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Palo Alto PA-600 Case

Palo Alto may not be a familiar name when you think of computer cases. It is very likely that you have seen their cases, as they are a provider to many OEM manufacturers such as Dell and Micron. Originally Palo Alto generally dealt with OEMs and authorized resellers for their business, but Palo Alto has decided to begin focusing on the enthusiast market and is now selling their cases directly at their website. Previously you had to buy a large lot of cases to get them directly from Palo Alto. The question that arises is if a case designed for use by OEMs, such as the PA-600, can meet the needs of most computer enthusiasts.


    • ATX Format
    • 2 full bays
    • 4 half bays (2 external)
    • Standard 235 watt power supply
    • Dimensions: 6.7"W x 15.5"D x 16.4"H
    • Weight 17 lbs.

First Impressions:

The first thing I noticed is the high quality construction of the unit. All metal edges inside the case have been deburred. The plastic used in the case is quite thick and of a neutral beige. The side cover of the case is secured with a single thumb screw and the side cover is removed quite easily after pulling on two plastic retaining tabs. The rear of the case has one unusual feature. Those of you with nosy roommates or lots of visitors will appreciate that a padlock can be used to secure the case from opening. The unit shipped to me was equipped with the optional 92 mm exhaust fan. Iím not one to settle for exhaust fans and no intake fans. I remedied that by inserting an 80 mm intake fan into the front of the case. I suspect OEMs are skimpy on the fans they include with their systems not only due to cost but also due to the inherent increased noise. I highly recommend whatever case you buy you use as many fans as the case will accommodate as the life of your components is far more important than the extra noise you will have to endure. Even with the extra fans and my slot cooler I found this case to be quieter than the much larger case I used previously, especially when you consider that the other case could only hold an 80 mm intake and exhaust fan. The power supply provided with this case has ample ventilation holes drilled in its bottom. Counting on a power supply to cool your case with its fan is highly suspect, but the generous ventilation with this power supply ensures that it indeed can move air out of the case with its 80mm fan. I used the highly scientific method of feeling how much air exited from the power supply fan and I was quite impressed. The PA-600 features 5 power connectors for your peripherals with 1 power connector for your floppy drive. This is more power connectors than many manufacturers provide for cases with more bays.

Installation and Testing:

For testing I once again relied on my Abit BX6r2. This motherboard is quite large and its size is representative of most of the motherboards on the market. The motherboard is retained by a unique mechanism that requires only one screw that is on the outside of the case. Once a bracket is attached to the motherboard it is dropped into place and held with supports that are mounted within the case. This sped up the installation of the motherboard and, more importantly, I didnít have to mess with the five to six screws it takes to retain a motherboard in most cases. It didnít surprise me that Palo Alto has a patent pending on this design since this is not only unique, but in a small way, revolutionary.

The PA-600 uses drive rails to retain the drives mounted in the two full bays and the two external half bays. I am not very partial to these types of retaining mechanisms. With the time it takes to mount the rails to a component I could have easily inserted the component and had it screwed in. I think these benefit organizations with several machines that need components swapped on a regular basis, as the techs donít need tools to work on the systems. I will give Palo Alto credit because these are the best quality drive rails Iíve ever encountered. Had I encountered drive rails like these early on I may have never developed my aversion to drive rails in the first place.

Extra Shots: (click to enlarge)

Inside Front Inside Back Inside Board Back View


  • High quality construction
  • Accommodates a 92 mm exhaust fan
  • Accommodates an 80 mm intake fan
  • Easy access panel with 1 thumbscrew securing it and an available padlock mount
  • One screw motherboard mounting system


  • Only 2 full bays
  • Drive rails


I am very partial to this case. I would have liked to see another full bay available but that is a somewhat minor point since Palo Alto designs their cases to accommodate the needs of OEMs and large system integrators. Obviously there isnít enough interest in a layout with more full bays from the OEMs to cause Palo Alto to lose sleep over the layout of the PA-600. I feel that the vast majority of people will not use more than 2 full bays for their components, and considering the good ventilation the PA-600 can accommodate, the extra air space in the case is not missed. Keep in mind that the PA-600 can still mount a satisfactory amount of 3.5" drives inside the case and the loss of one full bay becomes even less important. I recommend this case to anyone who is concerned with the quality of construction in their case and/or someone that is looking for a mid-tower and doesnít need more than 2 full bays. For a case of its size it accommodates impressive cooling if you purchase a 92 mm and an 80 mm fan to mount in your case as I did with the tested configuration. The PA-600 retails for $95, including shipping, at the Palo Alto website.You can find it for less with a little diligence from one of their authorized resellers.

Victor Oshiro

Web Target PC


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