Thermaltake M9 Mid Tower

Posted by on Monday, June 29, 2009 - 6:21am

overviewThe M9 is a mid-size tower that is filled with cooling inspirations. There are four different versions of the M9 which means there may well be one to suit you. There are models with and without the side panel window. And if you are not looking to use some high powered power supply each of the forementioned models can be had with 400 watt power supplies. Thermaltake is one company that is known to try and provide products that suit all individuals no matter your budget, taste or needs.

 

Introduction

I have put together hundreds of computers in my lifetime. This was mostly before I started Pro-Clockers. During this period I must have used twenty to thirty different Thermaltake products from coolers to cases. Many of these systems are still in use today. There are chances you have used many of the same products as well. One of those products might be the Big Typhoon cooler. This cooler was one of the best and maybe still is. It was enough to challenge the likes of the Thermalright and Tuniq coolers. Time moves on and Thermaltake releases other great products like the one we are here reviewing today.

The M9 is a mid-size tower that is filled with cooling inspirations. There are four different versions of the M9 which means there may well be one to suit you. There are models with and without the side panel window. And if you are not looking to use some high powered power supply each of the forementioned models can be had with 400 watt power supplies. Thermaltake is one company that is known to try and provide products that suit all individuals no matter your budget, taste or needs.


 

Packaging and contents

Every Thermaltake product as of late has come in a black box. Outside the box are various images, inside and out, of the M9.
Now inside the box is a well protected M9 case held in place and protected by styrofoam.


Specifications

Model

VI1000BWS

Case Type

Middle Tower

Side Panel

Transparent window

Net Weight

6.4 kg / 14.1 lb

Dimension (H*W*D)

440.0 x 200.0 x 495.0 mm
(17.3 x 7.9 x 19.5 inch)

Cooling System

Front (intake) : 120 x 120 x 25 mm blue LED fan, 1300rpm, 17dBA
Rear (exhaust) : 120 x 120 x 25 mm blue LED fan, 1300rpm, 17dBA

Drive Bays
- 5.25" Drive Bay
- 3.5" Drive Bay
- 3.5 " Drive Bay
  (Hidden)

9 or 6
1 (converted from one 5.25” drive bay)
- or 3

Material

SECC

Color

Black

Expansion Slots

7

Motherboards

Micro ATX , Standard ATX

Features

Glossy finish

9 Drive Bays - 9 5.25” drive bay, swappable to 3.5” drive bay using HDD cage

High efficiency ventilation: 120mm silent fan in front and rear

Metal grilled front bezel for maximum air intake

Air guide and openings on side panel enhance CPU & VGA heat dissipation

Tool-free installation for 5.25” drive bays and add-on cards

 


 

Closer look outside

The M9 stands tall at about 17 inches. Made mostly of metal and a small amount of plastic the M9 is pretty light in weight. This will all change once we start throwing components inside. The size and weight is one positive factor but the matte paint is one that leaves something to be desired. We were still able to leave a fair amount of fingerprints on it. The entire front of the case is made of mesh, a feature that is known to collect its share of dust.

Hiding behind the mesh front are nine 5.25” bays which stretch from the bottom to near the top. The top houses the usually USB and audio ports. Missing from the list of ports are eSATA and firewire. These ports are probably absent due to keeping costs down or a decline in usage. Good thing is there are enough open bays to add in a front panel device containing these ports if needed. Near the bottom of the case near the last two bays are two more vented areas to aid in ventiliation.

If you turn the unit to the right you are greeted by a rather huge window.  The window is mostly square by at the same time resemble the letter “X” and is held in place with black rivets. Thermaltake’s aim with this case must be ventilation as the wndow also has slits cut into it. The upper set of vents is used for the air duct over the CPU area. If you are not a fan of air ducts this one can be removed. The Thermaltake logo etched in the side is a nice touch.

There is nothing to see here on the right side.

The rear of the case is about as exciting as the right side. Except for the mounting of the 120mm cooling fan which is included. Also this makes it obvious that this is one of the models without the included power supply. Remember there are two models available with power supplies.

The entire front of the case can be opened to access the drive bays. What a lot of us will like about this front bezel is that no buttons or cables are attached to the bezel. You are free to open the bezel at will.

 


Closer look inside

The first thing that I did once I removed the side panel was to grab and twisted several areas of the inside to get an idea of how well the case is built. Like a large margin of Thermlatke cases the M9 is well built. The arrangement of the inside is pretty typical from a distance and the case has a fair amount of structural rigidity to it. A good sign
The entire front half of the case is engulfed by the 5.25 bay frame. When using 5.25 devices these special brackets help to secure them in place. Up top we have a bracket that allows the adaption of a floopy or other 3.5” device. At the bottom is a three bay hard drive cage. Both the brackets and cage can be replaced for whatever reason. This is great for making room for a watercooling rad or extra long video cards. Depending how many hard disks you use this might be a good place to suspend one or two to counter vibration and seek noise.

To remove the HDD cradle from the case all you need to do is remove the three locks holding it into place. Then shift it to the location you favor. Once the cage is removed you can see the front mounted 120mm cooling fan. We have found in the past that removing the HDD cage has a good effect on airflow from the front to the rear, which always helps keep the internal components just that much more comfortable.

The rear of the case from the inside is about as adventous as the outisde rear except for the PCI locking mechanism. The plastic tab just pulls to the side to make room to slide whatever card in. Once the card is in place slide the tab back into place to lock it up ( Editor’s note: While tool-less retension mechanisms seem to be all the rage, it is seldom that we find one that is particularly good. Often they struggle with Dual-slot coolers on graphics cards. Case in point, the TJ-06 from Silverstone. I can’t help but think that providing Thumbscrews would be a better idea for many cases).

 


Installation

Because the HDD case is removable, it is a good idea to remove it first and install any hard drives you are planning to use. If you are lazy like me then leave the cage in place and slide the drives in. Nothing about installing the hard drive is difficult but we would suggest a trial placement of the HDD and video card so they do not interfere with each other.
The raised dimples in the motherboard tray are in exact alignment with most mATX and ATX motherboards. This means no standoffs are needed in most cases. but in other cases just a couple of standoffs need to be used.

Cable management in the M9 is not too bad for a mid size tower.  There is room alongside the drives and very little behind the motherboard tray to hide excessive cabling.

If you are using a dual slot video card you may find that installing it into the M9 a little bit of a pain. There are little lips that divide the slots from each other which prevents the dual slot cards from sitting correctly. In order to get the card in we had to remove the locking mechanism from the case and then place the card in. (Editor’s Note: “How is that tool-less?” we wonder)

And now the finished product.

 


Conclusion

The M9 is a simple case with big possiblities. Possibilities ranging for a good air cooling system or with some imagination an even better water-cooling setup. Thermaltake was looking out for everyone when putting together the M9.

Ventilation is probably the M9’s best asset. The entire height of the front is one big air intake. An area that can easily house two 120mm cooling fans. These same fans could be mounted to a water-cool radiator and be relatively stealthy in this location as well. Dust will be your worst enemy because of this approach to cooling. Be prepare to go though some cans of air in this case’s lifetime.

The unit uses some pretty decent 120mm blue LED cooling fans. For some these fans may be a little bright. Honestly, I have seen brighter so the ones in the M9 did not bother me at all. They were almost silent as well. Depending on what other components you have chosen, your system could be very quiet when installed in the M9. It is a pity they do not come with three pin motherboard  connectors as this would have allowed some kind of software driven control over their speed.

The ease of mounting hard drives and installing (single slot) PCI cards in the M9 puts it above a lot of cases in its price range which is about $70. Unfortunately dual-slot video cards remain the bane of tool-less retention mechanisms, but this fault is relatively easily dodged by unscrewing the retention mechanism itself and then re-applying it.

In summary, the Thermaltake M9 is a pretty decent case, which covers the bases very well. Pre-modded with a large perspex window on the right side it will show off your hard-earned components. It breaths well, which is both good, because it keeps things cool, and bad, because it will collect some dust. It can take only four hard disks, and the fourth will take the place of any floppy drive you had installed, and all the the hard disk drives require screws for retention.  The M9 focuses on several key features and if you can get by without what it brushes over then it will be a great case.

 

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