TechSpot: Thermaltake Level 10 case review

Manufactured and marketed by Thermaltake, the Level 10 was actually designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, a subsidiary of the BMW Group. In addition to engineering yachts, trains, aircraft, lifestyle and IT products, the three studios in Munich, California and Singapore also create design concepts that transform visions into reality. The Level 10 happens to be one of those concepts and is easily one of the most iconic computer cases ever created.

We've never seen a chassis that looks remotely like the Thermaltake Level 10. It's not the kind of case you walk by without noticing, and when you do see it, resisting the urge to move in for a closer look is impossible. Simply put, the Level 10 is a piece of art. However, like most fine works, the Level 10 comes at an exorbitant fee and users can expect to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $700 for this PC enclosure.

With an asking price that would otherwise buy you a 3-way GeForce GTX 460 SLI setup (with money to spare), or an entire gaming system for that matter, we have to ask the obvious: is the Level 10 worth your cash?

Read: Thermaltake Level 10 Case Review

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This is not a new case. I've had mine for nearly a year (I got it December 2009 in Canada). The reviewer missed a few things.

- The top 5.25" bay has hinge alignment problems with common optical device makes such as some LG DVDs. It causes the door to get stuck (can't close without fiddling).

- Also, the top 5.25" door is slightly taller (a few mm) than a drive, meaning that if you remove the door, you have an ugly gap.

- There are no 3.25" bays, which can be a pain if you want to install either a SD card reader, or a 2.5"/3.5" ejectable drive bay. Converting the 5.25" bay is ugly.

- The retention mechanism that holds the drive bays in place on my unit has some alignment problems.

- The bottom 3.5" drive trays (which DON'T have the factory SATA connector assemblies) have a tendency to eject the standard 3.5" drive just enough that the glowy LED turns off. They are also a PAIN for 2.5" drives (like SSDs).

In response to sbdb:

Actually, the thermal characteristics of this case are awesome. First, each of the six 3.25" hard drive bays have a fan directly above the drive. It's possible to keep 15k SAS drives cooler than they would be in a 3U rackmount chassis. Isolation of the hard drives also means that no heat from the hard drives reaches the video card and motherboard.

The PSU is in its own cavity, and its airflow does not impact any of the other units.

The motherboard cavity has fantastic cooling. I have a 120mm fan attached to the bottom of the front plate and the top of the back plate (there are built-in filters), direction flowing from front to back. There is ample space for a large CPU cooler. My CPU, motherboard, and video cards (2x Asus Radeon 5850 Top) are actually all several degrees cooler than they are in a full size Thermaltake or Antec case.

Sound is actually not bad, because 120mm fans are generally quiet. In my current configuration, I do not use fans over the 3.5" bays since 60mm fans are loud.. and more importantly, my current configuration is 3x160GB SSD (X25M) + 1x 1TB WD Black + 1 x 2TB WD Black (there just isn't that much heat). However, when I had 4xSAS drives in a RAID array and 3 60mm fans running, the noise was pretty bad (but no worse than a rackmount case).

Practically speaking, this is not really that useful a case. It has very few advantages over an Antec DF-85, for example (which costs a quarter the price). It's a pain to swap hard drives (especially 2.5"), and a pain to swap optical drives. It's just not that great for servicability. However....

Every person who sees it will say, "What the heck is THAT?" and drool. It's a great conversation piece. So, if any of that is important to you, rock on

And if it counts for anything, I've had this case for 10 months on my primary computer -- which is probably longer than any other case that I've had. Why? Because it looks cool.

Yeah I agree with Jose. This is good info. I've been considering one but after reading so many "so-so" reviews plus in the MaximumPC review they talked about how some of the modules/elements/enclosures/cubes (or whatever you call them) would sag a little bit when the weight of the component being housed was added. Just too much money for so many rudimentary flaws. Hope they do a version 2.0 that fixes them (with a lower price).

Any IT professional like me will tell you that there are serious technical flaws with this design, especially in the cooling department.

sbdb said,
Any IT professional like me will tell you that there are serious technical flaws with this design, especially in the cooling department.

This is horrible. I wouldn't even buy it if I saw it for $10. I'd rather choose a smaller and sleeker case that's around $100 or so.

jwmcpeak said,
This was a review? There's more to a case than component installation.

You've got to consider that case aesthetics, just like practically everything else, are subjective. As demonstrated by the feedback posted our fellow neowinians, it comes down largely to a matter of taste and preference. I, for one, am reasonably glad that HARDWARE reviews on TECH websites have started to shy away from the pretentious practice of behaving like hardware designers themselves (when they are obviously not).

P1R4T3 said,
Cooler Master HAF 932 is still better (for me), and more affordable.

I bought one of those last week. Seriously, WTF is up with the bloody LEDs on the 932?!?! You could use them as runway lights for planes.

ManMountain said,
To each their own but to me that case is hideous.
Agreed. This is something that, IMO, you would spend the money on just to say you own it rather then something you buy for a cool looking case.

ManMountain said,
To each their own but to me that case is hideous.

It's hard to believe BMW worked on the design

Interesting desing but only the top 2 HDD slots are pre fitted with connectors? At that price I want all of them fitted. Also question how cool this type of case would run.