Thermaltake Chaser A31 Review

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Introduction

Thermaltake are a global company selling a whole range of products under three main brands; Thermaltake, Tt eSPORTS and LUXA2. They have over 95 regional distributors and over 4000 premium retailers selling their products. Their product ranges include iPad and iPhone cases and accessories, gaming headsets, keyboards, surfaces, mice, chassis, power supplies and coolers.

Here we are taking a look at part of their chaser series of products the Thermaltake Chaser A31 chassis. The A31 is a mid tower chassis and can currently be found in the UK for about £70-£80. It comes in three colour options the snow edition, the thunder edition and the standard black edition which we are taking a look at today. This section of the market is very crowded with a lot of companies having offerings in this price bracket. So lets get cracking and see how it does.

Specifications and features

Specifications:

Case Type Mid Tower
Dimension (H x W x D) 501 x 212 x 495mm (19.7 x 8.4 x 19.5 inch)
Net Weight 6.5 kg/14.4 lb
Side Panel Transparent Window
Colour Exterior & Interior : Black
Cooling System Front (intake) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm Turbo fan x 1 (1000rpm, 16dBA)
120 x 120 x 25 mm (optional)
Rear (exhaust) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm Blue LED fan (1000rpm,16dBA)
Top (exhaust) : (optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm fan x 2 or 140 x 140 x 25 mm fan x 2
Bottom (Intake) : (optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm fan
Drive Bays – Accessible: 3 x 5.25’’ , 1 x 3.5’’ (Converted from one 5.25” drive bay)
– Hidden: 6 x 3.5’’ or 2.5’’
Expansion Slots 7
Motherboards 9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), 12” x 9.6” (ATX)
I/O Ports USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1
PSU Standard PS2 PSU (optional)
LCS Upgradable Supports 1/2”、3/8”、1/4” water tube
Other CPU cooler height limitation:
160mm
VGA length limitation:
290mm(with HDD rack)
410mm(without HDD rack)

Features:

  • Connection: Two I/O ports including two USB 3.0
  • Ventilation: Two pre-installed 120mm fans, including a blue LED fan
  • Expansion: Removable HDD rack & 5.25″ drive converter rack for an extra 1 + 2
  • Support: LCS & advanced cable management

 

Packaging and accessories

Taking a look at the front of the box we see a large photo of the case, as well as advertising the case’s support for internal USB 3.0 Super Speed. The packaging is very striking in colour in order to attract attention in a retail environment.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Box Front

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Box Superspeed USB 3.0 Logo

Taking a look at the sides of the packaging we see key features of the case highlighted in 12 different languages and on the opposite side, a table highlighting the specifications of the case.

The box comes sealed with clear tape at the top and bottom and stapled together to ensure the packaging remains intact during shipping.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Box Tape

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Box Staples

The case comes secured in the box with ridged, moulded, polystyrene inserts. I would have preferred to see a softer packing method used inside the box as the ridged polystyrene has a tendency to snap, making re-packing the case difficult should you upgrade. There is also a clear plastic bag covering the entire case to prevent damage and dirt.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Box Packaging

Accessory wise we see a black screws of varying sizes to fit your components, a motherboard speaker, a few re-usable cable clips and a 5.25” to 3.5” drive bay adaptor powder-coated black. I think the inclusion of the drive bay adaptor is a nice addition to the accessories.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Screws

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Speaker

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Cable Ties

Thermaltake Chaser A31 5.25 to 3.5 drive bay adapter

Closer look at the exterior of the case

The case on the whole has a mainly black exterior with blue highlights and looks very striking out of the box. The case’s exterior is powder-coated black, the finish is even with no obvious blemishes. As I have already mentioned this case also comes in white and blue variants. The case weighs 6.5KGs and is 501 x 212 x 495mm (H x W x D).

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The left side of the case features a large perspex window. Thermaltake have opted for a raised design with part of the side panel protruding outwards; giving slightly more room inside the case for large CPU coolers. I really like that the perspex window has no fan grills or anything on it, allowing you to admire your rig clearly without obstruction.

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The right side of the case has nothing to highlight other than the same protruding design which will allow more room for cables behind the motherboard tray.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Case Side Blank

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Case Side Panel Protrusion

Taking a look at the front of the case the first thing that grabs your attention is the electric blue drive bay rims on the front of the case, which are made of plastic. You may assume that all 9 of the faceplates hide a 5.25” bay, however you would be wrong as only the top three 5.25” bay covers hide a usable bay. I really like the bold design and it would suit a blue themed rig perfectly.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Case Front

At the top of the case we find the front I/O panel, housing a large brushed metal look power button which lights up blue, a red HDD LED indicator, a recessed reset switch, 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks and a pair of USB 3.0 ports (with an internal motherboard header).

Personally I would have liked to have seen the inclusion of a few more USB ports, however I like the recessed reset switch as it helps to prevent you accidentally rebooting your computer.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front I-O

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front I-O Power Button

Thermaltake Chaser A31 USB 3.0 Ports Front I-O

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front I-O PCB

Just behind the front I/O we see a recessed tray for your mobile phone, wallet, keys, MP3 player, USB memory stick, controller or whatever you like. I really like this; it serves as a useful place to permanently store items so you always know where they are.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Tray Empty

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Tray Full

Moving further back on the top of the case we see a large mesh area for ventilation, there is some dust filtering up here. It features the same protruding design as found on the side panels.

Unfortunately I was disappointed to find that this mesh area didn’t remove easily to give access to the fans which can be fitted beneath. You need to remove the whole top section to get to the underside of the mesh, this I found to be a bit of a pain.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Top Mesh Panel

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Top Panel Protrusion

At the rear of the case we see the 120mm blue LED exhaust fan, 7 PCI expansion slots with mesh covers, bottom PSU mount, small mesh area and two rubber grommets for external watercooling.

You will also see that the side panels are fixed in place with two black thumb screws, these are designed not to come out of the side panel and prevents losing the screws which is a welcomed feature. The side panels also have handles on them for easy removal.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Case Back

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Side Panel Handles

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Watercooling Grommets

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Side Panel Screws

Taking a look at the the bottom of the case we see a large dust filter which covers two thirds of the length of the case including the PSU ventilation and optional 120mm fan. There is room for a 17cm ATX PSU without covering the 120mm fan slot, however the case will accommodate ATX PSU’s up to 30cm.

The black plastic feet which raise the case from the floor lack any rubber grip/dampening. This is a bit of a disappointment to see as this is a common feature on most cases within this price bracket although the case sits a good distance off a surface providing a good amount of room for airflow.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Case Bottom

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Fan Filter Part Removed

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Case Feet

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Distance Off The Floor

Behind the front panel we see a foam insert for dust filtering behind the 5.25” bay covers. I would have preferred to see an alternative method used as I find this awkward to remove and clean.

We also see the 25mm thick, 120mm intake, turbo fan which is non LED and comes with a 3-pin fan header. There is also the option to add an additional 120mm fan here should you wish. I was pleased to see a cable routing hole for the fan cable. I would have liked to have seen the option to use 140mm fans here to give users a wider choice of fans available to them.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Case Front Without Front Panel

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front Panel Dust Filtering

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front 120mm Turbo Fan

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front Fan Cable Management

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front 120mm Fan Front

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front 120mm Back

Closer look at the interior of the case

Taking a look inside the case we see a powdercoated matt black interior. The layout seems pretty standard compared to other cases in the market which isn’t necessary a bad thing. The case supports both ATX and Micro ATX motherboards. There is good CPU clearance, allowing room for upto 160mm CPU coolers.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front of Case Empty

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Back of Case Empty

There is a large CPU cut-out to aid CPU cooler installation. This is plenty large enough for most CPU cooler backplates.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 CPU Cooler Cutout

We also see three large cable management grommets to allow you to route the cables behind the motherboard tray. They are of a good size and the rubber is nice and flexible.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Rubber grommet

The motherboard standoffs are pre-installed into the case in an ATX configuration allowing you to easy install your motherboard.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Motherboard Standoffs
Taking a look behind the motherboard tray we see multiple clips to tie cable ties to. I would have liked to have seen a few more around where the 8 pin EPS power connector goes, to ensure it remains securely in place.

There is about …cm of room behind the motherboard tray for cables. However the protruded design of the side panel will offer a little extra room.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Cable Loops

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Motherboard Tray Cable Clearance

Down the bottom of the case we see the bottom mounted PSU mount. Something that I did find lacking is the use of anti-vibration pads on the feet that support the PSU, this not only prevents noise but also scratching of components with metal on metal. Something I certainly would have liked to have seen implemented.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 ATX PSU Mount

Thermaltake Chaser A31 PSU Feet

We also see the removable dust filter from the opposite side using a honeycomb-like design; this can be removed from the rear of the case. I did find it annoying because the dust filter is so long, the case needs to be a long way away from anything to allow you to remove the dust filter easily.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Fan Filter

There are seven PCI expansion slots in the case, which have mesh covers on them, for added airflow. I was surprised to see that there were no thumbscrews holding the covers in place instead just normal screws which required a screw driver to remove. Something I would like to see rectified especially with the tool-less design used throughout the rest of the case.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Vented PCI Slot Covers

Thermaltake Chaser A31 PCI Normal Screw

Thermaltake Chaser A31 7 PCI Slots

The front panel cables are plenty long enough and I was pleased to see black connectors and cables used to help with aesthetics.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Black 3 Pin Fan Connector

Thermaltake Chaser A31 USB 3.0 Connector Black

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Front Panel Connectors Black

At the top of the case are supports for either two 120mm fans or two 140mm fans, none come pre-installed, however the option to add them in after is there.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Top Fan Support

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Top Panel Fan Mounts

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Top Panel Dust Filtering

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Top Fan Mounts Spacing

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Top Panel Cable Management

We see the rear pre-installed 120mm blue LED fan, it has a clear frame and clear blades. The fan is orientated so it is exhausting air out of the case, it is rated for rated at 1000RPM, 16dBA. I was surprised to see that the 3 pin fan header uses a white connector since all the other connectors are black.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Rear 120mm LED fan Fitted

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Rear 120mm

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Rear 120mm Fan Front

Thermaltake Chaser A31 Fan Braid

Thermaltake Chaser A31 White Connector

The three 5.25” drive bays come with a tool-less clip, to allow for a quick, secure and easy method to attach drives.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 5.25 Tool-less Clips

Moving below the drive bays we find six hard drive bays, three in one hard drive cage and three in another. These hard drive cages also use a tool-less design, however this only works for 3.5” drives 2.5” SSDs and hard drives will need to be screwed in. There is also anti vibration rubber dampeners on the pins which hold the 3.5” drives to help prevent noisy vibration.

I found the cages to be of a good quality, the design works well and they are made out of black plastic which is both strong and light.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Cage Empty

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Cage SSD Fitted

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Cage 3.5 HDD Fitted

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Being Fitted

Only the top hard drive cage can be removed if needed, the bottom cage is riveted in and cannot be taken out. The top cage however simply unscrews with some thumbscrews and pulls out. This allows for plenty of room for large GPUs. The case will support cards of 290mm with the HDD cage installed. Please be aware that if your card has the power connectors on the end of the card. This needs to be included in your total card length.

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Fitted

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Cage Removal Step 1

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Cage Removal Step 2

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Cage Removal Step 3

Thermaltake Chaser A31 HDD Cage Removal Step 4

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Installation and performance

Installation of the test system into the case was a painless affair I found there was a good amount of room to install components within the chassis and enough room to get my hands in various places.

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Here we see the rear 120mm Blue LED, powered up. I was surprised how quiet it was!

 

The CPU cooler clearance was tight with our Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2, just fitting in. The protruded side panel aided CPU clearance.

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The build was clean and tidy thanks to the room behind the motherboard tray for cables, the grommets helped to provide a clean look to the interior.

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There is ample room for large GPUs in the system thanks to the ability to remove both HDD cages if necessary. There is also support for multiple GPU configurations thanks to the 7 PCI expansion slots. The large CPU cut out in the motherboard tray is plenty large enough for most coolers and motherboards.

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With the side panel on we see our test system through the large window in the side panel. I really like this and it is perfect to show off your rig.

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I am pleased to say that the fans inside the case were near silent at 12v, 7v and 5v, very impressive.

Conclusion

I really like the bold design used on the Thermaltake Chaser A31, I feel it will be like Marmite you will either love it or hate it. It is certainly not a subtle look, but a bit like a business man in a smart suit with a jazzy tie.

The case I would say is more suited to the gaming case market and it has the features within for that kind of hardware and system. I think there are some areas which Thermaltake could have improved, such as more USB ports on the front I/O, built in fan controller support, anti vibration pads for the PSU and feet and thumbscrews on the PCI covers. Personally I think the watercooling support in the roof could be improved. However these additional features can be easily overlooked.

The case does offer a good amount for the money and I really like the large window and the interior design of the case allowing support for large long multiple GPU configurations, large CPU coolers and ample 5.25” and 3.5” devices. The cable management offered is good and the grommets are soft and work well. Tie this all in with solid build quality and the case offers good value for money.

There are no glaring issues with the case and if you like the design it offers a different styling and design to other offerings from different manufacturers within this price bracket.

My thoughts at a glance:-

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Large clear window
  • Good design
  • Support for large CPU coolers
  • Support for large multiple GPU configurations
  • Removable hard drive cages
  • Pre-installed fans are quiet
  • Long PSU support
  • Case finish internally and externally is good
  • Good accessories included with the case
  • Black connectors on the front panel cables
  • Good cable management support
  • Tool-less design
  • Silent fans

Cons

  • Would have liked to have seen more USB port on the front I/O
  • Lacks any fan controller
  • No anti vibration mounts for the PSU or rubber feet on the case
  • Thumbscrews on the PCI covers
  • Black connectors on the fans
  • Could have better watercooling support
  • Access to the top of the case could be improved
  • Dust filtering could be improved

As such I am pleased to award the Thermaltake Chaser A31 our Play3r value award.

awards-value

 

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value
4

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