Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower Chassis Page: 1
Introduction

Thermaltake is a company that really requires no introduction. The company which is based in TaiPei originally started its core business based on their extensive knowledge of PC thermal management during the era where the area of performance CPU cooling was exclusively for "overclockers" or PC enthusiasts. I'm sure many people would be familiar with Thermaltake's Big Typhoon cooler. Continuing on with their success, Thermaltake has adapted its knowledge and R&D into other areas. Let's hear what they have to say:

With company's core business of CPU cooling still growing at a vast rate, Thermaltake made another grand entry to the PC chassis industry. To date, Thermaltake has always been considered as the pioneering company that revolutionized the PC chassis industry with Xaser series enclosures. The typical and traditional beige and plastic front panel design was outdone by Xaser series chassis's atypical gaming red and aluminum front panel. It was also the first enclosure available to public with Hardcano unti which provided users full control over computer's thermal management system.

In the year 2002, Thermaltake announced Purepower line of power supply unti for the ever-growing power-hungry PCs. Purepower series PSU quickly gained recognition with its extensive warranty and high-reliability guaranty.

Today, Thermaltake has grown into a world-class company with state-of-the-art testing and R&D facility based in Taiwan along with 60+ engineers and ID team covering each application segment such as Liquid Cooling, Air Cooling, PC Enclosure and Power Supply for main-stream users, high-end solutions, system integrators and industrial applications; thus achieve Thermaltake's company motto, " COOLall YOUR LIFE " !

Today I have been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to review Thermaltake's brand new Xaser VI Super Tower Chassis.

Thermaltake Xaser VI front

Anyway enough of the chit-chat, let's cut to the chase by having a look at the Xaser VI's specifications.

Specifications

The specifications for the Thermaltake Xaser VI Chassis were taken from the included manual.

Model: VG4000BNS

Case Type: Super Tower

Dimension (W*D*H): 605 x 250 x 660 mm 23.8 x 9.8 x 26.0 inch

Net Weight / Gross Weight: 18.0 kg ; 39.6 lb / 20.8 kg ; 45.8 lb

Window side panel: No

Sliding motherboard tray: Yes

Cable management: Yes

Sliding hood: Yes

Adjustable PSU bridge: Yes

Material
Front door: Aluminum / Chassis: 1.0mm SECC

Color
Chassis color: Black / Metal mesh : Red

Cooling System

- Front (intake) :
140 x 140 x 25mm blue LED fan, 1000rpm,
16dBA or 120 x 120 x25 mm fan (optional)
- Rear (exhaust) :
120 x 120 x25 mm blue LED fan, 1300rpm, 17dBA
- Top (exhaust) :
140 x 140 x 25mm TurboFan, 1000rpm,
16dBA or 120 x 120 x25 mm fan (optional)
- Bottom (intake) :
Two 140 x 140 mm fans (optional)
or two 120 x 120 x25 mm fan (optional)
- VGA (intake) :
140 x 140 x 25mm TurboFan, 1000rpm,
16dBA or 120 x 120 x25 mm fan (optional)

Motherboards
: 9.6" x 9.6" (Micro ATX), 12" x 9.6" (ATX), 12" x 13" (Extend ATX)

Drive Bays

-5.25" Drive Bay
-3.5" Drive Bay
-3.5" Drive Bay (Hidden)
7
1 (Convertable from one 5.25" drive bay)
7

Front I/O
: e-SATA connector x 2, USB2.0 x 4, IEEE 1394 Firewire x 1, HD Audio

Expansion Slots
: 10

You can see from the specifications that the Xaser VI Super Tower is certainly designed to perform well in the thermal management area, especially with the inclusion/or option to run so many cooling fans. How this equates to overall cooling performance, and the inherent by-product noise, we'll have to see later in the review.

After looking at the net weight of the case I was quite shocked. 18 kilograms is a considerable amount of weight, especially if you frequent LAN parties quite regularly. Factor into the equation that this isn't a 'live load', i.e. it doesn't yet have any hardware in it, and you have the makings of a potential back-breaker. To Thermaltake's credit, they have made some smart design choices to help eliminate additional weight and I will cover those later in the review.

Traditionally, I have been an avid user of Aluminium chassis, primarily for the weight reduction associated with Aluminium which doesn't degrade the overall structural integrity of the case. Whilst the opportunity of conducting a steel case review isn't a totally new experience for me, I haven't used one for some time.

Now I know you want to see the new Xaser VI chassis, so I'm going to be quiet until the next page...I promise.


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Packaging and Contents

The Xaser VI Super Tower chassis packaging is quite simple and unimposing to say the least. Featuring an image of the chassis on the front and rear of the box, along with the chassis's features and multi-lingual links on the reverse side.

Xaser VI box Xaser VI box reverse
 

It took me near on 10 minutes to extricate the chassis from its box. The cardboard and polystyrene padding works a treat, and offers extremely good protection from even the most incompetent of couriers.
 
Xaser tightly packed
 
Xaser VI unpacked


The Xaser VI Super Tower chassis is also protected even further by the inclusion of an anti-scratch material liner bag. This is a nice addition, and one that other chassis manufacturers could do well to learn from. When I purchased my Silverstone TJ-07 earlier this year, it didn't even come with the liner bag...and that's on a case that costs around AUS$460. Nice touch Thermaltake.
 
Xaser VI accessories Xaser VI accessories 2
 
 The Xaser VI Super Tower has its accessories and mounting hardware included inside the chassis itself to ensure that nothing goes missing. Included in the accessories is everything and more that you will need to get up and running as painlessly as possible. I have made a list below of the included accessories:

* Manual
* Keys for lockable side panel
* Soft cleaning cloth
* Motherboard standoffs and screws
* HDD clips
* Floppy disk drive cage (5.25" to 3.5" adaptor)
* Floppy disk drive plastic face-plate
* Singular clear wire ties and bundle ties
* Rubber grommets for water-cooling tubing
* 1 x Thermaltake TT1425 140mm fan
* 1 x 5.25" plastic accessories drawer.

Now let's head over the page to see what you've all been waiting for...the Xaser VI Super Tower chassis, up close and personal.

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External: A Closer Look

The Xaser VI Super Tower looks quite slick, and futuristic. I know that both of my sons thought it looked extremely cool. Featuring a lot of steel mesh, and some quite neat ergonomic inclusions, the chassis is sure to please. However, whilst the Xaser VI may not appeal to everyone tastes, it does still retain some subtleties of a traditional chassis that may appeal to the less uninhibited amongst us. Manufactured primarily from steel and hardened plastic (front door is made from Aluminium), the combination looks quite presentable.

Xaser VI front Xaser VI rear
 
As I said previously, the Xaser VI Super Tower features a lot of steel mesh to ensure that the case is well ventilated, plus it gives a kind of cool 'Industrial' look. Unfortunately, as with any mesh inclusion in a chassis there is also the increased likelyhood of dust build-up.

Furthermore; you can see from the top (right) image that the Xaser VI Super Tower has an astounding 10 blanking plates to allow for the inclusion of triple/quad-SLI or Crossfire setups if you should be so inclined. Also, if you look hard enough there are two pilot holes beneath the rear exhaust fan to run tubing out for an externally mounted radiator.
 
chassis right side chassis left side
 
The Xaser VI Super Tower features a lockable side panel which is handy for those who frequent LAN parties and should keep those with sticky fingers away from your precious hardware installed within. Although they could just take the whole case!

chassis top view
 
I have never really been a big fan of manufacturer marketing on a case, and the Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower does have the Xaser VI logo on all surfaces bar the rear of the chassis. However; the logos are quite small and don't tend to detract from the overall look of the chassis significantly.

 
Underside of Xaser VI Super Tower
 
The underside of the Xaser VI Super Tower features a black skirting to a depth of around 30mm, which is fully removable from as far as I can tell. The skirting has air holes moulded into it which should allow for excellent circulation of air up into the chassis itself via the grills that you can see in the centre of the image above. You will also see a number of thumb screws in the bottom; their purpose I will cover in a little more detail later in the review. Surprisingly, there hasn't been any case feet included for the chassis either.
 
This is not a handle

One area that puzzled me, and still does so now, is why there are no readily available parts of the case that can be used to transport it. You can see from the image above that the 'Not A Handle' sticker is smack bang on one of the easiest places to use. Why it's there I will show you on the next page, but it still leaves the very bottom as the only position to carry the case. Once this case is fully decked out, you'd better bend your knees and keep your back straight!

Let's head over the page to see the particularly outstanding features of the Xaser VI Super Tower chassis...


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External Features

Some of the extra features on the Xaser VI Super Tower chassis are quite cool, and remain subtle at the same time. The first external feature is the inclusion of the covered on/off button and front panel connectivity options. The smokey plastic cover is a good move in that it helps eliminate dust from building up in the USB, Firewire and E-SATA ports. Furthermore; being mounted on the top of the chassis it helps eliminate the possibility of accidentally hitting the reset or power button.


Covered front panel Front panel illustrated
 
Following in the vein of the CoolerMaster tower cases, the Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower also provides a simple and highly accessible method of installing your 5.25" devices, which I have covered in a little more detail a little further down the page.

One thing that I found odd with the Xaser VI Super Tower's 5.25" face plates is that even though they are intended to act as a dust filter, they are a little crippled. You can see from the lower (right) image that the first four face plates are completely sealed in front of the lower case fan, but the face plates above the case fan have a gap in the side. Surely this will be an area for dust to work its way into your case if you can't fill all the available 7 remaining 5.25" drive bays with hardware.
 
Front door removed 5.25" face-plates
 
The chassis door is removable and able to be hinged from both sides depending on your personal preference. The case door is very reminiscent of the CoolerMaster 830 Stacker. The clips, illustrated by the lower (right) image can simply be removed by gently squeezing them and then transferring them to the other side of the door.
 
Removeable front door Removeable door clip

Woops! This one got by the person in charge of QA at Thermaltake. The 2 - 2.5cm scratch looks like the screw got a case of the wanders during the manufacturing process and was left unchecked.
 
Scratch on inside of removeable door
 
The 5.25" drive-bay face plates are really cool, although they are made entirely of plastic and feel a little on the flimsy side. All that is required to remove them is to insert your finger and pull gently towards yourself. The face plates have thin foam on the inside to act as a dust filter and should clean out easily with a gentle wash with water.
 
5.25" face-plate removed
 
The top of the case also slides back to reveal a small storage area for accessories (hence the sticker I showed you on the previous page). Simply remove the two retaining screws at the rear of the case and slide the top back towards the rear and there it is. If you decided to run with Thermaltake's LCS (Liquid Cooling System) then this storage area will be replaced with the LCS reservoir.
 
Accessory compartment

Now that we've taken a look at the external features of the Xaser VI Super Tower let's head over the page to check it out internally...


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Internal: A Closer Look

The Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower certainly has plenty of room for internal storage. Complete with room for 7 HDD's and 7 x 5.25" drive bays, you really can't complain about the space it affords.

Xaser VI first glimpse
Xaser VI rear of chassis
 
 The following images further illustrate the space and functionality that the Xaser VI Super Tower can bring to a new system build.
 
 Extra HDD storage
Adjustable PSU bracket 5.25" drive bays

Thermaltake has also included an adjustable PSU bracket which may come in handy if you're looking to utilise a PSU which is longer than the average. It comes with 2 x thumb screws which makes it dead simple to adjust.
 
Top mounted exhaust fan
 
You can see from the image above that Thermaltake has included a large exhaust fan to help eliminate rising temperatures from within the case. With a 140mm fan at the front and a 120mm fan at the rear of the case, as well as the top mounted 140mm exhaust fan, the Xaser VI Super Tower should be able to provide a good account for itself in respect to cooling and noise.
 
 Case riveted together

To be honest, one of the areas of the Xaser VI Super Tower that didn't appeal to me was the preference for using pop rivets during construction. Whilst pop rivets no doubt do the job well, they tend be a hinderence to those who prefer to 'mod' their cases. The inclusion of screwed joints on all structural members would have made the experience more enjoyable, and would have allowed the case a little more 'modability'.


Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower Chassis Page: 6
Internal Features

Traditionally, Thermaltake has always championed the 'tool-less' design of their chassis', as well as the cooling efficiency. The Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower is no different and continues this trend.

Tool-less HDD's Open HDD
 
With the inclusion of tool-less mechanisms for ten PCI slots, seven HDD's and for the 5.25" drive bays it should make installation of your chosen system an absolute breeze. Thermaltake has also catered for those who prefer to still use the screw method.

You can see from the image below (right) that all the HDD cages are completely removable.
 
Tool-less blanking slots HDD's removed
 
The inclusion of a removable motherboard tray surprised me, as well as the provision for hidden cabling behind the motherboard area. In order to remove the motherboard tray you need to undo 4 small screws at the rear of the chassis, and then remove the two side panels. A little bit of fiddling about, but handy regardless.

The voids in the motherboard tray for hidden cabling are quite well finished off too; no nippy steel edges to report.
 
Cable routing through the motherboard tray Removable motherboard tray
Additional graphics card cooling
 
The extra TT1425 140mm fan that was included in the accessories can be screwed on to the the face of the motherboard tray for additional cooling to hardware residing in your motherboards expansion slots.
 
bare case floor Enough room for a heat exchanger
 
Yes it had to be checked. The Thermaltake Xaser VI will safely accept a 240mm heat exchanger in the floor of the case, or a PA120.3, but you lose the HDD cages altogether. When I was comparing the barb distance on my PA120.3 to the pilot holes in the case floor they didn't quite line up, so please take note if you are planning on whacking a radiator in the bottom. Furthermore; you may find that the brace on the bottom of the motherboard tray may get in the way, but it should be easy enough to modify it without risking the structural integrity of the motherboard tray.


Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower Chassis Page: 7
Installation

I'm happy to report that installing a system in to the Xaser VI Super Tower was dead easy and very quick. Especially with the inclusion of the tool-less features of the case. Whilst some of the metal edges of the case felt a little nippy, I did fail to draw blood. However I did encounter two small issues when installing my motherboard. First off the motherboard tray was missing one standoff hole on the outside edge. Due to me not having a tap and die kit I was unable to insert a threaded hole. Another QA issue here.

missing motherboard tray standoff hole

Secondly the tray also has two permanently fixed (riveted) standoffs on the rear edge of the case; one of which becomes a problem when using an ATX motherboard. Subsequently, because there isn't a mounting hole in that position on the motherboard, but exposed traces are on the reverse side, it can become a potential shorting issue. A simple 1/8" drill bit and my Makita battery drill solved the issue.

No hole for the standoff fixed standoff issue up close
 
After the initial hiccups I'm pleased to say that I had my system up and running in just under an hour.

Drive bay installation Internal shot
HDD installation Rear of motherboard showing the routing of cables

There are a couple of other things worth mentioning that I encountered during the installation phase of the review. Firstly, the IEEE 1394 cable and 2 x USB cables coming from the front panel are only just long enough. If your motherboard has the Firwire and USB headers situated further back towards the rear then you may run into problems. Thermaltake could add a couple of extra inches to the length and the problem would be alleviated.

Secondly, due to the increased height of the case, I found that the SATA plugs on my Antec PSU only just reached the HDD when using the top two bays in the HDD cage. As a result I had to use two strands of the loom to power 2 x SATA HDD's. Just something to think about!

I have included a couple of night shots too so you can see how well the case looks in the dark.
 
Front panel night shot Case interior lit up
 
Let's head over the page to see how we're going to test the Xaser VI Super Tower...


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Testing Methodology

Personally, I think that the two most important factors when considering purchasing a case (besides intended purpose, price and looks) is the cooling performance and noise. Subsequently, those will be the two areas that we will be assessing in our testing today.

Cooling performance

One of the features that Thermaltake market in regards to the Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower, is that of enhanced cooling zones. Effectively, the Xaser VI is reported to have engineered into it, 'zones' that will maintain effective cooling for the components or hardware installed within. So we are going to test that statement! The hardware I have decided to run with for todays testing has been listed below:

* Intel Q6600 (G0 stepping) @ 2.4Ghz
* ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi/App motherboard
* 2GB OCZ PC2-6400 Titanium RAM
* Palit GeForce 8600 GT graphics card
* 2 x Western Digital 80GB SATAII HDD's
* Antec EarthWatts 500W PSU
* Pioneer DRV-A11 CD/DVD drive
* Creative Audigy 4 sound card.
* Scythe Ninja mini

All temperatures will be taken at both idle and load and measured with a digital thermometer, allowing 5 minutes for acclimatisation. Load will be simulated by running the Stanford Folding @ Home Windows SMP client, which effectively saturates the Q6600 by running 1 thread per core. Graphic load was obtained by playing Valve's Counter Strike: Source at a resolution of 1280 x 1024. Ambient temperature during the testing period was a mild 25.9 Deg Celcius.

Noise

Possibly the hardest part of any active cooling review is summarising the level of noise given out by the fan/s. The threshold for what is considered 'noisy' varies from person to person and therefore what I may consider quiet, another person may consider extremely loud. For this reason, all reviews at Overclock3D use a dBA meter to measure the level of noise output by the fan/s. However, because the test system includes a number of fans (graphics card, CPU cooler, PSU etc) I have chosen not to include any dB(A) measurements. I will however report my findings as objectively as possible.

On to the testing...


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Testing

Cooling Performance

Well I must say that the Xaser VI Super Tower performed very well in our thermal zone testing today. The resultant temperatures are more than acceptable. You can see from the graph that the two obvious areas that incurred a rise in temperature, are the GPU and CPU. This is not surprising considering that the Q6600 is dumping over 95W of heat back into the case, and the Palit 8600 GT graphics card doesn't feature the cooling solution of its older siblings (8800 GTS/GTX), where the waste heat is exhausted out the back of the card itself.

Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower thermal chart
 
Noise

The 120 and 140mm fans that Thermaltake has included in the Xaser VI Super Tower are extremely quiet to say the least. I could actually hear the 80mm fan on the Scythe Ninja mini heat sink and the fan on my 8600 GT graphics card over the top of the Thermaltake cooling fans. The noise emitted by the Thermaltake cooling fans borders on the inaudible. Excellent effort Thermaltake.

Now let's head over the page to see our final thoughts; conclusion and the award given to the Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower chassis in todays performance review...


Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower Chassis Page: 10
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

So how did the Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower perform in todays review?

According to Thermaltake the Xaser VI Super Tower will have an MSRP of US$274 (with tax) for the black, and US$312 (with tax) for the silver. Quite reasonable pricing for the version reviewed here today.

The build quality of the Xaser VI Super Tower is good apart from the few blemishes that I highlighted in todays review: the scratched front door; the missing standoff hole, and the fixed standoff that could have caused a shorting problem on the back of the motherboard. However, I would like to think that these are isolated incidents.

The Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower as it stands is a very solid and competent build. The lack of somewhere to hold the case securely when carrying is a concern too, especially when the bottom of the case is the only real place that feels structurally sound enough. I must admit that the live weight of the chassis may exclude it from being utilised in anything other than desktop work, or the odd occasional LAN. If you are a dedicated weekend LAN'er then you may want to look elsewhere.

The inclusion of Thermaltake's tool-less design and a removable motherboard tray makes for light work when installing your system of choice. The amount of storage capacity and versatility of the Xaser VI chassis also warrants a mention, as it enables the user to customise the chassis according to whether storage or additional cooling is a priority. The chassis ability to house a 120.3 sized radiator internally is further testament to the design.

The overall cooling performance of the chassis is very good due to its ability to breathe well. The inclusion of low noise 120mm and 140mm fans, and the subsequent thermal zone design of the chassis led to very good temperature reading during the review. However, I will say that the Xaser VI Super Tower chassis does have the potential to be a dust trap. The large areas of steel mesh and the slightly 'crippled' dust filters will allow the dust mites into your case over time. Which in turn makes the chassis a candidate for very regular cleaning and maintenance. Let's have a look at the breakdown:

The Good
• Excellent cooling performance
• Thoughtful internal layout
• Oodles of storage capacity
• Tool-less features speed up installation
• Capacity to accommodate water-cooling
• Quiet operation using the supplied fans

The Mediocre
• Quality issues
• Looks may not appeal to some
• Dust

The Bad
• Weight

In conclusion, I have decided to award the Thermaltake Xaser VI Super Tower the Overclock3D.net 'Recommended Award' and the 'Innovation Award' based upon its performance today.

Recommended Award Innovation Award

Overclock3D would like to thank Thermaltake for providing the Xaser VI Super Tower for todays review

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