Thermaltake Commander MS-I Case Review

BluePanda - 2012-03-02 23:47:55 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: April 5, 2012
Price: $59.99

Introduction:

Thermaltake has quite the array of different cases and offer many unique styles. Most of them are designed for the game enthusiast and tend to have the “wow” factor already applied to them, in either colored fans or accented bodies. Where the range of style goes from a little more subtle to in your face. We recently took a look at the Overseer RX-I back in February, a rather blue friendly chassis. Today we’ll be taking a look at another one of Thermaltake's interesting creations, the Commander MS-I.

The Commander series is a set of four identical cases, each with their own color combination choices. We’ll be looking at the all black offering with the included blue LED rear fan. The series also has a Snow edition which is all white with black mesh and an Epic edition which has a red front bezel and tinted red window. This way you can fling for more, or take it down a notch and stick with the plain black.  Either way, it’s always nice to see multiple color options with the same body. Let’s start looking at this chassis and see if it’s something that could be showing up on your doorstep soon or not.

Closer Look:

Thermaltake always has somewhat flashy boxes, always printed with some kind of creature, mech, futuristic thing, or planet. I’m guessing it’s supposed to play off the names of the different series, but I don’t really care – I just want the case! Thermaltake's older style logo of the sun swirl never really seems to fit in either, always stuck in one of the corners. Point is, you still always know it’s a Thermaltake box when it shows up.

The front of the box has an actual picture of the case in an isometric shot, so you know what you’re getting without even opening anything! The back of the box has detailed images, which can be found on their website, that show you the different angles of the case, a few shots of the inside, and of course its key selling features. The sides of the box are fairly typical. One side denotes what case is in the box from the series. As I had mentioned there are four cases, two of which are black – so a selector tells you if you have the one with the fan or without. The red and white versions of the case must have their own boxes, since they are not shown here as options. The other side lists the features from the back of the box in 12 different languages. A nice UPS sticker covers most of them up for me, not that I could read them anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caring less about the box itself and more about what is actually inside it, this needed to be opened and unpacked. Cutting open the tape revealed foam end caps and a plastic bag, pretty much the standard method of case shipping anymore. Flipping over the box and letting the case slide out, the right shot is what you end up with. Good packing again, as everything is intact. Even the delivery guy didn’t find a way to destroy the box or foam, so plus one to our delivery man.

 

Closer Look:

Out of the plastic the case looks just like the pictures on the box, not a big surprise really. The front has three external bay covers that can be removed for optical drives, fan controllers, water bays, or what have you. It definitely has the Thermaltake feel, with lots going on, never too simple a case comes from them. In black, it’s nice and classy looking. The only things that really stand out are the cut out for a floppy drive in the middle and the overly large Thermaltake badge. Perhaps I just don’t like badges on things, not even cars, but it really stands out to me here.

Around back you can see a pre-mounted rear fan above seven punch-outs for PCI-E slots. It seems they took the easy/cheap way out here and went with punch-outs, instead of the removable PCI-E slot covers. I guess if you only ever use one graphics card in this case, you would never have any empty holes, then it is okay. I just prefer to be able to put something back in the holes, in case I change hardware in the future. I guess this helps with lowering the cost of the case. The PCI-E slots also mount on the outside of the case with a one screw bracket to hold things in place. I guess that makes it a little easier than trying to use a screw driver on the inside. But, it is just as difficult to have to hold a card in place, while trying to hold the bracket cover on also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the case have a rather familiar shape. The protruding square-like shape with cut corners seems to be showing up on lots of case panels. The window shape, however, is truly unique and gives it a different edge compared to other cases with a similar panel layout. The fan holes for adding an additional fan do not really have defined screw placements, which could be beneficial or frustrating. Too me it looks a little cheap this way but at least the ventilation exists. Don’t be too bummed out, but only the left panel is held on with thumbscrews. The right panel has gone back an era and reverted to case screws, so I hope you remember your tricks to holding the panel and closing it up. You could always spend a couple bucks to get some thumbscrews to replace them though...I know I would.

 

 

A closer look at the front panel reveals that the Thermaltake badge is there to stay. The mesh behind it is shaped to hold it. So even if you don’t like it, the best you can do is paint it black or fill it with something else. Not a big deal, but something for you modders to consider. The middle of the front panel features a power button, a reset button, HDD LED, power LED, headphone jack, mic jack, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0…oh and wait what’s this, that silly floppy bay drive. This isn’t the only case I’ve seen recently with floppy support, but I really just don’t understand why. I suppose you could use it for a smaller fan controller, but floppy drives are dead.

 

 

From the outside, the case doesn’t look too bad. The Commander MS-I has a little of its own personality, which makes it fun. It does unfortunately look a little cheap and does indeed have the feel of a cheap case as well. However, the cost is reasonably cheap, so I cannot complain too much. But, I would like to find a cheap case that doesn’t feel like it is so. Let’s get the Commander opened up and see what’s inside.

Closer Look:

Taking off the side panels, I am getting quite a whiff of déjà vu. Not too long ago I looked at the COUGAR Solution, the innards are EXACTLY the same. The only slight difference are the screw-less drive holders. These are red and swirly, rather than black and orange for the COUGAR. We also only get one fan filter in the bottom (COUGAR gives you two for the same price). I know a lot of companies use the same case bodies, but it’s never been so obvious than this. I guess one last minor difference between the two is slightly less head room in the top of this one, but other than that, identical to the COUGAR Solution, if you want a comparison. Who came first, I don’t know. But, it is funny to see the same body from different companies.

The back side still has the nice large opening to access the CPU backplate, but the cable holes lack grommets. With the I/O panel more in the middle rather than at the top, the cabling seems to be routed well and shouldn’t cause any issues that I can see up front. There is definitely enough room back here for some cable management, as well as some extra space in the panel as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling off a couple of the screw-less clips, unfortunately you don’t get them for every bay, you can see they are relatively simple fixtures. Turn the red nob vertical and it is unlocked, horizontal and it will be locked in place. It is not the best design in the world and you almost feel like you are breaking them, but they seem to do the job well.

A single fan filter is in place on the bottom of the case, sitting right below where the PSU would sit. Seems like it might help keep some extra cat hair or dust out from the case, but you only get one. If you want to mount a fan on the bottom, you’ll have to do so without having a second filter. I’m not sure why you only get one down here, but it’s awkward to get to since it’s between the PSU and case, so I wouldn’t plan on cleaning it out too often.

 

 

A user manual and warranty policy packet are included inside the case. A bag of mixed screws and a random motherboard speaker are also included. You don’t get the zip ties or quite as many other accessories you seem to get with a lot of other cases, but to be honest a lot of them generally go unused. I am surprised however to see normal screws, most cases come with black screws anymore, as to hide them even more. Either way, I should just be happy that I have been given screws to use.

 

Putting everything in the case, I can’t help but think how I’d just put it in a very similar case not too long ago. It had all the same problems as the COUGAR as well. The SSD had to mount to the bottom of the case, so luckily I only have one. The cables were awkward to plug into my SSD since there wasn’t much of a lip to support wider SATA power connectors. The wiring was a hodge podge mess up front, with the way the drives mounted, but there wasn’t really anyway around that. You can’t really see it out the window either, but I know it is there! The audio cable routed a little nicer and opened things back up for running crossfire, if I so desired. The USB 3.0 had to go out a PCI-E slot and plug into the back of the motherboard, but seeing as I don’t have a 3.0 header on the board, it’s a plus to have the cable still.

Overall, when everything was up and running it looks pretty nice. The blue LED fan in the back matches up with the blue LED for the power on the front. I did not catch it in this shot, but the HDD light flickers in red with activity, always nice to check and see what things are doing. In the end it’s not too bad looking for the price.

 

Specifications:

 

Case Type:
Mid Tower
Material:
SECC
Front Bezel Material:
Plastic
Color:
Black
Side Panel:
Window
Motherboard Support:
mATX, ATX
Motherboard Tray:
No
5.25" Drive Bays:
3
Ext. 3.5" Drive Bay:
1
Int. 3.5" Drive Bay:
5
Expansion Slots:
7
Front I/O:
USB 3.0 x 1, USB 2.0 x 2, Audio port
Liquid Cooling Capable:
Yes
Power Supply Support:
Standard PS2
Dimensions:
484 x 202 x 426 mm
Net Weight:
4.5 kg

 

 

 

 

Cooling:

 

 

Features:

 

 

 

All information provided by: http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?S=1394&ID=2051#Tab1

Testing:

Testing the Tt Commander RS-I required pushing my hardware to heat things up! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs, HD Tune, and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it is essentially the same body as the COUGAR Solution, it wasn’t much of a surprise that the temperatures were essentially the same. It still competes well in its category of case size and compared to the other cases on the list, it faired average. There are no major cooling issues to address, other than the fact that with no fan up front, means a toasty hard drive. Though it is difficult for a HDD to get too hot, it’s still a wow factor to see a drive ten degrees warmer, than if it was in a case with a simple fan blowing across. More fans and this thing could be pretty optimal for cooling.

Conclusion:

Overall, the case is about what you’d expect for the cost. I would however say still that the NZXT Source and Tempest are better cases at lower costs. They just seem to be better thought out. This case unfortunately feels cheap, as it is cheap. The front of the case makes it look a little nice, and really puts off the Thermaltake "in your face" factor. However, the body itself is of low quality and is a bit disappointing to work in. Hardware placement was a little difficult and getting the video card in wasn’t exactly easy with the external mounting system. The case definitely needs to be laying down, to do this with only one person. The floppy bay is still a laughing joke to me, but I guess it’s hard to get rid of old things sometimes. The small bays are somewhat useful for other things, perhaps a small fan controller, or some nifty nobs and switches!

I cannot say I’d be jumping to buy this case, as I feel it isn’t quite the quality that Thermaltake usually reaches. But, it is much cheaper than a lot of their "nice"cases. Overall I’m not impressed, it being much like another case that has disappointed me. I can’t be any more enthusiastic about being disappointed now twice.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: