Thermaltake Level 10 Chassis Review – Can BMW change PC design?
On December 9th, I received my long-awaited Level 10 computer case! This case was originally announced way back in March of 2009, with an anticipated street date in mid October. As the initial ship date of October passed, I grew skeptical that such a unique case would ever actually ship. I’m glad to say, I was wrong. This case rocks! Let me repeat that again, this case rocks!
I’ve spent the last 48 hours pouring over this case; top to bottom, inside and out. Clearly, this case was very well thought-out and bears the markings of a serious industrial design firm. Rather than a standard aluminum and plastic case, the Thermaltake Level 10 utilizes a central pillar, with individual compartments hanging from it for the power supply,
Included in the package is a nicely built ‘parts box’ that contains the Level 10 manual, 2 keys to the case locks, a Thermaltake carabiner keychain, 5 re-usable zip-ties, motherboard riser screws, HDD screws, ODD screws, PSU screws and motherboard screws. Additionally included is a cloth for keeping your case in tip top, ‘show-me-off’ shape.
Something that might not be obvious from the pictures: the Level 10 is LARGE. It is 12.6 inches wide, 24.5 inches deep, 26.3 inches high, and weighs nearly 50 pounds empty! The handles on the top and the base definitely come in handy. While I had no trouble transporting the case from the office into my photo studio by myself (the case is well balanced,) the additional handle in the base was nice to have. If two people are used to carry the case, this extra handle makes it a breeze.
The Level 10 case is constructed entirely of heavy-duty aluminum. And I mean heavy-duty. There is no flex in any of the panels, they are rock solid. Aside from the LED lighting surrounding the trim of the edge, there is not a single plastic component anywhere. From the hinges to the latches, the attention to detail for long life performance is obvious. The paint is a matte black (not the glossy black as seen in some of the very early press shots.) The paint has a powdered texture to it, and while it does show some fingerprints, they are easily removed with the supplied cloth.
The wide base supports the large vertical structure carrying the other components. The vertical section is hollow and includes significant channels for cabling as well as a lockable rear access panel on the back.
Six independent HDD caddies make up the front of the Level 10, with completely hidden cabling and LEDs. The top 2 HDD drive bays are cooled by 2 separate fans . Each HDD bay has a physical button in the bay to detect the presence of the drive that controls an external LED to signify that the drive is inside. These HDD fans draw air from the bottom of each drive and out across the top. These fans do draw air from all the HDDs, even though they’re only located at the top of the #1 and #2 HDDs.
Three 5.25″ bays are at the very top, in their own box. The top ODD Bay includs a flip-up cover with an adjustable eject tab to work with most CD drives. The power supply is behind the 5.25″ bays inside its own box, and the motherboard occupies the final (largest) compartment just below the PSU.
The front-panel connectors include your standard USB 2.0 ports (x4), eSATA port (x1), and standard audio jacks (mic & headphone). The case fits standard ATX, extended ATX and micro-ATX boards. The motherboard tray is removable.
The back panel contains two locking mechanisms; one for the HDD/ODD caddies and one for the PSU/MB/Back Panel. While the back panel can be difficult to put on; you sometimes have to fiddle with the hard drive locking mechanism before it will go back, I found that having the HDD in the Locked position solved 99% of that issue…
Removing the back panel reveals a sizable channel of hidden cable management channels. This area provides access to the underside of the motherboard, access to the CPU for easy removal of the cooling bracket / water-block bracket and access to the HDD connectors.