Everyone that knows me will testify that I am an Antec fanboy. While I am not actually a fanboy I am a fan and have a preference for the clean simple look of Antec cases. However Thermaltake has sought to challenge my predisposition and has sent me the Thermaltake Element G.
The Element series is a line of cases from Thermal take that offer various design features and pricing options for the DIYer to find a case that best fits his budget and needs. The G series is the upper end case of this line with only the V series above it. The line is fleshed out with the T series for the budget oriented, the S series for quieter operation and the Q series for home theater systems. The series all carry some basic design features and a similar basic look.
The front view of the case shows the three 5 1/4” openings for optical drives as well as the large grill area that houses a 200 mm intake fan as well as the intake filter. The filter is EASY to access by an old school removable front panel. At the bottom of the panel is a pull arm that allows the entire front panel to come off with a gentle tug.
The panel removed you have access to the front 200 mm fan and on the back of the panel you can see the foam filter. The filter is NOT removable however the easy access to the entire front panel makes up for this so it is actually pretty easy to clean.
The covers for the optical drive bays are easy to remove with a convenient handle system and they are also fully open and filters to allow more air flow.
At the top of the front panel we have our typical power and reset as well as the common headset and mic jacks. Thermaltake however put a second set of USB ports at the front to make it easier to add more devices. The large knob is not just there for attention it is a dual feature controller. The knob works the speed of the three stock fans. This allows you to easily adjust the noise level vs.. the cooling level you need. All three fans are controlled at once making this a very nice feature. But wait there is more, pressing the knob down causes the fan lighting to change. This allows for 6 different lighting options. You have three colors to choose from, Blue, Red and Green. You also have two strobe effects to choose from, a chase strobe and a entire fan strobe, then of course you have the no light option.
Looking at the top you can see the 200 mm exhaust fan. This fan is controlled by the light and speed knob. The depressed area made me think of the tray area at the front of some cases. I would not suggest it for this use here. The fan intake is flush with this area meaning things could easily get into the fan.
A look at the side reveals the third large fan, this one a 230mm fan, also controlled for light and speed by the control knob. Unlike the front intake this fan is not filtered so there is a need to keep track of dust build up in the case a bit more closely.
While most side fans are a pain to use due to the power cable when removing the side panel, Thermaltake has come up with a neat system to fix that. The side panel has a contact point with the main case that the fan uses for it’s power and control signals. This means no mess of cable when you open the side. This is a really neat idea however I am reserving final judgment for a few months so I can see how this holds up to repeated opening of the case side panel.
The back of the case is pretty standard fair with the power supply being bottom mounted and the exhaust duties being given to a 140 mm fan. So for those that have lost count, that is a 200mm and 230 mm fan for intake and a 140mm and a 200 mm for exhaust. That is some pretty serious air flow.
Which makes me wonder why Thermaltake would think you need more. The case sports two mounting points for 60mm fans at the back of the case. With the stock air flow being so high, 2x 60 mm fans does not seem like it would add enough to be worth the trouble. Especially when you realize that the stock cooling is pretty quiet and adding 2×60 mm fans it would likely pick up a lot of noise to make those fans have enough air flow to matter. There is also an options for water cooling but with this much air flow you should not need it.
Opening up the case we find a wide open case with easy to use features. The case offers behind the tray cable mounting, open back area for easy CPU cooler swapping a super easy to use HD mounting area as well as the ability to mount a 2.5” SSD without needing an adapter kit.
I am not usually a fan of the perpendicular mounting of HDs, to often the mounting system causes air flow restrictions from the intake fan. However Thermaltake did a great job of opening up the mounting system and making sure that 200 mm monster at the front was not restricted.
The actual HD mounting system is super easy to use taking it’s cues from some of the old Dell designs. You put 4 screws into the HD and then slide it is. Hold up a small plastic lever to slide it out. The SSD mount it on the separator above the PSU but is easy to access thanks to the separator being removable. The case itself is roomy for being a mid tower and I had no trouble mounting a full size motherboard or a large video card into the system.
The case is a real joy to build in. The construction is solid and it is full of neat features geared toward the DIY market. Looking at this case it is easy to see why Thermaltake is at the top of the DIY game. This case offers amazing cooling and is VERY quiet at low speeds, in fact it is only marginally louder at high speeds. As I have mentioned the behind the tray cable routing is easy to access and during my build with this case I never felt like I was cramming stuff out of the way, the feel is very open.
While this is a great case it is not without it’s flaws. I am on record in so many places as hating foam filters. They tear easy and doe break down over cleanings. The fact that the filer is not removable means it cannot be easily replaced when it breaks down. Also cleaning the filter if you use the wet clean method means the entire front panel is off while it dries. The large fans and the uber neat mounting system are great at purchase but you have to wonder about replacing the fans when they die. The case comes with optional mounts to replace the front 200 mm fan with dual 120 mm fans but what about the 230 and top 200? Not to mention the fancy cabling system used to tie them all together.
This is not a big consideration for some but many DIYers buy more expensive cases and keep them through two, three or more generations of builds. I am hoping to get a reply and comment from Thermaltake on this.
Despite these flaws I love this case. The airflow is outstanding letting it rival an Antec Twelve Hundred for pure air movement. All this air and quiet operation, what more could someone ask for, how about bling that fits your mood. I know the lighting system is a gimmick but it is a gimmick that works. The ability to customize the lighting for each person is very nice and the ability to EASILY change it on the fly is even nicer.
The Thermaltake Element G has the G distinction to mean gamer. The case is marketed for the great air flow and open design to make it easy to build a great gaming machine in the case and it does this in spades. However I think Thermaltake should remarket the case as the Element F, for FUN! While many cases on the market offer wild lighting options, none I have seen make it so easy to enjoy, add to this great build features and you have a FUN case for the DIYer.
If you are building a new computer add the Thermaltake Element G to the top of your short list of cases. Now excuse my while I change the light to strobe effect and crank up some classic rock!