ProsOutstanding aesthetics thanks to glass panels and RGB fans; quiet operation; highly customizable interior; reasonable price
ConsPlastic front panel is a bit hazy compared to glass side panels; utilitarian layout; odd default fan configuration
Here at The Tech Buyer's Guru, we begin every case review by noting that we really like reviewing cases. In fact, we've reviewed more PC cases than any other tech product. While big changes in other areas of PC technology get lots of press, the equally-important changes in case design often get overlooked, despite the reality that they might actually have a much greater impact on your user experience. This is doubly true if you intend to keep a case for a while, tweaking, refreshing, or completely rebuilding your PC over time, while sticking with the same chassis. That's why every year, we aim to review the best new cases at a variety of pricepoints in order to give our readers a "best of" list that keeps up with the times. These top-rated cases end up being the featured picks in our Do-it-Yourself PC Buyer's Guides.
To keep up with all the latest designs, we spend a lot of time chatting with PC case vendors at trade shows each year (primarily CES and PAX), which gives us insights into what's here and what's coming long before these products become top sellers (or also-rans) on real and virtual store shelves. And that's how we came to review the subject of this article, the Thermaltake View 31 Tempered Glass RGB ATX Case. Thermaltake had a number of new cases on display at CES 2017, and right off the bat, this case was the one we thought had the greatest market potential, and therefore the one we most wanted to review. It combined a proven chassis with beautiful glass panels and patented RGB fans, which made it truly stand out from every other case we'd seen over the past year or so, including those from Corsair, SilverStone, Phanteks, In-Win, and CoolerMaster. When we first saw the prototype on display, a price hadn't been set yet. Well, now that the View 31 has been released, we know that it retails for $129.99. Folks, this bodes very well for the View 31 TG RGB. Read on to find out if Thermaltake got everything else right!
We'd like to extend a special thank you to Thermaltake for providing a review sample of the Thermaltake View 31 TG RGB.
Description and Features
First things first: the promotional image shown here, created by Thermaltake's marketing department, isn't the most representative demonstration of the View 31's appearance. The reality is that the Thermaltake Riing fans, which are included with the View 31 RGB and featured in this image, cannot provide full-spectrum RGB effects. To the contrary, they only emit a single color at any given moment (generated by two embedded LEDs combined with a highly-effective lightpipe, based on our examination). By default, the Riing RGB controller cycles these fans through 256 colors in an alternating pattern, which is actually a very cool effect, but it's not quite what you see in the marketing photo. In response to our inquiry regarding the potential for consumer confusion this could cause, Thermaltake's representative explained that this was the best way to demonstrate in a static image the fact that the Riing fans can display multiple colors. Fair enough, although it puts the onus on consumers to "interpret" that image to mean that they can choose from any one of the colors displayed. This is by far the greatest criticism we're going to levy at the View 31, and in the end, it's a pretty minor one. We felt, however, that in sharing a Photoshopped promotional image with our readers, it was critical to provide this disclaimer. The photos we provide throughout this article, including the one below, offer a better illustration of what the View 31 looks like in actual use.
Before we get into the features of this case, let's go over the components we used to put it to the test:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z270X-UD3
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
- SSD #1: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB M.2
- SSD #2: Crucial MX300 1TB 2.5"
- RAM: Geil Super Luce 2x8GB DDR4-3000
- CPU Cooler: Cryorig H7
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova G2 850W
- Operating System: Windows 10 Flash Drive
This is a fairly high-end build, similar to what we recommend in our $1,750 Advanced Gaming/Productivity PC Buyer's Guide. A few key elements include the potent Core i7-7700K processor, which is rated at 4.2GHz but actually runs at a blistering 4.5GHz in almost all situations, along with the GTX 1070 video card. It also features the Cryorig H7 CPU Cooler, which won our recent 120mm CPU Cooler Roundup, along with a new Z270-based motherboard from Gigabyte.
Now, how about the View 31's features? Well, first, it's among the lowest-priced cases on the market with dual tempered glass panels (left and right), and it's the only case we've seen that uses sliding glass panels, rather than bolt-on glass panels. As Thermaltake explained to us at CES, one of the advantages of this approach is that you aren't putting strain on the glass panel itself by driving a bolt through a hole in the glass. We're guessing that many of the shipping problems that Thermaltake's competitors have had with tempered glass in the past related to this very issue. While designing a sliding system likely cost a bit more and involved more engineering design work, the result is most definitely a plus for consumers. The one thing we'll note is that because the glass panels don't have the notches that traditional sheet metal panels use, they are a bit harder to guide into place - you essentially have to hold them and slide them simultaneously, which isn't quite as effortless as securing a metal side panel that hooks into the chassis.
The other major feature of the View 31, specific to this "limited edition" RGB version, is the Riing 14 RGB Triple 140mm Fan Kit with RGB controller. This kit sells for around $60 on its own. Let's circle back to the intro where we mentioned the retail price of this case: $130. If you consider the value of the fan kit it includes, you're paying just $70 for the rest of the case, which is a high-quality kit, enhanced with the aforementioned sliding glass panels. The Riing fans are truly a cut above any other RGB fans out there, not only because they look better, but because they also perform incredibly well, which we'll discuss later in this article. Nobody else is going to offer you the unique lightpipe design, because Thermaltake has patented it. All other manufacturers are stuck with designs that shine the LEDs at the fan blades, which just isn't as eye-catching.
Note that the chassis allows you to use either triple 120mm fans or dual 140mm fans up front, and comes with dual 140mm fans mounted in the two lowest positions. We thought the aesthetics looked a little odd in the promotional images, so right out of the box, we modified the fan placement to provide for more even spacing, which not only improved aesthetics (from our point of view), but also improved overall airflow, as more air was directed at components that needed it (like the CPU and video card), and less was directed at the bunch of cables in the bottom of the case.
One thing that we're always concerned about with cases that use solid front panels is airflow. We've found that plenty of high-end, expensive cases can fail in the airflow department due to this popular design approach. Luckily, Thermaltake has incorporated a large side-facing vent to allow for substantial airflow despite the solid front panel. One note in terms of aesthetics: the front panel is acrylic, not glass like the side panels, and while that was probably a necessity given its curved surface, it's nonetheless a slight letdown. The optics of the acrylic are of noticeably lower quality than the tempered glass, with the crisp light of the Riing fans being somewhat subdued when viewed through that front panel.
All right, now that we've covered the basic description and features of the View 31 RGB, let's get cracking on that build of ours to see how it works in practice!