Thermaltake has been around for what seems like as long as I have been around. While their beginnings may have been "rocky" and most users shun the name brand these days, I am here to tell you that Thermaltake has made leaps and bounds worth of improvement over this time frame. Even just looking back to the Element cases I was presented just over a year ago, Thermaltake has made big strides to improve not only their public image, but are making great moves to deliver us better and better cases as time goes by.
I'm not talking about the Level 10 or Level 10 GT range of cases, as those are priced beyond most users "comfort level" for chassis pricing. For some time now Thermaltake as well as many other manufacturers are in an unnamed war to deliver the most feature rich chassis at rock bottom pricing. Just like SilverStone's PS06 we recently looked at, Thermaltake is trying to give the end user a window, USB 3.0 and a hard drive dock. On top of this, you still have to present an attractive full package and offer cooling above and beyond the competition as well. Since the SilverStone PS06 shares most of the features and offerings as this new Thermaltake chassis, I will be looking at this as almost a head to head review, due to the similarities not only in included features, but because the pricing is close as well.
The chassis that inspired the "pursuit without fear" line is the Chaser MK-1 from Thermaltake. While the chassis really offers nothing we haven't seen before from Thermaltake outside of aesthetic differences, it does deliver us most of the features in the Thermaltake arsenal of options. I say we just hop right into it and see what sort of feature set and aesthetic appeal the Chaser MK-1 delivers, and of course cover the most important factor in any chassis purchase, the cost!
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
First off, the Chaser MK-1 is a full tower option made mostly of SECC steel that gets a black painting inside and out. To give the chassis a unique look, Thermaltake uses a combination of black ABS plastic and steel mesh. This twenty-seven pound chassis measures in at 22.4" tall, 22.9"from front to back and 9.3" wide. This will allow for plenty of room for CPU cooler height and room for VGAs up to 330mm in length. This chassis will accept both Micro ATX and full ATX motherboards and has room for up to eight expansion cards. In the front half of the interior of the chassis you will find room for four 5.25" devices along with a rack for either six 3.5" drives or 2.5" drives with holes in each tray to mount the 2.5" drives.
As for the outside of the chassis, I am just going to let the images that follow cover that; there is a lot of angles and slashes of light blue going on to describe it without the images present.
Cooling the Chaser MK-1 is handled quite well. From the factory you will receive a pair of 200mm Colorshift fans; one in the front, and one in the roof of the chassis. Both fans can produce up to 800 RPM of speed while keeping a sound rating of 18 dBA, maximum. The rear of the chassis comes with a 120mm TurboFan installed as an additional exhaust. Options for adding fans are great, too. You can add another 200mm to the top, or re-use the front intake fan there if you decide to install a pair of 120mm fans in the front of the chassis as it is equipped to be able to do. If you want to go with water cooling, the top of the chassis has full support for a dual radiator, but I believe a triple can fit with very little modding. There is one available spot to fill with an optional fan and that is the spot in front of the PSU which will accept a 120mm fan of your choice.
I know I only covered the majority of the basics of the Chaser MK-1, but in my defense, to cover all the features here would take another full page. I will be sure to cover everything as we go along, so keep that in mind as we discuss the pricing and availability. As I check the good old, dependable, Google shopping, I see that the Chaser MK-1 is listing at over 29 sites as I type this out, including eBay listings. Pricing starts as low as $139 and depending on the retailer, pricing goes as high as $200 US dollars! On the lower end of that spectrum you will find the listing at Newegg.com at $159.99, plus shipping of course. Like I had mentioned, it is close to the SST-PS06 pricing, but far enough away that there really needs to be that special something, or a combination of small things that will win out over the afore mentioned chassis, so let's get right to it and see why you should spend $50-60 more for this design over the direct competition.
The packaging of the chaser MK-1 is very appealing to look at with the large case image over what I assume is a galaxy. Also on this panel you get the "pursuit without fear" tag line and the extra big tower and internal USB icons.
This side shows a list of features that get repeated in various languages so that the rest of the market that can't read English knows what the next panel shows.
A lot gets covered on the back panel. The cooling gets covered at the top left and it shows the water cooling options under it. On the right the panel covers the features, unique design and both the external and internal structure features.
The remaining side of the packaging only houses an image of the chassis with the part number of this chassis right under it.
As most do, Thermaltake ships the chassis with support from the Styrofoam end caps and the typical plastic liner to keep vibrations from scratching it. When opening the box, you will find your owner's manual and warranty information floating outside of the internal packaging in the box.
The Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 Full Tower Chassis
The front of the Chaser has angles and molded components that leave almost no surface unchanged from the plain flat front most cases go with. There is most obviously the tabs for the 5.25" drives that got molded in light blue plastic above the large intake mesh with the Thermaltake logo at the bottom.
The top of the chassis holds the I/O panel on both sides of the hard drive dock for both 3.5" and 2.5" connectivity. Behind the I/O panel there is a large removable panel covered in mesh to allow the exhaust fan to blow through it.
The I/O panel covers audio, reset and fan controls for HI or LOW settings on the left. The right holds a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an e-SATA port and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. The power button is centered under the HDD dock.
Removing the top of the chassis, you can see the Colorshift 200mm fan included in the chassis. There are holes for both 120mm and 140mm fans along with tabs to help mount a 2X 120mm radiator. You can either order a second 200mm fan for the top of use the one from the front if you have fans to replace that one.
The left side of the Chaser continues the angles and unique shaping that we saw on the front. Most notably are the half-window over the vented area that will accept yet another 200mm fan, the thick 35mm tall feet, and the odd looking clip hanging at the top right corner.
In case you hadn't guessed what it was for, when you release the outside of the clip it now has a place to hang your headset while not in use.
The rear of the Chaser has all the things one would want in a chassis. Water cooling holes at the top, eight expansion slots, plenty of ventilation and a bottom mounted PSU.
The right side panel didn't get overlooked either. This side keeps the same angles and indentations as the other side, minus the window and fan hole.
Under the chassis you immediately see the large feet applied to this chassis. Not only do they swing out as shown, but they actually will rotate 360° in 45° increments. The dust filter on the table will cover the PSU intake as well as the 120mm fan hole in front of it, if your PSU is short enough to allow for it.
Inside the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 Full Tower Chassis
The front of the Chaser is easily removable since all the wires run to the I/O and not the bezel. Behind the plastic bezel there is a dust filter over the 200mm intake fan. Also this 200mm fan can be swapped out for a pair of 120mm fan with the holes provided.
Once the door panels are removed we can see that the hardware gets shipped in the box lying on the floor. It was originally strapped to the cases, but in transit it broke free. While the hardware didn't cause any damage, as I looked around I thought to myself, "Where are the wires?"
Up front there are more splashes of that light blue on the four optical drive tool-free latches and all six trays of the hard drive rack are molded from the same color plastic. In front of the hard drives is the 200mm intake fan.
The motherboard tray has all the wire management you need, and the risers come installed for an ATX motherboard out of the box. There is a very large CPU access hole and a cut out to allow wires like the 8-pin EPS to get to the top of the case, behind the tray.
Inside the rear of the chassis there is a 120mm TurboFan installed above the eight ventilated slots that use thumbscrews to mount expansion cards.
The floor of the chassis not only offers a spot for a 120mm fan on the right side, on the floor this case comes with a PSU support bracket that is adjustable for any PSU length.
Behind the tray we finally see all of the wiring for the chassis neatly tucked in behind the hard drive bays. There is a ton of room behind the tray for all your wiring and the doors on this chassis open and close like a car door, so it will help you push any stray wires in, versus fighting a slide on style door.
As you can see, all of the wiring included with the Chaser MK-1 not only make it to the bottom of the chassis, there is still about nine more inches of length to make sure all the connections will make it onto any motherboard. Those not used to the blue plug staring right at you, this is for motherboards with USB 3.0 connectivity in pin form.
Accessories and Documentation
In the manual you see to the left, Thermaltake covers everything you need to see as well as covering optional setups for cooling. If you do run into any issues, a full parts list and layout of the chassis should solve any issues you might run into during the course of the build. The yellow paperwork on the right covers all the terms and conditions for the warranty.
Thermaltake even thinks about those who still may use floppy drives, and offers this as the solution. This bit of kit contains a tray to convert a 5.25" drive to a floppy drive bay, and there is even a faceplate that matches the exterior, with the light blue accents on the tabs.
Just in case your 8-pin EPS cable doesn't reach the top of the Chaser, Thermaltake offers this extension cable. Under the cable you also get ten zip ties for tidying up those loose wires, and a motherboard speaker.
As far as the screws go, let's approach this clockwise starting at the top left. You have the screws for use with 2.5" drives and hard drive trays. Then you get the hex headed screws for both the motherboard and PSU installation. Eight screws to mount the optical drives with and you will need these! Lastly, there are the four fan screws to use with the 200mm fans. There are three extra risers packed in the hardware as well, but with the case already set up, you can use these for m-ATX, or just move three already in the tray.
The hard drive trays have a latch on the front that will lock it into place or allow its release from the rack. The blue body of the tray has both removable clips on the side to mount a 3.5" drive as well as holes in the bottom of it for 2.5" drives.
The Build and Finished Product
Since the optical drive does little to change the front of the case, I will cover the fact that the tool-free latch here, well, sucks. They don't actually lock into the drive as most do; they sort of position the drive is all. For what you might ask, it lines the drive up perfectly to drop in a screw or two through the tool-free clip.
With my new kit from GIGABYTE installed, I really have nothing to complain about with the process. As you can see, the chassis is left open and free of clutter with very little work from me to do so. The attention to detail, like black wiring and wires that actual go where they need to, comes much appreciated.
Once the door is back on, your view of the inside is somewhat limited, but at least you can still see your cooler, RAM, and see the light show from the top fan if the case sits on your desk.
No issues to report with getting the VGA in or the rear I/O shield or anything. All the PSU holes lined up as well as not needing to flex the chassis to get the thumbscrews back in for the cards either.
In the back there really isn't a need to tie much up anywhere. I mean to get this running I have the 8-pin and 24-pin back here, but the majority of the wiring naturally hides next to the drive rack. All that's left to do now is put the door on and we can add power to the Chaser MK-1.
It's a bit tough to see, but the case lighting is on, in the blue mode. From the front you get the lighting through the bottom as the 200mm fan is just behind it. You also get a bit of the lighting from the top showing through from the other Colorshift fan.
Up at the top there is an indicator LED on the left to show if the fans are in HI or LOW speeds. The FAN LED button will allow red, green, blue, and a combination of all three. It also has an "off" setting in that run to allow you to not have any LED action for while you sleep, let's say. From the images online I would have expected a brighter LED in the center, but all I got was a dull glow on this one.
The further you step away from the chassis, the less lighting you will see with the mesh, or mesh and dust filter combination blocking most of the light at this angle. Still, a very attractive looking chassis that will add uniqueness to any build.
Getting right into it and just looking at the PS06, I will say this for Thermaltake. Even with more aggressive styling, I like this chassis more if I was to choose which case with blue accents to buy. Outside of that direct comparison, for the price Thermaltake is asking, it puts this chassis in direct contention with cases like the 600T, DF-85, Sniper Scout, and even the Raven 03. With that in mind, this chassis does offer the same things as most of the other chassis', Raven excluded, as it has many tricks up its sleeve. This is a tough spot to make a judgment call on what case I would choose over another. The 600T has its place on my table, the Raven is nice on the inside, but the gold really turned me off, and the DF-85 is too loud. So where does this leave the Chaser MK-1? Well, to me it's right on par with most of the competition, and it's the only full tower I have seen with blue accents, so the size of the chassis is the call to me over the PS06.
Issues with any part of the process in building the chassis or its use? Well, there aren't any! While I didn't like the way that the tool-free clips hold in the drives in the 5.25" bays, it served the point of aligning the drive to install screws provided. One other thing that isn't an issue because my motherboard supports it, it's the USB 3.0 connection. For those looking to get a new case and run their older rig, you are just out of luck for USB 3.0. There is not a provided adapter for those who would want to plug it into a rear USB 3.0 port or even adapt it to work with a USB 2.0 port at the bottom of the board. Like I said, this isn't an issue personally, but I'm looking out for the rest of the case buyers out there.
Moving on, I will now cover the cooling in the Chaser MK-1. The front fan does a good job at cooling the hard drives, but if you plan to fill all the hard drive trays, you will seriously impede its flow. The matching 200mm fan in the top offers a ton of airflow through the top. The addition of the 120mm fan in the rear as exhaust, helps out quite a bit with removing any un-needed heat that the 200mm fan up top doesn't get. Just these three fans alone are plenty to keep the chassis cool for most users. For those looking to fill this case to the gills with hardware, the options for additional fans are near endless. You can move the front fan to the top and have a pair of 20mm up top, and replace the front fan with a pair of 120mm fans. You can add yet another 120mm fan to the floor if you choose. Lastly, if the GPUs are getting toasty, you can also add a 200mm fan to the inside of the door panel.
I really like what Thermaltake has accomplished with the Chaser MK-1. It has everything I would want and need to get my new Sandy Bridge build fully under way. Honestly, I wish I had an old GIGABYTE motherboard or a midrange ASUS board so that my setup matched the chassis a bit more. Other than that, I really can't see where you can really dissect anything wrong here outside of personal preference to the exterior aesthetics. With USB 3.0 connectivity and a hard drive dock on top of what we expect in a chassis, just makes the deal that much sweeter in my mind. Between the PS06 for a cheaper price and this Chaser MK-1, both with the same accent colors, I would go with the Chaser MK-1. Not only because the HD Audio cable reaches, or the HDD dock isn't awkwardly allowing the drive to hang out the front, but because the Chaser MK-1 adds more bang for the buck to your purchase. Speaking of which, if you do decide this is the case for your next build, Newegg.com's pricing of $159.99 is on point and worth every penny!