There are extremes to everything in life, and products are certainly not an exception - especially technology products. Earlier, we looked at one of the ends of the extremes in computer cases with Dynapowers' super-affordable E68 in addition to two more moderately-priced cases in a price-point comparing shootout, but this time, we're going to examine two cases at the other end of the spectrum. Barring solutions such as Zalman's TNN-500A, which attempts to handle all cooling needs for a computer on its own in complete silence, the Tai Chi by Thermaltake and Stacker 830 that we'll be looking at here represent some of the very finest in case design - and have a price to match.

We've looked at products from both of these companies for several years now, and it's apparent that they both know what they're doing. The last several models of Thermaltake's have had exceptional capacity for drives, but don't have quite the same "quality of construction" feel that cases from others like Lian Li tend to have. With their latest, that's all about to change. The Tai Chi sets a new standard for case construction and "modability", and provides the lucky few who can afford such a unit a tremendous wealth of configuration choices including wide support for multiple water cooling loops.

Cooler Master's last several cases, on the other hand, seem to be focused more on the realm of exuberant venting for the sake of cooling performance, and their latest simply takes this idea and stretches it to a new level as we're about to see. The Stacker 830 gets rid of all the difficulties of installing hardware with a vengeance - offering effective tool-less solutions and a multi-part design that are more numerous than what we've ever seen before.

For a quick overview of what each case offers, we've made up a feature chart for the two products:

(TL: Tool-less, TS: Thumbscrews, SS: Standard Screws)

With the obvious features out of the way, let's go ahead and examine the older of the two - the Tai Chi - in more detail.

Thermaltake Tai Chi
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • JoshuaBuss - Sunday, February 26, 2006 - link

    The stacker 830 would probably be a perfect case for someone like you.. it has the potential for an incredible amount of air flow right at the hard drives and video cards
  • tjr508 - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    This article states the front bay pannes on the CM case are held in loosely. I find that strange being my $50 CM case (awsome case) actually uses screws to hold these in place, making them the most secure that I have ever seen. I wonder why CM felt it important to secure these tightly on their $50 cases but not on their $250 case?
  • chynn - Thursday, March 2, 2006 - link

    Wrong! What Anandtech did not do with the RC-830 was to lock the 4to3 drive bays down with the provided screws. The snap locks are there only to position the drive bays, and anything else, that fit into the 5.25in slots.

    Only the Lian-Li V1000 and V1200 cases, in my experience, have a fool-proof and moron-tolerant hard drive locking mechanism.

  • JoshuaBuss - Monday, May 15, 2006 - link

    I was referring to the pop-out panels that cover unused 5 1/4" drive bays. They're very loose, and there's no screws for holding them in place.
  • BikeDude - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    I have been using the Armor case for almost a year, and the green plastic clips still gives me nightmares.

    If you get impatient, they'll simply detach and you'll have to nudge them back in again. In practice, I've wasted a lot of time nursing cards underneath the clips, reattaching the clips and finally pray it all fits in the end.

    Even a simple old-school phillipshead screw would've saved me _a lot_ of time!

    It is disheartening to see that TT not only makes mistakes, but insist on repeating them. :(

    Also, the four holes for watercooling, on my Armor case atleast, are positioned too close. Atleast when attaching the Zalman Reserator-1 system. With the reserator you can choose to have a junction there so that you can more easily detach the cooler and move the case... Won't work if you have two Reserators...
  • Tamale - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    Interesting point about the reserators.. what's the junction exactly?

    As for the green clips, I tend to agree.. it's a shame they didn't come up with a solution as elegant as the thumbscrews used to hold the 5 1/4" drives.. but for the majority of cards they do work very nicely.
  • theoak - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    The reviewer calls this a tie.

    If keeping your components cool is the objective, I feel that the 830 wins by a landslide.

    If you look neer the end of the review at the heat comparison chart, the 830 wins or ties all but two (HDD and System Exhaust).

    The reviews gives the system exhaust win to the Tai Chi. I have to disagree. The fact that the components are cooler, implies to me that the system exhaust would therefore have to be hotter, because it is cooling the components better.

    If you take the sum of the exhaust results you get:

    Tai Chi 54.2/60.4
    830 53.4/59.6

    The combined values I feel demonstrate that the air temperature in the 830 is cooler and hence offers better airflow.

    (I do not work for either of these companies nor do I own either of the boxes. My computer is a P3 650 :( )
  • Tamale - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    You're absolutely right.. the 830 did a slightly better job of cooling than the Tai Chi did in our comparison.. BUT.. it was using FOUR 120mm fans to accomplish this as oppossed to the Tai Chi's two. The fans aren't rated that different in terms of CFM, so adding even a single fan to the side of the Tai Chi would undoubtedly bring its temperatures even closer to the stacker's.
  • chynn - Thursday, March 2, 2006 - link

    Anandtech got a "non-stock" RC-830 case. The "stock" RC-830 case I received contained two fans, not four.

    Besides, stock case fans are usually less than adequate. I would replace them with 120mm Scythe SFF21F fans because the Scythe have: high MTBF (150,000hrs), more volume (63+CFM), and lower noise (fluid bearing 28DBa). If that's too much noise, use a D or E model; less noise but less air too.

    And no, I don't work for Scythe ... I'm opinionated is all ... :)
  • theoak - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link


    I was unaware and/or missed that the 830 had more fans. That would tip the scales a little.

    For what its worth ... I agree that it is a tie then :)

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now