This is a premium product, and the price tag reflects its superb design and durability. It may be the last computer chassis I will ever buy. Again, given its initial astronomic price and difficulty with setup, I will do everything in my power to make it the last computer chassis I will ever buy. However, the execution of this product by its manufacturer--how that company treats the customer--is unforgiveable. A Pro/Con list may be the best way to illustrate the facts, and help you make the best possible purchasing decision for yourself. In the spirit of service, I will also include a list of the components I have put into my ThermalTake Level 10, since these all do fit.
Exquisite design. This case is beautiful to look at, pleasant to touch. Fit and finish are excellent, and the red diodes are very attractive. The case I purchased had no apparent manufacturing defects.
Cable management is excellent. There is a place for every cable to go--and if those cables are not placed through the appropriate access channels, the various module doors will not close. [I see this as a positive; that finicky nature ensures you will not have unappealing cables everywhere, exposed to view.]
The individual SATA drive bays are situated along an enormous vertical heat sink. This is a wonderful design, and fits in well with the rest of its concept. All of the discrete component "cages" similarly ensure no overheating will take place. There are fans throughout, and they are very quiet.
This unit is enormous. For years, I installed massive IBM microcomputer servers--195s, 295s, Mod 85 and Mod 95. This Thermaltake case is bigger than all of those. If you have the room for it, it makes a bold statement in your room.
The black coating on the anodized aluminum is a -matte- finish. This is a good touch; because of this, the case will be much more forgiving of fingerprints, dust, and pet hair than a shiny hard surface.
Aluminum--this all metal case is made of lots of it--is an excellent heat-dissipating material. It is much, much more durable than plastic. I have had no problems that other reviewers reported. To me, it's not chintzy or easily broken (including the key, locks, and access door). That said, aluminum is known for being extremely malleable, so I have approached it with great care. I expect no problems, given my knowledge of others' problems, and my cautious approach.
Dust buildup inside the chassis will likely not be a problem, since all the component "cages" with fans also have filtration in place at each entrance and exit. This is clearly a machine designed for the long haul.
The price at the time of this review is more than five times what I have ever spent on any other computer chassis. Amazon.Com is the best place to buy this unit--especially with their free shipping at present. For comparison, you can buy this on the manufacturer's website store for an added $100! The high price may have a silver lining: Perhaps it will encourage its purchaser to keep it forever, and not soon dispose of it in a landfill--as I have done with so many lesser, cheaper plastic cases over the years.
Documentation is poor, with each phase of installation missing at least one major written step. However, the design of the chassis is so good, the design makes it clear to the savvy computer tech, exactly what to do even absent good instructions. Buried in that installation documentation, at the tail end of chapter 2, is a notice that only the first two SATA hard drive bays have been cabled for power and data. If for some reason you want to use drive bays three, four, five, and six: You must disassemble the chassis and cable these bays and case yourself--and those parts are not included. Outrageous! $700 at a discount, and the chassis itself is not fully wired? It gets worse--much worse. I called customer support at ThermalTake. I learned that they will sell the cable kits so a consumer can finish wiring those four empty drive bays (it will take two such kits to do so). The kits, I was told, would be available starting on April 15 (more than a month from the time of my call) and will cost $20 each! I have no idea what people who purchased this case before now have done to overcome this problem.
Trying to find a less expensive solution, I found an in-line SATA data+power combination cable of sufficient length, and ordered four of them from Hong Kong (this approach would take four such kits, to finish the four empty drive bays). However, while these worked for a day or two, eventually the design of the chassis forced that third-party cable apart from the connector on each hard drive. There is no choice: I needed the manufacturer's proprietary in-line SATA data+power combination kits, which have special screws that hold it in place against the chassis. I bought the two kits--for a total of an additional $40--and found I still wasn't done paying through the nose. No, ThermalTake charged $10 for ground delivery in the US. That small, light packet sent from California up to Oregon--one state away--cost another $10 in shipping. By contrast, the same size and weight packet sent all the way from Hong Kong cost me $3. Yes, I feel absolutely robbed--coming and going--by this manufacturer. Of course there are alternatives to paying another $50 for two dollars' worth of cable. A person can, if he wants, buy the ThermalTake MAX-2533 backplane, and that way use three disk drives (leaving the four empty drive bays unusable). But that solution costs $70 itself on Amazon.Com, and obviates the benefit of that enormous vertical heat sink.
I found ThermalTake's customer service--my representative spoke excellent English--apathetic. When I complained about this case's price yet having no use of four of its six drive bays, the rep said, "I don't care about that." I believe he meant it, and fits in well at that company. The quest for profit has eclipsed all else, and my wallet is much thinner today as a result.
Finally, although having multiple separate "cages" for components is a good idea, the vast distance between them means that many cables are simply not long enough to work. I'm glad I live in a city where I can scavenge for extra-long floppy drive cables, extra-long USB connectors, an extra long CD/DVD drive to Sound-In cable. But even ThermalTake's own internal wiring, at times, is not long enough to accommodate its design. I had to take apart the case, and un-loop a number of cables just so they would reach all the way to my standard components, placed where the manufacturer directs them.
Motherboard: Gigabyte 890GPA UD3H (ATX size) (for AMD CPU)
Power Supply: Corsair 850HX Professional
CPU: AMD Phenom2 1090T 3.2 GHz Six Core
Memory: 4 ea 2 GB GSkill F3-12800
Hard Drives: 6 ea 1 TB Western Digital Caviar Blue
Optical Device: DVD/ROM ASUS E818A4 Black
Operating Environment: Ubuntu Server 10.10