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Thermaltake Chaser A21 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Thermaltake Chaser A21 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

We take a look at another economically friendly chassis with a bit of style from Thermaltake - say hello to the Chaser A21 mid-tower. Read on.

@chad_sebring
Chad Sebring
Published Fri, Jan 31 2014 9:03 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 82%Manufacturer: Thermaltake

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 33 IMAGES

As I am sure most of my readers know: the mid-tower chassis segment is completely full of cases ranging in price anywhere from around $25, to nearly $200. For many customers, what sets all of these cases apart are the aesthetics. While pricing is the most important factor in choosing a new case, the next things customers normally consider are the feature sets, and whether or not the case matches the themed build you are looking to complete. However, the first thing I look for is innovation; a full feature set worthy of the investment. To me, price is the last concern, as it has to look good, fit the components I need, and it must have the ability to expand as my needs do.

This time around, Thermaltake is taking a crack at offering a few of the items that sell me on a design. We have seen quite a few newer designs from Thermaltake over the years, some huge successes, and some were not much more than a box to hold your parts. However, they have been steadily improving their game over the years, and have dug themselves out of that RadioShack brand they used to be.

Now, Thermaltake is one of the top companies to buy products from. With that said, they now have the time to delve into designs that are top of the line; the 'take no prisoners' designs. However, they also have to remember where they got their start, and continue to appeal to those buyers who don't have the money, or the know how to even think about cases like the Level 10.

This time around, as we look at the Chaser A21 from Thermaltake, we are given a mid-tower chassis that not only looks appealing, but it also offers a lot of the things needed to function properly with today's components. Thermaltake offers all of this at a very economical level, making this a chassis that anyone could afford to grab.

Hang out a while, and have a look at what the Chaser A21 offers; see if it can house everything you need, whether it's expandable as your needs and desires change, and in the end, whether it is worthy of my endorsement on any, or all levels.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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With the Chaser A21, we are given a chassis made of SECC steel, and ABS plastic. This chassis is black inside and out, and while it weighs nearly twelve pounds while empty, it is a compact mid-tower. The Chaser A21 is 427mm in height, 497mm in depth, but is only 195mm in width. For a bit of flash, the bay drive covers on the front are ringed in light blue, and will match quite a few motherboards, PSUs, and memory components that are already on the market.

While most of the chassis is textured (both in the plastic bezel, and on the steel components), Thermaltake sneaks a couple of shiny bits onto the bezel as well, to add a bit of contrast. The left side of the chassis offers ventilation, and a smaller window placed high enough to really afford only a view of the CPU cooler and memory, while the right side offers a bump that really offers no benefit.

As for what this chassis offers on the inside, well let's start at the front, and work towards the back. The front offers room for one optional 120mm fan to be installed, and behind that are three 5.25" bays, one of which can be converted into a 3.5" bay. There is also a stack of six 3.5" bays, where one of which can be used for a 2.5" drive as well. The top of the chassis offers room for an optional pair of 120mm fans, and they are offset from the motherboard to allow for better clearance. Speaking of the motherboard, you have the ability to house either a Micro-ATX, or an ATX motherboard inside of the Chaser A21.

The floor offers room for yet another optional 120mm fan in front of the PSU location, both of which are covered with a removable dust filter. The back of the chassis houses the only provided 120mm fan, and it happens to be LED lit as well. Below that are seven expansion slots for cards no longer than 320mm in length. There is another limitation of 155mm for the CPU cooler to remember, and the last optional fan location (for a single 120mm fan) is in the left side panel. That finishes things out for this Chaser.

This chassis has been available for quite some time now; at just about any location you choose to look at. While the usual suspects of best sellers in this category tend to run buyers right around $99.99 for a fully featured offering, this is not the angle Thermaltake took at all.

Here, the idea was to allow the customer to customize the build. In doing so, they are also able to keep the pricing much lower, into a range that anyone can afford, and doing so with just enough style to turn heads without looking like something made for a fourteen year old boy. For relative pricing for your area, check out the pricing links below, but at this point, we definitely like where this design is going, since it is so affordable to obtain.

PRICING: You can find the Thermaltake Chaser A21 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Thermaltake Chaser A21 retails for $71.57 at Amazon.

Canada: The Thermaltake Chaser A21 retails for $80.42 at Amazon Canada.

Packaging

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One constant feature of almost all Thermaltake products is the packaging. It features the black background, the red strips, and their name at the top in orange. This time, the Chaser A21 is in a large image surrounded by blue and green tracers, and there is a notation of the Internal USB 3.0 connection included in this design.

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As the red stripe continues onto the right side of the packaging, we find a multi-lingual listing of four features. Here, they cover the front I/O and its USB 3.0 connectivity, that there is an LED fan installed, the tool-less design of the bays, the CPU cutout, and four optional fan locations.

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Thermaltake took what was designed for the front of the box, and also repeated it on the back, saving even more money for the chassis inside the box. While it could have shown things as others do, we will show you everything you need to know by the time we are done here.

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The right side offers the specifications of the Chaser A21. This is the same full list we just discussed, and it allows customers at the point of sale to gauge what this design has to offer.

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Inside of the cardboard, the ChaserA21 is wrapped in plastic (some plastic is also applied to the window), but has Styrofoam caps on both ends that do most of the work. The tried and true method works again, and even though the box was a little roughed up, the chassis inside arrived in excellent condition.

Thermaltake Chaser A21 Mid-Tower Chassis

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The front bezel offers quite a bit once you see past the initial glance that has you staring at those light blue rings. There is an almost hourglass shape to the sides; the protruding sides are shiny on the insides, and almost the entire front of this chassis is mesh, allowing great air flow as well as dust protection.

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At the top of the front bezel is the Thermaltake name painted in white. As the chassis angles back more as it meets the top of the chassis, we find the front I/O panel. There is a large power button that is LED backlit to denote system power, the HDD LED, and the much smaller reset button. There is also a pair of 3.5mm jacks for audio, a USB 2.0, and a USB 3.0 port at the right.

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The top offers an expanse of plain painted steel before we see the mesh area that has been shifted to the left. Here there is the option to add a pair of 120mm fans, and the grills are even raised above them to allow for a slightly better flow, and less noise.

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The left side of the chassis offers a large area that has been bumped out from the rest of the panel. This allows room for the optional 120mm fan to fit, but also leaves room for wires like those that connect to the sides of video cards. There is also a small window that will later give you a great view of the CPU cooler.

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Out back, we have the only fan installed in the chassis sitting next to the rear I/O area. Below, you find seven ventilated, replaceable expansion slot covers, two grommets for external water cooling, and the large hole at the bottom for a PSU.

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The right side of the chassis offers a large raised area to the removable panel as well. Here, it is done to mimic the other panel. As you will soon see, there is not room for wiring behind the motherboard tray, so it isn't for that.

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The bottom of the chassis offers taller, hard rubber feet to ensure the case's grip, but they're also there to raise the chassis a bit more, to improve the air flow into the bottom. That would be through the power supply or via the optional 120mm fan location, which are both filtered and easily removable for cleaning.

Inside the Chaser A21

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After removing the side panels, we find the hardware gets tied to the hard drive bays at the bottom, but the wiring is left to flop around. We got lucky too, the inside of the window was not protected with plastic, but these hard plastic connections must not have gotten to it in its travels.

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There are four bays shown on the side of this rack, but only three are usable, and have tool-free clips to secure devices on this side of the chassis. The top bay is taken up with the I/O wiring that you can see coming out of the bays at the left.

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There are six bays in the 3.5" drive rack, but only five have the clips this time. The top bay can be used if video cards wont conflict with it, but you will need screws. For those with 2.5" drives, there are holes in the floor to allow them to mount there.

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The offset provided in the top of the chassis should keep the fans or an AIO from running into the motherboard heat sinks. It also offers a bit of room to clear memory, but do realize that this still does not allow for tall heat spreaders.

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The motherboard tray has a large access hole at the top, and has standoffs pre-installed for an ATX motherboard. The tabs and holes to the right and below the motherboard are all you are given to use for wire management.

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The floor of the chassis provides us with three rubber pads to isolate the PSU from the chassis, and if the PSU is short enough, you may have the option to populate this optional 120mm fan location.

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The back of the chassis offers us the 120mm fan with opaque fan blades that will glow with blue LEDs when powered, and uses a 3-pin fan connection to do so. The expansion slots use screws to hold them into place, and the grommets are far enough away to make routing them out of the back easy.

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Behind the motherboard tray, there is 5mm at most, so we won't be running any wiring there. There is a fair bit of room next to the HDD bays to tuck extra wires, but with such a small window, once the panels are on, you can't see any messes anyways.

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I am happy to see that the wiring is all black; the ribbon for the buttons and LEDs, the USB 2.0, the USB 3.0, and the HD Audio cables are all ready to blend in, so having them run next to the board is not such a big deal.

Accessories and Documentation

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Since this all comes in one bag, we decided to cover it all at once. On the left are eight HDD screws, and at the bottom are the motherboard and ODD screws. In the middle, there are five adjustable wire ties that allow you to do some tending inside of the case. At the right, we have three standoffs, and the socket to drive them, the PSU screws, and four screws for the 5.25" to 3.5" bay adapters.

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Right in the middle is the pair of adapters that can be installed for use of a floppy drive, or all-in-one card reader, so it can be exposed and accessible. To the left, we have four long screws to mount a fan in the front of the chassis, and to the right, we get a speaker to hear post code beeps from the motherboard.

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The manual is multilingual, and it's still able to offer illustrations, and enough text to get the across idea of how to take on any part of the build. There is also a parts list to be sure you've gotten all your goods as intended, and even wiring diagrams to solve any issues regarding which way all of the black wires are supposed to connect. There is also an insert covering the terms and conditions of the warranty that Thermaltake provides.

The Build and Finished Product

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While much hasn't changed up front, we did add the DVD drive. One thing I like about this design is that the front does not look funny, or disturbed in any way, since the rings don't connect from bay to bay; so removing one does not destroy the appeal.

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I did have to dig a bit to find an air cooler that would fit inside this chassis with the 155mm limitation, but we got it all sorted and finished. Two issues you need to know: longer cards will make HDD bays useless, and with a large cooler, getting to the screws at the top of the motherboard is nearly impossible.

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Out back, there is nothing worthy of any special mentions. The dust cover snapped right in, we had no issues with the card aligning, and the PSU fit as expected.

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With a modular PSU, we had no extra wiring to hide. However, we did use the pair of tabs on the side of the tray to run all of the front I/O wiring, and since we also had the short wiring kit, there just isn't anything left over to tend to.

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Getting the panels back on is easy enough considering we don't have to worry about wiring in the back; they simply slide back on, and the thumbscrews get replaced. At this point, we are ready to power things up, and get some testing done.

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With the system fired up, we took a quick picture with all the LEDs active. There is just a peek of the blue LED in the back through the side panel window, the motherboard LED is shining through the mesh top, and we can also see the blue power LED, and the red HDD activity LED. The nice thing here is that they are on an angle, so as not to blind you accidentally.

Final Thoughts

Things that stick out to me are pretty obvious. The chassis is great to look at from the outside, offers a fair bit of features, will expand to a certain extent as users need progress, and of course, it sells at a really great price point. Since the motherboard must be installed first when using a larger air cooler, the large access hole in the motherboard tray is a huge plus, and is large enough that there is no way you will have to try to tuck in a corner, or not be able to hold it well while installing the rest of the hardware involved; that is just good planning.

Even though there is very little in the form of wire management, the fact that the wiring is all black and blends in well is helpful, and on top of that, there isn't a full sized window to even get a chance to look at any mess if there is one. Even with basic bay designs, they do offer an adapter for the bays to allow for more options.

The downsides to this design are also very apparent. There is only one fan, and while very silent at 25 dB, the airflow is poor, and did allow our components to sort of stew in their juices a bit. This can be easily remedied by placing up to four optional fans into the chassis, but then we are looking to spend another $40 to get average to good air flow, and others offer that out of the box at that price range. With the panels off, the chassis is very flexible, and if not lifting the chassis during the build to gain access to something, the entire chassis will twist, even when it's fully loaded with components.

The HDD bays drove me a little nuts too. Simply twisting them ninety degrees would make them all usable, but instead, if you have longer cards, especially in dual card configurations, you will block most of the bays that are offered. So, while it is nice to look at, and affordable, there are many things to consider when considering if this is the case for you.

Now, I completely get that to offer a chassis that is this economically friendly, some concessions do have to be had; I just think Thermaltake took a step back in time with this design. While they offer enough to be current to today's standards, oversights like the bays makes the chassis sort of useless for those who have a few drives, and multiple card gaming systems.

With that being said, I know the looks are still going to sell this chassis to the inexperienced buyers out there. However, for our readers, I think you have come to expect a better level of chassis, and even if it's reasonably priced on initial cost. This just makes me realize how many other choices and upgrades I could get for that sort of money invested.

PRICING: You can find the Thermaltake Chaser A21 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Thermaltake Chaser A21 retails for $71.57 at Amazon.

Canada: The Thermaltake Chaser A21 retails for $80.42 at Amazon Canada.

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PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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