For computer enthusiasts, there is no element of the machine that you call your own that gets overlooked. From the most important components, like the hard drive, processors, audio card, video card and memory, to the small details like the internal adapter ribbons and fans, every single component comes together to form the whole. And while it's true that a properly constructed and tweaked machine is a thing of beauty, one thing that appeals to just about every enthusiast is the box itself, that is―the computer case.
Some cases are pure glitz, featuring wild lighting, clear side panels that expose the guts of the machine, and numerous other gimmicky elements that, while attractive, lend no real value to the computer itself. And while it may at first appear as though an obsession with the computer case is a matter of elevating form over function, there are some new advances by several computer case manufacturers that are combining sleek designs with some concepts that are intended entirely as functional upgrades.
Most notable among these is the Level 10 computer case, which was designed by Thermaltake in collaboration with BMW Designworks. The Level 10 case truly is a sight to behold and, though it is targeted mostly toward gamers and their need for advanced graphics, audio, processing power, and memory, it is clear that the manufacturer may be onto something that finds its way into mainstream computer design.
With a hefty price tag of just under $900, it will be quite some time before the Level 10 or other cases like it make their way into mainstream computing situations, but the advantages offered by the new case are such that mission-critical computing environment―rather than gaming environment―appear to be the most likely destination for these cases.
First off, the new style of case offers what the manufacturer refers to as 'Open Compartment Architecture' or 'O.C.A.' This is designed such that each component of the computer is individually encased. This allows various components that require greater cooling requirements to be isolated from other components, and for cooling fans to be located close to such components. In addition, all components are easily accessible, making hardware upgrades and swaps very easy. While the O.C.A. makes the case look very, very cool, the main point is that the components that make up a 'killer system' can be treated more gently and swapped out more easily.
The case's cooling system is also a thing of beauty, though not in the aesthetic sense. Two 60 mm intake fans are located in the top of the box, while another 140 mm intake is located at the front of the box. A 120 mm exhaust fan in the rear of the box keeps air circulating.
Finally, the manufacturer has added built-in security for the hardware itself, or what it calls the 'Smart-Lock Security System' or 'S.S.S.' The system allows the user to lock the tower so that the components inside the case cannot be accessed. Other important features of the case include three drive bays, ATX motherboard support, aluminum construction, 8 expansion slots, 4 USB ports, and liquid cooling capability. All in all, it is a great box for a gamer, but it will not be surprising to see such cases enter the business world in the years to come, especially in the IT and networking environment.