ThermalTake Level 10 GT Review

Compxpert - 2011-02-23 04:50:16 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Compxpert   
Reviewed on: March 10, 2011
Price: $270

Introduction:

You may remember from back in 2009 when Thermaltake first showed off their Level 10 case. The first Level 10 was a rather pricey yet functional work of art. Thermaltake plans to wow us again however with the expertly designed Level 10 GT. In brief, there are many things that set the Level 10 GT apart from the original Level 10 including USB 3.0, a redesigned look and a smaller platform than the original. What also sets the Level 10 GT apart from the original is affordability. The original Level 10 (let's face it) was out of reach for many who wouldn't be willing to put down $800 on a case. So, the new Level 10 is not only smaller and redesigned but it has been re-marketed to a much larger group of enthusiasts than the previous level 10. The Level 10 GT now only boasts a $269 price tag and is packed with many more features (that quite honestly) aren't available on many cases. The Level 10 GT features a hinged side panel door and comes with a total of four fans. All of which are 140mm or larger. So just how well does the new and affordable Level 10 GT stack up with the competition? Does it make a clean sweep and come out on top not only with performance and features but with great looks too? We're about to find out!

Closer Look:

First impression laid out right on the front of the box is the great design behind this case. The original (and of course the GT) was a joint project between ThermalTake and BMW Group Design Works USA. So of course it's not surprising to find a BMW on the front of the box right next to the case with "Imagination without Boundaries" emblazoned right below the car. Besides the really great cover art on both sides of the box, there really isn't much else to go over. One side of the box is a list of features but absent from the box anywhere are specifications. But, don't worry there is a place to find them later in this review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the box we find our case between two pieces of styrofoam and it has been placed inside a cloth bag as well.

 

 

What is under this bag however must wait for the Closer Look!

Closer Look:

Once out of the bag, the case is certainly a sight to behold. Much like the original Level 10, the Level 10 GT is compartmentalized with each area of the case being sectioned off. Included with the Level 10 GT is a convenient locking system to protect your components from theft. Off to the side of the lock is a lever which allows you to change the direction in which the side panel fan pushes the air. Since the Level 10 GT includes externally accessible hard drive hotswap bays, there of course is a locking system for these also. A total of five hard drive bays are included with this case.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hard drive bays are easy to remove and install. All you simply do is reach in the HDD tray door and push the corresponding button which allows you to eject the drive as long as the locking mechanism is in the unlocked position. Now we have a look at the front and there is much to see here. The Level 10 GT includes four external 5.25" drive bays and a single 3.5" external. The covers are easily removed by simply pinching in the tabs on the side and pulling the cover away from the case. Included as part of the front I/O are four USB 2.0 ports and Headset and MIC connections.

 

 

 

 

As part of the Level 10 there are two red LED bars located on the front and top bar of the case. In the event  you are curious about the handle, it is extremely sturdy and you can lift and move the case with it whether empty or full. Moving on to the other side panel of the case there isn't really much to speak of besides the Level 10 GT Driving Inspiration tag line. The back of the case includes much of the usual and many unusual things. Here with the usual is watercooling support via three grommet holes located above the rear 140mm fan. What relates to the unusual are some other locking features which allow you to lock down peripherals to the case such as a mouse and keyboard. The case (being a full-tower) includes eight external expansion slots and, like a great many manufacturers, Thermaltake is mounting the PSU at the bottom of the case.

 

 

 

 

Next up we have a close-up shot of the rear of the case which better shows the grommets and the locking mechanism for peripherals. The top of the case probably is the most useful being that it has the handle and the remaining I/O connections which include one eSATA, two USB 3.0 ports and fan controls for three of the available four fans. The fan controller is able to reduce the fan speed or increase it to max and is also able to change between the different colored LEDs which include red, blue, and green LEDs so you don't always have to be stuck on the same color. The case also features moveable feet which can either remain inward or extend outward. Additionally, the case features a bottom mounted fan filter for the PSU and any additional fans, which simply slides out should you choose to install any in the bottom.

 

 

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Here is a picture with one of the feet turned outward as well as a shot of one of the fan filters included with the case. The case includes two fan filters for each of its intake fans. The side panel fan filter is easily removed just simply by pulling it out. The filter in the front is only removed once the front panel is removed. Included with the Level 10 GT and never seen anywhere else (at least as far as I am concerned) is a convenient headphone holder. The holder is easily installed and removed and simply clips to the side. When you don't need it there anymore, just simply remove it and replace the rubber cover over the hole.

 

 

 

With this much to see on just the outside, what awaits us on the inside?

Closer Look:

Moving on with the show we have a few more features to go over. Probably the most notable at the moment with the first image presented on the page is a hinged side panel door. I have yet to see any case come with such a great feature as a door that opens and closes as opposed to a sliding panel which is on the opposite side. Of course as with most any cases, this one sports a hole in the motherboard tray which allows for easy swapping of heatsink or waterblock back plates without the hassle of having to remove your motherboard. Next up we have the bottom of the case which houses the PSU and is able to take on an additional fan should you choose to add one on the bottom. Last up we have an inside shot of the externally accessible hard drive bays.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we have our 5.25" bays. Note that at the very bottom is where you can insert a 3.5" device. In order to do so you must remove the front panel and take out six Phillips head screws to pull of the side of the case where the headphone holder is just to get to the screw holes. This is a little inconvenient however it's not really that big a deal. Next up on the rear of the case you can see our eight rear expansion slots. With the opposing side panel slid off you can now see there are tool-less clips to hold in your 5.25" devices. That being said, it would have been nice to have a tool-less solution for the 3.5" bay at the bottom. Also back here (though not discernable in the picture) is a lot of space. The space between the motherboard tray and the rear panel allowed me to fit almost my whole hand behind without effort. This is a nice touch as it allows you to route a ton of wires behind the motherboard tray and not have to worry about whether you will be able to close the panel or not. Last but not least here we have a close-up shot of the area behind the hotswappable HDD bays which consists of a single SATA power cable which is able to power all five drives. All data cables are simply connected at the rear next to the power connector and of course run into the motherboard. Keep in mind that if you do wish to be able to hotswap you will need to have AHCI or RAID enabled in the BIOS for your hard disk controller in order to be able to hotswap.

 

 

 

 

Here we have a picture of the back of the side panel door. As mentioned before, the fins behind the fan can move up or down to direct the flow of the inward air. Each of the LED fans appears to be outfitted with a special design on each blade which I assume is supposed to cut down on noise while maintaining a decent flow of air. Each of the clear fans pictured are all colorshift which is to say they are able to change between three different colors which are red, blue, and green, as well as a multicolor mode which displays all of those colors at once. The colorshift is also able to change between colors in a single color flash mode and of course if you don't want the LEDs on at all, it can also be turned off. Of the four fans included with the case, three of them are 200mm and the rear which is independent from the other three, is a 140mm fan.

 

 

 

 

Pictured here we have our top panel 200mm fan and next we have our included fan filters as well as the top cover to the top 200mm fan. We also have a look at the back of the front panel with the fan filter in it. Of course what case would be complete if it didn't come with some kind of accessory package which consists of a rather large black box.

 

 

 

 

Inside this black box are quite a few nice goodies. One of most notable mention is an 8-pin CPU extension cable so you can easily route your 8-pin wire behind your motherboard tray. Don't have an 8-pin plug on your board? No problem because the cable also has an offshoot of a 4-pin plug in case you are stuck with a older system. Also included in the box of course is an instruction manual as well as a certificate of authenticity and a ThermalTake 2011 product catalog. Since there weren't any specifications on the outside of the box I decided to include a snapshot of the inside of the manual which has the table right on the second page. Next up is a picture of our internal wiring which allows us to wire up all of the front/top panel I/O.

 

 

 

 

I have seen my fair share of cases equipped with USB 3.0 and still every one of them does not use internal headers but rather internal USB cables which need to be routed through to the rear to plug into USB 3.0 ports located on the rear of the case. I suppose this must be due to how new USB 3.0 is and probably the fact that no motherboard includes internal headers yet. Here we have a shot of a pair of the hotswappable HDD bays. Last but certainly not least is the finished build. Wire managment was a breeze with the large amount of space included behind the motherboard tray and as a nice convenience, nearly every standoff for your motherboard is already laid out on the tray for you just screw in a few more studs. Depending on your motherboard it could be more than a few especially with any mATX or E-ATX boards. Yes you heard me correctly, and it's right in the specifications. This case supports E-ATX so if you're looking for a full-tower that supports E-ATX this would definitely be a case to consider. Not a single complication presented itself during the build. Every component went in smoothly and there was plenty of space inside the case before and after installation. Only gripe I really can think of is how heavy this case became once it was filled.

 

 

 

Wow what an impressive feature packed case. Not only does it have great looks but great features to back it up. But does it have the performance to go with the package? Let's read on.

Specifications:

Case Type
Full Tower
Material
SECC
Front Bezel Material
Plastic
Color
Exterior: BLACK
Interior: BLACK
Side Panel
Window
Motherboard Support
Micro ATX
ATX
Extended ATX
Motherboard Tray
 
5.25” Drive Bay
4
Ext. 3.5” Drive Bay
1
Int. 3.5” Drive Bay
5
Expansion Slots
8
Front I/O Ports
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 4
eSATA x 1
HD Audio x 1
Cooling System
Front (intake):
200 x 200 x 20 mm ColorShift Fan x 1 (600~800RPM, 13~15dBA)

Rear (exhaust):
140 x 140 x 25 mm Turbo Fan (1000PRM, 16 dBA)

Top (exhaust):
200 x 200 x 30 mm ColorShift Fan (600~800RPM, 13~15dBA)

Side (intake):
200 x 200 x 30 ColorShift Fan (600~800RPM), 13~15dBA)

Bottom (intake):
120 x 120 x 25mm (optional)
Liquid Cooling Capable
Yes
Liquid Cooling Embedded
 
Power Supply Supported
Standard PS2
Power Supply Included
 
Dimension (H*W*D)
584 x 282 x 590 mm
Net Weight
28 lbs
Security Lock
Front HDD Access
Side Panel
Rear Peripherals
Application
High Performance Gaming

Features:

All information courtesy of ThermalTake @ http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?S=1341&ID=2039

Testing:

This time around, since I'm testing out the Level 10 GT, I figured I would change things up a bit with the setup. Instead of the usual Core2Duo test bed I have switched things up for an i7 920. For each test I've set the Level 10 GT up against my customized Lian-Li PC-60FWB. The customized Lian-Li features one 140mm intake fan in the front and three 120mm fans for output which are mounted on the rear and two on the top panel. As for testing I will be subjecting the system to some typical loads which are placed on it in daily use. In addition to applying loads, I will also subject the system to some idle time and after which record the idle temperature of the CPU, GPU, Chipset, and HDD. I will also stress the CPU, Chipset, GPU, and HDD individually for an hour each after which I record the temperature of the specific component. To generate load on the CPU and Chipset, I used Prime 95 in Blend. For the GPU, I simply started up the Folding@Home GPU client. Lastly for the HDD, I stress it using HDTune. To record temperatures I utilized both HWmonitor and RealTemp.

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very close race here indeed. The Level 10 just managed to put itself in the lead, beating the Lian-Li in five of the tests.

Conclusion:

All in all, the Level 10 GT provides more than just adequate protection for your precious computation components. It looks stylish and performs every bit as well as it looks. With the Level 10 GT, form meets function for a very nice combination. Many great features have been jam packed into this case. Things like a headset hanger, USB 3.0, excellent wire management features, tool-less solutions and even a hinged side panel door. Just, to name a few of the many things Thermaltake did well with on the Level 10 GT. Heck I even managed to leave out the best feature of all which are the five external hotswap capable HDD bays which is convenient especially when you have a lot of hard drives. The case also sports four fans all of which are >120mm which is a big help when keeping things cool. Not only that but the fans are color change capable and are able to switch between three different colors and two special color modes. Being able to change the speed of the fans from high to low is also of importance especially if your PC is in a room where sometimes you need to keep things quiet. What really brings this whole case together however is the legacy of the Level 10 itself. As you're probably aware, the original Level 10 retailed at a very unaffordable $800 and sported a great many of these features also but in a much larger package. With that being said, the GT brings the Level 10 down in price to a much nicer $270 which with all of these features and the great looks reminiscent of the original Level 10, will be a hard case to pass up for sure.  Should you be considering an investment of nearly $300 on a case, this should be in your top three.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: