Thermaltake Level 10 And SilverStone Fortress 2: Contemporary Cases?

Practical Ostentatiousness?

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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • burnley14
    I like the Fortress 2, especially the 90 degree rotation from typical setup. The Level 10, on the other hand, is an ugly monstrosity. Anyone willing to pay $700 for something that ugly needs therapy.
  • philologos
    The Fortress 2 is very likely the case for my first home-build. It's a bit more than I'd like to spend, but it satisfies my need for air-cooling performance and classic styling.
  • Crashman
    burnley14I like the Fortress 2, especially the 90 degree rotation from typical setup. The Level 10, on the other hand, is an ugly monstrosity. Anyone willing to pay $700 for something that ugly needs therapy.
    I just saw a girl driving a rusted-out Mazda with a new set of 18" Enkeis, painted rotors on the front, and painted drums on the back. The rocker panels between that fine work...rusted away!

    So, I'm sure someone will spend $700 for the Thermaltake Level 10. In fact, I know someone who would.
  • I recently bought à fortress case for my most recent build (i930 + hd5970) and this is by far THE best case i've ever had the pleasure of building a pc from/in. Yeah it's pricy and wether it's worth it, but personally, i really, really like it! It cools very wel, and the very large 5970 actually fits :)

    and irl it's quite a handsome case!
  • mados123
    The Level 10 deserves to be in MOMA next to the G4 cube for its innovation in design.
  • micr0be
    i think level 10 is a amazing .... just replace some side windows with glass and uv got a rig that looks as good as crysis .....
  • huron
    As amazing as it is, I'm sure there will be some people shelling out that kind of $$$ on a case - probably the same people who post in the forums that they have a budget upwards of $3500 and want someone to build it for them...
  • warmon6
    while i like the look of the level 10 case, i dont like the high price tag that comes with it.
  • HKH
    Am I the only one who finds the Lvl 10 Case pretty decent looking?
  • acadia11
    The cost savings made no sense, to me, in the Level 10, keeping it under $1000 is stupid, to someone spending $799 on a case, makes no difference if it cost $999 for a more quality product. In fact, people, who are willing to spend money like this care more about quality than cost. I decided not to get the case, because, in my mind $800 on a case alone better buy me perfection, and they tried to get cheap with it to save a couple of hundred bucks, as though the difference between $800 and $1000 really mattered that much to my wallet, Imean it's not like cases normally hover anywhere in this price range. With an expensive uber product you set themarket, period. And they dropped the ball on knowing the demographics here.