Not all that long ago we got to see the new mid-tower that Thermaltake added to the Chaser series, with the A41. While not all of the features of the A41 have made it to the larger design, the majority of the styling, layout, and overall theme have stayed much the same. Two features I saw right from the jump that were removed from the latest design were the headphone hanger bolted to the door, and the large "duck feet" style of footing that was used in the A41. The last, and likely the most important change to this new design is that we have now moved from the mid-tower design of the Chaser A41 into a full-tower design this time.
When you glance on site for this newer chassis, there are eight things that are covered in the features. First is the size moving to full-tower so that expandability is no longer an issue. There is the E-Sport design of steel mesh, light blue coloration of parts, and a large windowed side panel. They also go on to cover the HDD dock and the supreme ventilation, and tool-free support inside and outside of the chassis. They then go on to cover the fact that this is a water cooling supported chassis and offers stress free cable management so that users can hide almost everything behind the motherboard tray and still have plenty of tie down options. While at first this does seem to be a list that any chassis maker would display, but it is in the way that these points are incorporated that I think is what will grab your attention.
The latest addition to the Chaser lineup is the new Chaser A71 that we will be looking at and testing today from Thermaltake. Since I covered what it has to offer buyers, what is missing from the A41 design, and what got added specifically to the A71 and was not found on the A41, all I can say now is that I can see this being a chassis a lot of potential buyers may enjoy.
So, why don't we just get to it and jump to the specifications so that I can get into the images and show you why I think the Chaser A71 from Thermaltake will be widely successful.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
What the chart doesn't explain is the exterior of the Chaser A71. Of course this full-tower chassis is using steel for the majority of the construction, but it does use ABS plastic for the top and front bezel of the chassis, and this is where most of the magic happens. The top of the chassis has a long mesh area at the back of it, a large parts tray near the front, and even a 3.5" and 2.5" HDD dock. As the top meets the front, there is an angled section that holds the front I/O panel before it drops straight down the front of the chassis. There is where you will find nine removable bay covers, which can be pulled from the outside, and are ringed with a thin line of that light blue plastic that we saw in the A41 as well. Both panels are bumped out to allow for more room internally, but the left panel offers a large L-shaped window that surrounds a large ventilated area to house a 200mm fan there. In the back of the chassis you will find a loop for wire tending, a 120mm exhaust fan next to the rear I/O, and eight expansion slots just above the PSU.
Internally you will find three 5.25" bays. There is room for five in the rack, but the top one is limited due to the front I/O wiring, and the bottom section offers room for a 3.5" device. Below these you can find five 3.5" / 2.5" drive trays that easily slide out, and allow 3.5" drives to just snap in, while 2.5" drives need screws. The motherboard tray will house Micro-ATX, ATX, and E-ATX boards, has a large CPU access hole, offers five large holes with grommets for wiring, and over 20 tie points.
On the cooling side of things you will find a nice assortment of supplied fans and options. The front of the chassis has a 200mm fan installed. The top of the chassis is the same, there is another 200mm fan installed, but you have the option to install a pair of 120mm fans or even an AIO or regular 240mm radiator. The rear of the chassis has room for a 120mm fan only, but it is room enough for say a single radiator Water2.0 unit. The floor of the chassis, in front of the PSU, offers room for a 120mm or a 140mm fan as an option. That leaves us with the left side panel that also ships with a 200mm fan installed, giving this chassis some of the best cooling potential I have seen in quite some time.
The pricing isn't something that should scare anyone away either. As I look around, I see pricing varies a bit, where on the low-end you can find the Chaser A71 for $119 base price at CostCaptain.com, and more averagely priced at Newegg for $139.99. While I have never used CostCaptain before, I will say that with the lowered base price, and the fact that when I add it to the cart, it offers me a free shipping solution; maybe it is time I think about buying something small from them to see how they work. Considering both TigerDirect and Newegg want $20 more before shipping charges, it seems like a no brainer to buy from CostCaptain if you reside inside of the USA.
At $120 I think the Chaser A71 is a great deal, but even if you have to pay the $20 more before shipping, I don't see anyone being disappointed with their purchase.
Using a shiny black background, Thermaltake places the company name and chassis naming near the top. Then near the center is a large image of the front of the chassis with red and blue "tracers" of light to surround it. It also covers that this chassis ships with Native USB 3.0.
This panel also uses the shiny black background, but this time offers just the specifications chart below the handle of the package. At the bottom next to the large white box, there is also check boxes for if a PSU is included, and another for 550W of PSU, neither of which we received.
The back is almost identical to the opposing side of the packaging. The main difference is the addition to the black and red boxes at the top right corner of this side, and the lack of the company address that was on the bottom of the first panel I showed you.
Under the thick red strip topping this panel you will find four features listed in 12 languages. They cover the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 of the front I/O, the four fans installed, the drive bays and 340mm card length limitation, and lastly cover the water cooling support and cable management.
With the box now off the chassis, you can see that Thermaltake goes with the tried and true shipping method. Protect the window with a layer of plastic inside and out, wrap the whole case in a plastic liner, then depend on the thick Styrofoam caps to keep the chassis from getting crushed. The plan worked, as the Chaser A71 arrived in flawless condition.
Thermaltake Chaser A71 Full-Tower Chassis
The front of the Chaser A71 has predominant edges that do stick out a bit, but the insides of them are shiny black, while the front edges and outsides are textured to add a bit of contrast. Below the Thermaltake name at the top on a thicker plastic support you will see the nine bay covers with the light blue ring around each one.
As the front angles to meet the top of the chassis, the Chaser A71 uses this as the front I/O location. You have the power button with power LED built into it, the HDD activity light, and then the reset button off to the left. There are 3.5mm jacks for HD Audio support, and that is followed up with a pair of USB 2.0 ports as well as a pair of USB 3.0 ports. Just behind this you will locate the 2.5" and 3.5" HDD dock.
Behind the HDD dock there is a large tray with a ribbed bottom to help keep tiny parts from rolling around. The rest of the top panel offers the large mesh area over the 200mm fan that is installed there now.
The left side of the chassis offers the majority of the panel being bumped out to allow room for the 200mm fan mounted in the lower left corner. While the window is large, and oddly shaped, it really offers a look at the bays, your wiring, and potentially the CPU cooler.
Starting from the bottom, you have the area for the PSU with eight ventilated slots above it, and a pair of water cooling holes for external radiators. At the top of the steel body you have the 120mm exhaust, the rear I/O, and a wire tending loop. As you move to the plastic, the cut away it to make the top easier to pull off.
The right side of the chassis offers the same bump out as the left side does, but this time it is put there to allow users to hide much more wiring behind the motherboard tray than if this panel was flat.
Under the chassis you get a look at the large, chunky, plastic feet that use strips of rubber applied to them to keep the chassis from sliding around. On the actual floor of the chassis you will find a long dust filter that pulls out the back of the chassis to cover both the PSU and the optional fan mounting position.
Inside the Chaser A71
Panels off, the Chaser A71 interior is now in full view. At the bottom of the motherboard tray you will see the wiring is all tied up, and there is an adapter plate and instructions tied to the tray there as well. As for the hardware, you need to look no further than the top HDD tray.
There are three 5.25" bays with the tool-free clips installed to easily and securely install those devices. The bottom slot has a removable 3.5" adapter in it, and with screws, you can still use it for 5.25" devices as well.
Below the ODD rack you will find the storage rack that offers five slide-out trays. The sides on the front of the tray squeeze together to release them and will click when it is properly back in the rack. The steel sides have large oval holes to help allow airflow into the chassis from the 200mm fan behind these.
Inside the roof of this chassis you can see there are all sorts of holes for fan mounting and there is this clear 200mm fan installed. Officially the chassis only supports a 240mm radiator up here, but I can see it to be pretty easy to modify this to fit a 280mm radiator as well.
The motherboard tray is designed to hold Micro-ATX and ATX motherboards using the five holes with grommets in them. If you plan to use an E-ATX motherboard, you will be using the three to the right without the grommets. You also get a large access hole and plenty of places to tie up the wiring.
The power supply will set on the thin shelf at the back and the front is then supported with the large steel bumps. In front of that you can install a 120mm or 140mm fan as long as the PSU wiring will allow for it.
The 120mm fan in the back of the chassis uses a 3-pin connection for power as do the front and top fans that you see through the access hole. The expansion slot covers under it are held in place with thumb screws, and will be very secure for expansion card mounting.
Behind the motherboard tray you have roughly 15mm of clearance at the shallowest spot, but with the bump out in the door panel, you have near 40mm of space to bundle the wiring. I see no conceivable issues with the wire management offerings found here to have any sort of mess when the build is done.
Of course there are the fan leads, as well as the Molex plug for the HDD dock, but the main wiring you will attach to the board come sleeved black to help hide them. Here we have the power, reset, HDD activity, and those wires along with the Native USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HD Audio connections.
Since the front bezel does not need removed to remove the bay covers I set it aside, along with the top mesh panel. You see that the front I/O panel stays with the chassis, and you get a look at the installed fans as well as some of the possibilities you have to change things for water cooling.
Accessories and Documentation
All of the hardware is shipped in a plastic bag, and here is about two-third of what they give you. You get a motherboard speaker and a 3.5" adapter plate to use in the 5.25" bays. You also are given a 4-pin or 8-pin EPS adapter to allow your PSU to reach, and two 4-pin Molex to 3-pin fan adapters. You are also given a set of seven adjustable wire ties.
The rest of the hardware consists of three extra risers for the E-ATX users out there, 21 HDD screws. There is also handful of ODD and motherboard screws, and four hex-head screws for the PSU mounting.
The spacer kit found inside the chassis is to be used in the rear of the chassis. When installing an AIO, the radiator will hit the rear I/O panel inset, so to offer clearance for these coolers, you need to add this spacer to gain the clearance needed.
You also are given the User's Manual and the information covering the two year warranty on this chassis. These are shipped in their own bag, outside of the case, but under the top piece of Styrofoam.
Inside of the manual you start off with a section guide on the left. This will allow you to jump around if you are stuck mid build. The right side offers the specifications along with a parts list to tell you exactly what each bit of the hardware are used for.
The rest of the instructions found in the manual are like you see here. Images at the top show you what to do, while under each group of images, the written instructions are repeated in 12 languages, so the text is kept short, and just enough to get the basic idea of what they are showing.
The Build and Finished Product
I really like that each of the covers has their own lines, and that when I stuck the DVD drive in the front of the chassis, it doesn't affect the styling one bit. You can also see that there is plenty of room for air to flow through since you can see the CPU cooler behind it.
There are no issues to report with the interior build process. The ODD locks are secure, adding an SSD was easy enough, and mounting the board and the card shows there is plenty of room for more without issues there either.
Out back, the rear I/O dust cover snapped right in, and the video card was installed without having to flex or force the back of the case to line up the holes. Even the power supply was simple once resting on the bumps and shelf for it.
Wiring is super simple, and I found that this chassis actually has more wire tie points than I could use, and that is something I don't regularly see. Even with a fan controller and say four more fans, wiring can be easily maintained in the A71.
Putting the chassis back together was a cinch. The doors fit back on well without any clearance issues; you just have to remember to leave a spot to plug in the 3-pin fan connection for the 200mm fan on the left side panel.
Powered up, the Chaser A71 starts to glow a bit from the 200mm fans in the left side as well as the one in the top. Not only do they flood the chassis with blue lighting over all of your components, but this choice of fans allows this chassis to run dead silent. I had to get within 3" of any of the fans on this chassis to be able to hear them cut the air at all.
The Chaser A71 is sleek and aesthetically pleasing, even if the light blue on the front matches nothing inside of the rig as was the case with my build. You really do need to see this chassis for yourself, the mix of protruding shapes, smooth and textured surfaces, along with having an easy to access I/O panel with a HDD dock right behind it, the exterior of this chassis really is a good looking chassis. If I were to fault this design for any reason externally, it would be the odd window location. Nobody wants to see the drive bays, wiring, and half of the CPU cooler, but I also get that to use a 200mm fan, you have to make some cuts.
Inside of the chassis, the management of all the chassis wiring, as well as the many leads from my PSU were easily handled with the management system offered in here. Even if you were to go to an E-ATX install, you do lose access to some of the holes with grommets, but there have been concessions made to still allow for the 24-pin plug, SATA cables, and the various power leads to be hidden there, too. With 160mm of room for CPU cooler, 340mm of room for video cards, and potentially a couple of cooling options for AIOs or custom water cooling, this full-tower has what it takes to grow along with you as your needs, wants, and desires in what makes the best PC for you.
Since we are on the topic of cooling, you really cannot ask for a better design and layout of the fans. With a 200mm pushing in through the front, and another in through the left side panel, there is a ton of air being forced in. With only a single 200mm at the top of the chassis and the much smaller 120mm fan in the rear, it leaves the chassis with positive air pressure during use. So, along with above average temperature results (meaning lower than normal) that I saw when testing, you also have the fact that you cannot hear a thing from the chassis if you are further away than the three inches I had to be to hear it.
The Chaser A7 is very solid in all aspects. With the panels off, the chassis does not flex much at all, the tool-free clips on the ODD bays are very secure and kept the DVD drive locked tight. The removable bay covers on the front don't rattle and are easy to access and remove from outside the chassis, I mean no matter where I want to look at the way the Chaser A71 was built or holds on to components, things are right as rain, and exactly what you should look for in a chassis.
When it comes down to the all mighty dollar, and we have to get back to the pricing, I still feel, maybe even more so, that the Chaser A71 from Thermaltake is feature rich, aesthetically appealing, a pleasure to work with, and for $139.99 that most people are listing it for, I not only think it is money well spent, but I strongly urge you to go out and at least look at one - the images are close, but they just don't do this case the justice it deserves in my humble opinion.
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