ThermalTake Chaser MK-I Review

Compxpert - 2011-07-27 18:49:34 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Compxpert   
Reviewed on: August 29, 2011
Price: $159.99

Introduction:

A good case isn't just all about looks. Ideally a good case is something that not only keeps your precious components safe and cool, but also looks great while doing it. Thermaltake, a leading manufacturer of heatsinks, power supplies, and chassis might just have what you are looking for with their full tower Chaser MK-I. The Chaser MK-I doesn't just look good with its black paint and blue accents, it also packs a good number of included fans with a total of three. Like many other full-tower chassis on the market the Chaser MK-I has excellent support for anyone looking to do watercooling, whether via a self-contained unit or an actual complete loop. When it comes to expandability the Chaser MK-I won't disappoint. It features six tool-less HDD bays and even allows you to add up to three more fans for more cooling performance. So, does the Chaser MK-I have the features to set it apart from the rest? You won't know until you take a closer look.

Closer Look:

As with most Thermaltake products, this one comes in packaging with color instead of black and white, which really adds to the level of detail that can be presented on the packaging. That level of detail really does show the case well. On the front of the box we have our case aptly displayed from the front-left side which showcases some of its best features, such as the side-panel window. The front also lets us know that there are USB 3.0 capable ports, and unlike most cases which utilize some sort of USB type A connection that runs to the back of the case and plugs into the motherboard, this case actually has an internal USB 3.0 header. The left side of the box seems to consist of multi-language specifications. The back of the box appears to be where all the descriptive meat is at, which shows both its liquid cooling and air cooling capabilities, as well as other specific details. The right side of the box seems to be nothing more than filler, containing a shot of the case that is exactly like the shot on the front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon opening the box, not only are we greeted by our usual friend encased in Styrofoam, but we also appear to have its manual right there with it. Like most all cases, this one is also packaged with plastic around it to prevent scratches to the outer surface during shipment.

 

 

So far so good with first impressions. This case is sure shaping up to be something amazing with its cooling capabilities right out of the box. Surely that cannot be all there is to say about it can there? Read on as we take a closer look.

Closer Look:

Now that all the packaging is out of the way we can get a closer look at just what this case delivers. Like many great cases, this one sports a windowed side panel and a side intake for a fan. However, that is simply all that it is. The side panel does not include a fan at all, only supports a 200mm, and offers no adaptability towards other smaller sized fans. You may have also noticed a small rectangular shape attached to the side panel in the the right side of the photo. This is a special little accessory that once folded outward provides a convenient holder for gaming headsets. Additionally, the side panel window also gives us a quick glance at the inside of the case and just like the outside, the inside is painted black. The front panel, just like the top panel, consists of ABS plastic in nearly all black — bar the blue accents found on the 5.25" bay covers. Looking at the right side of the case there isn't much to see except that the side panel is nearly a mirror image of the windowed side panel, but with no window or fan intake. Finally bringing up the rear is the back of the case. Like many cases out today, this one also installs PSUs at the bottom, and like most other Full Tower cases, a total of eight expansion slots can be found in the rear. The rear also sports three grommet holes, so rest assured that adequate watercooling support is provided with this case.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the front panel, the top is also made of plastic and contains a few more blue accents. Both the top and front panels are easily removed just by simply pulling either off. Both are able to detach and reattach with no effort thanks to the plastic clips that secure them to the case. It is important to keep this in mind since you may find yourself wanting to lift the case by the top panel, which is not a great idea due to how easy it detaches. The bottom of the case features an elongated fan filter which handles both the PSU and bottom 120mm fan should you have one. Thermaltake made a nice addition to this case with its big feet, which can be turned outward to provide it with further stability so that there's no way this one will ever tip over. Last but certainly not least we have our top panel I/O, which sports an easy-to-use HDD Docking station, much like the ThermalTake BlacX HDD docking stations. Just like the BlacX this docking station allows you to install either a single 3.5" or 2.5" drive which hooks up to your internal SATA data connector and Molex for power. Providing you have AHCI support enabled in your BIOS you will be able to hotswap drives through this bay. On either side of the docking station we have our typical Power and reset switches, power LED, and fan controls for the Colorshift fans, which consist of speed and color.

 

 

 

Wow — so far this is shaping up to be quite an interesting case. Being loaded with a plethora of features, this case does it all. But this is only just the tip of the ice berg. Let's move on with a look at the inside.

Closer Look:

With the windowed side panel out of the way we can finally get a look at the inside of the case. As you may notice there are a few large holes in the motherboard tray for running wires, all of which seem to contain rubber grommets, which help to keep your wires nice and neat as they work their way throughout the case. As with the side and bottom intakes, the front also has a removable fan filter to keep dust under control. Underneath the right side panel we have much of what you would expect to see, which includes the wiring of the case and of course the area in which all of your wire will run from the PSU. Space behind the tray proves to be more than adequate, and since you're going to be routing all of your wiring here, ThermalTake has been kind enough to provide plenty of areas that you can use to ziptie your wiring to keep it out of the way. The top panel of the case includes a single 200mm fan as well as support for another 200mm fan should you choose to buy one. Additionally, the top panel also offers support for 140mm and 120mm fans should you have other cooling methods in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This case includes a great number of truly tool-less solutions and that is to say that these require absolutely no tools to install. These tool-less solutions, however, are only limited to the 3.5" and 5.25" bays and are not extended to the rear expansion slots, which utilizes thumbscrews. The tool-less solution for hard disk drives simply consists of a small door outfitted onto the bay, which once unhinged allows the tray to slide right out of the bay. After installing your 3.5" drive, or 2.5" since the trays offer support for it, you simply slide the tray right back into the bay and close the door, locking it into place. The 5.25" tool-less solutions allow you to simply insert your 5.25" device and slide it in until it locks in place. To remove it you simply push and hold in the blue button and slide the device right back out the front. As you can see, a large backplate hole has been included in the motherboard tray which seemingly should support the removal of just about any sort of backplate without the need to remove the motherboard from the case.

 

 

 

Just inside the case at the bottom is a convenient bracket with two thumbscrews, which allows you to adjust to support a wide range of PSU lengths. We also have two of our three included fans, which consist of a rear 140mm exhaust fan, a 200mm front intake color- changing LED fan, and a 200mm top exhaust color-changing LED fan. Next up we have our internal I/O connections for the top panel, and as you can see the USB 3.0 header is in with the mix. Bringing up the rear is a look at the top panel from the underside.

 

 

 

Up next we have a look at the rear of our right side panel, as well as a look at the back of our front panel. We also have a look at the back of our left side panel window, which if you take a look, only supports a 200mm fan and apparently nothing else. Of course our case would not at all be complete if it didn't come with some accessories. Included with the case is an internal 5.25" to 3.5" bay converter, which allows you to mount a 3.5" device in the 5.25" bays. This will work provided that your device of choice has mounting holes on the bottom and if it doesn't then you may have to find ulterior methods for installing, such as finding another bay converter. Also included as accessories are the necessities, such as screws and hardware to get you set up and even a few zipties to help with cable management.

 

 

 

Couldn't leave you without at least getting a closer look at the 3.5"/2.5" HDD tray. As earlier stated, once the device is installed into the tray, one simply slides it into the bay and closes the little door. Overall the case install went without a hitch. Wires were quite easy to hide due to the well placed holes in the motherboard tray as well as the way that the hard disk drives are mounted. No problems occurred during installation and everything was a breeze to set up. Even with my large heatsink there was no problem finding clearance between it and to top panel fan. Also, by the looks of it the case easily supports a Radeon 6970 or any similar length card.

 

 

What an impressive design from ThermalTake, but just how well does it hold in the tests? More on that after we review the specifications and features.

Specifications:

Case Type
Full Tower
Material
SECC
Front Bezel Material
Combination of plastic and high air flow mesh
Color
Interior: Black
Exterior: Black
Side Panel
Swivel Door with Transparent Window
Motherboard Support
9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX)
12” x 9.6” (ATX)
Motherboard Tray
No
5.25" Drive Bay  
4
Ext. 3.5” Drive Bay
By using 5.25" to 3.5" Converter
Int. 3.5" Drive Bay
6
Expansion Slots
8
Front I/O Ports
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 2
eSATA connector x 1
MIC & Speaker (support AC’97 & HD Audio)
Cooling System
Front (Intake) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm Colorshift fan x 1 (600~800rpm,13~15dBA) or 120 x 120 x 25 mm x 2 (optional) Rear (Exhaust) :
140 x 140 x 25 mm TurboFan, 1000rpm, 16dBA or 120 x 120 x 25 mm x 1 (optional)
Top (Exhaust) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm Colorshift fan x 1 (600~800rpm, 13~15dBA); 200 x 200 x 30 mm x 1 (optional) or 140 x 140 x 25 mm x 2 (optional) or 120 x 120 x 25 mm x 2 (optional)
Bottom (Intake) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm x 1 (optional)
Side (Intake) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm x 1 (optional)
Liquid Cooling Capable
Yes
Liquid Cooling Embedded
No
Power Supply Supported
Standard ATX PSII Power Supply
Power Supply Included
No
Dimension (H*W*D)
567.9 x 237.0 x 581.6 mm
22.4 x 9.3 x 22.9 inch
Net Weight
12.3 kg
27.1 lb
Security Lock
For Peripherals only
Application
Suitable for gaming, enthusiast, DIY and modding

 

Features:


 

All information courtesy of ThermalTake @ http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1467&ID=2048

Testing:

Testing the setup is a very simple process which consists of four tests designed to show just how well the case is able to dissipate heat. I will be putting the CPU, GPU, HDD, and Chipset through a series of idle and load tests designed to show how cool each of these components stays in the given situation. For the CPU and Chipset load tests I apply load using Prime 95 in blend for an entire hour and afterward record the temperature using a combination of HwMonitor and RealTemp. Idle testing is pretty much the same except instead the computer is left idle for a whole hour and after which tempearatures are recorded. For the GPU load testing I used the Folding@Home GPU client, and for the hard disk drive load testing I used HDTune. When it comes to beating the heat, lowest is always best.

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:


 

   

   

   

   

 

The Chaser MK-I did hold out well overall only being beaten by its higher-priced brother, the Level 10 GT, and occasionally losing out to the likes of the XL Tank and Centurion 5 II.

Conclusion:

Though the ThermalTake Chaser MK-I didn't test as well as the next two cases in the majority of the tests, it did only lose out to two cases that were priced much higher than it. Normally this early on in the conclusion I don't talk about price but I thought it necessary to mention now that the Chaser MK-I only comes in at a modest $159.99. With all the features considered, this case is definitely worth the asking price. The Chaser MK-I has a solid SECC steel construction with the only pieces of plastic on it being the front and top panels. It includes a side panel window which is a must in its price range. It would have been nice however if they had included a side intake fan as that not only would have given you a total of three color shift LED fans but it probably would have greatly improved temperatures. It's great to see that ThermalTake designed the case so that it not only has a black coat of paint on the outside, but also features black paint on the inside. All things aside, this case definitely has it with watercooling capability. Go ahead install a 24cm radiator and it will take it as is. Just when you thought you couldn't ask for more features ThermalTake throws in the kitchen sink with a built in BlacX hard disk docking station which allows you to easily hotswap 3.5" and 2.5" drives. It was definitely hard to find a fault with this case; however, there is one minor fault in its design. As mentioned previously, the case includes an external 5.25"' to 3.5" adapter, which is nice in case you do happen to have something like an external SD-card reader to hookup. Be aware, however, that unless what you're mounting also has the ability to mount through the bottom in addition to the sides, then you may have to look for an alternative bay converter to support your device. So if you're looking for a good case to get you started with great cooling capabilities right out of the box then look no further than the ThermalTake Chaser MK-I.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: