Review: Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition Chassis
3/15/2012 by: Ryan Glovinsky
Today we’re taking a look at one of Thermaltake’s most impressive, and most expensive chassis in their lineup: the Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition. The Level 10 GT Snow Edition is the latest iteration of Thermaltake’s Level 10 line. The original was a sleek, BMW designed chassis with separate compartments for components, but it was criticized for poor cooling and an exorbitant price tag. Then came the Level 10 GT, a complete redesign that emulated the aesthetic of the compartmentalized exterior, but with a much more functional design, and a significantly lower price. The Level 10 GT Snow Edition is identical to the the Level 10 GT, but with a sharp new color scheme; bucking the popular trend of mostly or all black chassis. currently on the market.
- Case Type: Full Tower
- Material: SECC
- Front Bezel Material: Plastic
- Color -
- Exterior: White and Black
- Interior: Black
- Side Panel: Window
- Motherboard Support -
- Micro ATX
- Standard ATX
- Extended ATX
- Motherboard Tray: N/A
- 5.25" Drive Bay: 4
- Ext. 3.5" Drive Bay: 1
- Int. 3.5" Drive Bay: 5
- Expansion Slots: 8
- Front I/O Ports -
- USB 3.0 x 2 (Internal 20 pin connector)
- USB 2.0 x 4
- eSATA x 1
- HD Audio x 1
- Cooling System -
- Front (intake):
- 200 x 200 x 20 mm ColorShift Fan x 1 (600~800RPM, 13~15dBA)
- Rear (exhaust):
- 140 x 140 x 25 mm Turbo Fan (1000PRM, 16 dBA)
- Top (exhaust):
- 200 x 200 x 30 mm ColorShift Fan (600~800RPM, 13~15dBA)
- Side (intake):
- 200 x 200 x 30 ColorShift Fan (600~800RPM), 13~15dBA)
- Bottom (intake):
- 120 x 120 x 25mm (optional)
- Liquid Cooling Capable: Yes
- Liquid Cooling Embedded: No
- Power Supply Supported: Standard PS2
- Power Supply Included: No
- Dimension (H*W*D) -
- 584 x 282 x 590 mm
- Net Weight: 28.0 lbs
- Security Lock -
- Front HDD Access
- Side Panel
- Rear peripherals
The Level 10 GT Snow Edition comes with a variety of features. Immediately noticeable are two USB 3.0 ports on top of the chassis, as well as an eSATA port. This is supplemented by four standard USB 2.0 ports on the front of the chassis. Also, just in front of the USB 3.0 ports on top of the chassis are three buttons. One allows you to change the speed and brightness of the chassis’ fans and fan LEDs to high, and another allows you to set them to low. The third button changes the LEDs to different colors and light patterns. The options are blue, green, red, spinning while alternating between the three, alternating between them all (without spinning), and all lights (keep in mind this option does not turn off the light on the power button).
The chassis also included a headphone stand that can attach onto the right side of the chassis, which allows the user to store their headphones in a convenient location when not in use.
The chassis also has five removable hard drive trays which can be locked using a key included with the chassis. The removable hard drive trays have been extremely useful when doing formatting or simply copying information over to other hard drives. One thing to note is that the trays do not have tool-less drive retention, they require the use of screws to attach hard drives. Oftentimes using screws provides a more rugged and reliable system than a tool-less one. However, in this case the goal is to have hot swappable drives that can easily and quickly be added and removed, and to that end a reliable tool-less design would be beneficial.
Another aspect of the hard drive trays are that the SATA data and power connectors plug into the hard drive trays, rather than the actual hard drives. The SATA power connector is daisy-chained up the array of trays, making it so the user only needs to plug in one SATA power connector at the bottom. This is a convenient feature for builders who have modular power supplies, as it decreases the number of SATA power cables one has to use. The SATA data cables plug into the back of the trays, but are not daisy-chained like the power connector is.
This approach is workable, but one complaint is that the tray’s SATA data connectors do not support the attachment clip found on most SATA cables. This means that any nudge to the cables in that area with the chassis open will almost certainly cause a hard drive to become disconnected. There is also danger of this occurring when the back panel is being put back onto the chassis. While this is by no means a fatal flaw, it would be safer and more convenient to have had the hard drive trays utilize SATA data cable retention clips.
The chassis also features a swing-out side panel.
What is ingenious about this feature is that there are no molex or fan headers required to run the fan and LEDs that are embedded into the side panel, as there is a contact point the swing-out panel touches as it closes to complete the circuit. This makes it so that as the user opens the panel, even with the computer on, that fan and set of LEDs turn off automatically.
It also has a slide out dust filter that covers the fan.
Also, once swung out to 90 degrees and beyond, the user is able to completely remove the side panel by lifting it up out of its hinges. It also features a lever to adjust the direction the fans move the air (up or down only).
It also has a lock using the same key mentioned before to prevent unauthorized entry to that part of the chassis. Keep in mind these features only exist for the primary side panel, the back panel is a standard steel panel that slides in and out, and is secured by thumbscrews.
The chassis also has rubber grommets to support water cooling and four top screws for a 240mm radiator.
Building and Design
For this build, we used the following components:
Processor - Intel Core i7 920 2.66 GHz
Cooler - Noctua NH-U12P SE2
Motherboard - ASRock X58 Extreme
RAM - 3x2GB Kingston HyperX 1600 Mhz Cas8
Graphics - Radeon HD 6970
SSD - OCZ Agility 60 GB x2 in RAID 0
HDD - 1 TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 x2 in RAID 1
PSU - Cooler Master 1000W Silent Pro
Building inside the chassis was quite easy and straightforward. The chassis came with the motherboard standoffs already in.
The rubber grommets allowed for incredible cable management, and the hard drive tray system decreased the required number of SATA power cables, and made the management of the SATA data cables much easier. The chassis easily fit the Radeon HD 6970 graphics card, with room to spare.
The mounting system for the PCI/PCIe components is simple and sturdy. It uses a standard thumbscrew system that attaches onto a second removable metal panel that also attaches to the chassis via two thumbscrews. This provides excellent retention, but also easy access to components.
The interior of the chassis has a sleek black finish, and the exterior has the unique white with black and blue trim motif of Thermaltake’s Snow Edition peripherals. However, one confusing thing was the blue trim. It is a type of translucent blue plastic that looks designed to be lit up by LEDs, but it turned out to be just simple decoration.
The exterior of the case is visually appealing, retaining the appearance of a compartmentalized chassis like the original Level 10, but with the practicality of a monolithic chassis for improved airflow and access. The chassis is not small by any means, comparable to a CoolerMaster HAF 932 in height, but significantly wider. The layout of the exterior is well thought out, with a slightly recessed power button at the top of the front of the chassis, and a flat reset button located just below it. Below that are the four front panel USB 2.0 ports, and the front audio and microphone ports. Near the front of the chassis on the top are the two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, and the fan and LED controls.
The front of the chassis also sports easily removable 5.25” drive bay covers and one 3.5” drive bay cover. The front panel is also easily removable, it simply pops off the front, and allows the user to take out the dust filter for the front fan and clean it with ease.
On the bottom of the chassis are four adjustable feet, able to be turned out for stability, or inwards for compactness. It also has a slide out dust filter that runs along the entire bottom, which prevents a lot of dust from getting into the bottom-mounted power supply and makes cleaning very easy.
The chassis itself also runs very quietly, significantly quieter than the CoolerMaster HAF 932 the components had been housed in before. The cooling system is also quite well designed, as the various fans direct airflow in through the front and side, and out through the top and back of the chassis. This directed method allows for more efficient and effective cooling than the method sometimes used by other manufacturers, which is just a ridiculous number of fans with no coordination. A method which yields poor cooling, and a lot of dust.
At an MSRP of $299 and a street price (on Newegg and Amazon) of $289, the Level 10 GT Snow Edition firmly puts itself in the price bracket of high end chassis, competing at the same price point as the Lian Li Z70 and the SilverStone TEMJIN TJ10. It is a full featured chassis with exceptional aesthetic and a very unique look. The only reasons that make it harder to justify the price point are the SATA data ports on the hard drive trays lacking the retention clips, and we would have preferred to see an all aluminum design rather than steel and plastic. An aluminum design would have given the chassis a more sophisticated look, replacing the plastic exterior, and been lighter than the SECC steel used for the main body of the chassis. We would consider a more appropriate price point for the current design to be around $200, as it would have a much easier time competing at that price point with its current set of features. The unique exterior design and paint-job definitely set it apart, but not enough to justify the cost.
Overall, this is an excellent chassis with a lot of features, a great look, and very few, minor drawbacks. If money is not an issue, this is not only a chassis that stands out, but is also very practical. In conclusion, this is a sturdy chassis with a nice set of features and a stunning look, which was clearly designed with PC enthusiasts in mind, and it hits its mark solidly, albeit with a relatively hefty price tag.
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