Thermaltake Level 10 Reviewccokeman -
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When I saw the initial prototype pictures of this case floating around the web last year, my first thought was 'why would anyone buy that'? Then after seeing it first hand at CES, the look started to grow on me and by the time I have now finished working with it, I have become a bit more enamored with it. Unlike most cases on the market, you find a few things that just don't "fit" as they should. Things like holes being punched slightly off center, or the expansion brackets bowed out so you need to tweak them back into place to mount your video, sound, and NIC expansion cards. Side and front panels that just do not fit quite right! Those were things I did not find with the Level 10. Everything fits as it was supposed to - no tweaking, no massaging of panels, nothing!
The finish on the Level 10 looks great inside and out. As a matte finish though, it seemed to mar a bit easier than a case with a smooth paint job. You can wipe the marks away with the included cleaning cloth, but it is still easy to mark with an errant fingernail rub. This case is a beast and is solidly built. At 50+ pounds empty, it won't be making the rounds at the latest LAN party, though. This makes my trusty old workhorse Stacker 810 seem like a lightweight. The two handles on the level 10 will help you move it around, but adding another 25 to 30 pounds worth of hardware into it will make this case just that much heavier and much less mobile. However, you won't have to worry about knocking it over by accident.
When it came time to test how well the case cooled the installed components I was surprised at how well it did. The hard drive temperatures were easily just as good under load as any other case I have tested at 35 degrees Celsius. The lower airflow through the motherboard compartment kept the CPU temperature under load a bit higher than a standard case, but without a power supply above the CPU heat sink to pull additional air away from it, the CPU temperature saw an increase. That's an easy fix though, as you can get higher CFM fans. That takes away from the case aesthetics though, as with higher CFM fans, you will get an increase in noise - something there really was none of with the Level 10. One of the higher compliments that was paid to this case, came from my kid who came in to say goodnight and thought something was wrong in my test room. I had all the normal noise makers off and he could not get over how quiet the case was and he thought everything was down and not working. So yes - when it comes to the amount of noise that the Level 10 will impart on your surroundings, there is none, as the case is barely audible.
Testing the case with stock components does not give you an idea how after-market components will fit in this case. It will fit a large tower-style heat sink, but you will want to stick with something at around the 165mm height range, as anything higher may prove to be a problem for the Level 10, which meant that Thermaltake's FRIO overclocking CPU cooler fit just fine. For video cards, you can slap in the biggest kid on the block - the HD 5970 - and not have to worry about running into clearance problems. Likewise, the power supply cage is large enough so that you can use just about any of the high end 1000+ watt power supplies on the market. The largest I have, the Sapphire 1250 watt Pure modular power supply, did not even fill up the space provided for the PSU. Impressed? Yes, I most certainly am. The 6 3.5 inch drive bays allow you to expend some serious dollars for the latest combination of fast SSD's for the operating system and still have plenty of bays left for mass amounts of storage space on traditional mechanical drives. The built-in cooling tower should be able to handle the chore of keeping the drives cool.
As well designed and built as this case is, the market for it is going to be pretty slim, with an almost 800 dollar price tag. But when you play to the top-end of the market, there is an expectation that there will be some exclusivity, as not everyone is going to shell out that kind of cash for a case. That said, the Level 10 is a great looking case that performs admirably across several fronts and will add that extra bit of uniqueness to your gaming or work area!
- Can fit large video cards
- After-market cooling will fit
- High price
- Finish is easily marred
- Long SATA cable needed for optical drives