Thermaltake Chaser A41 Review

red454 - 2013-07-04 07:06:58 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: red454   
Reviewed on: August 4, 2013
Price: $99.99

Thermaktake Chaser A41 Introduction:

Thermaltake has been around since 1999 and there is an impressive list of  "firsts" in its pocket, including the first turbine cooler 'Golden Orb' for Intel Pentium processors, and the world's first liquid-cooler for for CPUs in 2004. Also in Thermaltake's arsenal are power supplies, fans, air and liquid cooling solutions, and last but not least, cases.

Thermaltake has a wide variety of cases to choose from. Conservative or cutting edge - if you know anything about Thermaltake cases, you certainly know that sometimes it throws the rules out the window. Just look at the wild Level case series. You can't forget those. But today we are looking at the Chaser A41, which is the latest member to join Thermaltake's hardcore gaming series. The Chaser range includes the MK-1, A31, A41, and the big daddy A71. The A41 is a mid tower with some nice features, including front panel USB 3.0 support, LCS (liquid cooling system) support, and tool free drive bays.

Thermaktake Chaser A41 Closer Look:

The box - yes, we have a nice glossy finish. The other cases I have reviewed so far have all been in plain brown cardboard boxes. And of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but the graphics here certainly get your attention. "Chaser A41 - Pursuit Without Fear" is displayed right up front. The front and back of the box are identical. The ends have a list of features and are otherwise fairly simple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside we have the large Styrofoam end caps keeping everything well protected so that damage is minimized during transit. The plastic bag does its usual job and protects the case from damage that can be caused by the closed cell Styrofoam as it rubs against the finish. Overall a pretty standard shipping package used by most chassis manufacturers.

 

 

Thermaltake uses a series of plastic strips to cover mission critical front, top, and side panel components on the outside of the case offering further protection of these components during the shipping process.Once I removed all the plastic strips I am now ready to tear into the Chaser A41 case from Thermaltake!

 

 

Of course there is the distinctive Thermaltake logo right up front.

Thermaltake Chaser A41 Closer Look:

The A41 follows the styling cues of the other cases in the series. It has a smooth, clean feel - not childish or cheap plastic, not stuffy - just right. Two things stand out - the large vented top and the storage tray. I have found that if I can keep my flash drives in one place, they don't get lost, and a nice big top storage tray is perfect for that.

The side panels are painted steel and are flat with a moderate bump out for cables. The flush-mounted clear side window lets you show off your hardware. The feet are moveable (which I talk about more below), and I experimented with moving them to different positions, although ultimately I like the feet turned in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plastic front fascia surrounds a mesh lower front panel that covers the front intake fan. I have the feet turned in on the front view. There are four optical drive bays and one 2.5" bay. At the top of the rear, you have three holes with rubber grommets for external water cooling. There is, of course, the rear 120mm blue LED fan (included) and seven expansion slots. At the top left (just above the motherboard I/O cutout) there is a keyboard / mouse security lock. At the bottom is the opening for the PSU.

 

 

The top of the case is well ventilated and has a 200mm blue LED fan installed from the factory, and you can see that there are mounting holes for two 120mm fans or up to a 240mm radiator. You can also mount a single 140mm fan and one 120mm fan. If you have a long optical drive, you may not want to put it in the top bay as it may interfere with a radiator. On the bottom there is the removable filter for the PSU. 

 

Looking at the bottom, we have an interesting feature: the feet are moveable. You can pivot each foot a full 360 degrees with detents at every 45 degrees. On the left I have the feet fully retracted, and on the right I have them extended. Having the feet out gives the case some additional stability, but I will add that the case is comfortably stable with the feet turned in. From the floor to the bottom of the case, there is 1.25" of clearance for air flow.

 

The large bottom air filter is easy to remove for cleaning.

 

 

Here is a shot of the front I/O. Along the top we have a nice storage tray. Large enough for a handful of flash drives and a set of car keys. And from left to right, we have the reset button (which is very narrow and a little hard to push), the power button, and the hard drive activity light. Then the next row down there is the first USB 3.0 port, a microphone jack, the headphone jack, and the second USB 3.0 port. I would like to have seen a couple of USB 2.0 ports on here too, since I often use more than two ports at a time, but I do like that the USB 3.0 ports are far apart. Many times I have trouble with large flash drives and ports that are close together. I can't get everything plugged in at the same time.

 

Now here is something handy. Where, oh where do you put your headphones so they aren't in the way when you aren't using them? How many times do they fall off your desktop? Not anymore - just drop the hanger down (which is attached to the windowed side panel) and now your headphones have a home! When you aren't using it to store you headphones, just fold it up and it is out of the way.

 

Thermaltake Chaser A41 Closer Look:

Before we tear into this case, let's look at the big picture. We have three included fans - a large 200mm top fan, and a front and a rear 120mm fan. I just wonder if that will be enough, I mean this is a gaming case, and gamers are known to push their systems, and that usually means a lot of heat and noise. We'll have to wait for the testing to see how the heat is handled. I am not sure if I like the little blue tabs on the optical drive bay covers. The 2.5" bay cover has black tabs, and they all just look like they should be black. Maybe I will warm up to them.

Removing the side covers reveal the internals. The side covers are secured to the case with retained thumb screws. All of the hard drive cages are turned 90 degrees. There are four oval rubber grommets for all of your cables to pass through. One thing I noticed is that while there is a spot to mount a 120mm fan on the case floor next to the PSU, there really aren't any extra provision for mounting fans inside. Often there are mounting holes to add a fan to the hard drive stack. Sometimes the stack can be shifted or half the stack can be relocated, but not here. Everything is rigidly mounted. And that is not necessarily a bad thing - just an observation at this point.

The back side of the motherboard tray allows for easy cable management. The offset is plenty for extra cables and connectors to be stashed away out of view. The case is wde enough so that the power supply and SATA cables for the hard drives aren't mashed against the back cover when you close it. I am always a little paranoid when I have to lean on a cover to get it closed, and you hear things crunching underneath. We don't have that problem with this case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the top of the case is the 200mm blue LED fan. It can be removed to install a liquid cooling radiator (120mm or 240mm). The motherboard tray has a generous opening for easy access to the back of the motherboard for CPU cooler mounting.

 

 

Looking at the front of the case with the fascia removed, you can see the front 120mm fan (included). The rear 120mm fan (included) is lit with blue LEDs. The front fan is not lighted. Since I am using the Corsair H70 (in a push / pull fan configuration) at the rear, I moved the lighted fan from the rear to the front. Regarding the rear fan, there are four rubber isolators attached to the fan mounting holes in the case, so when I installed the H70, the isolators further dampened any vibrations from the fans. There are also two bays (3.5" and 2.5") above the front 120mm fan. The lower of the two bays (3.5") is only accessible by removing the entire front cover. This bay can be used for an additional 3.5" hard drive or an SSD. The upper 2.5" bay can be accessed from the front.

The air filter is also accessed by removing the front panel. It is easy to detach from the front panel for cleaning.

 

 

The hard drive cages are nice and sturdy. There are four special shoulder screws that attach your hard drive to the cage. They fit through the four rubber isolators and keep vibration to a minimum.

 

 

Here are the covers for the 5.25" and 3.5" bays. I have to say that they are exceptionally easy to remove from the front. You don't have to get at them from inside, which is very convenient. But I am not sure that I like the colored tabs on the 5.25" covers. Some people could care less about the color, or whether or not all of their componets match. Maybe light blue isn't your thing. I am sort of in the middle. While I am a little partial to a red / black scheme, I at least like the option to change it, but Thermaltake would have to supply additional sets in red or black. And really that just adds cost.

The hidden 3.5" bay mentioned above has its own cage. Not as elaborate as the other main HDD cages, but it allows for some extra hard drive space.

 

 

 

 

The instruction set is thorough and easy to follow. The hardware consists of a system speaker, wire ties, some motherboard stand offs, and assorted screws for securing the motherboard to the tray.

 

The build was uneventful - no issues, no cursing, or bleeding knuckles. So here we have the finished product. Thermaltake lists this case as being ATX compatible - and my motherboard is the ASUS Maximus V Formula, which is actually an extended ATX board. The extended ATX board is a half inch wider than a standard ATX and you may not think that half an inch would be a concern, but indeed this presents problems in some cases, such as my Corsair 500R. But the Chaser A41 case handles it beautifully. No problems at all. The motherboard fit perfectly and the cable routing was a breeze and resulted in a clean, efficient build.

I was especially impressed that the CPU power cables were able to be routed easily behind the motherboard and the pass-through holes for the cable connectors (at the top of the motherboard tray) were large enough. And despite being a mid tower, it really has enough room for everything.

Thermaltake Chaser A41 Specifications:

 

Available Color:
Exterior & Interior: Black
Materials:
SECC (Steel, Electrogalvanized, ColdRolled, Coil)
Dimensions:
(H x W x D) 495 x 252 x 511 mm (19.5 x 9.9 x 20.1 inch)
Net Weight:
8.0 kg/17.6 lb
M/B Type:
9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), 12” x 9.6” (ATX)
5.25" Drive Bays:
4 external, 5 internal
3.5" Drive Bays:
1
2.5" Drive Bays:
1 internal
I/O Panel:
USB 3.0 x 2, Audio In and Out
Expansion Slots:
7
Cooling System:
Front (intake) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm Blue LED fan x 1 (1000rpm, 16dBA)
Rear (exhaust) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm Turbo fan (1000rpm,16dBA)
Top (exhaust) :
200 x 200 x 20 mm Blue LED fan x 1 (600rpm, 13dBA)
Bottom (Intake) : (optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm
Power Supply:
Standard PS2 PSU (optional)
Maximum Compatibility:
 
 
LCS Upgradable:
CPU Cooler: Air - 175mm / 6.88 inch
Water cooling: 240mm radiator (top), 120mm radiator (top or rear)
GPU: 315mm / 12.4 inch
Supports 1/2",3/8",1/4” water tube

 

 

Thermaltake Chaser A41 Features:

 

 

All information courtesy of Thermaltake @: http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/products-model.aspx?id=C_00001952

Thermaltake Chaser A41 Testing:

Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, and motherboard during idle and load phases. The load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor 1.21.0. Please note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted. No overclocking.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Case:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The A41 really surprised me. As you can see, these cases are virtually the same during the tests. When I first looked at this case, I admit that I thought for sure that there would be a much larger difference. I really expected a lot of heat build up in the A41. And the Ostrog GT has two 140mm front fans, so certainly it would have to be much cooler, right? Now I'm certainly not disappointed; just surprised. Neither the A41 or the Ostrog has side fans, and as much as I like side fans, having them probably wouldn't make much difference here. And while I have always had a weakness for cases loaded up with fans, perhaps I need to rethink my "More fans!" philosophy. Regardless, the airflow of the A41 is just fine.

Thermaltake Chaser A41 Conclusion:

The Chaser A41 is a nice looking mid tower case - not too dramatic and not too bland. The fit and finish are excellent, and I have to say I was surprised by the air flow.  I fully expected the Ostrog GT with the twin 140mm front fans to lead the race, but the A41 stayed right there through all the testing. It offers the expandability of support for liquid cooling, multiple video cards, four 5.25" drive bays, and up to five 3.5" HDD bays.  The cable management and space is top notch, which allows for a really clean build. My oversized extended ATX motherboard is right at home in the A41. And of course, I can't forget the headphone hanger or the storage tray on top!

As for the cons, well, there really aren't many. It would be nice to have the option to turn the fan LEDs off, and a couple more USB ports wouldn't hurt. The colored tabs on the drive bay covers aren't so bad and offer some contrast to the all black chassis. But the cons are really minor. Pricing is comparable to other cases with similar features and is currently available at Newegg for $99.99. So summing it up, I really do like the A41. It gets the job done, and has the room for all your components - Thermaltake has a winner with the Chaser A41.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: