Thermaltake is going all out recently with product releases all across the spectrum and its easy to see the company is intent on re-establishing itself as one of the top brands in the DIY PC industry. After Computex 2015, its now clear where the company is headed and its dreaming big with a list of cases certainly fitting the description of big. One of these cases is the Thermaltake Core series which adopts a modular and stackable concept making them a highly flexible foundation for a many builds including custom cases and mod projects. The current flagship of this line-up is the monstrous Thermaltake Core X9 while already deemed EATX compatible, still manages to make the form factor look diminutive compared to its scale. Let’s take our scope and focus on the Thermaltake Core X9 in this review.
Tt LCS Certified: Thermaltake exclusive certification applied to only products that pass the design and hardcore enthusiasts standards
Supports 4x USB 3.0 ports with HD Audio ports for convenient front panel access
Fully Modular Design: Provides multiple configurations and flexibility for custom PC Enthusiasts
Interchangeable Window and I/O Panel: Customize for the best viewing presentation with an interchangeable window and I/O panel design
Chamber Concept: Optimized for space management, the Core X9 is divided into two main chambers for cooling performance and improved efficiency
The Thermaltake Core X9 is packaged in a simple brown cardboard box with line-arts of the product in the packaging. Thermaltake brands this case as Tt LCS Certified denoting its high compatibility with watercooling. In another side of the box we can see the modular concept artwork of the Core X9, with all internal modules piece by piece. Another thing noteworthy is the box is big, my 3-year old niece particularly found it rather roomy. Here’s an illustration of how she felt:
The Core X9 is protected during transit with styrofoam and a plastic bag. Despite our box a bit banged up, the X9 was unscathed.
Core X9: Closer Look – External
The Thermaltake Core series features an elongated grill design for the front and its clean with the Thermaltake logo and the three 5.25″ bay slots breaking up the pattern. Its a simple square shape and how this appeals to you is purely subjective. There’s two colors of the Core X9 available: the one we have which is black and the white one dubbed Snow Edition. The back of the Core X9 is where its starting to really look unique with two bottom-mount PSU slots and the horizontal board orientation of the case evident. The Core X9 supports up 8 expansion slots. A single 120mm is pre-mounted in the case for rear exhaust duties. The slot supports up to 140mm and can be adjust up or down depending on your needs. Rubber grommets cover two holes on the back for cables and external waterloops.
The Thermaltake Core X9 includes a windowed side panel which is very large and lets you peek through almost the entirety of the chassis’ internals. This windowed panel is reversible and can be moved to the other side. The non-windowed panel of the Core X9 features two grill mesh which are protected by magnetically attached filters.
The bottom of the Core X9 chassis shows us more grills lined with filters. These bottom filters aren’t magnetic and slide through notches to secure them in place. Four large plastic feet rase the Core X9 a few inches off the ground are lined with a rubber base.
The front panel I/O ports are placed on the sides and these are also reversible and can be placed on the other side of the chassis. The Thermaltake Core X9 features full USB3.0 in the front panel via two USB3.0 heades. The standard power, reset and audio jacks are also present along with the LED indicators.
The top panel resembles the side panel as well with two grills lined with magnetic filters inside.
Core X9: Closer Look – Internal
The Thermaltake Core X9 features a heavily tool-less design and all you need to do is remove the thumb screws that secure the side panels to the chassis. Removing the panels grants access to the spacious internals of the Core X9. The Core X9 employs a horizontal board mount which sits the board flat on the case. The Core X9 supports many board types including EATX variants with up to 8 expansion slots. From the other side we can see the motherboard tray has a recess beneath the socket but no access holes because the board tray is removable already so its not needed. Underneath the board tray are the drive cages and PSU slot.
The drive cages house three trays each. Each tray can hold an HDD or mount an SSD. As you’ll see later, these trays are adjustable and can be moved to the other side of the case or removed entirely to make more space inside the case.
As we’ve noticed in the front there are three 5.25″ drive bays and from the inside we can see each are mounted individually. Tool-less locks help secure drives and accessories in these bays.
Just beneath the 5.25″ bays is a 200mm fan grill which also houses other fan sizes like 120mm and 140mm or another 200mm fan by removing the 5.25″ drive bays. These slots can also hold radiators. The rear fan, as we described is already preinstalled in the rear slot which can also accommodate 140mm size ones and slide up and down.
Aside from the front panel LEDs and button connectors, two USB3.0 headers make the bulk of the front panel cables.
Notice the space for the PSU, even long ones have no problem fitting in this case. Note that you can move the support tab for the PSU for the actual length of the one you have.
Just beneath the motherboard tray is a suspended drive tray where you can install a hard drive or an SSD. This is useful if you’re building a show rig that don’t need much drives in place.
Here we have an ATX motherboard and a very large dual-tower heatsink installed in the system. We’re also using a reference GTX 980 Ti which I think should give everyone a good idea just how roomy the internal of this chassis is.
Core X9 Disassembly
With all the side panels removed, let’s start by taking apart the chassis. First off is the motherboard tray. You really don’t need a screwdriver for this since its secured only by two thumbscrews. After removing those, just lift up the tray. This is helpful if you’re changing coolers on your motherboards or troubleshooting so you don’t need to bend down on the case all the time.
Next up are the drive cages which are also secured by thumb screws. Just removed the outermost screws holding them in place and remove the cages. Pardon the dust, we recently had to do some construction here.
There’s also this divider that we need to remove below the board tray if you want to move things around. For this one you’ll really need a screwdriver to remove some screws that hold the divider in place. After removing that and a fan holder, you now have access to the other PSU mounting slot.
The radiator mounts are also held in place with thumb screws. These can be removed and moved around the the sides of the chassis to hold rads or fans. These mounts can hold up to a 420mm radiator or a 480mm one.
The drive cages are held in place by mounts and these mounts double as fan and radiator mounts themselves.
Removing the front panel exposes the swappable front panel connector and the 200mm fan. This fan can be remove to mount a pair of smaller fans or a radiator. This is also where you can remove the 5.25″ drive bays via thumb screws.
The underside of the divider can also hold the hidden HDD tray.
Here’s the Core X9 with pretty much everything removed.
Here are measurements of the chassis’ horizontal and vertical length for reference. 1/60 PG Gundam Astray Red Frame for comparison.
Thermaltake isn’t trying to appeal to everyone with this case. Its clearly made for people who want a foundation for a build that goes beyond visual appeal. Let’s break down it further:
Build Quality: This case is solid and feels like so. There’s really nothing you can complain about the durability of the metal parts of the Core X9 and its really well built with no sharp edges to cut yourself in. The magnetic filters are a nice touch and we want to see more of those in the future. We’d be nitpicking really if we had to complain about the chassis’ build quality like for example we really find the plastic parts a bit dull and not molded as sharply as they could’ve been. Cables could’ve also been pre-sleeved to really set-off that premium feel.
Functionality. The Thermaltake Core X9 sits in a very comfortable spot in terms of scalability as its modular concept allows it to really adapt to any build. The only limitation would be the size as its large footprint means its gonna take up a lot of space. That said though, the Core X9’s size is mainly one of its asset giving it plenty of room inside to work with and if that’s not enough you can buy another one and stack them to double the possibilities.
Bundle. There’s really not much here in terms of inclusion but most of the things you really want are already in the chassis. Screws, ties and such are also provided.
Value. I’ve seen cases much taller than the Thermaltake Core X9 but those cases can only hold two long radiators, sometimes three. And they almost always cost more. At $169 for the Black version and $179 for the white Snow Edition, you’re getting a lot of space for a more reasonable price. While the unconventional form makes it somewhat of an uneasy choice for the majority of consumers, its tough to argue the watercooling and mod potential of the Core X9 and that’s where the real value comes in.
Its hard to peg what kind of people the Core X9 would appeal to but its very clear who Thermaltake wants it to be with. Watercooling enthusiasts and modders will appreciate the large workspace they have in the Core X9 and the potential to scale that into stacks. Its mostly flat surfaces can easily be detailed or better yet, custom-painted. Really, the possibilities are endless. If you want a case you can grow with as your passion for modding and/or watercooling grows, this is a great choice for you. If you’re just building a gaming PC and got plenty of room to spare, the Core X9 still got you.
The Thermaltake Core X9 boasts a highly modular concept making it one of the most versatile cases around. The case isn’t for everyone though and its very clear that Thermaltake is trying to attract the watercooling and modding enthusiasts who want to show off their custom loop creation and not limit the builder’s creativity. Everything can be removed, swapped, and moved around and its large, spacious interior make it the perfect playground for any modder and builder. Add to that the airflow and cooling possibilities and this is one case that really grows with you. If you can afford the space to keep it.
Look is pretty much subjective here and if you find the box look satisfying enough, you’d appreciate the other features of the case but if its not up to your tastes then two things only come to mind: pick another case, or MOD IT!