Assembling the Thermaltake Level 10 GT

When you get north of the $140/$150 price point you do start to see a lot of unusual case designs begin to surface. Making a bog standard ATX case is reasonably easy, but tweaking and changing designs in an effort to improve both aesthetics and performance does take some effort. Likewise, the end user should be prepared for a little more thought and work to go into his or her build.

The Thermaltake Level 10 GT's assembly is actually less daunting than it looks, but it can be rife with minor nuisances. The absolute first thing you're going to want to do is take the hinged side panel off, and that's done by just opening it and then lifting it off the hinge. It's nice for quick and dirty changes internally, but for anything remotely more involved like installing a motherboard or expansion card, it needs to come off.

Someone over at Thermaltake heard my prayers when it came to motherboard installation, because I didn't have to install a single standoff into the motherboard tray. The exact standoffs for a bog standard ATX board were already in place and ready to go; all I had to do was pop in the I/O shield (a slightly tighter fit than usual) and then screw in the motherboard. It was incredibly painless.

Installing a 5.25" drive is also reasonably easy, with the bay shields designed to pop out of the front by squeezing the sides. It's a little unsightly but not a deal breaker, and the 5.25" drive is then clamped into place using a toolless clamp on the other side of the case. As I mentioned on the previous page, I do take issue with this, because I found it to be fairly difficult to get our optical drive to feel fully secure in the bay. Installing an external 3.5" drive is also a little fraught, as you'll have to carefully maneuver two screws into the enclosure to secure it in the bay.

The hot-swappable 3.5" drive bays are easy enough to install into. Each tray includes rubber grommet-lined mounting holes for both 2.5" and 3.5" drives, and that's much appreciated. It highlights a reason why using drive trays in modern enclosures is such a smart idea: it makes integrating 2.5" drive support much easier.

Unfortunately, having that smooth, flat rear (heads out of the gutter, kids) around the I/O shield and expansion ports creates an issue other enclosures don't have: there needs to be a way to secure expansion card brackets while giving space to work them into place. The result is that the Level 10 GT adds an extra step: you have to remove a small plate affixed with two thumbscrews and then remove the slot covers for the expansion slots before popping in the card.

Finally, installing the power supply is fairly easy and routing cables wasn't too problematic. There's a healthy amount of space behind the motherboard tray that it can be done without too much trouble, but you're probably still going to have to squish the side panel back down and on. The only power leads the enclosure requires are a single SATA power lead for the drive bays and a molex lead for the fans; the rear fan uses its own 3-pin lead allowing it to be controlled by the motherboard. That's a detail I actually really liked: Thermaltake seemed to know exactly which fan you'd want your hardware to control.

The takeaway with assembling the Level 10 GT is simple: remove the side panels completely, and then try to approach it like a regular enclosure. It will still take a bit of time and thought, but if you're buying a $270 case that shouldn't be a problem.

In and Around the Thermaltake Level 10 GT Testing Methodology
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  • DethFiesta - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    I have an FT02 and find it to be an excellent case. Huge and heavy, yes, but highly functional and understated (except for the size). I look forward to the comparison between the Level 10 and Ft02, but even if the FT02 comes out behind, I wouldn't swap over due to the absurd look of the Level 10.

    Also, "duckets" are spelled "ducats."
  • hammer256 - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    I Recently got the FT 02 to build a machine for work, and man I am impressed. Curiously to see what the review says.
    A few things I really like about the FT02:
    1. all the connections are on the top of the case, so much easier to access than the back.
    2. The video card hangs vertically, so less bending on the motherboard.
    3. Really quiet fans with lots of airflow. I only keep them at low.
    4. really clean, professional looking case.

    But, I wish it didn't have five 5.25 bays, and instead another 5 bay hdd cage. Also, the top cover and latch could be better. The space behind the motherboard tray could be a bit wider, for easier cable management. Finally, would be nice to actually access the dust filters without opening the case. Fairly minor gripes, all things considered.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link

    I'll be doing thermal testing this weekend, but early impressions are very favorable.

    Our rep was hesitant to send it to us because it's (in technology years) a fairly old chassis, and I'm sure they're probably working on refining it. But it's still fantastic, and truthfully the clearance behind the motherboard tray is about on par with most other enclosures these days. It could be wider, but it's not too bad.

    When I go to review it I'll have suggestions for the next revision, but my major takeaway is just...with this as a reference point, the Raven RV-03 feels like such a step back despite being newer.
  • rickon66 - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    My build before last was in an Antec Nine Hundred, but my last build was in an Antec Two Hundred that I got for $30 at Micro Center last fall. It does everything that this Thermaltake does -Great cooling, very roomy and it holds all of the stuff that makes up a computer togeather. What really do you need more than that? I adjusted my expectations of a case down so that I had more cash for a processor and video card that makes a real difference in performance. . Kind of like a rat rod - no show, just go. Unless you have money to burn a super fancy case is just bling.
  • james.jwb - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link

    Apple fanboys don't have much real ammunition to throw at PC users, but when a case like this comes out i can see them all laughing their asses off, and justifiably so.



  • WT - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I love this case. Started off looking at an NZXT Phantom or a Corsair 600 SE, but after watching some vids of the Level 10 GT, I really do want it to be #1 on my list.

    My fave features:

    SATA backplane - no more cable mess !!
    Side fan features a touch contact - no more umbilical power line !!
    Support for a dual radiator - was going to go H80, now I can go H100.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One thing about this case is it is definitely a conversation piece as opposed to the average black box.

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