We recently reviewed (and weren’t impressed by) the Thermaltake Level 20 MT, but Thermaltake is nothing if not prolific, and there’s always a new enclosure to try. The A500 TG was released back in October under the full name “Thermaltake A500 Aluminum Tempered Glass Edition Mid-Tower Chassis,” and enters the lab today for a full thermal, acoustic, and build quality review.
Thermaltake’s A500 case primarily touts aluminum, glass, and trend-advancing features without necessarily introducing new ideas. It’s OK for a case to advance features rather than invent them, but it really must make advancements at the $250 price-point of the A500.
We’ve covered one of Thermaltake’s Level 20 cases before, specifically the small form factor VT, which sought to bring the ultra-expensive Level 20 line down to ‘normal’ consumers. The Level 20 MT is a mid-tower in the same style, pairing rounded silver edges with flat tempered glass panels to equate “class,” or something, while overlooking some basic design concepts. We’re specifically reviewing the Level 20 MT ARGB, which comes with three 120mm ARGB intake fans at the front.
The front panel is restrictive, with tiny 1cm strips of mesh on either side of the glass section. Deceptively, these strips aren’t in the path of airflow and don’t act as filters. There isn’t any filtration at all in front of the fans, which instead pull air through the narrow gaps behind the edges of the front glass panel. There’s also a wider gap hidden at the bottom of the front panel, typical for cases with sealed designs like this.
We last saw the Level 20 VT a couple months ago at Computex, alongside the Level 20 GT and XT. The VT is an mATX case, the smallest of the three.
Inside and out, the VT is similar to the mini-ITX Thermaltake V1 we reviewed, and even more so to the micro ATX V21. The major difference is the use of tempered glass, which could be a sign of Silverstone Syndrome, or following up a well-ventilated case with a sealed box; however, as we pointed out at Computex, the Level 20 cases are being sold alongside the older mesh-fronted V1 and V21 rather than replacing them. In addition, Thermaltake has also earned the benefit of the doubt with cases like the View 71 and View 37 that appear sealed but still manage to keep temperatures reasonable.
After seeing dozens of cases at Computex 2018, we’ve now rounded-up what we think are the best cases from the show, with the most interesting design elements, price points, or innovations. As always, wait until we can review these cases before getting too hyped and pre-ordering, but we wanted to at least point-out the top cases to pay attention to for the next year.
We’re calling this content the “Most Room for Improvement at Computex 2018” content piece. A lot of products this year are still prototypes, and so still have lots of time to improve and change. Many of the manufacturers have asked for feedback from media and will be making changes prior to launch, hopefully, but we wanted to share some of our hopes for improvement with all of you.
Separately, Linus of LinusTechTips joined us for the intro of this video, if that is of interest.
It’s been a long time since we’ve reviewed any mini-ITX cases. The standard system that we use for testing ATX cases includes a full-sized GPU, PSU, and CPU cooler, which may or may not fit in small form factor cases, as well as an ATX motherboard that definitely won’t. Even if our components were small enough to fit, ATX and mini-ITX enclosures are like apples and oranges--SFF cases often have specific uses and different priorities than standard mid-towers.
Enough time has passed that it’s worth it to put together a separate ITX benchmarking system with a separate table of results to compare. To start off our database, we’re doing a roundup of three not-so-new cases from our backlog: the Thermaltake V1, Silverstone SG13, and the Cryorig Taku. This will start our charts, and we intend to work toward expanding those charts with the full suite of cases, as usual, including several upcoming products at Computex.
The Thermaltake View 37 is the latest addition to Thermaltake’s big-transparent-window-themed View series. It’s similar in appearance to the older View 27, but with a much larger acrylic window and less internal shrouding.
The acrylic window is impressive, and it’s about the best it can be without using tempered glass. Manufacturing curved glass panels is difficult and expensive, and using glass would probably bring the price closer to $200 (or above, for the RGB version). As it is, the acrylic is thick and well-tooled so it’s basically indistinguishable from glass, other than a tendency to collect dust and small scratches. Acrylic was the right choice to ship with this case, but if Thermaltake sticks to past patterns they may offer a separate glass panel in the future.
“Chassis” is pretty loose, here. The Thermaltake Core P90 follows the Core P3 and Core P5 lines, but only insofar as being an open air, semi-exposed bench-style “case.” It’s more of a mounting board for parts, really, and presents them in a triangular layout, the board and VGA on flanking sides.
The case includes 2x 5mm tempered glass side panels (though we think it might be a decent bench platform without the glass), mounts the power supply within the central frame, and is dotted with cable routing holes on both component-hosting panels. This case remains wall-mountable, just like its P3 and P5 successors, though may be a bit unwieldy to get onto the stud mounts, if for no other reason than radiator support up to 480mm. That’s a lot of liquid to hang on the wall.
We’ve reviewed a lot of cases this year and have tested more than 100 configurations across our benchmark suite. We’ve seen some brilliant cases that have been marred by needless grasps at buzzwords, excellently designed enclosures that few talk about, and poorly designed cases that everyone talks about. Cases as a whole have gone through a lot of transformations this year, which should seem somewhat surprising, given that you’d think there are only so many ways to make a box. Today, we’re giving out awards for the best cases in categories of thermals, silence, design, overall quality, and more.
This awards show will primarily focus on the best cases that we’ve actually reviewed in the past year. If some case you like isn’t featured, it’s either because (A) we didn’t review it, or (B) we thought something else was better. It is impossible to review every single enclosure that is released annually; at least, it is impossible to do so without focusing all of our efforts on cases.
Here’s the shortlist:
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