Let's review another case. I don't do too many of these case reviews, but once in a while I like taking a break from the onslaught of power supplies that show up around here. Back when I reviewed the Thermaltake DPS-G 1250W Titanium unit, I was asked if there were any other products from them I might be interested in taking a look at. After thinking about that for a minute, I realized that I had never reviewed or even seen one of their computer cases.
But which case to ask for? Well, it had been quite some time since the main computer got a new case, so I looked through Thermaltake's site looking for one that might keep my video card a little cooler than the Inwin GRone, which has thus far resisted all attempts by yours truly to replace it with something else. It had just been too versatile a case to replace it with just anything, and several otherwise well designed Corsair cases have come and gone unable to get the job done.
Now, here's the thing... I'm still a hardcore crypto miner. When my video card isn't playing games, it's hashing for my wallet. Even with all the 140mm fannage the GRone had to offer, running in turbo mode, it wasn't quite able to keep my video card as cool as I wanted it to. I needed something able to blow fresh air right at my video card. So, I asked for today's review unit, the Chaser A71.
People, if this case doesn't unseat the GRone as my main rig case of choice, nothing will. And you better believe I have some high expectations, because my main rig has a lot of parts to keep happy.
Like the GRone, this is a full tower case as we can see from the specifications given on the box. However, I can also see that the A71 does give up a few things to the GRone, most prominently in the internal hard drive bay capacity. The GRone can handle no less than eight hard drives in the internal 5.25" drive rack. That sounds like a lot until you realize that I have four hard drives and one SSD, with plans to buy another hard drive soon. In that case, there are no extra provisions for mounting SSDs like the Corsair 760T, so the eight bays can actually fill up faster than you'd think.
According to the specs, this case only has five internal bays with provisioning for one 3.5" drive that could also be used for SSDs using adapters. So, this is an area where this case may already be deficient to the GRone for me, because I do plan to use every last internal drive bay, but we'll have to see how I feel about that a little later on.
This is because I expect the cooling provisions this case has will make up for all that missing hard drive space and then some. It comes with no fewer than three 200mm fans: one on the front, one on the side, and one on top. Two of them are blue LED lit, which may drive me crazy later when I try to sleep in the same room, but that's no big deal. Disabling LEDs is easy stuff. The case also comes with a 120mm exhaust fan on the back, with provisions for another intake fan on the bottom of the case.
Thermaltake also has placed some size restrictions on the CPU cooler and video cards installed in this case. It's good to see that information on the box, because my main rig uses a big CPU cooler: a Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme, a cooler so good I went out of my way to buy a mounting kit for my LGA1155 motherboard so I could keep using it. This cooler is exactly 160mm high, so we will be putting Thermaltake's number to the test.
The rest of the external case features are a lot like the GRone's. There are four USB ports total, two 3.0, and two 2.0. I'd prefer a few more, but four is not a deal breaker for this build. The case does have support for liquid cooling as well, and we'll try to have a look at that even though I continue to have nothing to test these features with. I'd love to water cool this rig, but considering the parts I need to cram in here, I reckon I'd need an even bigger case than this here full tower.
Let's get this case unpacked and have a look.
If nothing else, it's a good looking case for sure. I'm digging the matte black and blue color scheme. I also appreciate the indentation on the side panel, which helps allow for the depth of that 200mm side fan.
The right side panel is similarly indented, and I expect this is necessary to allow for cable management behind the mainboard tray. This case is both narrower (by 30mm) and shallower (by 4mm) internally than the GRone so getting all the cabling in here I need to fit in here might be a little tricky.
Looking at the front panel, we can see that the whole thing, top to bottom, has mesh air filtering in there. This is good, because another way this case comes up lacking to the GRone is that there is no removable air filter for the 200mm fan lurking behind the lower section. On the GRone, I could take the latching air filter off and just wash it. This one, it's not going to be that easy. Though the front panel can be removed, it's not something you want to do every day. I'll show you later how to do it.
It should be mentioned that only the top four 5.25" bay covers can actually be removed. The ones underneath are part of the front panel itself.
Computer cases usually come with a control panel, and here's the one for this case. The blue backlit power button is on the far left, with the drive activity indicator, reset button, audio ports, and USB ports next to it.
One of my most beloved features of the GRone was its external hard drive dock. Though I did have some misgivings about the way it was implemented right on the top of the case with only a silicone cover over the connectors, it nevertheless remained a feature I used more often than I'd like to think about while servicing other peoples' computers. This case retains that functionality, moving it to a much more elegantly implemented solution on the top panel of the case. You can see the spring loaded doors for it in this shot, just behind the control panel. More on that later.
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