For those of you who lived under a rock last year and completely missed out on the BMW Group Designworks USA inspired Level 10, Let me bring you up to speed real quick. To understand this design, you have to first envision a thick, vertically mounted motherboard tray attached to a wide flat base. Unlike a typical chassis', there wasn't the "boxed" look with this chassis at all. In this design everything was mounted to the motherboard tray for support. In the front you had and optical bay rack that was in a separate compartment than the hard drive, and which each received their own slim covers. The top half of the motherboard used a small cover to go over the CPU cooler and PWM area of the motherboard, while yet another hinged compartment covered the expansion cards. This design is very unique, and was very impressive upon release. The biggest problem with the Level 10 I saw was the devastating price tag!
So what does Thermaltake do? They took all of the response from the Level 10, and went back to the drawing board to workshop some new ideas to bring costs down, but still leave the basic appeal of the original Level 10. What is surprising to me is that on top of trying to keep features that set the bar so high on the Level 10, there are actually some very user friendly improvements to be found in the new release from Thermaltake. So in reality, to some, this chassis will have what the Level 10 lacked, and ends up being, in my opinion, a better layout and thermal design than the original concept could offer.
The off shoot of this time and effort gets the name Level 10 GT and we are about to get an in depth look at what the new design has to offer. The first major change is that the GT design is based off of a chassis design, rather than the motherboard tray concept of the original. While that may make some cringe without taking a look first, I assure you this is no ordinary "box" case concept. Like I mentioned, they were able to keep many of the key features that made the Level 10 such a hit. I will advise you at this point to grab a beverage and get comfortable. With all the images and what I am about to show you, I hope to cover everything the Thermaltake Level 10 GT has to offer, and it is a lengthy process for this one!
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The exterior of the Level 10 GT is made from SECC steel that has been painted flat black to match the flat texture of the ABS plastic that is molded for the bezel and compartment covers around the outside. In the bezel you will find room for up to four 5.25" devices, and the covers are removable from the outside. Just below this you will find a removable cover to install a floppy drive. The bottom of this assembly holds five hard drive racks, but they are rotated and get removed on the left side. The left side of the chassis features a window at the top so you can see your memory and your CPU cooler.
Below the window is a large section of mesh backed by a 200mm LED fan. On the side of the fan cover you will find a lever to operate the internal louvers to direct the airflow. Right next to this the lock for the side panel, while the release for the door is found underneath. In the rear of the chassis you will find three large holes with grommets for water cooling, the rear I/O, 140mm exhaust fan, and the ten vented expansion slots. On the back side of the chassis there is a few shapes pressed in the panel for structure and Thermaltake chose this spot to place the Level 10 GT logo. If I have really got you confused at this point, don't worry, I would hope the images cover all the angles.
Cooling the Level 10 GT is a trio of 200mm fans and a 140mm added to the rear of the chassis. The front holds a slimmer, 20mm thick version of the other two fans, but runs the same speed and has the same noise levels here as an intake. The top has a 30mm thick version to draw all the heated air out of the top of the chassis. The last of the trio is the 30mm thick 20mm fan placed in the side door panel - on top of offering great air flow to warm components, as I mentioned, this flow can be directed exactly where you need it most. All three of these fans run off of the built in fan controller which controls the LED lighting. The ColorShift fans offer red, blue, green and a "twinkle effect" in the LED lighting. Lastly, Thermaltake adds a 140mm to the rear of the chassis acting as an exhaust. This fan does not have LEDs, but that can easily be changed.
The Level 10 GT was just released not too long ago, and even with that I was pleasantly surprised to see availability so high already. At this time I was able to find some nineteen e-tailers that offer this chassis and we aren't even getting to that Microcenter, or what Fry's has on their shelves. Pricing varies a bit from retailer to retailer, but I am seeing a scale of just under $260 up to $339, and someone even with the "grapes" to charge $389! At the bottom of the price list was Amazon.com, but I don't tend to buy through them. What I did find was a $269.99 price at Newegg.com holding strong as the second cheapest price on the market right now. Keeping the chassis under the $300 pricing opens the door for more than just the high end enthusiast to own the Level 10 GT, and comes in with cases like my long time favorite, the Corsair 800D. Let's see if the Level 10 GT can dethrone my favorite case so far.
On this side you find a great image of the Level 10 GT to the left of a rendering of a BMW-like vehicle. Here Thermaltake points out that this chassis is driving inspiration, and has imagination without boundaries!
Once again UPS strikes with the sticker placement! Had they not been here you would see an eight point feature list in thirteen languages.
I'm not positive which is the front or back, but this side is very similar to the opposing panel. The main difference it the view of the top control panel and the front I/O.
The last panel has just the Level 10 GT name with the quote "Driving Inspiration".
The chassis is shipped in a cloth bag with the chassis name and Thermaltake logo on it. Both ends are capped with Styrofoam which centered and supported this chassis to me in perfect condition.
The cloth bag is handy for traveling. Even with it opening at the bottom, there is enough cloth to cover the Level 10 GT and still be able to use the handle on the top. So from the desk to the car to the LAN event, this chassis will stay covered and protected.
The Thermaltake Level 10 GT - Exterior
The Thermaltake Level 10 GT Exterior
Removing the veil of secrecy, we can now start to look at the new chassis. While being based on a square chassis, the creative use of shapes and a skinny waist line, Thermaltake offers a very unique front bezel.
At the top right, next to the four 5.25" bays you will find the front I/O panel. This covers the power, reset, activity lights, and front panel connectivity.
The bay covers are all removable from outside the chassis, so there is no need to really remove the front bezel. One major thing to point out is the lock in the lower left for the hard drive trays.
With the keys I found looped to the rear of the chassis I can unlock the hard drive trays. Unlocked, each tray will pull out and allow for you to slide a drive in without too much hassle. Slide them all back in and turn the key, and there is no way to remove the drive trays.
The top of the Level 10 GT starts with more connectivity, this time for e-SATA and USB 3.0 along with the fan LED controls. There is a small area of mesh in the front to allow the optical drive bays to breathe a bit and acts as a place to set USB drives, keys, or whatever. The rear of the top has a large removable panel that cover the 200mm fan that is installed. If you remove this fan, there is room enough to easily install a dual radiator there.
The side of the level 10 GT gives you a look inside via the window at the top left. The top right is ventilated for the optical drive bays, and with some optional equipment included; this offers a place for headphone storage. The lower left corner houses the 200mm fan and with the use of the lever on the right of this mesh panel, you can adjust the louvers on the inside to direct the airflow from this fan. This just leaves the drive bays which I have already covered.
The Thermaltake Level 10 GT - Exterior - Cont.
The Exterior - Continued
Zooming in on the last image, I wanted to show off the door lock. The same set of keys that unlock the hard drives also unlock the door panel. What I do like, is even if they get the case unlocked, there is still a trick to opening the door of the Level 10 GT.
If you follow the door panel all the way to the bottom you will find this arrow icon painted on the door. If you reach under the case about an inch or an inch and a half, you can feel the button the actually releases the door panel so it can swing open like any door in your house. If the door panel is still in your way, once completely open it can be lifted off the hinges.
Look what I just found! I didn't even realize this upon first inspection, but Thermaltake even adds a dust filter on the side of the chassis that is easily removable for cleaning.
The rear of the chassis has that regular chassis look and feel but still offers a couple of cool features. There are three holes at the top for both water tubing and passage of the USB 3.0 cables. On the ten expansions slots you can see there is a cover to keep cards locked in, even if the thumbscrews are removed from the cards.
The back of the chassis has a plain black panel with a ring around the edges and an offset T shape punched into the panel for strength. Just to give this side sa bit of "pop" from what is an otherwise very plain panel to see, Thermaltake paints the bottom corner with Level 10 GT, Driving Inspiration, to add a bit of "spice".
The Thermaltake Level 10 GT - Interior
Inside The Thermaltake Level 10 GT Full Tower Gaming Chassis
Locating the button under the Level 10 GT, the door swings open, and for the rest of the build I left it on for the challenge to see if it really even needs to be removed. The hardware box was strapped to the expansion slots but broke free, although it caused no damage while in transit.
The motherboard tray offers a large hole for access to CPU cooler back plates, and plenty of grommets in the wire management holes. The wiring from the front I/O comes pre-managed, and pokes back into the case in the bottom for shipping.
Inside the chassis the space between the drives and the motherboard tray is open, so the drives at the top can benefit from the air flow, while the fan at the bottom can pass through the hard drive cage and into the main body as well. The top panel is removable for optical drive screw mounting, but there is a trick to mounting these, just wait a minute, I'm getting there.
Here I wanted to cover the ten expansion slots and the USB 3.0 cables, but I noticed, on the left, there is a good look at the louver system that is mounted to the inside of the door panel.
To clean up the wiring to the 200mm door fan and the lighting controls, Thermaltake used this switch to do both that is located near the hinges.
The Thermaltake Level 10 GT - Interior - Cont.
The Inside - Continued
The included wiring covers everything from the front I/O, and a 3-pin fan connector for the exhaust fan, and a 4-pin Molex connector to power the front control panel. The floor of the chassis will allow for large power supplies while still leaving room for an optional 120mm fan near the hard drives.
Behind the motherboard tray, once the panel gets slid out of the way, is quite roomy. As you can see Thermaltake does all of the work for you ahead of time! All you have to do is make the I/O connections and add the power supply wiring and this build its ready to go. In all honesty, to get this all to look like this, it usually takes me about an hour and quite a few zip ties. I am really surprised to see this level of preparation in a chassis.
Here is that "trick" to mounting the optical drives. While you do have to remove the rear panel to swap a drive out, it is great to see tool-free mechanisms where there was easy access for them. Just another time saving feature to take advantage of, as it does hold the drive in solidly.
Thermaltake also makes powering the hard drive trays very simple. With the use of adapters that pass through the steel frame, they offer ease of connectivity without the downfalls of most PCB style ones. The five plug adapter is included and stems off a SATA power connection on the end tucked under the bottom tray.
Laying the Level 10 GT on its back we get to see the last things to cover on the chassis. There are the four large plastic feet the swing out to give the chassis a more solid footing. The bulk of the floor is taken up by the long power supply intake with room for a 120mm fan to the right. The whole area has a duct filter that slides out the back for easy access to clean it. Peering over the floor you can see the 200mm ColorShift fan. If you remove said fan there is room set up for a dual 120mm radiator, or just the fans; it's your choice.
Accessories and Documentation
Nothing real special to see on the hardware box, other than the Thermaltake logo and the fact that is says "Accessory Package".
Inside is where the goodies lie, and this box is packed with goodies! You get the four baggies of assorted screws and risers for the various components and a headphone hanger at the top left. You also get a motherboard speaker, a 4-pin or 8-pin AUX power extender. To help keep things tidy, you also get a set of five wire ties.
Packaged inside the accessory box you will also find the paperwork. Working clockwise from top left there is the product catalog for 2011, the certificated of authenticity for the chassis, the three year warranty information, and the installation guide. While it would have been handy to have on the outside of the chassis, none of the features are so outlandish that they aren't easily figured out once you take a bit of time to look a little closer at this chassis. When I did get to the manual, I found it to have really nice images going right along with the text. If you do have any issues or wonder just how a feature works, referring here will solve any issues you run across.
The Build and Finished Product
To start the build process I did manage to remove the front bezel to expose the intake fan and the fact that the bezel is wire-less. Thermaltake also made sure to offer filters in the front of the Level 10 GT as you would expect.
All I had to do was but the bezel back on and remove one of the 5.25" bay covers, slide the drive in, and lock it in place. This alone is very solid, and the drive is going nowhere.
The finished interior is very clean and there is plenty of room for much more powerful builds than this one. You can install an E-ATX system and Tri-SLI for instance with no issues either. I also lifted the door off the hinges, but just to show i can, not that i needed to for the build.
With things closed and locked it does really kill the majority of the view of your hardware. I will give up some view for the large 200mm fans cooling in trade though.
Some view inside is better than nothing! Here is what you can see while peeking through the window.
As you can see, to get the USB 3.0 connected from the front I/O you must use one of the holes at the top. Even so there is still potential for a radiator to hang here if needed.
Behind the tray I left the wiring messy on purpose. The side panel slid on with ease even with the case upright while I put it on. Since you can't see it from the front, wiring isn't really an issue in tidiness or placement back here; there is plenty of room for it.
Powering the chassis up, I was greeted with the subtle blue glow that you see here. I also added a pair of headphones for effect.
With a click of the fan color button we get green LEDs.
One more click and we get red LEDs!
One last click enables the "twinkle" effect with all three colors of lighting. You may also shut them off all together, as well as having two settings for the lighting speed of fan LEDs.
I sit here as I type this looking for the right words to describe this chassis. While it certainly is unique, this chassis has jumped right to the top of my list for "must have" cases. At least once in your gaming PC use you just have to have a case like this. Words like wow, superb, stellar, all come to mind, but they just don't do this design justice. At the risk of sounding like an 80s surfer, the Level 10 GT is totally awesome and deserves your attention, whether you are shopping for a new case or looking over cases at a LAN event. While I didn't get the Level 10 to have a head to head comparison, the Level 10 GT takes user-friendliness and creativity to a whole new level, and that is just the exterior appeal!
Inside the case is fully appointed. There isn't anything that Thermaltake missed in this design. There are many options for clean wire management, and Thermaltake does the bulk of that for you! Capable of housing m-ATX, ATX, and even large extended ATX boards makes this a perfect choice for many builds. The installation of the drives is handled mostly outside, but the tool-less mechanisms on the 5.25" drives and the power adapter for the 3.5" bays takes it over the top. Don't forget, all of these drive trays are also capable of 2.5" drive installation as well. The hinged door is awesome; I loved the simplicity of it all. Everywhere I look, there is just so much to offer the user; it truly is astounding what Thermaltake is offering.
We haven't even had the opportunity to cover the cooling yet! Here you not only get the trio of 200mm fans along with the 140mm fan in the back, there is good performance to be had and the highest rated fan is only 16 dBA. When I powered the chassis on for testing, I was looking at the fans to make sure they were spinning correctly; it didn't seem they were on at full speed due to the lack of noise I somewhat expected to hear. I am pleased to say this chassis is very quiet while offering very good airflow and cooling performance. I played around with the louvers inside the door, and I can see these aiding multi-card setups with a more direct flow to keep the thick sandwich of cards their coolest. For my purposes I was able to angle them up and even increase the CPU coolers performance, so no matter the scale of the build, the Level 10 GT will offer you benefits.
Hopefully I haven't left anything out, as Thermaltake literally packed options into every corner of this chassis design. While the Level 10 GT is priced in direct competition with many of the key players, one of which being the 800D from Corsair I already own, to tell you the honest truth, the only reason I wouldn't use this case full time is I have a triple radiator I need to hide inside; just a personal preference. If I had a different setup or wanted to go back to a smaller loop or air cool my cards again, this would be the case I use.
So that brings us to the hard part. While the price point isn't for the budget minded, I will say that the $269.99 pricing at Newegg.com, in comparison to others in this field, is worth every stinking penny!