Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside
As stated earlier, the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 takes on a galactic space theme as seen on the retail box. The theme in and of itself is a great idea; the execution, not bad. Full disclosure: The chassis is not exactly my cup of tea, since I have a tendency to lean towards "cleaner" exterior case designs. Nonetheless, the Chaser MK-1 is definitely not ugly, and keeps a solid "gaming" atmosphere in its design. Simply put, the Chaser MK-1 could most definitely pass as a galactic mothership exploring the outer rims of space -- and I can understand why that can be quite a turn-on to some gaming enthusiasts. The front bezel of the Chaser MK-1 is a good start when taking a look at the exterior of the chassis. It follows a design very characteristic of something you would witness in the movie series Transformers. The material found on the front bezel is a mix of plastic and high airflow mesh. Nowadays, many new chassis introduced in the market feature a front bezel containing a mesh design. This allows an adequate amount of airflow for the front intake fan(s), as well as a good conventional exterior design element.
Taking a quick glance at the side of the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1, we can further see the design elements found on the case, as well as a few nifty features that are not seen very often. First off would be the combat headset holder. I have first seen this feature on the Thermaltake Level 10 GT, and quite frankly, such an addition to a chassis is brilliant. Especially for a gaming chassis -- generally, and most often bought by gamers and used for gaming -- one would most probably indulge in the peripheral market which includes your standard headset for the most efficient and effective headshot "pwnage". One small flaw would be that such a design may look ugly in one's eyes. But with a decent headset hanging from the side of your chassis, let's just say it makes your setup look all the more intense; and intensity is good for gaming. Further down the side, you will find a transparent side window for great internal viewing pleasure, and below that, a high airflow mesh vent to give further airflow for your VGA setup. I personally loathe side vents, because I never use them, and leaving them open creates a point of entry for dust. Even if one decides to spend the money to purchase a 3-way SLI or CrossFireX setup, I still believe that an intake side vent would just disrupt the airflow already created from the front intake fan(s) and back exterior exhaust fan. In this sense, I wish Thermaltake would allow the option to purchase a Chaser MK-1 with a full window without the side vent.
The case measures in at 567.9mm in height, 237.0mm in width, and 581.6mm in length, which is considered very big, if not huge, for a chassis capable of only housing up to an ATX form factor. Nonetheless, it can still be considered a full tower. The net weight of the case is around 27.1 lbs. It is fairly heavy, but something to be expected from a steel-framed chassis.
There are a total of four 5.25" bays that are found on the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1. Included in the accessory box is a separate 3.5" slot adapter tray and cover for those who may utilize it. All 5.25" slot bays include a cover placed on the front bezel that can be unclipped from the front bezel with ease. The entire process of installing optical drives is entirely tool-less, which is quite a convenient feature, but more on this later.
Apart from the standard tool free optical covers, the high airflow mesh wrapped around the cover is very well placed together, and is made of a high quality mesh wiring. Of course, mesh has its strengths in that it provides great exterior looks, as well as sufficient airflow. One problem that manufacturers face, however, is that the increased airflow will generally increase dust flow at the same time. Thermaltake combats this problem not by the use of conventional cheap irreplaceable air filters found on some cases like the In Win Dragon Rider, but with some high quality sponge foam. To be honest, this is quite ingenious, as the sponge allows the chassis to keep its airflow, keep the semi-transparent mesh view, reduce the dust flow, and to even help insulate sound formed by optical drives and other front panel devices found around the front bezel. Lastly, behind the front bezel at the bottom vent is a large air filter provided by Thermaltake to filter out the dust for the front 200mm intake fan. I am very pleased with this, since I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your system free of dust. The filter is easy to place on top of the mesh, and is able to be cleaned with ease.
What is very interesting about the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 would be the front panel connections. According to Thermaltake, this is the area of which they refer to as the "Command Center". What is the Command Center? Well, think of this section as the bridge found on a ship, in which one will be able to control the entire chassis to their heart's content. First off, found at the very center of the connections panel is the power button shaped like a diamond, with the power LED designed around the button in a stylish manner. The power LED itself is blue. To the right of the power button are two USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA connection, followed by an additional two USB 3.0 ports. To the left of the power button lays a set of controls that allows one to have almost complete control over the Chaser MK-1's features. The first thing on the list is a LED control button that allows one to cycle through the LEDs found on the two provided 200mm fans at the top and at the front. There are a total of six LED modes in the entire cycle, which we will discuss in further detail later. Above the fan LED control button are two fan controller speed buttons. This is to control the fan speeds of the two 200mm fans with the options of either high or low. Both buttons are illuminated by a blue LED for one to distinguish which fan speed has been chosen. The reset button is found after that, with a red HDD LED indicator at the corner of the key. Lastly, we have our onboard 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks to complete the entire arrangement. The Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 features a HDD docking station just above the power button that can fit both 3.5" HDDs and 2.5" drives. With all these features and front panel options provided on the Chaser MK-1, no one can really complain at the sheer amount that is provided. One noticeable problem I have found during my testing is the power button is too easy to press down. On occasion, I have found myself accidentally powering down my system because I brushed my hand over it, or have simply leaned on it.
At the back of the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 is a fairly standard layout. Since the chassis utilizes a bottom mounted power supply unit, the power supply hole is found at the bottom of the unit. Above that is a set of eight expansion slots, which can accommodate pretty much any ATX setup. These expansion slots allow air to flow through them, which is nice. Above the expansion slots, one will find the I/O shield opening for the motherboard I/O shield. To the right of that is a hexagonal stamped fan vent for the 140mm exhaust turbo-fan. The exhaust fan will rotate up to 1000 RPM, and should be way more than sufficient in handling heat exhaust. Just above the fan is an array of three pre-drilled and pre-fitted water cooling holes for those who want to use external water cooling.
Also found at the back of the Chaser MK-1 is peripheral locking mechanism that uses a single thumbscrew, which can only be unscrewed from the inside to unlock. On the right edge, you will also find two small loops, where one can add their own locking mechanism to prevent the side panel from opening. These two small additional features vital to public LAN parties we all love to attend.
Lastly, looking towards the right side panel of the unit, there really is not much going on. The side panel has a very appealing design, with the main purpose to provide more cabling room at the back of the motherboard tray.
Much like the front bezel, the top panel is made mostly out of plastic and metal mesh. I would have liked to see more air filters in this area of the case. The finer mesh will be able to provide good protection against dust, but will not stop the finer dust particles from entering through the top two fan holes.
At the bottom of the chassis, the first thing that sticks out would be the feet. There are a total of four feet that can rotate into six different positions for extra stability. The feet do not have rubberized material at the bottom, although I have found it to be not much of an issue. The four feet raise the chassis more than 35mm off the floor, and gives all the room needed for the bottom intake fans to draw in air. Provided is a very long removable air filter that will cover both the PSU intake fan and the optional fan mount, and it is quite nice to have.
Overall, the build quality on the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 is decent. As stated before, the front bezel and top roof cover are made of a hybrid of plastic and high quality airflow mesh. The rest of the unit is comprised of steel, electrogalvanized, cold-rolled, coil (SECC). This material gives a certain heftiness to the entire unit, which is not surprising for such a large case. All the pieces -- including the front bezel, top panel, and side panels -- fit together very well.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion