What's the difference between a system case for a gaming computer and a regular PC enclosure? Well, the former is supposed to ensure good cooling and compatibility with top-end graphics cards. An aggressive exterior design is a plus.
That’s what you’d expect from a conventional gaming system case, though. Thermaltake’s Level 10 is far from conventional and its developers even call it a gaming station, probably suggesting that other terms wouldn't convey the whole spectrum of emotions this highly original and quite expensive product is expected to provoke in a consumer.
So, let's try to figure out whether the Level 10 is really so very special and worth every cent of its $800 price.
Closer Look at Thermaltake Level 10
Being the result of collaboration between Thermaltake and BMW Groups Designworks USA, the Level 10 is definitely not a conventional system case. The closest thing you may think of is a chest of drawers designed as a mixture of cubist and hi-tech styles. It looks like a set of individual boxes that have no obvious relation to each other and, in fact, it really is such a set of boxes. Almost each computer component that can be placed apart from the others has an individual compartment for itself whereas the dimensions of this system case, especially in its packaging, are hardly smaller than those of a regular chest of drawers.
The Level 10 is made from pressed aluminum and painted matte black. The pair of cooling fans, the Power and Reset buttons and the labels of the front-panel connectors are highlighted in red. Besides, there is a red-highlighted line going along the backbone of the Level 10 and a red indicator next to each occupied disk bay (this indicator is turned on by a button located behind the disk bay; the button is pressed by the installed hard disk).
I must note that for all the abundance of highlighted details, the illumination doesn’t irritate the eye. Its brightness is comfortable enough even in darkness and may be hard to notice at first sight in daylight. The Reset button is the only exception. Its LED is excessively bright if you are looking straight at it. However, a computer case usually stands aside from its user, and the highlighting of this button is rather soft when viewed at an angle.
Overall, the Level 10 design is absolutely offbeat, yet very impressive, especially under mild ambient lighting or in darkness.
The thickness of the aluminum parts varies greatly throughout the product. The removable side panel is 1.5 millimeters and the chassis is 2.5 millimeters thick. The sides of the disk bays are as thick as 3.1 millimeters. The bays themselves are 2 millimeters and the top panels of the bays are only 1 millimeter thick. The steel elements of the system case (the mainboard mounting plate, the trays in the disk bays, the power supply bay, the back panel and the 5.25-inch bay) are 0.8 to 1 millimeter thick.
The accessories are packed into a neat box with Thermaltake and BMW Groups Designworks USA logos. Besides various screws, it contains a karabiner with manufacturer’s logo, a couple of keys for the side panel, and a set of reusable plastic straps.
I should also note that my sample of the system case has been tested before. You can spot some visible evidence of that in the photographs.
So, this chest contains as many as nine drawers. Power supply and 5.25-inch bays are at the top. The biggest compartment for mainboard and expansion cards is in the middle. On one side of it there is a column of six individual disk bays. Besides that, there is a large compartment for cables behind the removable side panel. Let’s now check out each of these elements one by one.
In order to install your power supply, you have to take off the cover of the appropriate bay, unfasten a couple of screws that hold the retention mechanism, put down the PSU and fasten it with four screws and a stopper plate. The installation procedure and the design of the PSU bay itself do not seem to be very complex, yet there are nuances you should know about.
The PSU length is limited to 210 millimeters. Some PSUs, for example Chieftec’s Super G-DF, are longer.
The bottom screw of the PSU (the one which is closer to the system case’s backbone) makes it difficult to put the bay cover back in its place. The cover can be easily fitted without that screw but if you want to use the latter, you have to apply some effort, which may result in scratches.