Thermaltake Armor series VA8000SWA


This lightweight case is heavy on features

The Thermaltake Armor is one of the most modular and customizable enclosures we’ve laid retinas on. It’s like an aluminum sandbox inside of which you can build a wide variety of PC configurations. But one of its most attractive features is the way it can accommodate either air or water cooling.

The case has no fewer than nine tool-less 5.25-inch drive bays in front, one of which is occupied by a module harboring the power button and indicator lights. But you can easily move this module to any other open bay. A removable three-slot hard-drive cage with a built-in 23cm fan and a blue LED can also be placed anywhere in the front bezel. Not enough drive bays for you? There’s a second three-drive cage, with its own 9cm exhaust fan, near the top of the case. This one lies next to the vertically mounted power supply.

Now you’re probably thinking “There’s a drive cage and a PSU mounted in the top of the case? How wide is this thing?” At 220mm (8.66 inches), it’s a little wider than average, but that’s because it’s designed to accommodate water-cooling kits like the one’s reviewed in this issue. These kits require space for the coolant reservoir, a big-ass radiator, and a pump. The Armor includes extra space all around for these items—it even sports pre-drilled holes in its rear bezel, so you can route water-cooling tubes.

The Armor’s all-aluminum construction renders it incredibly light, even when it’s packed full of hardware. One editor went so far as to compare it to an empty beer can, but we think the aluminum is just a bit too thin in some areas. For example, wiggling an installed AGP card flexes the entire rear panel of the case. Not good.

In the end, the Thermaltake Armour’s “thin is in” physique denied it a Kick Ass award, but we couldn’t find a single other feature to criticize. This case has every feature we desire, and some we’ll start looking for in other case designs, including its built-in tool holder and the fact that it’s BTX-ready with a simple upgrade kit. --Josh Norem

+ Full beer can: Tons of cool features, tool-less, ready for water cooling

- Empty beer can: Too-thin aluminum exterior makes it a bit wobbly

Month Reviewed: May 2005
Verdict: 9

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