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Mid-Tower Review Roundup

Thermaltake Level 10 GTS

Daring to be different, but falling a little short

The Level 10 GTS is a mid-tower based on a full-tower based on an overdesigned concept chassis, and the form factor has lost something in translation at each step, resulting in a chassis that’s a bit, well, weird.

While we love the concept behind the case’s four side-loading hotswap bays, pray that you never lose the security key that locks them into place, or you’ll never be able to remove them. Also, you still have to screw a 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drive into the case’s trays before inserting them, limiting the “hotswap” part of the deal.

One more drive bay and four 5.25-inch bays (with handy locking mechanisms) round out the front of the case. That’s a lot of potential storage for a system that feels a little bit cramped even with a standard ATX build inside of it. That can be alleviated somewhat if you make ample use of the case’s four rubber holes for cable management, but the width of the case makes it feel a bit tight.

The Level 10 GTS comes with one big, blue 12cm fan in the front to cover the drive bays and a single 12cm fan in the rear. The top supports the installation of one 20cm fan or two 12cm fans (or a radiator!), and the side panel has room for a huge 14- or 20cm monstrosity.

You only have to hook up a single SATA power cord: Thermaltake splits the power to each of the case’s hotswap bays.

Two USB 2.0 ports join two USB 3.0 ports on the case’s front (via internal headers), arranged vertically along the case’s side, and the rear of the motherboard tray comes with about an inch of clearance between it and the side panel for cable management.

We don’t like the lumpy aesthetic of the Level 10 GTS or the few extra steps it inserts into the building process, either due to “coolness” attempts, minor design frustrations, or cramped conditions.

Men in Black

Good lighting and cooling; four USB ports on front; ample room for fans of all kinds.

Men in Black 2, 3

Lumpy hotswap bay design needs work; cramped conditions.

$110, www.thermaltake.com

The Last Words

Seven cases. Two case testers. And a whole lot of opinions.

Nathan: The Antec, NZXT, Silverstone, and Thermaltake cases gave us the best CPU and GPU cooling, with the Ravager and the Corsair cases coming in a bit hotter.

David: I don’t like it when manufacturers lean too heavily to one side of the price/performance equation. I'm shooting eyes at the Thermaltake Level 10 GTS now.

Nathan: Well, that one's a takeoff on a takeoff. Something was lost in translation.

David: I liked the Corsair C70, but I'm a sucker for good, functional design. I wish it had more ports on the front.

Nathan: That was my gripe with the Silverstone. And at $160 it was pretty expensive. I'm surprised you liked the Antec as much as you did. It seems pretty minimal.

David: There's a lot of room to grow. It's a fine $100 chassis, especially if you need a good way to pack a ton of components into a mid-tower. For frills, look elsewhere.

Nathan: The Eleven Hundred would have been a great deal two years ago, but these days $100 gets you a hell of a lot more. The Phantom 410, for example, looks and feels better than the Antec and has a functioning fan controller.

David: The Eleven Hundred sure beats the MSI Ravager!

Nathan: I was disappointed in the Ravager. Even if its build quality had been better, it'd still be ugly. The real problem, though, is the price. At $40 it’s a maybe. At $100? No way.

David: Hey, at least it had interesting colors! It’s tough to find that perfect mix of looks and performance, but I think I have to give the nod to the Phantom 410.

Nathan: Yeah, it’s the all-around winner for me. The Silverstone case is great for people with a lot of drives who prefer a simpler look.

David: As for the Corsair 550D, I get nervous when I see acoustical foam in cases. It cuts down on noise, but at the cost of cooling.

Nathan: You can’t just smack hot, loud parts into it; you'll just have a hot, quieter PC. But for a quiet build, I could see the 550D being great.

Idle CPU21202422242121
Idle GPU45434745484147
Burn CPU45435847524441
Burn GPU88859091918887

All temperatures measured in degrees Celsius. All systems tested with a stock-clocked AMD Phenom II X6 1055T on an Asus Sabertooth 990FX mobo with a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ cooler, a GTX 480 GPU, 4GB DDR3/1600, and an 800W PSU in a room with an ambient temperature of 22 C.

Note: This article was taken from the September issue of the magazine