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Thermaltake is a well known computer peripheral vendor specialize in thermal & cooling. Chassis is one of the famous line of business as its uniqueness and creativity make them as the market leader. In May 2011 Thermaltake just released Chaser MK-1 chassis; a brand new full ATX tower series which is integrated with a HDD docking station within the chassis as its major unique selling point.
Started from the passion for the DIY (Do It Yourself) concepts and the desires to realize the goal of "Ideas are originated from humanity; Realizing ideas is our belief." Thermaltake Technology was established in January, 1999 and has been market to the world with "Thermaltake" brand name ever since.
Thermaltake became the number one choice for PC DIY enthusiast worldwide with its innovatively breakthrough product designs. The concept of "Quality", "Performance", and "Reliability" have been incorporated into the design of Thermaltake PC Chassis, Cooler and Power Supply to assure the components meet the highest standard.
• Command Center - With Chaser MK-1's fan controller onboard, gamer and enthusiasts can appreciate the convenience of adjusting the fan speed or lighting effect of the computer system.
• USB 3.0 SuperSpeed - Tired of reaching to the back of the computer to connect a USB 3.0 device Chaser MK-1 features latest USB 3.0 ports with internal header. Two USB 3.0 ports are conveniently located on the front of the case.
• HDD Docking Station - By adapting world's best selling BlacX Docking Station concept into a computer case, users can now effortlessly transfer large volume of data without the need for a conventional external storage device. Simply insert any 2.5" or 3.5" SATA hard drive into the docking station and start enjoying hot-swap capability and blazing-fast transfer speed through SATA interface.
• VGA TripleMax 33CM - All of today's high-end and advanced graphic cards that are capable of delivering ultra-realistic, immersive and intense gaming experience have longer than usual form factor which means not all computer case will fit. Chaser MK-1 not only address this concern by supporting graphic card up to 330mm in length, but also designed cooling surrounding the graphic card location to improve heat dissipation and reduce acoustic output.
• CableClear Cable Management - Dramatically improves thermal efficiency of the computer system by ensuring power cables do not get in the way of airflow.
• Enthusiasts Water Cooling Ready - Spacious interior is only the bare minimum when it comes to water cooling. Chaser MK-1 features an innovative top removable panel that can be easily transformed to accommodate high-efficiency 24cm radiator!
• Combat Headset Holder - Headset holder designed into the case allows gamers to store their gaming headset easily and securely.
• Heightened Foot Stands - High thermal efficiency case that address all common and uncommon issues. Heighten foot stands elevate the whole computer system enough to prevent rug or any other soft flooring material from blocking the air intake/exhaust found on the bottom of the case.
Package & Contents
All the Thermaltake products are always packed very nicely and this is same for Chaser MK-1 where it comes with a huge eye-catching container since it is a full ATX tower chassis. Cooling details, features, liquid cooling application, unique designs, external & internal structures are described on the packaging box for gaining better attraction.
Here are the bundled accessories of Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 which consists of 5.25" to 3.5" bay converter, 5.25" to 3.5" bay filler, 4-pin ATX cable extender, wire ties, internal beeping speaker, user manual and a set of installation screws. 3 years warranty is given for Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 which is definitely sufficient.
A Closer Exterior Look on Thermaltake Chaser MK-I
As we mentioned previously Thermaltake Chaser MK-I is a newly launched chassis series and so far it is the only member in the family. There is potential for other form factors to be released (mid tower, small form factor) just like Element and Armor series, we will announce it in our website when the day comes.
The exact dimension and weight for Thermaltake Chaser MK-I are about 568 x 237 x 581mm and 12.3KG; such net weight is pretty overkill so carrying it around could be troublesome. Thermaltake Chaser MK-I can support up to four exposed 5.25" drives and one of the drive bays can be converted to support 3.5" device.
Same with other advanced chassis, Thermaltake Chaser MK-I's exposed drive bays can be removed out externally and easily; press on the blue clips and pull the filler out. Right below the exposed drive bays, there is a large ventilation area which is allocated for the 200mm colorshift front cooling fan with 600-800RPM at 13-15dBA.
Here are the Thermaltake Chaser MK-I's Command Center and the front I/O panel. Power button is located at the center while the rest of the button, controllers and I/O ports are located at both sides. Those I/O are reset button, fan speed & colorshift controllers, audio jacks, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0 and 1 x e-SATA.
With Thermaltake Chaser MK-I, no additional HDD docking station is required either for data transferring or back up. A docking station is pre-integrated on the Thermaltake Chaser MK-I's top panel and both of the 3.5" and 2.5" SATA HDDs are supported. This is an awesome idea and it is definitely a wanted feature.
Thermaltake Chaser MK-I's top panel can support up to two 200mm cooling fans but only a unit is given which is a colorshift fan and having 13-15dBA with 600 ~ 800RPM. By removing out the 200mm cooling fan, Thermaltake Chaser MK-I's top panel is able to support a 240mm radiator for an insane water cooling setup.
The left side panel has a half-size see-thru window, an air vent for 200mm cooling fan and a unique holder. This 200mm air vent is purposely designed to further enhance the graphic card cooling performance if it is required. The see-thru clear window looks nice but we believe enthusiasts will prefer to get a panel with full see-thru window.
Here is another caring feature by Thermaltake where a holder is available on the left side panel. Thisholder could be used to hook up a mid size computing accessories and in fact it is specially designed for gaming headset. This holder could be flipped up when it is not being used so that it will not be damaged or broken accidentally.
Thermaltake Chaser MK-I is a performance chassis hence it must be equipped with world leading and trendy design such as three large 0.5" rubber grommets for water cooling setup (sufficient for most of the advanced setup) and upside-down PSU placement to isolate the thermal zones so that PSU will has better cooling efficiency.
Thermaltake Chaser MK-I comes with heightened foot stands which is not only allow it to gain better stability but also getting better thermal efficiency. Additional cooling fan could be added right in front of the PSU area and a 120 x 2 sized dust filter is included so that the inner case can be kept as clean as possible.
In olden days most of the chassis is either only lighted up by single mode of lightning or mixture of few lightnings. Recently some of the latest chassis are equipped with colorshift technology which allows Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 to have few color modes; red, blue, green, mixture or off; this is a very creative and interesting feature.
A Closer Interior Look on Thermaltake Chaser MK-I
The internal design of Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 is as good as its exterior design. The whole interior chassis is fully painted in black; looks good and has better corrosive resistance. A large CPU cutout on motherboard plate is a must for most of the mid-range till performance chassis; simplifying CPU cooler installation.
Both of ODD and HDD drive cages are designed neatly and tool-less kits are provided for them too. The drive will be automatically secured once it is slotted into the drive; pull out the blue handle will unfasten the drive. Four ODD drive bays might look insufficient but it should be good enough to fulfill most of the users.
Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 can support up to six HDDs (both 3.5" & 2.5"). HDD tray is provided which helps to simplify the HDD installation but it will be perfect if a SATA & power module is included where the HDD can be plugged into the cage directly without manual cabling setup; some sort like hot-swappable device.
Other interior compartments are well designed too. Rear panel is equipped with a 140mm exhausting TurboFan with 1000RPM at 16dBA. The PSU can be installed in both directions but it is good to let the fan facing downward so it can have better cooling efficient as in-stable power will affect the system performance eventually.
No tool-less kit for PCI card as screw is still the best tool to secure those giant and heavy cards. Besides that there are plenty of honeycomb air vents surrounding the chassis. Thermaltake includes CableClear feature on Chaser MK-1 chassis where there are plenty of holes on the motherboard plate so cables can be routed at the other side.
Such cable routing will greatly improve the cable management but it takes time to do so and it is complicated. Although a SATA & power module is not available on the HDD cage for hot-swappable installation method but Thermaltake has provided a set of power and SATA cables so no manual cable routing is required.
The reason why Thermaltake Chaser MK-1; a full ATX tower chassis can only support four ODD drives is due to the front 200mm cooling fan. As we mentioned in above paragraph, this 200mm cooling is a colorshift fan where its color can be controlled via the Command Center. A dust filter is provided for this fan for easier regular maintenance.
Installation, Testing & Performance
After all the theoretical explanations about Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 and it is time to talk about its functionality in more practically way via installation. As usual we will start the installation with motherboard since it is the most bulky component and other components require it to be installed first. Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 is a full ATX tower chassis hence it has very spacious interior which has no problem to accommodate any full ATX motherboard. There is no difference to install the motherboard on Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 than other chassis so this step is pretty straightforward.
Following on will be CPU and CPU cooler installation. In olden days if the CPU cooler comes with back plate then it has to be mounted on the motherboard before the motherboard is secured on the chassis. However this is no longer required for most of the modern chassis such as Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 as it already comes with a large CPU cutout on the motherboard which is 100% compatible most of the tower or huge CPU coolers in the market. The installation difficulty level is solely depend on the CPU cooler itself hence it is always good to go ahead with those simplified installation method or else it will be a nightmare.
Next steps will be DIMM, graphic card, HDD and ODD installation. As we mentioned previously Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 is equipped with tool-less kits for both ODD and HDD hence the installation for these two components are pretty straightforward especially the ODD; pull out the blue handle on ODD drive cage will release the installed drive. The tool-less kit for HDD is something nice to have but not that good in practical as both of the left and right panels have to be opened up to plug in or unplug the power and SATA cables from the other side. If such HDD installation is not a frequent activity then it should be alright or else it could be quite troublesome.
Since the HDD installation is slotted in from the side panel direction hence Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 does not have any compatible issue with any consumer desktop graphic card in the market; regardless whether it is dual SLI or triple SLI. Since Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 does not come with tool-less kit for PCI lock, a manual screw installation is required and it works very well even with though heavy and bulky graphic card which could be a common problem for most of the other tool-less PCI locks.
Lastly will be the PSU and cabling setup. Thanks to the upside down PSU placement which mitigates the dropping risk especially for those heavy PSUs. Besides that the CableClear holes do help a lot on cable management where it reduces the messy cable condition and improves the internal airflow circulation. PSU cable length is a common issue in such situation but Thermaltake does provide a cable extender for the 4-pin ATX power cable so that it can reach the connector which is always located at the top of the motherboard.
No additional cooling fan is added in our test as Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 has been equipped with two 200mm cooling fans at top & front panel and 140mm cooling fan at rear panel hence it is more than adequate to provide excellent cooling performance. Overall we did not encounter any severe compatible issue during our installation and setup which is expected for such high quality full ATX tower chassis.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8300 @ 2.83GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3/Gigabyte G31M-ES2L
Heatsink: Noctua NH-C14
Memory: Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR2 8500
Hard Drive: 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Seagate
Graphic Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX260+
PCIe: Aten IC320U USB 3.0
Casing: Thermaltake Chaser MK-I
HDD Cage: Icy Dock MB994SP-4S
PSU: OCZ ZX 850W
Optical Drive: HLDS DVD RW +/-
Controller: Aerocool Touch 2000
Monitor: Dell 22" Wide Screen LCD
Speaker: Edifier R501
Mouse: SteelSeries Ikari Laser
Mouse Pad: SteelSeries QcK+
HeadSet: SteelSeries 3H
Router: TRENDnet TEW-639GR
Operating System: Window XP Pro SP2/Win 7 HP
Ambient Temperature: 27 Degree Celsius
With the default cooling equipments on Thermaltake Chaser MK-I, here are the results that we have obtained with our testbed. Overall Thermaltake Chaser MK-I delivers a decent performance especially the CPU and system cooling performance. The graphic card performance could be further enhanced by adding 200mm cooling fan on the left side panel but this could be overkill unless noise is not a concern at all. The HDD cooling performance on Thermaltake Chaser MK-I is slightly average and it could be better since the HDD cage and HDD tool-less tray do cover up most of the HDD surface so the cooling performance is slightly affected but not significant. Silent fans are used on Thermaltake Chaser MK-I hence the generated noise is pretty reasonable although it is still audible; don't except it is completely silent unless all the fans are removed out. Colorshift works very well and we believe most of the users completely love it since it provides four colors + off stage. Two fan speeds (high & low) are available to control the Thermaltake Chaser MK-I's fans and it work very well too and it is not necessary to get rotary fan speed controller which could be too troublesome for certain users.
Chaser MK-I is another great product Thermaltake which meets its objectives and users' expectations since Thermaltake seldom let us down. Thermaltake Chaser MK-I is a full ATX tower chassis which is equipped with plenty of cool and unique features where HDD docking station is one of the think-out-of-the-box features; purchasing a HDD docking device will easily cost about 30USD. Besides that Thermaltake Chaser MK-I is also empowered with other familiar features but we would like to highlight them as they are useful; water cooling ready, radiator mounting ready, command centre, colorshift fans, fan speed controller and etc. 160USD for such high performance chassis is not really expensive and it will be a good investment as it could last longer than other chassis in term of technology advantages.
+ Full ATX tower chassis
+ Great design & quality built
+ Decent cooling performance
+ Integrated HDD docking station
+ Command Centre
+ Colorshift fans
+ Fan speed controller
+ Water cooling ready
+ 240mm radiator is supported
+ Tool-less kits
+ Headset holder
+ Mesh covers & dust filters
- Prefer a SATA & power module for HDD hot-pluggable
Thanks to Thermaltake for providing this sample for us to review.
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