The Moneual 972 is priced at the lower end of the LCD touch-screen case spectrum and is just $30 more expensive than the Thermaltake DH102. For this price, the all-aluminum case comes with the most I/O options and the most room to work with compared to the other cases.
As for hard drive space, the Moneual is in the middle of the pack with four available 3 ¼” internal slots–one more than what the Thermaltake DH102 offers and two less than what is inside the Silverstone CW03. External options aren’t as impressive–like the Thermaltake DH102, the case only has space for a single 5 ¼” optical drive. The Silverstone CW03 is the only case in the roundup with up to three external-drive options.
There are only two case fans in the 972 and these 80 mm units are placed to exhaust air from the rear of the case. While the low number of fans keep the noise down, we think it might be more appropriate for a case in this price range to sport at least an intake fan for better airflow.
The Moneual 972 is the only case that comes from the factory with multimedia card readers such as MS Pro Duo, MMC/SD, CF/Microdrive, and SM. Along with this come headphone and microphone jacks, a FireWire jack, and a single USB port. Although the 972 has more I/O options than the competitors, we think a second USB port would have been nice.
Moneual’s 972 bundle is fairly typical of the touch-screen LCD cases in our roundup with pin-to-molex adapters for the fans, screws, a manual, software installation CD, touch stylus, and the iMon remote and batteries. The included DVD drive cover and the high-quality Phillips screwdriver with a magnetic tip (to fish out any wayward screws) are unique to the 972. It’s funny how the thoughtful little extras like this add so much perceived value to a high-priced item like the Moneual 972.
The Moneual 972 has a number of attractive features, but what really stands out compared to the competition in this roundup is its dimensions. It is the deepest case by over an inch and was designed with size and accessibility in mind so that it is definitely the roomiest case in this roundup, a strength that we especially appreciated when installing the components. Of course, this might not be a positive feature if you don’t have a deep shelf on which to put it.
The 972 is also the only case in this roundup that is all-aluminum. This allows it to be one of the lightest cases, even if it is the largest. Other than that, the 972 isn’t especially unique in any particular way, other than its excellent build quality. Although it’s lighter than the SilverStone CW03, the details are there, materials are well made, and its structural rigidity is impressive.
Appearance, Fit, and Finish
The Moneual 972 definitely has the look of a high-quality home theater component. Aesthetics are clean and attractive on our brushed metal test unit, and for those buyers who have the other color of home theater components, there is a black version as well.
All of the case buttons have a satisfying “click” to them that instills confidence about their longevity. The cover of the case is aluminum and is thick enough to be rigid but light enough to be pleasant to work with. Sliding it into place is effortless and speaks to how well-built the 972 really is.
The case also features flush-mounted nuts, instead of simply tapped holes with which to attach mounting hardware, and is thus much nicer to work with.The flush-mounted nuts also add to the case’s rigidity.
The Moneual 972’s installation is not tool-fee, but it is not exceptionally difficult, either. The extra space compared to its competitors was greatly appreciated and the installation experience felt closer to that of a spacious tower than a cramped HTPC case.
The external optical drive installation is unique, as Moneual chose to include a metal cover for the drive door instead of a full drive bay cover. This metal-door cover is attached by adhesive tape. While the adhesive tape does the job, it makes things complicated for a future swap. While Moneual’s method looks attractive, for practical reasons we much prefer the SilverStone and Thermaltake method of completely covering the drive bay with a soft-touch opening door integrated into the case itself.
Other than this one critique, installation was fine. We did have a slight concern afterward when we tried to fit the 972 into a home-entertainment system enclosure, as it stuck out a bit more than we liked. While the 972’s depth is a blessing during the setup, it can be a problem if your space is limited.
However, these are merely points to consider before you make your purchasing decision. Overall, we were impressed at the high level of build quality Moneual offers for the relatively low price, and we really did appreciate the case’s attributes during the setup.