Earlier this year, Thermaltake wowed us all with the announcement of the Level 10, a concept case designed in conjunction with BMW DesignWorks. Rather than a standard aluminum box, the Thermaltake Level 10 would incorporate a central pillar, with individual compartments hanging from it for the motherboard, PSU, optical drives, and hard drives. Here's a press shot of the Level 10.
The Level 10. It's high-concept! (click to embiggen)
We haven't heard much about the Level 10 since Computex in June; we were even a bit skeptical that such an outré case would ever come to market. But Friday morning we strolled into our secret lair to find an enormous box on our doorstep. After a hasty unboxing (documented on Page 2), we found a Level 10 of our very own, which we promptly shipped upstairs to our in-house photographers.
The Thermaltake Level 10 in all its glory.
As you can see, the production Level 10 is nearly identical to the concept shots we've seen earlier. Each compartment on the Level 10 has its own ventilation. The large panels on the lower left cover the motherboard mount, PCI-E cards, GPUs, and so forth. The six slots on the right are hot-swap SATA bays, connected to a large vertical heatsink. The bays have mounts for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives. The top right box holds three optical drives, and the upper left box holds the power supply.
We didn't have time to hook up all the lights, but the Level 10 includes a red LED strip that runs from the case's front panel across the top and to the rear, as well as red LED intake and exhaust fans in the motherboard compartment. Each of the six SATA hard drive bays includes a red LED that lights when the bay is occupied (we stuck a hard drive in the top one to show how it works).
The Level 10 with power supply, motherboard, optical drive, and three hard drive bays open.
The locks on the rear panel keep the component bays secure. The upper right lock secures the PSU and motherboard compartments, while the left locks the hard drive trays and optical drive bays.
The guts of the Level 10: individual compartments keep components thermally isolated. And it looks wicked.
The right side panel on the Level 10 comes off for access to the rear of the motherboard tray, just like on a standard case. Note the holes for cable routing as well as the backplane cutout for installing CPU coolers.
Now, step back with us in time as we show our initial unboxing of the Level 10, and give our first impressions of the case. Plus a bonus game: spot the cool stuff in our lab!
The Level 10 shipped in a 66lb box, fresh from the factory in Taipei.
In the top of the box was a nifty design book.
When unboxing heavy components, it's best to lay the box on the side. The Level 10 came well-protected.
At this point we started humming Also Sprach Zarathustra (aka the 2001: Space Odyssey theme)
The panels seem a tad saggy but sturdy when secured.
Here's the Level 10 with the rear panel removed.
The front-panel connectors include your standard 4 USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port, and standard audio jacks.The case fits standard ATX and micro-ATX boards. The motherboard tray is thankfully removable: we wouldn't want to install a board in a case you can't lay on its side. We dig the hard drive trays that light up when they contain a drive, and we especially dig that they can hold either 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives without additional hardware. We're not as keen on the back panel- specifically, how difficult it can be to put the panel back on; you sometimes have to fiddle with the hard drive locking mechanism before it will go back on.
One thing that might not come across in the pictures: the Level 10 is huge. It's 12.5 inches wide, two feet deep, and 26.2 inches high, and weighs over 47 pounds. The carrying handle on the top will definitely come in handy; we doubt any of the component bays can hold the whole weight of the case if you try to lift from them.
The Thermaltake Level 10 is stylish as hell, but how well will it work as a case? We'll find out! Look for our full review on MaximumPC.com in the next few weeks! The Level 10 will be available in mid-October for $700. For more information, check out the official product page and stay tuned to MaximumPC.com!