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Old August 8, 2007, 12:58 AM
dex100 dex100 is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ottawa
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Default Thermaltake Soprano RS100

Introduction

In the market to buy a new case? Ever heard of Thermaltake? Well if you haven't then you haven't been looking for too long. Thermaltake is one of the biggest names in chassis and cooler manufacturing worldwide. With cases to please any audience (whether it be someone looking for an HTPC case or a gaming case) and coolers that can keep up to most competition (The big typhoon was one of the best coolers at its time of release) and even has some do it yourself and preassembled water cooling kits. But today were not looking at water cooling kits or some performance cooler. Today we'll be taking a look at the original Soprano's news family member, the Soprano RS100.

Let's just say that when this got here I was *a little bit excited* but the fedex deliveryman would probably call that an understatement. Next up we'll take a look at some general specifications.

Specs
The Soprano family is classified as mid towers but the RS100 and the new FX happen to be an exception. To be completely specific the case that we reviewed was the VG6000BWS the version without the 400 watt powersupply and with the window (instead of the available honey comb mesh). Following the trend of the previous sopranos, the Soprano RS100 comes in only one colour: piano black.
The Weight and Dimensions
This case is made of steel, which would explain the 27 pounds (12.3KG) and feels as firm and well built as it looks. If you’re not going to any LAN parties, then the weight issue isn't really a problem. The strength of the case more than makes up for its weight.
The dimensions of the case are 540.0 x 205.0 x 496.0 mm or 21.3 x 8.1 x 19.5 inches. The case has 5 5.25" Bays for cd/dvd-rom drives, 2 hidden 3.5" Bays for floppy drives and card readers and 5 internal 3.5" Bays for hard drives.

And as for price point, it hasn't been released yet, but I'd range a guesstimate in the area around 120$ US.

External tour


In this picture we can see a few of the Soprano RS100 features such as the transparent plexiglass window with slots for 2 120mm fans, the removable hard drive trays and the locking mechanism.

This photo demonstrates the case’s side panel release mechanism. Unlike most other cases I’ve seen this case does not use the system where you place the side panel against the case slide it back (small hooks fit into the case) and then screw it on. This Side panel’s mechanism seems very much like a hinge, the metal fitting on the front of the panel slots into the case then you simply push the rear of the panel towards the case and the release mechanism clicks into place, holding it steady. The 2 fitted thumbscrews aren’t necessary to hold the panel on, but are there to ensure its harder to get off.

The rear panel of this case seems very standard: Like most atx cases, the powersupply is mounted at the top, it has a rear 120mm exhaust fan and 7 expansion slots. The fan which is provided by Thermaltake comes standard were as the front fan is only an optional choice. Unmentioned was the exterior connection panel which has all of the usual connections (2 usb, mic/headphone jacks ) but also has an external sata connector.
The case also has retractable feet which make the case very stable


Interior


Here’s where this case begins to get interesting.

This picture shows off the interior of the case, we can see the removable hard drive trays, the removable motherboard tray, the hinge like mechanism for the side panel, the 5.25” bays, the tooless expansion slots, the 120mm rear exhaust and the connections which lead to the front panel.

The rear fan that Thermaltake provides is a 120mm frameless fan that operates at 1700rpm and is said to emit only 17dBa. Following the trend of most Thermaltake fans, I assume that it puts out around 60CFM. The fan is connected by 4 pin molex, not 3 pin to the motherboard (which is unfortunate because you then lose the ability to control the fan without an external fan controller).

Here is the tool-less expansion slot system. To install cards in this system, you simply remove the metal bracket, place all your expansion cards into the motherboard and then replace the metal bracket. Easy? Heck Yes!

This is one of the removable hard drive trays partially removed from the rack. To install a hard drive in this system you simply place a hard drive on one of these trays, align the holes on the tray (which are dampened by rubber spacers) with the holes on the bottom of your hard drive (which I didn’t even know existed until using this case) and screw down.
This system is nice but I was highly irritated when I found out that the hard drives would only mount in a certain direction. Coming from someone who prides themself on clean cases, I was annoyed that the Ide cables and molex connectors would have to face the window, which would stop me from running them behind the hdd rack which significantly hides them. This is also a problem to those who have short powersupply cables as they must reach a considerable amount farther than on a conventional hard drive rack.

Test Setup


To test the performance of the SopranoRS100 and Thermaltakes provided frameless fan I would be pitting it against my reference generic case. The case had no extra cooling other than the cpu cooler, so this will demonstrate the effects of proper case cooling, to all those skeptics of whether a case can make a big difference in temperatures.
The test hardware will be a

• AMD Opteron 144 Overclocked to 2.4ghz
• Asrock s939 Dual sataII Motherboard
• 2x512mb of Crucial DDR400 Ram
• XFX XXX 7600GT 256MB
• Seagate 250GB SataII Hard drive
• 2x Western Digital 80GB IDE Hard Drive
• LG 18x Dvd burner
• 52x Lite-on CD Burner
• Artic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro
• Thermaltake TR2 430 watt PSU



Installation


During installation the removable motherboard tray becomes extremely useful when you’re trying to line up the spacers and your motherboard. On the SopranoRS100 it’s only held on by 2 thumbscrews but still feels very secure when fastened to the chassis. Unfortunately like most cases the motherboard tray isn’t connected to the expansion slots or rear i/o (the only case that I’m aware that does this is the Lian Li V1000 but I’m still hoping to find another similar to it) so you must remove the expansion cards to actually remove the motherboard.
Now for a bit of a story, in which you’ll all probably laugh at me. When I was about to install the 5.25” drives I simply could not find the mounting hardware (I also couldn’t find any screws for anything, but found them stashed away behind the hdd rack) and was really starting to get frustrated. How could Thermaltake send me a case that I couldn’t mount my drives in? Well they didn’t, I’m just a moron. After searching through all the packaging for 15 minutes I decided I’d take of the 5.25” cover and see if there was some other way to mount it. To my surprise (and embarrassment) the rails for the 5.25” bays are quite intriguingly attached to the backs of the covers.

And here we have a hard drive being fastened to its tray, oddly, unless I lost 2 screws, Thermaltake provides you with 18 screws, only enough to fasten 4 and hard drives. Perhaps it was my fault but in any case, the hard drives are very secure with only 3 screws anyways so it wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

And finally everything installed, with a regular size powersupply there’s ample room above and beside your power supply to store unused power cables. I managed to hide most of the molex cables going to the hard drives, but the one going to the bottom drive would just not reach through so it had to go around. And my ide cables stick out but I guess that can’t really be helped.


Results


Our temperatures were taken with the application speedfan, and the processor load temperatures were measured by using the application Prime95 to stress test the processor at 100% usage for 4 hours. The ambient temperature for these tests was 68*F or 18*C.
Here are the results


As you can see the single Thermaltake fan and better airflow design of the case causes an extremely significant temperature difference among almost all of the components.

Final Thoughts


This case has many interesting and unique features, like the removable hard drive trays, its extremely simple tool-less expansion slot system, a very innovative new hinging side panel door system, a tool-less removable motherboard tray, removable 5.25” devices via rails. Thermaltake also has a very unique “wavy” look to the front of their cases.

Pros
• Removable motherboard tray
• Tool-less expansion slots
• Very effective and nearly silent fan
• Sturdy
• Removable Hard drive trays
• Great looking with either the window or honeycomb sidepanels

Cons
• Heavy (it’s made of steel after all)
• Hard drives only mount in one direction (problematic for psus with short cables)
• Trickily hidden mounting hardware and screws
There’s not much to not like about this case, sure its heavy, but its very well built so that is to be expected. My only real disappointment with this case is the hard drives which all in all could be seen as a pretty minor flaw. After all is said and done this case is a very good product.
9/10 Stars

Last edited by dex100; August 8, 2007 at 01:11 AM.
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