Thermaltake Chaser A71 Full Tower Chassis
Thermaltake is constantly revamping their case line to provide users options. The original Chaser MK-I full tower was popular among enthusiasts; Thermaltake’s response was evident at CES 2013 when they expanded the Chaser line. Continuing with the style of the MK-I, they have released the A31, A41 and now the A71 Chaser cases. The A31 and A42 are mid-towers, and offer many of the same features as the A71, just in a smaller package. A few of the differences include adding two additional USB 2.0 ports on the front (in addition to the two Superspeed USB 3.0 ports), and an integrated hard drive dock.
The Chaser A71, comes in at 21.1 x 8.7 x 22.2 inch's (H x W x D), and weighing close to 22lbs. In comparison, the A31 is 19.7 x 8.4 x 19.5 inch's and 14.5lbs. Looking at the sizes, the A71 is a few inches taller and longer than the A31 mid-tower. All of Thermaltake's cases come with a 3 year warranty, which gives some comfort in the quality that Thermaltake provides such a lengthy warranty for a case. In addition, when you are looking at a case that will set you back around $134 shipped, under the part number VP400M1W2N, you want to be sure it is going to last as long as possible.
Being a full tower, you can imagine there are many cooling options. Ranging from liquid cooling, to the included fans, there is no reason to allow your system to overheat in the Chaser A71. Thermaltake has included three 200mm fans and one 120mm fan. If necessary, an additional 120mm or 140mm fan can be installed in the bottom of the case. Another option is to swap several of the fans for a liquid cooling option. At the top of the case, up to a 2 x 120mm radiator will fit, or in the back, a 120mm radiator.
Thermaltake Chaser A71 Key Features:
- Top-mounted 2.5” or 3.5”HDD Docking Station enables blazing fast file transfer and effortless hot-swap drive replacement.
- Innovative 5.25” & 3.5” tool-free drive bay design minimized the troubles of installing ODD, HDD and SSD devices for more expandabilities.
- Enables user to simply build up a complete high-end water cooling solution with 240mm radiator liquid cooling system and extra long graphic card supported to protect user’s hardware and increase CPU’s overclocking potential, most importantly delivers outstanding cooling efficiency in the entire case
- Case Type Full Tower
- Dimension (H x W x D) 537 x 221 x 565mm (21.1 x 8.7 x 22.2 inch)
- Net Weight 10 kg/22.1 lb
- Side Panel Transparent Window
- Color Exterior & Interior : Black
- Material SECC
- Cooling System
- Front (intake) : 200 x 200 x 30 mm fan (600rpm, 13dBA)
- Rear (exhaust) : 120 x 120 x 25 mm Turbo fan (1000rpm,16dBA)
- Top (exhaust) : 200 x 200 x 30 mm Blue LED fan (600rpm, 13dBA)
- Side (intake):200 x 200 x 20 mm Blue LED fan (600rpm, 13dBA)
- Bottom (intake) : (Optional) 120 x 120 x 25 mm or 140 x 140 x 25 mm
- Drive Bays
- Accessible : 3 x 5.25’’, 1 x 3.5’’
- Hidden : 5 x 3.5’’ or 2.5’’
- HDD Docking : 1 x 3.5” or 2.5”
- Expansion Slots 8
- Motherboards 9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), 12” x 9.6” (ATX), 12” x 13” (Extend ATX)
- I/O Ports USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1
- PSU Standard PS2 PSU (Optional)
- LCS Upgradable
- Supports 1/2”, 3/8”, 1/4” water tube
- Radiator Top: 1 x 120mm or 2 x 120mm
- Rear: 1 x 120mm
- Other CPU cooler height limitation: 160mm
- VGA length limitation: 344 mm
Next, let’s take a look at the packaging and the accessories that came with our review sample.
Chaser A71 Retail Packaging
As Thermaltake does, they packaged the A71 in a black retail style box with an eye catching view of the case. Looking at the box, you can get a glimpse of what the case has to offer, without any specific specifications. There is no mention of the size, or major features, with the USB 3.0 internal connection being the exception. Both the front and back of the box look identical, which means taking a look at the sides for more information than is presented here.
On one side of the box there is a detailed list of the specifications that covers what somebody would be concerned with when looking at a case; the size, cooling options, drive space, and several other features. The opposite side provides a little more information on airflow capabilities, expansion, front I/O ports and capable of LCS and advanced cable management.
Inside the box, the Chaser A71 is stored in a plastic bag, nestled between two heavy duty Styrofoam blocks. Other than severe damage and piercing damage, this method of packing a case will keep it safe from damage.
Thermaltake includes everything that a user should need to install their components. A 5.25" to 3.5" drive bay cover, motherboard standoffs (most are pre-installed), many screws, tiny speaker, lots of cable ties, two 4-pin molex to fan connector cables, a 4-pin or 8-pin motherboard power extension, an adapter to install a water block to replace the 140mm fan, and various pieces of documentation.
Chaser A71 External Impressions
A close look at the front of the case makes it look like there are nine 5.25" drive bays. However, after reading the specifications, we know that's not true. As the case is mostly black, the drive bay covers have some blue accent lines that make them stand out. This gives the case a little color, without being over powering. Each of the drive bay covers are a wire mesh to provide ample airflow. While the majority of the case is steel, the front bezel is one of a few parts that is ABS plastic.
Taking a brief look at the front panel I/O ports, we find the usual suspects. From the left is a large power button, a reset button, microphone/headphone jacks, a pair of USB 2.0, and a pair of USB Superspeed 3.0. Directly behind the front I/O ports, is the hard drive dock which allows connecting an internal style 2.5" or 3.5" hard drive directly to the SATA bus without having to open the case.
The front bezel is easily removed by pulling from the bottom; you have to be a little careful with the I/O ports as a wrong move could easily damage them. Behind the bezel is the large 200mm intake fan, and the large opening for the 5.25" drive bays. On the bezel itself, it appears to have drive bay covers from top to bottom. However, only the top four can be removed. On the back side of each of the drive bay covers is a filter to help keep the interior cleaner.
The main side panel has a large window and another 200mm fan, which will be river of the expansion slots on the motherboard, this can provide additional airflow over video cards. The large window is a nice feature, and should provide a nice view of the CPU cooler, and a partial view of the drive bays.
On the back of the Chaser A71, at the very top is a cable lock, which comes in handy to lock your keyboard and mouse cable to the case. Otherwise, we find everything we would expect, a motherboard I/O port key slot, exhaust fan, expansion ports, two water cooling holes with rubber grommets, and at the bottom is the power supply mount.
Thermaltake has added an easy clean fan filter to the bottom of the Chaser A71. This will cover the power supply intake and the extra bottom fan slot. I like that the filter comes out of the back of the case very easily, this provides little excuse not to keep it clean.
The right side panel is plain, however what is interesting is that the majority of the side panel is raised which will give cable management a little extra room.
Usually on the top of the case we'll find some air vents, or the I/O ports. Thermaltake makes use of this area by adding in the hard drive dock, and a little storage tray. The storage tray is a great place to put screws while you are working on the system. The top is easily removed. Like the front bezel, grab the back and pull up; once again being careful around the I/O ports and the hard drive dock. Under the top bezel, we find the top 200mm exhaust fan, another TT-2030 blue LED fan. The hard drive dock SATA connectors could be replaced if something was to happen or perhaps an upgrade to SATA 3.5 once that becomes available; this is only a wish by me, Thermaltake has not made any claims to this. The top bezel is the second piece of the Chaser A71 that is ABS plastic rather than steel.
Finally, we take a look at the bottom of the case. Four large feet keep it off the surface to provide airflow, which is necessary for the power supply and if an optional fan is installed in the bottom. It's great to see the large filter on the bottom, no airflow restrictions, but helps to keep the system cleaner. I only wish they would do something like this for the front filter! The feet is the final piece that is made of ABS plastic, which is very common for case feet.
Chaser A71 Internal Impressions
The side panel is easily removed by taking out two thumb screws on the back. The exterior paint has also been done internally which makes for a nice finish as the inside portion of the case is painted black. The motherboard tray has a large hole to access the back of the motherboard to make it easier to change CPU coolers. Three 5.25” drive bays are tool-less using push button type of clips with blue accents while the fourth 5.25" drive bay uses screws and is generally intended for 2.5" drive bay devices. While the five 3.5" drive bays use a drive tray system. There are five large holes which have rubber cable guards installed, three smaller non-protected holes and one small hole for the 8-pin motherboard power connector which does not have rubber cable guard for cable management.
At the bottom of the chassis is the area for a power supply. All ATX power supplies should fit, even the extended length ones. While there are two feet to raise the power supply, they do not have any rubber on them which is typically there to help reduce vibration noise from the power supply fan. If a standard length power supply is installed, a 120mm or 140mm fan can be installed as well.
At the back of the case, we find the seven expansion slot covers are the vented style, and held in place by thumbscrews. The rear exhaust 140mm fan has a three pin fan connector, which is why Thermaltake provides two converters to 4-pin Molex.
From the inside, we can see the top exhaust fan, and the support brackets. If desired, the top fan can be replaced by a couple of 120mm fans or water cooling radiator blocks.
The back of the motherboard tray is fairly normal; the one nice surprise was the sheer amount of places that can be used to secure the cables to keep them tidy. Granted once the back side panel goes into place, most won't see this side again. However, securing the cables helps to ensure they stay out of sight.
Thermaltake uses drive trays on the Chaser A71, these are not tool-less, screws will be needed to secure the drive to the tray. These trays are designed to support both 3.5" and 2.5" drives.
The side panel window is held in place with screws, which will make it easy to replace for those that wish to mod it. The included 200mm Blue LED fan on the side panel is the Thermaltake TT-2020, this fan is listed as being a 200 x 200 x 20 mm fan, running at 600RPM at 13dBA.
Chaser A71 Hardware Installation
Installing a system into the Chaser A71 is a breeze thanks to the large amount of space. While a Micro-ATX motherboard was installed here, a standard ATX would still fit with plenty of space. The ASUS 560TI isn't very much longer than an ATX motherboard either, but once again there is a large amount of space behind the video card for the extremely long cards.
With the large number of cable routing options, there is no reason to have a messy interior, leave that to the back of the motherboard tray. Even then, Thermaltake provides enough cable tie locations so almost every cable can have it's own tie!
At the bottom of the case, the power supply gets installed like every other power supply installation. I noticed that one of the cable management holes is partially covered by the power supply. This isn't a long power supply; it is a standard length one. I'd like to see the entire hole be available for cable management; however it is a small amount of space lost. There is still plenty of room to put the power supply cables behind the motherboard tray.
The hard drive trays are a nice method of installing drives, for 3.5" drives, it provides an snug fit, where screws wouldn't be absolutely necessary; I would recommend using the included screws if the case is going to be moved after it's filled. The 2.5" drives will fit on the trays as well, utilizing holes in the bottom of the tray and the drive. For the 2.5" drives, you must use screws to secure them to the tray, no getting around it with those drives.
One of the little annoyances in cable management is the tight fit of the motherboard 8-pin power connector, usually a small hole is provided which makes squeezing the connector in a tight fit. Thermaltake has enlarged the hole which made putting the 8-pin power connecting through it a simple task. Even routing the top exhaust fan power cable through afterwards was easy.
Sliding the side panel back into place, a view through the window shows how much of your typical system will be visible. The CPU cooler and RAM is the most visible, about half of the 5.25" and 3.5" drive bays are visible. The large 200mm fan covers the entire area of the expansion slots on the motherboard, so it can provide plenty of airflow to all the slots.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
The latest full tower to be added to the Chaser line has to offer a lot to be a worthy successor to the Chaser MK-I. It needs to take what everybody liked about the MK-I and expand on those features. While both cases offer great cooling options, Superspeed USB 3.0 and a hard drive dock, the A71 includes a 200mm side panel fan, a storage tray and a major design overhaul to the front bezel. However, the MK-I included Thermaltakes Colorshift fans, and a headset holder on the side panel. So there are a few small differences. The Chaser A71 is a worthy addition to the Chaser line.
Internally you will find room for five hard drives, either 3.5" or 2.5" using hard drive trays. In addition, there are three 5.25" drive bays, and one additional 3.5" drive bay, so there is plenty of room for drives and other devices. As for a video card, any card up to 13.5 inches (34.4cm) will fit with ease.
As for cooling, Thermaltake has included three 200mm fans and one 120mm fan; one additional 120mm or 140mm fan can be added. However, it doesn't necessarily stop there, if you prefer liquid cooling, there are options built into the A71 for that as well. A 2x120mm liquid cooling radiator will fit at the top, or a 120mm radiator in the back. We can't forget the CPU cooler, here a cooler up to 6.3 inches (16cm) will fit. Knowing how people like to change the CPU cooler to optimize performance, Thermaltake has put a large hole in the motherboard tray to make that transition easier.
I'm impressed by how easy it is to clean the bottom fan filter; however the front fan filters can still use attention. It would be nice if the front fan filter(s) were as easy to clean as the bottom. How they are now, you either need to vacuum it out, or take off the front bezel to properly clean it. A pull out filter would be much easier and make it so there is no excuse for a dirty filter.
A full tower case can start around $90 and go over $400; however most full tower cases are between $100 and $200. The Thermaltake A71 is in the lower half of that, selling for $134 shipped under the part number VP400M1W2N. That includes everything we have discussed, and a 3 year warranty.
Legit Bottom Line: If a mid-tower case is not large enough for you, the next step up is a full tower. The Chaser A71 has the space needed to support the components that enthusiasts want. Plenty of cooling options, an integrated hard drive dock, support for the longest video cards, high quality construction and Superspeed USB 3.0 support makes this one case that won't let you down.