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Thermaltake Core X9 E-ATX Cube Chassis Review

Today at CES 2015, Thermaltake releases its newest case, the Core X9 E-ATX cube chassis. Chad put it through its paces and tells us what he thinks of it.

@chad_sebring
Published Sun, Jan 4 2015 9:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 99%Manufacturer: Thermaltake

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 40 IMAGES

Right as news breaks from Thermaltake about their new additions to the Core series of cases, we were also given an exclusive sneak peak at one of these three chassis designs. Of course keeping some of the external features of the Core series, these latest submissions are less of a standard tower, and more a run of cube chassis designs. Building off of cases like the HAF XB, or maybe even the Air Series from Corsair, Thermaltake is now taking their turn at offering up something along the lines of the aforementioned cases, but in typical Thermaltake style as of late, adds that Thermaltake flair to the interior and its layout to offer the most customizable and functional layout we have yet to see in any chassis of this nature.

Thanks to Thermaltake China listing these cases way before the NDA broke, with a little bit of looking online, we were given product pages for the Core X1, the smallest of this series, the Core X2, similar in size to others on the market, and also the Core X9 that just takes the idea of a cube chassis to enormous proportions. While with the smaller chassis, there are some limitations to the amount of fans or water cooling that can be installed, but the modularity and customizability is not lost on any of the three. As we move to the Core X2, we find a chassis for the everyman, or something that should cover most users' needs. Then we have the granddaddy of the series in the Core X9. To say this chassis is large is an understatement, in fact, there are more options than most will be able to use, and still offers, just like the others in the X lineup, to stack on top of one another to make even larger cases with room for small children to play around in it.

Out of the three we were given, the gigantic Core X9 is what we will be having an in-depth look at today. As you follow the images, and lay your eyes on all of the ways that Thermaltake makes life simple for any build of any scope, keep your eyes peeled for the fine details as well as the plainly obvious offerings. Just when we thought the Core V71 was the best chassis design Thermaltake has come up with in quite some time, they go and turn the tables and develop a whole new way to take over the market with their version of a certain style of case design. While the Corsair Air series, and Cooler Master HAF XB have been the go to cases for cube style builds, they should be worried, as Thermaltake offers something along the lines of what you would get from Caselabs or Mountain Mods, but with much less cost associated to experience what this Core X9 E-ATX cube chassis brings to the market.

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Again with the help of Thermaltake China, we were able to find a specification chart to duplicate in English, and they are not afraid to list every aspect of this design. We see that the CA-1D8-00F-1WN-00, or more simply the Core X9 is an Extended-ATX cube chassis that is made from SPCC steel, and is painted throughout with a textured black paint. If we weren't clear about its size, one look at the fifteen inch width, near twenty inch height, and twenty-five inch length, along with the 37.5 pound dry weight ought to help send the message home loud and clear. The front of the chassis is mostly comprised of steel mesh with wider thin slits for air flow; it also offers an I/O panel that can be installed on either side of the chassis, but as shipped comes on the left side of the bezel.

Both chassis doors are also interchangeable, one of which offers a large clear window, and the other offers ventilation for both the top section and bottom section of the chassis interior. Even the top is well ventilated, and needs to be for the cooling options it offers, and even comes with magnetic dust filters, just like the ventilated side panel does.

When it comes to parts and their compatibility, we see that this chassis will hold anything from Mini-ITX on through E-ATX motherboards on the removable motherboard tray. The front of the chassis offers a trio of 5.25" bays, but when it comes to storage drives, there are quite a few options. There are two cages of three trays that will hold either 3.5" or 2.5" drives, but there is yet another area to use. On the motherboard tray, there is a bracket that has the same tray used in the cages mounted to it. So you can use that in the same way as the rest, but it also is removable. Then you can install a pair of 2.5" drives as well as a 3.5" drive and have it hidden and out of the way, allowing the option to completely remove the cages for water cooling instead. There is also room for a pair of power supplies at the bottom, or you can simply use either side for one PSU, and at the back of the chassis, there are also eight expansion slots, as well as ventilation and large grommets to allow tubing and wiring to pass through the chassis externally.

The fan and radiator support inside of this Core X9 is really insane. In the front of the chassis, you can use the 200mm fan that is pre-installed, or you can use three 120mm fans, two 140mm fans, or you can even add a second 200mm fan if you wish, and radiator support matches the fans here. The top of the chassis offers much more. There are two locations for cooling, and this is why you can fit eight 120mm fans, six 140mm fans, or two 200mm fans, and radiator support goes up to 480mm and 420mm radiators. The bottom of the chassis allows for three 120mm fans or the same in radiator space, depending on if you need to use two PSUs or not. The chassis is also designed with a pair of brackets that can be used with the lower section of the chassis and the side rails to allow a radiator or fans to be installed on its side, but vertically, if the rest of the options do not appeal to you. The chart ends with the limitations of this chassis, but we hardly see 250mm for a CPU cooler, 590mm for video cards, and 220mm for the PSU to be anything worth considering a "limitation".

Even when it comes to pricing and availability, we have even more good news for you. We were informed that of this latest trio, the Core X1 will have a $99.99 MSRP, the Core X2 will show on shelves at $129.99, and if you are finding yourself in love with the Core X9, expect to pay $169.99. While we feel that in all three instances with what we were able to see in these designs, any choice is well worth its value, and the best part is, we were told that after you are done reading this, stock should be available.

Packaging

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As Thermaltake has done for a while now, they use plain cardboard with black printing to display what they want to show. On the front, we find the company and chassis naming near the top, and in the thick black band is a rendering of the Core X9 chassis inside with icons for LCS, modularity, and stacking abilities.

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Here we find the naming at the top, and just below the handle is another rendering of the chassis, leaving the bottom for multilingual listings of the I/O configuration, included fans, drive expansions, and motherboard compatibility.

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The back of the box looks near identical to what we saw around front. This time, however, the rendering in the middle is an exploded diagram of the chassis and shows every part within the chassis, and which ones come out, and as you can see, everything comes out of the Core X9.

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For those that will be picking this up from a brick and mortar location, this side of the package will come in handy to refresh you of the specifications chart we covered to remind you of just how large and feature rich the Core X9 really is.

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To allow the Core X9 to arrive in really good condition, and we say this only because our side panel window was scratched some in transit, otherwise the thin Styrofoam caps and the plastic liner did their job protecting the outside. It happened to be a freely floating hardware bag inside the chassis that caused the only damage we saw.

Thermaltake Core X9 E-ATX Cube Chassis

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Our first unobstructed view of the front of the Core X9 shows us the entire panel offers wide and thin slits and ventilation, even being used on the three removable bay covers near the top. The only thing to break up the pattern really is the Thermaltake logo at center, near the bottom.

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The top of the chassis is a long and wide steel panel that offers two long runs of the same slits we saw on the front. This panel is also removable to allow easy access inside the chassis and to mount any optional cooling here.

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As the Core X9 is shipped, the large side window panel is placed on the left side as we see it now. Because the window is evenly spaced, this can be flipped over and used on the right side as an option.

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As part of the front bezel is cut away, the left side currently offers the I/O panel. There are indicator LEDs above the power button, a pair of USB 3.0 ports above and below the HD Audio jacks, and at the bottom is the reset button. Just like the panel, this can also be swapped to the right side.

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Out back at the top, we find the exhaust fan to the left, the rear I/O below that, and the eight expansion slots and large grommets to the right. In the lower section, the left side is intended for a PSU currently, while the right is set up for a fan, but the plate can be removed and a PSU installed there instead.

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The front bezel is notched on this side as well to accept the I/O panel if you decide to have the window here instead. Out of the box, the right panel offers the same mesh pattern as the top did, and allows for fans to be placed in the chassis behind it, and they can breathe easily.

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Under the chassis, we find huge plastic feet with rubber pads on them, two long dust filters at the left, and between the front feet, we see a large removable panel. This is so that when you opt to stack this chassis on another, that becomes a large pass through for wiring and water cooling runs.

Inside the Core X9

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Grabbing the cut-out at the bottom of the bezel and pulling it off shows a plastic dust filter in the lower section of the bezel, and at the top, we find tabs holding in the bay covers. On the face of the chassis, there is a 200mm fan installed with room for another above it. We also see the I/O panel to the left and a large grommet, behind the bezel to the right there is a match to it.

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Loosening a pair of thumbscrews that stay captured in the top panel allows the top of the chassis to come off, to access the fan or radiator mounting. To further aid in that, the fan brackets on both sides are simply screwed into place and will remove to make cooling installation much simpler.

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Looking into the body of the chassis, we find a dual layer system with a defined lower section for storage, and the entirety of the top section for the motherboard and video cards. We found the wiring to be tied neatly and will not move around, and the hardware bag is currently on the floor between the drive cages.

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With four thumbscrews in the face of each of these bays, it allows the chassis to not need any supports to block the interior. While these are ready with tool-free latches on this side, and full access for screw mounting, these can also easily come right out and open up the front for massive amounts of cooling.

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Resting on the middle frame rails, they also keep this large cube structurally sound, we can see the motherboard tray shifted to the back of the chassis. The standoffs are ready for ATX motherboards as it allows the grommets to be used. For E-ATX motherboards, the entire tray will be covered.

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Removing a pair of thumbscrews allows the tray to slide forward and come out. This allows the ability to get the motherboard and cooler all in place, and drop it in as one major assembly.

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Blocking off the CPU cooler access hole is the hidden storage tray assembly. This too will come off, and even the plastic tray now in place can be removed so that three drives can go here at once.

Inside the Core X9 Continued

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In the lower section, at the front of the chassis, there is a removable drive cage that will house three storage drives. Each tray is made to accept either a 2.5" or 3.5" drive. This cage is also mounted to a dual fan bracket, which can also be installed here vertically if desired.

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At the back of the chassis, we find the same drive cage and fan mounting plate installed in the lower section. Along with storage and the same vertical fan mounting option, you could also install a PSU.

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Since all of the wiring is pre-run down this side of the chassis, we undid the bundle and laid it all out. There is a ribbon cable for the buttons and LEDs, there is a pair of USB 3.0 connections, and the HD Audio cable, all of which are black to blend in to the build.

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Moving to the other side of the Core X9, we look into the rear of the chassis and find the 120mm Turbo fan with a 3-pin connection at the end of a seriously long run of sleeved cabling. We also see that the slots use thumbscrews to secure cards, and a metal plate installs to cover the gap above them.

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The lower section on the right side is completely open, and since the back is open and there is a PSU support rail screwed into the floor, it is obviously intended to have the PSU go here at the back. Of course, this also leaves a ton of room for pumps, reservoirs, fan hubs, and custom lighting controllers.

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Inside of the right side panel as well as inside of the top panel, the mesh areas are backed with these plastic dust filters that have magnetic strips applied around the edges. This will simplify cleaning them on a regular basis so that the interior can remain as dust free as possible.

Accessories and Documentation

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The bag that floated around the chassis offers this assortment of hardware. There are fan screws, 2.5" drive screws, an adapter plate, and a socket and extra standoffs for E-ATX installations. The lower row offers thumbscrews, PSU screws, fan plate screws, a handful of standard M3 screws, and a smaller group of 6/32 screws, and even a motherboard speaker.

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To help secure fans at the top of the front of this chassis, once the ODD bays are removed, you will need the fan adapter plate to offer mounting holes there. We also were given ten tie straps to help maintain the wiring inside of this chassis.

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We also wanted to get back to that hidden drive assembly. With it off the tray, and the plastic tray out of the bracket, we see the plate is marked A and B. A allows for a pair of 2.5" drives to go onto the plate, and the ones marked B will allow for a 3.5" drive at the same time. SSDs in RAID and a few terabytes of all-in-one location, hidden away.

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Outside of the chassis, just under the plastic liner, you will find the manual and warranty information. The manual is very in depth and not only offers a parts checklist, and step-by-step guidance through any build, if you do happen to miss something looking around, this manual will show you every fine detail you missed.

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If looking at the chart, or having us explain the fan and radiator options inside of this chassis didn't quite click, this one image will do all the explaining needed to grasp just what this chassis can house.

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Just to show you we were not kidding around in the slightest, and due to the fact that with only one chassis it is hard to show this ability, here you can see that they show you how to remove the feet and the access panel to allow the Core X9 to mount on top of another Core X9 for the utmost in water cooling or air cooling capabilities.

Case Build and Finished Product

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For our build, we chose not to break up the front of the chassis with the use of an optical drive, or even a bay reservoir, with so little time with this chassis, we did not have time to arrange for a massive water cooling display, but look for Thermaltake's press shots, they have a couple of loops in the one they have in Vegas for CES 2015.

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We chose to go with Thermaltake's own air cooler, as this is what will rub against many a mid-tower door, and even has issues in some of the thinner full-tower cases, but with the 250mm of room in the Core X9, it won't even be close to an issue. The convenience of mounting the board and components to the tray prior to it going into the chassis sure does make the install much easier.

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This build, while simple in what we show, clearly puts perspective on the massiveness of this chassis design. That is not some Mini-ITX build in there that is a full length video card, and over 160mm worth of air cooler in there. What this does show is the complete and utterly amazing amount of room there is to house up to five radiators at once, along with massive reservoirs and multiple pumps, and likely still not "filling" this chassis.

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At the back, we had no issues popping in the dust cover, but once the cover plate is removed, the expansion slot mounting rail did flex outward, making us have to push it inward to set the screws. The lower section is also missing a bunch of screws to remove the large plate that covered the drive bays, and of course, we still have the option for a second PSU, although there is only one support rail included.

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From the right, we can see the wiring can easily be tended from the PSU for everything going to the motherboard tray and even to the front I/O, as it hides behind the frame rail. Also keep in mind that with the bottom now open on both sides, you can use the plates from the floor, under the HDD cages, and add some fans to increase the airflow from below, or even house another radiator or two down there.

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We decided to leave the windowed panel and the I/O panel on the left side of the chassis. We liked the view of the video cards, but if you have some LED memory and sleek LED blocks on the power delivery and CPU, you may want to go ahead and swap the panels.

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With the chassis powered, at the distance to take this picture, if not for the LED showing us the system is powered, you could not hear the fans at all. Within a foot of the back of the chassis, there is just a slight amount of audible noise. With everything gutted as we have it, and mostly the 200mm and 120mm fans cooling the chassis, the air flow was surprisingly good, and kept our components nice and chilly inside.

Final Thoughts

For the extreme user in all of us, the Thermaltake Core X9 leaves us wanting nothing. From the sleek and attractive exterior and its swappable panels, for the huge window that affords a great view of the goods inside of this case, and for its silence and simplicity, anyone can appreciate what is going on in that area.

When it comes to the inside of the chassis, there is more than enough room to get any water cooled system cooled inside of the chassis, and even if you decided you need two of these to stack on top of one another, think of the water cooling potential there. You are seriously getting into the surface area of something that may even cool a race car engine. To fill this to capacity, you can have a total of sixteen 120mm fans or equivalent in radiators, with similar options in 140mm locations, and it will even hold four 200mm fans at once for the ultimate in airflow inside.

All of that to already set your head spinning, and we haven't even gotten to any of the modularity of this design. With plenty of drive locations, both in the ODD bays and in storage drive bays, every single one of them can be gutted from the chassis as needed. Then, of course, there is that handy drive assembly hanging under the removable motherboard tray, so that even when the case needs to be gutted to allow for what you intend to do, you still have three drive locations hidden, and well out of the way of anything else in the area. There are dust filters on everything, but the exhaust at the back of the chassis, and they include additional plates and all the hardware needed to get the Core X9 as full as possible right out of the box.

When it comes to a cube chassis, and what we have seen in our many years looking at cases, you will find no other cube chassis like this currently on the market. In every sense they have looked at this design, and combed over it many times to be sure than when completely gutted the chassis is still as solid as it is out of the box, making sure that at every turn concessions were made to either allow bits to be removed, rearranged, and suited to make the installation process as simple as possible - how can you find fault in a design like that?

When it comes to buying a cube chassis, you can find more economical solutions, and while they may say they are water cooling friendly, or intended to be the go to chassis for modders and builders, all of those companies should take notice of what Thermaltake is doing here. They are bringing forth something that offers all of the love and attention to detail of the much more expensive custom offerings on the market, but at the same time are able to do so with a great looking product and with what we consider a very reasonable price.

With the MSRP set at $169.99, the Core X9 is attainable even for the beginning builder with huge plans of future grandeur, and for the experienced extreme builders out there, well... you likely have already left to go buy one of your very own already. Just when you thought Thermaltake may have been reaching their pinnacle in chassis design, the drop off a chassis like the Core X9 and just blow minds with the level they are still able to go to delivering one of the best offerings when it comes to a no holds barred chassis that really has the room it takes to go extreme with your build.

TweakTown award
Performance99%
Quality including Design and Build100%
General Features100%
Bundle and Packaging97%
Value for Money100%
Overall99%

The Bottom Line: With massive amounts of room, complete modularity and customizability, the Core X9 lacks nothing for even the wildest of builds. At this price, you simply will not find a better cube chassis this immense and perfect for the job.

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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.

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