Thermaltake is allowing me to have a look at another in the Element series of chassis'. If you remember from my last visit with one of the Element chassis', the Element T, I was impressed with their work. That was a budget conscious chassis design, but still offered quite a bit of bang for the buck in the mid tower segment of the market. The Element T wasn't the roomiest of chassis', but did employ some nice features such as a large opening in the side panel to maximize air flow to vital components, an adjustable PSU support and plenty of hidden space to hide those pesky wires.
This time around we get to look at a full tower from the Element line that offers a bunch more room, a ton of features and much better airflow built in. Features include multi-colored LED lighting, a three fan controller built in and a somewhat tool-less interior just to name a few, but a key feature on this chassis we are about to look at is security.
Today, Thermaltake has given us the Element V to have a look at. With every chassis in this line-up the letter after Element stands for something, or many things. In this chassis the "V" stands for five things as Thermaltake sees it. These are "voodoo" for the color shifting fans, "vivid" for the eye catching appearance, "vary" for the speed control of the fans, "ventilation" for its excellent thermal performance and "vast" because of its rather large design in which it can hold a vast amount of parts. Time to get a close look at the specifications and see if the Element V can also stand for "victory"!
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Element V is a full tower chassis built from SECC steel and plastic. The exterior of the chassis is painted in a textured black pain finish, while the front bezel is mostly plastic. The chassis can support up to five 5.25" drives, six 3.5" drives and has a spot to mount one SSD. The Element V is large and is almost twenty-one inches square and about nine inches wide. This is quite enough to hold what most of us want to put in them. The V can house micro-ATX. ATX and extended-ATX motherboards, and provides seven expansion slots for various cards.
There are fans galore inside of the Element V and room for more if you choose to fill it up. There is room for two 200mm fans to sit just under the top of the chassis, even though only one "colorshift" fan is sent. The front has two fans, both 120mm, but one is fan controlled with "colorshift" LED's and the other is not. The side employs a 230mm"colorshift" fan which is also speed controlled as is the one front 120mm and the top 200mm. The rear of the chassis is shipped with a quick releasing 120mm fan, but also has room for two 50mm fans next to the expansion cards.
Thermaltake is everywhere it seems these days and looking on the internet to try to find the Element V for sale proves that point. Last I checked there were ten pages of various shopping links in Google. Most are averagely priced, while quite a few were asking an exorbitant amount for this chassis. On the lower end of this spectrum I found the Element V listed at Newegg for $169.99. Now, let's just see what we get for that sort of price.
The Element V is packaged similarly to the others in this series; an all black background highlighted with a bold red accent stripe that Thermaltake has been known for. On the front is an image of the Element V, or at least the top of it, all lit up and under power.
This side panel would have told you a bit about why this chassis uses the "V" moniker, had UPS not blocked the only part that housed any information. Placed just below this is a full frontal shot of the Element V in action.
The rear of the packaging is where you will find a nicely laid out section highlighting all the major chassis features such as the multiple colors of the chassis lighting with fan control, air flow diagram and most of the chassis' internal and external features.
The other side panel holds the chassis specifications of the Element V, and at the bottom in ten languages it said this is in fact a computer chassis inside.
With the cardboard removed we see what is typical in most chassis' I look at. There is the Styrofoam top and bottom support caps to keep the chassis centered and safe from minor bumps and bruises. Also typical is the plastic liner surrounding the chassis to keep scratches to a minimum, but Thermaltake goes one step farther with the Element V. Once you pull off the outer plastic liner, there is a cloth or cloth-like liner to be found, which acts as an extra layer of protection against damages during shipping, assuring you get a quality product to your door.
The Thermaltake Element V Full Tower Case
Out of the entire shipping garb, the Element V from the front has an attractive look. An all black plastic front bezel with a Thermaltake logo surrounds the vented mid section. The top half consists of five removable covers, while the bottom half is covered with two larger fan covering sections.
In the last image you just get the slightest hint of the fan controller knob, and here is why. At the front of the top of the chassis is where the front I/O lies surrounded in a thick red band of plastic. Starting at the top, Thermaltake offers a HDD activity LED, a microphone jack, an e-SATA connection, headphone jack and the power LED. In the middle you will find a row of four SATA connections. In the bottom of this image you will find rather large and easy to use silver reset and power buttons flanking the twist dial fan controller with push button lighting control.
On the side there are a few things to highlight. The more obvious things like a 230mm fan placed more or less right in the center and a small window to sort of peak inside for a slight view of things that can't be seen via the mesh for the fan. Then there are the door panel latches. Both need to be released to allow the panel to "pop" open, but as you can see Thermaltake added a lock to the top latch to secure your goods during a LAN event. At the front you will see two small holes in the panel itself. These are for an optional water bottle holder that can be purchased from Thermaltake.
The rear of the chassis is not painted to match the rest of the exterior, but still has a lot to offer. The rear I/O area has Thermaltake's own I/O shield in place, which most likely will need to be removed to accept a board specific shield. The rear exhaust fan that sits to the right is 120mm and has easy release clips for removal. Under the fan is where you will find the set of keys to work the lock in the door panel. They are attached to the wire management clip to keep wires tidy behind the case. There are seven expansion slots next to a ventilated area that actually accepts 50mm fans to help draw out some of that extra GPU heat. There are two water cooling pass through holes, but are covered by knock out plates just above where the PSU should be mounted.
Not really much to say here, except that Thermaltake also added the holes for a sports bottle rack to be mounted on either side.
Inside The Thermaltake Element V Full Tower Case
Thermaltake makes removing this panel a breeze, as long as it is unlocked of course. Lift the two "finger pull" tabs and the door opens like a car door. What I really liked was the innovative way that the fan gets connected in this panel. There are three pins on this side that strike on a plate mounted on the frame of the chassis, not to mention this powers a four color LED, 230mm fan that adds quite a bit of flow and circulation to the chassis.
With the panel out of the way, we are left looking inside a roomy interior. The motherboard tray accommodates mATX, ATX and eATX motherboards and offers both a large CPU cooler access hole and a few wire management holes. The front of the chassis is all bays and has a support bar pop riveted to it and again to the rear of the chassis. As far as I can tell, it is solely there for support, and maybe a place to hide wires, but with some creativity I could see multiple SSD's lined up there, too.
The drive bays are set up with five 5.25" bays up top and two hard drive cages capable of housing three drives each. Looking closely at the floor, you can see a bit of the framing and the raised mounting bumps in the floor for an SSD under the bottom drive cage. On this side all of the bays are tool-less, but require screws on the flip side if you require more secure mounting. The left side of these bays is another nice little addition. They left a few wiring holes to allow you to pass them here instead of making it all run out into the main motherboard area.
While there are two places for a 200mm fan to be placed up top, Thermaltake only ships the chassis with one of its multi-colored LED fans. This may lead to a bit of some tower coolers "breathing room" but the fan can always be moved forward. While we are in closer, you can see the tray is well laid out and easy to make sure you have all the appropriate risers in place.
The PSU, when installed in the chassis, is well ventilated with the honeycomb pattern punched out of the floor. The support rail can be unscrewed and moved to snugly support any power supply. Also since I'm here, in the rail of the chassis is the mating plate for the doors fan. When the door is fully on and screwed into position, these pins line right up.
Inside the rear of the Element V, starting up top, there is the rear 120mm exhaust fan and rear I/O shield. The shield can be removed with two screws, and the fan is a bit easier, as it is mounted to a plate with quick release tabs you saw on the outside. Aside from where the seven ventilated expansion slots are, the majority of the extra space is ventilated. This includes the area for dual 50mm fans just to the slots left.
When I first opened the rear panel all the wiring was nicely tied up and tucked away in the space next to the drive bays. I loosened them to give you a good idea of just how much cabling is actually there. With this much wire to play with from the front I/O, wire management options are endless.
With a gentle tug at the bottom, the full front panel comes off. This needs to be out of the way for both the HDD and optical drive installation. That leads me to this; I really like the way Thermaltake doesn't use any wires in the removable front. It just makes things that much easier for the build. The cages have a 120mm fan to blow air through them, however one is LED and controllable, the other is not LED and will run on 12V from a 4-pin Molex connection. To keep dust to a minimum, all of the slot covers and the two larger bottom sections have a material screening, which I assume is washable.
Never mind the fact that I jumped ahead a bit before I remembered to get this pose, but the bottom of the chassis has large hard plastic feet with smaller rubber pads to keep from scratching floors and desktops. The top of the chassis is almost all vent, should be no issue getting heat out of inside the Element V.
Accessories and Documentation
Taped to the drive bays you will find a large sealable bag full of hardware and paper work. Here we have the hardware. You will get five white tie straps, one bag of all the screws needed for mounting devices inside the chassis or assisting the tool-less hardware, the other holding the risers and motherboard screws. You also get two hard plastic grommets to protect tubing from the steel edge if you remove the knock out. That leaves the always handy motherboard speaker.
Along with the previously mentioned hardware, you will find the paperwork. Included here is your warranty information fold-out and a really comprehensive, multi-lingual manual. Both the renderings and the text is very easy to follow if you do get stuck anywhere during your build.
I just wanted to give you a closer look at these triple bay hard drive cages. They do require screws to be set inside the outer cage. This I wasn't too fond of, and took me back to the headaches of my Antec 900 drive cages. The cage on the left is powered with a 3-pin connection that attaches to the fan controller, while the black fan, as you can see, uses the 4-pin Molex for power. The cables are long enough that swapping cage position isn't an issue either.
The Build and Finished Product
Assembling things has been easy, and even the optical drive and HDD cages go in and out pretty easily. Actually, a little too easily! The tool-less mechanisms are nice but don't securely hold things in place. I strongly suggest if you move your case at all, to back up the tool-less clips with the provided screws. Once the screws are in, everything is solid as a rock and ready for use.
The only change to the front is that you will be looking at whatever drives you have in place. No way are you going to hide a beige drive in this rig!
Wiring took a bit of time to get things done in sections. Rerouting some wires and sectioning off the front I/O wires helped a bunch. Getting the 8-pin power wire up the back was enough to make the panel bulge, but there is plenty of room up front to hide the bulk of your wiring.
The rear of the chassis fills out nicely; I just wish the included I/O plate was a bit less specific. I lost my I/O shield for my Foxconn some time ago and it would have been nice if it had worked. With the keys gone, the metal tab will hold your keyboard and mouse wires securely to the chassis, as it is screwed in place from the inside.
With the time and effort I put into wiring, I feel I was rewarded with a really clean overall build. There is plenty of room left over with this full ATX motherboard and a large graphics card. I see no issues getting any current card on the market into this chassis. The PSU support worked like a charm and there is still a ton of room for water cooling.
Closing up shop and locking the door behind you is simple. The thumbscrews in the back aren't needed to hold the door in place, but do make for a more secure closure. The little window doesn't allow a view of much but the RAM, and of course the glow of the LED's from the fans. The vented area does allow for a view of the components and clears up once the fan is in motion.
I chose to use the blue LEDs to get the lit pictures, but you have access to red, blue, green, and all of them or "twinkle" as most manufacturers label it. As I mentioned earlier, the front LED fan can ride in this spot or the one below, the choice is yours.
The side fan produces quite a glow; the bit of red is the glow from the Foxconn's LED post code reader. As I said, you can definitely see the blue glow through the window and I can see if my CPU fan is spinning.
Taking a step back to take it all in!
The Element V is an impressive chassis in both size and features. The case exterior has a chunky feel and I prefer a more refined look and feel, but I will say it was easy to get at and use. The large dial is in fact simple to operate both in its smooth feel in the dial, and the light pressure needed to swap LED colors. With the fan controller on low, the chassis is audible, but it is minimal, not unlike the noise from a typical tower cooler fan. Once the dial is set to full on, things do get louder, but the fans on my GTX 280's at load would put them in their place. The chassis itself was solid through and through, and aside from the "looseness" of the tool-less mechanisms; there wasn't a feature or functional part that was tough or dysfunctional. The chassis is designed well inside and out.
Security is something to be aware of, even sometimes in your own home, from kids, siblings, or pets, let alone the vast amount of "sticky fingers" at a LAN event. Don't you worry! Thermaltake has brought you some handy solutions. A locking door panel is nothing new, but it something usually found on more expensive chassis'. The locking bar on the back to keep your mouse and keyboard secured. This bar screws in from the inside and is small enough that the connections won't pass through if someone tries to borrow them. Another bonus for those who attend LAN events, there is a place to mount a sports bottle full of your favorite fluid refreshment. If you need to double fist your drinks, you can even put one on both sides, and that means fewer trips away from the PC at home, too.
Pricing right now is really good if you have an eye for the Element V from Thermaltake. Currently the Element V is listed at Newegg for $169.99. Not too shabby at all! For what the Element V has to offer, above average wire management, security, superb airflow, the list goes on and on. For $170 it's a good deal in my opinion. Indeed the "V" can stand for victory!
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