Over the years, Thermaltake has made a habit of taking existing case products and re-working them. Sometimes they make them bigger, sometimes smaller, and sometimes they simply make them better. Past examples would be the beastly Level 10 or the Soprano series. The Level 10 was made smaller and called the Level 10 GTS, and the Soprano series has metamorphasized into the New Soprano. Suffice to say, Thermaltake rarely sits still and constantly strives to bring new and innovative products to market. Today’s review of the Armor Revo Gene is yet another example of an existing series being re-worked. The Gene version of the Armor Revo is a bit smaller than the original and includes a few enhancements. So, how did Thermaltake do this time around? Let’s find out, shall we?
Specifications and Features
The specifications give us a glimpse at what we’ll explore in more detail as the review progresses. We have a window, lots of cooling, and an all black motif. The below specifications are provided by Thermaltake’s website.
|Thermaltake Armor Revo Gene Specifications|
|Case Type||Mid Tower|
|Dimension (H x W x D)||510 x 252 x 550 mm (20 x 9.9 x 21.6 inch)|
|Net Weight||7.8 kg/17.2 lb|
|Side Panel||Transparent Window|
|Color||Exterior & Interior : Black|
|Cooling System||Front (intake) :
200 x 200 x 20 mm Blue LED fan x 1 (600rpm, 13dBA)
Rear (exhaust) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm Turbo fan (1000rpm,16dBA)
Top (exhaust) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm fan x 1 (600rpm, 13dBA)
Side (intake) : (optional)
200 x 200 x 30 mm fan or 140 x 140 x 25 mm fan x 1
Bottom (Intake) : (optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm fan
|Drive Bays||- Accessible: 4 x 5.25’’, 1 x 3.5’’
- Hidden: 5 x 3.5’’ or 2.5’’
- HDD Docking: 1 x 3.5’’ or 2.5’’
|Motherboards||9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), 12” x 9.6” (ATX)|
|I/O Ports||USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1|
|PSU||Standard PS2 PSU|
|LCS Upgradable||Supports 1/2”、3/8”、1/4” water tube|
|Other||CPU cooler height limitation: 175mm
VGA length limitation: 315mm
The feature list puts an emphasis on the cooling options the Armor Revo Gene has to offer. Additional features include the HDD docking station, winged shaped aluminum front bezel, headset holder, and heightened foot stands to name a few. Here is the feature list, once again pilfered from the Thermaltake web site.
*Above Configuration Assumes Usage of CPU Air Cooler*
*Above Configuration Assumes AIO LCS With Radiator at Rear Exhaust*
Packaging and First Look
The box front and back are identical and both have a picture of the Armor Revo Gene next to an armor suit of some kind. I couldn’t make out if anyone is actually inside of that armor suit. If there is, they are undoubtedly well protected and uncomfortably warm.
On the sides of the box, we have the typical multilingual list of major features and product branding.
With the box top opened, guess what we see? I know it comes as a shock, but there they are… two Styrofoam blocks… Amazing! Ok, lame jokes aside, the Styrofoam blocks serve their purpose well by holding the case secure in its cardboard environment. Completely unworthy of another lame joke is the very nice cloth bag the case is wrapped in – a nice change from the usual plastic bag we see.
After removing the cloth bag, we see that the window is protected by a plastic film to protect it from being scratched while in transit. The user manual and warranty documentation are housed in a plastic bag found sitting under one of the Styrofoam blocks.
We’ll begin the exterior tour by having a look at the left side of the Armor Revo Gene. Here we have a good sized “C-Shaped” window at the upper half and a large meshed area to accommodate an optional 200/140/120 mm fan at the lower half. There is a screen mesh filter behind the opening, although it will be cumbersome to get at if a fan is installed. In order to clean this filter, the fan will have to be removed along with the four push-pins that hold the filter in place. At the upper right side is the “Combat Headset Holder”, which provides a convenient place to store your headphones.
Other than the bulged out center section, the right side panel is void of any other details.
Rotating to the back of the Armor Revo Gene, we find a bottom mount PSU design and seven ventilated expansion slot covers at the lower half. The upper section has the included 120 mm exhaust fan, three rubber protected tubing holes, the opening for a motherboard’s I/O shield, and a cable lock for securing mouse and keyboard wires. Of note here is that the mounting screws for the expansion slots are positioned external of the case. This is a design change from the original Armor Revo and a welcomed one at that. The cover plate keeps things nice and tidy looking and provides an extra level of security.
The aluminum wing design, along with a front panel made almost completely of mesh, highlight the front of the Armor Revo Gene. The lower portion has an included 200 mm blue LED intake fan, four 5.25″ drive bays, and a single 3.5″ drive bay. The inclusion of a dedicated 3.5″ bay is another break from the original Armor Revo, which used a 5.25″ bay cover with a removable center to accomplish this.
The drive bay covers are very easy to remove by squeezing the two tabs inward and pulling straight off. Behind each cover you’ll find a foam filter that can be washed out when needed.
As a side note, the aluminum wings can be opened to be parallel with the case sides or closed to about a 45° angle. Other than aesthetics, they serve no function.
As we move to the top panel, we find quite a lot going on. The winged logo is actually the “power on” LED, which pulsates between dim and bright when the system is turned on. It’s not a very bright light to begin with, so the pulsating action isn’t what I would consider annoying.
At the very top, we have all the I/O connection points, which include the following:
- 3.5″ or 2.5″ HDD Docking Station
- Power Button
- Reset Button
- HDD LED Light
- Two Each USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Ports
- Headphone Jack
- MIC Jack
Behind the I/O area, we have a large mesh area that provides the room to house the included 200 mm fan, or if you prefer, two 140 mm or two 120 mm fans. The same cumbersome filter design we found on the right side panel is present here as well.
Concluding the exterior tour, we land at the bottom of the Armor Revo Gene. Although the feet are void of any protective rubber inserts, they are unique in how tall they are. The extra tall feet are a feature that has been carried over from the original Armor Revo design. The end result of the taller feet is improved airflow to the PSU and the optional 120 mm fan that can be installed here. There is a slide out filter to protect the PSU and optional fan area, and it’ll probably need cleaning often with the improved airflow the taller feet provide.
About the only two gripes I have with the exterior of the Armor Revo Gene are the cumbersome filter design on the top and left side panels and the lack of any rubber cushioning applied to the feet… I know, I’m picky!
Let’s get the panels off this thing and have a look inside!
Let’s start the interior tour with a look at the bottom area. Here we find a lot of ventilation for the PSU and where an optional 120 mm fan would get installed. Sadly, there are no rubber pads for the PSU to rest on.
Along the back we get an inside view of the PSU opening, the seven expansion slot covers, and the included 120 mm exhaust fan.
Under the top deck is an included 200 mm fan, which can be removed in favor of two 140 mm or 120 mm fans. There isn’t much room between the top deck and the edge of the motherboard. However, because of where the 120 mm fan holes are located, you could install a 120 mm radiator here. A 120 mm radiator and fan will overhang the motherboard a little, but it will clear. You will not be able to install a 240 mm radiator however, because the fan holes are spaced too far apart.
The four 5.25″ drive bays are outfitted with a tool-less installation design. I have become very fond of the way Thermaltake implements these tool-less latches. All you have to do is slide a drive in from the front, and the bracket will automatically raise out of the way. Once its correctly aligned, the latch snaps into place all by itself. You don’t even have to touch the brackets to install a drive. To remove a drive, all you have to do is press on the blue tab, and slide the drive out. Thermaltake uses these tool-less latches on a lot of their cases, and they may very well be the best design out there.
Just below the 5.25″ bays, we have the single 3.5″ bay, and just below that is a hidden 3.5″/2.5″ HDD tray. The hidden tray is intended to be slid out the front, but you’ll have to remove the 200 mm front fan to do that. However, I did find that if you squeeze the two tabs enough, you can slide it out towards the rear. It’s a bit awkward doing it this way, but it’s much quicker than removing the front fan.
There are a total of five 3.5″ drive trays. The hidden one we already spoke of and the four below. The sideways HDD trays slide out by squeezing the two tabs toward the center and then just sliding them out. The four mounting holes have rubber inserts to help dampen any HDD vibration. They also have the appropriate holes for installing a 2.5″ SSD.
Popping off the front panel reveals the 200 mm blue LED intake fan. You can also see what I meant about the fan blocking the hidden 3.5″ tray from sliding out the front. There are two things I really like about the front panel design. The first being the panel itself has no wiring attached to it. This allows you to completely free it from the chassis and easily give it a good cleaning – drive bay covers and all! Secondly, there is an easily removable filter for the intake fan.
Having a look at the motherboard tray, we find an extremely large CPU backplate access hole and a very promising cable management scheme. Motherboard standoffs are pre-installed for an ATX form factor motherboard. Each of the standoff locations are marked with the form factor they coincide with. On the right side of the tray, there are three cable pass through holes in a vertical alignment, all protected with rubber grommets. Along the bottom of the tray, there are two more cable management holes that are arranged horizontally. The hole above the PSU area does not have a rubber grommet and will probably be covered once a PSU is installed, but you may be able to fish a fan wire or two through it. The hole forward of the PSU does have a rubber grommet. As far as available space for video cards, Thermaltake tells us there is 315 mm available. The measurement I took confirms that and a couple millimeters more.
The view from the back of the case shows us how the wiring is routed to the top I/O connection points. One other thing worth noting here are the two additional cable management holes. The two holes are tucked under the top panel and will provide the opportunity to route the 8/4-pin AUX CPU power cable or anything else you might want to shove through them.
All the cable management holes in the world don’t do much good if there isn’t adequate space between the back of the motherboard tray and the right side panel. I’m here to tell you the Armor Revo Gene has a more than generous amount of space here. From the back of the motherboard tray to the frame of the case measures right at 3/4″, but the real tell tale measurement is with the side panel on. Because of the bulged out side panel design, we end up with a full inch of space. Impressive!
Let’s wrap up the interior tour with a quick look at the case wiring and a look at the accessories. The fan wiring is nicely sleeved from one end of the cable to the other. Each of the fan power connectors are the 3-pin variety. For the HDD docking station, we have the accompanying 4-pin Molex power connector and the SATA cable. The rest of the wiring is standard fare that you have seen time and time again.
For accessories, we have an ample amount of screws for mounting drives, fans, and the motherboard. There are also five ball and socket type wire ties and a speaker.
Now that we’ve taken our customary tours of the Armor Revo Gene, let’s toss a system in it and see what we can come up with!
Putting It All together
- ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Motherboard
- AMD A10-5800K CPU (Overclocker Approved)
- Western Digital 500 GB SATA HDD
- OCZ Vertex 4 SSD (Overclockers Approved)
- 2×4 GB Kingston HyperX Memory
- Thermaltake Smart-M 750 Watt PSU (Overclockers Approved)
- Sapphire HD 7770 Video Card (Overclockers Approved)
- HP CD/DVD SATA Rom Drive
- EVGA Super Clock CPU Cooler
The Armor Revo Gene was about as easy to work with as they come. Installing a system was quick and painless. The cable management this case offers ranks right up there with the best I have ever seen. Once I had everything installed, I had quite a mess of wires behind the motherboard tray. The mess I managed to create back there was no match for the space between the back of the motherboard tray and the right side panel. In fact, I would venture to say that most of the wires back there didn’t even touch the side panel as I re-installed it.
Before I show the pictures of the completed build, I thought I’d show you how HDDs look when installed in the trays and the top panel docking station
Here are a couple of pictures showing the mess behind the motherboard tray and the right side panel re-installed.
The completed build came out looking very nice, which was super easy to accomplish with all the cable management options. Here are the pictures of the completed build, enjoy!
And, a few blue ambiance pictures to finish things off!
In the three years I’ve been reviewing Thermaltake cases, I’ve seen an impressive progression in their designs and innovation. In my opinion, Thermaltake has taken another step forward with the Armor Revo Gene. Currently, this case sells for $129.99 at Newegg, and that my friends is a bargain for a case like this.
The Armor Revo Gene impressed me with how easy a system can be installed in it. There is ample room for building just about anything you want. You can even mount all-in-one water cooling systems that use a 120 mm radiator under the top deck or at the rear exhaust fan location. However, there isn’t much hope of installing dual fan radiators under the top deck because of the fan spacing. In Thermaltake’s defense, this case is not built to house large water cooling systems, nor is it advertised as such. For added value, there is a top deck HDD docking station, three included fans, fantastic tool-less 5.25″ drive installation, and a boat load of cable management options.
There are a couple of things that could stand improvement in my opinion. First are the filters applied to the top and left side panels. It’s not that the filters are difficult to remove and clean, it’s more to do with everything you have to take apart to get to them. Secondly, I’d really like to see some kind of rubber applied to the bottom of the feet and where the PSU rests. Other than that, it’s tough to find anything else to complain about.
If the price and features match what you may be looking for, then the Armor Revo Gene is definitely worth taking a good look at. I have no problem recommending this case, and therefore, I approve!
-Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)