Introduction

With all those mass produced pre-modded cases out there in the market, I know its very easy to be tempted to buy a case that looks good on the exterior but end up lacking in cooling performance. Sometimes the slick color of your case just doesnít match that beige optical drive you installed into it. I know how that feels but no worries. Well if you havenít heard already, Thermaltake Technology had recently released their new line of Xaser Series Full tower ATX Cases, the Xaser V. Thermaltake has been in the business of case manufacturing for a very long time and let me tell you, this is the best theyíve made so far.

   

For this review, we will be evaluating two subgroups of the Xaser V, the Damier Series and the WinGo series. Along with the accompanying new slick look of the new Xaser cases, these babies, unlike it predecessors, sport some features like the ability to house three 90mm fans in the case (along with two other 80mm ones), speed adjustment knobs for the fans on the front panel of the case, as well as its innovative compact design which allows you to install up to five 5.25" drives (you heard me, five 5.25" bays, THATíS A LOT!).

Specifications

Tower Type

Full Tower

Motherboard Support

Micro ATX, Standard ATX & Extended ATX

Dimensions (HxWxD)

490 x 205x 580 mm

(19.3" x 8.1" x 22.9")

Construction Material

Xaser Steel Chassis

1.0 mm SECC Steel (door made of aluminum)

Xaser Aluminum Chassis

1.0 mm Aluminum (everything except front bay door, which is plastic)

Weight

Xaser Aluminum Chassis

6.7 kg (14.8 lbs)

Xaser Steel Chassis

16 kg (35.27lbs)

Bays

5.25" Drive Bays Ė 5

3.5" External Drive Bays Ė 2

3.5" Internal Drive Bays Ė 3

Cooling System

2 x Exhaust

  • Top: 80mm fan (2050RPM, 21dB)
  • Rear: 90mm Blue LED fan (Speed Adjustable 1300~3000RPM)

3 x Intake

  • Front: 80mm fan (2050RPM, 21dB)
  • Side Up: 90mm Fan (Speed Adjustable 1300~3000RPM)
  • Side Down: 90mm Blue LED fan (1800RPM, 21dB)

Power Supply

Optional (Not Included in this version)

Expansion Slots

7

External USB, Firewire, Mic In & Out

Yes, on top of case

  • 2 x USB2.0
  • 1 x IEEE1394 (Firewire)
  • 1 x Microphone Input
  • 1 x Microphone Output

Special Features

  • Retractable foot stands
  • "X" Type Window
  • 3.5" and 5.25" Drive Rails
  • Side panel security lock & 3-way front panel lock
  • WinGo EL lamp with 3 way function inverter (on/off / flash / lighting)

 

The Damier series cases and the WinGo series cases are almost identical in almost every respect. The only thing that distinguishes them from each other is their external design (mainly the front panel). The Damier has a checkered pattern door while the WinGo has a skived design. Each series comes in 3 different colors: silver, black, and blue. However, only the silver cases come in aluminum while the black and blue versions come in steel.

The internal structures of the cases are identical, which is why in the review only pictures of the Xaser V Damier were taken when it came to going into detail about the innards of the case.

To LAN party fanatics, it is recommended to purchase the silver aluminum version of the Xaser V as opposed to the steel version. When comparing the weight between the steel case and the aluminum, the steel case was quite heavy to carry, even when the components were not installed (when components were installed, it seemed that it was impossible to carry it for long distance). Compared to the steel version, the aluminum case felt like a feather (when components were not installed), since it only weighed 15lbs.

Front Panel Door

The first thing that I noticed was the front bezel that sports the cool looking Electro-Luminescent (EL) insignia that was crafted onto the door. When turned on, it gives the case a suave touch. Amazingly, the front of the case consists of 2 doors, the 1st door is the drive bay door, which covers the 2nd door and the 2nd door is the panel which contains things such as the power and reset button as well showing the optical drives and 3.5" external drives. Behind the second door is the front housing of the case and that part of the case is where you install all your 5.25" drives as well as your external 3.5" drives.

The 2-way door is secured using a locking mechanism. The lock can lock 3 ways: all doors unlocked, 2nd door locked only, or all doors locked. The piece that houses the locking mechanism also contains the Power LED as well as the Activity LED, which can be viewed regardless of whether or not the door is open, since they do not lie behind the door.

 

Of course the most distinctive feature that makes the bay door unique are the 2 knobs located on the top and bottom of the door. Each one of those knobs controls the speed of a Thermaltake Smart Fan 2 series case fan. It can go anywhere from silent 1300 RPM to a somewhat noisy 3000 RPM and of course, the tradeoff for the loud noise is the extra airflow from the fans. This can come in handy for those people who like to overclock and/or game to such an extremity that their rig starts to produce lots of heat that they want to get rid of.

Behind the bay door are of course the drive bays themselves. To my surprise, the Xaser V was engineered to hold up to five 5.25" drives, which is a lot considering most typical cases only have up to four 5.25" bays. Also located on this panel are your standard two 3.5" external bays for your floppy or zip drive or what have you. Adjacent to the two 3.5" external bays are the power and reset buttons.

Below the two 3.5" external bays are a series of vents that allow air into the case to cool the system and of course behind the vent is a fan. Some low quality cases donít have this, which really hinders the case of good air circulation within the tower (and therefore increases the temperature) but luckily with the Xaser V, this isnít the case. The only downfall about the vents is that when the bay door is closed, it covers the vents and basically it canít suck in a lot cool air into the system. Nonetheless, the front vent and silent 21dB 80mm fan still helps even when the door is closed, since there are always small seeps and spaces that allow some air to flow into the bay door and into the case.

 

Amazingly, the panel behind the bay door is also a door and behind it is also another panel. This panel is used to install your 5.25" drives and 3.5" external drives.

Installing a 5.25" is very easy. All you need to do is snap on drive rail at each side of your optical drive and slide it in until it snaps into place. Removing the drive only requires users to push the tabs inwards and pulling the drive out. For installing the external 3.5" drives, there is a slide able tray that you can slip your drives into.

All the way at the bottom is a knob which locks the side panel.

Rear End of Case and External USB/Firewire/Mic

Unlike most full tower cases, these cases only houses one rear 90mm fan as opposed to two 80mm fans. Two 80mm fans usually provide more airflow than one fan, even if it is 90mm. Although a 90mm fan doesnít suck, it would have been more efficient to have either two 80mm fans or one 120mm

At the top of the case, there is a flip door that opens to reveal two USB2.0 ports, one Firewire port, and one microphone in and one microphone out jack. Adjacent to the flip door are the vents that cover the top fan.

Internal Structure

One noticeable highlight of the case is the fact that there are A LOT of tangled wires in the case. These come from the many fan wires in the case, along with the external USB, firewire, and mic cables, etc. This may or may not cause air circulation problems depending on how good users can clean up the wires.

Inside you can see that the 3.5" internal drive housing is faced sideways. The position of the housing makes hard drive maintenance easier but also restricts some of the airflow from the front of the case.

Inside the case are five 5.25" bays supported by drive rails. Nothing fancy.

There is, unfortunately, no removable motherboard tray.

By looking at the fancy expansion slot holders, one might think that makes everyoneís life easy when it comes to installing expansion cards. WRONG! Users with a video card that takes up 2 slots (e.g. GeForce FX5900, 5950, etc) will run into some trouble. To make a long story short, the tabs were meant to accommodate only one card per slot and basically there is something that separates the tabs, therefore when users try to slip in their two slot video cards in, it wonít go into the tabs, which leads to the inability to install a slot video card. I know this might sound confusing but trust me on this, itís a pain in the ass. Basically you would have to cut the barrier on the expansion slot mechanism in order for you to get the video card installed. When installing single slot expansion cards, the tabs were sometimes hard to turn. The point is, the expansion slot mechanism in the case is terrible to say the least and Thermaltake should have stuck with old fashioned screws when it comes to expansion slots.

Case Temperatures

Case temperatures were not that impressive. When compared to an Ahanix dBox, the black Xaser Damier chassis did not even come close to beating it. Most of the time, the Xaserís temperature was the same as the dBox. When it wasnít, it grew hotter than the dBox.

When compared to an Aspire X-Pider Full Tower chassis, the aluminum Xaser WinGo lacked in cooling as well. This is quite disappointing, since the Aspire X-pider is a year old full tower model while the Tt Xaser V is the latest model.

Reasons for a lack of good cooling can be possibly contributed by these factors:

Lack of strong fans (especially at the rear of the case)

Numerous that came included in case, disrupting airflow

Blocked ventilation caused by front panel

Blocked ventilation due to position of HDD cage

Conclusion

After evaluating the external and internal structure of the Xaser V WinGo and Damier cases, we found both good things and bad things about the Xaser V. One good thing about the cases was that the cases looked really cool with the LED fans and front panel lights turned on. The other plus side (applicable only to the aluminum versions of the Xaser V) was that the aluminum chassis very light (weighing only 15lbs).

The downsides were that the case provided mediocre-poor cooling inside the case. I found it quite pointless to replace the traditional use of two 80mm at the rear of the case with one 90mm fan; it is most likely the main cause to the lack of cooling. Also, the steel chassis version of the Xaser V was extremely heavy, weighing 35.27lbs without any components installed. With components installed, one might find it impossible to carry it for more than 15 seconds.

The new line of Xaser V is remarkably cool looking however, there are some downsides to it. Due to their lack of efficient cooling (not taking into account the fact that the steel versions of the Xaser V are extremely heavy), both cases could not get a score of anything higher than a 8.5. Due in part to its slick looks, the lightness of the case, the Xaser V WinGo Aluminum V8000A receives a rating of 8.5/10, while due to its heavy weight (despite the fact that the case looks slick), the Xaser V Damier V5000A receives a rating of 8.0/10.

 

Xaser V WinGo V8000A

Pros:

Cons:

SLRating: 8.5/10

 

Xaser V Damier V5000A

Pros:

Cons:

SLRating: 8/10



Hardware
Reviews, Articles, News, All Reviews...
Gaming
Reviews, Articles, News...
IT Jobs
Career Center, News Users, Login...
Regular Sections
A Guru's World, CPU/Memory Watch, SLDeals...
SLBoards
Forums, Register(Free), Todays Discussions...
Site Info
Search, About Us, Advertise...