Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/Thermaltake_Armor_A60/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Thermaltake has cases that appeal to a wide spectrum of DIY system builders. They have sub $100 dollar mainstream cases that offer the best bang for the buck, and cases that fit into the high-end enthusiast market equipped with all the latest features and support. The case we are going to be looking at in this review is the mid-sized Thermaltake Armor A60, which fits more into the mainstream market, and is follow up to the popular Armor A90 full-sized chassis. The Armor A60 as the little brother of the A90 and includes many of the same features and style, but it includes a host of new technologies to make it stand on its own. These consist of more ventilation areas for improved airflow, support for up to 7 case fans, a built-in USB 3.0 connector, and the market’s first SideClick EasySwap bay for 3.5” hard drives.
The Thermaltake Armor A60 has a suggested retail price of around $90, which when taking into account all of the features this case includes seems very reasonable. However, the price puts it in direct competition with some of the best sub-$100 cases around. Just a few years ago any PC chassis that cost less than $100 was relatively cheap in design and function. But now $100 cases are made of high quality materials and include a wide array of supported technologies. This means A60 will really have to deliver the goods to stand out in what is quickly becoming an overcrowded market.
We'll be looking at all of the features of the A60 as well as its cooling ability, pricing and overall appeal. Examining the case from all angles will allow us to see if it should be on your to-buy list, or if it should head back to the design team's drawing board.
Front Bezel Material
5.25" Drive Bay
Ext 3.5" Drive Bay
Front I/O Ports
USB3.0(SuperSpeed) x 1
USB2.0 x 1
e-SATA x 1
HD Audio x 1 (Support AC 97)
120 x 120 x 25 mm Blue LED fan, 1000rpm 16dBA
120 x 120 x 25 mm / 200 x 200 x 20 mm (Optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm TurboFan, 1000rpm 16dBA
200 x 200 x 20 mm Blue LED fan, 800rpm 15 dBA
2 x 120 x 120 x 25 mm (Optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm (Optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm (Optional)
Liquid Cooling Capable
Liquid Cooling Embedded
|Power Supply Supported||ATX PSII|
|Power Supply Included||No|
18.9 x 8.3 x 19.7 Inch
480 x 210 x 500 mm
The packaging of the Armor A60 uses a high gloss coating to enhance to look of the box and includes an image of the case and a knight. There are also icons on the front that highlight the newly added features, with the tagline "created for battle" directly under it. The knight looks as if in the middle of a fight, which fits into the A60's "created for combat" theme. The back and sides of the packaging include listings for support and specifications.
Inside the box there is an installation guide, and all the needed accessories to install all the add-on components. The screws and accessories are stored within the A60 case itself.
The front of the A60 is solid black and measures 18.9 x 8.3 x 19.7 Inches. On the front panel the A60 has three removable 3.5" bay covers that allow for easy DVD drive installation and a single 2.5" bay. The front panel has a plain design, but there is plenty of ventilation and the use of extended triangle patterns at the bottom adds to the overall look of the case. Behind the lower portion of the front panel is a 120mm fan that cools the internal hard drives.
The back of the chassis is also solid black and features a standard design for a mid-sized ATX case. A few features take it a step beyond your standard $100 case though, like the use of four easy access holes for water cooling tubes, a locking clip that can secure keyboard and mouse cables to the case, a USB 3.0 cable, and ventilated rear I/O slot covers.
The sides of the A60 use different shapes and patterns to add some character to the look of the case. The side panel used to access the internal components also has a clear side window and two ventilation areas, one of which supports a 120mm case fan. There is also an opening on the side that is used for easy HDD installation.
The top and bottom panels of the A60 both have large ventilation areas. A large 200mm blue LED case fan exhausts air out through top. This design can greatly improve the cooling in the CPU area, as the hot air coming from the processor and VRM is removed quickly from the case. Thermaltake has only included one fan for the top panel, but there is additional room for an optional 120mm fan. The ventilation holes on the bottom play a different role in the cooling of the case. These holes instead allow air to freely pass through the intake fan on the power supply. The opening toward the back that is directly under the PSU sports a large filter to prevent dust from getting into the case. One issue here is that the rubber feet on the case aren't very tall and even with ventilation holes for the PSU, there still might not be enough room for the fan to pull in an antiquate volume of cool air from directly under the case.
From top to bottom, the front I/O panel has a USB 2.0 port, audio jacks, a USB 3.0 port, and e-SATA port, and the reset and power switches. The design of the power button is in the shape of a triangle, like much of the accents on the case, and is at a slight angle to allow for easier access.
The interior of the Thermaltake Armor A60 is solid black, and has the standard layout of a mid-sized chassis. This consist of a large motherboard tray along the back that can support both ATX and M-ATX form factor motherboards. Additionally, there is a rectangular hole on the tray that will allow for easy access to the back-plate of installed CPU heatsinks. The motherboard itself is installed via stand-offs that are embedded into the motherboard tray.
So far the internals are promising, as nothing looks cramped and there is plenty of room for expansion. The front portion of the case has a total of ten tool free bay slots for HDD and ODD installation. The HDD bays are designed to be facing the side of the case so that they can be easily accessed when the side panels are removed. There are seven open slots for add-on cards, and are located above the PSU area.
At the back of the case is a 120mm turbo fan that spins at 1000RPM and has a noise level of only16dBA. Next to the case fan is the rectangular opening for the motherboard's rear I/O ports, and above the fan are two circular openings for an external water cooling loop. One of the holes has a blue USB 3.0 cable running through it, which allows it to be plugged directly into an available USB 3.0 port on the motherboard.
At the front of the chassis are three tool-free bays that fit 3.5" optical drive.s To use the bays, all you need to do is move the knob on the side to the open position and then slide the drive in through the front. After the drive is in place, it is secured by moving the knob back into the locked position.
The lower portion of the case has ample room for even the largest power supplies and has a removable dust filter over the ventilation cover. The opposite side is where the 90° side facing HDD installation area is. There is room for up to seven 3.5" hard drives, and one bay can support a 2.5" SSD or HDD.
The hard drives are installed via tool-free drive trays. The trays are removed by squeezing inward on the handle and sliding it out of the cage. Once out the HDDs can be installed on the tray and secured back into the chassis.
The SideClick EasySwap bay allows a 3.5" HDD to be installed into the chassis without having to remove the side panel. There are multiple uses for this, and it can make adding extra storage to your system a breeze. When the drive is in place it is actually plugged straight into a SATA data and power cable connected to the bay, so there is no reduction in speed while using the EasySwap bay.
The CPU access hole on the A60 proved to be useless with my ASUS 890GX motherboard, unfortunately. The height of the hole was good, but the width, and location could be improved
All of my components including a 10.5" HD 5870 graphics card were easy to install into the chassis and even a 10.5" HD 6870 fits well within the case. The only issue though is that cable management is almost nonexistent and the only real means to hide the cables was to stuff them behind the hard drive trays. This created an excessive amount of clutter at the bottom of the case. However, the side window has a clear view of only the upper portion of the A60, so the messy cables won't be noticeable when the side panel is in place.
Once the system was turned on, the effects of the LED lights greatly added to the A60's visual appeal.
For testing I maintained an ambient room temperature of 70°F and used HWMonitor to monitor each component's internal temperature. The idle temperatures were taken after the computer remained on, but with no operating load for an hour. The load tests were taken after 30 minute tests of Prime95 and Furmark were performed. For HDD testing HDTune was used.
The cooling performance of the Thermaltake A60 is average and for the most part it fell behind the other cases. However, the difference was only a few degrees Celsius. It should be noted that all the other cases are more expensive than the A60.
After testing the A60 with the included stock fans I added two additional case fans. The extra fans improved the cooling, but since this case has a lot of ventilation holes there is little to dampen the additional internal noise.
The Thermaltake Armor A60 case left me with mixed feelings. On one hand it has high-end features such as USB 3.0 support, an EasySwap HDD design, easy installation, can support up to ten 3.5” drives, plus support for large high-end graphics cards. However, it was sorely lacking in cable management, has flimsy side panels, bad acoustics and cooling was only average.
In all I have spent the better part of the week tinkering with the A60 and mulling over the entire design, and for the most part it has started to grow on me. The EasySwap design is first of its kind, and works very well. During the review I found myself using it to quickly install a storage drive, which gave me quick access to all my pictures and music. Additionally, the ability to easily fit most of my high-end graphics cards in a mid-sized chassis was greatly beneficial. Add to this the exceptional look of the case once the LEDs are turned on, and the pros really do start to add up.
There really is a lot to like about the Armor A60, but for me the biggest issue with the design was total lack of cable management and the quality of the side panels. The cable management system consists mainly of stuffing the cables behind the HDD cage, which lead to a mess of cables at the bottom of the A60. However, the cables aren't visible when the side panel is in place, as the side windows only allows for a view of the CPU area. Still, most DIY PC enthusiasts prefer a clean chassis even if it is not seen through a side window. Better cable management also improves airflow throughout the entire case.
The side panels were very thin and prone to bending. In fact, the side panel that had the opening for an additional case fan would constantly bend when I was mounting it onto the panel and when the bending occurred, the fan I installed would hit the metal ventilation holes. The fan blade would hit the metal and thus make a clicking sound that was constant until the bend in the panel was straightened. This issue was easliy fixed, but could have been avoided with more durable side panels.
While the Thermaltake Armor A60 has some issues, it is a great overall case that looks nice and offers more features than the $90 price tag would suggest. This makes it a nice case for anyone on a tight budget.
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