Thermaltake Level 10 review
Few computer case manufacturers would even dream of collaborating with one of the world’s leading automotive firms, but Thermaltake has taken the plunge. Working with designers from BMW, the Taiwanese firm has conjured up the Level 10: initially just a concept, now a retail reality, it’s simultaneously the oddest and most stunning chassis we’ve ever seen.
First impressions count for plenty, and the Level 10’s boundary-pushing design drew gasps on arrival in the Labs. It’s easy to see why: rather than a traditional ATX tower, Thermaltake and BMW have separated the component groups into individual enclosures. These boxes are attached to one side of a vertical slab of aluminium, and the layout is intended to aid airflow and PC management.
This means the motherboard – which can be an ATX or microATX model – CPU and GPU are contained in the main enclosure and the PSU sits separately above, while the optical drives are perched further forward in their own box. Each of the six hard disk bays (all of which include mounting holes for 3.5in and 2.5in disks) is contained within its own curved enclosure perpendicular to the main spine, with red lights to indicate occupation.
It’s an eye-catcher, too. The wide foot curves gently upwards into the main body, and every surface is constructed from brushed aluminium that feels rock-solid. The moody black is interrupted only by a red LED strip that bisects the front and a top edges, while the sheer presence of the case – it’s a mere 666mm tall and 614mm long, and weighs over 21kg empty – means it will be the focal point of any room it occupies.
Thermaltake has included several neat design touches to aid system builders. The removable motherboard tray – revealed by unlocking the rear of the chassis and sliding the door panel off – includes a handy hole for easy access to a heatsink or water-cooling block’s backplate. The optical drive cover lifts off its hinges easily, which allows for drives to be slid into place unimpaired, and the PSU bracket is also detachable.
It makes a spell-binding impression, then, but our opinion of the Level 10 soon began to sour when we delved inside to build a working test system. Take the motherboard area, for instance. The enclosure snagged on the top of the front 120mm case fan unless we gently bent it aside; then once open and clear of the supportive rear fan housing, it sagged uncomfortably, too heavy for its own hinges.
|Case format||Full tower|
|Power supply rating||N/A|
|Primary case material||Aluminium|
|Removable motherboard tray?||yes|
|Dimensions||318 x 614 x 666mm (WDH)|
Ports and connectors
|Front panel USB ports||4|
|Front panel eSATA ports||1|
|Front panel memory card reader||no|
|PCI expansion card backplates||6|
|Mic in socket?||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|Front 120mm fan mounts||1|
|Rear 120mm fan mounts||1|
|Other fans||2 x 60mm hard disk|