Thermaltake V9 BlacX Review

airman - 2011-02-11 07:46:50 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: March 1, 2011
Price: $99.99

Introduction:

Having already reviewed several Thermaltake cases since my reviewing days began at OCC, and owning several more previous to that, I have always had good luck with performance and features from Thermaltake. Thermaltake has long since had a powerful influence in the PC enthusiast market, starting with cases and heatsinks and in the past five years, spilling over into power supplies, hard drive docks, and even water cooling units. Even though Thermaltake didn't start getting popular until after 2000, it feels like it has been a part of the industry for much longer than that. Thermaltake's "appeal" typically comes from its high-end, extreme-looking cases and overall wide range of products catering to those who wish to stand out next to a more general, generic case or other product.

This review will cover Thermaltake's relatively new V9 BlacX, which is a mid-tower case around the $100 price range with a built-in, dual hard drive dock, USB 3.0, super quiet fans, and I'm sure several other features. I will perform a complete evaluation of the Thermaltake V9 BlacX from unboxing, exterior and internal features, along with a thorough testing of the case's performance under extreme temperatures and heat loads followed by my conclusion and a final rating. With that being said, let's get started.

 

Closer Look:

The packaging for the Thermaltake V9 BlacX is standard to that of Thermaltake, and like most others as well. The background color is high gloss black with a quarter-angle picture of the case featured in the front, but in low light to show the internal lighting of the case. The front accentuates a couple of the important features, such as integrated USB3.0 and the built-in, dual docking station for hard drives located on the top of the case. It also has the WCG (World Community Grid) logo on the top of the front face, noting that it is listed as "2010 Official Hardware." I can't really find any information regarding this statement, as it's not listed on the Thermaltake website nor anything specific elsewhere online after a brief search. Moving on, the left side of the case has a large amount of text, in different languages, translating all of the information found elsewhere on the box. Next, like usual, the rear of the box lists the key features offered by the V9 BlacX. Some of these include the USB3.0 support, along with internal and external features such as the cooling layout and the hard drive docks. The right side of the box seems to just list the specific part number of the case, along with other packaging standard "icons."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the package will reveal the V9 BlacX sandwiched between two white pieces of Styrofoam and wrapped inside of a plastic bag. There is also a piece of masking tape on the front bezel, for reasons I am unsure of. It most likely secures the drive bay covers in place to prevent them from falling out or shifting during shipment. The included accessories with the V9 BlacX are minimal. These supplies include a bag of screws and standoffs and the user manual with a warranty card folded inside.

 

 

With the case out of the box, it's time to take a closer look at the exterior features. This evaluation is located on the next page.

Closer Look:

The front of the case is rather plain, with a smooth surface of mesh covering the entire bezel. A 120mm fan can be seen at the bottom behind the dust filter, just behind the small Thermaltake logo at the bottom. The bezel is lined with high gloss black plastic around the edges and smudges fingerprints pretty easily as seen in the picture. This is one of the first cases in a while that I've seen that has a 3.5" device bay, let alone two! I rarely see anything 3.5" based any more, at least for external uses. However, for those who like or need to use 3.5" devices, this case has what they need. The left side of the case has a large window with two separate sets of perforations for venting. It may be a little hard to see in the picture, but the bottom right of the Plexiglas window has the Thermaltake logo with its motto, "Cool Your Life" beneath it. With the right lighting, this could be a neat addition! The profile of the case from this angle slopes up from the front an plateaus just after the 5.25" device bays.

The rear of the case is also rather plain, with the typical 120mm exhaust fan beside the motherboard tray and beneath the two water cooling grommets. Straight out of the box, the USB3.0 cable is routed through one of these water cooling grommets. Still not the most elegant solution but it works. I'll continue waiting on a manufacturer who figures out the best way to do this, rather than making a water cooling grommet useless; I have not seen it any other way. The right side of the case has the exact same pattern as the left side, except with no window. The pattern of a letter "X" emerges more clearly on this side, hence the "X" in the name BlacX. The paint job is a semi-gloss black that feels durable and is rough to the touch. The roughness will prevent fingerprints and other markings from being very evident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom of the case is very simple and very similar to other cases. There is a dust filter at the rear underneath the power supply mount, and four plastic feet. I'll provide a close-up of the dust filter in the Working Components section. Flipping the case over to get a look at the top of it will show the case's very stout stature. It is quite wide for its length, though this is not very apparent from other views. The large 230mm exhaust fan peers through the top mesh, surrounded by a neat and rugged looking design. Towards the front bezel are the two hard drive docks, which can support any sized SATA hard drives — all the way up to full-sized 3.5" drives. There will be more on these in the next paragraph. In front of these docking connectors are the I/O ports for the V9 BlacX. These I/O ports include one USB2.0, one USB3.0, and headers for audio input and output. At the very front of the top are the power and reset buttons, on the right and left respectively.

 

 

Removing the front bezel of the Thermaltake V9 BlacX was quite pain-free, as I only needed to pop one corner loose before the rest of the plugs came out easily. With the bezel removed, you can see the stamped front piece of metal that shapes the cutouts for the device bays and front 120mm intake fan. Getting a look at the back of the bezel shows the foam dust filters behind each bay cover, which is a nice feature.

 

With the exterior of the case checked out, it's now time to open up the side panels and take a look inside.

Closer Look:

Pulling open both side panels show the inside of the V9 BlacX, accented with the red, tool-less device security along with the mess of wires that carry signals for the front I/O, hard drive docks, and the headers for the included fans. The first thing that I noticed aside from these features is the lack of wire management capabilities other than the free-floating motherboard tray that wires can be run behind from the power supply located beneath it. While it will indeed work to hide wires, it will not look as clean as those cases with specifically cut holes for the same reason. The back side of the motherboard tray does not look to have any tie down points for wires either, so that was slightly disappointing as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning to the bottom rear of the case shows a good angle which reflects the sheen of the semi-gloss paint. It also shows the detail of what lies in front of the power supply dust filter. Here is a grate stamped into the metal that allows cool, intake air into the power supply if the unit is oriented so that this fan is facing downwards. The seven expansion slots can also be seen, which have a "wave" pattern stamped into them that still allows air to flow through this interface if there are still some present. Looking upwards to the top of the rear of the case shows a good look at the location of the two exhaust fans. The rear exhaust fan is a 120mm black fan, which is beneath the 230mm top exhaust. Turning to the front of the case will show, again, the next of wires and the four 5.25" device bays. Only three of these bays have tool-less locking mechanisms which can be removed and replaced in different locations. Underneath these 5.25" bays are the two 3.5" external bays, which aren't equipped with tool-less mechanisms, and the 2.5" internal bays which are equipped with them. Just like the locking mechanisms in the top 5.25" bays, these are removable and replaceable as well.

 

 

 

Internally, the case is clean and simple — a good and a bad thing at the same time. Cleanliness and simplicity inside of a case is a strong feature, but the simple nature of it causes a lack in wire management capabilities and other aspects. This isn't the end of the world as of yet, but I do like seeing a little bit of meat on the inside for routing cables cleanly. Moving onward, there are two sets of tool-less drive holders integrated with the case. They work well and are secure. A 90 degree turn clockwise will release the lock from from the case. On the opposite side of the lock are two pins that fit into the mounting holes of each device. The locks for the 5.25" bays are the same as the ones for the hard drives.

 

 

 

Below is one 5.25" clip (left) and one 3.5" clip. The inner, red tab is what locks the clip in place once turned — much like a key in a lock. I could see this plastic material becoming fatigued and worn out after heavy usage, but I wouldn't expect it soon into the case's life.

 

 

The 5.25" bay covers are formed from metal mesh with a foam, padded insert that works well for dust filtration. Unfortunately, they are easy to knock into the bezel where they cannot be retrieved without removing the bezel completely. Reseating them requires a delicate touch to get them in place, but are just as easy to knock in again. I took the small metal tabs on each one and bent them outwards for a more snug fit. Now I'm sure what that strip of masking tape on the front bezel was for when I first opened the package. It was to secure these covers and prevent them from "falling in."

 

 

I wanted to provide a close up of the dust filter on the front intake fan as well as the whole assembly because it's rather unique to what I've seen in the past. Before taking off the front bezel, I wasn't sure how the front fan was accessed. It turns out that behind the front bezel is the cage that the fan is attached to, which, has the ability to support a 140mm fan as well. The stock is a blue 120mm LED fan. There is a single thumbscrew on the left side of this "cage" that, once removed, swings open and allows access to the fan. The two 120mm fans in this case are 12V and pull approximately 0.30A, and the top 230mm fan is unlabeled so the specifications on that are unknown.

 

 

The fan filters are a woven, plastic mesh attached to a plastic frame. The front fan filter is the larger one, and the smaller rectangular one can be found beneath the power supply area. These filters do an important job of keeping the inside of your case clean, but will need cleaning themselves. This is especially needed for homes that have poor dust filtration, as these can pull an impressive film of dust over themselves in only several weeks. They are both held into place by a relief in the plastic frame that fit under metal tabs built into the case. Removing these simply takes a little bit of pressure on one of these sides to bend the frame up and out of the way of these tabs.

 

 

The connection headers that connect the front I/O ports to the motherboard are a relative standard now. For the Thermaltake V9 BlacX, there are plugs for audio, one USB2.0, power and reset switches, power and HDD activity LEDs, two SATA signal cables, and three molex connectors. Two of these molex connectors are to power the two SATA docking stations on top, and another Molex connector for the front fan. This sounds like a hefty list, but the congestion isn't terrible. The cables for the SATA can be tucked away easily if they aren't going to be used. The USB3.0 connector, as I said, is run through one of the water cooling grommets. This can cause problems for those who wish to use an external water cooling loop and USB3.0 at the same time. I'm waiting for a manufacturer to solve this problem!

 

 

 

With the case completely checked out and the parts ready to go inside, getting it tested is the next thing on the list! I always take my time and care when installing a computer into a case, especially on the wire management side. As I expected from my first glances at the inside of the case, the wire management capabilities aren't very spectacular. What I've done in the pictures below is more or less my thought out, planned, and methodically performed wire management - which turned out rather unsatisfactory. The internals of the case leave little room for creativity, which is another needed characteristic for cases that lack wire management options from the beginning.  Once turning the computer on, I was disappointed at the lack of lighting inside of the case, especially since it has a window. The only lit piece of hardware provided with the case is the front 120mm fan.  Below is roughly a half-second exposure which really exaggerates the actual, visible light. Anyways, the next page will have a full list of manufacturer-provided specifications and features, and the following page will show testing results.

 

Specifications:

 

Model
V9 BlacX Edition
Case Type
Mid Tower
Dimension (H x W x D)
490 x 215 x 480 mm
(19.3 x 8.5 x 18.9 inch)
Net Weight
6.85kg / 15.1 lb
Side Panel
Window
Color
Exterior & Interior: Black
Material
SECC
Cooling System
Front (Intake):
120 x 120 x 25 mm Blue LED fan (1000rpm, 16dBA) or
140 x 140 x 25 mm fan x 1 (optional
Rear (Exhaust):
120 x 120 x 25 mm Turbo fan (1300rpm, 17dBA)
Top (Exhaust):
230 x 230 x 20 mm Silent fan (800rpm, 14dBA)
Drive Bays
10
3 x 5.25”, 2x 3.5”
5 x 3.5”
HDD Docking: 2.5” & 3.5” x 2
Expansion Slots
7
Motherboards
9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), 12” x 9.6” (ATX)
I/O Ports
USB 3.0 x 1, USB 2.0 x 1, HD Audio x 1
PSU
Standard PS2 PSU
LCS Upgradable
Supports 1/2”, 3/8”, ¼” water tube
Other
CPU cooler height limitation: 165mm
VGA length limitation: 315mm

 

Specifications:

 

Information provided courtesy of Thermaltake @ http://www.thermaltakeusa.com

Testing:

To test the Thermaltake V9 BlacX, temperatures will be recorded for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and the overall system temperature during load and idle phases. Load will be simulated by Prime95 small FFTs and HD Tune for one hour, with maximum temperatures recorded by RealTemp. The GPU load will be the maximum value recorded by Catalyst Control Center after five loops of 3DMark06’s Canyon Flight test. For the idle temperature readings, I allowed each setup to remain idle of for one hour. Each case is tested as is from the factory, including the fan configuration. As stated earlier, the fan configuration for the V9 BlacX is 1x120mm front intake,1x120mm rear exhaust, and 1x230mm top exhaust.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the temperatures didn't do great but they weren't terrible either. The fans operate at a very low speed, so the airflow suffers. Naturally, when airflow suffers, component temperatures rise. Every temperature fell pretty much in the middle or a couple of notches higher. This isn't far from my expectations, but I will admit I was hoping I would be proved wrong. I'll share the rest of my thoughts on the next page in the conclusion.

Conclusion:

My thoughts of the Thermaltake V9 BlacX lie in the realm of indifference. The case looks good on the outside, the dual bay docking station is neat, and the window is just the right size. The paint job is done well and everything is covered evenly. I like the tool less features, and the CPU retention bracket opening is in the right spot, too. There is nothing more frustrating when going to install a CPU cooler and finding that the motherboard tray is blocking access to one hole! However, I do find that there only being room for three fans a little bit of a let-down, though this really does keep the noise down. Keeping the noise down also causes suffering from the total amount of airflow through the case, which negatively affects hardware temperatures.

The wire management accommodations in the V9 BlacX are seriously lacking and can use some improvement. There is very little room behind the motherboard tray to run wires, and nothing to really route them around. I really did my best on the wire management here, and I'm not terribly happy with the results. I did also find that the power supply mounting bracket does not allow for the power supply to be flipped over, allowing for a slight advantage with wire management since the cables can start closer to the motherboard tray.

Overall, the case looks good and has the built-in docking stations which can be very useful for some folks. It isn't really the best looking case I've used, but aesthetically it's got some points that may appeal to others. The front USB 3.0 support is a good thing to have, but manufacturers still seem to be running these cables out through water cooling grommets! Since motherboards don't typically have USB 3.0 headers on them, case manufacturers must run the USB cable to the external port on the back of the motherboard. However, I've only seen manufacturers run these cables through a water cooling grommet. I'd like to see what users do when they want to run USB3.0 and have an external water cooling loop at the same time. In conclusion, if you're picky on wire management like I consider myself to be, there are cases out there with much better wire management for around the same price. Otherwise, it's not a bad buy for those who like the Thermaltake style, like tool less features, want a window, and have a use for the built-in, dual-bay docking station.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: