Something different today, griping about hardware rather than software. At home, there is a fairly linear order of hardware deprecation: I buy new mid-high-end stuff (for KDE and FreeBSD and other development work), and the rest of the hardware is cycled to the kids (for gaming, mathematics, and XCB-based development), to grandma (for casual gaming and social contact). Today I’ll talk a little about a PC case, the Sharkoon VS7 midtower.

When I upgraded my main workstation this year, I ended up with an ATX board with no place to go: all the “hand-me-down” machines had mATX cases. A bit of shopping around found me a Sharkoon VS7 midtower case for EUR 46.34 including tax. That has it pretty firmly parked in “cheap” territory, where I’m afraid of sharp edges, uncomfortable installation, janky fans, etc.

tl;dr: falls into (almost) none of the “cheap” pitfalls, ticks many higher-end boxes, 8/10 would buy again.

While putting the machine together I kept thinking “this is a cheap-ass variant of my Fractal Define R5”. It does seem like Sharkoon has looked at useful modern case ideas – PSU shroud, cable management, tool-less HDD cages, configurable HDD cages – and implemented them in an inexpensive package. Sure, the HDD cages require bending and forcing some plastic gadget (rather than the rubber grommets that damp the screw-mounted R5 trays). Yep, cable management means a bag of tie-wraps and some space behind the motherboard tray (rather than a handfulof self-sticking wraps, some tie-wraps and smoothed-out guides from the space behind the motherboard). Indeed, the “toolless” bits are plastic knobs mounted on the screws which are way too tight as delivered (rather than all-metal screws in various dimensions tightened just-right). The fans are quiet 3-pin jobbies (rather than silent 4-pin PWM). All of those are acceptable tradeoffs for 60% off the price.

There is one thing, one thing only in this case that strikes me as oh-so-90s:

PCI Slot Covers
PCI Slot Covers

Punch-out PCI Slot Covers. The photo shows two metal grilles at left, which you need to hinge back and forth until metal fatigue makes them snap off – at least, that’s what I needed to do to mount a 2-slot graphics card. I haven’t done that in a case for ages. Next is a blank from a Fractal case, and then a blank from Sharkoon. There are two blanks included with the VS7, so there is a little flexibility. Punching out the grilles can be amended with those blanks, but it still feels weird compared to slotting in 4 more of them.

Cute, and on the right in the photo, is the included PC speaker. The speaker isn’t attached to the case itself, but if you really really want a “boop” on POST, there’s a short lead and a speaker. This is extra useful, actually, because it makes re-using the speaker on a single-board computer or elsewhere so much easier.

So on the off chance you’re building a midtower PC for (KDE) development anytime soon, you can do much worse than this particular case. 👍