Date: February 16th, 2010
Article by: Joe Anderson (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited By: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Thermaltake
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
Up front, we can see the five big bays and the two lower drive cages (which we’ll discuss in more detail later on,) all with black mesh covers. There are also some mesh details on the sides of the plastic front bezel. The top of the case features the front I/O panel and a pair of 200mm fan placements, the rearmost of which is home to a “ColorShift” fan that can be controlled by the large knob on the I/O panel. The right side panel is smooth and unremarkable with the exception of a couple of threaded holes that accept an optional beverage holder, and there are similar holes on the left panel for the same purpose. Frankly, I’m somewhat mystified by Thermaltake’s decision to pierce both side panels to provide threaded mounting holes for an optional accessory of questionable utility. Putting one of these…objects on a bicycle is one thing. Hanging one on the side of an otherwise attractive computer chassis is quite another. Let’s move on.
The I/O panel is very full featured and surrounded by a red-orange trim ring. Along with the customary power and HDD activity LEDs and audio ports, there are four nicely spaced USB 2.0 ports and an eSATA port. Large power and reset buttons flank the fan and lighting control knob. Pressing the knob down toggles the ColorShift fans through their lighting modes while turning the knob adjusts the fan speeds.
The rear of the chassis sports the ubiquitous blue-gray color of a steel chassis, which never used to bother me much until manufacturers started painting the backplane and interior. For the most part, it’s not really an issue since the rear of the case is seldom the focal point and the side window is rather small. At any rate, the rear of the Element is largely conventional in design with the exception of the bottom mounted PSU and the two tubing access knockouts just above the PSU mount. Thermaltake also offers, as an option, a cable locking system similar to what you might have seen on laptops that attaches to the rear of the chassis. Another security feature is the mouse cable lock, seen here holding the side panel lock keys. Just below this area is a pair of fan placements for optional 50mm fans to enhance airflow in this area. Four thumbscrews secure the side panels, but the left panel also features sliding latches with a locking feature to keep the inside goodies secure while providing easy access should the need arise.
A 230mm “ColorShift” intake fan is incorporated into the design of the side panel along with a small window just above the fan. As a general rule I like a side panel window, but in this case I’m not so sure. It really doesn’t detract from the aesthetics and it adds a bit of visual interest in the area, but the view through the window will likely be uninteresting and very restricted. Add to this the two mounting holes for the beverage holder, and the single chrome lock on the latch and the look of the side panel is somewhat compromised.
With the side panel removed, we get a look at something Thermaltake really got right. If you’ve ever had a case with a side fan, you know what a PITA it is to get the panel out of the way when adding hardware or performing maintenance. Not so with the Element V. This nifty mechanism makes the fan connections for you automatically when the panel is replaced. This is a great feature if you’re in and out of your computer on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, this photo also shows the somewhat sloppy paint job, with a lot of overspray on the interior. C’mon guys. I can tolerate some of this on a budget chassis but this is an upper end case that customers are going to have to spend almost $200 on. Either keep the interior clean or paint it to match the case.
Here we can see the rear exhaust fan and ventilated expansion slot covers on the rear of the case. No tool-free features here, and frankly it’s no disappointment, as most of the mounting solutions for this area just don’t work all that well. Thermaltake has included numerous cutouts on the tray to facilitate cable management and CPU changes. The tray will accept just about any board you want to throw at it and is clearly marked to help the user during installation.