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

  • chynn - Thursday, March 2, 2006 - link

    Yes, you can. I'm surprised AnandTech missed that option in their review. I like mounting inverted (BTX-style) ATX motherboards because that points the HSFs on my graphics cards (I run SLI) up to help dissipate heat.
  • Googer - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    let me rephrase that.

    Is it possible invert the motherboard on the CM Stacker by installing the tray on the left side in place of the usual right side

    By inverting the motherboard (insalling on the BTX side) it may 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.
  • kextyn - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    I believe it would depend on which CM Stacker you get. I have the original and I run my ATX motherboard inverted on the opposite side just for this reason (cooling.) Also because I have an XP-120 on the CPU and don't have to worry about clearance issues with the PSU.

    If you're going to buy a Stacker I suggest looking at the specs on all of them before deciding. If I was going to buy another one I'd get the original again. It offers the full 12 5.25" bays in the front, dual PSU's, ATX/BTX/Inverted ATX/Inverted BTX, and I think more mod potential than this new one. The reason is because it's so basic that you can just cut and add stuff wherever you want. The only thing I like about this new one is that 4x120mm fan array on the side. But if I really wanted to I could mod the side of my case for that.
  • Googer - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    Also will a PC Power and Cooling Turbo Cool 850 or any other oversized PSU fit in to either the Thermaltake or Cooler Master?
  • chynn - Thursday, March 2, 2006 - link

    Yes, the PCP&C 850W PSU should fit in the Stacker. You might have to orient the PSU so the cables exit from the bottom side to clear the 120mm fan in the top center, but the Stacker will let you do that.
  • Matthews316 - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I own the Thai-Chi, and my PC Power and Cooling 1 KW (same size as the 850) fits just fine. I heard a rumor that oversized PSU's, such as the PCP&C 850/1KW, won't fit in the CM Stacker 830. Can anyone comment on this?
  • JoshuaBuss - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I would say that as long as there's nothing protruding from the sides, top, or bottom of the PSU, it'll fit in the stacker fine... length isn't the issue, it's the sides, top, and bottom you'd have to watch carefully.
  • Googer - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    What a tough decision it would be to choose between those two cases, both are feature rich and well though out and designed. (if price was not a concern)
  • yanquii - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I love seeing case reviews on this site, especially considering how sparsely they are reviewed. What I would like to see are some reviews done on some cases that don't look like they came off they toy isle from the nearest Dollar General store. It would be sweet if you guys could do some reviews on the higher end offerings from Silverstone; especially the TJ07.
  • yanquii - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    oh, and Lian-Li. I remember when Coolermaster was pumping out the sweetest cases you could buy. I love simplicity and elegance, and it seems that most companies are all about gaudy flash.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now