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David Murphy Jan 22, 2014

Thermaltake Urban S41

At A Glance

Urban Cowboy

Ample but loud cooling; built-in fan controller; hard-drive docking bay.

Suburban Commando

Flimsy plastic covers for drive bays and cases top; front-panel cover is difficult to open.

Lots of promise, little practicality

Thermaltake’s Urban S41 comes with all the trappings of a case that’s bound for success… and then you start to use it.

Take, for example, the Urban S41’s front panel. If a manufacturer puts a swinging cover on the front, common sense dictates that it should be fairly easy for someone to grab the edge of said cover to, you know, open it.

Good luck opening the front door—it’s seemingly made for inhumanly skinny fingers.

Not so with this chassis. There is no way to get any kind of traction on its front-panel cover unless your fingers are as flat as popsicle sticks or you reach all the way to the bottom of the case’s front to grasp the one section that you can get a decent grip on. Put this case under your desk, and you’re in for quite an unpleasant stretch.

The front panel conceals the system’s four 5.25-inch bays, covered by plastic panels that feel a bit cheap to the touch. On the bottom half of the case’s front is a similarly flimsy panel that covers the case’s front 12cm fan with plenty of room to spare. Plastic bars cut across the opening between the fan and the panel, making upgrading difficult for those looking to swap in new cooling.

Two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports adorn the top of the case’s front. On the top of the case itself, the power and reset buttons are joined by a “low” and “high” switch for the case’s built-in fan controller—one that you can’t actually connect more than two fans to (it controls the front 12cm and top 20cm fans by default). This case’s killer feature is the 2.5–3.5-inch docking slot built into the chassis to the rear of these buttons.

Annoyingly, the flimsy plastic panel covering the rest of the case’s top is a trap. Applying any force to it whatsoever is likely to make it pop clean off, a fact we learned when we first attempted to pick up the case and nearly dropped it on our feet.

The case’s side panels are covered in foam in an effort to dampen noise. Unfortunately, the largest source of noise on the Urban S41 is its top fan (whether you select the “low” or “high” setting on the fan controller), and there’s no foam on the accompanying panel to shield your ears from the racket.

We appreciate the case’s four screwless 5.25-inch drive bays; the case’s five 3.5-inch drive trays a little less so, as they still force you to physically screw in your storage. Worst of all, though, are the screws holding the case’s slot covers in place. The thumbscrews are actually located on the rear-outside of the chassis, and they’re impossible to manipulate with your fingers.

The Urban S41 comes with ample room between its motherboard tray and its side panel (and plenty of rubber-outlined holes) for all of your cable routing, and your motherboard standoffs are already built into the tray for you. There’s a big, fat cutout behind where your CPU will sit for easy aftermarket cooler installations, and a single 12cm fan blasts air out the rear of the chassis.

Still, combining all of the case’s successes can hardly overcome the mountain of failures created by the rest of its annoying design.

$140, www.thermaltake.com

THE VERDICT

Thermaltake Urban S41

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