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Thermaltake Urban T81 Review

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Thermaltake Urban T81: Advanced Features

Normally a chassis does not require a page dedicated to all its extra features, but this time I felt it was necessary. Thermaltake has made it very clear on its box, website, and manual that a big selling point is the assortment of water cooling and fan support. First let's start with the basics, which are the removable hard drive cages. Removing the top cage was easy enough, but it does have four thumb screws holding it from the back. The hard drive cages can also be arranged in any way you please along with the ability to remove both 5.25" bays individually. The front bar left of the hard drive cages generally will have to be removed for a 360mm or larger radiator to be installed on top, though I was able to work around it and installed one just fine. I do remember having a hard time with the Thermaltake Core V71 that shares a very similar internal layout.

 

Thermaltake took a different approach on its door design with the addition of the lock and key. The last time I saw a chassis with a door lock was years ago. It can be considered common practice with workstation and server setups to have some sort of lock. This one is just a basic lock to prevent someone opening it up and stealing a hard drive or two. It's a real problem in public places and I have a good story about that, but it will have to wait for another time. This lock is enough to prevent some quick hands, but I feel losing the keys is more of a problem for most people, including myself. In a none practical sense, it helps sell the professional design style and in fact has a bit of use.

 

 

A cool little feature I came across mid-install was that both panels can be removed. While installing everything I kept trying to prop the door open and it sometimes hurt falling back on my hand. After looking it over for a bit I realized both panels are removable. The rear (window) panel / door is the easiest by simply taking off the top panel, opening the side panel mid way, and lifting it off the hinges. Have no fear! Without removing the top panel, the door is not going anywhere. The front door covering those hard drives is much more of a hassle, but not really an easy design fix. Both hinges must be unscrewed from the chassis itself after moving the front panel. If you choose to remove the screws from the door itself, it will take forever to reattach. You will then be following in my footsteps and a mistake I made.

 

Here you have it! At first glance you'll notice two 360mm radiators installed and loads of other potential arrangements. It can get a little complicated, but I put a chart below to make it easier to see what can and cannot be installed. First let me talk about what is not possible and work backwards. The T81 is a little strange on its fan setup and only allows for up to three 120mm fans or two 140mm on top, so when using a 420mm radiator only two can be installed. On top of this, the radiator is closer to the motherboard and may not clear the VRM heat sinks, so be aware when using a thick radiator.

The good news for Thermaltake is that both 240 and 360mm radiators are further out, which allows for thick radiators to be installed (like pictured below with an XSPC RX360). The combinations are nearly endless with the ability to install a front radiator. Installing either the front or top was easy and posed little to no problems for me. At first I thought a 460mm radiator could fit and sat staring at the chassis for a bit until I realized it listed 420mm instead. This made a bit more sense as 460mm would be insane and completely overkill no matter what configuration you had.

Lastly, I noticed Thermaltake had a few promotional images showing the radiator fans inside while leaving the 200mm fans on the outside. At first I thought it was a silly idea, but once again Thermaltake surprised me with all the possible options and with so much interior space, you can have a field day coming up with original ideas on a water cooling setup. Not everyone wants to give up the extra airflow or a radiator, and with the extra space there is no need.

I had lots of fun trying out different arrangements again as the Urban T81 is very similar internally to the Core V71 I reviewed earlier this year. I never did get around to installing all those waterblocks for each component, but now that the 2011-V3 / X99 is out, It may be time to finally put both of these chassis to the extreme test. On top of being great for strictly air cooling, this chassis has everything one could ask for, except maybe for a larger radiator for us extreme enthusiasts.

 

Radiator Compatibility:

 

 
120mm
140mm
240mm
280mm
360mm
420mm
Front
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*
*
*
*
*
Top
*
*
*
*
*
*
Rear
*
 
 
 
 
 
Bottom
*
*
*
*
 
 

 

 

Urban T81 Right - Core V71 Left




  1. Thermaltake Urban T81: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Thermaltake Urban T81: The Case
  3. Thermaltake Urban T81: Working Components
  4. Thermaltake Urban T81: Advanced Features
  5. Thermaltake Urban T81: Specifications & Features
  6. Thermaltake Urban T81: Testing: Setup & Results
  7. Thermaltake Urban T81: Conclusion
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