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2006 – The year of BTX?

Sadly, neither product is available on the UK market as yet, although the Tuba case is available in the US for around $99 from various online retailers. I wasn’t able to find the motherboard listed on Gigabyte’s website, so don’t expect to find it on sale anywhere. Still, to give you an insight of what might be the platform of 2006 we’ve taken a closer look at what this microBTX platform has on offer.

Installation was pretty straightforward and didn’t differ much from a normal microATX system besides the fact that the components are fitted on the opposite sides of the case. The heatsink was fairly easy to install, although it takes a while to fit the six screws that hold it in place. The model Thermaltake supplied has a copper base to which two copper heatpipes and several aluminium fins have been soldered.

The shroud has a 92mm fan fitted to it – only the smallest BTX form factors use 80mm fans – and a foam seal on the front of the cooler makes sure that there is no air leakage between it and the front air intake. The Tuba case also has a built in air filter that helps to keep dust out of the fan and the cut-out in the front has been done to improve the airflow to the CPU cooler. This is vital in a system that very much relies on a single fan to cool all its components.

Thermaltake touts the Tuba as a home theatre PC case; although I’m not sure it is the ideal choice for this. As it is a tower case with a thick aluminium door, it’s not going to be easy to get to the drives. You can fit two front accessible 5.25 and 3.5in drives as well as two internal 3.5in drives. The internal drives are mounted in a caddy of their own at the bottom of the case. This increases cable clutter to a degree as you have to run a power cable down to the hard drives.

The front accessible drives are locked in place with a rather odd snap-in style of screw-less mounts. The mounts aren’t the strongest I’ve seen and I’d recommend that you fit screws on any 5.25in drives. Two side mounted USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire socket are fitted to the case as well as headphone and microphone ports.

If you decide to go BTX at least you won’t have to change your PSU as any standard ATX PSU will fit in the Tuba. However, I’m not sure why Thermaltake fitted a rear 92mm fan, as this is not in accordance with the BTX specification and if anything might end up interrupting the airflow in the case.

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