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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [07.27.02]
Manufactured by: Thermaltake
MSRP: $195

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Expanding Horizons

Wow.  Think back to June of 2000.  At that time, our site was just a few months old, and we had only a couple reviews under our belt.  June 2000 was when we reviewed our first Thermaltake product, The Golden Orb.  In that review, we were delighted by the interesting design of the cooler, and practical use.  While it wasn't exactly a brute cooler, it was more sufficient for some decent overclocking on the Socket370 platform.  Ah yes, I reviewed the Golden Orb on a Pentium 3 550 OC'd at a whopping 770 MHz.  My, how times changed.

What made Thermaltake unique, and not just another flash-in-the-pan cooling company with one fluke hit is the fact that since 2000, they have come out with DOZENS of new products, seemingly every week!  Really, Thermaltake's site is one you might want to keep an eye on, you just never know what they will come up with next! It was during one of my frequent web surfing trips to Tt's site that I found this:

My jaw dropped.  FINALLY, the masters of cooling with style have come up with a sweet looking case! I begged and pleaded to Thermaltake to send one over ASAP but never received a reply... Well just the other day, without prior notice, it arrived at my front door! WOOHOO!

A Closer Look

Many of you will recognize the case as a modded Antec.  If you look around, you'll see a lot of re-branded Antecs with various mods.  Even Alienware uses them for some of their systems!

I have never had an Antec before, so this will be my first experience with one.  Keep in mind though that this is a review of Thermaltake's case, NOT any other Antec you might find.  The version we are testing is their top of the line aluminum model with a HUGE window on the side.  You can also get one with a smaller window (it stops at about the PSU rail) or one with no window at all (it does have a cool embossed Thermaltake logo though).

YES! My PC has a set of keys!

One cool feature of the lockable front-panel and screwless case wall.  The power button is behind the front-panel door, so locking it is a nice way to help keep your PC secure in a public place like an office.  I would suggest adding other measures of course, like passwords on your BIOS and in Windows.  By the way, the front panel door looks great with the "XaserII" logo on it, and THIS is the BEST solution for a coloured case using regular peripherals.  Those ugly beige CDROMS and floppy drives are nicely hidden behind a solid (this thing is HEAVY) door.

The XaserII comes preinstalled with its own version of the "HardCANO 6".  The HardCANO 6 is a lot like the one we reviewed here.  2 USB ports are supplied, along with a Firewire extension port.

Thermaltake cleverly used straight USB plugs, allowing you to connect directly to the motherboard.  Many port relocators simply use an extension cord to move the USB port to the front.  With the Xaser II, you get 2 MORE USB ports in ADDITION to the ones in the back! Installation can be a bit of a bitch, since there is no OFFICIAL USB pinout that I know of.  9 out of 10 boards do use the same pinouts, (In fact, I used a Shuttle manual to connect these pins to an Intel board!) but it's better to be safe I guess...

Unlike the USB ports, an extension cord is used for Firewire.  There aren't a lot of motherboards out there yet with integrated Firewire, so this is great for those who use addon PCI cards.

I should also mention the fan speed selector, which is one of the most handy little devices I've come across in a while.  Just plug your CPU fan (or video card, or a case fan, or whatever) into the 3-pin Molex connector on the HardCANO, and you are able to set the fan speed from the front of the case! Leave it on Medium setting to have the fan spin at its rated speed.  When you want to keep things quiet, knock it down to low.  When things start to get hairy, you can crank it up to high, and let the case fans do their job!

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