Way back in 2006, Thermaltake offered its first chassis in the Soprano line; the simple, but stylish Soprano VX. Thermaltake followed that up a couple of years later with the Soprano RS 101, which offered a new front panel design and more modern features. Fast forward to 2013 and we have another remake of the Soprano, called simply, “New Soprano”. The one thing I have always said about Thermaltake is that they seem to constantly strive to bring new and innovative products to the market. Let’s find out how they did with the New Soprano!
Specifications and Features
Here are the specifications associated with the New Soprano, as provided by Thermaltake.
|New Soprano Specifications|
|Case Type||Mid Tower|
|Front Bezel Material||Combination of plastic and high air flow mesh|
|Side Panel||Solid w/ Sound dampening foam|
|Motherboard Support||9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX)|
12” x 9.6” (ATX)
|5.25″ Drive Bay||4|
|Ext. 3.5″ Drive Bay||1|
|Int. 3.5″ Drive Bay||5|
|Front I/O Ports||USB 3.0 x 2|
USB 2.0 x 2
MIC & Speaker (support AC’97 & HD Audio)
|Cooling System||Front (Intake) :|
200 x 200 x 30 mm Blue LED fan x 1 (600~800rpm,13~15dBA)
Rear (Exhaust) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm TurboFan, 1000rpm, 16dBA
Bottom (Intake) :
120 x 120 x 25 mm x 1 (optional)
|Liquid Cooling Capable||Yes|
|Liquid Cooling Embedded||No|
|Power Supply Supported||Standard ATX PSII Power Supply|
|Power Supply Included||No|
|Dimension (H*W*D)||460 x 220 x 510 mm|
18 x 8.7 x 20 inch
|Net Weight||8.3 kg|
|Security Lock||Kensington lock port|
|Application||Suitable for gaming, enthusiast, DIY and modding|
The main features of the New Soprano include the following, which we’ll explore in greater detail further along in the review.
- Aluminum front panel with elegant streamline design.
- Sound-dampening foam for extreme silence.
- USB 3.0 super speed support.
- Top-mounted HDD hot swap docking station.
- CableClear cable management design.
- Innovative 5.25″ & 3.5″ tool-free drive mounting design.
Black, with a splash of red, has become synonymous with Thermaltake packaging for a few years now. That same theme continues on here as well. Don’t fix it, if it ain’t broke!
The box front has an elegant image of the New Soprano along with the product motto of “Just Mute It”. The motto being an obvious reference to the sound dampening foam built into the case. The back of the box does an excellent job of providing the specifications and features, which are a repeat of what we listed above. The box sides don’t have a lot going on, other than another picture of the case and a multilingual features list.
Opening the box top reveals the standard Styrofoam shipping blocks we’ve all come to know and love. The case comes completely wrapped in plastic, and you’ll find the warranty information and users manual sitting on top.
While the included accessory pack isn’t what I’d call “loaded”, there are plenty of screws to get everything installed correctly. They also include a speaker and a set of five “ball and socket” type wire ties.
The Soprano series of cases are intended to be of a classic and sleek design. To that end, the New Soprano carries that tradition forward. Both of the side panels are void of any windows, fan openings, or anything else for that matter. If you like a case free of “bling”, then here it is.
Taking a look at the rear of the New Soprano, we see the standard bottom mount PSU opening. Right above that are the seven ventilated expansion slot covers. Moving upward, we find the first of two included fans. This Thermaltake TurboFan is 120X25 mm in size and capable of running at a maximum speed of 1000 RPM @ 16dBA. Here, you will also find the opening for a motherboard’s I/O shield, three rubber protected holes for a water cooling system tubes, and lastly, a safety/security bracket for keyboard and mouse cables.
The front of the New Soprano features a brushed aluminum swing door that opens from the left side and swings to the right. As you can see by the first picture below, the entire front of the case has an ever-so-slight “S” shape to it. The door is held shut by two magnets located at the top and bottom. With the door opened, we expose four 5.25″ drive bays, one 3.5″ drive bay, and a dust filter covering the second included fan. The front intake fan is 200X30 mm in size, operates between 600~800RPM @ 16 dBA max, and has a blue LED. That doesn’t sound like a lot of RPMs; but being 200 mm in size, it does move a substantial amount of air. I’m not quite sure why they decided to use a fan with a LED lighting effect when there is no window, or anywhere else to see it from. Not to mention, there is also a door covering it.
The drive bay covers couldn’t be any easier to remove. You simply squeeze the two tabs inward to release and remove it. Yes, it’s really that simple!
At the very top of the front panel is where you find two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. The headphone and mic jacks are also located here. I like the way the descriptive emblem for each of these ports is actually located at the very top of the case. If you keep your case on the floor, or at least below the height of your head, you’ll appreciate this.
Also located at the top of the case are the power and reset buttons, and just to the left of those is the HDD activity LED. The power button features a blue LED ring around it that will illuminate when the system is powered on. The HDD activity LED is red in color. Something Thermaltake has begun to incorporate in almost every case they offer now days is an external HDD hot swap bay; and they’ve done it again here. The hot swap bay has a double door design, which will support 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives. You will want to make sure your motherboard supports the SATA hot swap feature. If you find it does not, that simply means you will have to turn the system off before installing a drive. The rest of the top panel is just flat and has no additional fan openings. Clean and “bling” free!
Our final stop along the exterior tour is the bottom area. There is a long filter that covers the optional 120 mm fan opening and the PSU’s intake. One of these days someone will design a filter like this that can be removed from the front of the case. Precious few have easy access to the back of their case, but almost everyone has unobstructed access to the front. There may be a case out there somewhere with a bottom filter that you can slide out the front, but I think it should be mainstream in this day and age.
The four feet have an attractive silver ring and are outfitted with rubber inserts. These rubber inserts help to prevent vibration and do a good job protecting the surface the case sits on.
One last thing to cover at the bottom of the case is an opening just below the front intake fan. While this is a great idea for providing an additional air passage to the front fan, there is one problem. It’s behind the front intake filter. Talk about the perfect opportunity to introduce a filter that can be slid out the front, this would surely be it.
Before we explore the interior in more detail, here is a picture of what you see upon removing the left side panel for the first time. The last two pictures show the noise dampening material applied to both side panels. To keep as much cable management room behind the motherboard as possible, the material applied to the right side panel is much thinner than what is found on the left panel. Good decision!
The bottom area is made up almost entirely of ventilation holes; and as mentioned before, you can install an additional 120 mm fan here. The PSU and optional fan area are covered by the bottom slide out filter we talked about earlier.
Moving up along the back of the case, we get an inside view of the PSU opening, the seven ventilated PCI expansion slot covers, and the 120 mm exhaust fan. Worthy of noting is a removable bracket that fits over the expansion slot covers. Because of the design, the thumb screws for mounting add on cards actually sit slightly outside of the case. The bracket covers the thumb screws, so they are not as visible or as easily accessible.
Then, under the top panel we have…. well, nothing really.
Moving over to the 5.25″ drive bay area, we can see the tool-less latches Thermaltake uses to secure optical drives. The latches work by raising the rear part of the latch as you slide a drive in. Once the drive has reached the proper position, the rear of the latch lowers back down and engages the two rear most mounting holes of the optical drive. You have the option of installing additional screws from the opposite side of the drive bay, if desired.
Just below the 5.25″ bays is the external 3.5″ drive bay for such things as a card reader, fan controller, etc. Right below the 3.5″ external drive bay is a HDD tray that is turned 90° from the other four below it. This tray will accept both 3.5″ and 2.5″ HDDs/SSDs. You might notice the picture of this tray shows the front end of it raised a bit. That’s because it’s a bit flimsy without a hard drive in it. However, once a drive is installed, the hold down latches in front of it will grasp much better.
The 3.5″ HDD cage has four slide out trays that also accept either 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives. Traditional 3.5″ HDDs will be able to take advantage of the rubber anti-vibration washers on each side of the tray. The trays are very easy to work with and are easily removable by squeezing the outer tabs and pulling straight out. None of the hard drive cages can be removed or rotated; they’re riveted in place.
The motherboard tray has a very large hole for accessing a CPU cooler’s back plate. Given the size of the cut out, it should be plenty large for just about any cooler or motherboard configuration. All of the motherboard mounting holes are marked to coincide with the form factor being installed. The mounting legs themselves are pre-installed for an ATX form factor motherboard.
There are four rubber protected cable management holes. The three at the right side of the motherboard tray are in a vertical position, and the fourth is at the bottom right of the motherboard tray in a horizontal position. There is more than ample room to route cables through these holes, even for a system with many components.
As far as video card length is concerned, I measured right at 12 inches of available space.
The case wiring is pretty standard fare for a case in this class. The two included fans have 3-pin power connectors, and the wires are nicely sleeved. The front Panel USB 3.0 cable is intended for use with a motherboard with a USB 3.0 header. The SATA cable and power connector for the hot swap bay can be seen in the pictures below. I’d much prefer to see a SATA power connector rather than the Molex one used here. It can be frustrating when you have to run a single Molex cable from your PSU just for the hot swap bay. Especially, if you already have SATA power close by powering an optical drive. The rest of the case wiring is stuff you have seen many times over.
Forging ahead, we come to the front section of the case. Removing the front panel is quite easy and only entails grasping under the bottom and pulling it straight off. Once the front panel is off, we get an even better look at the massive 200 mm intake fan and an opportunity to look down the barrel of the drive bays.
Another little oddity I noticed while I had the front panel off is that you won’t be able to slide that 90° 3.5″ drive bay out the front. As you can see by the picture below, the 200 mm fan is in the way of sliding the tray out. However, I did find that if you pinch those two arms together far enough, you can slide it out towards the inside of the case. It’s a bit clumsy doing it this way; but if you don’t feel like removing the front fan in order to get the tray out, it’s an option.
The two pictures below give you a look at the circuitry employed by the front panel I/O and SATA hot swap bay.
We’ll conclude our internal tour of the New Soprano by having a look at the right side and behind the motherboard tray. One of the first things I noticed was the large amount of room allocated behind the 3.5″ HDD cage. There won’t be any problems with the HDD end of your SATA cables getting too close to the side panel, that’s for sure. The other thing you don’t see very often is a design like this for routing the CPU AUX power cable. There are actually two of these holes tucked under the top panel. I really like the way this design allows the cable to lay flat against the back of the motherboard tray. The reason this happens is because the bend in the cable happens after it enters the main body, and not before, like traditional holes that are cut into the face of the motherboard tray.
As far as the room available between the back of the motherboard tray and the side panel, I measure it to be right at 7/8″. Well done!
Putting It All Together
Other than perhaps using a water cooling system that is external of the case, the New Soprano isn’t very water cooling friendly. It’s not intended to be. Having said that, I’ll be installing an air cooled AMD FM2 build this time around.
- Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 ATX 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
- Sapphire HD 7770 Video Card (Overclockers Approved)
- Corsair CX430 Power Supply
- HP CD/DVD SATA Rom Drive
- EVGA Superclock CPU Cooler
The CD Rom drive was first to be installed, which took literally seconds to complete. Just slide it in through the front until you hear the definitive “click”….. Done! Next was the two HDDs listed above. I put the Western Digital 3.5″ HDD in the lower cage, but decided to use that 90° offset bay for the SSD. I also tossed a Sony card reader in the external 3.5” bay just for good measure.
After all the drives were installed, I went to work on wiring everything up. Once that was complete, I had quite a bundle of wires behind the motherboard tray. Luckily, there is abundant room back there and the side panel easily went back on…. whew!
This case is super easy to build a system in. It seemed like every time I needed to do some cable management, there was a perfectly located place to do it. As I mentioned earlier, the PCI expansion slot thumb screws are actually located outside of the case, which makes installing add on cards that much easier.
As a testament to the noise dampening material applied to the side panels, I can tell you they work rather well. With the system totally buttoned up, it made very little noise. I had all the fans being controlled by the motherboard; and while the system was idle, I could barely hear anything at all. When I loaded things up to make the fan speed increase, the system still maintained a very comfortable noise level. Nothing to complain about here.
Here are the pictures of the completed build, enjoy!
With both side panels on, and the case all buttoned up, there isn’t a whole lot to view as far as lighting goes. If you swing the door open and remove the left side panel, you can enjoy some lighting effects. Here’s a couple of pictures taken in the dark to illustrate. I searched my stash pile of fans for one that had a blue LED, but all I had was a red one. So, that’s what we’ll use!
Currently, the New Soprano is priced at $119.99 at Newegg. That’s actually right where I expected it to be. This case is intended to target those who like clean lines and classic looks, all the while operating at a low noise level. There are several great features Thermaltake built into this chassis, such as a brushed aluminum front door, the built-in hot swap bay, and a huge amount of cable management options. I think this case does a nice job of blending just the right amount of enthusiast features with a more classic and simplistic look and feel. The build quality is fantastic, and the ease of assembling a system in the New Soprano just adds to the appeal. In my opinion, the New Soprano is a nice step forward for the Soprano series of Thermaltake cases.
–Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)