Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

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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Interior

Thermaltake says the Core V1 is built around a "chambered concept" that divides the chassis into an upper and lower area. The upper portion of the case houses the motherboard, graphics card, CPU, memory and is designed to enhance cooling performance. The lower portion of the case is housing the PSU and cable management. Even though this is a mini-ITX case, there are several clever design features used here that allows this chassis to accommodate some rather impressive hardware.

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There is a large 6" x 3.5" hole in the motherboard mounting tray for cable management. There is also a large hole in the motherboard mounting plate behind the CPU socket area to facilitate in heatsink changes without removing the motherboard (PSU would have to be removed). The Core V1 supports cooler up to 140mm in height as well as 120mm / 140mm all-in-one liquid CPU coolers.

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The Thermaltake Core V1 ships with a single 200mm fan from the factory with mounting locations for optional 140mm and 120mm fans or all-in-one liquid coolers (we'll cover that in the cooling section of this renew). There is also two mounting locations in the rear of the chassis for optional 80mm exhaust fans. As previously stated, this case deceptively spacious for a mini-ITX case. Even with a 140mm cooler, two hard drives, two SSDs, and a large PSU, working in and around the case was painless.

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Hard Drives / Storage

As you can plainly see, there are no 5.25" drive bays in the Core V1. If you must have an optical drive bay in your system, this is not the case for you. To be honest, I can't remember the last time I used the Blu-ray drive in my personal system but we know that not having an optical drive could be a deal breaker for some. There are two removable HDD trays that have mounting locations for both 3.5" hard drives and 2.5" SSDs. What makes these drive caddies different is the double sided design that lets you mount two drives on one caddy at the same time. This means that it is possible to mount up to four SSDs (one on each side of the drive caddies), two SSDs and two 3.5" spinning drives or any combination thereof. Thermaltake also includes step screws that thread through rubber grommets to keep hard drive vibrations to a minimum. The average user will no doubt install an SSD for their operating system on one side of the drive caddy and a large spinning disk on the opposite side and call it good. Enthusiasts are able to install a dual SSD RAID set up and two large spinning disks for storage.

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Now that we've covered standard and enthusiast storage solutions, what about those of you running file servers or HTPCs that require a lot of storage space? Well, thanks to the Core V1's configurable side panels, we were actually able to add more hard drives to our system without having to mod the case in any way. In fact, Thermaltake provides everything you need to add up to four 3.5" hard drives to this chassis. The process is rather simple; just take one of the vented side panels, use a couple step screws and grommets and you can attach two 3.5" hard drives to a vented side panel and install them in the top of the case. While this configuration limits cooler height to 120mm, the ability to add an additional two large hard drives turns the Core V1 into a media/file serving power house.

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The Thermaltake Core V1 is able to accommodate power supplies up to 200mm in length. Power supplies like the Thermaltake DPS G 1050W leave plenty of room for cables while larger units, like the Corsair AX1200 and the Tt Toughpower 1475W fit fine but require a bit more finesse when it comes to cable management.

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GPU Installation

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Thermaltake states that the Core V1 supports dual slot graphics cards up to 285mm (11.2") in length. This is made possible by a large slot cut into the frame of the chassis that allows the graphics card to pass through the frame into the area behind the front fascia.


Cooling

As always, we are breaking down the cooling section of this evaluation into several parts so that we may adequately cover each section separately. We looked at stock fan cooling, all-in-one water cooling solutions, DIY enthusiast water cooling, and the ins and outs of each along with any issues we encountered along the way.

Fan & Air Cooling

Our "smoke test" is used to demonstrate the amount of air a case is capable of drawing in and from how far away. If the design of a case restricts its ability to draw in the cooler outside air, thermal performance can suffer as a result. Simply put, this is a basic flow test of sorts.

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The fact that the Core V1 has a single 200mm intake fan and no exhaust fans was a bit of a concern at first. However, once we began testing, those concerns quickly went away once testing was underway. Much to our surprise, even without an exhaust fan, the single 200mm intake fan in the front of the case was able to draw cool outside air from a distance of 29".

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Normally smaller chassis like this are very limited when it comes to CPU cooler height. The Thermaltake Core V1 can accommodate coolers as tall as 140mm. In order to keep our i5-4670K cool during testing, we used the Thermaltake NiC L31.