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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  • 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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