We’re going to review five computer cases from Thermaltake today. Three of them represent the new entry-level MS Commander series, the fourth model is a mainstream version of the conceptual Level 10, and the last one is a successor to the Armor which used to be highly popular in the top-end category.
The Level 10 GTS is almost twice as expensive as the Commander series models (MS-I, MS-II and MS-II) but considerably cheaper than the Armor Revo.
The price difference shouldn’t prevent us from comparing these products since we want to know the difference in capabilities offered by entry-level, mainstream and high-end computer cases.
Thermaltake Commander MS-I
Despite the similar name, the MS-I is designed differently from the other two models in the Commander series.
This model can be identified by the side window (not a typical feature for entry-level products, by the way) and the asymmetric configuration of its front panel.
There are very few accessories included with this computer case. Besides a user manual and mounting screws (the four long ones are used to fasten a front fan), you can only find a PC speaker here.
As any regular computer case, the MS-I offers Power and Reset buttons as well as Power and Disk indicators. The Reset button can be easily pressed with a finger, but you can hardly hit it accidentally as it is placed apart from the Power one and is protected from above by a protrusion in the intricately shaped front panel.
The indicator LEDs are moderately bright and cause no discomfort.
The selection of I/O connectors is typical of entry-level products: two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone sockets.
The interior is designed in the modern fashion with a cable compartment behind the mainboard's mounting plate, quick fasteners for peripherals, and even a removable dust filter in the PSU bay.
The PSU dust filter is placed inside the chassis in a removable plastic frame, which means you have to uninstall the PSU in order to clean the filter.
The filter itself is blameless, though. The fine mesh doesn’t resist the air flow much and keeps dust out efficiently enough.
Notwithstanding the modern design, the MS-I betrays signs of cost-cutting here and there. The metallic panels of the chassis are thin. Even though the chassis is rigid, the thin steel doesn't help suppress noises from the components of the working computer.
The top and bottom back-panel brackets are reusable whereas the remaining five are not.
All of the back-panel brackets are additionally covered with a special plate fastened with a screw. We don’t think it helps improve the fastening of expansion cards while its downsides are obvious: you have to deal with yet another screw and it makes the cheap computer case a little bit more expensive.
The covers of the openings for the pipes of a liquid cooling system are not reusable, either. They lack any rubber edging, just like the openings in the mainboard’s mounting bracket.
The solid plastic feet are not as hard as in ordinary computer cases of this category, but composite feet with a soft vibration-absorbing base would anyway be much better than any type of solid feet.
Typical of inexpensive products, the dust filter for the optional front fan is implemented as a sheet of foam rubber which unavoidably weakens the air flow.