Thermaltake Core V1 Mini-ITX Case Review

Lots of folks are looking towards a high end desktop computer system with a much smaller footprint. Mini-ITX motherboards have gotten to such a good quality level over the last few years, putting a gaming and overclocking behemoth in a small case is a possibility and Thermaltake wants to take it to the next level.

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Sound Levels:

As demonstrated by the results of our temperature testing, the 200mm intake fan provided more than enough cooling power, but now it is time to find out what kind of acoustic performance we can expect from the Thermaltake Core V1.

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We took sound level readings from four feet from the case with two off-the-shelf dB meters. The Core V1 barely registered on the dB meter but, when it did register it was in the 24 - 25dB range. Normally we post a video clip in hopes of giving you some idea of the sound levels and sound profile the chassis makes but, as you can see/hear, you can't even tell the Core V1 is running.

As demonstrated by the video above, it is almost impossible to tell the system is even running when it is powered up. The only sound you can hear in the video is the sound of the power supply switch when the system is powered up.

Mod-ability

The question of whether or not a case is a good candidate for modding is highly subjective and varies on a case by case basis. As modders ourselves, more often than not, a plain case that offers a "blank slate" to express our creativity is preferable to a case with large pre-cut side windows, pre-installed 200mm LED fans and so on. It has been our experience that, aside from some very specific projects, most modders prefer not to spend extra money on features they are simply going to cut off and remove anyway.

When it comes to modding, there isn't a lot you can do with the Core V1 other than the standard windows and / or a complete repaint. That's where the symmetrical interchangeable panels come into play. Although it isn't technically "modding," the ability to reconfigure your system simply by swapping around side panels is a stroke of genius.

Conclusion

As with any chassis that lacks a 5.25" external drive bay, if you cannot live without an optical drive, you will need to look at other small form factor cases. This is neither a positive or a negative, it is just something you have to take into consideration when building a system in this case. Only two 3.5" hard drive mounting locations can be a turn off for some but, as we showed you earlier, that too can be remedied with just a few screws. We would have liked to have seen exhaust fans included with the case but, as it turns out, the Core V1 performed very well without those. The filtration system, specifically the lack of filters for the side panels was a bit of a let down, but it is hard to complain considering the price point.

Enthusiasts are in and out of their cases more than any other group we know. We are constantly upgrading our hardware, troubleshooting or just trying different configurations. The Thermaltake Core V1 has a surprising amount of room and is easy to work in and around. Thanks to some clever design choices, Thermaltake lived up to its promise of being able to use standard desktop components in this chassis. The cut out for the GPU is brilliant, the separate compartment for the PSU and the ability to use CPU coolers up to 140mm in height gives you plenty of options when selecting a cooler for your system.

After spending a good deal of time with this case, we can safely say that Thermaltake's "Your Build, Our Core" moto is spot on. The Core V1 would make a great foundation for a Steam Machine, HTPC, or LAN box. With a little ingenuity, we even turned this chassis into a very competent file server capable of holding up to four 3.5" hard drives.

The cooling performance of the Core V1 was great all the way around. In standard trim it didn't break a sweat and did almost as well in enthusiast trim. Adding an all-in-one cooler might be nice for your CPU but, by removing the large 200mm fan, the temperatures of your other components will suffer. We found that the best overall cooling performance came from leaving the 200mm intake fan in place and installing the best 140mm CPU cooler you can find.

In our testing, we found the ideal configuration for a Steam Machine or LAN box consisted of:

  • Intel Core i5-4670K

  • Thermaltake NiC L31 CPU Cooler

  • ASUS Z87I-Deluxe

  • Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 16GB

  • Gigabyte HD 7970 OC

  • Corsair AX1200 or Thermaltake DPS G 1050W PSU

  • Corsair GT 240GB SDD x2

  • Western Digital 4TB HDD

HTPC configuration:

  • Intel Core i5-4670K

  • Thermaltake Water3.0 Performer or Tt NiC L31 CPU Cooler

  • ASUS Z87I-Deluxe

  • Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 16GB

  • Zotac GeForce GTX 750

  • Corsair AX1200 or Thermaltake DPS G 1050W PSU

  • Corsair GT 240GB SDD

  • Western Digital 4TB HDD x2

File server configuration:

  • Intel Core i5-4670K

  • Thermaltake Water3.0 Performer or Stock Intel Heatsink

  • ASUS Z87I-Deluxe

  • Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 16GB

  • Thermaltake DPS G 1050W PSU

  • Corsair GT 240GB SDD

  • Western Digital 4TB HDD x4 using side panel to mount extra drives

These configurations provided the best overall thermal profile without sacrificing system performance.

The Thermaltake Core V1 is one of the best mini-ITX cases we've ever seen. The minor faults are just that, minor and the versatility makes working with this chassis a true pleasure.

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Surviving our enthusiast testing process isn't a chore to be taken lightly. Every case that comes through the HardOCP labs is thoroughly examined, pushed to the limit, and tested in ways that we feel gives you an accurate assessment of the product's ability to perform in the manner you would use it at home.


The Bottom Line

The Thermaltake Core V1 should be at the top of the list for anyone building a LAN box, HTPC, or Steam Machine. The ability to pack this case with full-size, high-end hardware will make it a favorite with enthusiasts looking to reduce their system's footprint without sacrificing performance.

The Thermaltake Core V1 is available at Amazon for $46.14 plus shipping and at Newegg for $49.99 plus shipping.

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Thermaltake Core V1 Mini-ITX Computer Case

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