Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 Case Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/Thermaltake_Chaser_MK-1/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

While most case manufacturers are scaling down by giving their products a cleaner and more elegant visual style, Thermaltake is pushing ever deeper into the hardcore gaming market by creating large cases with an unconventional designs. The latest case in Thermaltake's arsenal is the Galaxy Episode Chaser MK-1, the first in the Galaxy series and is billed by Thermaltake as an "XB" (extra big) ATX tower. This basically means the case has plenty of room to accommodate large graphics cards and motherboards, which facilitates excellent expansion, thus improving the longevity of the case.

Thermaltake has included other features such as a built-in command center, which gives the user direct control of the speed and lighting effects of the included fans. The Chaser MK-1 also boasts internal SuperSpeed USB 3.0 support that connects directly to the on-board USB 3.0 headers on the motherboard, a front mounted HDD docking system, and more. This is an impressive feature set for any chassis, but considering the MK-1 is priced below $200, we are impressed with all that Thermaltake has been able to incorporate into this case.

At launch the Galaxy Episode Chaser MK-1 will have an MSRP of $159, which is reasonable for a high-end full-sized gaming tower. If you're in the market for a new case to house your gaming hardware, be sure to read on and see what the MK-1 has to offer.

Specifications
Case Type
Full Tower
Material
SECC
Front Bezel Material
Combination of plastic and high air flow mesh
Color
Interior: Black
Exterior: Black
Side Panel
Swivel Door with Tranparent Window
Motherboard Support 9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX)
12” x 9.6” (ATX)
Motherboard Tray
No
5.25" Drive Bay
4
Ext. 3.5" Drive Bay
By using 5.25" to 3.5" Converter
Int. 3.5" Drive Bay 6
Expansion Slots
8
Front I/O Ports  
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 2
eSATA connector x 1
MIC & Speaker (support AC’97 & HD Audio)
Cooling System 

Front (Intake) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm Colorshift fan x 1 (600~800rpm,13~15dBA) or 120 x 120 x 25 mm x 2 (optional) Rear (Exhaust) :
140 x 140 x 25 mm TurboFan, 1000rpm, 16dBA or 120 x 120 x 25 mm x 1 (optional)
Top (Exhaust) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm Colorshift fan x 1 (600~800rpm, 13~15dBA); 200 x 200 x 30 mm x 1 (optional) or 140 x 140 x 25 mm x 2 (optional) or 120 x 120 x 25 mm x 2 (optional)
Bottom (Intake) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm x 1 (optional)
Side (Intake) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm x 1 (optional)
Liquid Cooling Capable
Yes
Liquid Cooling Embedded
No
Power Supply Supported Standard ATX PSII Power Supply
Power Supply Included No
Dimension (H*W*D)
567.9 x 237.0 x 581.6 mm
22.4 x 9.3 x 22.9 inch
Net Weight 
27.1 lb
  12.3kg
Security Lock
For peripherals only
Application    Suitable for gaming, enthusiast, DIY and modding

The MK-1 is packaged in a glossy, large rectangular box sporting multiple images of the case. The surrounding panels of the box are full of visual images of the included features and support, and of course the list of specifications. The overall size of the box is quite large, which is standard for a full-sized tower.

The MK-1 is designed exclusively for gamers and PC enthusiasts who prefer an aggressive design over the traditional square-shaped cases. To accommodate this crowd, Thermaltake has created a design that incorporates perforated ventilation holes, strong shapes and a predominantly black color scheme with blue accents. The overall look of the MK-1 is not going to suit everyone, but anyone that likes a flashy design should find the case aesthetically pleasing.

Beyond the looks, the MK-1's design is functional, using its 567.9 x 237.0 x 581.6 mm dimensions to integrate a magnitude of features, some of which can be found on the back panel. Starting at the top of the panel we have three extra large pre-drilled water cooling retaining holes that can be used in conjunction with external water-cooling tubes. Two of the cutouts are dedicated to water-cooling, while the third works as a means to extend internal cables data out of the case to connect to the rear I/O ports. Also found along the back is a rear-mounted 140mm case fan and eight PCI expansion slots that allow the MK-1 to support multiple high-end graphics cards.

The side panels of the MK-1 include multiple shapes and patterns. Both sides feature the same patterns, but each panel has a 180° rotation, giving either side their own distinct look. The most prominent side panel includes a clear plexiglass window and a perforated installation area that can accommodate either a 120mm, 140mm, or 200mm fan. Unfortunately, Thermaltake decided to make this fan optional, which is surprising considering the case's beefy price.

The MK-1's "control center" is located near the front of the top bezel and is actually quite unique. To the left Thermaltake has included two audio jacks, a reset button, high/low manual fan speed setting buttons, and a fan LED button that changes the color of the lighting effects. On the right side we have two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and one eSATA port. The USB 3.0 port uses an internal header design, allowing it to connect directly to USB 3.0-complaint motherboards. Additionally, in the middle of the control center is a top mounted power button that is shaped like a rhombus and is surrounded by an unconventionally shaped LED.

Just behind the power button Thermaltake has integrated a BlacX docking station directly into the chassis. The docking bay allows users to plug in hard drives directly to the rig without actually needing to install it within the case, and supports both 2.5” or 3.5” SATA hard drives; with the hot-swap function, the design makes it easier than ever to quickly access data stored on hard drives you may not need to keep installed into the rig otherwise.

The back portion of the top panel includes an easily removable mesh panel. Under the panel is a multicolor 200mm fan and a second cutout to support an additional 200mm fan. This area can also accommodate an internal or external 240mm radiator, but the unconventional design of the fan cutouts makes installation a bit awkward. As you can see from the image, the top panel also includes a large perforated surface area, which will increase the amount of airflow that can travel through the top of the case and slow the buildup of dust.

With the bezels removed, we can see that Thermaltake has attached multiple dust filters to the chassis. All the filters are easily removed from the case, and can be cleaned with plain old water.

At the bottom of the case are four foot stands which elevate the case, thus improving the thermal efficiency of a bottom mounted power supply or intake fan. These heightened feet can be rotated a full 360°, allowing them to best fit the spacing and visual needs of the user.

On the side panel is a feature that Thermaltake is calling the "Combat Headset Holder". Essentially this feature is designed to give gamers an easy-to-reach and secure place to store thier gaming headset. We first saw this feature introduced with the Level 10 GT, but the newer version used on this case appears to be more secure and not quite as cheap looking.

The accessories that come bundled with the MK-1 consists of mounting screws, zip-ties, a buzzer, an 8-pin CPU power cable extender, an external 5.25” to 3.5” drive bay cover/bracket, and of course the instruction and installation manual. The drive bay bracket adds floppy drive support, but seeing how most users no longer use a floppy drive it is unsurprising that Thermaltake decided to bundle it with the accessories instead of physically attaching the bracket in one of the drive bays.

As a full-sized tower the MK-1 has plenty of interior room to accommodate the latest hardware. All in all the case has the space for ATX and mATX motherboards, graphics cards over 12" in length, up to six 3.5/2.5" storage drives, four external 5.25" drives and a single 3.5" external floppy drive. When it comes to expansion, the MK-1 is well equipped to handle even the largest gaming components.

In addition, the MK-1 has a solid black coat of paint on both the exterior and interior. This adds to the overall visual flair of the case which combined with Thermaltake's innovative cable management system ensure the interior of the case will be neat and clean even after all the components are installed. To improve cable management even further, Thermaltake has also included rubber grommets over each cable routing access hole, further boosting the internal aesthetics of the case.

The hard drive cage utilized in the MK-1 is in the standard bottom right position, but the blue caddies help improve appearances by giving a nice contrast to the black interior. In total the Thermaltake MK-1 can accommodate up to six hard drives, with each caddy supporting either a standard 3.5" HDD or 2.5" SDD.

The hard drives are secured to the caddies by removing a small locking clip on the sides and inserting the drive into the proper location. Once the drive is in the right spot, the screw holes will align with the holes on the caddy and the locking clip can be reinserted. Not only does the clip securely hold the drives in place, but it also has rubber grommets that surround each screw hole on the drive that reduce the vibrations of the attached drives.

The MK-1 includes a rather large CPU back-plate cutout which extends almost across all the available space between the ATX/mATX mounting holes. This gives the case ample room to support virtually any socket type and as you can see from the image below, the back-plate of our MSI X58 Platinum fits nicely into the cutout.

With such a roomy interior, it was a breeze to install our hardware into the MK-1 and as the pictures demonstrate, we had no issues getting our components to fit. Additionally, the cable routing system worked incredibly well and we were able to easily route all our the cables from our non-modular power supply behind the motherboard tray. Not only does this ensure the cables are out of sight, but it also improves the overall airflow within the chassis.

When the system is powered on, the user has the convenience of adjusting the fan speed or lighting effects of the system via the command center. The color of the LEDs can be set to either red, blue, green, multicolor or off. This is a nice touch which adds to both the customization and aesthetics of the MK-1.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

Testing:

For testing an ambient room temperature of 70°F was maintaned and HWMonitor was used 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.

For the most part the thermal efficiency of the Chaser MK-1 was good, but the lack of a side intake fan left us with a higher chipset temperatures than we would have liked. A side intake fan would also have kept the graphics cards cooler, but as it was the MK-1's results were only a few degrees Celsius higher than the cases with active side cooling.

The Thermaltake MK-1 is not a case designed for the majority of computer builders. Instead, it is built exclusively for extreme gamers that are looking for a case with an aggressive visual style and room for the most high-end of components. On these fronts the MK-1 succeeds, as its rugged looks should appeal to gamers, and it also has ample volume for larger graphics cards measuring over 12 inches, multiple motherboard types, and up to six 3.5/2.5-inch storage drives. So as far as expandability goes, the MK-1 is well equipped to handle virtually any component on the market with ease.

In addition, the MK-1 has a handful of exclusive features that should expand its appeal. The first is a top-mount control panel that gives the user direct control of the system fans. This allows the noise levels, fan pressure and even the lighting color scheme to be changed in real-time. The case also features an external hot-swappable docking bay that can accommodate both 3.5" mechanical hard drives, or 2.5" SSDs. This feature gives users the ability to effortlessly transfer data without having to install the hard drive inside the chassis.

Another feature exclusive to Thermaltake cases is the side-mounted headset holder. This is not the first Thermaltake case we reviewed with this feature, as it was earlier seen on the Level 10 GT. However, unlike the weak attachment that came with the Level 10 GT, the headset holder on the MK-1 is a solid bracket firmly mounted to the chassis. Thermaltake must have listened to customer feedback on this one, as the headset holder that came with the Level 10 was weak, easily knocked out of place and had a rubber cover that was easy to lose. It's nice to see these issues were addressed, leading to a better bonus feature.

There are only two issues we could level against the MK-1. First, the case is not for everyone and is mainly geared toward younger gamers that like flashy looks and a lot of bright LEDs. However, we can't really judge cases harshly based on the visual style alone, mainly because everyone see things differently. The next issue, more objective, was the lack of a side intake fan. With an asking price of $159 USD, we don't see any reason why Thermaltake couldn't have included an additional fan with the MK-1. An extra side fan would help improve the thermal efficiency of the case, which was admittedly good on all counts except when it came to cooling the motherboard's on-board X58 chipset.

We also wanted to point out that the rear top mesh panel is designed to be easily removed, and is indeed easily disconnected from the chassis. This is not an issue per say, as it makes access the top mount fans (or installing a radiator) incredibiy easy. However, since the panel comes off so easily it is strongly advised to lift this case by grabbing hold of it from the bottom, and not from the top.

Overall the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 is an impressive case that can accommodate most any high-end component, and comes with customizable fans, excellent water cooling support and a reasonable price for a full-sized tower. However, the style of the case isn't going to appeal to everyone and the bundled cooling could have a bit better for the price one pays for the full package. Still, we highly recommend the Chaser MK-1 mainly because of its great features, expandability and support.

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