The memory and storage veteran ADATA — or rather, its XPG-enthusiastic sub-brand — is fairly new to the PC box market, and its track record has been good so far. However, it does take a turn with the $ 89.99 XPG Starker, a mid-tower chassis with a faulty feature set and a few questionable design elements. Starker is not really a bad choice, but it is a remedy at best. For the price, you can do better; ATX choices like XPG Battlecruiser siblings and Cooler Master MasterBox MB530P are better games.
Designed: Strong, who goes there?
Available in black or white, the XPG Starker case has a balanced aesthetic. You will notice a little flair on the front and side, but not so much that the chassis looks busy or overly stimulating. The front panel is dominated by solid steel, but in the center of the panel on the left and right sides are aRGB LEDs. The right panel has no decoration at all, but the left panel is made of tempered glass to let the inner beauty of your building be seen.
ADATA also enhanced the interior aesthetic a bit by placing its usual flame-inspired logo on the PSU compartment. A single 120mm XPG Vento aRGB fan is pre-mounted on the back of the case to add some interior lighting. Another pre-installed Vento 120 mm fan lives on the front of the case, but it has no LED lighting.
It seems that Starker’s designers did not fully understand the purpose of having a separate room for the power supply at the bottom of the case. In most chassis, this feature is intended to create a cleaner building by hiding the power supply and most of its cables out of sight.
Instead, ADATA has shown everything inside the on-screen power supply compartment. A window cut into the side of the compartment shows the PSU (not in itself a bad thing), but also a certain amount of cable clutter if your PSU is a short one. The top of the room, meanwhile, is covered by relatively large holes that, if any, make the bottom of the case look cluttered rather than ordered. This not only shows all the cables inside, but seeing them through this perforated surface increases the perception of chaos, at least for my eyes.
There is not much behind the right panel apart from storage brackets and cable ties. ADATA left a large cutout in the motherboard mounting tray that makes it easy to mount the CPU cooler bracket from the bottom of the motherboard. Under this cutout, there is a mounting bracket that can accommodate two 2.5-inch drives, and at the bottom of the cabinet is a small cage designed to accommodate a single 3.5-inch drive. Down here is also where you would insert the power supply, but otherwise there is not much else worth mentioning on this page.
The front panel connector of the cabinet includes only two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a headset audio jack. (The lack of USB-C up here is a definite shortcoming in an even semi-premium chassis like this.) You’ll also find the power button and a switcher to cycle the system’s LEDs through different colors.
The build experience
One of the highlights of the XPG Starker case is how easy it is to work inside. The main compartment is quite wide with a high ceiling, which prevents any problems with getting the motherboard in place. I can not give an exact measurement of how much space you have left between the top of the case and the motherboard as this will vary slightly depending on your hardware. But there was enough distance for comfort with my Asus ProArt B550-Creator test board.
The Asus motherboard also left enough room for it to be a breeze to plug in the CPU power connector – sometimes a pinch, depending on the design of the case. I was helped by cable gland openings cut into the mounting tray above the board. Additional lead-through holes to the right of the motherboard made running and connecting other cables similarly a hassle.
Mounting storage units, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. 2.5-inch mounting brackets are nothing out of the ordinary, but 3.5-inch drive cages. Not only is a cage that only holds a 3.5-inch drive relatively rare, but the screws that hold it in place are screwed in from the chassis bottom. This means that you have to place the housing on the side and remove the dust filter on the underside to remove the cage for easier mounting of the drive.
To some extent, I appreciate what ADATA was trying to do here; Drive cages often get in the way when mounting your power supply. They also tend to be cumbersome to remove and reassemble. The shorter, single 3.5-inch drive space is less likely to interfere with the PSU, and the bottom-mounted screws mean you don’t have to have a screwdriver inside a built-in rig.
However, it is more problematic to get the cage mounted again after you have installed a drive in it. In addition to limiting your storage options, the one-slot design also means plenty of wasted space around the cage. Some cases these days omit 3.5-inch bays altogether, which could allow for an overall smaller chassis. With Starker, though, you get the worst of both worlds: You can’t install multiple 3.5-inch drives for plenty of storage space, and the case isn’t very compact.
On the plus side, maintenance work in XPG Starker should be fairly easy. The front panel pulls off completely, with dust filters on the top, front and bottom. These filters are all easy to remove. The design of the front panel is particularly well thought out; the panel turns off simply by lifting it up. This allows you to clean or wash the filter as needed and provides unobstructed access to the fans on the front of the cabinet for cleaning.
Rating: A Stronger Contrast
At a slightly lower price, the XPG Starker chassis can be an attractive option for system builders. But to quote A knight story, “You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found missing.”
It is not that the case does not have positive qualities. At first glance, its negatives actually seem superficial. At $ 89.99, however, it clearly falls below the competition. The transparent PSU compartment makes your finished building look unpolished. There are no fan controls and only a luminous aRGB fan, and the case can only contain a 3.5-inch drive (in a clumsy way than most rivals). At the same time, the front panel has only two old-school USB Type-A ports, which may not ruin a budget-friendly case, but feel like a big deal for just a hundred dollars today.
Long story short: Check out other options, or look for Starker for sale.