Friday Rant - A tale of two PC cases

Friday Rant - A tale of two PC cases

Summary: Two different mid-tower PC cases from the same company, two very different experiences.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Two different mid-tower PC cases from the same company, two very different experiences.

Last year we built some new PCs here at the PC Doc HQ.  One system (mine) used a Thermaltake Armor Jr chassis while the other (which would belong to Kathie, my wife) was based on the Thermaltake Tsunami.  Overall, I've been pretty pleased with mine, but Kathie has had nothing but heartache and hassle with the Tsunami.  In fact, it's been a catalog of random issues all along. 

Here are just a few of the gripes:

  • First, the design.  On the front is a door that closes (and locks) to neatly hide away the CD/DVD drive and the on/off and reset button.  The problem is that there's a design flaw with the door - it's hinged on the left (as you look at it) so the case has to ideally sit on your left.  If your office is organized so that the PC is on your right, the door basically makes it difficult to operate the PC.  Having the option to swap the sides on the hinge would be great.
  • Still talking about the door, not only is it badly designed but it's also not all that robust and after a few months of operation the hinges and door catch fell apart.  The door sat on the floor for months, not it's been sent off to be recycled into something more useful.
  • The lockable side panel is a total joke.  Not only is it easier to solve a Rubik's Cube than it is to get the thing in place, once in place it seems to inexplicably weld itself into place and you have to take tools to it to get the side off again.
  • The screwless slots are a total joke.  The flimsy plastic clips just don't do the job of holding expansion cards in place.  We had to rip these out and replace them with screws on the first day.
  • The screwless drive holders are also next to useless.  Sure, they hold the drives in place, but loosely enough that they vibrate.  Over time this vibration turns into a really annoying rattle.  These have also been thrown away and replaced with screws.
  • The washable dust filter at the front of the case is totally ineffective, and in order to remove it for washing one of the clips broke off.
  • The internal pop-rivets holding the chassis together aren't up to the job and several were loose when the case was new.  As you can imagine, these haven't tightened up over time.
  • The position of the USB and audio connectors (at the top of the case) is totally useless.  This flaw is also present on the Armor Jr.

Note:  With regards to the door, I've noticed that the newer Tsunami's seem to have an aluminum door but ours was made of plastic.  It's possible that Thermaltake have since solved some of these problems, but I'm not buying another one to find out. 

How can I sum up the Thermaltake Tsunami?  Well, I'd go as far as to say that building this case was a complete and utter waste of the Earth's resources.  Sure, it looks fine, but as a PC case it's a total disaster.  We'd have been better keeping the cardboard box the case came in and putting the PC into that.

Our plan is that this case will be disposed of ethically pretty soon now (and hopefully be turned into something more useful) and that we'll never speak of it again.

Thoughts?  And remember, since it's a Friday, you can vent your spleen about anything tech-related that annoys you!

Topic: Hardware

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10 comments
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  • Computer cases rarely are heard about

    So I am happy to hear your rant on the subject. The thing that frustrates me is the sudden popularity of one case design or another. Like the Antec Dragons that were also sold by Chieftec and Ching Ming. I think Ching Ming was the manufacturer, but still there had to be thousands of those cases sold. Thermaltake even had one model although they changed the format by a little to better fit hard drives and such.
    nucrash
  • And I thought

    Mac Heads were the only ones concerned about the design of their
    cases . . .

    If it's a "built your own" why put up with the problems for a year?
    Simply get another case and transfer the components. If yours
    works fine then get another one like that. A year is too long to live
    with a problem without fixing it.
    Ken_z
    • Because when you spend

      [url=http://www.nextag.com/thermaltake-tsunami/search-html]$100.00 plus[/url] for a case, you expect it to function without major hassle. I always buy the "cheapo" beige cases. They do the job and you can always let your kids (if you have any) perform their artistic exploits on it. But generally my cases are out of sight out of mind. I can see the optical drives and I have a USB hub where I can get to them, but the cases are hidden. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
  • Cases

    Adrian:

    The mid-tower case I purchased for my current main machine is a CoolerMaster Centurion T05-UW. Handsome matte black finish w/brushed aluminum trim, rolled steel edges (no sliced fingers), front-panel USB, audio/mic, and FireWire ports, and tool-free drive bay and peripheral card locks that [b]work[/b].

    Five 3.5" and five 5.25" drive bays, 120mm backplane and 80mm front drive bay fans.

    Price at NewEgg? US$50. Definitely worth looking at to replace that Thermaltake piece of junk your wife currently has.
    M.R. Kennedy
    • CoolerMaster

      I have been extremely happy with CM's case quality overall. I went a bit beyond the norm and snagged one of their original Stacker cases. Same color, style and construction, but this thing is the size of a Suburban. 11 5.25 bays, dual power supplies, casters (trust me, they help) and rolled steel inside. Choice for a server build.
      Sabz5150
  • Adrian thanks for the heads up i was thinking about

    Adrian thanks for the heads up i was thinking about buying a thermaltake full tower. but after reading your rant i am haveing second thoughts.
    SO.CAL Guy
  • Aopen QF50C

    All three PC's in my home have this case:
    http://global.aopen.com/products_detail.aspx?auno=2472

    Cheap, sturdy, look good. Low noise. Big enough, so that swapping internal parts is easy: plenty of space for your hands to move around.

    I dislike those fancy small cases, in which it's almost impossible to add or remove parts without breakage.

    Greetz, Pjotr.
    pjotr123
  • I'll echo the sentiments.....thanks! Adrian

    I was thinking of buying a Tsunami, or
    something similar myself. I should have
    known better. Most products you expect to be
    better if you pay more, but that doesn't
    seem to apply to computer cases, same as
    SOME software.

    I started building when 2 5-1/4 inch and 1
    3-1/2 inch drive bays were the norm, and way
    before anybody heard of USB, CD burners, DVD
    players, Zip drives and such. I considered
    building my own cases, but soon discovered
    it would be too much of a hassle and too
    expensive for the switches and control
    cables. I have since purchased the most
    economical (read cheap by most people) cases
    that had adequate drive bays and space for
    whatever components intended for it, with an
    eye toward extra bays and expansion in the
    early days. Nowadays, no need to fret about
    room to expand, because it's usually
    obsolete before expansion is necessary
    anyway. Never had any major problems with
    any of my "cheap" cases, and they are all
    aesthetically presentable.

    If one has adequate time and talent to
    devote to his project, any case can be
    utilized, but I would be more than a little
    miffed myself had I payed more than a
    hundred bucks for a computer case which had
    flimsy doors, sloppy drive rails, inadequate
    cooling, etc.

    NewEgg is the best, and usually the most
    economical vendor which has practically any
    computer part you want that I have found. I
    know there are others, but if there are any
    better, I declare the difference would be
    negligible. Another good thing about NewEgg,
    usually they have a better description and
    more user ratings than just about anyone
    else. I usually find what I want on Ebay and
    then check the price against Newegg's, and
    weigh the difference in Newegg's reliability
    and the Ebay seller's feedback.

    I do not work, nor do I know anyone who
    works for NewEgg or Ebay, but I have bought
    a lot of parts from them both.
    Ole Man
  • I have the same case....

    the motherboard does not contact the plate that covers the connectors (usb, firewire, mouse etc.). I was unable to use the stock panel due to the motherboard that I have (an asus something, I changed my compaq presario machine into this case for a bigger power supply and noise considerations)

    the stock panel is offset from the metalwork, and would touch the motherboard if the connectors were configured properly. As it is I am unable to use the flat, stock plate from the presario, or any other stock plate from the motherboard manufacturer. Really disappointing, since some of the connections rely on the ground from that panel, so things are a little weird, but it still works.

    as for the rest of it, it has been quiet, the front door is poorly designed. They should have cut it at the fake chrome band so that it doesn't block access to the controls and cd stuff, and would have left more room for a real filter rack. Altogether, I think they could have had just one door that locks instead of the dual design, which was crappy and needed adjustment to stay closed. A little unhappy about the purchase, I would give the thing a B- overall.
    christopher7
  • Case doors and Nero set to default a bad idea

    Watch out when installing Nero on computers with a door on it's case. By default Nero is set to auto eject a disc once it has finished with it. If you pop in a disc and close the door like I did on one at work it can be a problem once it has finished. I would recommend everyone with a case door and Nero to double check they have disabled the auto eject option in the software!
    NZJester