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Thermaltake Level 10 GT review

Thermaltake Level 10 GT review

Computers play a huge role in the design of our vehicles, but what would happen if a car manufacturer had a hand in the design of a computer chassis? More to the point, what would it look like if a luxury car manufacturer had a hand in that design? Thermaltake and BMW decided to find out.

It’s an interesting collaboration, and it certainly produced a couple of showpieces. The first product born of this collaboration was the Thermaltake Level 10, a stunning departure from the traditional boxy design of the tower chassis. The Level 10 was first shown at CES 2010 and was popular as a discussion topic as much for its looks as it was for its $1,000 price tag. One year later, the design was updated and shown for the first time at CES 2011, this time labelled the Level 10 GT. In addition to design and function changes, the price was reduced significantly.

Of course now for the boring technical details…

  • Type: Full tower
  • Motherboard support: Micro ATX, ATX, Extended ATX
  • 5.25″ drive bays: 4
  • 3.5″ drive bays: 5 internal, 1 external
  • Expansion slots: 8
  • Front I/O
    • USB 3.0: 2 (internal 20-pin connector)
    • USB 2.0: 4
    • eSATA: 1
    • HD Audio: 1
  • Cooling (included)
    • Front intake: 200 x 200 x 20mm ColorShift fan (600-800RPM, 13-15dBA)
    • Rear exhaust: 140 x 140 x 25mm fan (1000RPM, 16dBA)
    • Top exhaust: 200 x 200 x 30mm ColorShift fan (600-800RPM, 13-15dBA)
    • Side intake: 200 x 200 x 30mm ColorShift fan (600-800RPM, 13-15dBA)
  • Cooling (optional)
    • Rear exhaust: 120 x 120 x 25mm
    • Bottom intake: 120 x 120 x 25mm
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 584 x 282 x 590mm
  • Weight: 28.0 lbs
  • Security locks
    • Front HDD Access
    • Side Panel
    • Rear Peripherals

Three buttons sit atop the Level 10 GT. Two control the case’s variable fan speeds (high/low), and one controls the ColorShift aspect of those fans. With each press of this button, the fans cycle through a series of blue, green, and red solid colors, as well as various flashing and blinking patterns. Honestly, anything other than lights off or a solid color can become a distraction, but it can be fun to watch if you’re in the mood.

All of the fans have removable filters, as does the space below the power supply area. They’re pretty effective at keeping dust out of the system and are easy to keep clean.

The USB 3.0 ports use pass-through cables to connect to the I/O panel on the motherboard. They work well, but in the future I’d like to see the standard 20-pin motherboard header used instead.

Also of note on the outside is a removable rubber cover next to the 5.25″ bays. When this cover is removed, an included hanging post can be attached, providing a convenient place to store headphones.

This is a very spacious case, and it leads to a simple install process. Even the tallest and longest of components will install with ease in the Level 10 GT. The door swings out just over 180 degrees giving full access to the internals. Of course if you don’t have the room for the door to swing open, it easily lifts off its hinge after about 90 degrees (the top of the case prevents doing so sooner).

The cabling for the Level 10 GT comes conveniently routed behind the motherboard tray. There is also ample room for routing all the cables for your components, making the visible space as clean as possible. Thermaltake did an excellent job in this area.

Adding to the cleanliness is the fan embedded in the door. Instead of using a traditional cable that would run directly to a molex power connector, two small circuit boards are used to provide fan power. When the door is opened, the fan is disconnected from its power source. The connection relies on those small boards making contact. No plugs, no mess. Big plus.

The five removable drive trays are set up for both 3.5″ and 2.5″ devices. Perhaps one of the best features of this drive setup is the SATA data and power passthrough ports built into the case. It’s an excellent design, but I have two minor complaints. First, getting the trays to lock firmly in place requires a bit more effort than one might expect—anything less than a sharp tap and the tray can be removed with a slight pull. Second, the SATA connectors don’t support the locking mechanism on some cables. They’ll work, but nothing locks down. This can cause a SATA cable to come loose after hauling the case between a couple of places.

Icrontic Outstanding Product awardThe Level 10 GT sells for $269.99, and I’m not going to complain about it. This case is not targeted at an audience focused on a budget build, nor is it built for that crowd. Just like the automotive industry, a luxury line contains features and refinements not available in less expensive models. Eventually things trickle down to lower price points, but the latest and greatest features are almost always found at the high price points.

Of course if a large black case isn’t your thing, there is another option. The Level 10 GT also comes in a white model with black trim. The liquid cooling crowd may also be interested in the $369.99 Level 10 GT LCS. This version trades two 5.25″ bays for a Bigwater 850GT 240mm radiator.

In all, the Thermaltake Level 10 GT is an excellent enthusiast case. If you want a system with looks that stand out and have the cash to purchase one, you’d be insane not to do so. We’re happy to name it an Icrontic Outstanding Product.

Comments

  1. Tim
    Tim I was going to comment on this case, but I changed my mind.
  2. Canti
    Canti This thing is sick, great review.
  3. Thrax
    Thrax There are better cases for cheaper, but it's a nice piece of engineering, and a novel aesthetic concept.
  4. Revelation
    Revelation Its not the first time BMW has been in the sack with a PC manufacturer. We have been using HP cases from BMW for some time now. They are your standard HP Workstation box.
  5. mertesn
    mertesn
    Revelation said:
    Its not the first time BMW has been in the sack with a PC manufacturer. We have been using HP cases from BMW for some time now. They are your standard HP Workstation box.
    True, but it still looks like a standard workstation case, inside and out. Those aren't built for showing off. They're made to hold a workstation's guts in one place and stay out of sight. Not so with the Level 10 series. They were designed as showpieces.
  6. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster I love the white with the black trim. I'd build using that in a New York minute.
  7. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle The original Level 10 oozed quality, but the GT has simplified-out all of the interesting aesthetic design (but I don't dispute the case's utility). If we're going to mention the connection to automotive design, the GT is the Kia Amanti to the original Level 10's Benz. They had the two side-by-side at Microcenter, and it's night and day.

    If there was never an original, I probably would think more of the GT, but this much money for that much steel and plastic still wouldn't be my style.

    Sidenote: who needs 4 5.25" bays these days? Maybe just for a reservoir, or convert it for another fan port. I think it's savvy to offer one with a res built into two of the bays, but I'm looking forward to post-optical drive case design.
  8. fatcat
    fatcat
    Thrax said:
    There are better cases for cheaper, but it's a nice piece of engineering, and a novel aesthetic concept.
    Gargoyle said:
    The original Level 10 oozed quality, but the GT has simplified-out all of the interesting aesthetic design (but I don't dispute the case's utility)
  9. mertesn
    mertesn The price has dropped to $199.99
  10. _k_
    _k_ Have the snow edition. Have one of my dual socket machines in there and all of the trays filled, need to bump mine kind of hard to get them to seat all the way. I have not been able to engineer a good way to secure the SATA cables any better and it is slightly annoying if I want to transport it.

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