Level 10 External Design
Explaining how the Level 10 looks is no easy task. Thankfully, we have a collection of photos to help us. Initial images of the prototype version suggested that the Level 10 might be constructed using a shiny acrylic plastic. In the end, Thermaltake opted for an all-aluminum design with matte black surface. This gives the Level 10 a more subtle look as far as the paint job is concerned, but there is at least one noteworthy drawback: the exterior marks very easily and regular cleaning is required.
In fact, the Level 10 is almost impossible to keep pristine and I quickly found myself spending more time washing it than I did my car. Like a shiny new smartphone, once you unbox it, it never looks the same again. Thermaltake acknowledges this issue by including a cleaning cloth in the package, but honestly, we would have just preferred lower maintenance paint. We get the feeling that the Level 10 isn't supposed to be the most practical case, as Thermaltake has favored design over function.
The case's skeleton is constructed from 3mm-thick sheets of aluminum so it's not damaged under its own weight. It measures 26.22 x 12.52 x 24.17 inch (66.6 x 31.8 x 61.4 cm) and weighs a backbreaking 47.11lb (21.37kg), making it the largest aluminum computer case we've ever reviewed and likely one of the heaviest available. To assist users with transportation, it has top and bottom grab handles, but even without hardware installed, I found it difficult to move. That said, we can't deduct points as it's obviously not designed with mobility in mind.
The Thermaltake Level 10 is unique looking from every angle, and even the I/O panel is pretty special. Placed in a thin upright tower, the front I/O panel contains the on/off button, reset button, eSATA connector, microphone jack, headset connector, and four USB ports. Incorporated into the design is a strip of red LED lights that span the length of the case giving it that KITT look -- you know, the car from Knight Rider.
The front also has three external 5.25" drive bays, one of which features an optical drive façade to avoid defiling the Level 10's looks with a tacky DVD or Blu-ray drive. Below are six 3.5" hard drive bays individually split into their own external housings which are labeled 1 through to 6 and have their own LED status lights.
The left side is by far the most impressive angle to view the Level 10. Thermaltake says that instead of covering the expensive interior of the tower, it celebrates the ensemble of each individual module by creating a unique component landscape. This translates to something a bit more comprehendible: the Level 10 has nine separate compartments for your hardware.
Starting in the top right corner, the power supply compartment is big enough to house the heftier 1000W+ units. Opposite that is the 5.25" compartment, which is big enough to hold three separate drives. A majority of the "landscape" is occupied by the motherboard compartment, which also contains the system's guts, such as the CPU, RAM, GPU and various other components. Finally, there are six 3.5" compartments for storage drives.
The opposite side of the Level 10 reveals its dual-lock security system. The right panel door must be released to access any of the component compartments. Once the security locks have been opened, the user must also undo a set of thumbscrews to gain access. We explain this in more detail on the next page.
Around back, the Level 10 offers access to the rear of your PSU along with the motherboard's I/O panel and eight expansion slots. There is a single 120mm red LED exhaust fan which operates at just 1300 RPM, generating a whisper quiet 17dBA. There's also a front intake fan in the motherboard compartment that sucks air through a camouflaged fan grill. A smaller 60mm HDD fan spins at 2500 RPM, making 25dBA of noise.