The Chaser line of cases from Thermaltake has been one of their most popular chassis options over the past couple years. All previous cases Thermaltake has offered under the Chaser name have been classified as mid-tower in size; but today, we get to see the Chaser in its first attempt at a full-tower design – the Chaser A71. I’ve had the opportunity in the past to work with a couple of the earlier Chaser offerings and came away impressed with both the design and price. So, let’s have a look at this full-tower Chaser A71 and see if it continues to impress!
Specifications and Features
Here is the specifications table shamelessly pilfered from the Thermaltake website. Right off the bat we can see there are three low RPM 200 mm fans included, along with a 120 mm Turbo Fan. It appears you can get a 240 mm radiator at the top deck area too, we’ll be checking that out for sure!
|Thermaltake Chaser A71 Specifications|
|Case Type||Full Tower|
|Dimension (H x W x D)||537 x 221 x 565mm (21.1 x 8.7 x 22.2 inch)|
|Net Weight||10 kg/22.1 lb|
|Side Panel||Transparent Window|
|Color||Exterior & Interior : Black|
|Cooling System||Front (intake) :|
200 x 200 x 30 mm fan (600rpm, 13dBA)
Rear (exhaust) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm Turbo fan (1000rpm,16dBA)
Top (exhaust) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm Blue LED fan (600rpm, 13dBA)
200 x 200 x 20 mm Blue LED fan (600rpm, 13dBA)
Bottom (intake) : (Optional)
120 x 120 x 25 mm or 140 x 140 x 25 mm
|Drive Bays||– Accessible : 3 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), 12” x 13” (Extend ATX)|
|I/O Ports||USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1|
|PSU||Standard PS2 PSU (Optional)|
|LCS Upgradable||Supports 1/2”、3/8”、1/4” water tube|
|Radiator||Top: 1 x 120mm or 2 x 120mm|
Rear: 1 x 120mm
|Other||CPU cooler height limitation: 160mm|
VGA length limitation: 344 mm
Having a quick look at the high level features the Chaser A71 offers, we’ll begin with a marketing snippet from Thermaltake. All images and descriptions provided by Thermaltake.
Thermaltake Chaser A71 Full Tower Chassis
“This new full tower chassis from the Chaser hardcore gaming series, designed for gamers to gear with the latest gaming component, offering not only style and personality but an exceptional combination of cooling, performance, versatility and adaptability to any configuration for gaming purists to ensure true enjoyment while in or out of the game.”
The appearance of the Chaser A71 reminds me of the Chaser MK-I with the black and blue accents, only much bigger!
“The black metal meshed highlighted with blue fluorescence stripes on the front panel combined with a windowed side panel, it hard not to get attention on!”
Thermaltake has seen fit to incorporate their Easy Hot-Swap bay in almost all of their newer cases, and that holds true with the Chaser A71.
“Top-mounted 2.5” or 3.5”HDD Docking Station enables blazing fast file transfer and effortless hot-swap drive replacement.”
As I mentioned before, there are four fans included with the Chaser A71. The intake fans are outfitted with filters to help keep the inside of your case dust free.
“Preinstalled one 120mm rear fan; three large 200mm fans located at front, top-mounted and side including blue LED to optimize system cooling solution for extreme airflow. In order to keep the interior dust free, all intake ventilation holes come with dust protection including a removable dust filter at the bottom of the chassis.”
A tool-less design for 5.25″ drives makes installation a snap to accomplish, we’ll be checking this out later in the review.
Innovative tool-less design
“Innovative 5.25” & 3.5” tool-free drive bay design minimized the troubles of installing ODD, HDD and SSD devices for more expandabilities.”
Lots of holes are available for easy CPU cooler access, cable management, and external water cooling.
“Two retained holes with rubber grommet to support LCS, five retained holes for advanced cable management ,one large CPU cut-out to ease on CPU cooler installation.”
Thermaltake touts the ability to build a high-end system in the Chaser A71 due to it’s water cooling support, acceptance of long video cards, and the included fans.
High-end Complete System on the go
“Enables user to simply build up a complete high-end water cooling solution with 240mm radiator liquid cooling system and extra long graphic card supported to protect user’s hardware and increase CPU’s overclocking potential, most importantly delivers outstanding cooling efficiency in the entire case.”
If you have read any of my previous case reviews, then you know I’m a stickler for good cable management opportunities. At first glance, it appears this case should be well suited for a tidy finished product.
Stress-free Cable Management
“Wide cable routing gap for easy cable management and hiding cables behind motherboard tray, to ensure smoothness for build and tinker (upgrade), reduce wiring tangled, as well as better airflow and dust management.”
Packaging/Accessories and First Look
Being a full tower case, the box is a rather large affair. I like that Thermaltake keeps the marketing garb to a minimum in favor of a nice picture of the case. The front and back of the box are identical, and the two sides list the specifications and high level features. The top of the box simply has the name and model number printed on it.
Inside, we find the Chaser A71 well protected with the customary Styrofoam blocks and plastic wrapping. An extra layer of protection has been applied to the side window in the form of a plastic film. Stuffed into one of the 3.5″ drive trays is the bag of accessories, which includes the following:
- User Manual
- Warranty Pamphlet
- 5.25″ to 3.5″ Drive Bay Adapter
- 8-Pin to 8-Pin and 4-Pin Adapter/Extension Cable
- Non-Interference Fan Module For Rear Mount AIO LCS
- 2X 3-Pin Fan to 4-Pin Molex Adpapter
- 8X Cable Ties
- Bag of Mounting Screws/Hardware
The Chaser A71 has a decent size window on the left side and a large 200 mm blue LED intake fan. While I’ve never been too keen on having a fan built into a windowed side panel, it does have advantages for keeping things like a video card well-cooled. The right side of the Chaser A71 is void of any distinguishable features, but it does have a large, bulged-out area to add additional cable management space behind the motherboard tray.
We see a total of nine 5.25″ drive bay covers on the front of the Chaser A71. The top three can be used for 5.25″ devices, and the fourth can be used to install a 3.5″ drive by using the special drive bay cover in the accessory pack. The bottom five drive bay covers provide filtration for the 200 mm intake fan. All nine of the drive bay covers have foam filters attached to the back side.
At the back of the Chaser A71, we see a bottom mount PSU opening and eight expansion slots at the lower area. Above that is a 120 mm exhaust fan and the place where the motherboards I/O shield gets installed. The top right corner has a keyboard and mouse cable lock, which is useful in keeping the cables from inadvertently being tugged on.
The top panel is home to all the I/O options the case offers. There are two each USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports and the headphone and mic jacks for connectivity. The power button illuminates when the system is turned on, and the HDD activity LED and reset button are just to the right. Just behind the top panel I/O area is the Easy Hot-Swap bay, which supports both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives. Behind the Easy Hot-Swap bay, you’ll find a storage pocket and a large meshed area for the top exhaust fan.
Concluding the exterior tour, we come to the bottom of the Chaser A71. The four elongated feet have rubber pads at the base and provide a slightly elevated height than normally seen on a chassis. There is a slide-out filter that covers both the PSU and optional 120/140 mm fan opening.
Now that you have an idea of the aesthetics and exterior features of the Chaser A71, let’s get the side panels off and have a look inside!
With the left side panel removed, we can get a better look at the 200 mm blue LED fan attached to the inside of it. The fan runs at 600 RPM and a nearly inaudible 13 dBA, just as the other two included 200 mm fans do. All of the included fans have a nicely braided power lead, as shown in the second picture below. The last picture below gives you an overall inside view of the Chaser A71.
Along the bottom area is where you’ll find the the PSU mounting area and the option to install an additional 120/140 mm fan, if needed. The entire area is protected by the slide-out filter we discussed earlier. Along the back side, we come to the eight expansion slot covers and the included 120 mm exhaust fan. The expansion slot covers are secured using thumb screws and allow for additional air flow because of their open design. The fan at this location runs at 1000 RPM and a respectable 16 dBA.
Under the top deck, we find another 200 mm blue LED fan with the option to replace it with two 120/140 mm fans, if desired. There is an additional set of offset holes to mount either a 120 mm or 240 mm radiator that will allow them to sit farther above the motherboard. If you use these additional holes for installing a 240 mm radiator and fans, you’ll have to mount both the fans and radiator completely under the top deck or the top panel will not go back on. If you use only the rearmost offset holes to install a 120 mm radiator, you could theoretically mount the fan above the top deck and the radiator below it; and the top panel will go back on. We’ll see how all this works out when I throw a system in the case. I measured about 1-1/4″ from under the top deck to the edge of the motherboard (roughly 32 mm), but hopefully the offset mounting will allow enough clearance for a 240 mm radiator with fans. We’ll find out.
Moving around to the 5.25″ drive bay area, we can see the option to install up to three 5.25″ drives with the fourth bay having a pre-installed 5.25″ to 3.5″ adapter built into it. I think the option to install a 3.5″ drive and include the special drive bay cover for it is an excellent option to include. Many people still like to use 3.5″ card readers in this location, and I’m one of those people! The latches used to secure a 5.25″ drive work very well, you simply slide a drive in until you hear and feel it click into place. To remove a drive, you press the blue release tab and slide your drive forward and out.
The 3.5″ HDD cage has support for up to five drives, both 2.5″ and 3.5″. The slide-out plastic trays have rubber on the sides to help with 3.5″ hard drive vibration. There are holes drilled on the bottom of the tray to easily mount SSDs. The HDD cage itself is not removable or able to be rotated.
Moving to the motherboard tray area, we find several items of interest. First, we see a huge cutout for accessing a CPU cooler’s retention bits – a real time saver when swapping out a CPU cooler! There are a host of pass through holes built into the motherboard tray. Along the right side, there are three cable management holes with rubber grommets and three smaller ones without grommets. Along the bottom are two more cable pass through holes, again with rubber grommets. At the very top left corner is another hole to route the 8-pin CPU AUX power lead(s).
The Chaser A71 has plenty of room for large video cards up to 13.5 inches (344 mm) long. The measurement I took confirms the distance that’s available.
By removing the top and front panels, the other two 240 mm fans included in the Chaser A71 are revealed. Again, both of these fans operate at 600 RPM at a very quiet 13 dBA. You can see by the pictures below that the top fan has a blue LED, but the front intake does not.
Behind the motherboard tray, we can see the cabling included with this case and where you’ll be hiding most of cables when putting a system together. There are plenty of tie down loops for securing the cables once routed behind the motherboard tray. I measured right at 3/4″ of space between the motherboard tray and the right side panel, which should be adequate for most systems. As far as the included cables go, you have the typical assortment found on any modern case with the addition of the power and data cables for the Easy Hot-Swap bay.
Let’s see how well everything we’ve learned about the Chaser A71 comes together as we move on to assembling a system in it!
Putting It All Together
Here is the list of components used for the build:
- ASUS F2A85V-Pro Motherboard
- AMD A10 6800K APU
- G.Skill 2X4 Gb RipjawsZ DDR3-1866 MHz Memory
- HIS HD 7950 IceQ X2 Boost Clock Video Card
- Swiftech H220 LCS AIO Water Cooler
- Thermaltake Smart M750W Power Supply
- Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500 Gb HDD
- Lite-On DH-16A3L DVD Burner
- Thermaltake Chaser A71 Full Tower Chassis
Let me start this section by saying the ease of which a system can be installed in the Chaser A71 is to be commended. Obviously, being a full tower case there is more than enough room for the system I put together and then some. The case supports up to EATX form factor motherboards, so there is plenty of room to add many more components than I did.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, installing drives to the Chaser A71 is a snap. I grabbed an ODD and 3.5″ HDD and had them both installed in just a few moments. The most time consuming part is securing the HDD in a tray with four screws, but it’s a simple task to complete.
If you plan on using a 240 mm radiator under the top deck, you’ll want to install the motherboard beforehand. The holes provided for mounting a 240 mm radiator are well positioned to keep the radiator far enough away from the motherboard and avoid clearance problems. A thinner radiator with 25 mm thick fans would be the best choice here to avoid possible memory clearance issues. I did notice one issue with the radiator mounting holes while installing the Swiftech H220. If you look at the second picture below where the two fans meet in the middle, you’ll notice a mounting location is missing. This leaves you with only seven available places for mounting screws when having all eight would be more desirable. The reason for this design is to accommodate the 200 mm fan mounting holes. Had they made that slot longer to accept two radiator mounting screws, it would have interfered with the 200 mm fan hole that sits just next to it. So, given the design implemented here, the choice was to either have the 200 mm fan mount with three screws or a 240 mm radiator mount with seven. I doubt there will be any problems using seven mounting screws as it’s still very well secured.
From this point on, it’s just a matter of installing the rest of your components and tidying things up when done. The available cable routing holes and the space between the motherboard tray and right side panel made the job very easy to accomplish. Making use of the wire tie loops behind the motherboard tray, I secured the wires and was easily able to get the right side panel back on.
With everything installed, I ended up with a pretty nice looking water cooled system in the end. Something worth mentioning here is the amount of space available between the PSU and HDD cage. You could easily set a pump and reservoir in this location if your intent is to install a custom water cooling setup. Here are some pictures for you to peruse at your leisure.
Because I removed the top 200 mm blue LED fan in favor of the Swiftech H220, we don’t get the full effect possible with the lighting. But, even with just the side blue LED fan, we still have a pretty nice lighting effect.
The Chaser A71 is a very versatile chassis that offers air and water cooling enthusiasts a nice platform to explore their craft. The stock cooling features a good amount of airflow through the chassis, which goes a long way towards keeping everything inside nice and cool. Top that off with the available water cooling options and you have a case that will appeal to a large audience.
Everyone’s taste is a little different than the next guy’s, but to me, the case is aesthetically pleasing and not overdone. I think it blends the right amount of clean lines and blue accents that will appeal to a lot of users.
Good filtration, the Easy Hot-Swap bay, awesome cable management potential, and an easily accessible I/O area just add to the value of this case. Speaking of value, the Chaser A71 is currently priced at $139.99 at Newegg, which is a very attractive price for a case with this feature set all built into a full tower design.
If a full tower case purchase is on your radar, but the $200 ~ $400 price tag many of them have is not, then the Chaser A71 is definitely worth taking a good look at. Loaded with features and an affordable price makes it easy to recommend the Chaser A71 full tower case, especially if it has the features you’re looking for.