Introduction

Today we take a look at the Thermaltake VA3000 Dream Series case. Thermaltake has always been known as a maker of quality cases. When I picture a Thermaltake case in my mind, I see something that could withstand a nuclear blast, a head on collision, or being thrown out a second story window at 3 A.M. (We won't get into that story here). My point is, Thermaltake cases have always been extremely sturdy and very roomy cases.

When I first looked into reviewing this case, I was very skeptical; after all, this case looked to be a clone of Cooler Master's Wave Master Case. How in the world could Thermaltake possibly make a mid-tower case that could even compare to the extremely popular Wave Master? Let's see how it stacks up.

Specifications:

Features :

Packaging

When I opened the door for the delivery man, I was a little worried. The case was not double-boxed or reinforced with any extra tape or padding. Just the same box you might expect to see at your local retailer. Not to worry though! As I was opening the box I realized that it was extremely thick cardboard, and it would take a really good drop for UPS/USPS to damage the case. I have to say that the carton does an extremely good job of describing the case and features; it isn't very often that you can actually make a good judgment on pictures and diagrams alone, but Thermaltake did an outstanding job on the product packaging. Once I got the box opened, I was even more pleased, there was no bubble wrap or cheap plastic wrapper, Thermaltake used a padded foam cover along with the standard foam wedges. It would take some kind of incident to damage the case in this packaging.

Impression

This thing is as light as a feather, honestly the lightest case I have ever seen for its size. Then there is the look. An incredibly beautiful paint job, one so deep and reflective, that it would make the base of some heat sinks looks bad. In this era of brushed aluminum, bugs, and aliens, this case really stands out with a simple yet elegant look. Thermaltake even includes a very nice lint free cloth for keeping the exterior finish smudge free.

"A case this light has to be flimsy or have absolutely no room", I thought to myself. Upon opening the side panel, I was amazed. Thermaltake did a fabulous job designing this case. If properly laid out there is enough room here for an internal water cooling kit! There are all sorts of places to tuck in extra wires or tubing.

The overall build of this case is incredible considering the weight. The "Modern Dream" is very stout. It might not survive the catastrophic incidents, but it would take something significant to cause damage to this case. The interior is free of sharp edges and very clean.

Let's move on to some of the features.

Exterior

First, we'll look at some of the exterior features that should be important. Thermaltake mounted two USB, one 1394, and jacks for headphones and a microphone on top of the case, and hid them under a flip up lid. This is nice in that you don't have to keep the case door open to access them. The power/reset buttons and the power/activity lights are mounted inside the case door next to the external drive bays. Moving to the bottom of the case we find some very nice "lockable" foot stands. These are very strong.

Opening the case door we see four external 5.25" Drive bays, the two 3.5" drive bays, and the stamped fan grill for the 120mm intake fan.

The case door locks in two stages, the first allows access to the drive bays, the second opens the front of the case allowing access to the fan filter and fan unit

Moving around to the back of the case we see the 120mm exhaust fan, the PCI/AGP slot covers, and the system ports. The case side panel is secured by two thumb screws, a locking mechanism, and a keyed lock for security.

Overall, the exterior of the case is flawless, and extremely hard to find fault with. Two things that I would liked to have seen on this case were maybe some handles on top for carrying (The size and weight of this case would make it an exceptional case for LAN parties). Second, because there are no handles, moving the case or opening doors requires you to touch the incredible finish, which even with the cleanest hands, will leave marks. Thank goodness for the lint free cloth Thermaltake included with the case.

Interior

Moving to the interior of the case I still can't get over the layout and amount of room. One concern I did have was the absence of a motherboard tray. Being able to assemble your components on the tray, then slide it in is always nice, later on I'll get to whether this was an issue or not.

Although this case lacks a motherboard tray, it does provide you the ability to remove the two cages that hold the two external 3.5" drives and the five internal 3.5" drives. The bottom drive cage is held in with a large thumb screw and spring, while the top drive cage is held in by a spring loaded latch.

 

 

Removing these allows you the ability to mount your drives outside of the case; it also gives you all the room you could ever need to install your motherboard, negating the need for a motherboard tray. An added bonus is the rubber grommets that Thermaltake installed on the drive cage, these cut out any vibration caused by the internal mounted drives. Large thumbscrews are used to affix the drives to the cage. Mounting for the four 5.25" bays is fairly straight forward, Thermaltake's patented rail system for the 5.25 drives makes installation super fast and super simple, removing both side panels is not needed while installing any of your hardware in this case. Also of note are the screw-less PCI/AGP slots. Instead, Thermaltake used plastic clips to lock your cards in place, another excellent feature. I wish more companies would use a similar method of mounting hardware. There were no sharp edges or burrs, an important quality for a klutz like me. Over the years I have left a great deal of blood on various cases. If I can make it through an installation unscathed, this case is safe for anyone over the age of 5!

Overall very well designed, and easily the most pleasant installation experience I've ever had.

As to the air flow of this case, it is outstanding. Thermaltake used two very efficient and quiet 120mm fans to circulate air. During operation these fans are as silent as any you'll find and the amount of air moved will definitely keep those ambient temps at the minimum possible.

I mounted an ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe with an AMD Barton Mobile 2500+, an NEC DVD Recorder, Seagate 120 GB HDD, and an Aspire 550W PSU in the "Modern Dream", and still had enough room for a family of four!

 

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a compact case that looks incredible, yet doesn't sacrifice performance or quality, then this case is for you. This is a perfect case for Lan parties, it is strong and good looking, has lots of room and good air flow. I really wish it had come with handles for moving around, every single finger print will show up on the high gloss finish on the Tsunami.

I'm very impressed bt the Thermaltake Tsunami! I had to look hard to find fault with this case, and the faults I did find were so insignificant they were barely worth mentioning.

I don't like the placement of the I/O port on top, if nothing else, the wires could have been made longer and routed differently, as it is they are pointed straight down and usually are in the way. There is no case speaker, which wasn't an issue to me, but maybe to others. I wish that all models came with the fan mounted on the side panel, instead of only the models with the case window. Like I said, very simple, very small issues.

I have to say that all things considered and having personally owned several cases of the same style, I would pick the Thermaltake case based on my recent use of this case. There are several different options available (Silver or Black, window or no window, optional Thermaltake PSU), and the Thermaltake Tsunami can be found at a great price point. I'd like to thank Thermaltake for providing me with this sample for review and congratulate them on a job very, very well done.