Complete with a futuristic name, the Matrix V2000 offers a tool-less case design and a mesh front. Is this latest offering from Thermaltake worth your cash?
Thermaltake has been a leading manufacturer of aftermarket computer components. Founded in 1999, they quickly became the leaders in design and functionality with all of their products; from cooling systems with their golden orb, their Purepower powersupplies all the way down to the chassis with the Xaser series chassis. Over the years, Thermaltake has increased the quality, performance, functionality, and efficiency of nearly all of their products.
I had taken a look at the Thermaltake website when a chassis caught my eye, the Mozart TX, an amazing Multimedia Chassis. I tried to get my hands on one so badly, but when I asked Luke to see if he could get in contact for a sample, there wasn’t one available for review. Thermaltake generously offered another new chassis for us to take a look at on InsaneTek, the Thermaltake Matrix. Although it doesn’t offer as much of an amazing base for a HTPC as the Mozart TX, it certainly has plenty of features which make it a consideration for users looking into an affordable mid-tower chassis packed with excellent features and build quality.
When I had found out Thermaltake was sending a Matrix case, I saw a few things that caught my eye. The tool-less design looks much better than some of the previous tool-less designs I’ve used, and the mesh front panel with filters is definitely an interesting features as natural room airflow can freely flow thru the chassis. There is even a 120mm fan option to aid the airflow with a filter to keep the dust out. Being able to choose from several versions is great, users who don’t care for windows can get a full panel and you can get options with your choice of a Thermaltake 400W or 430W PSU already installed.
- Thermaltake Matrix Case, Model VD2000BNS
- Micro-Fiber cleaning cloth
- Motherboard mounting hardware
- User Manual
- Model VD2000BNSVD2400BNSVD2430BNS
- Case Type Middle Tower
- Net Weight 5.68 kg
- Dimension (H*W*D) 420 x 190 x 480 mm
- Cooling System Front (Intake): 120 x 120 x 25 mm (optional)
- Rear (Exhaust): 120 x 120 x 25 mm, 1300rpm, 17dBA
- Drive Bays
- - Accessible - 4 x 5.25", 2 x 3.5"
- - Hidden 10 - 4 x 3.5"
- Material - SECC Japanese steel
- Color Black
- Expansion Slots 7
- Motherboards Micro ATX, Standard ATX
- PSU: N/A
- 400W ATX 12V V2.0
- 430W ATX 12V V1.3
- Aluminum badge with mesh panel
- Dual USB 2.0, IEEE 1394 Firewire, MIC & Speaker ports
- Tool-free installation for all drive bays & add-on cards
- High efficiency ventilation: 12cm silent fan in rear (front 12cm fan is optional)
- Entirely filtered front panel design to prevent dust built up
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the Matrix, I think it’s time we get ready to install components into the system. Now this is something I don’t normally do, but looking at ease of installation, following the instructions is the way to go. Depending on the components you are installing, you can skip a few steps along the way and add some that are unmentioned.
The first thing I normally install in a chassis is the power supply, which isn’t mentioned in the instructions. One of the more odd things I have found in the chassis is the hard drive support bracket above the motherboard. It is adjustable so you can actually fit it to the size of your power supply. If you are using any of the longer powersupplies like high end 700W PSU’s, you may need to remove the bracket in its entirety. It will still support the power supply above the motherboard.
The second component that I installed was my motherboard, since it’s the least likely to be removed, The provided back I/O plate, is standard of older ATX boards so the back plate provided by the motherboard will more than likely be used. One of the features of the board that I am undecided about is built-in motherboard stand offs. In most cases you have to use provided brass stand offs, which means if they get stripped you can replace them, although if you strip the threads on the chassis itself you're in the same position. Thermaltake uses built-in standoffs which are in the position of most standard ATX holes.
The next piece of hardware that I had planned to install was my DVD burner, and temperature monitor. The front of the Thermaltake chassis is not secured with screws, but is firmly held in place by 6 plastic tabs which expand when placed thru the holes in the chassis to firmly hold the front of the case in place, what is great is that they appear to be replaceable. With the front panel off you can take a closer look at the filtering system. A simple filter is used to cover each piece of the front panel.
The next thing I had to do during my installation was remove the metal blocks over the CD and floppy bays; this will allow air to flow more freely. Now is a great time to install the optional 120mm fan in the front of the chassis. To reinstall the front panel, simply line up the holes to the plastic tabs and firmly press them into place.
To actually secure the drives into position I decided to take full advantage of the tool less design of the matrix. Simply rotating the green knob into the unlock position and pulling the lock from the chassis removes the key. To secure a device, simply slide the drive in until the two holes line up, with the key in the unlock position, place it so the two pins go thru the holes in the chassis and the drive, and turn the green knob into the locked position. Repeat for any additional drives.
For users who want a more secure method they can simply use hardware that’s provided with their components, a simple tool-less design that can easily be adapted to the standard screw and screwdriver security.
The next thing I had installed was my expansion slots; again, the tool less design is one of the best I have seen. Simply open up the green tab and remove the PCI bracket. Insert the peripheral you intend to install, close the plastic clip, and just like before this chassis can go to a more secure chassis by removing the few screws that hold the tool-less tabs in position and inserting screws as necessary.
One of the last things necessary to hook up is the Leads for the front panel. Thermaltake gives you plenty of wire so some cable management skills would help keep this area neat. As most components are standardized, the Firewire and USB2.0 connectors are in the proper pin order and line up with the keyed ports on the motherboard. The audio is wired as well and is wired with 2 connectors for the two popular pin methods, be sure to plug in the appropriate connector for your audio chipset. And last but certainly not least are the switches and LED indicator lights and speaker. These are standard and have to be matched with the leads on the motherboard. Consult your motherboard manual to ensure they are in the proper locations.
By now you should be ready to put on the side panel and fire up the system. That is one of the things I forgot to mention. For a tool-less design, Thermaltake designed the Matrix to have a very simple 2 latch securing system. Simply apply the side panel in the front of the chassis and close it like you would a regular door. The Matrix also offers a keyed lock out for securing components inside from others trying to get inside of your system. And just like most of the other tool less features in the chassis, you can use good old fashioned screws to secure the chassis. Thermaltake does provide large thumbscrews for securing the side panel and maintaining a tool less design.
Although a chassis may never decrease your temperatures, it does have the ability to help remove any heat from building up within the system; simple thermodynamics are developed in every chassis, it’s as simple as hot air rises. The Matrix has a lot of features to help get fresh air into the system, with its slotted side panel to allow air to flow towards graphics cards and an optional 90mm fan that can be installed to guide air towards the CPU. With the all mesh front panel, air can certainly flow thru freely and the ability to install 80, 90, and even 120mm fans in the front of the chassis certainly can help bring in all that air.
As for exhausted air, the Matrix offers a large high flow 120mm fan directly above the back I/O ports. Tall passive heatsinks can easily be ducted towards this fan to help pull the exhausted air out of the chassis without the need of additional fans. Considering many powersupplies have fans at the bottom or the back of the PSU to pull exhausted air out of the chassis and out the back of the PSU, the Matrix offers enough room between the top of the motherboard or the back of any drives installed for the PSU to take advantage of thermodynamics and remove the exhausted air.
I would like to establish a baseline for future reviews, but during testing of this chassis I haven’t had my test bed at it’s fullest. I’m going to hook up a thermal probe, record the ambient temperature, air temperatures just in front of the fan on the heatsink, a fan near the exhaust of the power supply and rear fan, and of course, the processor temperatures at idle and load. With the results I will see how much of a temperature difference there is between idle and load which will help compare thermodynamics between different chassis. It is not the most scientific method available, as components will change over time, but none the less, let’s see the results.
- Intel Celeron D, 320 2.4 GHz @ 3.6 GHz
- Cooler Master Eclipse Heatsink
- ASUS P5WD2 Premium WIFI TV Edition
- 2 x 1GB Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR2
- OCZ GameXstream 700W
- Sapphire X800 GTO2 @ 600/630
- NEC DVD RW drive
- 80GB Hitachi Deskstar SATA2 drive
- Antec HDD Cooler
Well at first look, I knew I was going to love this little case. A mesh front panel is something that I’ve wanted for a long time. The fear of the dust issue was on the back of my mind, and of course Thermaltake had thought of that one and incorporated the filters into each panel. The tool-less design was certainly a surprise to me. I have had a few tool-less designed cases that use sliders or really flimsy locking systems, but the Matrix locks in securely. The hard drives seem to be especially tight. The expansion slots do feel a little fragile to me, and aren’t quite as nice as the front ones, but are plenty of secure.
- Excellent simple design, ventilation is more than adequate, and offers plenty of room for additional fans.
- Tool-less design is very secure, and can easily be converted to good old fashioned screw secured chassis, providing you have additional mounting hardware.
- Very light weight.
- Side panel can be secured by locking the top button, as well as large thumb screws
- Detailed Instructions, with step by step photos.
- Upgraded versions of the chassis are available as well.
- Great Price, ($60 at time of review)
- Chassis does have a few sharp edges in between places that have been rounded.
- Power supply support bracket can only be adjusted before installation of the motherboard; will only encounter problems installing longer power supply units.
- Power supply installation is missing in the instructions.
I'd like to thank Thermaltake for sending us the Matrix to review today. It certainly is a great deal for any one in the market for a new chassis, with excellent airflow out of the box, as well as plenty of addition fan locations. The Matrix line offers clear side panels as well as bundles with Thermaltake Power Supply Units. For a complete Thermaltake product list be sure to check out the Thermaltake website to see what they come up with next!
If you have any questions, comments, constructive criticism even, please hit us up in the forums.