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Posted by Chuck Corbin on Apr 5, 2012

Review – Thermaltake Chaser MK-1

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Before I started writing for GamerFront, I never gave a serious thought to the case that my system would be stored in. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I would buy a case, I would do some comparisons between different cases, to see what kinds of accessories they contained, and how much they cost. However, I never thought that an expensive, $100+ case could possibly be worth the money. Why should I spend $169.99 on the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 when all I really need is a box to throw my stuff in?

Initial Impressions

I was wrong. I was convinced that a case that cost that much could not be worth the money, but I was wrong. The biggest thing you’ll notice about the case when you first see it is its sheer size. This case is absolutely huge, standing 22.4 inches high, 9.3 inches wide, and 22.9 inches from front to back. This means two things: First, you’re going to have a lot of room to hold all the different components of your system. Second, and more importantly, you’re going to have lots of breathing room to help keep your system cool. A computer exposed to hot temperatures over a long period of time is going to wear down the different parts of the system much more quickly, so the more room in your case for air to flow the better.

Luckily, this case will not let your computer get hot. On top of the massive space inside, Thermaltake has added many different features into the case to help keep your system cool. On both the top and the front of the case you’ll notice a huge Colorshift 200mm fan. Throughout the rest of the case you’ll notice that there is space for another three 120mm or larger fans. Every fan has a mesh filter on the outside of it, as well, so you won’t need to worry about dust entering the system and killing it that way. A fan controller allows you to set the speed of the fans to a high or a low speed. However, the cords that go to the fans themselves are not very long, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to wire them directly to your motherboard if you wanted to. The PSU slot receives a bit of this special treatment, as well. In this case, the PSU rests on the bottom, with a cutout so that the fan can suck in cold air from the outside instead of sucking in hot air from the system.  You won’t need to worry about sucking in dust and debris into your PSU, in part because of the mesh filter covering the bottom (which can be removed easily for cleaning) and also in part because the case has 4 sturdy feet which lift it off of the ground.

If we go back to the top of the case, you’ll see on top of the fan controller, you’ll see the fan color LED switch that changes the colors and flashing patterns of the LED fans. You got your standard reset and power buttons, your headphone and microphone ports, a couple of USB 2.0 ports, an E-SATA port, and most interestingly, 2 USB 3.0 ports and also a full on hot swappable SATA hard drive dock. Unfortunately, I was unable to test out the USB 3.0 and hot swappable dock because my motherboard does not support either of those features, but it’s great to know that they’re there if I decide to create a new setup.

Thermaltake did a great job on the construction of this case. It’s hefty, but never at any time do you feel like it’s going to collapse on itself. Plastic is prominent in the case, but it never feels flimsy. Really, the plastic helps make the case, as it integrates seamlessly with the black paint job of the metal parts of the case. On the left side of the case a clear window lets you look into the case, and also on that door is a mount for you to hold your headphones on. I will admit, however, that this is the only part of the case that I feel is a little flimsy, so I don’t normally keep my own headphones in case I hit it with my leg and crack the mount off. All the thumbscrews in the case tighten easily yet firmly into their holes, so there’s no need to worry about something falling off. The case also has holes built into it that allow you to install a liquid cooled system inside of the case easily, if you want to. The holes are covered with a thin rubber, so even if you don’t want to put a liquid cooler system in you won’t have to worry about dust getting into the system through those holes.

Installation

The nice thing about this case is its tool-less entry design. Anything needing screws use these nice, large thumbscrews that easily come on and off. The power supply, which sits on the bottom, has this nice adjustable bar that can accommodate the largest and smallest of PSUs. If you’re a person who hates cables strewn about your case, then you’ll love the fact that the case has a false back, where you can string your cables behind the board and bring the connectors out of different rubber ports, minimizing the amount of cabling that you’ll actually see. With fewer cables crisscrossing the system, you can get a really good airflow going on.

This case is also hard drive friendly. You pull out a hard drive bay by pulling on a lever on the front. To install a hard drive, all that you need to do is take out a set of prongs on each side, and slide the hard drive into the bay and replace the black prongs to keep it anchored to the bay. Then, all that’s required is for you to pop it back into its slot and hook the wires up. It really couldn’t get much easier than that. After dealing with screws and space and other issues with other cases, I instantly fell in love with this design. However, there is only support for the old regular 3.5 inch hard drives, so if you have a 2.5 inch SSD you’ll have to find a work around.

Disc drives are also pretty simple to install on here. The front of the case pops off easily enough, and from there you can just gently squeeze on the blue tabs to pop off the front protector. Then, just slide the drive in, and screw it to the case. Simple enough, eh?

Final Thoughts

As you can probably tell, I love this case. It’s a solid design, and I’m not going to be ashamed to show this case off to people that I meet. Now, with that being said, there are one or two minor things that I can find wrong with this case. The mesh top, with its exhaust fan, is both a blessing and a curse. While it helps a lot with the air flow and aesthetics of the case, it also caused a bit of a noise problem for me. Before I installed a new cooler on my CPU, and switched out my GTS 250’s for a single GTX 560 Ti, the noise level was through the roof, and with the mesh roof, it allowed for the noise to escape that much more easily. However, I’ll admit, that’s a really minor issue, because after I installed that new cooler and graphics card my system is actually quieter now than ever before. However, just keep in mind that you might have to makes some improvements to some of your other cooling systems. Another issue with the case is the fact that it’s absolutely huge. Now, while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you have limited space you’re going to have a hard time getting this case to fit. But, again, this isn’t really a negative, but rather it’s just something to consider before purchasing this case. After using this new case for just a short amount of time, I know now that I’ll never go back to a boring old aluminum box again. Unfortunately, that means I’m going to have to fork out some money from here on out, but after working with this case, it’s totally worth it!

The Good

  • Large, open space
  • Great cable management
  • Tool-less entry
  • Sturdy Design

The Bad

  • Case may be too big for some people
  • No 2.5 inch SSD support
  • Headphone holder is slightly flimsy

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