Starting off with the front of the enclosure, we see what has become customary for the Thermaltake line, a large front panel. While it is still heavy, it is made of aluminum and boasts a little different design than you're probably used to. The flowing lines give the impression of the namesake when looked at from a sideways angle and the name emblazoned toward the top of the panel leaves no doubt where the form comes from.
Tucked under the top inset series of curves you'll find a bright LED hiding just behind the metal panel. Toward the end of the review I'll show it off a little better in the dark, but this thing is bright. When I turn off the room lights, it illuminates a large section of the wall to the right of where I set the box.
As far as case colors are concerned, you have a choice of either silver or black.
When you open the front panel you'll be greeted by a large area where you can fit up to five optical devices. This should give more than enough room for even the most hardcore backup fanatic and still give you room for other goodies like a rheostat device or something of this type.
Below the five optical drive bays you see a pair of 3.5" drive bays to handle the likes of a floppy drive or backup device. The sweeping lines below this are vents to feed air to the front fan for internal cooling.
On the right side of the case by the front panel lock you'll find the front mounted I/O ports. Nothing out of the ordinary here, but it is still nice to see these still being implemented. While I seldom use the headphone and microphone jacks, I am always finding it handy to have both USB and Firewire readily available from the front of the case.
Moving to the side panel we are again presented with the concepts of creatures that live in the water. Giving the impression of gills, the hexagonal mesh area works as a substitute for a common side window. One glaring issue, however, is the lack of either Plexiglas to seal the side or any sort of filtration. This does not bode well for those who like to keep dirt and dust from the inside of their system boxes. With two fans used for airflow and both being rated at the same performance level, you'll end up with more exhaust than intake as soon as you add the power supply to the picture. This causes the open venting in the side to suck in anything that happens to be in the area. In my experience, dust and dirt are ALWAYS in the area.
The construction of the case is 1.0mm aluminum so while it is lightweight it is also very strong. I was able to do my normal sitting test on the case and felt no instabilities in the framing. Considering that I weigh in at roughly 225 pounds (about 102Kg), this is no mean feat. The finish is a flat black instead of glossy and I think I like it better this way, but this is a personal thing. The main thing I liked about the flat color is it doesn't make the enclosure highlight fingerprints and smudges nearly as easily as a gloss finish would do.
Looking at the side panel from another angle, the hexagonal grating material is metal and does act as a preventative measure for EMI (ElectroMagnetic Interference). My own systems generally don't have a problem with this type of problem, but I know of others who do have an issue with EMI and this may be of great benefit.
Sliding around to the backside of the enclosure shows a large 120mm fan mounted prominently in the central portion of the panel. The PCI slots, PSU mounting area and backplate area are standard, but this is necessary to handle your system components. There is one thing that is different, though, and will shed even more light into the namesake of this case design.
Do you see the small circles that look like they can be removed? Well, they can. The reason for these pass-through holes is simple; the enclosure was designed to be used with water cooling. With many water cooling setups, you often have a radiator, heater core or reservoir mounted outside of the case. Room is the main reason for this mounting technique, but whatever the reason the holes act as a native pass-through for the tubing to connect with the primary cooling system. To make sure you don't cut up your tubing (and effectively ruin a good system), there are plastic grommets that are provided so you won't have to worry about sharp edges cutting the plastic tubing material.
Now the SHARK moniker is beginning to make sense. This enclosure truly is a creation of water.
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