If you like your mini-ITX cases to be barely any bigger than the hardware they house, with your graphics card sitting end-to-end in a shoebox-sized enclosure, look away now. Large cases aren’t unusual for Thermaltake, as its oversized behemoths stretch from its mini-ITX offerings all the way up to its full towers. It’s the mini version of one of the latter that we’re looking at here, as the Tower 100 is essentially a dinky version of the monstrous Tower 900.
At £90 inc VAT, it’s certainly more affordable than other mini-ITX cases we’ve reviewed recently, and it’s also well made, sturdy and not as flimsy as its price might suggest. However, at 46cm tall and 27cm deep, its size eclipses every other tower mini-ITX case out there. Part of the reason for this is its huge panoramic set of glass windows, which provide a fantastic view into the case, a bit like a compact aquarium, with your hardware taking centre stage.
Thermaltake has improved on the prototype of this case we saw at CES last year, adding more vents for improved cooling. The vertical graphics card mount now sits partly over the side vent, so while there’s still a big pane of glass in front of your graphics card, there is at least a nearby vent feeding it cool air, so it won’t cook. With 330mm of clearance, there’s space for a sizeable card too.
The CPU cooler height stands at 190mm, so there will be no issues accommodating even the biggest heatsinks.
Dimensions (mm) 463 x 266 x 266 (W x D x H)
Materials Steel, glass
Available colours Black, white
Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x stereo jack, 1 x mic jack
Drive bays 2 x 2.5in/3.5in, 2 x 2.5in
Form factor(s) Mini-ITX
Cooling 1 x 120/140mm rear fan mount (1 x 120mm fan included),
1 x 120/140mm base fan mount (fan not included), 1 x 120/140mm roof fan mount (120mm fan included)
CPU cooler clearance 190mm
Maximum graphics card length 330mm
However, despite the size of the case, there’s only support for a single 120mm AIO liquid cooler with its radiator located in the roof. This is probably the oddest design element of the Tower 100, as larger mini-ITX cases usually focus on providing better water-cooling support than their smaller counterparts.
You can just about squeeze another radiator into the second 120/140mm fan mount, but only if you use a custom loop with a super slim model such as XSPC’s TX120, along with a 15mm-thick fan – standard-size fans and radiators won’t fit here. There’s a third 120/140mm fan mount on top of the PSU mount in the base, but most other cases of this size still provide more than three fan mounts in total. Two 120mm fans are included in the box, which reside in the roof and rear of the case.
The rest of the case is well thought-out, with each of the three glass-clad panels paired up with vented panels below them. These panels allow air into the bottom of the case, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible if the glass stretched from the top to the bottom. The base and roof also sport large vents, so aside from the potential three fans, the case also lends itself to a bottom-to-top movement of air, getting rid of heat with a chimney effect.
Storage support is also restricted, though, with space for up to two hard disks if you don’t use a rear fan and up to two SSDs using a side bracket. That’s hardly stellar for such a large case. You do get a Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 port, though, plus two USB 3 ports. Plus, if the black model looks a little bland for your tastes, it also comes in white.
We can’t deny that the Tower 100 looks appealing in the flesh. Its girth and width are reasonably restrained, and you get an unparalleled view of your hardware in a unique chassis that’s sure to generate some interest. It’s fairly easy to create a clutterfree PC in it too, as the PSU is housed below the motherboard in its own chamber, with cable-routing holes provided to thread cables through to the motherboard and graphics card.
Your hardware should stay looking shiny too, as there are several dust filters covering every vent and hole. However, the build process isn’t quick. Each panel has its own mounting
mechanism, and there are more than ten individual pieces of the exterior, which makes getting inside the case a bit of a faff. Single-piece side panels would solve this problem, but we would prefer the status quo if it meant reducing the number of mesh panels.
With such an unusual design, we couldn’t estimate how the Tower 100 would perform, but with a CPU delta T of 72°C, it’s clear that it’s not particularly well suited to low-air profile coolers, which is what we used in the test. It would benefit from
an AIO liquid cooler instead. This result was similar to that of the Phanteks Shift 2 and Streacom DA2 V2, and a little cooler than the Raijintek Metis Evo TGS, but noticeably warmer than the Cooler Master MasterCase NR200P.
The GPU delta T was more competitive at 44°C, and that large side vent clearly helped here – this result was only second to the 38°C achieved by the NR200P in our tests. This temperature was 22°C cooler than the Phanteks Shift 2 and it even managed to beat the Streacom DA2 V2. The case was quiet too, with the fans buried in the case seeing much of their noise deadened by the various panels and filters.
The design of the Thermaltake Tower 100 is far more focused on creating a unique design and view of your hardware than on cooling performance or features. There’s next to no watercooling support, which is odd given its size, storage support is limited and it has few standout features, which a lot of the current cream of the crop use as their main selling points. Comparatively, the Streacom DA2 V2 is highly customisable, while the Cooler Master MasterCase NR200P offers great out-of-the-box cooling and good water-cooling support.
The Tower 100 is quite attractive, though, and the extensive use of glass really does make you take a second glance at it. We’d love to see a build in it that makes extensive use of RGB lighting, especially in the white model. Overall, it has a funky design and will appeal to those who want something different. As long as you’re aware of its shortcomings, the Tower 100 is a reasonable chassis in which to house a high-end mini PC, as long as you maximise your CPU cooling.