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Finding a chassis that successfully combines practical noise dampening, useful features, and cooling can be a bit of a needle in the haystack sometimes—but in this case (pardon the pun), that’s Thermaltake’s New Soprano. The solid construction of this chassis creates an upgrading or installation experience that’s free of frustration. Our only complaint with the case, if you can really call it that, is that it lacks pizazz.
This case might look fairly simple on the outside, but it has just about everything you’d ever want or need. Trust us.
That said, give us function over pretty lights any day.
The jet-black exterior of the case uses a front-panel door to create a sleek, uncluttered aesthetic by allowing you to hide your components when you aren’t specifically using them. The door doubles as an excellent noise-dampener and, we argue, a heavier-than-you-might-expect blunt object for use when squaring off against midnight intruders or zombie hordes.
Two USB 3.0 ports sit alongside two USB 2.0 ports on the top-front of the case; we’re even more enthusiastic about the built-in hot-swap hard drive docking station for 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives that Thermaltake’s constructed on the top of the chassis itself. It’s a delightful and unexpected addition to the case that brings a lot of extra connectivity without harming the case’s overall look or feel.
On the inside, Thermaltake uses four simple locking mechanisms to keep your 5.25-inch device held tightly. Installing an optical drive requires you to remove the drive bay’s front panels—easily done without having to rip off any part of the case’s front. Four screwless hard drive trays rest behind the case’s secret weapon: a huge, blue-LED, 20cm fan that delivers plenty of air over your drives without blowing out your eardrums to do so. Above the primary 3.5-inch bays rests a single additional 3.5-inch drive bay and a single 2.5-inch bay for your solid-state needs (neither one screwless). Thermaltake positions the thumbscrews for the case’s seven expansion slots on the exterior of the case. While that saves you a little room on the inside—giving the case space for a video card up to 12.2-inches in length—it also means that it’s really hard to actually use your fingers to tighten or loosen the screws.
Thermaltake pulls out all the stops to make it as easy as possible for you to install or upgrade parts—minus the expansion slots, which will require a screwdriver.
Motherboard standoffs are built directly into the case—an excellent touch that saves would-be system builders a bit of time and hassle. A huge hole on the upper half of the motherboard tray exposes your CPU area for easier installation of aftermarket coolers, and that’s joined by five other holes on the tray itself (four rubberized) for cable management. There’s plenty of room between the rear of the tray and the case’s right side panel, even including the acoustical foam that Thermaltake’s attached to the panel to give your ears a respite.
The only other fan in the case is a single, 12cm exhaust fan attached to its rear, and the only other fan you can install beyond that would be an optional 12cm intake fan on the case’s bottom. That’s the trade-off of having a “sound-proof” rig: more potential for heat. However, Thermaltake’s done a masterful job of addressing this issue while building out a case that’s packed with just about everything you’d want to have—assuming you care more about function than flash.
Price $120, www.thermaltakeusa.com
Note: This review was taken from the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Good cooling; great soundproofing; mostly easy installation; slick aesthetics.
Expansion slots a little fussy with thumbscrews; case isn’t extraordinarily “flashy.”