Unlike the processor or video card, the computer’s case, or chassis, is not contemplated as much. In most cases, as long as the components fit, any chassis will be fine. There’s a myriad of them and I’m sure you haven’t seen them all. From low-end generic cases to ultra-high-end cases that can pack even 3 or 4 of those huge top-of-the-line video cards, it’s sometimes hard to choose. Among these PC cases is Thermaltake’s Armor A90 Mid-Tower chassis. Let’s have a closer look.
This case is big, even compared to other mid-tower cases. The box is huge and has a rather colorful printed design, with a picture of the case itself. Looking at its specifications, it stands at 19.8 inches, with a width of 8.3 inches and length of 20.3 inches. The chassis weighs around 8.3 kg, which is reasonable for a case of this size. Coming from a generic nongaming PC case, I was stunned at the size of the Armor A90.
Looking at its exterior, everything is painted black. It looks like a Kevlar armor and has a very unique design, especially the front and its top panels. Both side panels open up like doors and can easily be removed for easy hardware setup. There’s also a door for the 5 1/4-inch optical drive bays. There are also vents on the right side and the front and back panels for air intake and exhaust.
One of the standard features of PC cases, regardless if generic or not, is utilizing a USB panel. The Armor A90 has 2 USB 2.0 ports at the front and 2 at the top panel. There’s also an eSATA port at the top to connect your external/removable hard drives. And of course, an audio panel between the front USB ports. The back panel is standard, however, a nice addition here are holes where you could run through water tubes in case you want to employ a liquid cooling solution.
Looking at the bottom of the chassis, you’ll see the area where you mount the power supply. It has some sort of a bar lock screwed here and you might need to unscrew that first before putting in your power supply. This is somewhat of a nuisance, to me at least, since you need to adjust it depending on the size of your power supply. Yes, it could secure your power supply, but the good old 4 screws are more than enough to hold the power supply in place. In addition, the bottom part has a vent and a dust filter as well.
What about inside the case? You’ll see quite a spacious interior. It has three 5 1/4-inch drive bays and seven 3 1/2-inch drive bays, including the ones just below the larger drive bays. These drive bays are designed for tool-free installation. It’s quite easy as you just need to align the screws so that you could latch the drive more securely. Make sure it’s fully locked. The drives won’t fall off though, but if you move your PC around often, like going to LAN parties and such, securing the drives with screws is recommended.
Now let’s talk about the layout. Placing the motherboard on the board tray poses almost no problems at all. You would probably need a screw riser or two as the top of the motherboard area has an elevated mount. This is mostly likely to give allowance for the CPU heat sink and fan. Another good feature of this case it its cable management. You can easily tuck in cables behind the drive bays to have a much cleaner look and better air flow from the front 120mm intake fan. This would really depend on your power supply though. The setup could be pretty, especially with modular power supplies. I installed my old, non-80Plus AcBel power supply and it was a mess. The cables were short, definitely not for mid-towers and bottom-mounted PSUs, and well, it’s really ugly. I bought a much, much better 80Plus Gold Thermaltake PSU and cable management is much easier. The cables were longer and it wasn’t even modular, but I was finally able to utilize the back of the drive bay and tuck those cables in.
Just a quick note on the Armor A90’s cable management system, I’ve seen quite a number of branded and expensive cases that utilize more advanced cable management systems like cable holes in the chassis, side-loading hard drives, empty space to allow much longer video cards and even options to run the cables behind the motherboard tray. It takes a bit of work to cram those cables behind the drive bay of the Armor A90.
Let’s move on. The header cables, the ones for the power switch, front LEDs and the rest of the ports, are easily tucked at the bottom of the case. The same goes for the other set of cables such as the USB cables for the top and front panel, and the eSATA cable that runs from the top. Again, this would be an easier and much cleaner setup with a modular power supply, as probably the case would be for other PC cases as well.
As a gaming case, it is important to know what you can install inside this chassis. First of all, as for motherboards, you won’t be able to install those really large full-ATX motherboards. If you’re planning to have a really expensive 3- to 4-video card setup, you will need a much bigger case. Even though the Thermaltake Armor A90 is big relative to most of the other mid-tower cases out there, it won’t be able to fit them. But for all others, this case would be more than adequate.
However, even though it seems this case is really, really good, there’s one flaw that caught my attention, probably most of you as well who owns this chassis, the Armor A90 can only accommodate video cards with lengths up to 260 mm or around 10.24 inches. There aren’t a lot of cards that has a length of 10.24 inches or higher, however, these are usually the high-end video cards that you would need in order to achieve the best possible gaming performance for your PC. If you are planning to use a high-end video card that is longer than the maximum stated allowable length, it is advisable that you consider another chassis. Another thing that we need to consider is a CrossfireX or a SLi setup. Setting up your rig using 2 graphics card would most likely take up 2 to 4 hard drive bays. This is really bad if you have multiple SSDs or conventional hard drives. But other than this, almost every other setup should be okay.
Now as a gaming case, it should be really cool and quiet. Compared to my old case, managing air flow seems to be better and the fans that come with the case are really quiet. I paired it with an 80Plus Gold power supply and most likely, without the LED lights, you won’t be able to determine immediately if the PC is on or off, unless you place your ears really close to the chassis. I also have an SSD, which contributes to the very low noise level.
One of the top priorities in buying any computer hardware, for that matter, is the price. I bought mine for a mere $65. It was on sale. And at that price, without any other model on sale, I would have bought a lower-class mid-tower chassis. It was my wife who saw the case and pointed it out to me. Then it hit us. The price/quality ratio is just really good to pass it up. As for availability, this case is an older model and there probably aren’t that many of this chassis in the market. But still, you might be able to see it somewhere, especially those who are selling theirs.
Ever since I started setting up my computer for gaming, I’ve never had a chance to have a gaming chassis. For me, at least it’s a dream come true. With excellent looks, space, cooling ability, price and other features, there are probably only a handful of cases that can match the price/feature ratio of Thermaltake’s Armor A90. Even though it’s an old model, it can definitely fit today’s hardware, with the exception for full-ATX motherboards and ultra-long graphics cards. Remember, in the end, it will always depend on your preference and budget.
Thermaltake – U.S.A. Armor A90