The Ares came in the usual brown box and was packed inside with a bag and foam end caps. Taking the case out of the box, we see the left panel with a large side fan and windows for the interior of the case. The other feature that catches my eye right away is the raised top-rear 120mm fan bay. Stylistically I could take it or leave it, but I am hoping this means the fan is positioned away from the CPU cooler and provides more working room inside of the case.
Flipping the case around, the right side is plain. On the front panel is a door for one of the four 5.25” bays (the bay with the logo on it). The other drive bays, including the one 2.5” bay all feature traditional covers (the specifications on the instruction sheet actually list four exposed 5.25” and two exposed 3.5” drive bays with six additional hidden 3.5” drive bays). I like that the door covers up the drive as it gives the case a cleaner look.
On the control panel, let's start at the very top. We see two USB 2.0 ports, a power button, and then on the front two more USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and an eSATA port. I like how they have not only four USB 2.0 ports, but split them up to make sure two are in a convenient location for either an on-the-floor setup or sitting on top of a desk. The styling leaves a little tray behind the top USB 2.0 ports, which is perfect for plopping down an iPod or holding spare case screws.
Moving on to the back of the case, we see a 120mm rear exhaust fan, a spot for the I/O ports and room for seven expansion slots. Also, right under the 120mm rear fan we see two holes for passing tubing on a water-cooling setup. Lastly note that the PSU is in the bottom mount location. Personally, this is the location I prefer as I feel it lowers the center of gravity on a case. In theory this makes it less prone to tipping over depending on where you place the system. More importantly, it generally means less heat generated at the top of the case so the CPU cooling fans have less to worry about. In practice I haven't found it making a whole lot of difference, but wanted to point that out.
The last two pictures are taking a look at the raised 120mm top fan. The placement is a little bit different and if you are the type who likes to pile stuff on top of your case you might find it annoying. Next we will take a look at installing some hardware into the case.