Thermaltake Level 10 Reviewccokeman - June 24, 2010
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Choosing a case has become a personal experience. No longer do you look at the case as just a beige box to house a utilitarian computer. Now that the computer chassis comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors you can usually find a case that fits not only your basic need to house the computer components, but something that fits your style and decor. In the past you had to do plenty of modifications to reach your goal of having a chassis that stood out from the crowd. Now you can buy one right off the shelf. From the basic to the custom-built, it's all available.
The Thermaltake Level 10 is a unique step away from the average box-shaped case that holds the high tech components that we rely on each and every day. Thermaltake has collaborated with BMW Group DesignworksUSA and come up with a case design that is far from ordinary. This case uses an asymmetrical design that houses all of the components on one side of a central tower with each component isolated into their own zone. The design term used to describe this is O.C.A. or Open Case Architecture. Let's see how this concept turned into reality performs and if the collaboration with BMW Group Designworks results in a great design with poor performance or a truly functional work of art.
Having seen the Level 10 in person this during this year's visit to CES, I knew it was a large chassis, but I was not ready for just how large the box that housed it would be. This is absolutely huge for a box that contains a chassis. Even the box that contained my CM Stacker 810 is dwarfed by the package size. The outer packaging is plain cardboard with an image of the Level 10 on both the front and rear profiles. Plain, but it gets the message across as to what's inside the massive box. Inside this package is where the typical Thermaltake packaging can be seen with the front showing the front view of the Level 10 chassis and highlighting the collaboration between Thermaltake and BMW Designworks. On the side panels, you normally see the specifications and features of the chassis, but Thermaltake directs you to their website for more information in several languages. The other side has the chassis name and the phrase "Inspire the Visionary".
Popping open the container shows that Thermaltake has packaged the level 10 much like most chassis with a notable exception. The case is supported on the ends with large foam blocks that are custom cut to fit the unique shape of the Level 10. The chassis is covered in a cloth bag to further protect it from scrapes and injury in transit. One thing you notice right away when you go to move this chassis, is the weight. If you were curious and did not look at the specifications and just fell in love with the looks, you will be surprised to know that even with its aluminum construction, it comes in at a hefty 24kg or 53 pounds. That's more than my niece weighs soaking wet with a rocks in her pocket for extra ballast! Yes that is heavy for a case, but the build quality and sturdiness of the chassis means this is no aluminum flexible flier and pays dividends. The accessory bundle is housed in a sleek box that fits snugly into one of the foam end caps.
When you pull the cloth sleeve off the Level 10, you get the first glimpse of the chassis and just how well put together it really is. Foam blocks are used to support the optical drive bays and power supply bay to prevent any sagging in shipping to to any errant drops, seeing as this case approaches the 75 limit for FedEx and UPS drivers.
For accessories, Thermaltake has supplied most of the normal items that come with a chassis, such as motherboard standoffs and screws. However, this is no ordinary chassis, so the bundle has been beefed up accordingly. The accessories come in a small box that has a foam liner that is cut for the accessories to fit inside. The manual is an in-depth guide on how to disassemble and reassemble the Level 10 to install your system components. In addition to what would be the standard parts, you get several reusable wire tie wraps, the keys to lock and unlock the drive bays case and covers, a motherboard speaker, lint-free cloth to wipe down the Level 10 and a key ring to make sure you don't lose the keys - although that never seems to keep me from losing car keys.
The case was packaged well and includes a great accessory bundle but what about the details of the case, the form fit and functionality? Will these things put the Level 10 on a plateau higher than the rest of the high-end cases on the market? There's only one way to find out.