A Tidy Tower from Thermaltake
Sometimes I think Thermaltake can be personified; a bit like a band of scientists loose in the laboratory of computer parts and ideas. The walls filled with RGB backlit white boards, and they are mixing up different technology concoctions with various flavors to meet wildly differing tastes.
Thermaltake makes open air computer cases that you can hang on a wall, some that are shaped a bit like an attack helicopter, PSUs with RGBs, “TOUGH” accessories, fast & colorful DDR memory, chairs, headsets and even custom water or notebook cooling, and all manner of input devices. It seems there is something for everyone in their parts catalog.
Today, we are taking a closer look at their vertically orientated ITX style case that some would say resembles a partially glassed in 3D printer. Actually, I am not going to strongly disagree. But I also have to say, I think I like it. Thermaltake simply calls it: Tower 100. It’s a distant relative to their showy and legacy Tower 900, an E-ATX Super Tower Chassis.
A few pics from the manufacturer to kick off the review.
- ITX Chassis Mini-Tower
- Compatibility: Mini-ITX 6.7″ x 6.7″ boards
- Dimensions: (H x W x D) 462.8mm x 266mm x 266 mm or 18.2in x 10.5in x 10.5in
- Net Weight: 6.1 kg / 13.45 lbs.
- Side Panels: 4mm Tempered Glass on three sides, partial on left / right
- I/O Ports: USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C x 1, USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio x 2
- PSU Compatibility: Standard ATX or ITX with bracket
- Cooling Specifications, included:
- Top Exhaust: 120 x 120 x 25mm, 16 dBa @ 1000 RPMs
- Rear Exhaust: 120 x 120 x 25mm, 16 dBa @ 1000 RPMs
- Fans support:
- Top: 1 x 120mm or 1 x 140mm
- Rear: 1 x 120mm or 1 x 140mm
- Top of the PSU cover: 1 x 120mm or 1 x 140mm
- Radiator Support: 1 x 120mm top mounted
- Available Drive Bays:
- 2 x 2.5″ via side mount brackets
- 2 x 3.5″ vertical rear w/o rear exhaust fan
- Air cooler height: 190mm
- GPU length limit: 330mm
- PSU length: 180mm
$109.99 MSRP for black
$119.99 MSRP for white
“Designed to expand the legacy of The Tower 900 E-ATX Super Tower Chassis, The Tower 100 Mini Chassis is the newest member of The Tower Series. It features three 4mm tempered glass windows for a stunning view and two preinstalled 120mm standard fans on top and at the rear for exhaust. “
For our review purposes, we received the black version, but it does come in white or rather, “Snow” as Thermaltake names it. There is no doubt this is a statement case, with a high “form” factor, but I still found plenty of “function” in the design and operation.
It’s clear to me that Thermaltake is putting in the effort to make this a good working case in this style with a healthy dose of tempered glass swagger mixed in. Kinda like a concept design leaping off the whiteboard and into reality.
What’s In The Box
There are not many included extras with the case. Mounting screws, a pair of block off plates to hide the side areas for shorter GPUs, a handful of zip ties and a motherboard audio buzzer / beeper! How quaint. The manual is short on words, but filled with pictures explaining how the chassis panels come off or implicit options with blanking panels, drives, fans and cooling. Good if you’re a visual learner.
The I/O panel has a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, a pair of USB 3.0 Type A, separate HD audio jacks for mic and headphones, reset and power buttons and finally power and drive activity lights. The wiring connectors are all here and standard, well labeled and long enough to snake their way through the top, back and through the panels to reach wherever they need on a small ITX motherboard. The wire bundle is easily maneuvered and the 120mm stock top exhaust fan worked very well in drawing heat up and out. In order to remove the side panels, the top must come off first.
Breaking Down All The Panels
The Tower 100 cannot be an inexpensive case to make really, there are just too many neatly fitted and finished panels. That’s a bit unusual for a case this size.
The top pops up from hidden releases by pushing down near the back indicated by subtle arrows on the frame. It works a bit like the Phanteks Evolv Shift 2 I reviewed a while back, except there’s no huge “spring” upwards on the top panel from the Tower 100. The panel does release fine, just a bit of picking at the edge to fully lift and remove it. The top metal grate has the only non-removable filter, but it primarily operates as an exhaust vent.
BTW, the manual does not call out the 5th screw to remove, which is circled below right, in yellow.
As previously mentioned, this case is designed for a bit of internal component showing off by having glass on three sides. Ah, Thermaltake has not left function behind, note the fairly generous panel space given over to venting and all that sweet air flow? Let’s break this chassis down.
At the bottom now there is a hint as to what’s to come regarding the sheer number of filters. Due to the arrangement of stock exhaust fans, there will be strong up top and out the back air flow patterns, so it makes sense to have plenty of intakes lower in the chassis. Think generally that airflow is from bottom to top here.
One exception to that is the intake area next to the GPU, where a good portion of those fans would be able to easily pull in outside air from that side. Once that happens, GPUs tend to send that hot air towards their top or bottom depending on the fin arrangement or pass-thru capacity. I could recommend using rear (or top in this case) GPU exhaust, but attend to wire routing carefully in that area to clear air flow.
The side panels easily slide up and out after removing the top, and then the attached filters behind the metal screens are easily pulled out for cleaning. These are held in with clips, friction and magnets. Same as the ones arrayed around the lower part of the 3 main sides.
Even the back is filtered with a flexible magnetically attached screen, but I’m not sure why exactly because its set up for exhaust as well. The filters seem high quality with a fine mesh, well formed metal frames with folded over edges, and a high quality attachment / retention mechanic.
Counting the top with its built in filter material, this not small ITX case has 9 filters, most of which are removable. Having all these filters appears as if Thermaltake is really trying to consider the air quality and flow aspects of the Tower 100. Mighty fine.
The bare chassis frame now has an even greater resemblance to a 3D printer. Despite being an ITX frame, there’s plenty of room for running cables, internal drives and a GPU up to 330mm in length and double+ width.
The lower section accepts a full size standard ATX power supply, an option on ITX based chassis we are seeing more of lately. And I do appreciate the PSU mounting face frame, as that eases installation. The pair of 2.5” drive sleds have holes in just the right places for cabling. Oh, this would also be the ideal place to show off your RGB equipped SSD, am-I-right? Probably one of the better cases for it, TBH.
The custom I/O board appears well done, electrically insulated, screwed together nicely and firmly attached to the chassis. I have seen much flimsier I/O boards. Again, there appears to be few corners cut in making this particular chassis for Thermaltake.
Let’s Build Something In It
Using the attractively styled and modestly priced ($59) Thermaltake ToughAIR 510 CPU cooler on the 8600k seemed like a good idea, so let’s try that out. It will “sink” up to 180 watts of heat output, so we should be be good on the 8600k, even with overclocking. Look out for a separate write up review on this shortly. Also, one of the latest power supplies from be quiet!, the 80 Plus Gold rated Pure Power 11 FM in 650 watts. We’re going to be running more testing on PSUs including this one, as well.
|PC Perspective Test Platform|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z390 I Aorus Pro WiFi|
|Processor||Intel 8600K all core OC 4.8ghz|
|Memory||Crucial Dominator Platinum (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 CL16|
|GPU||ASUS Rog Strix 2080ti OC, +400 mem, +100 core clocks, +25% power, max draw|
|Storage||Intel 660p 1tb NVME (boot)|
|Storage||Micron 5100 Pro 1tb SSD|
|Power Supply||be quiet! 650w Pure Power 11 FM|
|CPU Cooler||Thermaltake ToughAIR 510|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit 20H2|
Running the PSU cables in the Tower 100 is a bit unusual, as the cables leave the back of the power supply and immediately loop back over the top of it to turn around and come through the lower cable grommet to connect with the inverted ITX board. Just look at the pictures. I found it easier to route them by removing the entire lower shelf, made easy because Thermaltake used screws instead of inexpensive rivets.
Finally finished routing power and viewed from above, all the cabling is well concealed, especially if you use an air cooler like I have here.
One interesting cable management feature I did not immediately recognize was that the main power cables which attach to a longer GPU card would essentially be “below deck” or under the shelf. The keeps them out of primary view. Really, the neatest visible cable run is probably to have none at all.
I thought about trying to fit the immense MSI 3080 Suprim card, but it was not to be. Have a look at the picture above right. It’s just too long. Thermaltake does advertise Nvidia 30 series compatibility for the Tower 100, but that is likely with the reference designs. Just be aware of the 330mm length limit and 2+ slot width restriction if you’re eyeing up this case for your show case build.
I used what I once thought of as a really beefy card, the ASUS 2080ti OC. That fit without a problem.
Routing cables down and around behind the motherboard was super easy, barely an inconvenience™, with plenty of space to the sides and passthrough holes which kept wiring out of the air exhaust path.
There’s a cut-out in the SSD mounting tray right at the connector that (finally) allows for a real actual unconstrained use of a right angle SATA connector (middle picture below). How about that. Also, I cannot recall right now having an easier time getting power to an SSD. Or a GPU for that matter.
Cables exit the chassis at the top rear edge and drape down the back, there are multiple entry / exit holes and the bend down towards the rear motherboard I/O is not extreme even for larger diameter wires. There are plenty of cable tie-downs to tuck wiring to the side and keep it looking neat and out of the airflow path.
Frequent external cable access is not really ideal due to the inverted / vertical nature of the entire chassis, which hides the main ports down inside the top of the tower. Weigh carefully your typical system use if access to your motherboard ports is often needed, or perhaps consider getting a desk top USB extension brick. Direct attach wifi antennas may be spatially challenged or have their range reduced while operating from within the enclosure. The sides and top are steel grates or panels, which might not pass wifi signals too easily.
Everything fit well, and all the panels went back on easily. Fit and finish for all of them were top notch, with no rattles or unsteadiness. I was getting vibration transmitted through the feet to the table from the spinning fans, so end users might improve that with additional rubber feet or discs. Perhaps it was just more a function of my table, as this is my first build in this space. The keyboard and mouse are also from Thermaltake, their Argent K5 and M5 series. Upcoming reviews in few weeks.
Also, Thermaltake does not call this a “tower” just because it’s cute. It’s actually fairly tall at just under 2 feet-freedom units, or 463 metrics. A couple inches above the lowered 34″ ultra-wide in the pic below.
Acoustic and Heat Performance
The airflow in this case seems like it is patterned after how a chimney operates in a way. Thermaltake has even done some thermal imaging to show off their design and heat flow intent. Personally, with my build, thermals stayed easily under control.
If you’re interested in the full load-out within this thermal image, head over to their site and scroll to the bottom section, Idle and Full-load Temperature.
The 8600k was OC’d to 4.8Ghz all core, while the 2080ti was OC’d to +100 core, +400 memory, +25% current & max draw via Afterburner.
All fans were left on auto. For noise comparison purposes, striking a few keys on the Argent K5 with Cherry MX Blue switches would ping the db meter to 60.2dBa.
Something new, just thought I would throw in fan RPMs vs load and chart the noise.
Building a system in the Tower 100 chassis led me to believe that Thermaltake was really trying to do some good things here with regards to visual flair and system thermal management. Some of their other past accessories don’t always work out the way they hoped. However, with the Tower 100 chassis, the pieces are well made (even if numerous) solid (except the perforated pieces obviously), and fit together very well. I am personally a fan of the ITX tower design idea, but do realize this is not a small ITX enclosure by any means.
While I did not find any glaring issues with regards to thermal performance, I am sure airflow could be improved somewhat with larger and / or more aggressive fans, as 140mm units do fit. CPU watercooling is also a supported option, though my test installation was relatively modest for a CPU, of course. I think there is a natural limit to CPU suitability in this case however, as only a 120mm (or 140mm?) radiator is designed to be fitted at the top. This probably leaves out installing and overclocking the “hot” running high end Intel 11th gen but would probably make a great home for many excellently performing AMD chips like the 5600x or 5800x.
Pricing for this case is a reasonable $110 for the black, and $120 for the white – sorry, “Snow” – which also looks quite good. It’s a presentation or statement case in my opinion, for the non-minimalists in the crowd. The design style and components all seem very Thermaltake to me, and you’ve got to not mind the large “TT” logo, that is, if you don’t feel like doing some redecorating with paint. The case also accommodates less expensive, and more power / $, ATX sized PSUs, which is a plus. Cable routing is unconventional, but ultimately easy to do with plenty of options to make it look good.
That really has to be one of your important driving factors in deciding to go for a case like this, do you feel the need for a build where you are going to spend the time on making it look good from three sides? Well, this case makes that actually pretty easy to do, so you’re in luck. We might have something in common then, because I have decided to move my personal gaming components into this case for now because I like it.
But do consider your aesthetic and desk landscape.
The Thermaltake Tower 100 is a statement chassis that’s priced right. You get a lot of ITX case for the money – which comes across as a somewhat funny thing to say. The thermal design seems quite functional, and I definitely appreciate the unique looking visuals. There is room inside to get inventive.
If you do not want your ITX rig to disappear into the background, if you want to gaze all around at your hard working PC components from three sides and multiple angles, and you don’t mind the top mount cabling – this could be the one for you. I will be using this one myself as home to my personal modest gaming components, and would recommend you take a look if you are in the market.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Thermaltake for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of Thermaltake but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Thermaltake had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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