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Cody Cardarelli Feb 07, 2011

Thermaltake V9 BlacX Edition Chassis

At A Glance

VIP

Integrated hot-swap SATA dock on top; decent airflow; accommodates long cards.

V8

Only two front-panel USB ports; no behind-the-mobo cable routing; weird aesthetics.

Son of an unholy union between a chassis and a SATA dock

We’ll admit it: When the Thermaltake V9 BlacX Edition mid-tower chassis showed up on our doorstep, we thought it was a joke. “Surely,” we said, “Thermaltake didn’t just slap one of its dual-bay BlacX hard drive docks onto a cheap mid-tower chassis and call it a day.” Well, Thermaltake did, and in a really confusing way. The V9 BlacX Edition is virtually identical to the plain ol’ V9, true, except the BlacX Edition has more features, better build quality, and a $60 dual-SATA dock slapped on the top. And it’s $30 cheaper than the plain ol’ V9. Er, what?

It’s not the most inspired design, but from this angle the Thermaltake V9 BlacX Edition looks pretty good.

The V9 BlacX Edition is a black mid-tower chassis, painted inside and out. Its front bezel and top panel are made of chunky black plastic with metal honeycomb-mesh fan coverings and drive-bay covers. Both side panels have honeycomb-style cutouts at two of their corners, and the left side panel also has a clear plastic window placed diagonally from top left to bottom right. The case, which measures 8.5 inches wide by 19.3 inches high by 18.9 inches deep, is on the small side for a mid-tower, and can accommodate ATX and microATX motherboards. It has five toolless 3.5-inch drive bays, three 2.5-inch drive bays (sorry, screws required), and four 5.25-inch bays—though the top one is basically inaccessible, as it contains the SATA wiring from the underside of the BlacX dock. The case has three fans—a 12cm blue LED front intake fan, 12cm rear exhaust fan, and 23cm top exhaust fan—which keep the components inside cool.

This honeycomb mesh appears twice on each side panel, and not always in sensible places.

The inside of the case is painted black, like the outside (a nice change from the V9). Six of the motherboard standoffs are extruded domes punched directly into the motherboard tray; the rest are the standard screw-in standoffs. The tray has a CPU backplate cutout, and some cable tie-downs near the front, but no cable-routing cutouts, which is a strange aesthetic choice in a case with a side window. The right-panel honeycomb mesh is also a weird choice, given that it’s right in front of the hard drive bay and thus exposes the rats-nest of cables behind it.

Thermaltake did us the favor of tying down its USB 3.0 pass-through cable, unlike most case vendors.

The case has seven PCI-E expansion slots, which are secured by a weird plastic clamp system that makes expansion-card installation difficult and leaves them with a bit of wiggle room even when secured. Thankfully, the clamp system is removable and the expansion cards can be secured by screws if desired. The case can accommodate a CPU cooler up to 6.5 inches high, and a GPU up to 12.4 inches long—that’s enough to fit a Radeon HD 5970.

The V9 BlacX Edition’s front panel is at once both feature-packed and lacking. It’s feature-packed in that it has USB 3.0, USB 2.0, audio, and (of course) two hot-swap SATA docks. Because the BlacX SATA docks are integrated directly into the chassis, they use straight SATA instead of USB or finicky eSATA, so they’re much faster and more robust than an external dock. Whether because of the dock or for some other reason, though, the case has only one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port at the front panel. That’s not enough.

Two hotswap SATA bays at the top of the case: good. Only two USB ports: bad.

We still have no idea why Thermaltake decided to smash a $60 docking station into a $140 case, make concrete improvements to the case, and then charge just $110 for it. We also don’t know why the company only put two front-panel USB ports on it, or gave us a side window but no behind-the-tray cable management. It’s not the best-constructed or prettiest case you can get for $110—unless you really need the top hotswap SATA docks.

THE VERDICT

Thermaltake V9 BlacX Edition Chassis

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