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Thermaltake Shark Case

Thermaltake is not a fresh fish to the PC enthusiast market, and they really show it with their new Shark case. Its sleek design, lightweight aluminum, and tool-free design help it cut its way through the competition.

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Introduction


Dun dun.  Dun dun.  Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun.  Ahhhhhhhh!!!  The whole Jaws phenomenon caused quite the stir back in the day, keeping many beaches empty for the summer.  Thermaltake incorporates the whole shark theme into its new aluminum Shark case and causes quite a stir in the water.  Stay there at the safety of your computer, as I get a closer look at the all new Thermaltake Shark.

Features and Specs


Features

  • Removable motherboard tray
  • Dual 120mm fans in the front and rear
  • Fits Thermaltake and other liquid cooling systems
  • See-through side panel with EMI shield
  • Security lock in front bezel and side panel
  • Retractable foot stand
  • Ultra light:  6.8kg (14lb)

Specs

  • Case Type:  Full tower chassis
  • Side Panel:  Honeycomb see-through side panel
  • Net Weight:  6.8kg (14lb)
  • Dimensions(HxWxD):  540 x 205 x 500mm
  • Cooling System:  2 – 120mm fans, 1400rpm, 21dBA, Exhaust fan features blue LEDs
  • Chassis Material:  1.0mm Aluminum
  • Front Panel Material:  Plastic
  • Front Door Material:  Aluminum
  • Motherboard:  Removable tray accommodates Micro ATX and Standard ATX
  • External Drive Bays:  5 x 5.25″, 2 x 3.5″
  • Internal Drive Bays:  5 x 3.5″
  • Expansion Slots:  7
  • Colors:  Black or Silver
  • Front Panel I/O Ports:  2 x USB 2.0, 1 x Firewire, Headphone and Microphone

 

$$ FIND THE BEST PRICES FOR Thermaltake’s Shark Case AT PRICEGRABBER $$

Package Contents


  • Shark case
  • User’s manual
  • Accessory kit, including various mounting screws, and keys for case locks

 

Detailed Look


External

Available in black or silver, the Shark is a sight to behold.  The finish on the Shark reminds me of sandpaper, in that it does not have a smooth texture at all.  The paint is rough, but the advantage to that is that the case does not get smeared or fingerprinted while being handled.  This shark must have forgotten to use its lotion.

The front door to the case is made from aluminum and features many nice and smooth sweeping lines, just like a shark.  There are also a few fins on the front of the case that run vertically and look like they guard aluminum “gills” below them.  Just to the side of the gills is what appears to be an intake grill for the front intake fan.  However, after close inspection, I was able to see that this grill was just for looks.  It is a shame, because the front 120mm intake fan could use some good ventilation.  Keeping the front door closed are two magnets that apply just the right amount of “stick” to keep the door in place.  There is a nice latch that has been milled into the door to allow for easy opening of the case.  Another neat feature at the front of the Shark is the blue LED that rests behind a slab of aluminum, casting a nice glow at the top of the case.  This lighting is not overwhelming and gives the front of the case a nice subtle look in a darkened room.

Also at the front of the case are the ever popular I/O ports.  Two USB 2.0 ports, a single Firewire connection, as well as headphone and microphone jacks provide just the right connections for just about everybody.  Keeping your case free from accidental power-ups and securing the front door for travel and security is a single lock.  This lock does its job very well, as the front door feels very solid when closed and locked.

 

Moving around to the left side of the case brings us to probably the most interesting part of the case.  Many cases today feature an acrylic or Plexiglas window to show off the hardware inside your rig.  Thermaltake took a totally different approach and used a honeycomb pattern cutout to create a side “window” that also performs as passive case cooling.  Instead of just relying on the front 120mm fan as the only intake source, the Shark case uses this large side intake to bring in cool outside air.  Pulling the air into the case and pushing it out is done by both the 120mm blue LED rear fan, as well as your powersupply.  I was a little skeptical about this side panel at first, because we all know how noisy some cooling solutions on videocards and heatsinks can be.  With the right components however, this case can be just as quiet as those with traditional side panels.  Gaining access to the case is simple.  Just unscrew the handy thumb screws at the rear of the case, unlock the side panel, and slide the handle towards the front of the case to detach the side panel.

 

The rear of the case is nothing out of the ordinary… or is it?  Thermaltake has included pre-made watercooling hose pass-throughs that allow you to easily integrate your watercooling case into this case.  This makes adding an external reservoir, like the one in Thermaltake’s BigWater kit, a snap.  The right side of the case is more along the lines of your standard case.  No special windows or grills, just a plain panel.

$$ FIND THE BEST PRICES FOR Thermaltake’s Shark Case AT PRICEGRABBER $$

Detailed Look


Access

Removing the side panel is very simple, as mentioned above.  The opposite side is removed by unscrewing two screws and pulling the panel away from the chassis.  Removing the blank panels for installation of DVD drives and media readers is as easy as squeezing two tabs on the sides of the panels and pulling them out.  Attached to the back side of the five 5.25″ panels are the tool-less drive guides that aide in the user-friendliness of this case.

Internal

Gutting this shark is a very safe and clean procedure thanks to Thermaltake.  There are no razor sharp teeth to cut your hands up, as Thermaltake has taken the time to make sure all the edges are nice and smooth.

Towards the front of the case reside the five 5.25″ tool-less drive bays, along with the two 3.5″ tool-less bays.  Just below these are the five internal hard drive bays that run perpendicular to the length of the case.  I love this setup, as it helps to keep cable clutter to a minimum.  This not only makes the case look nicer on the inside, it helps the front intake fan move the cool outside air over your fast spinning hard drives.  Each hard drive bay features its own removable drive tray that has a set of vibration dampening rubber washers.

Removable motherboard trays are becoming more and more common in cases, and Thermaltake has included one in their Shark cases.  With the removal of two thumb-screws, the tray easily slides forward and out of the case.  Two handles on the tray allow for easy maneuvering of the motherboard and connected tray.

A support beam that runs from the front to the back of the case provides extra strength to the Shark, and there is plenty of room above this bar for your own power supply.  The Shark is available with an optional Silent Purepower unit, but this review model did not feature this item.

 

$$ FIND THE BEST PRICES FOR Thermaltake’s Shark Case AT PRICEGRABBER $$

Installation


Test System

AMD Athlon64 3200+ (2.2Ghz, 512k L2 Cache)
Biostar K8VHA Pro
Corsair XMS 3200 RAM 1x512MB
Leadtek A400 TDH (6800nu)
Maxtor 120GB HDD
Western Digital 200GB HDD
Lite-On 4xDVD+-RW
Antec True 430 power supply
Thermaltake BigWater watercooling kit
NVIDIA 66.93 Drivers

I used to dread the swapping of hardware from one case to another, but with many of the cases I have reviewed lately, this task just keeps becoming more and more user-friendly.  Attaching the drive rails to my DVD drive was as simple as putting a few screws into the drive to hold the rails in place and sliding the drive into its own slot.  My hard drives were essentially the same, each having their own easily installable tray.

Mounting the motherboard to the removable tray was a little worrisome for me, as the motherboard mounts included with the Shark case do not allow much room between the edge of the tray and the motherboard.  After closely inspecting the motherboard and tray for any contact that might lead to a short, I was feeling safe enough to go ahead and place the board into the case.  Once in the case, the motherboard and tray slid right into place, and were easily secured to the chassis using the thumb screws.

Utilizing the rear of the Shark case, I removed the included blue LED fan, and replaced it with the radiator and fan combination from Thermaltake’s BigWater kit.  This pair mounted up perfectly and looks great inside the case.  I chose to mount the pump from the BigWater kit at the bottom front of the Shark, inside the hard drive area.  I removed all of the unused drive trays to make room for the pump.  I like this placement more than Thermaltake’s recommended spot for the pump.  There is a mounting area reserved just for this pump at the rear of the case next to the expansion slots, but in my opinion this spot makes the inside of the case appear crowded.  Utilizing the BigWater’s Velcro, I attached the pump to the case floor and routed my hoses accordingly.

My power supply mounted right up with Thermaltake’s mounting holes and completed the installation of my hardware in the Shark.

$$ FIND THE BEST PRICES FOR Thermaltake’s Shark Case AT PRICEGRABBER $$

Testing


With all my components safely inside the Shark’s belly, it was time to power up this aquatic beast.  The first thing I noticed once the machine was on was the very loud 120mm front intake fan.  Monitoring the fan speed with Winbond’s Hardware Doctor, I was able to see it was spinning at its full speed of 2000rpm.  To quiet the fan down, I closed the front panel, but this only helped noise a tiny bit and slowed the fan down about 300rpm.  Running this fan at full speed got very loud and annoying very fast, so I decided to hook it up to my power supply’s dedicated fan connections to allow for a quieter operating fan.  Once this was done, the fan now spins at around 900rpm and is very quiet.  Problem solved.

The front I/O connectors are one feature that a modern case cannot do without.  I utilize my USB storage so much that I do not think I could function properly without these connections.  Swapping between my headphones and speakers is very simple now as well, since I have front mounted microphone and headphone jacks.

Locking the front panel in place is a nice feature, especially when transporting your case.  I did not have to worry about the door flying open and getting scratched when I attended my monthly LAN party.  The side panel lock no longer functions when the Thermaltake BigWater kit’s radiator is installed inside the case.  The locking latch hits the radiator shroud before being able to lock into place, therefore making the side lock unusable.  This is not a major issue, as there are still the two thumb screws at the back of the panel, as well as the panel handle.

With a side panel that acts like a giant passive intake, there is no worrying about getting enough fresh air into the case.  The one downfall to the Shark’s cooling is the front intake fan.  Putting the loud fan issue aside, the problem that remains is the lack of air getting to this front fan when the front panel is closed.  When closed, there are no outside intakes to feed the fan, and this really hampers the cooling of any harddrives that would normally be kept cool by this fan.  Opening the front panel allows for much better air flow, but I think Thermaltake could have spent a little more time researching this front fan’s intake.

Conclusion


Pros

  • Looks Awesome
  • Nice passive cooling solution
  • Lightweight
  • Tool-less design

Cons

  • Lacks good air flow for front fan
  • Motherboard mounting needs more clearance

Thermaltake’s Shark case is quite the creature to behold.  Its great looks that feature smooth curves and straight fins put the case into a class of its own.  User-friendly features such as front mount I/O ports, tool-less drive bays, and a removable motherboard tray are all little things that add to the convenience of this case.

I really like the way the Shark sheds a whole new light on the way cases can look, as well as how they can be cooled.  Who would have ever thought that your case window could also function as a passive cooling device?

All of these features have led me to give the Thermaltake Shark a 9 out of 10

 

$$ FIND THE BEST PRICES FOR Thermaltake’s Shark Case AT PRICEGRABBER $$

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