Nothing makes a fashion statement quite like a computer case. Of course, it hasn't gotten me many dates over the years, but that still doesn't detract from the fact that cases of old were boring. For the last few years, quite a few case manufacturers seemed to be overcompensating for those boring enclosures with garish lights, LED's, and exteriors that looked straight out of a manga comic. While they may have had some success with the pre-pubescent crowd of PC enthusiasts, the older generation (RE: ME) have been asking for some designs that don't look like the doodlings of an Anime-obsessed troglodyte. Please note, I've known quite a few nice troglodytes in my time, I've just never understood the need for a case that doubles as a night time landing beacon for 747's.
The Element, thankfully, does not fall into that category. Instead, Thermaltake has designed the Element with a really nice, smooth, slick exterior that seems 'jazzy' due to its nice black finish and red trim. While a majority of the components are plastic, the few steel parts are also painted in a nice matte black that matches up perfectly with the rest of the case. The front of the case features a 90 degree door that opens to the right. Behind the door is the 3 5.25" external drive bays, which are hidden behind the front bay covers. The bay covers are easy to remove by pushing on the left side notch and then pulling outward. The backsides of the bay covers reveal how they also function as fan filters for the intakes.
The front panel is easily removed by depressing a small release latch on the bottom of the case and then pulling forward. This gives you access to the 2 120mm fan positions that pull air in from the front. Fans screw into the small plastic enclosures and then the enclosures themselves snap into place. Everything is held firm and we had no problems with how it all worked. Thermaltake only ships with one front fan by default on the Element, but you can see how easy it would be to add an additional fan if you saw fit.
The front panel connectors support 2 USB 2.0 ports, Intel HD Audio, and a single eSATA port. The top is also where the 230mm fan exhausts to with its red glow from the build-in LED fan. The side panels are held in place via 3 thumbscrews and are easily pulled in and out of place. At the back of the Element, you can see the power supply is mounted at the bottom of the case and the 140mm rear exhaust fan.
The add-in card slots do not use reusable covers, instead they are press-cut steel that has to be bent and twisted to be removed. Normally this is not a problem, but Thermaltake does not include replaceable covers. So should you remove an add-in card down the road, you will have a gaping hole pulling in dust thanks to the negative air pressure created from the two exhaust fans. It's an annoying oversight on Thermaltake's part, even if the Element is a mid-range case.