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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Tai-Chi is an all-aluminum case from Thermaltake, featured in two version, with a pre-assembled high-end water cooling solution (model VB5001SNA) or without it (model VB5000SNA). We took a look at the VB5001SNA model, which comes with an impressive water cooling kit.

Thermaltake Tai-Chi CaseFigure 1: Tai-Chi case from Thermaltake.

It has 10 5 ¼” bays and one 3 ½” bay on its front, as you can see in Figure 2. On the sample we had the chance to take a look, the first bay was using a “Power Station” from the Purepower P.S.T. power series from Thermaltake (this device doesn’t come with the case), the last bay was using a small 3 ½” drawer for storing tools, screw or any other small part, and bays 5, 6, 7 and 8, 9, 10 were using two 120 mm fans. Please note that Tai-Chi comes only with one frontal fan, which is used to cool its three internal 3 ½” bays used by your hard disk drives, and not with two fans like the sample we took a look on.

Thermaltake Tai-Chi CaseFigure 2: Tai-Chi frontal panel.

This case can used by both ATX and BTX motherboards. This is the first case we’ve seen with this feature. If you pay close attention to Figure 3, you will see that metal plate in front of the motherboard is removable. So when installing a BTX motherboard, it is just a matter of changing this plate. ATX motherboards are installed on the right-hand side of the case (looking the case from the front), while BTX motherboards are installed on the left-hand side of the case. That is why is so complicated to have a universal case compatible with both standards.

Thermaltake Tai-Chi CaseFigure 3: Back of Tai-Chi case.

For installing BTX motherboards on this case you will need a BTX Upgrade Kit (part number A9449), which comes with the rear plate and also a BTX SRM (Support and Retention Module).

On the backside of the case you can also see that it has holes to be used by external water cooling solutions and also a place for installing a 120 mm rear fan (this fan comes with the product).

Opening the case is really easy, since it uses thumbscrews. Let’s take a look inside Thermaltake Tai-Chi case.

[nextpage title=”Water Cooling”]

The case provides a hydraulic opening for its side panel, really impressive. The water cooling kit that comes with VB5001SNA model uses two 120 mm fans and a big 220 mm x 270 mm (8.66” x 10.63”) radiator.

Thermaltake Tai-Chi CaseFigure 4: Inside Thermaltake Tai-Chi case model VB5001SNA.

The radiator, the fans, the reservoir and the pump of the water cooling system are located on the case side door.

Thermaltake Tai-Chi CaseFigure 5: A closer look at Tai-Chi’s water cooling system.

In Figure 6, you can see the CPU block, which is made of copper and has a transparent acrylic cover that glows blue when the system is turned on. On the same figure you can see that the video card used also has a water cooler block. This block, however, doesn’t come with the system, and Thermaltake installed it just to show us Tai-Chi working with all the features it can provide.

Thermaltake Tai-Chi CaseFigure 6: CPU block.

In Figure 6 you can also see that this case uses plastic clips for holding expansion boards, so you can install and remove daughterboards without using a screwdriver.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

Tai-Chi model VB5001SNA main specs include:

  • Application: ATX and BTX (through the use of a BTX Upgrade Kit, part number A9449) and smaller form factors derived from these.
  • Material: Aluminum.
  • Available colors: Silver or Black.
  • Size: 23.62” x 10.35” x 21.50” (60 cm x 26.3 cm x 54.6 cm) (H x W x D).
  • Weight: 43.43 lbs (19.7 Kg)
  • Bays: 10 5 ¼” bays and one 3 ½” bay plus three 3 ½” internal bays.
  • Expansion slots: seven.
  • Fans: Two 120 mm fans, one at the front panel cooling the three 3 ½” internal bays, and one at the rear. Both glow blue when the system is turned on. Both rotate at 1,300 rpm with a noise level of 17 dBA.
  • Fans (water cooling): Two 120 mm fans rotating at 1,300 rpm with a noise level of 17 dBA.
  • Radiator (water cooling): 8.66” x 10.63” x 1.30” (220 mm x 270 mm x 33 mm) (H x W x D).
  • Pump capacity (water cooling): 84 L/h.
  • CPU block (water cooling): Copper with acrylic cover that glows blue when the system is turned on. Fits all CPUs.
  • Extra features: Side panel with hydraulic opening, wheels stand with brakes.
  • More Information: https://www.thermaltakeusa.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 430 (USD 350 for the model without water cooling).

* Researched on Shopping.com on the day we published this First Look article.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

Tai-Chi is a really impressive all-aluminum case from Thermaltake, targeted to the most high-end user. The model we had the chance to take a look, VB5001SNA, comes with a water cooling kit, which is really neat. Unfortunately this was just a “first look” on this product and we hadn’t to chance to evaluate its water cooling performance.

Details like side panel with hydraulic opening and wheels with brakes really captured our attention. Since its side panels use a heatsink-style design, it is very heavy (43 Lbs).

Tai-Chi’s price, however, is its major drawback. Costing USD 430 without the power supply, we wonder if someone can afford buying this case.  Even paying USD 350 for the model without the water cooling kit we think it is outrageous, as you can find good all-aluminum cases – including models from the very same Thermaltake – on the USD 100 range.

Paying three times more just to have a very heavy case with a side panel with hydraulic opening? No, thank you. We don’t think it is worthwhile.