- Hydraulic doors, plenty of fans, water cooling, e-SATA (with power) on the front panel
- Could be more tool-free, no external fan speed controls, a lot of unnecessary cost involved, extremely heavy
The Thermaltake SwordM isn't cheap, but those looking for some garish over-the-top design and some serious cooling will enjoy this style. Thermaltake could have put more effort into the tool-free aspect and some fan control would have been handy, but overall it's a powerful case for a powerful system.
Price$ 682.00 (AUD)
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Let's forget, if only for the briefest of moments, that the Thermaltake SwordM offers pre-installed water cooling and opens up on hydraulic pistons like some kind of enraged scarab beetle, and let's focus instead on its ease of use. Seriously though, who are we trying to kid? Because that, right there, is the crux of this high-end piece of hardware.
To use the technical term; this case is perfervid, though it's not the most subtle of designs. Put it this way -- if it were a car it would be lowered with neon lights, and would go driving past pumping out more bass than horsepower, so it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.
However, there's nothing quite like the sound of hydraulics in the morning, or evening, or when you're opening the side of your PC case. Of course, you'll have to ignore that quiet little angel whispering into your ear "that's totally unnecessary and adds several hundred dollars to the cost", because that's the price of pimp. Admittedly we were a little cut when it wouldn't bounce up and down with low rider-inspired bravado, but that probably wouldn't sit well with the mechanical hardware inside anyway.
Besides the hydraulics and the fact that this aluminium-built case looks like a giant heat sink on steroids, the Thermaltake SwordM is quite a functional machine designed for extreme levels of cooling. The water cooling pump and reservoir sit at the rear but it's only designed to fit the CPU, so you'll need to set-up a second system for VGA cooling. Of the potential 12 120mm fans, Thermaltake has provided seven pre-installed. With a full gambit of fans the case is designed to force cool air from the front and underneath the chassis up through the top or out of the side. In fact, part of the hydraulics system involves a semi-removable lid that pivots up on said pistons like a car-top sunroof, allowing more hot air to escape. Heat from the coolant is dispersed via a heat sink and two of the pre-installed 120mm fans on the side of the case. The rest of the fans just control air flow in and out of the box.
It's a full-sized super tower offering room for mini, standard and extended ATX motherboards. The SwordM supports up to 10 5.25in drive bays, allowing plenty of room for all the potential temperature monitoring facades and other gadgets of the like. However, out of the box the only interface you'll find on the front panel caters for USB 2.0, FireWire and e-SATA (with a power), as well as the front audio jacks and the on/off and reset buttons. An optional 7in LCD screen can be purchased from Thermaltake and fitted to the case, too.
Setup is fairly straightforward. The enclosure is tool-free as far as getting in and out of it goes, but requires a little bit of work with a screwdriver to install the components. The biggest flaw is the hard drive cage, as it holds up to four drives but must be extracted from the case to add or remove drives securely. We recommend getting your hard drive configuration right the first time as you're not going to want to mess around once everything is plugged in.
One thing this case lacks is an external, hardware-based fan speed control, which would be excellent for the low workload periods. On the other hand, as a consolation prize, the SwordM has a neat little tool drawer that slides out of the front panel below the intake fan, which we like.
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