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Appeared on: Monday, December 19, 2005
Thermaltake Soprano

1. Introduction

This review is for those who want a PC case that looks like a modified PC cases. The following pages are going to take a closer look at Thermaltake's Soprano PC case. This PC case comes in two versions and colours: with or without the transparent X Side Panel Window, in black or silver. We had the opportunity to test the Black Soprano with the transparent panel.

The Soprano VB1000BWS is very striking, mainly due to the wavy front door and the X type transparent panel. However, one thing that is annoying is how easily fingerprints show up on the case, although TT provides a lens cloth to clean them with.

Enclosed dust cloth....

- Specifications

Case Type Middle Tower
Side Panel Transparent X type side panel
Black or Silver
Net Weight 9.4kg
Dimension (H*W*D) 495 x 210 x 7480 mm
Power Supply
Cooling System Front (intake) 120x120x25 mm, 1400rpm, 21dBA
120x120x25 mm, 1400rpm, 21dBA
Side (exhaust) 90x90x25 mm, 1800rpm, 21dBA
Material Chassis 0.8 mm SECC
Front Door Plastic
Drive Bays 11 External 4 x 5.25", 2 x 3.5"
5 x3.5"
Expansion Slots 7
Micro ATX , Standard ATX
Features High efficiency ventilation: Dual 12cm silent fan in front & rear, 9cm fan on side panel
Transparent side panel
Tool - Free when installing 5.25" & 3.5" device
Dual USB 2.0, IEEE 1394 Firewire, Audio & Speaker ports
Highly flexible "Silent Purepower supply" unit supports PS/II for PC case (optional)

Now that we've covered the basics, let's move on to the detailed analysis of the features and case accessories.

2. Features

The Soprano VB1000BWS is based on the Tsunami case, though the Soprano is a little simpler. The Soprano has many features that make it unique, among them the ability to lock the front door and the side panel.

Let's look all these features, one by one

- Piano Coating Front Door. The front panel door has a piano style finish and is very impressive.
- Audio and Speaker. There are two audio ports at top of the case (microphone and speakers), quite a handy inclusion.
- Rear Exhaust Fan. A 12 cm cooling fan is installed in the rear (exhaust).
- Front Fan. A 12 cm cooling fan is installed in the front of the case.
- Side Panel Fan. A 9 cm cooling fan is installed on the transparent pane.
- USB 2.0. Dual USB 2.0 ports at the top of the case, next to the Audio ports.
- IEEE 1394. The IEEE 1394 firewire slot is also at the top of the case, next to the USB 2.0 ports.

Apart from these basic features, the Soprano also offers:

- A Transparent X side panel, enabling a clear view of the interior. The panel locks.
- Tool Free Installation when installing 5.25" & 3.5" devices, with plastic holdings and a patented sliding rail design reducing installation time to a minimum.
- Thumb-screws are used for convenience when opening the Side Panel.
- EMI Protection spring which applies pressure to the side panel for perfect fit.
- Screwless slots, for easy installation of PCI peripheral cards.
- Front Door, 2 way open, with 3-way key lock.
- Dust Filter, which is behind the second front door.
- Midi tower.

Quite a handful of features, but what about the case itself? Moving on to the next page, we will see a more detailed view of the case exterior and interior environment.

3. A Closer Look

As we previously said, the Soprano comes in two versions, Black or Silver and with or without the transparent X Side Panel. We received the Black version with the transparent Panel, pictured below.

The Soprano VB1000BWS weighs about 9.4kg and its dimensions are 495 x 210 x 7480 mm.

On the top of the case you will find an IEEE1394 Firewire port, two USB 2.0 ports, and microphone and speaker ports.

On the front panel, you will find 4 x 5.25" and 2 x 3.5" drive bays. This panel also houses the Power and Reset buttons, as well as two activity LEDs, one for HDD and the other for power. The front panel is also 3 way lockable.

The side panel has an interesting design, which offers an excellent view at the inside of the case. It is also lockable and equipped with a cooling fan.

The rear of the case features the rear exhaust fan (120mm). We can also see the motherboard I/O slots, expansion slots and the power supply housing.

Having concluded with the exterior of the case, let us now move on and cover the interior as well as installation procedure.

4. Inside the Soprano

The interior of the Soprano is rather simple. The case contains two 120mm fans (one at the rear and one in the front) and a 90mm fan on the Side Panel.

The orange colored rear fan...

The front panel fan has a washable dust filter, which can be removed after the second front panel has been taken off. It is strongly recommended that the dust filter be cleaned frequently to avoid any loss in ventilation performance.

the washable dust filter...

A classic orientation for the Hard Discs, however it might be difficult to install HDDs, if you have an SLI system, due to the limited space between the VGA cards and the HDDs.

the HDD case... the HDD is too close to the VGA card...

A convenient feature is the locking mechanism for expansion cards which doesn't require a screwdriver.

Screwless slots for easy assembling...

Unfortunately, the top panel USB 2.0, FireWire and Audio connection wiring, requires some fiddling around when connectiing to the motherboard, because the connectors are separated into single wires. You have to painstakingly locate and connect each pin, one by one.

USB 2.0, FireWire, Audio connectors...

Another feature on the Soprano case is the chassis security intrusion detector, which alerts the user when the side panel opens by accident, preventing any damage that might occur. This intrusion detector is located on the left of the case, between the side panel and the case, and is a small switch that closes when the side panel is installed.

chassis intrusion detector...

5. Installation

Installation is quite simple, as with most PC cases, so we will only cover the important parts here.

After screwing the motherboard and Power Supply in place and installing the VGA card, we next mount the HDDs.

Tool-free HDD installation...

Installation of the Hard Discs is tool-free. the only thing we had to do was to apply a plastic lock on the side of the HDD bay and turn the green switch to lock it into position.

Lock position...

Installation of 5.25" devices is also tool-free, thanks to the sliding guide-rail design.

Sliding guide-rail design for easy 5.25'' devices installation...

Other than that, the rest of the installation process is straightforward and in most cases tool-free. As we mentioned previously in this review, the HDD layout is not the best and longer PCI cards such as SLI VGA cards can make things quite cramped.

Two SLI cards will fit, but you might face problems with cables...

Well, that's about it. We managed to assemble our PC in less than an hour, all parts included and we had it up and working in no time. A really enjoyable task since the tool-free strategy is adhered too for almost all components in this case.

6. Conclusion

Nowadays, PC case modding is widespread with many enthusiasts, so the PC case market is continually producing cases of all types and styles, especially fancy ones with lots of lights and extravagant gadgets. What is it then that makes the Tt Soprano case so special? It is a stylish case with a lot of conveniences and can take further modifications.

The tool-free strategy is one of the primary merits of this case. There's almost no requirement for screwdrivers when assembling or adding components to the case. However, the limited amount of space between a HD drive in the HDD bay and any longer PCI cards is a problem. The Firewire, USB 2.0 and Audio connections at the top of the case are very handy and convenient.

The case is not equipped with any fancy features. But it is eye catching with its Piano style look and finish. There's also the impressive lockable, Transparent Side Panel. Finally, with a couple of fancy LED fans and an equally fancy CPU cooler, the outcome can be quite spectacular.

At the time of this review, the price of the Soprano case was US$75.95 at pricegrabber.com, which is a very reasonable price and makes it an attractive purchase.

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