The Thermaltake Armor+ MX Case
Thermaltake has been making quality cases, coolers and power supplies for as long as I can remember, and just about anyone that has shopped for parts for a build has come across a Thermaltake product of some flavor. Today we are looking at the Armor+ MX case. The Armor+ MX case is different from Armor cases of the past as it is not a full or super tower case, it is a mid tower. With this version being a mid tower the case is almost 3 inches shorter in height and 5.3 inches shallower in depth, so it will be interesting to see how our test system fits. Before we get to far, lets take a look at the specifications for the Armor+ MX
- Model: VH8000BWS
- Case Type: Middle Tower
- Side Panel: Transparent window
- Net Weight: 10.8 kg / 23.8 lb
- Dimension (H*W*D): 535.0 x 240.0 x 490.0 mm (21.1 x 9.4 x 19.3 inch)
- Cooling System
- Front (intake): 120 x 120 x 25 mm blue LED fan, 1300rpm, 17dBA
- Rear (exhaust): 120 x 120 x 25 mm TurboFan, 1300rpm, 17dBA
- Side (intake): 230 x 230 x 20 mm blue LED fan, 800rpm, 15dBA
- Accessible: 5x 5.25’’, 1x 3.5’’
- Hidden: 4x 3.5’’
The box for the Armor+ MX has simple only sporting a nice shot of the case and the case specifications. Our case came to us in the normal manor, but the box looked as it took a hit in shipping.
With the case out of the box the case is wrapped in a cheese cloth like wrapping and foam end caps.
Out of the wrapping we find our case is unharmed, so on with the review.
Looking at the front it looks like any armor case from the past. The Aluminum side guards that give the Armor case it unique look are also where most of its weight comes from.
Looking closer at the hinges of the front guards we can see the steel tabs and magnets that hold them closed. The hinge pins can also be slid out of the way to remove the guards. This has to be done if you want to remove the front panel.
The drive bay covers are some of the highest quality that I have seen, and easiest to take out and put back in. The center mesh part swings out unlocking it from the front bezel. Putting it back in is just as easy.
Looking closer at the bottom of the case there is a very nice feature, whether it’s intentional or not. Pretty much every case I have ever had I had to rock to one side or the other to get my hand under it to pick it up. Thermaltake has space on the front and black of the case that is big enough to get you hand into to pick the case up.
Looking around to the side we can see the side panel has a 230mm blue LED fan. The Thermaltake logo is not a sticker or frosted effect on the side panel window; it is carved out of the side window and is a good 1/16” deep.
Looking at the top back corner of the side panel we can see the door release latches. These should be enough to keep the side panel closed, but there are thumb screws as well. We can also see another little feature for the side window as the glass looks riveted in.
External Impressions Continued
Moving around to the back of the case there is not much to look at. The expansion slot covers are slotted for ventilation. The Armor+ MX also comes with an I/O shield, I still don’t understand why cases still include these.
Moving to the top of the case, at the front we have the eSATA, USB, and Audio front panel connections; as well as the reset and power buttons.
The top of the case also hides a small storage area.
The bottom of the storage area can be removed. This is to allow access to the inside of the case for things like topping off a reservoir for a water cooling loop.
And in one of the “why” moments I have from my engineering days is on the back of the case top. At the back on the top there is a nice little sticker telling you that the lip on the back of the case is not a handle. Since the top is plastic there is no way it would hold up to the weight of the case and system. Now you’re thinking then why have it that way if you can use it as a handle. I’m not sure, I would have rather seen the case the extra inch or so deeper to take up the over hang and give more room in the case.
And last but not least the bottom of the case we can see the Armor+ MX has standard black rubber feet.
With the side off we can get a look inside. The wires for the fans and front I/O panel are, at first glance, stupid long. This was a good thing as I will show in the installation section. The length gives you many options for routing/hiding the wire. All the 120mm fan power connections are 4 pin molex. The top 3.5” and 5.25 bays are all tool-less. The drive retention clips part of the case, so no worries on where to store the extra drive rails. There are also screw holes just behind the rails for the extra bit of security if you want to use them.
At the bottom is the hard drive cage. Even though it doesn’t nee to be, it is removable. It is held in place with 2 thumb screws and a plastic latch system.
To get the individual drive trays out you swing the latch arm out and then you can pull the tray out.
In front of the cage is a 120mm blue LED fan. I don’t see this providing to much cooling to anything other than the drive cage as the cage will block most of the air from it.
Here we have the tool-less retention system for the expansion cards. The retaining clips just snap into a back plate and have a figure that puts pressure on the card. The clips are quite sturdy and provide more than enough pressure to keep the cards locked in place.
The rear 120mm fan is not LED, but one of Thermaltake’s Turbo Fans. The styling of the fan seems a little out of place for the case due to the fact its bright red and not LED.
I pulled the front bezel off to get a look behind it and as I expected nothing earth shatteringly exciting. The bezel is easily removed as it clips in place, but with the way the bay covers are made there shouldn’t be any reason one would ever need to take the bezel off. Notice the metal drive bay shield/spacers. These could prevent good air flow through the front of the case.
Installing Parts Into the Armor+ MX
Before we install parts in to the Armor+ MX lets take a quick look inside the accessories box. At first look it seems a little sparse, but it actually has everything need plus a little extra. You have the mother board standoffs and screws, drive screws (which you don’t need but it’s good to have spares), small zip ties, and wire management ties.
I like to start with the power supply as I don’t use a modular PSU I like to get it in and the wires I know I don’t need tucked out of the way. To help get the PSU into the case Thermaltake has made the support rail removable. If it wasn’t you would have one tough time getting it into the case as the space is very snug to the PSU. The rail in held in with 4 case screws.
Installing the hard drive is tool-less and easy. With the drive in the tray all you have to do is insert a clip. The clip has posts that match up to the screw holes in the drive and it snaps into the drive tray, and if you don’t want the clips you can use screws.
With the hard drive in and the PSU cables I know I’m not going to use tucked away, I noticed two things. First I need a modular PSU. This case is tight, so the option to remove the cables I’m not using would be a nice option. Second thing I noticed is the SATA cable for the hard drive sticking out into the mess of cables. I’m using a straight connector; a 90 degree connector would be a little safer and put less stress on the drive connection.
With the rest of the components in the case we can start to get a feel for just how sung the space is in the Armor+ MX. Since one of the features of the Armor+ MX was the trap door for Thermaltakes water kits, I installed our 760i kit into the case. The shallow depth of the case made the pump of the 760i very close to the PSU, any closer and I would have needed a 45* fitting on the pump outlet for the tubing to clear the PSU body.
Looking through the top we can see the reservoir, and speed control for the Bigwater 760i. It did make it a little easier to adjust the speed of the fan, but I found my self still topping of the reservoir from the side.
Looking at the vent holes in the top of the case we can see how much of it is blocked by the PSU. This may allow the PSU heat out but blocks the rest of the system heat from getting out as well.
Thermaltake has tried to cram as many features from the larger “super tower” Armor case into this standard size mid tower, and did a good job of it. You have all the classic looks, the build quality, and you can still fit everything into the case. With shrinking space comes the 'snug factor'. This case has close quarters, but you can still get most full length video card in this case. The distance from the drive bays to the expansion slots is 10.6 inches. If your card has the power plugs on the end of the card instead of on top, you may have an issue. So be sure to measure your graphics card before ordering the Armor+ MX. Even with the tight space, cable routing and hiding was easily done. I would still recommend a nice modular PSU and 90 degree SATA cables to make your life that much easier.
The Armor+ MX can be found on line for around $137 shipped. At this price I would liked to have seen the Armor+ MX a little lighter for its size and have better air flow. I believe the case is aimed at gamers and most gamers go to LAN parties, so a strong yet light case is desired. Thermaltake has the strong part down with out a doubt, now if they could shave off some weight. I also didn’t care for the air flow of the case. The front drive bay completely blocks the front intake fan, and if you don’t remove all the metal drive bay shield/spacers you have blocked airflow there as well. The top vents holes are almost completely blocked by the PSU. This will allow heat to radiate out from the PSU, but leaves all fresh air in take to the side panel fan and the heat removal work to the rear 120mm fan.
Bottom Line: The Thermaltake Armor+ MX VH800BWS has many of the full size tower features in a compact mid tower case size. Thermaltake did a good job of shrinking the case, but it would nice if it was a little lighter and had better air flow.