price, there are other products which optimized for both noise & cooling
    Reply
  • lever_age - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    I wonder what that top middle fan mount does other than (1) ensure that a conspicuous meshed area has a fan behind it, (2) light up, and (3) steal air from the CPU cooler. Maybe it helps the graphics cards in some setups? Possibly? Or it's just the aesthetics and we-crammed-three-230mm-fans-in-a-case appeal. Reply
  • ShieTar - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Not sure which one of the two you think is the "middle" one, but either way it is an exhaust fan. To take air away from the CPU cooler after it has been pushed through there and heated up is exactly what it is there for. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    I suspect it's the forward fan on the top (since there's a fair amount of case forward of it). As it is it's probably aimed toward maxing out total airflow.

    Having that much space to install fans OTOH does fit one major feature checkbox; it makes this one of the very few cases able to fit a 3x140mm radiator without being modded. The only others I know of are from MountainMods and CaseLabs; both of whose cases are significantly more expensive.
    Reply
  • BMAN61 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    There are 2 other chassis with native support for a triple 140mm radiator; namely the NZXT Switch 810, and their other offering the Phantom 820.

    So no need to spend megabucks for a chassis from CaseLabs or Mountain Mods.
    Reply
  • lever_age - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Sorry, I meant the 230mm top fan (the one halfway between the front and back of the case, not the one toward the rear that's above the motherboard).

    With a typical ATX layout with say two 120mm / 140mm fan positions on top, it sometimes doesn't help (sometimes even hurts) to have the second one, the one towards the middle of the case. If used as exhaust, it takes air away from the intake of a side-blowing tower CPU cooler as we have here. If used as intake right next to the other top fan (and exhaust), that creates turbulence and doesn't work too well unless you actually add ducting to the CPU cooler intake.

    Here, the position of the second top fan looks ridiculous because the two are so large. That said, because of the size of the case, distance to the CPU intake area is not that small. Having the mesh, cutout, and space for a 3x140mm radiator is nice, but that doesn't mean that putting a second fan there actually helps anything (other than arguably aesthetics and checkbox on the feature list, which would be my guess).

    Seems like it could be a situation where marketing trumps engineering, which is what I was getting at. We have airflow for the sake of airflow, rather than directing air to useful places.
    Reply
  • RosewillEye - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    One can never have too many fans. Reply
  • HobgoblinX - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    As usual, I really enjoy reading your reviews. Great detail. Great humor. I just have one question. Could you please re-test the Thor V2? You changed your test bed very shortly after reviewing the Thor V2, and it's a little frustrating to have a case referenced in numerous reviews that I cannot compare to the case under review because the Thor V2 has no compatible numbers. Reply
  • Ilias78 - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    And as always, Dustin complains about cable management. Yet he does the worst cable management in the business - regardless the case or the review. Reply

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