Thermaltake Kandalf Aluminum Tower Review

Cases & PSU/Cases by KeithSuppe @ 2005-07-04

Thermaltake has been involved in a wild orgy of innovation. Strewn on the CADCAM floor are scraps of aluminum, aluminum and more aluminum, and I don?t mean Coke cans (well maybe a few JOLT). Their cases of late have been most impressive integrating art and science. They are getting taller, yet lighter, more complicated in their thermal efficiency, yet easier to use. Today we test what I consider to be a crowning achievement in case design: Kandalf. It?s the ideal of ergonomics and sculpted aluminum don?t tell anyone but I slept in mine the first night I had it.

  • prev
  • Go to mainpage


Case Aerodynamics/Thermodynamics

One of the benefits to Kandalf is its transformability into the Armor VA8000 simply by removing a few screws, and disconnecting the front panel's lighting effect. In the photo below I've removed the front panel.

Madshrimps (c)

Thermaltake's Armor which has the same basic structure as Kandalf, is now used by Alphacool in their water-cooled case series Ready2Go TTArmor UNI seen below.

Madshrimps (c)

Of course this case will also accommodate Thermaltake's Big Water 12cm water-cooling system perfectly. Kandalf is the most versatile case I've come across for its mechanical/internal features, the external versatility of the case adds to its ergonomic appeal.

Madshrimps (c)

Madshrimps (c)

Test System
CPU Pentium 630 (3.0GHz) Retail
Mainboard Asus P5AD2E-P (BIOS 1005)
Memory Transcend 2 x 1024MB DDR533
Graphics Sapphire ATI X800 XT
Power Supply PCPower&Cooling TurboCool 850SSI
Cooling Stock
Operating System Windows XP SP2

I've chose to install an Intel stock HSF cooler as a control (baseline comparison). When we measure case temps this will provide us with a clearer indication of how the case would aid in cooling using "stock" components.

Madshrimps (c)

Testing involved recording case temperature using TTGI's Fan Master 610 using one of the unit's 4-external thermistors. I affixed the thermistor so that it extended freely at the rear of the case just opposite the CPU HSF and near the rear exhaust. The TTGI was also used to monitor room temps, denoted as Case Temp in our graph.

Madshrimps (c)

Temperature monitoring involved four stages (actually eight as I also tested temps with a smaller PSU leaving the 90mm top exhaust fan in, this dropped ALL temps included by 3C). Recording temps with the system running at Default speeds 3.0GHz and overclocked to 3.9GHz. Each instance was then recorded running IDLE and LOAD. To produce the latter (LOAD) I used the utility S&M. I've found this program to raise temps higher then any other program to date. The following article compares S&M to other stress testing utilities such as Prime95, BurnK6, BurnK7, CPUBurn-in v.1.01 and UT2003. Using Asus Ai BOOSTER V.2.00.42 utility CPU and System temps were monitored during all stages. In every case the temp displayed as System (monitoring the motherboard thermistor) matched the TTGI Fan Master 610 external thermistor temp. In our final graph the value "Case Temp" is synonymous with System temp as seen in the thumbnails below.

3.0GHz @ IDLE /// 3.0GHz @ LOAD | 3.9GHz @ IDLE /// 3.9GHz @ LOAD

Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)

Madshrimps (c)

Arguably the first priority of a PC-case is do aid in dissipating heat from the components it houses. Aluminum is the ideal material based on it's thermal conductivity, light weight and relatively inexpensive cost. f course Aerodynamics/ventillation when done correctly negate the material used. A lucite case with effective vetilation will keep components cooler then a solid silver case without effective ventillation. Kandalf soars in ergonomics, versatility, ease of installation, with the single exception beign the lighting effects and eye in the front. in so far as thermodynaics Kandalf is (in this writer's opinion) one of the most effective units on the market. Temps seen below are indicative of performance with the 90mm top-exhaust fan removed. I did have Thermaltake’s Pure Silent Power 680 installed originally which dropped temps over-all by 3C due to the added benefits of the top exhaust fan.

Madshrimps (c)


Price at time of writing: Kandalf can be purchased in the USA for approximately $220 (Newegg). Based on the criticisms above I would recommend the Armor as an alternative for just $149 (Newegg).

The Thermaltake Kandalf is without question an archetypical design and one of the best case I've tested or owned to date. Kandalf is the quintessential merger of the highest quality materials, solid engineering, noiseless operation and versatility. My criticisms are few,

-Tool-free PCI slot retention bracket may make installation easy, however; getting cards out can be quit a struggle
-The round "eye" of Mordor or whatever it is in the front of the case has absolutely no purpose, yet begs for it. If there were ever a place to put a temp display this were it. It's prescence is a constant reminder.
-A rack or mounting hardware for an additional front 120mm intake fan isn't provided, a fact made more frustrating by Kandalf’s (and Armors) webpage which in an attempt to show multiple front fan positions, gives the impression 3-fans can be stacked.
-Price which wouldn't be an issue if the criticisms above were resolved. , however; they are not and
If Thermaltake were to make the changes I recommend above, eliminating the flashing logo and placing pertinent info in the "eye" of Kandalf, and providingng at least another HDD/Fan rack or just the hardware to mount a second fan in the front, I honestly would say this case is perfect!

-90% Aluminum design, well crated, sturdy.
-Versatile, accomodating HDD mounting in front and rear with both locations providing adjacent dedicated cooling.
-Tooless desing makes for quick nd easy installation of components into drive-bays
-Well ventolated (although additinal front intake fans would be nice)

As an avid H20 devotee (Kandalf is an ideal case for the watercooling enthusiast) I'm giving Kandalf a water purity level of Ph6 just about pure in its design execution, performance and value. I would like to thank Thermaltake for providing their product for scrutiny.

Addendum/Edit: I retested the case by mounting (ad hoc) a second 120mm front intake fan and temps did not change? I reinstalled the 90mm top exhaust fan (removed to house the PCPoer 850 SSI) and found a 2-4C improvement as this drew warm air out which had become "tapped" in the upper regions of the case.

Questions/Comments: forum thread
  • prev
  • Go to mainpage