As I'm sure you've noticed already, this case looks rather familiar. Anyone familiar with the Antec enclosures that I've reviewed in the past will surely recognize the same case layout as the SX1030. This proved to be a very solid case so we'll have to see if Thermaltake can do it justice.
The case itself is actually a Chieftec case that is made of aluminum instead of the steel that we've seen in the past. This will make the entire case assembly considerably lighter in weight but give it the strength of aluminum as well. In theory, this should work fine so I decided to check out the toughness of it.
To do this was very simple; I sat on the case. Considering that I weigh in at roughly 225 pounds, this managed to show me that the case will be able to take whatever stresses that it may meet. Though not always a good idea to do to your own enclosure, it helps to know whether or not a structure will take the rigors of being moved and toted around all the time. And how many times have you not had a place to sit something down so you just laid it on the case? Probably at least a time or two.
Another nice feature of the design is the finish. While it has the look of those brushed aluminum cases that are so popular, it actually has more of a painted finish to it. This allows the case to look very nice but doesn't require you to keep a can of polish handy all the time to wipe off those nuisance fingerprints that seem to accumulate on the brushed models. This makes it especially nice for those LAN parties where everyone wants to touch the pretty aluminum cases.
Moving to the rear of the case we see a pretty standard layout for peripherals and motherboard ports. Since this is based exactly on the SX1030 design, we've seen this before. But there is one little addition that Thermaltake decided to add.
See the little cable? This hooks straight into a Firewire port and gives you the ability to access it from the front of the case. You'll want to move it, of course, since it ships in the spot where the AGP video card will sit, but it's as simple as moving the cover plate. If you don't have access to Firewire in your current configuration, then just remove the plate and fold the wiring into your case. From there it can easily be secured to a spare corner so that it won't impede the airflow.
I spoke earlier of being able to access Firewire from the front. This little gem is the way that it happens. Installed in the top 5.25" drive bay of the case is one of Thermaltake's HardCano units. Here is what you get:
First up is a Fan Speed Controller. You can hook up the controller to nearly any fan and then control the fan speed right from the front of the box. Talk about convenient!
Next up is a temperature readout in an easy to see LCD display. There is a standard thermal probe that connects to it so you can set it to read case temperature, processor temperature or even your video board. Just remember not to lay the probe between the core and the sink of the desired location.
Finally are a set of Firewire and USB ports. The Firewire we noted earlier, so we know that it simply ports an existing IEEE-1394 port to the front of the case. The two USB ports, however, are a different matter entirely. They don't port them from the back of the box, but rather allow you to hook into a set of the additional USB pinouts on the motherboard. This allows you to have the two ports up front AND the two ports in back that are attached to the mainboard itself.
We'll end our tour of the outside of the case with the front panel. This is about the only part of the case that isn't made of aluminum. It is a very solid piece of steel and has the same finish as the rest of the enclosure. It makes for a very ungainly and front-heavy design when the case is just taken from the box, but it all ends up very well balanced when everything is installed. But what they heck. It looks cool and is made to fit around the HardCano unit that sits right above it. Opening the door doesn't hinder the reading of the LCD readout and doesn't get in the way of the ports.