Thermaltake VA3000 Tsunami Dream PC Case

By Jason Cross  |  Print this article Print

Review: Thermaltake is better known for its CPU coolers and power supplies than for cases, but the company also has a thriving PC enclosure line. We take a look at the new VA3000 Tsunami Dream and find a lot to like.

When we reviewed a whole slew of PC cases this spring in our PC case roundup, the V6000A Damier—one of Thermaltake's most expensive models—was among them. It was a decent enough case, but not particularly attractive. Thermaltake's entire line of PC cases, though not very extensive, had similar, shall we say, aesthetic challenges.

Today we're looking at the company's latest PC case line, the VA3000 Tsunami Dream, and its design immediately strikes us as much more appealing. These aluminum cases are available both with a clear side window and with a standard opaque side door, and both black and silver. We'll examine the black version with the clear side option. Let's examine this new case to see if it has the features to match its looks. Continued . . .

At first blush, the Tsunami Dream certainly seems to crib from the Cooler Master Wave Master case, but where the Wave Master has a wavelike front with just a post extending partway up the front, the Tsunami's front door wave sort of "folds over" on the right side into a handle that opens it. The case is lit from behind by two blue LEDs, for a little extra glow in the dark, but it's not obnoxious. In a way, we prefer the Cooler Master case's front design a bit, because only the top half of the front opens up, leaving the power and reset buttons accessible on the lower half. The entire front of the Tsunami Dream, by contrast, is a door. The power and reset buttons are behind it.

Though it's a bit annoying to have the power and reset buttons behind the front door, it does provide one small benefit that may be particularly useful for those with toddlers or people who keep their PC in less secure areas, such as dorm rooms. A small lock on the right side of the case can secure the front door. With the power and reset buttons behind it, as well as the drives, this can go a long way toward making it harder for an errant 4-year-old or annoying roommate to mess with your PC.

The Tsunami Dream does not have front-mounted USB or FireWire jacks, but rather hides them under a plastic pop-up door on the top. This makes them easy to access if your case is on the floor, but the drawback is that USB/FireWire and audio wires stretch up to the top of your case on the inside. Continued . . .

Directing our attention inside, we find a lot to like. The front drive bay area follows a convention we've seen—and enjoyed—in several other cases. Four 5.25" drive bays use tool-less snap-on rails. Both the external 3.5" drive cage, which holds up to two drives, and the internal 3.5" drive bay, which holds up to five, are easily removed. The hard drive–bay cage is fitted with rubber-lined screw holes to reduce vibration noise. The back inside of the case looks a lot like any other, with a clear 120mm exhaust fan included. Notice the lack of a power supply in the photo below: By default, the Tsunami Dream does not come with a power supply.

There's one nice little extra feature in the back side of the case, though. The slot covers for your AGP/PCI/PCIe cards are all accessed with screw-free flip-up levers. Just flip up the plastic lever, take out the hole cover and put in your card, then flip it back down. We tried it out with a couple different cards, and it works great. This definitely makes life easier for people who constantly replace cards.

With the cover on, it's a pretty standard case design, with a rather large window. There's a 90mm case fan situated right about where the CPU would be; this could provide some additional exhaust, and the whole thing stays on with a pair of extra large thumb screws. Continued . . .

Certainly the Tsunami Dream is more attractive than Thermaltake's past cases, with a simple wave cut into the brushed aluminum door and gentle blue LED lights under the handle. The rest of the case has a nice glossy black finish. Aesthetics definitely matter when it comes to your PC enclosure, and the simple elegance of this case makes it a winner in that regard.A pretty face alone isn't enough, though. A good PC case includes amenities that make building your PC easier or the result more pleasing. Thermaltake has taken care of these needs as well, with removable drive bays and tool-less 5.25" drive installation and the cool snap-down card holders. Including two 120mm fans and one 90mm side door fan for improved airflow is a nice touch, but the fans are a bit louder than we would have expected. The whole point of 120mm fans is to reduce noise by their larger size, which allows them to spin slower while moving the same volume of air as a 90mm fan would. The fans included in this case certainly move plenty of air, but they also make a bit more noise than we would have hoped for. It's not enough racket to be a major deterrent, just more than we expected.

With so many good PC enclosure deals on the market, it may seem a bit much to spend well over $100 on a case that comes with no power supply, but you get what you pay for. This is a stylish, feature-rich, sturdy case that's probably worth that small price premium.

Product: Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000
Company: www.thermaltake.com
Pros: Tool-less drive rails and card installation; well-built; front door lock.
Cons: Power and reset hidden behind front door may be annoying for some; no power supply included.
Summary: This well-built case is attractive and feature rich, but perhaps a little pricey for a case with no included power supply.
Price: $119 (check)
Jason Cross Jason was a certified computer geek at an early age, playing with his family's Apple II when he was still barely able to write. It didn't take long for him to start playing with the hardware, adding in 80-column cards and additional RAM as his family moved up through Apple II+, IIe, IIgs, and eventually the Macintosh. He was sucked into Intel based side of the PC world by his friend's 8088 (at the time, the height of sophisticated technology), and this kicked off a never-ending string of PC purchases and upgrades.

Through college, where he bounced among several different majors before earning a degree in Asian Studies, Jason started to pull down freelance assignments writing about his favorite hobby—,video and computer games. It was shortly after graduation that he found himself, a thin-blooded Floridian, freezing his face off at Computer Games Magazine in Vermont, where he founded the hardware and technology section and built it up over five years before joining the ranks at ExtremeTech and moving out to beautiful northern California. When not scraping up his hands on the inside of a PC case, you can invariably find Jason knee-deep in a PC game, engrossed in the latest console title, or at the movie theater.


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