Introducing the Thermaltake Armor A30

It's pretty clear on our side of the fence that smaller enclosures and leaner builds are increasingly becoming the way to go for most users these days, with even die hard enthusiasts drawn to these smaller cases if for no other reason than to see just how much horsepower they can cram into a small form factor system. There are tradeoffs made in going small form factor, though, and if you go too small the cooling demands can produce system noise that may be too much for many users.

That's why there are slightly larger, Micro-ATX scale enclosures like the Thermaltake Armor A30. Thermaltake's case is designed to support a Micro-ATX motherboard and a substantial video card or two, and the cooling system is remarkably robust. Yet as it turned out, working with the A30 proved to be a remarkably fraught experience, with the case having split personalities. Cooling and acoustic performance were actually quite good, but the case itself is tough to recommend. So what happened?

Thermaltake is pretty well known in the industry for being especially press friendly, and given the demand for smaller, more powerful systems, we figured we'd check in with them and see what they had to offer. The Armor A30 turned out to look like a pretty exceptional option, and despite having been around for a little over a year it looked to be a fairly current and competitive offering. This was a case I specifically headhunted, as it's actually roughly the same size in volume as BitFenix's exceptionally popular Prodigy while featuring support for Micro-ATX builds as well.

Thermaltake Armor A30 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25", 1x 3.5"
Internal 2x 2.5", 2x 3.5"
Cooling Front 90mm blue LED intake fan
Rear 2x 60mm exhaust fan
Top 230mm blue LED exhaust fan
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 4
I/O Port 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 90mm
PSU 180mm
GPU 9.5" / 242mm
Dimensions 10.5" x 11.5" x 18"
266mm x 291mm x 456mm
Weight 14.8 lbs / 6.7 kg
Special Features USB 3.0 passthrough
Price $119

Because the A30 is about a year and a half old, I'm less inclined to ding Thermaltake for using a USB 3.0 passthrough instead of an internal header. What's surprising is the sheer weight of the enclosure. Thermaltake uses a decent amount of plastic, true, but an awful lot of steel. For an enclosure intended for LANs, the A30 is remarkably heavy and unfortunately does not include a handle. Its dimensions are appropriate to a more portable system, sure, but it starts at nearly fifteen pounds.

In and Around the Thermaltake Armor A30
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  • Ryomitomo - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    I have recently built an i7-3770K + GTX680 system with the A30 case for my brother-in-law. The case is not easy to build with. Tidying the wires is very hard. The top fan is placed in a weird location, the PSU blocks over half of the fan. The GTX680 power plug jabs against the metal casing for the 5.25" bays, I had to bend the power wires 90 degrees at the plug to fit them under the metal casing.

    However, after the system was put together carefully, I have to say it is rather quiet unit and the temperature of the CPU and GTX680 is only a few degrees higher than my Thermaltake Armor Revo case build with same CPU and GTX680.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    I think there's a reason why the Prodigy has become popular - it looks good as well as being a mini-ITX case you could actually use for a high end machine. Reply
  • Meaker10 - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    All those thumb screws, the drive cage and removable tray are based on the lanparty lite series they did. This is the same but with more fans which is why the basic design feels dated. You get used to it though and you can take it apart fairly quickly. Reply
  • BuffaloChuck - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Cube cases still are doing this upside down. They need to put the motherboard on top, and power-supply/other drives on the bottom. The MB has 95% of all connections, requirement finger-tip time, and hosts most of the changes. And, if they'd put the HDDs in a two-stack nose-to-nose config under the MB tray, sticking the connections to the outside, they'd have plenty of room for airflow between drives AND space to add more. Cubes always do this design upside down. Reply
  • BuffaloChuck - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    And why can't the reviewers utilitize the space offered? Instead of proving MiniATX boards fit in MicroATX cases, why not fill 'em up and THEN do the tests? The case engineers, after all, put those drive-cages in there for a reason. USE 'EM and do REAL reviews. Reply
  • cjb110 - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Because then the stats of the 3 bay case wouldn't be comparable with the 2 bay case.

    I think AnandTech does a good job of mentioning if they feel utilizing the extra features would be significant positive/negative.

    From this review its fairly obvious it would cope with the bay's being filled in terms of performance, but it would make the already difficult install even harder.
    Reply
  • 7amood - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    review http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=317 pleeeeeeeeeease. Reply
  • Grok42 - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - link

    I 2nd the motion. Also, the LIAN LI PC-Q25 and PC-Q16. Reply
  • xcomvic - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Is that most don't have a handle on the top of it to easily lug it around...It wouldn't have taken an engineer to figure out how to attach one easily to the top of the thing...or the side..or back....wherever. I know there's been some good cases out there WITH handles, those are real LAN cases. Reply
  • Orvtrebor - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    They should have added a handle again like from their earlier cube designs.

    Without it whats the point of doing this case? A Silverstone TJ08-E or PS07 will better serve a microatx build, and if your going to run itx there is a wide range of superior/smaller cases.
    Reply

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