Thermaltake Level 10 Reviewccokeman - June 24, 2010
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The Level 10 has a removable motherboard tray, that really makes installation a breeze. It is held in place by a total of four thumb screws. The fans that direct airflow through the compartment are mounted to the motherboard tray instead of being mounted to the chassis and the tray has several large holes in it. The large hole to the left is one that pays dividends if you are upgrading to a bolt-on heat sink after the initial install of the motherboard. The large holes to the right-side of the tray help with routing of the wiring behind the motherboard tray. This way you can minimize the amount of wiring flopping around in the compartment, helping improve the cooling of your system. After all - if you have spent this much on a case, you are almost certainly putting a high-end system inside it. The tray is covered with a plastic cover that illustrates where you will install the motherboard stand-offs, depending on the size motherboard you have. Along the bottom edge, you can see 'Tt Design' embossed in the tray. So far, this all speaks 'high-end' and at 700 dollars plus, it should.
The fans that come with the Level 10 include the two 60mm fans for the hard drive bays, a single red LED 120mm fan for the exhaust and a 140mm red LED fan for the air intake. The 120mm fan is rated to run at 1300 RPM and is barely audible at 17dBA. The 140mm fan runs at a low 1000 RPM at 16dBA. The leads on the 120mm and 140mm fans have got to be the longest I have seen in a chassis. On top of the fully sleeved length that terminated in a three-pin connector, there is a foot long 3 to 4 pin Molex power adapter. Needless to say, finding a spot to power these fans is not going to be an issue.
Mounting the hardware into the Level 10 is really pretty straightforward, though you have a few unique little quirks that are easy to work around. The biggest problem I encountered was when I installed the optical drive, which created two concerns. The first was that when installed with the drive in the forward position, the cover would not close around the bays. I had to move the drive to the rear mounting position so that the cover would close. The other issue was that you will need a long SATA cable to reach the motherboard headers. The longest one I had on hand was 18 inches and it still fell short. I was concerned with the power supply mounting and that the area would be challenged for space, but the largest power supply I own is the Sapphire Pure 1250 watt and it fit with room left to spare. Routing the power supply cables was a simple affair, with all of the wiring fitting through the insulated opening, with room for more wiring.
Installing the motherboard onto the removable tray is no different than any other chassis. Insert the standoffs and mount the board. I first installed the motherboard with the Thermaltake FRIO CPU cooler to see if there was enough clearance left over to close the cover. At 165mm tall, the FRIO was left with about 3 to 5 mm worth of space above it. This potentially limits your heatsink selection, so you will need to choose wisely. Flipping the tray over, you can see how the heat sink mounting bracket is still accessible.
For testing purposes I will be using the stock Intel heat sink delivered with the Core i7 920 processor used in my test bed PC. With everything installed, it's easy to manage the wiring of the chassis. There is plenty of room behind the motherboard tray for wiring and this case makes it easy to look like you spent a ton of time on this aspect of the build. The clean wiring makes for great airflow with the low speed fans used in the Level 10 and Thermaltake also says that the Level 10 is liquid cooling capable. You could make a custom setup that mounts externally, but the best bet would be something along the lines of the CoolIT ECO ALC or Corsair H50.
Let's see if the looks and design spill over to the cooling performance testing.