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Thermaltake Matrix VX VD3000 Chassis
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Date: Apr 12, 2006
Section:Misc
Author: Matt Beauvais
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Introduction

There are only a select few PC enthusiasts who like to show off their hardware more than gamers do. With all the questing, spying, and fragging going on, they still find the time to appreciate the machine that grants them such pleasure. As you know though, these days, any old box just won't do. No; something a little flashier than the mundane is needed, especially if you're headed to a big LAN Party. While we've reviewed some great cases over the years here at HotHardware, producing a case that receives a gamer's approval has it's own set of special requirements. At the very least, it needs to look cool, and a single intake fan at the front isn't going to cut it. Adequate cooling, a good layout, and a unique aesthetic is a good start, and adding a clear side panel or other flashy features will only sweeten the deal. And for the LAN fans out there, a lightweight case is a must, of course.

Which brings us to Thermaltake's latest case, the Matrix VX VD3000. Proud of its purpose, it's advertised right on the box as being "Perfect for Lan Parties". After some close inspection, you'll see what they mean. Before we get ahead of ourselves though, lets check out the details on this bad boy...

Case Features and Specifications
Package Contents

Package:
Thermaltake Matrix VX VD3000

Manuals and Books:

Quick Installation Guide

Specifications:

Material: Lightweight Aluminum
Colors: Black, Silver
Dimensions: 253x 560 x 500 (W X H X D)
Net Weight: 3.8 kg (8.4lbs)
5.25" External Drive Bays: 4
3.5" External Drive Bays: 2
3.5" Internal Drive Bays: 4
System Fans: 1 Front, 1 Rear
I/O Ports: 2x USB 2.0, 1x IEEE 1394, 1x Audio
Motherboard: ATX, Micro ATX

Additional Contents:

Screws & Cables
Tool-less Drive Rails

Pricing and Availability:

Around $75-$90 USD





Notable Features:

Lightweight Aluminum
Multimedia Interface (2x USB, Firewire, Audio & Speaker Port)
Front Blue LED Fan(120mm) with Dust Filter

1x Rear LED Fans(120mm)
Tool-less design

 

 


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Taking A Closer Look

Lightweight and Hungry For Hardware
Look Ma! No Screws!

  

As you can see, there's nothing ultra fancy about the Matrix VX VD3000, generally speaking. While some cases may be bigger, or have some sort of crazy animal or alien design, Thermaltake has opted for a more traditional look with the Matrix VX VD3000. The wire mesh covering in the front of the case gives it a unique look when you see it up close. And there's a blue LED 120mm fan located at the bottom of the case, which is clearly noticeable when it's powered up. The back of the case also sports a 120mm fan, although there's no glow to it. The clear side panel is a nice touch, which is great for showing off your hardware during a LAN party. And the Thermaltake Matrix VX VD3000 only weighs in at 3.8KG, so it's a breeze to move around, even with a full complement of hardware inside.

  

On the inside, you'll find plenty of room to fit you're hardware and manage whatever wires / cables are inside. The case is built on the principle of a tool-less design. Of course, you'll still need screws to secure the motherboard in there, but swapping drives and PCI/AGP cards is a breeze thanks to the use of the screw-less drive rails and screw-less expansion slots. Thermaltake has provided enough rails to fill all the drive bays, but no extras, so be careful not to lose or break any.

We did run into one small problem with the screw free PCI slots. For our system, we used a Thermaltake PurePower 480W PSU which comes with a speed control nob for the PSU's fan. The small plastic spikes that are used to secure hardware, instead of screws, weren't able to secure the fan control bracket tightly enough. It was in no danger of falling out, but it wasn't a tight fit either.

 

 

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Building A Rig

A Near Hassle Free Build?
You bet it is

As the DIY community continues to expand, chassis designers have put more thought into making their cases easier to work with. Installing a motherboard still requires you to insert the right screws into the right areas, depending on if your using an ATX or Micro-ATX board (both are supported). Installing the drives are a snap, thanks to the tool-less design of the case. The brackets included with the Thermaltake Matrix VX VD3000 are shown below, and simply snap into the drives, which you can then insert into the case with a gentle push. You'll need to first remove the front cover before installing any 5.25" drives. This becomes a little awkward at first, seeing as how you need to give the cover a good pull in order to get it off. It's not hard to remove, just don't pull too hard as you could damage the wires. Even if you don't plan on adding any extra 5.25" drives, you'll still need to remove the front every so often in order to clean the dust filter on the front 120mm fan.

   

Installing the PSU requires user to remove the aluminum bar located near the top of the case. As you can see in the image below, there's plenty of room to hide any unsightly cables or wires. We used a PSU without cable sleeves in our review, and after some careful positioning, the cables and wires were hardly noticeable with the side panel on. Speaking of the side panel, there's no side-mounted fan, but there are a few dozen small ventilation holes drilled into the handle of the side cover. With the rear 120mm fan close by, this does an ample job of removing heat from your CPU, Ram, and Video Card. In fact it did a good job of keeping our ASUS N6600GT Silencer cool too, thanks in part to it's unique heatsink design. Still, a fan would have been a nice addition, especially if you're overclocking your hardware.

 

All and all, it took us about 15-20 minutes to install everything and get the case running. We didn't run into any major problems during our build, though as we mentioned before, the lock for the PCI cards didn't give a tight fit for our PSU fan controller. Even with a full complement of hardware inside, the case is still fairly light. The final result will give you something that's not overly flashy, but unique enough to be proud of. Despite the lack of a side panel fan, we were quite happy with it's ability to remove heat. We tested using an Athlon 64 (Venice Core) 3000+ running at 2.2GHz, and an ASUS N6600GT Silencer clocked at 550MHz/1100MHz. At the start of our testing, we used Rivatuner to record temps of 23'C ambient, 32'C CPU, 31'C System, and 47'C GPU. After a twenty minute Counter-Strike:Source botmatch, our temps read 23'C ambient, 42'C CPU, 33'C System, and 62'C GPU.

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Final Thoughts And Conclusion

Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Is it hot? Is it not?

You're average computer user usually doesn't give much thought to their case. When you buy from a system builder like Dell or HP, you're shipped a decent looking, but fairly generic or proprietary case. For the rest of us though, companies like Thermaltake have been stepping up to the plate to deliver something a little more pleasing to the enthusiast's eye. These cases aren't cheap, with the Thermaltake Matrix VX VD3000 costing around $75-$90 without a PSU, but they're certainly worth it in terms of looks and features. The tool-less design can make all the difference if you're constantly swapping our hardware, and there's really no reason a modern high end case shouldn't have that feature. We're glad to see other features like dust filter for the intake fan and lightweight aluminum, have made it into Thermaltake's Matrix VX VD3000 as well.

After building up a system in the Matrix VX VD3000, and using it for a few days, we have a fairly good impression of this case. While it's not perfect, with the problems we had with the tool-less PCI slot fastener, and the awkward way the front panel is removed, these flaws and nitpicks weren't a big deal in the end. What's important is the fact that the case is advertised for gamers and LAN party fans, and for them, the case is a good match. It's lightweight, fairly easy to work with, incorporates some good features, and it has a streamlined, interesting aesthetic. We hope Thermaltake continues to introduce more enthusiast friendly designs in the future. Based on its price, features, and style, HotHardware gives the Thermaltake Matrix VX VD3000 an 8 on the Heat Meter.

._Durable lightweight aluminum
._Tool-less Design
._2x Quiet 120mm fans (front & __back)

._Clear side panel 
._Slight problem with PCI slot lock
._Should be easier to remove the front panel


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