Back around the first of the year, I received my first full tower, a Thermaltake XaserVI. I've reviewed several more cases since then, but my main rig, recently rebuilt with a new motherboard, still resides in the Xaser. Yeah, it's big, but its roomy, kind of like working under the hood of an old car. The case is well made, is all about cable management, and is well ventilated. It was also my first Thermaltake case, and I was very impressed. I've reviewed the M9 midtower since, and it also is an impressive case.
So needless to say that I was excited to find out that I was getting another Thermaltake full tower. I knew that it would support ESA.though at the time I really didn't quite know what ESA was.and would readily accommodate a Thermaltake water cooling system and other ESA-compatible hardware.
What is ESA, or Enthusiast System Architecture? We enthusiasts monitor nearly everything in our rigs, temperatures, voltages, clock rates, fan speeds, etc. Unfortunately, there is no single place to monitor it all...we use either CPU-Z or the motherboard's monitoring dashboard for clock speeds, the motherboard's monitoring utility dashboard or third-party software for CPU and NB temps. Usually, but not always, you can also use the dashboard for controlling CPU and chassis fan speeds (if you have connected the chassis fans to the motherboard fan connectors). Video card clock, temperature, and fan speed is usually monitored and controlled by the Catalyst Control Center on Radeon cards, or the nVidia Control Panel on geForce cards, or with a totally separate utility like Asus' Smart Doctor, or with a third-party utility like Rivatuner. PSU voltages are found in the BIOS, or with third-party utilities like SiSoft Sandra. To be honest, I'd have to think a minute to remember where you can find S.M.A.R.T. HDD information, I think you can find it on Sandra.
nVidia decided that all of this is pretty ridiculous, there has to be a better way for enthusiasts to get their system information. So they came up with ESA, a system of monitoring all system information from one dashboard. Working with their partners, they have developed a really creative and effective system for hardware monitoring.
Our friends at Thermaltake thought this an excellent idea, and immediately jumped onboard to develop ESA-compatible cases, power supplies, and watercooling systems. I won't go any deeper into ESA at this time, as this case is merely the first installment in a series of ESA reviews, following the Armor+ ESA case will be an ESA-supporting Thermaltake BigWater watercooling system, next a Thermaltake ESA-compatible power supply, and finally a full-blown article on ESA itself. So in this review I will concentrate on the Armor+, and save the ESA-specifics for a later date. Will the case meet the standards that we have come to expect from Thermaltake? Read on to find out!
Case Type: Super Tower
Dimensions: (H*W*D) 600 x 245 x 625 mm (23.6 x 9.6 x 24.6 inch)
Net Weight: 16.8kg (37.0lb)
Material: Front door: Aluminum/ Chassis: 1.0mm SECC
- Front (intake):
140 x 140 x 25mm blue LED fan, 1000rpm, 16dBA or
120 x 120 x 25mm fan
- Rear (exhaust):
120 x 120 x25 mm TurboFan, 1300rpm, 17dBA
- Side (intake):
230 x 230 x 20mm blue LED fan, 800rpm, 15dBA
- Bottom (intake):
Two 140 x 140 mm fans (optional) or
Two 120 x 120mm fans (optional)
- VGA (intake):
140 x 140 x 25mm fan 1000rpm, 16dBA or
120 x 120 x 25mm fan(optional)
- Optimized design for both liquid cooling and air cooling system
- Sliding hood with toolbox on top. (Upgradable to LCS.)
- Transparent side window with 230mm fan
- 10 PCI slots design for quad-graphic card configuration
- Tool free design for 5.25" device and PCI slot.
- Sliding motherboard tray
- Independent thermal management for CPU, VGA & HDD.
- Cable management system for better cable routing and internal air flow
- Evolutionary adjustable PSU supporting bridge
- MicroATX, ATX, Extend-ATX supported
Of course a big honking case comes in a big honking box. The box is quite large, to accommodate the case and protective packaging. It is black with colorful graphics, with the familiar Thermaltake and the ESA logos prominently displayed. On the rear of the box is an explanation of ESA.
Inside, the case is well protected with large foam ends and a protective glassine bag. The case itself has protective covering on the window, and some Styrofoam packing to protect the front swinging panels and the side panel.