Thermaltake Level 10 Reviewccokeman - June 24, 2010
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The Level 10 uses what is called by Thermaltake, an "Open Compartment Architecture", or O.C.A.. What this means, is that you have a modular design, where each component can be accessed easily without opening up the entire chassis. The Level 10 is built using aluminum as the material of choice and is anodized in matte black inside and out. As beautiful as the finish is, it is easily marred by fingerprints or the odd rub of a box or component. There is no doubt that this chassis falls into the full tower category at 26.22 inches tall. The rest of the critical measurements are 12.52(W) x 24.17(L) in. The left profile shot shows that there are four distinct and separate areas built into the Level 10. You have the power supply zone at the upper left, optical drives go in the top right, the largest zone houses the motherboard and installed components such as the graphics card, and the hard drive bays. The opposite side shows the external components of the "Smart-Lock Security System". This system is used to both secure the chassis and lock the component housings in place.
The front view of the Level 10 shows the unique design of the chassis. All of the hardware is mounted on one side of the chassis and hangs off a central tower. On the front of the chassis are the IO connections, power and reset buttons, eSATA and USB connectivity, and the optical drive housing. From the rear you have the IO opening for the rear panels connections on the motherboard, the power supply bay and eight expansion slots. The motherboard section has a single 120mm red LED exhaust fan to pull out the heated air from inside the chassis. The exhaust fan size is not limited to 120mm. There are three mounting holes that let you increase the the fan size up to 140mm.
Across the top you have a red lens that houses several LED's allowing the lens to glow red when the Level 10 is in operation. The bottom of the case is quite sturdy, as it has the enviable job of keeping the chassis upright. The base has strategically placed rubber feet to keep the aluminum base from causing damage to the desk or floor where it sits. There are two structural braces that hold the two halves of the base together keeping them from spreading under the weight of the Level 10. On one side of the base, there is a handle cut-out that allows you two use both the top and bottom handles to haul this beast around, although LAN parties will most likely be out of the picture, unless you are sporting a serious set of guns, like Arnie in his former glory-days.
Looking at the front view of the Level 10 you have the optical and hard drive bays. A total of three optical drives can be used with up to six conveniently numbered hard drive bays available. Along the central tower's front face you have the power and reset buttons, the eSATA port, the front panel audio and microphone jacks and four USB 2.0 ports. Each port on the front of the tower has the description of the port functionality light up when in use so you know exactly what you are connecting to. The red lens across the top continues to flow down the front of the case under the IO connectivity and is lit in operation as well.
The initial thought I had when looking at the hard drive bays was that they would be prone to overheating, due to having no air flow over them. Thermaltake and BMW Designworks has taken care of that issue with the large ribbed heat sinks that are visible over and under the drive bays and is integrated quite well into the design. You don't really get the full effect until you pull out the drive bays. More on that later. The main compartment that houses the motherboard has additional venting on the sides, as well as the front and back. It looks like air flow through the chassis was really thought out. The compartments are locked in place and are easily slid open when you unlock the doors. Instead of a smooth lid to the power supply and optical drive bay covers, there is a small depression so you can grip the cover to slide it in the correct direction when opening for service or to install additional hardware. The power supply bay looks big enough to handle just about any power supply you can find.
The Smart-Lock Security system is seen on the back of the tower. There are two locks that interface with the drive bay and component housings, as well as locking the rear access panel in place. The captured screws are a nice touch and make it so the removal of the rear access panel does not require any tools, save the keys included in the accessory kit. You can unlock everything or keep the drive bays locked while you replace an aging video or sound card. Once unlocked, the rear access panel can be removed. Just loosening the screws does not do the trick.
The outside of the case is just the start of how well this case is put together. Installing the components showed me just how well the design was implemented.