Thermaltake Armor A30 Small Form Factor Gaming Case

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Posted by on Monday, April 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Thermaltake A30The Armor series spans all three of the case size categories: full, mid and SFF. The unit we will be talking about today is going to be contained in the small form factor category. The A30 is the newest entry into the Armor class and a very good looking one at that. Thermaltake, like most of their SFF cases such as the LanBox, have geared this towards the gamer. And rightfully so, as the A30 can house some very long video cards for such a compact case!

Introduction to the Thermaltake Armor A30 SFF Gaming Case

Thermaltake's Armor brand of gaming cases have been a huge seller over the years. For a long time their highest-end case line (the Armor) have been favored by gamers everywhere, being a prime target for anyone planning to build a new system. The Armor models have a super bold look that will set it aside from Thermaltake's other lines, like the Xaser and Element series.

The Armor series spans all three of the case size categories: full, mid and SFF. The unit we will be talking about today is going to be contained in the small form factor category. The A30 is the newest entry into the Armor class and a very good looking one at that. Thermaltake, like most of their SFF cases such as the LanBox, have geared this towards the gamer. And rightfully so, as the A30 can house some very long video cards for such a compact case!


Specifications

Case Type

Gaming Cube

Material

SECC

Front Bezel Material

Plastic & Steel Mesh

Color

Black

Side Panel

Transparent Window

Motherboard Support

9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), Mini-ITX

Motherboard Tray

Yes

5.25" Drive Bay

2

Ext. 3.5" Drive Bay

1

Int. 3.5" Drive Bay

2 & 2 x 2.5" SSD / HDD

Expansion Slots

4

Front I/O Ports

USB 3.0 x 1
USB 2.0 x 1
eSATA x 1
HD Audio x 1

Cooling System

Front (intake) :
90 x 90 x 25 mm blue LED fan (1200rpm, 16dBA )
Rear (exhaust) :
60 x 60 x 25 mm fan x 2 (1500rpm,18dBA)
Top (exhaust) :
230 x 230 x 20 mm blue LED fan (800rpm, 15dBA)

Liquid Cooling Capable

No

Liquid Cooling Embedded

No

Power Supply Supported

Standard PS2 PSU

Power Supply Included

No

Dimension (H*W*D)

266 x 291 x 456 mm
10.5 x 11.5 x 18.0 inch

Net Weight

6.7 kg
14.8 lb

Security Lock

 

Application

Portable LAN Party system

Warranty

3 Years

Features

 

Characteristic black bulletproof armor design with metal mesh elements.

 

Top and front blue LED fan creates combat ambience and excellent ventilation.

 

Front I/O with USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Connector.

 

Support Micro-ATX/Mini-ITX motherboard and high-end graphic cards up to 13” / 33 cm.

 

Compact size ideal for Lan party event

 


Closer look at the outside

The A30 really has gamer written all over it. Unlike the Silverstone SG07 and the Lian Li V354 we reviewed some time ago, there are no subtle fine lines here. The usual mesh and perforated styling that we see from many of the larger gaming cases produced now days are all present. The A30 measures approximately 18 inches long and 10.5 inches tall making it smaller than the two cases earlier mentioned, and comes in only one color; black.

The front of the A30 does remind us of the A90 (which you can see here), both consisting heavily of mesh panels, but the looks are not overwhelming at all. On the contrary, it's small stature makes it quite easy on the eyes. Making up the front are two 5.25” optical bays and a vertical mounted 3.5” bay. On the bottom left corner are one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, one eSATA and audio jacks. Looking to the right we see Thermaltake's trademarked 'Tt' badge, and further over the power and reset buttons.

The sides of the A30 are identical in appearance and design as it's bigger siblings, but what makes the A30 a little different is that the sides are permanently affixed the the chassis. So just how does one install his/her components? Certainly not in the traditional manner, but more on that later. The sides consist of a small trapezoid window and honeycomb ventilation area ,both being mirrored on the opposite side as well.

Even on the top of the case Thermaltake continues with the gaming theme. Can’t put a large fan into a small case? Think again, Thermaltake have slapped a huge 230mm exhaust fan into the top of the A30!

In the rear of the case we see there are two smaller 60mm fans (that's an understatement), and also are included with the case. There are just four expansion slots available, as this case only supports mATX and mITX motherboards. All the thumbscrews that you see in the image are not to release the side panes,l as we stated before are not removable. These screws allow for the motherboard tray and the top panel to be removed for hardware installation or inspection.


Closer look at the inside

With the top separated from the rest of the case we get a better look at the 230mm exhaust fan. This is the largest fan we have ever seen in a small form factor case. When powered on the fan will illuminate blue.

Looking at the top of the case you would think that the A30 is rather cramped. Which there is no denying, because it is due to being a smaller case, that's just nature of the beast. However, the case is a bit modular in design and each of the sections we see can be removed with ease. This will free up room for us to root around on the inside, keeping us from having to try and bend our limbs in ways we were not designed to.

With the remaining top bits removed we can easily get to the rest of the pieces from the A30; beginning with the optical drive frame. Despite the dual 5.25" slot, the frame can only hold a single 5.25” drive, the other bay being more intended for a media reader or something of the like. For storage space we have one exterior (front) 3.5” bay, and on the bottom there is a removable HDD cage which can house two additional internal 3.5” drives. Then there is room for a total of two 2.5” drives can also be installed to the top of the optical cage, which we'll show you during the install.

With the motherboard tray removed we can get a better look at it. The A30 is made to support motherboards no larger than mATX, evident by the four expansion slots. The A30 uses dual 60mm fans for exhaust in conjunction with the top mounted 230mm fan. At first we were worried about the noise that would come from these fans. After testing we barely heard them., spinning at just 1500 RPM with a noise level of 18dBA.

There is no power supply included with the A30 but you can use any standard PSU with the unit. The PSU is mounted into this little frame and sit atop the motherboard when installed.

The last we have for you today is of the front panel from the inside. A single 90mm cooling fan is used to bring in the cool outside air.


Build Images

Components placed on the motherboard tray and ready for insertion. In this image you can see we used a Cooler Master heatsink for testing. It unfortunately was a tad too tall, so we moved on to the stock cooler.


Plenty of room for the Radeon HD 5870 GPU.


Two SSD drives mounted on top of the optical drive cage as we mentioned earlier.


Power supply installed in its frame.


Conclusion

It takes a clever team of individuals to put together a good small form factor case. Styling, interior arrangement and functionality all comes into play. Thermaltake has done a fine job in each of these aspects. The A30 definitely defines the compact-gaming style. From the mesh front to the ability of hold video cards up to 11 inches long.

Because of its modular design the A30 is easy to assemble. During this process each section of the case is able to be removed, allowing the hardware to be installed more easily. Once done everything is placed back into the case one section at a time. We are king of hesitance when it comes to reviewing SFF cases due to their pain in the butt to build, but that is not the situation with the A30.

The A30 has almost all the features of a much larger case: USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and eSATA all exist on the outside of the case. The ability to once again house long video cards and several drives, you can’t ask for much more with this case.

The Armor A30 goes for $100 at most online sellers making it a good buy for all you get.

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