Thermaltake has long been known for carrying a wide variety of products. Items such as power supplies, CPU coolers (both AIO and Air), many accessories, and also cases to name a few. This review covers one of their new cases, the Core X9. The case is shaped like a cube, part of a new(ish) trend in enthusiast computing because of the room and flexibility they tend to offer over your typical towers and mid-towers. And this case is no joke as far as size goes. E-ATX board? No problem! Multiple large radiators for custom water? Bring it on! Air cooling with a dozen fans? Done! Is that not enough? Why not get two and stack them? It can do that too. But there is more to a case than simply its size. Let’s take a look and see what else this case has to offer!
Specifications and Features
Below is a list of specifications sourced from the Thermaltake website product page. As I said, the Core X9 is a giant cube measuring 19.8″ x 15″ x 25.2″ deep and weighing in at 37.5 lbs empty. While the height and width aren’t really jaw dropping (similar to my Corsair Air 540), the 25.2″ depth is, and is where this case gets all the room. With this size you can imagine a ton of places for fans and radiators, and you would be spot on. More on that later.
The case comes with a 200 mm 800 RPM fan (13 dBA) in the front lower area, and a 120 mm 1000 RPM (16 dBA). But, that is it. The rest is up to you. How many fans can you get in one of these? At least 20 120 mm fans at once if my math is correct (remember, they are stackable!). Check out the fan support section below for details on all the fan options. You can have 140 mm and even 200 mm fans nearly all over the place.
If you have room for a bunch of fans, then you know there is plenty of room for radiators as well, and the case certainly doesn’t disappoint there. The Core X9 can support up to 2040 mm (17 x 120 mm) worth of radiator in various locations. Like the fans, it can also hold a slew of 140 mm sized radiators too! After the specifications table, I included a couple of thumbnails of possible configurations as it is a lot easier to see it then to explain it.
As far as drive bays, there are a total of three 5.25″ on the front of the case for your optical/card reader/fan controller pleasure. Inside you have a total of six 3.5″/2.5″ trays for HDDs in two modular cages, as well as a seventh cage that supports the same 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives. The seventh cage resides underneath the removable motherboard tray. Speaking of motherboard tray, it will support anything from ITX up to E-ATX with eight expansions slots available for your PCI/PCIe cards.
|Thermaltake Core X9 Specficiations|
|Case Type||E-ATX Cube Case|
502 x 380 x 640 mm
(19.8 x 15 x 25.2 inches)
|Net Weight||37.5 lbs / 17Kg|
|Side Panel||Transparent Window|
|Color||Exterior and Interior: Black|
|Material||SPCC (Commercial quality cold rolled steel)|
|Cooling System||Front (intake) :
200 x 200 x 30 mm fan (800rpm, 13dBA)
Rear (exhaust) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm Turbo fan (1000rpm, 16dBA)
3 x 5.25’’
6 x 3.5’’ or 2.5’’ (HDD Cage)
1 x 3.5’’, 2 x 2.5’’ (M/B Tray)
|Motherboards||6.7” x 6.7” (Mini ITX), 9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), 12” x 9.6” (ATX), 12” x 13” (Extended ATX)|
|I/O Ports||USB 3.0 x 4, HD Audio x 1|
|PSU||Standard PS2 PSU (optional)|
|LCS Upgradable||Supports 1/2”、3/8”、1/4” water tube|
3 x 120mm
2 x 140mm
2 x 200mm
8 x 120mm
6 x 140mm
2 x 200mm
2 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm
3 x 120mm
Left / Right Side:
4 x 120mm
3 x 140mm
1 x 120mm or 1 x 240mm or 1 x 360mm
1 x 140mm or 1 x 280mm
2 x 120mm or 2 x 240mm or 2 x 360mm or 2 x 480mm
2 x 140mm or 2 x 280mm or 2 x 420mm
1 x 120mm or or 1 x 140mm
Left / Right Side:
1 x 120mm or 1 x 240mm or 1 x 360mm or 1 x 480mm
1 x 140mm or 1 x 280mm or 1 x 420mm
1 x 120mm or 1 x 240mm or 1 x 360mm or 1 x 480mm
1 x 140mm or 1 x 280mm or 1 x 420mm
|Clearances||U cooler height limitation: 250mm
VGA length limitation:
400mm(with ODD cage)
590mm(without ODD cage)
PSU length limitation:
220mm (With Bottom Fan)
Some features that Thermaltake would like to share (images from the Thermaltake website) are listed below. Out of the gate, we see that this case is stackable. So, if for some odd reason the more than ample space inside the case isn’t enough, or you just want to separate things out, or even make two completely different systems, you can remove the feet on the top unit, remove the top of the bottom case, and they fit securely on top of each other. There is a panel on the bottom of the case that is removable so you have room internally to pass through data cables or watercooling tubes. So, it can be essentially two monolithic cases when stacked.
Clearly, expansion is what they had in mind here for the Core X9 with its large interior space. Out of the box, it will hold a VGA of up to 590 mm in length when removing the 5.25″ bays, or 400 mm (~15.75″) with them in place. CPU heatsinks up to 250 mm, and even high wattage PSU’s up to 200 mm are supported while still having room for radiators just about all over the place.
As far as ventilation goes, its a pretty open case with ample locations for air to get in and out. There are included mounts for fans on the top (120-200 mm), rear (120/140 mm), and front (120-200 mm). There are other mounting points that hide under the drive bays (remove the drive cages to access them and mount on the lower part of the case). If what comes with it is not enough, you can order more from the accessories portion of the website for the Core X9. Plenty of areas for fans and rads. Plenty.
We have seen the Core X9 is divided into chambers. The bottom holds the PSU and drives, while the top holds the motherboard. It is a fully modular setup in that you are able to move/remove drive cages, 5.25″ bays, and move around the fan mounts on the bottom to suit your needs. Be it a ton of water cooling parts or even loads of air blowing through the huge interior volume. It is also Thermaltake LCS (Liquid Cooling Supported) certified, which essentially means it supports enthusiast level/extreme liquid cooling setups.
One of the coolest things I think the case has is the ability to swap around the panels, but specifically the I/O panel can go on either side. There may be cases that can do that, but this is the first I have run into it and wish that ability would show up on others. I like that flexibility so I do not have to switch sides on my setup or be limited in case choice.
Stackable for Enthusiasts
With its endless stacking design, the Core X9 is in a class above the rest. Virtually limitless utility is possible; it offers an expandable system allowing enthusiasts to incorporate externally-modular upgrades. Stacked together, the chassis opens up space to expand the liquid cooling system, the storage solutions, or even create dual systems, thereby enabling a dedicated top/bottom set-up for pure cooling. When stacked, the maximum radiator length supported is 600mm on the front side.
Designed for high-end gaming system compatibility, the Core X9’s modular drive racks allow gamers to easily install up to six data storage devices, a dual expansion slot VGA of up to 590mm in length, and a tower CPU cooler as high as 250mm. Even with a high-wattage PSU stretching to 200mm in length, it still leaves plenty of space for cable management. Moreover, two 480mm radiators can be installed on top of the chassis, delivering superior cooling performance.
The Core X9’s unparalleled cooling ability offers fan brackets with various mounting points to support any type of gaming system that can be accommodated, including DIY/AIO liquid-cooling systems and air-cooling units. A large 200mm fan is pre-installed on the front side and a rear 120mm fan reassures and guarantees the flow of aeration. The fan brackets can either be adjusted for 120mm, 140mm, or 200mm fans on the top panel, while there is room for 120mm and 140mm fans on the side panel.
Optimized for space management, the Core X9 is divided into two main chambers: the upper chamber is made for cooling performance and better efficiency, while the lower one is made for PSU and drive bays. Thanks to the removable 2.5”/3.5” drive device racks, there is plenty of flexibility to gain the maximum interior space when needed for advanced cooling performance or liquid systems build.
Fully Modular Design
A “3 +9” drive bay concept design for storage devices makes setting up the best storage solution on the market super easy and flexible. In addition, a customizable 5.25” & 3.5” drive bay feature enables users to freely interchange the 3.5” hard-drive cages to suit their particular needs.
Accessories can be found HERE.
Interchangeable Window and I/O Panel
Users can customize the chassis for the best viewing presentation with an interchangeable window and I/O panel design. Side I/O ports include four USB 3.0.
|Tt LCS Certified is a Thermaltake exclusive certification applied to only products that pass the design and hardcore enthusiasts standards that a true LCS chassis should be held to. The Tt LCS certification was created so that we at Thermaltake can designate to all power users which chassis have been tested to be best compatible with extreme liquid cooling configurations to ensure you get the best performance from the best features and fitment.|
One thing I wish I would have done when taking these pictures is to put something in there to show scale. The huge box arrived when I was in training for my ‘day job’ and it took my wife and son to bring the box into the garage! The front of the box shows the picture of the case from the outside, its LCS certification, and the Core X9 name and theme… “Your Build, Our Core.” One of the sides show a similar angle of the case along with a specifications list. The next side shows the modularity and flexibility of the case with all the panels ‘pulled apart.’ When opening up the box, the cube case sits snug inside and protected by form fitting Styrofoam, as is the norm.
Last up, the included accessories. A slew of screws and zipties, system speaker, and and ODD bezel that can mount in the 5.25″ bay to attach fans/radiator to. The necessities are here.
Taking a look at the front of the steel and plastic cube case, you can see the large space in the front to bring ambient air inside with a couple of fans or one large 200 mm fan on the bottom. We can also spy the three 5.25″ bays for your optical drive, fan controller, or multi-card reader… anything that can fit in the 5.25″ bays.
The back is the first place that starts to show the flexibility of this case. Starting off at the bottom, we can see there are two locations for power supplies, one on each side. So depending on which side you want your window on, you can put the PSU on the opposite side to hide some of the cables that need to snake through the case. Also seen here are the eight expansion slots, some oval grommets for anything you have that may need routed outside of the case, and the rear exhaust that can hold 120 mm or 140 mm fan (120 mm pictured, but you will see I used 140 mm later) .
I chose to leave the windowed panel and side I/O as it arrived, which is on the left side. If you prefer your PC to be on your left, flip it all around… ‘you can do it.!’ The opposite side panel is ventilated and also comes with magnetic dust covers that attach to the inside.
The top is also ventilated to let air in/out and comes with more dust filters. The way I set this up for the review, the top will be exhaust so the filters were removed. I stacked them up on the top of the side panel as I want airflow through the case as opposed to the radiators/fans up top just pulling it through there. The proper airflow setup kept the motherboard a couple of degrees cooler that way. The bottom of the case is also well ventilated and filtered. Towards the front of the case (bottom of the picture), you can take that panel off when stacking so you can pass through cables and water cooling tubing. The drawback with this setup is that it is missing a dust filter in that pretty large area.
Next up we will take a look at the inside of the case. First, I took off the front panel exposing the included 200 mm fan, the side I/O, and the three 5.25″ bays. You can also see the baffles used up top to attach fans and/or radiators. On the right, I flipped around the front panel to show the filter on the bottom and the easy ‘pop out’ drive bay covers. The front panel simply snaps right in, and you only need to pinch the posts to remove it. The last picture here shows the front from the inside looking out. Here you are able to see the options for mounting fans/rads up front as well as a the back of the 5.25″ bays. What may start to jump out at you from the last shot is the “how” of cable management in the case. There needs to be a ‘jump’ across open space to the motherboard tray or one of the horizontal struts, or extremely long cables to route around the outside. Not optimal, but doable. In the lower right is the first glimpse of the removable motherboard tray.
Moving around to the other side, we can see the drive cage setup more clearly. These cages hold three of the trays that can hold 2.5″/3.5″ drives or SSDs. Each cage is removable, just in case you need more space. Hiding below the drive cages are the fan/radiator mounting bezels. You need to take the drive cage out, then remove the fan/radiator mounting bezel. In this case, I mounted it on the right side (all my radiators were put up top) to show just one of the options with that included bezel. Remember, everything in here can be flipped around to suit your needs/orientation.
Next in the interior tour would be the motherboard tray. As the specifications noted, one can use ITX all the way up to E-ATX form factors, though admittedly ITX would look a bit funny in this large cube! There is ample space in the cut out area to mount any cooler. In order to access it, you will need to remove the drive tray that is attached, but that is easily done with a couple of thumb screws. We can also see there are three large holes with grommets for wire management down to the bottom chamber. The tray is easily removable with just two screws that hold it in place.
Last, I wanted to show a picture of the removable drive cage and the drive tray that is inside of it. It will hold a standard size HDD, or an SSD. You screw it down to the tray and slide the tray in the drive cage. Voila! Finally, a shot of the 5.25″ bay. They are held to the frame by four thumbscrews.
Putting it all Together
- ASRock X99 OC Formula
- AMD R9 295×2
- OCZ Vertex 460 256GB SSD
- Kingston Hyper X Predator 3000 Mhz CL15
- Western Digital Caviar Black (640GB) and Caviar Green (2TB)
- EVGA Supernova G2 750W
Next up is a slideshow of the build and the final completed product. In the end, this case was a dream to build in as far as space and flexibility goes. Build quality was solid with its steel construction, no doubt there. The concern I had with this case is the wire management. There really isn’t many channels or places to hide the wires, particularly if you remove a drive bay like I have (though most won’t likely need to). That large open space on the front and bottom really can’t hide wires as good as a case with two sections that have a physical partition. With that, its zip ties/Velcro and do the best you can. With the drive cages in place, it is a bit of an easier route.
While my wiring leaves something to be desired, particularly with the power and data cables from the PSU and drives, I was able to zip tie together the fan controller web of wires from the bottom tray where it resides to the top fan mount, and then route most power cables and temperature sensors there. If you really want to make this a clean build, I would get LONG cables for everything and run it along the exterior braces that separate the chambers and along the front panel to the 5.25″ bay.
And the 99% finished product. I say 99% because I have some obvious cleanup of the data wires and power cables once I place the other cage back in its location.
Thermaltake’s cube offerings, the Core X1 (ITX), Core x2 (mATX), and Core X9 (anything!) are pretty good designs for cube type cases. In the X9, the largest of their cube cases, the options are seemingly endless. If you cannot manage to fit something in one of these, they are stackable so let your imagination run wild on what you can put inside of this huge cube… or two!
As I mentioned earlier, the build quality of the steel and plastic case was very solid. No paint chipping with accidental drop of tools, and a true and sturdy framework will keep everything inside safe and sound. With all the fan and radiator options, cooling is certainly not an issue either. There are plenty of spaces/cages/trays for up to seven HDDs, which for most people is plenty. I chose to remove one cage as I only have a total of four drives that I installed in this build, and to show some of the other mounting options of the fan and radiator bezels. That type of configuration really opens up the floor to place anything you need down there, but at the same time also doesn’t hide any of the wires from the power supply or the HDD cage very well. One other cool feature I like is the ‘captive’ screws it has on the panels. I cannot tell you how often my cases end up with only one screw holding a panel on because the others manage to roll off my desk into the abyss of my finished basement I share with my two children!
As far as complaints go, I don’t have too many outside of the size. If you don’t need all that space – don’t buy it. The lack of easy wire management might be one other concern I have. Great wire management can be had here, but be prepared to buy extensions for anything that is going in the front bay, such as a fan controller. Because of the sheer size, there are some potentially long runs from fans in the case. If you want any chance to hide these, you will likely want to run them up top towards the 5.25″ bay and then down as I have. With longer cords there are better ways. Wire management, and subsequent creativity is not my cup of tea. With more patience and wire extensions, I am confident a much cleaner look could be had.
Overall, I enjoyed building in this case. Plenty of room, no sharp edges, good finish, enough locations for drives, and plenty of airflow round out some of the positives I found in my experience. The Core X9 is priced at $169.99 ($159.99 after MIR) at newegg.com right now. There really isn’t much to compare this huge cube case to honestly. Perhaps the Coolermaster HAF XB ($100) but it doesn’t have nearly the space and flexibility that the Core X9 does. To that end, I would pay that price for this case and not so much as blink an eye when doing so. If you are looking to go extreme air or water cooling and do not want to pay the exorbitant pricing for something like a custom case, look no further than the Thermaltake Core X9!
– Joe Shields (Earthdog)