Page 4 - Installation and Conclusion
If I could describe the installation of my system components into the V9 Black case with one word, that word would be 'simple'. Installation was as straightforward as it could possibly be -- although not without its faults. As you can see, with a bottom mounted power supply cable management is of utmost importance. And this is where the V9 Black needs significant improvements. Due to the lack of holes for routing cables behind the motherboard tray, I was forced to route the ATX 20/24 pin and 4-pin ATX/8-pin EPS connector over my video card and across the motherboard. There is more than enough room to mount the 9800GTX+ shown in the picture, although I don't think there would be enough room for anything more than a 10.5" long video card.
From a construction standpoint, the design is quite sturdy, and you've probably already heard my complaints about how the side panels can be easily dented. Also. despite there being a complete tool-free expansion card installation, I would have sacrificed that for a more secure mounting method for the video card -- even if that is the good old screw and screwdriver method. In addition to that, although the 5.25" and 3.5" hard drive mounting mechanisms were secure, the plastic used to construct the locking system broke way too easily. In any case, I greatly appreciate the care Thermaltake took in designing a tool-free method of mounting hard drives and DVD drives that is as secure as this. I have to admit that at first, I was rather skeptical whether or not this would hold my drives in place, but I was pleasantly surprised that it did. With the side panel in place, one huge weakness that I found was that I was not able to have my Noctua NH-U12P installed as the side fan would not allow me to close the side panel. For the purposes of this review, I used my Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, so that I am able to close the side panel with the fan attached. So for those wondering what to do if you have a rather large tower style heatsink such as the Noctua NH-U12P? You can do one of two things: either you can choose a different heatsink; but this is unfortunate as this really limits the number of heatsinks that can be used with this chassis. Or you can sacrifice the side panel fan in order to close the side panel, in exchange for the heatsink of your choice.
For a gaming case, as soon as I saw the dimensions, I realized that this would be a potential problem, and it is my hope that Thermaltake finds a way to fix this, either by finding a lower profile 230mm fan, or making the case a bit wider in order to accommodate taller CPU heatsinks.
When all is said and done, and the system is up and running, I have to say it looks pretty darn good. The Thermaltake V9 Black Edition with the red front LED fan looks visually stunning. What you get in having the improved cooling capabilities of a side intake fan is the loss of an acrylic side window, and ability to accommodate taller heatsinks. From a noise level standpoint, the case utilizes a specific configuration of 120mm and 230mm fans. In theory this works well in increasing the amount of air that is moved through the case compared to the amount of noise it makes. But this only works in theory -- in my opinion, and as many people know, I am a relatively noise tolerant person. But even for me the fans in this case were a tad too loud for my liking.
On an acoustic level of 1 to 10 with 0 being silent and 10 being the loudest, I would rate this case an acoustic level of around 6.0. With the size of the fans that were used, I had expected a level of sound that rivals that of at least an Antec TriCool on low speed setting. But that was not the case; what I heard was quite a bit of turbulence noise, something I didn't expect with the larger fans being used -- which are generally able to move more air at lower RPMs, and thus less noise generated. This is also compounded by the fact that the V9 Black features little soundproofing material.
The Thermaltake V9 Black Edition is a fairly well balanced case that provides more than adequate cooling ability for even the hottest running system, combined with an aesthetically pleasing design that you won't be ashamed to have on your desk, or at the local LAN party. The Thermaltake V9 Black Edition carries an MSRP of $150 USD; and retails for approximately $100 USD at press time. Although Thermaltake has done very well with this case in certain areas, such as its top notch cooling ability, a secure tool free installation method, and generally good looks, improvements could be made in some very critical areas. Firstly, the positive aspects. The tool-less installation method was not only structurally sound, but it was easy to use, and truly tool free. I'll be honest here -- the only places where you actually need a tool for this case is for motherboard installation, and possibly a 3.5" external drive, if you have one. Everything else is tool-free and in my books this is a huge positive. It is easy to design a tool-free locking mechanism, but to design one that will actually hold a drive in place, and be able to carry the chassis around is quite hard to do. Thermaltake has passed with flying colors in that regard. On the other hand, one major problem I experieced regards cable management -- good cable management with this case is possible but challenging. It is not inherently good. From an acoustic standpoint, systems configured with this case makes a bit too much noise for my liking. And lastly, the most critical problem in my opinion was the Thermaltake V9 Black Edition not being able to accommodate large tower heatsinks without interfering with the side intake fan. For a case designed for a gamer, not able to mount the fan with performance air cooling is a major oversight. I also wish there would be additions made to the front panel connectors; adding eSATA and/or Firewire would be a definite bonus. In conclusion, for MSRP $150 USD, it would be hard for me to recommend this case, however being priced at approximately $100 USD at press time negates some of my holdbacks. It is loaded with some excellent features, and if you can overlook the design flaws I have mentioned, the Thermaltake V9 Black Edition isn't a bad case at all.
Special thanks to Ramsom over at Thermaltake for making this review possible.
APH Review Focus Summary:
6/10 means A product with its advantages, but drawbacks should not be ignored before purchasing.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 6.2/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Thermaltake V9 Black Edition is an aesthetically pleasing case with awesome cooling capabilities, but needs improvements in several key areas.
1. Introduction, Packaging
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion