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While most users refuse to shell out hundreds of dollars for electronic bling, there are places where a little showiness can go a long way towards making a positive impression. Unlike artwork, these particular showpieces also serve a practical function, as both are capable of holding powerful hardware and keeping it cool.
The most practical of today’s premium cases is also the least spectacular and expensive. SilverStone’s Fortress 2 provides excellent cooling at an extremely low noise level, with an uncluttered back panel that could make it the perfect choice for stuffing it under a door-facing and open-backed desk. Able to hold all of the high-capacity components that go into most workstation-class PCs, it sells for only around $100 more than the “traditional” high-end cases it usually competes against.
Thermaltake’s approach to artful computing provides even more interior space and its eight-slot rear panel is perfect for holding four double-slot expansion cards. Anyone who wants to put “personal supercomputer” hardware in a housing design that looks far more substantial than any PC case on the market has to also contend with the high price. While it’s not as quiet as SilverStone’s Fortress 2, the Thermaltake Level 10 does a better job of isolating noise than a “typical” desktop case does.
Yet, while both of these cases have the look, feel, and performance of premium products, they also have a significant shortcoming with their configured hard drive support. That’s because while both cases have hot-swap drive capabilities, they also have four missing connectors on the backplane. A bigger problem in the minds of some premium-system builders will be that the included connectors aren’t compatible with SAS drives. Those who aren’t afraid to limit themselves to SATA will find additional SilverStone CP05 backplane cables for around $7 each at a variety of Internet retailers, while Thermaltake Level 10 buyers must contact the manufacturer directly to order these missing parts.
Keeping all of the above pros and cons in mind, one of these cases could be a stylish and functional addition to the “head geek’s” office, depending on his or her individual needs. As evidenced by our long-winded descriptions, we at least find these to be excellent conversation pieces that also serve a practical purpose.