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Thermaltake Eureka Aluminum Case

Date: June 12, 2007
Author(s): Greg King

We’ve reviewed many Thermaltake cases in the past that are gamer suited, but as a change of pace we are going to take a look at the Eureka, a case designed for home server use.



Introduction


When shopping around for a new computer case, we all have a good idea of where to look. Over the past decade, PC building has moved out of the fringe hobbyist’s home (or their mother’s home depending on which stereotype you choose to subscribe to) and into a multi-billion dollar industry.

With all of the choices available, and new chassis manufacturers seemingly coming out of the wood-works with new models all of the time, it’s nice to be able to turn to the veterans. Companies like Antec, Silverstone and Thermaltake (among others) have been in the PC case game for quite a while and over the years, have built names for themselves in one regard or another.

Today, we are working with one of the mainstays in the chassis industry, Thermaltake. Founded in 1999, Thermaltake is one of the leading manufacturers of PC hardware including cases, component coolers and power supplies.

With a long line of immensely popular cases, most notably the Armor, Thermaltake looks to extend their reach into the homes of the users with their home server Eureka aluminum case. Made entirely of aluminum, Thermaltake is marketing this case to the home server crowd, however large that might be.

Closer Look

In typical Thermaltake fashion, the Eureka comes in a large colorful box with plenty of information spread across the front and back of the package. Aside from that, there really isn’t anything else to report, it’s a box.

Once opened we see that Thermaltake has chosen to ship the Eureka protected in molded cardboard as well as wrapped in a plastic bag to defend the case from random scratches that could occur during shipping.

Let’s tear the case open and see what we are dealing with.



Closer Look

As a home server case, the Eureka is expected to be large. With a design geared towards those who would display the server in plain sight, the front of the Eureka resembles an older home speaker quite a bit. The front door of the case is made out of thick aluminum and curves a great deal, resulting in the middle of the door a good 3 to 4 inches away from the bays.

With the front of the case designed to look like a speaker, the upper three quarters of the door is full of small holes to add to the speaker effect at the top, the Thermaltake logo can be found.

When turned to the side, it’s obvious that the Eureka lacks what most now take for granted, a side window. Instead of this feature, there is a pair of honeycombed openings to allow a great deal of cooler outside air to be brought into the case when in operation.

While the ability to lock the case closed is something that all computer cases should offer, Thermaltake has always been good about placing a lock on the tower. In this regard, the Eureka is no different. With a lock at the back of the case on the side panel, the lock gives the users the ability to keep any unwanted hands out of the case. Just above the lock, the panel handle can be found.

Going from one side to the other, on the right side of the case offers the obligatory I/O ports. Armed with a pair of USB ports, a single FireWire port and the ever popular audio out and microphone in, the Eureka won’t exactly bring home any innovation awards but the I/O ports are in a convenient location and are easy to get to.

With the lockable door open, we can see the five available 5.25″ bays as well as a pair of 3.5″ drive bays for those of you who still use floppy drives (or dare I even mention ZIP?) Just under the drive bays, there is a significant amount of open slots, allowing the front fan to pull in the needed air from the outside of the case.

To install the drive bays, one only needs to remove the bay cover of choice and look underneath. Behind each of the bay covers is a pair of drive rails. These can be attached to the CD drives, allowing the drives to be installed with virtually no tools needed.

With the drives installed, we move to the back of the Eureka. With its side panel secured by a pair of thumb screws, the Eureka is a fairly secure chassis.

The back of the Eureka is as normal as they come. With a standard layout, the power supply gets installed at the top and the motherboard and CPU occupy the middle and lower sections of the case.

As it the theme of most recently produced cases, the Eureka supports the addition of water coolers. This is more of a testament to the out of control power needs of today’s hardware, but regardless, it’s nice to know that Thermaltake has got our backs and incorporates punch outs to act as tubing pass-throughs. The Eureka’s pass through are a bit limiting as they are designed to accommodate Thermaltake’s small tubing so those of you with ½” tubes, you’re s.o.l. if you use large tubing in your PC.

Next, the installation and final thoughts.



Installation, Final Thoughts

As is the case with most server cases, the Eureka offers a great deal of space to work in. The motherboard tray is not only marked well, allowing the motherboard standoffs to be installed correctly, but it is also removable. This is something that we would like to see more case manufacturers use in future designs. It’s a simple premise but one that is greatly appreciate by everyone that I know.

At the front of the case, the hard drive trays are rotated 90 degrees. This is another thing that we would like to see more and more case manufacturers start doing as it makes installation a breeze, but also helps sometimes with cable management.

As the next picture implies, the hard drives are attached to a small frame that in turn, slides into the rails. It’s as simple as that.

The rails themselves are constructed out of aluminum and have four raised areas on the bottom. These holes are used the mount the hard drive onto the rail.

The inside of the drive bays only have small round holes that the rails sit on when the drive is installed.

To control the front power and reset buttons, as well as use the side mounted USB, FireWire and audio jacks we first will need to use the included connectors. There is a cable for each and each one is long enough to reach across the long case if needs be.

The back of the case includes a single 120mm blue LED fan and an I/O shield.

As stated earlier, the Eureka uses a tool less back to secure the PCI slots. This removes the hassle of securing each card with a screw. This is something that I can personally live without but it is a feature that many people will find handy.

The most notable feature of the case, aside from being made entirely out of aluminum, is the removable motherboard tray. The ability to completely remove the motherboard tray significantly speeds up the installation process and is just a convenience feature that every case should have incorporated into it’s design.

Once the standoffs are installed in the correct ATX holes, the motherboard is installed. In our case, the DFI ICFX3200 is used as a test board.

Final Thoughts

The only other true server tower that we have reviewed recently has been the Cooler Master iTower 930. We are happy to say that installing hardware into the Eureka was a much easier experience thanks to the extra large interior and the removable motherboard tray. The front and rear 120mm fans provided sufficient airflow although with the front door closed, there is little open space for the front fan to draw in air at.

The large open area on the side panel allowed the interior of the case to breathe and provided the 120mm fan at the back of the case plenty of air to expel out the back of the case. The All aluminum design is a plus for many but for me, is something that I don’t normally care for.

The side panel felt flimsy, as did the handle on the side panel. Being made of the same aluminum, only shinier, the motherboard tray felt rather flimsy too. This is the unfortunate trade off when trying to make a very light case. The LED fan is a nice touch and the hard drive mounting mechanism is top notch and one that I would like to see used in more cases.

One very unique feature of the case is Thermaltake’s choice of hiding the drive rails inside the bay covers. This is a nice way to keep them out of sight, only to be seen when they are to be used in taking the place of the bay cover itself.

With nothing installed in the case, the Eureka is incredibly front heavy but the weight is somewhat leveled out when the addition of hardware. I do not personally like the extra length that the door adds but the perforated look does give the Eureka a very unique and classy look and the side mounted USB, FireWire and audio jacks are a nice addition as well.

While not a favorite of ours, the Thermaltake Eureka is a home server case that we would recommend to anyone in the market for a very light case with plenty of room for expandability. The Eureka earns a 7 out of 10.

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