Nvidia’s GTX480 case dissected

CeBIT 2010 Thermaltake Element V Nvidia Edition

Thermaltake LogoONE PART that Thermaltake has been getting a lot of press for is the new Fermi GTX480 certified case, a variant of its mainstream Element V case. Other than the day-glo green trim, how does it differ from the normal ElementV? Let’s take a look.

Thermaltake Element V

Demo Element V, missing the PCIe card holder

If you look at the side of the Element V case, you can see that the normal one has a lot of open space for airflow. This one was a static model at CeBIT, not meant to show off the insides, but the only part missing appeared to be a back plate for long PCIe cards. The rest is pretty much normal element V.

Thermaltake Element V Nvidia edition

Note the large ducts and thick fan

If you look at the side of the Nvidia chassis, you will see some pretty hefty ducts. These start before the fan, and extend out beyond it to cover about half of the cards. These ‘puppies‘ need some pretty hefty cooling. Official word is 225W as of two weeks ago. At CES SemiAccurate was told the cards were running at 280W, but either one is a lot of heat. Somewhat unusual cooling like this is warranted because somewhere between 675W and 800W-plus is not easy.

One other thing to notice is the fan itself. It is 36mm thick, far thicker than a normal fan, and it is not slow. While it was impossible to determine fan noise at the show, the Element V NV is said to be somewhat loud, but does not have an annoying tone.

From the front, the normal Element V is quite open. You can place fans almost anywhere along the front face, and it conveniently has brackets and mounting holes to do just that. Basically, it is a standard enthusiast case.

Thermaltake Element V Nvidia edition

Note the huge ducts from the front

The Nvidia edition on the other hand has a huge sealed duct that leads right to the thick fan. The front duct extends all the way to the front of the case, it is a wind tunnel, and unfortunately it seems to eat about four drive bays. If you need cooling, and take our word for it, GTX480 does need cooling, that is a small sacrifice.

In the end, the two Elements are much the same, more isotopes than anything else. The Nvidia edition has holes cut in the drive cage backplane to allow clear airflow and a spiffy neon green trim job, but that is about it. The fan and ductwork are an option, and given the small number of GTX480s that are set to hit the market, probably won’t sell in high volumes.

Other than that, the Element V is a nice little case. Mid-tower, fan control, tool free almost everything and bottom mounted PSU. Panels come off and pop back on with ease, and the drive cages are tool free too. Not a bad little case.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.