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
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  • JoshuaBuss - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    What about direct links to images? Does that work?">
  • Jojo7 - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

  • JoshuaBuss - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    Try a refresh. Sometimes the image server gets a bit bogged down.
  • latino666 - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    Still can't get crap. I notice this problem also with the newegg article too. Man oh man did I want to see those pics.
  • ATWindsor - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    The tai-chi has gigantic heat-sinks on the side, but to me they seem like little more then a gimmick. Almost nothing is in physical contact with them, and when they are only taking heat fom air, they seem to be virtually useless. I bet the diffrences if one had a "standard" side would be hardly measurable.

    The CM 830 surly is more ugly than the old model IMHO, It doesn't quit have that "large clean beast"-feeling anymore.
  • Cygni - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    It seems they were going for the look of the Zalman completly fanless case, but didnt bother to install the flush mount PSU or heatpipes that ran into the doors, haha. :p Oh well.
  • Tamale - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I'd call it a 'large techno beast' now ;)
  • Howard - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    The 3/8" holes in the Tai Chi can easily be bored out with a twist drill bit (the regular ones) in a cordless drill. At least, they would be if the material is aluminum, and I think it is.
  • JoshuaBuss - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    Yah, but it's still much easier when it can be taken apart and pieces can be worked on individually.
  • Googer - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    Could you invert the motherboard on the CM Stacker by installing the tray on the left side in place of the usual right side? If you could possibly allow for better CPU cooling sine the processor would be sitting on the bottome getting plenty of cool air and allowing hot exhaust to escape upwards.

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