Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis
Computer cases are almost the unsung hero of system building. While everybody wants their system to look the particular way that they want it to, it isn't until you have your hands on a quality case that you will realize what you've been missing. Thermaltake has been in the PC game since it was founded in 1999 and they have been going strong ever since. Today I have the opportunity to look at one of the latest Thermaltake entries, the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis. The TT Core V1 mini-ITX chassis is available over at Newegg.com for only $49.99
shipped and it is also $49.99 shipped
The Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX isn't the smallest mini-ITX chassis I've ever come across and measures 10.9 x 10.2 x 12.4 inch, which means it's pretty much a cube. I'm personally not 100% sold on the cube design, but it definitely works for the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis. Despite it's small stature, Thermaltake has packed the Core V1 mini-ITX chassis with a pretty solid feature stack.
Thermaltake split the Core V1 mini-ITX chassis into chambers. The upper chamber is designed for the bulk of the system components. This helps to enable airflow and keep the system nice and cool during those long gaming sessions. The lower chamber is designed to house the cables, power supply and various parts that aren't quite as heat sensitive.
The Thermaltake Core V1 comes standard with a 200mm fan tucked in behind the front panel. The fan is rated for 800RPM and a nice quiet 13dBA. This is the only fan that comes with the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis, but there is a pair of spots on the back panel for a couple of 80mm fans of your choosing. Let's take a quick peak at the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis specifications below.
|Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Specifications
|Dimension (H x W x D)
- 276 x 260 x 316 mm
- (10.9 x 10.2 x 12.4 inch)
- Transparent Window (Interchangeable)
- Exterior & Interior : Black
- Front (intake) :
- 200 x 200 x 30 mm fan (800rpm, 13dBA)
- Hidden : 2 x 3.5’’ , 2 x 2.5’’
- USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1
- 1 x 120mm or
- 1 x 140mm or
- 1 x 200mm
- ]CPU cooler height limitation: 140mm
- VGA length limitation:
- 255mm (Inner chassis)
- 285mm (Outer chassis)
- PSU length limitation: 200mm
Now that I'm confident that you memorized the specifications above, we can move on to the next page where we can take a look at the retail packaging and pull our new toy out of the box!
Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis Retail Packaging & Unboxing
The Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis comes packaged inside a box that should handle just about everything that the shippers can throw at it, at least within reason. The front of the Thermaltake Core V1 packaging features a decent looking image of what the mini-ITX chassis looks like and what we can expect to find once we open up the packaging. There isn't much in the way of information on the front other than the Thermaltake branding and the Core V1 name.
As I begin to spin the box for the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis around, the next side that I come to lists out the features and dimensions of the Thermaltake Core V1 chassis.
Spinning the packaging around once again to the other front (either side can easily work as the front), we can see an exploded view of the Core V1 mini-ITX chassis. While it doesn't have the greatest detail, it does give us an idea of the individual components that make up the Core V1 chassis.
Spinning the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis' packaging around to the fourth and final side, there is a quick description of the features in 12 different languages.
Finally being able to open up the packaging for the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis is a bit like Christmas, all the anticipation of the new hardware and now we can start to play with it! Inside the packaging the Thermaltake Core V1 chassis is well protected by Styrofoam on each end and wrapped in plastic to keep it clean during transit.
Themaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis External Features
The Thermaltake Core V1 is a pretty slick looking little case.
Looking at the front of the Thermaltake Core V1, a couple of things stand out to me. First thing that I notice is that there is a bit of a bend in the steel screen along the left edge. It's much more noticeable head on like this, than on a slight angle though I didn't notice it right away while I was handling the case, more so once I looked at this picture. Another little thing that I noticed, the Thermaltake logo is stuck to the Core V1 a bit crooked. Those issues aside the front of the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis looks good and will have plenty of ventilation for the fan behind it. I did talk to Thermaltake and they did let me know that this is an early sample and that the full production Core V1's will not have any issues. To confirm this I do have a retail sample on it's way and I will provide an update once I have it on hand!
The side panels on the Thermaltake Core V1 are pretty simplistic, but are also pretty slick. The honeycomb pattern on the side panels will allow for plenty of airflow to the graphics card. Up at the front edge of the side we can see the 'front panel' on the side.
Taking a closer peek at the front panel, it's pretty typical by todays standards. At the top there is the power and HDD activity lights while the large button just below them is the power button. Just to the south of the power button is a pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. Continuing down the panel we can find the microphone and headphone 3.5mm jacks, last but not least is the smaller button that is better known as a reset button.
The back panel of the Thermaltake Core V1 is pretty much what we've come to expect. At the top there is a pair of spots for 80mm fans of your choosing. Below the fans there is the typical cutout for the I/O shield and to the right of there is a pair of expansion slots that will most likely be used for a graphics card. The cutout for the power supply is designed let you flip the power supply either way depending on the airflow needed. Around the edges there are eight thumb screws that will let us pull off each of the panels as we need to.
The top panel of the Thermaltake Core V1 comes with a clear window and will give us a great view of the interior of the finished build when the time comes.
The bottom of the Thermaltake Core V1 chassis only has a couple of features, the first is the air intake for the power supply which includes a screen filter to prevent dust from getting into your system. The second feature is the feet, the Core V1 mini-ITX chassis has four rubber feet to protect the surfaces that you set your system on.
Now that we've gone over the outside, lets crack the Core V1 mini-ITX chassis open like a cold drink on a hot summer day!
Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis Interior Features
Opening up the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis is simple to do, simply remove the six thumb screws in the back and both side panels and the top panel can be removed. One aspect that jumped right out at me is that the top panel can be removed without taking off the side panels. At first glance it looks like the build will go off without a hitch, but we shall see how that goes when we get to it!
AT the back of the Thermaltake Core V1, there is venting for a pair of 80mm fans (not included). Although it looks like there is enough room to mod the back of the chassis to fit a 120mm fan back there, we're lacking ~1/4" on the height. To the left of the 80mm fans is the usual pair of expansion slots needed to accommodate the typical enthusiast level graphics card. The Thermaltake Core V1 can fit a graphics card that is 255mm long or 10 inches for those of use that don't use the metric system. If you're planning on rocking an air cooler like one of the many Thermaltake coolers, be sure to keep it under 140mm tall otherwise you'll run outta room.
Taking a look at the inside of the front panel, you'll get to see a glimpse of the 200mm fan up front. The 200mm Thermaltake TT-2030 fan is rated for 800 RPM. If you're looking for an alternative to the 200mm fan, there are mounting points for either a 120mm fan/radiator or a 140mm fan/radiator.
Taking a look at the motherboard tray from the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis. there isn't much left of it. Thermaltake cut much of the tray out to accommodate easy cooler swaps. Since mini-ITX motherboards only mount at the four corners, there shouldn't be any issues with stability. Directly below the motherboard tray, we can see the cutout for the power supply fan.
Rotating the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis around, we can find the hidden drive bays. In the drive bays we can tuck away up to four internal drives.
Once the front panel is removed, we can get a nice shot of the front of the 200mm Thermaltake TT-2030 fan. If you wanted to remove the 200mm fan, all you need to do is remove the four Phillips head screws, one at each corner and you're good to go. Once that's out of the way you can mount either a 120mm or 140mm fan in its place.
I still have mixed emotions about the side mounted buttons. The Bitfenix Prodigy has them, though they are on the other side. Though what I really like about the Thermaltake Core V1 is that the front panel is hard mounted. The Prodigy has the buttons mounted on the side panel, so any time that I need to remove the panel I needed to either disconnect all of the wires, or I leave the panel hanging there by the wires while I work inside the case. Having the side mounted buttons hard mounted is a huge plus to me.
Just over the expansion slots is a plastic cover that hides the screws that hold the graphic card down. It seems like it's made rather well, but as with all plastics it can fatigue over time and fail, but it's not a piece you'll be taking out daily so it should last for years.
I really like the fact that the panels are completely interchangeable on the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis. Above you can see that I put the panel from the opposite side on while below I put the top panel on the side!
If Thermaltake starts selling the panels individually, I think that the Core V1 would look slick with the top panel on all sides. The only issue would be no air flow for the graphics card, guess you'll have to run a fully water-cooled system!
Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis Build Experience
Starting a new build is always a bit exciting to me, and it's no different this time around. The first step in my build is the motherboard, above you can see that the ASRock Z77E-ITX motherboard fits inside the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis with no issues. All four of the screws lined up perfectly and the I/O shield popped into place nice and easily!
In order to get the power supply mounted in the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis, I had to remove the bottom panel. Just as with the side and top panels, all you'll need to do to take off the bottom panel is to remove the two screws on the back that hold it on. Once the bottom panel is off, the power supply drops right in and the screws were aligned perfectly.
Before running any of the wires, I wanted to put all of the hardware in place. At first glimpse I thought that the hard drive cages were quick release, but they aren't. Inside the bag of accessories I showed on the previous page there are a handful of rubber grommets that sit inside the hard cage.
Once my Western Digital 640GB Black drive is mounted in the cage, I am able to mount the cage back in the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis.
I was hoping that I would be able to mount the drives with plugs down so the cabling was hidden, but there isn't enough room to do that. Though I was able to tuck the SATA cable down to keep it mostly hidden
Now that the drives are installed I can start wiring everything up. There is more than enough room to run all of the cables with ease. I didn't have to struggle to the cables where I needed them to go.
I did have to hide the excess wires along the side of my power supply, but that's not a big deal.
Thermaltake states that there is enough clearance for a 10" long graphics card. I wanted to see if I could shoehorn something a little larger in there. I grabbed my trusty AMD Radeon HD 7950 which measures an impressive 11" long, a full inch longer than the stated clearance. As you can see above I was able to get it in there.
The front of the Thermaltake Core V1 frame is cutout with enough clearance that I was able to slide the end of the Radeon HD 7950 through, and then insert the card into the PCIe expansion slot.
There isn't a whole lot of clearance between the Radeon 7950 and the Thermaltake TT-2030 200mm fan, but it fits without hitting! The real trick though, is seeing if the front panel will fit on while the card is sticking past the frame.
It does! I was able to put the front panel on without any issues or having to force it! Closing up the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis went off without a hitch and now I have a system that's ready to rock in a really slick looking chassis!
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Over the years I have had a number of Thermaltake cases, ranging from their highend, down to their budget line. There has always been a certain level of consistency with them. Each and every one of the Tt cases that I've had has been quality. The Thermaltake Core V1 continued that consistency today. Quality is something that you usually have to pay extra for, though Thermaltake isn't charging a premium for the Core V1 though, at only $49.99
it's a great deal!
I was really impressed with the ease that everything fit together inside the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis. One thing I've learned with the lower cost cases, it's almost necessary to wear mechanics gloves so you don't tear up your hands on the sharp corners and edges. While working inside the Thermaltake Core V1 I didn't spill a single drop of blood or tear my hands open once! That's always a selling point in my book. What really sold me on the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis was how roomy it was to work in. Despite being just a hair larger than a mini-ITX motherboard, I had no issues getting my hands into the Core V1 chassis to run the screws in, run the wires, or anything else. All in all it was probably the easiest mini-ITX system build I've done to date.
Though I will admit that I was disappointed with the internal drive options, at least at first. Though after thinking about it more, you don't need much in the way of drive bays in a mini-ITX system. First off, if you're planning on running a ton of drives, building a mini-ITX system probably isn't the best choice. If memory serves all of the mini-ITX motherboards that I have looked at only have four SATA ports, granted that's still two more than the Core V1 is designed to handle. The Core V1 mini-ITX chassis is capable of running a pair of drives, whether they are 2.5" SSD's or 3.5" storage drives you can run two drives. In my personal system I have similar configuration that I show above, I have a SSD for a boot drive and a 3.5" drive for storage. A number of the Intel Z97 motherboards are also capable of running the latest small form factor SSD, M.2. As the price of SSD's comes down and the M.2 SSD's become more available you should be able to run plenty of storage between the two internal drive bays.
The only other feature that I think I would like to see on the Thermaltake Core V1 is the ability to run a dual 120mm radiator. The Core V1 is easily able to fit either a 120mm radiator or a 140mm radiator, but it's just not designed to handle a radiator that size. Having that ability out of the box would be a selling point, though I could easily see people being able to modify the case side panel to fit one over the top of the drives with very little issues. I suppose it comes down to; if there's a will, there's a way!
After using the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis for a few weeks, I've come to love it. Don't tell Thermaltake this, but I would most likely be willing to pay ~$75-$100 for the Core V1 mini-ITX chassis, I definitely think it's worth it! Fortunately none of us need to as it retails for only $49.99
shipped at Newegg and $49.99 shipped
Legit Bottom Line: The Thermaltake Core V1 is a great chassis if you're looking to build a mini-ITX system. If you're looking for a mini-ITX chassis that will fit the latest graphics cards, water cooling, and a full ATX power supply without any issues and with out breaking the bank, at only $50 the Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX chassis flat out needs to be at the top of your short list!