Page 3 - Physical Look - Inside
By removing four screws, the SGCC shell that covers the entire top and sides of the chassis can be removed, so that we are left with full access to the interior of the Thermaltake Element Q. It would have been nice to have thumb screws at the back to secure the panel, as it would make it much easier to open the system without the need of a screwdriver. On the positive side, there is a good amount of room to work with inside the Element Q. Thermaltake's interior design and implementation is simple and straightforward to say the least -- standard screw mounting of all components (Meaning there is no tool-free installation), and unpainted steel is found all around. Fortunately, it would not be a common occurrence for us to look at the interior, as there are no available clear side panels -- the only time you will be peeking in is probably cleaning out accumulated dust sometime down the road. mITX builds probably won't be upgraded often anyway, so the lack of tool-free installation is certainly no big deal either. Standard chassis I/O wires and front panel connectors are fed in from the front panel. This includes the power button, reset button, power LED, HDD LED, HD audio, and two USB connectors. As mentioned on the preceding page, the motherboard tray is the bottom panel of the Element Q, as more clearly depicted in our photo above.
Installation of the externally accessible 5.25" and 3.5" drives are very simple. All that is needed is removal of the plastic covers on the front panel for the respective device, then slide it through the front until it aligns correctly, attach the screws from both sides into the device and voila! -- the drive or front panel accessory is now installed. The traditional method of drive installation is a simple yet effective design that makes life a breeze for users not afraid to use a screwdriver. Again, while it would have been nice to have a tool-free system for all front mounted devices, it isn't necessary for a Mini-ITX chassis by any means. As far as an mITX case is concerned, it is very spacious from the top down; even with the power supply pre-installed in the system. In fact, it can probably accommodate full length video cards if you don't have a hard drive installed in its internal 3.5" bay, since the video card is mounted vertically, allowing it to span the entire length of the chassis interior. The only problems you may run into is probably thermal related, limited available power from the included PSU (And missing PCIe power connector), and the fact that the Element Q won't fit dual slot cards.
The rear end of the case is where all of the core components are located. As we stated multiple times earlier, the motherboard is mounted to the base of the chassis, and has its rear I/O panel with all the associated ports sticking out the back of the case. This means the motherboard is also located near the back, right underneath the power supply. The power supply is already significantly smaller than a standard ATX unit, and has a fan on the bottom to provide some much needed additional airflow into the case in addition to cooling the unit itself. As aforementioned, the power supply is mounted using four screws that are removable from the rear of the case. Securing it from the left side is a black plastic mount clipped onto a rail to prevent it from falling. Because the power supply is mounted overhead in this fashion, it saves space and simplify installation, while allowing maximum heatsink clearance. It is easy to remove the power supply and drop the motherboard in, making this procedure as simple and as fast as possible. Internal power connectors include the standard ATX 20+4 pin, two SATA, two Molex, and a 4-pin floppy connector. The only connector missing a 6-pin PCIe, but it is very unlikely there will be a need for it for an mITX system.
Taking a closer look at the included power supply reveals that it has a rated total power of 220W, with combined 80W delivered on its +3.3V and +5V rails. A maximum output power of 180W is available on the the +12V rail. Meanwhile, the -12V rail is able to accommodate up to 3.6W load, and finally up to 10W on the +5Vsb rail. This should be more than adequate for majority of Mini-ITX builds. Of course, none of the cables are modular, but that is fine as we didn't expect a real expensive power supply, we just need a quality one that works as advertised.
The single internal 3.5" drive can be mounted vertically on this side of the Element Q, and occupies majority of the room here. An example can be seen on the subsequent page. Installation is done using a rail system on the base on this side of the case in conjunction with two included screws to secure the hard drive to the top of the chassis frame. The holes used for the mounting can be seen from above; they are already grooved downwards for easier installation in addition to making sure that the hard drive or SSD will not move around when installed.
As aforementioned, the plastic front panel is removable, and by doing so we can see the front connectors exposed, as well as additional more openings in the chassis frame near the front for additional airflow ventilation. To be honest, there isn't too much interesting to see around here; but with the removal of the front panel, it makes installation tight fitting devices slightly easier for the end user. Additionally, taking the front panel off demonstrates the steel frame more clearly -- it has no badly cut corners or sharp edges. Overall, the build quality is very good, and sets the bar high for all Mini-ITX cases.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion