iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Thermaltake Element G Mid Tower Case

Compact size, fan controller, and stylish lights.

February 3, 2010

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On the whole, this model looks like a close counterpart of mid-end solutions Cooler Master 590 and Antec Three Hundred. However, it has a number of improvements in its design. For example, we found the following technical solutions useful: gaskets at the perimeter of the side panels, a simple fan controller, as well as the latch design for the front panel. A removable transverse HDD cage is quite an arbitrary solution. Firstly, it degrades the solidity of the whole construction. Secondly, it does not make HDD installation any easier. We can assume that the company used this design to make up for the inconvenient relatively low space inside the enclosure for the main components of the platform. A removable reinforcing rib is also a debatable solution, as it makes the assemblage process significantly harder, and our cursory examination hasn't revealed its effect on the overall solidity of the construction.

And now let's mention arguable technical solutions. For example, such plastic feet are usually used in low-cost solutions for less than $65, budget installation type of the side panels (when they are installed into grooves), as more expensive enclosures usually use the pivot- or guillotine-type systems, which are much more convenient to use. The same concerns plugs for expansion cards, which have to be broken out prior to their installation.

Using large fans (200-230 mm) instead of the classic 120m fans (used in Cooler Master 590 and Antec Three Hundred) is also an arguable solution, which is dictated by marketing reasons rather than by real technical needs. Along with certain drawbacks in fluid dynamics, there are also usability flaws that have to do with difficulties to buy compatible fans, especially of high quality, as the stock fans won't last forever. They say that the normal service life of such fans under intensive load is about one year.

This enclosure is made of 0.8mm steel, so it's quite solid. However, rigidity of some elements, for example, of side and upper panels with relatively large vent holes, is lower -- similar to rigidity of a solid 0.7mm steel plate. This enclosure uses special elements of design to improve construction solidity, such as L- and U-shaped components.

The original illumination system has six modes:

  • Blue static light
  • Red static light
  • Green static light
  • Fast dynamic lights
  • Slow dynamic lights
  • No light

There is a button on the front panel to switch between the illumination modes sequentially. The enclosure is based on three Colorshift fans. This is a very good solution, because illumination of the environment is only visible from above. We haven't noticed the laser effect either. The green light seems to be the most comfortable for work. You can see the illumination in action in this video clip.

Noise level

We measure noise with a VShV-003-M3 sound level meter in a fully soundproof room with the typical noise level of 20 dB(A). All electric appliances in the room are switched off during tests.

The cooling system of the enclosure working at the minimum speed is on the average level. An enclosure with this noise level can be used in offices or at home in the daytime.

When the cooling system works at full speed, its noise rises slightly above the average level. An enclosure with this noise level is partially fit for offices or homes in the daytime.

Note that the rear 120mm fan can be plugged only with the 4-pin molex directly to the PSU. So there are no stock tools to measure speed of this fan, that's why it always rotates at full speed.

We also measured the noise level of the 120mm fan and three large fans plugged to the stock controller. With the rear 120mm fan disabled, the noise level of the three large fans at minimum speed was below average. Much lower than when four fans were enabled.

Our measurements indicate that the rear fan makes the overall acoustic level noticeably less comfortable. We don't understand why the manufacturer hasn't installed a fan with a 3-pin connector to let the motherboard control fan speed. Or they could plug the rear fan into the stock controller as well.

Target audience

This enclosure will hardly satisfy enthusiasts who regularly tamper with their rigs. This conclusion has to do with the relatively low space inside the enclosure and certain cheaper design elements which might annoy this category of users.

On the other hand, the case will suit users who like stylish enclosures, opening them once a year for an occasional upgrade.

General impressions

First of all, note that the company managed to design a stylish PC enclosure with original illumination.

The rest is just an addendum to the exterior, but it doesn't mean that the rest is poor. The design of this PC enclosure and its technical solutions ranges from satisfactory to good. The case utilizes certain elements typical of lower-end solutions, but those might not be noticed right away, especially if you upgrade from a regular $50 enclosure.

Check the price of this PC case at Newegg, Amazon.

Thermaltake Element G provided by Thermaltake.

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