Thermaltake Armor A60 Review

airman - 2010-08-11 21:36:24 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: September 2, 2010
Price: $79.99

Introduction:

In the computing world, computer cases are the backbone of every machine and are constantly evolving at almost the same rate as the technology housed within. Thermaltake is a manufacturer of many computer products - cases, power supplies, air and water component coolers, case fans, and other accessories, such as fan controllers and hard drive enclosures. Thermaltake has been a large part of the enthusiast market for over a decade and is still doing very well as a company. Some of the most common questions and concerns involved when choosing the right case involves how much space it possesses, how it performs, its cost, looks, and ease of use. The goal of this review is to answer all these questions about Thermaltake's recent Armor A60, the younger sister of the Armor A90 that was reviewed here. The A90 is a well done specimen of Thermaltake's lineup, and this review will explore the capabilities and features of the Armor A60. This review will consist of a thorough exploration of the Thermaltake Armor A60 from the unboxing to interior and exterior evaluations, specifications, and lastly a real world testing where temperatures of crucial components under idle and load scenarios are recorded.

 

Closer Look:

The Thermaltake Armor A60 is packaged in a black, high gloss cardboard box that contains high quality graphics of the Thermaltake logo, the Armor A60 text, a picture of the case, and mention of the hot swappable hard drive slot and the USB3.0 capabilities. The right side of the box has a list of the features, found on the rear, in other languages, while the left side contains the Armor A60 text with a picture of the case as well as its manufacturer part number. The rear of the case displays most of the other content, explaining features and capabilities that the Armor A60 offers. Thermaltake certainly didn't cut the presentation short.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like every other case, the Armor A60 is secured between two styrofoam blocks and wrapped in a plastic bag to protect it during shipping. After removing the case from its packaging, its resemblance to the A90 is very noticeable. The triangle "plating" design that appears on the front and that is stamped into the panels is just like that found on the A90, just the A60 is a bit smaller and more compact. Included with the Armor A60 is a user's manual, as well as a small ziploc bag of screws, motherboard standoffs, wire ties, and a small PC speaker.

 

 

With the Thermaltake Armor A60 unpackaged and out of the box, the next part of the review will move onto an evaluation of the exterior of the case.

Closer Look:

The front of the Armor A60 is a plastic bezel that features the similar triangle shapes found on the Armor A90, three 5.25" device bays, a steel mesh cover, and the front I/O ports. The front I/O ports include one USB2.0, one USB3.0, audio and eSATA, as well as the power and reset buttons. The power button is slightly tilted out of its housing adding a neat little twist to the aesthetics of the case, providing a unique look. At the bottom is a silver badge with the Thermaltake logo on it. There is an opening for the 3.5" device bay, but is subtly integrated and I almost left it out of my explanation. The left side of the case has a small window at the top left of the panel, as well as a spot for a 120mm fan with large openings that minimize the restriction on the airflow here. Beneath this spot is another set of holes that can help with airflow and the escaping of heat. One thing that stands out is the door on the right of the side panel that allows the hot-swappable slot to be accessed without removing the side panel. I will be exploring this later on in the review.

The first thing I noticed about the rear of the case is the blue USB cable that hangs down from the water cooling ports at the top. This cable is for the front USB3.0 connector. Though a little unpolished, it will get the job done for users who wish to have USB3.0 in the front and can be removed and tucked away if the user chooses not to use it. A 120mm fan is positioned at the top of the rear and set up as an exhaust from the factory. There are seven expansion slots with the usual set of perforations positioned next to them to assist in airflow. The power supply bracket at the bottom allows the user to install the power supply upwards or downwards, which may help out in wire management. The reason for this is that the power supply can be oriented so that the cables can be positioned closer to the inside of the case. The right side panel is plain other than the similar triangle/polygon design that is stamped into it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the case does not have a plastic bezel like the A90 does, so that helps out on cutting down the size of the case. The triangle extrusions can also be found, as well as a very open amount of perforations in the top that allow for an extra 120mm fan to be installed. A 200mm blue LED fan is included, set up as an exhaust. The bottom of the case also has ventilation holes underneath the power supply and extends forward far enough to allow another 120mm fan to be installed. There are four rubber feet on the bottom of the case that are just under half an inch tall. Underneath the hard drive supports, four small screw holes can be seen. These four screw holes are for a 2.5" solid state drive.

 

 

The front bezel of the Armor A60 pops off easily without requiring any tools or even entry to the case. This is a nice feature and saves some frustration, as it doesn't require intricate hand-cramping release mechanisms like those found on other cases. Another nice, thoughtful thing Thermaltake did with the A60 is that even though it has front I/O ports, the ports are not attached to the bezel. This means that when removing the front cover, there is no worry about guiding and pulling wires out or damaging any of the components. Underneath the mesh bezel is one 120mm blue LED fan with the option to add another. I ended up positioning the fan in the top slot since that will be where my hard drive goes.

 

 

The back of the case also features two other things I wanted to talk about. There are two metal loops on the side panel and the case itself that allow a lock to be installed that secures the side panel in place. For public settings, like a LAN party, this can be important, as a computer could easily be intruded and have valuable components removed from it with ease. Another security measure is the keyboard and mouse cable clamp, which currently has the USB3.0 cable routed through it for an example, providing even further security.

 

 

For the evaluation of the exterior of the case, this about covers it. So far, the case has a lot of good features and looks good while retaining a smaller form factor. The next page will be even more in-depth when I begin to explore the interior of the case and the working components, as well as the installation of the hardware.

Closer Look:

Though the Thermaltake Armor A60 is a relatively small case, there is still plenty of interior real estate. Since the hard drive cages are side facing, a lot of room is gained compared to front-to-rear facing drives. The side facing drives also allow for better wire management, giving the ability to hide the hard drive connections, as well as accommodating the hot swap hard drive slot that's located on the side panel. Taking a glimpse at the right side of the case with the side panel off shows that there aren't any holes in the motherboard tray to help route wires, but with a smaller case this isn't completely necessary. The USB3.0 cable can be seen running from the front panel and through the oversized CPU mounting bracket access hole. This allows the motherboard to be installed without pinching down on this cable. As I said, this can be removed and tucked back behind the hard drive trays, which is what I did since I do not have USB3.0 and would not have benefited from leaving it there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the rear bottom corner of the Armor A60 will give another look at the mesh underneath and in front of the power supply. The area in front of the power supply can support a 120mm fan, though a slim one would probably need to be used for longer power supplies, and may have clearance issues with extra long power supply units. There is a small rail on the bottom here that can be repositioned by changing the locations of the screws. This rail is in place to support the power supply and relieve some of the stress on the mounting bracket. However, it is not completely necessary since the case is quite rigid and I did not notice any flexing with the heavy Mushkin 800W power supply. There are no screws holding in the expansion slot covers, as they snap in and snap out. The silver thumbscrew above the expansion slots is for the keyboard and mouse cable lock that can be found on the outside. Moving to the top of the rear will show the included 120mm fan, the water cooling holes, and the top blue 200mm LED fan with a spot for another 120mm fan in front of it. Most of the mounting holes for the motherboard have raised dimples rather than requiring the use of standoffs for each one, though I did have to install three standoffs on the rear side.

 

 

The three toolless 5.25" drive bays are identical to those found on the Armor A90. The small tab slides back and forth, which releases the flap that has studs on the end of it. The hard drive trays are new to me as far as the design goes, but the operation is intuitive. The overlapping plastic tabs in the front are pinched inwards, releasing the tray. Two or three of the raised dimples that can be seen underneath the hard drive rails are for a stationary 2.5" drive.

 

 

To take a closer look at the toolless aspect of the Armor A60, I took a couple of pictures highlighting how they operate. As I said, for the 5.25" devices, the tab is moved to the right to unlock the flap, which flips up and releases the device. In the left picture, the bottom flap is in the unlocked positon, and the right picture shows it locked. The front 5.25" covers, shown below, have a plastic frame with a foam dust filter inside with the front covered with the same mesh found on the rest of the front bezel.

 

 

The hard drive trays slide out from the front just like any other toolless trays would. The overlapping flaps are pinched inwards, which releases the tray. The hard drive trays themselves support 2.5" and 3.5" drives. However, a 2.5" drive will require it to be secured by screws through the base. The top drive rail is the hot swappable one, but the hot swap plugs can be removed if the user chooses.

 

 

The hard drive trays themselves are one piece. For 3.5" drives, the sides stretch up and around the body of the drive, which is secured by the built-in studs that fit into the drive's screw holes. For 2.5" drives, the drives are secured through the bottom of the tray and have noise dampening rubber grommets in the screw holes. Typically, however, most 2.5" drives used in desktops now are solid state, which don't produce any noise to begin with, so these grommets are not completely necessary.

 

 

There are three included fans with the Armor A60. These fans are one 120mm blue LED front intake, one 120mm black rear exhaust, and one 200mm blue LED top exhaust. The LED fans are not overly bright and do not emit a lot of bright light that would bother the user. The two 120mm fans are rated at 0.30A and use 12V, and the 200mm top fan draws 0.20A at 12V.

 

 

The Thermaltake Armor A60 has enough room behind the drive trays to hide plenty of wires. I had no problem getting the computer put together without too many wires showing and potentially affecting airflow. Even though the fans run at full speed with no fan controlling abilities, there is hardly any noise. The fans are very quiet and good for someone wanting a very quiet case. With everything put together, the next and final step is to run stress tests on each component in the case and compare these results to the results from other cases. The next page will have the manufacturer specifications and features, followed by the testing and results page.

 

Specifications:

Case Type
Mid Tower
Material
SECC
Front Bezel Material
Mesh
Color
Black
Motherboard Support
Micro ATX
Standard ATX
5.25" Drive Bay
3
External 3.5" Drive Bay
1
Internal 3.5" Drive Bay
5 and 1 x 2.5" SSD/HDD
Expansion Slots
7
Front I/O Ports
USB3.0 (SuperSpeed) x 1
USB2.0 x 1
e-SATA x 1
HD Audio x 1 (Support AC97)
Cooling System
-Front (intake):
120 x 120 x 25 mm Blue LED, 1000rpm 16dBA
120 x 120mm / 200 x 200 x 20mm (optional)
-Rear (exhaust):
120 x 120 x 25 mm TurboFan, 1000rpm 16dBA
-Top(exhaust):
200 x 200 x 20 mm Blue LED fan, 800rpm 15dBA
2 x 120 x 120 x 25 mm (optional)
-Bottom(intake:)
120 x 120 x 25 mm (optional)
-Side (intake):
120 x 120 x 25 mm (optional)
Dimension (H*W*D)
18.9 x 8.3 x 19.7 inch
480 x 210 x 510 mm
Net Weight
15.7 lb
7.1q kg

 

Features:

Information provided courtesy of Thermaltake @ http://www.thermaltakeusa.com

Testing:

To test the Thermaltake A60, temperatures will be recorded for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and the overall system temperature during load and idle phases. Load will be simulated by Prime95 small FFTs and HD Tune for one hour with maximum temperatures recorded by RealTemp. The GPU load will be the maximum value recorded by RivaTuner after five loops of 3DMark06’s Canyon Flight test. Each case is tested as is from the factory, including the fan configuration. As stated earlier, the fan configuration for the A60 is 1x120mm front intake, 1x120mm rear exhaust, and 1x200mm top exhaust.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thermaltake Armor A60 performed just as I expected. The temperatures are right on par with the Armor A90, though being that it is a smaller case, it fell behind by a few degrees in some tests. However, the Armor A60 surpassed the Armor A90 in CPU and GPU idle, though it did fall out to be a bit higher on the chipset temperatures. On the next page, I will wrap up my thoughts about this case.

Conclusion:

I can certainly say that the Thermaltake Armor A60 matched my expectations after completing this review. Though a small mid tower case, there is a lot of space on the inside. The case looks great, cools appropriately, and has a lot of neat features. The Armor A60, just like the Armor A90, is equipped with a mouse and keyboard cable lock, as well as the option to lock the side panel in place. This ensures security in public places where the components could be at risk for tampering or theft, catering well to the LAN party goers that want to protect their hardware without having to modify their case. The hot swappable bay in the side panel is a neat feature, but I can't say that it is for everyone, just like the USB3.0 connector that can get in the way of those who do not have a motherboard that offers USB3.0 support. This cable can be plugged into a regular rear USB connector, but can look kind of tacky, which is why I opted to tuck the cable away behind the hard drive trays. Having to do this only left for one usable front USB port, though I won't complain about this too much because I personally only use the front USB ports for flash drives. This being the case, I would rarely require use for more than one front USB port. I won't list this as a con because some earlier motherboards that support USB3.0 may not have an interior connector for auxiliary USB3.0 ports. As I check in every case that has a CPU access hole, the A60's access hole is not wide enough to provide complete access to all four holes on all motherboards. In fact, I have yet to find a case where the CPU access hole is cut to fit on the MSI motherboard in this setup. This, despite the fact that the CPU access hole on the A60 is tall enough to clear the top of the motherboard and allow the USB3.0 cable to be fed through from the front.

Overall, I must say that the Thermaltake Armor A60 is a nice case, and has a lot to offer while remaining relatively small and unobtrusive. The fans are quiet and there is plenty of room to add more fans if the user wishes, the paint job is durable, and the performance is on par with the size and cost of the case.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: