Removing the Element V’s huge side panel is accomplished by the use of two catches: one of which is lockable to protect your precious hardware at LAN parties – nice idea! The panel lifts away to reveal the roomy but unpainted steel interior. Roomy is definitely the right word too, as the Element V offers mounts for even E-ATX hardware with plenty of room to spare, as well as pre-cut cable routing and rear CPU socket holes .
The enormous amount of space inside means that building a system into the Element V is very easy, and a welcome change to the cramped confines that are often found in “gaming” cases. As with most modern chassis the PSU is mounted in the base of the case with tight mounting plates holding it in place, and a meshed section below to allow dedicated airflow. However, there’s inexplicably no dust filter here and considering the distinct lack height that the case’s four rubber feet provide, your PSU will soon act as a vacuum cleaner for all the dust and dirt that slips beneath your PC.
Click to enlarge - There's plenty of room inside and cables are well hidden
With such a huge space for your central hardware Thermaltake have also provided ample room for drive mounts, with six 3.5” drive bays split between two removable cages and up to eleven 5.25” drives. The hard disk drive cages, each fitted with a 120mm cooling fan, can be repositioned anywhere in the mounting rack, or completely removed allowing a fair degree of customisation of the case’s layout.
Sadly the mounting system for your drives leaves a lot to be desired though, where the black plastic clips may promise
“tool-less installation”. These are only used to secure the hard disk cages into place as the hard drives themselves are secured using standard screws threaded through holes beneath the plastic plates, before being fitted directly into steel mounting frames. The downside of this is that it not only means that there’s no hard disk vibration dampening whatsoever in the Element V, but that installing multiple drives fully can be a fiddly and unnecessarily difficult task.
While the drive bay mounting system is disappointing, the cable management hidden behind it is excellent. Not only are all the Element V’s fan cables pre-braided and for the most part pre-routed, but all the front panel cabling is tucked away behind the drive bays, making it easy to wire up your front USB ports without trailing wires across your case. However, some additional cable routing holes along the bottom of the motherboard would have been helpful, but for the most part here – it’s all good. There’s also a fair amount of room behind the motherboard tray in which to tuck unneeded cables, as well as the unused 5.25” drive bays for those that might not fit.
Click to enlarge - The drive bay mounting system is fiddly and there are three different kinds of fans on display
Thermaltake has also used a very clever power connector for the right hand side panel fan. The connector matches a counterpart on case itself, allowing the mounted 230mm fan to be powered without the need for cack handed re-wiring every time you open up the case – a superb addition as anyone who’s tried to tinker in a case with a side panel can fan can attest to.
It’s a shame then that the Element V’s fans themselves aren’t so great. With a mix of multi LED lit (the roof 200mm fan and one of the front 120mm fans), clear (the side panel 230mm fan) and matt black (the 120mm rear and other front intake fan) you have to wonder if Thermaltake’s designers couldn’t make up their minds about which type to use, or, most likely the company just reused any old thing it had in the warehouse. To add insult to injury, the quality of all of them is pretty damn ropey too, with bearings visibly off centre and blades that can bend easily under even a light touch.