Thermaltake The Tower 100 Review | PCMag

2021-12-22 06:23:30 By : Mr. Stephen Shen

Put your hard-earned PC parts on full display

Thermaltake's The Tower 100 is as much a curio cabinet for your components as a PC case. The industrial design comes in some quirky, fun colors, but it's your PC parts that are the real star of the show with this unusual chassis.

To paraphrase Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” Mini-ITX PC cases are very much like that when it comes to building in them. (It may be a smooth caramel, or a tooth-achy, crunchy surprise.) Thermaltake’s The Tower 100, though, is the opposite of all that: The filling is on full display. As much a display case as a PC case, The Tower 100 begs to be lit up with all of the RGB lights you can find. It’s also easier to work with than many Mini-ITX designs, and it’s priced at $119.99. That said, we ran across some odd quirks about the design that could use addressing in a future revision. But on the whole, this case is exactly as "good" as your PC-building skills are.

The Tower 100 stands just over a foot and a half tall (18.2 inches, to be exact) with tempered glass panels on the front, left, and right. Most of what is not made of glass is perforated steel. This helps to ensure that the system has sufficient airflow to prevent your component mix from overheating.

The model we received for review is a stylish turquoise model that retails for $119.99. The case is also available in white or a dark "racing green" color for the same price. A fourth, all-black version costs a bit less at $109.99.

The front I/O panel is relatively spare, with a row of three USB ports. Two of these are USB 3.0 Type-A, and the third is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C that's fed by a modern Gen 2-style motherboard header. (Make sure your Mini-ITX motherboard of choice has both kinds of USB front-panel headers; older ones won't.) Alongside these are microphone and headphone jacks, as well as the usual power and reset buttons.

Externally, that’s about all there is to the The Tower 100 case, but the building experience is considerably different than any other case I’ve worked with so far.

On the back of the The Tower 100 case are four thumbscrews. For anyone that’s built a PC before, this appears to be the way to open the case, but it’s not actually the main access point, though you'll eventually want to go back here. Behind this panel is the back of the motherboard mounting tray. To open the case up for building purposes, you need to start at the top and work your way down.

The top-most panel is held on by a set of clips that release the panel when pressed. Underneath is another panel that doubles as a mounting bracket. This is one of only two locations where a fan can be mounted, and it’s the only place where you can install a closed-loop water cooler. Officially, you can install a radiator here only up to 120mm in size, but the fan bracket supports both 120mm and 140mm fans. The second fan mount is set behind the motherboard tray and is the same size, but the motherboard tray makes it impossible to add a radiator in this location. Both fan slots come with 120mm fans pre-installed into them. This panel is removable by taking out five screws.

After the top panels have both been removed, you can remove all three glass panels by simply sliding them up and pulling them off of the case. It’s only after removing these panels that you’ll be able to start building a system.

The motherboard gets mounted vertically in this case, positioned so that the board is on full view through the front glass panel. With all of the glass panels removed, getting access to all of the various headers to get them connected up is made fairly easy; you have easy access from three directions. The same goes for the RAM slots on your board, and the PCI Express slot for your graphics card.

Directly below the motherboard mounting tray is a compartment for housing the power supply. The power supply slides in through the back of the case and mounts to a removable metal bracket. Putting the power supply in is a straightforward and painless experience. Afterward, the cabling can be run up into the main case chamber through various slits in the PSU compartment, up to the motherboard or graphics card as needed.

Beside the motherboard mounting tray and the PSU compartment, Thermaltake left a large space for the video card. The cavity can accommodate a dual-slot card up to 330mm long.

In total, the case can hold four storage devices (not counting M.2 drives that may be mounted on your motherboard of choice). On the right side of the case are side brackets that can hold two 2.5-inch drives. Two 3.5-inch drives can be added to the back of the case behind the motherboard mounting tray, but this will require you to remove the fan from behind the tray to make room.

There’s one last key point that we need to discuss about The Tower 100, and that’s the rear I/O panel placement. It's an unconventional design, to be sure, and Thermaltake opted to place the rear I/O panel in one of the least accessible arrangements of any case in recent memory. Instead of being on the back of the case or elsewhere on the case’s exterior for easy access, Thermaltake positions the I/O panel inside the case under the top-most panel. It makes the case look sleek and minimal from all angles on the outside, but heaven forbid if you have to plug in anything in a hurry! You’ll need to snake the cables through cutouts in the back of the case then bend them downward to the ports. You're looking here at the inside of the chassis' top panel from below, with the I/O port zone to the left of the fan...

As you can see, the graphics card's backplane, and thus your video outs, will also point up and out of the top panel. This design is just as bothersome as it probably sounds to you, and it makes plugging anything into a motherboard built into The Tower 100 a chore. That is, of course, unless you take the lazy way out and leave the top panel off...but who wants to keep their showcase chassis part-disassembled, with cables looping out the top? That goes against the whole aesthetic of this chassis.

How could it be corrected in a future revision? A vertical motherboard mount like this necessitates the I/O positioning up top, to be sure, but some extender cables to the most commonly used ports (such as to a subset of your USB ports or to the display output) would be very thoughtful accessories to include. Or perhaps some L-adapters for stiff cables like HDMI or DisplayPort.

Another option might be to make the chassis a little taller, allowing for more room to access the I/O panel from the rear. Having the rear I/O panel on the top of the PC case is unconventional, but doing this would make getting to the rear I/O panel far easier without significantly changing the design.

A system built into Thermaltake’s The Tower 100 case has potential to be a real eye-catcher. The Tower 100, however, leaves a lot of that work to you. The price is attractive enough, but Thermaltake doesn't give you a whole lot outside the glass (aesthetically speaking, and in terms of accessories in the box) to make it an attractive option for someone looking to build a flashy PC case. It's something of a blank-slate box.

For one: The case doesn’t have any LED illumination built in, nor does it ship with RGB or aRGB LED fans. (The two included spinners are, curiously, unlit.) The case will do a good job showing off the parts you install into it, but as you can seee here, our finished build looks rather dull without some LED flair.

Even with added LEDs, some more conventional PC cases could make better display cases for computer hardware than this one. The thing is, though: Most of those are ATX, and this is Mini-ITX.

Setting the aesthetics aside, the case isn’t particularly difficult to work with; we've wrangled with far more difficult Mini-ITX cases in our day. The cooling options are quite limited, however, and the unusual rear I/O panel placement means you'll want to plug in what you must from the outset and mostly rely on your front USB ports from then on out. (Another reason to make sure your motherboard has that modern USB 3.2 Gen 2 header for the USB-C port.)

Overall, The Tower 100 leaves us with some mixed feelings, and we wish Thermaltake, a champion and pioneer of blingy gear, had opened up its purse and provided some cool RGB stuff in the box to enhance your build. But if the price fits your budget, the aesthetic tickles you just right, and you have the patience and the parts, where else will you find a teal or racing-green Mini-ITX chassis?

Thermaltake's The Tower 100 is as much a curio cabinet for your components as a PC case. The industrial design comes in some quirky, fun colors, but it's your PC parts that are the real star of the show with this unusual chassis.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a life-long tech enthusiast and gamer. He began breaking down PCs and ancient video devices known as "VCRs" at the age of 10. When he isn't gaming or tearing apart gadgets to learn how they work, he can usually be found reading history. He's also a student of the Chinese language and has a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. You can follow him on Twitter @EmperorSunLao. is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.

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