Thermaltake Chaser A31

We have been on a Mid Tower kick here lately with case reviews and a few have left us impressed while others leave us scratching our head with odd design choices. One of those cases was the Urban S21 from Thermaltake, a company generally known for good, solid case design. Today Thermaltake is back with another mid tower offering in a slightly higher price range, the A31 Chaser. While the color of the Thunder Edition was enough to catch everyone’s attention at CES, I will be putting the Chaser through a more thorough examination today.

Product Name: Chaser A31 Thunder Edition

Review Sample provided by: Thermaltake

Review by: Debo

Pictures by: Debo

Specifications

Brand & Model

A31 Chaser

Model Numbers

VP300A1W2N (Black)

VP300A6W2N (Snow Edition - White)

VP300A5W2N (Thunder Edition - Blue)

Case Type

Mid Tower

Case Material

SECC Steel, Plastic

Case Dimensions

501 x 212 x 495mm (19.7 x 8.4 x 19.5 inch)

Motherboard Compatibility

ATX, mATX

Front Port Connections

USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio

Power Supply Mount

Bottom

Expansion

External 5.25” Bays

3

External 3.5” Bays

None

Internal 3.5” Bays

6

Internal 2.5” Bays

1 (with included drive rack)

Expansion Slots

7


 

Packaging

Like other recent Thermaltake cases, the Chaser A31 comes in a glossy box meant to grab attention and immediately introduce you to the product inside. With just a quick glance you can see the case itself along with all the branding and a few quick features.

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The side of the box is where we find the specifications. A few things of note are the 6 internal drive bay as well as room for up to six cooling fans leaving room for a lot of expansion inside beyond the basic build.

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As we pull the Chaser out of the box we find it safely stowed between the styrofoam ends and wrapped in plastic. Included along with the case is the manufacturer’s warranty information, a quick users’ guide, a tool-free drive bay converter for a 2.5” SSD, an extra face plate and all the screws, ties and other little extras that come standard.

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Outside

I will begin the tour of the outside of the Chaser just above the front panel connection at one of the simplest and yet ingenious features on the case. Here is where we find a simple ribbed indentation that only serves one purpose, to hold things. When most cases choose to either be artistic or minimalistic, Thermaltake has chosen to go the functional route and utilize typically wasted space to provide the user with a small place to simply put USB drives, phones or any other small electronic gadget you might have laying around. The close proximity to the front panel also makes it a nice place to put things during file uploads.

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This brings us to the front panel connectors which are clean and to the point. Two USB 3.0 ports are present along with the HD Audio connections and the power led and start button are all one piece that give off a nice blue glow when in operation.

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The remaining real estate on the top of the Chaser belongs to the top exhaust fans. Underneath the black grating there is room for a single 140mm fan, a pair of 120mm case fans or even a dual 120mm radiator.

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The Chaser A31 comes with a windowed side panel offering a view into the case along the entire motherboard plane. Everything rear of the drive bays is visible meaning there will be some cable work required to make a final build look nice.

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The rear of the Chaser is pretty standard for most mid towers, a bottom mounted power supply, water-cooling grommets and seven expansion slots. Nothing flashy but we do get our first look at the all black interior of the Thunder Edition that goes perfectly with the brilliant blue of the case’s outer shell.

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The underside of the case is where we find the feet complete with large rubber pads to reduce both noise and movement. The feet are quite large to allow intake by both the PSU cooling fan and the optional 120mm case fan that can be placed in the bottom. Here we also find the bottom fan filter that serves both fans. It is fully removable for easy cleaning which is great for those of us who live in dustier then average environments.

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Inside

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After giving the outside a once over, it’s time to pop off the side panels and check out everything the Chaser has to offer on the inside. Right away you can see the sheer amount of expansion possibilities with slots for three 5.25” external devices and bays for up to six 3.5” internal drives. All of these bays are also ready to accommodate 2.5” drives as well leaving you much in the way of versatility. The middle three drive bays are even removable with the removal of a pair of thumbscrews should you need more room for a longer video card.

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The two front intake fans are well placed with one fan moving air over three of the drive bays. Cable management holes for these fans are readily accessible and make this section of the case one of the most hassle free.

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With the removal of the back panel we get a good look at all the cable management options which are important since the Chaser comes with that large side panel window. Three rubber grommet channels are available along with a decent amount of loops for cable ties to keep everything in decent order. Back here we can also find the large window for easy installation of aftermarket CPU cooling fan brackets and finally the most important piece of good cable management these days, the small hole for your motherboards 8-pin power.

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Installation and Performance

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The installation rig may look a bit different then recent case reviews. I liked the blue aesthetic enough that I decided to install my actual rig this time and give the Chaser A31 something of a true blue review in all departments.  The bottom grommet hole is in perfect placement for my semi-modular power supply and while the end product looks a bit like controlled chaos the sheer amount of tie down loops makes the overall cable management process easier.

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The 8-pin cord is able to sneak itself into perfect placement to remain out of sight of the window. The small hole was also a perfect place to weave the power cable to the top exhaust fan out of view and plug it into my board elsewhere.

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The CPU bracket installation window is massive and offered no issues for me. The benefits of having a window of this size means the ability to install even the largest aftermarket coolers inside the case with ease. Just be aware that you only have a maximum of 160mm of height available for your CPU fan.

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From a performance standpoint the Chaser also managed to impress. Despite switching from a larger, more spacious full tower and having to drop a pair of case fans from my day-to-day setup there were no major changes in running temperatures. I could always go for more USB ports on a case front panel but I am more then happy to see multiple USB 3.0 ports becoming the norm these days. The top tray is a perfect feature and has cut down on me looking through my desk for thumb drives.

Being a mid tower, the A31 is light and protable which proved to be the perfect combination when I had to cart it off to LanOCv13 recently. The bright blue color and glow even drew more then a few looks of passer bys and was a truly unique piece among the crowd of the usual black cases.


Overall and Final Verdict

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The coloring of the Thunder Edition caught our eye at CES and looks amazing once we finally got it in our hands. The blue is brilliant and stand out uniquely among the crowd as Thermaltake has managed to match the plastic parts flawlessly with the steel ones which is no easy feat. Aesthetic aside, the small device bin was a simple and yet amazingly functional addition to the case and the sheer amount of expansion options available in this mid tower is a boon.

One of the very few negatives I encountered was with the installation of my power supply. My particular model runs slightly long and because of that I was unable to install a 120mm case fan in the bottom for more air flow so that is something to watch out for but it is far from a deal breaker.

At the price point, the A31 is one of the most impressive mid towers in recent memory and when it comes right down to it, I feel there is nothing better a reviewer can say about a product than to make it their own. Keep any of the Chaser A31 models in mind if you find yourself in the market for a new case.

fv3tophonors

Author Bio
William
Author: William
Review and Event Staff
William is the newest addition to both the Review and Event staff. Being in charge of power, hopefully you have to see very little of him during our lans. Outside of lans he can be found engaging in his unhealthy obsession with all things gaming in between writing the odd review and bothering Wes at all hours of the day. An avid gamer nearly all his life, it is common for the latest MMO release to cause him to drop off the face of the Earth for a week or two.

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Deb0's Avatar
Deb0 replied the topic: #32948 25 Sep 2013 22:13
You may have seen it at v13, now see the full report of the Thermaltake Chaser A31.

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