In and Around the Rosewill Ranger

While the Rosewill Ranger is somewhat stylized, it's nowhere near as blinged out as some of the enclosures in its market can be. With the color blue having had its day in the sun as an accent color, Rosewill once again opts for red, easily visible through the side window and ventilation, as well as the HDD indicator light and the front 120mm LED fan.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure the best first impression is made with the Ranger. We're generally not fans of glossy plastic around here due to its ability to pick up fingerprints (not to mention how cheap it often looks), and using glossy black plastic solely for the front fascia creates a disconnect with the rest of the enclosure while looking less than stylish. It's nowhere near as bad as some other implementations are, and Rosewill has confined it mainly to trim, but it does draw attention to itself. Thankfully the rest of the front of the enclosure is more staid, with plastic grating used to cover the majority of it (including the external drive bays). Rosewill also smartly places the I/O ports and power and reset buttons at the top front of the enclosure, making them easily accessible whether the case is on your desk or the floor.

Circle around to the side panel and you can see a case window that hovers over the CPU area of the motherboard as well as ventilation over the expansion slots; this vent supports two 120mm fans for keeping the video card nice and frosty. Overall this is pretty similar to how Rosewill handled the Thor v2, just in a smaller form factor. Behind the window you can also see the red paint job used for the motherboard tray.

It's when you get to the back of the Ranger that you begin to realize just how small the case really is. There are seven expansion slots, but look at how tightly packed together everything is, suggesting minimal clearance for the top of the case and especially behind the motherboard tray. This is getting perilously close to as small as a standard ATX case can get, and honestly, a bit smaller than I feel like it should get. If you need a tiny computer, at this point Micro-ATX boards have all the functionality of their full-sized kin, and you should be shopping for a Micro-ATX tower accordingly.

The side panels are held in place by thumbscrews; remove those and we can see where the Ranger's problems really lie. The inside of the case is pretty crowded, with the laterally mounted drive cages encroaching on valuable internal real estate and a 140mm top-mounted fan that practically stops at the top edge of where the motherboard will go. Rosewill includes spacious routing holes around the motherboard tray and in front of the power supply mount. That should theoretically allow you to maintain a fairly clean build, but that illusion is lost once you take a peek behind the tray.

There's an illusion of space for routing cables behind the Ranger's tray, but don't you believe it. The back of the motherboard tray is already pretty close to the side panel; there's an indentation behind the series of drive cages that you'd think would be enough space for hiding cabling. As you'll see when we get to assembly, it's nowhere near enough.

It's entirely possible I've been spoiled by case designs from other manufacturers, but the way Rosewill has laid out the interior of the Ranger just seems wrongheaded. A good, well-balanced enclosure should hopefully give you some room to work in, but you can already tell this is going to be a very tight fit.

Introducing the Rosewill Ranger Assembling the Rosewill Ranger
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  • Sttm - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    Especially when it's molded like that on the front in. It'd look better and be just as cheap I'd wager with a cleaner design and with a matte finish.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    Hah, that is exactly the first thing I thought when I saw it.

    Then I was dismayed by the sheer number of holes all over it. It would be terrible for keeping quiet.

    Spend a bit more and get yourself a Fractal Design Define R3. Who even wants that many 5.25" bays anyway?

    The only thing I do like about the design on this is the ventilated back panel that extends beyond the 120mm fan and down the side where the graphics card(s) would be.

    That would be nice to let the graphics card breathe a bit more, but it's not on the side, so it's unlikely it would create a path for sound directly to your ear. Fractal Design, take note of that minor point. (I also prefer ports and buttons on the front, and honestly I'd rather have the power button BEHIND the door. Ports collect dust when they're facing up!).
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    That said, it's almost certainly made the same OEM that Fractal Design uses. It shares a very high number of case elements, although it's done them in a slightly more half-assed way than the Define case does. Filtered fans, and so on.

    It also looks like it has the same rubber grommets, which are terrible. They're too soft and they fall out of the hole if you so much as breathe on them. The ones that came on the back of my Antec P182 are perfect in comparison, you can jam your finger in, pull it out, and the grommet does not fall out.

    Try that on these or on the Fractal Design cases (like I said, looks like the same OEM), and those things will pop out as soon as you push.
  • rrohbeck - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    Fractal Design has fixed that. I built with a Define XL (new model) recently and the grommets stuck where they should.
  • ckryan - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    ... for the increase in quality their products have been getting recently. Better power supplies, better cases, better Rosewill-branded nose/ear hair trimmers too. But damn, the Ranger is hideous... not in a pseudo-good way, or a quirky way. It's first degree murder with the ugly stick.

    But from a functional point of view, I guess it works. It's just not as sexy as the Lian Li PC A05NB while doing it.
  • marvdmartian - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    They still have a long way to go, IMHO.

    And asking $70 for this case is a joke. Don't be surprised if Newegg has it on sale for $40 (or less) soon, just to clear out their inventory. This is a hideous case, and I can't see any serious system builder wanting to use it.

    Oh, and Dustin? There's plenty of sub-$100 cases that look good and perform well. The snobbery that exists for high prices (versus low priced) cases is just ridiculous.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    You guys keep accusing me of snobbery when I've spent the last year testing these cases and have a big fat spreadsheet full of results.

    I do have a sub-$50 case review coming up that I was quite fond of, but the reality is that you ARE going to have to spend if you want heavy duty cooling performance with good acoustics.
  • marvdmartian - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    Sorry, Dustin. Didn't mean to point a finger solely at you, in the case snobbery comment.

    The snobbery seems, instead, to exist in a general way among many computer building enthusiasts. Some places I've seen, it's a prevailing attitude for years now (the whole, "Oh, it's not a Lian Li case"? comment gets old, ya know?).

    I will agree to disagree with you, concerning your cost versus heavy duty cooling and good accoustics point, though. To me, unless it's an HTPC case, I don't worry as much about accoustics (pushing 50 years old, with bad hearing, probably has something to do with that). My previous build was with an Antec 900 case, which offers excellent cooling, and is pretty darn quiet, but pushes the $100 price range. My current build was done in an Antec 100 case, which also offers pretty decent cooling, at half that price......and the only thing I hear from it is the hard drive winding up when it first starts up (sorry, no $$ for an SSD in my near future).

    But computer cases are like cars, and we're all going to have different tastes in what we like. Personally, I'd rather have an inexpensive box, filled with good quality components.
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Antec 300 for $30 is the hands down value winner. I do have to spend some time adding some time to the side, taping up holes and neutering the top fan. I also took a marker to the blue LED but it's still kinda too bright.

    On the bright side, it is just barely audible beside hdd seek, but that sound is acceptable to me.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    Is an extremely bad thing when fitting the case.

    My P182 lacked enough holes and space to route cables efficiently round the back of the case.

    When I took my motherboard out (I was having random issues), I discovered that just the force of putting the case side on had, over time, slowly bent the motherboard tray, and thus the motherboard, which I'm now pretty certain caused my issues.

    I never pushed it on with a lot of force or anything, either. It's a cautionary tale, and a HUGE point against any case when you can't fit things without a real shove.

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