Thermaltake Level 10 Gaming Station Review
Looking back, the installation process was a healthy success. Once finished, all our fingers were still in place and we avoided the types of cuts and scrapes sometimes associated with system building. The Level 10's removable motherboard tray made that component installation straightforward affair and the power supply cage worked as advertised. Hard drive and SSD installation was painless, but WD Velociraptor users should remember to use the bays without the SATA hot swap adapter.
Furthermore, we found that our 18" SATA cables were able to connect the optical drive to the motherboard with a little bit of slack left over. The power supply cables from the Antec TPQ-1000 easily reached their destinations except for the CPU Power cable, which was barely long enough but still made it. The PCIe cables running to the graphics card had plenty of slack and we estimate that a multiple video card setup would still be compatible as well. Make sure your power supply cables are all at least 22" in length and it should work with the Level 10 without needing extensions.
At this cost, the Level 10 becomes a status symbol as much as it is a computer case. Its obvious that this product is not for everyone as the current MSRP of $850 puts it clearly out of reach for the majority of consumers in the market for a PC enclosure. There are hundreds of choices available to
those looking for a standard chassis that will protect your components, and some excellent models start below $100. In this regard, the Level 10 is not very practical. Come to think of it, we could assemble an entire midrange system for $850. Though we suppose, just like every cutting edge product, the price will eventually drop after some time. You can already find it online for around $700 at several etailers. Still, we highly doubt it will ever be truly affordable enough for mainstream consumers.
So we raise the question, is the Level 10 worth its asking price? For most consumers, of course not. Although we think the design looks fantastic and would be a show-stopper wherever it goes, the case is not perfect. Besides the obvious price hurdle, we have a couple of minor quibbles that turn us off. Specifically, the Level 10's massive size and weight make it an immovable object. This is one enclosure you won't haul around to LAN parties obviously. In addition, this high end case doesn't provide a means to install custom water cooling within the panels or anywhere else on the case. Water cooling compatibility is a common feature found in most extreme enthusiast PC cases, and it's noticeably absent here.
That said, the Level 10 continues Thermaltake's long line of cutting edge enclosures that push the boundaries of how we think a computer case should look and perform. It was not long ago that they released Xpressar featuring a refrigeration cooling system, the popular Armor Series with 10 PCI slots, and the SwordM with built in water cooling and hydraulic panels. These models are still available for purchase, but none have made the same impression within the enthusiast community as the Level 10 has. We have closely monitored the buzz surrounding this case and noticed that it has grown steadily since the CeBIT 2009 show. And like most hardware enthusiasts, we wondered when it would finally arrive. Finally getting our hands on the retail version in person and having the opportunity to build a system within it, we think it lives up to the hype. Unfortunately, most of us either can't afford or remain unwilling to spend this much money for a PC case, no matter how attractive it looks. But for the select few that have disposable income and crave the exclusivity this product provides, we feel the Level 10 is a solid choice with an undeniable coolness factor that is sure to please the true computing enthusiast among us.