Stunning looks, cooling and build quality, but the Thermaltake Core P1 is expensive and not particularly small
- Unique looks
- Potential for wall-mounting and watercooling
- Large size
- High price
We first got a glimpse of Thermaltake’s mini-ITX version of its Core-series open-air case in 2016, when a 3D-printed version sat next to much larger steel and tempered glass models, such as the Core P5. However, Thermaltake appears to have ditched the open source 3D-printable idea for that case, and instead simply offered a smaller version of its other open-air, wall-mountable cases. Aptly called the Core P1, this mini-ITX case still sports the same features of the larger open-air cases.
For example, the only main parts are a large motherboard tray and a protective sheet of tempered glass – the hardware is otherwise completely exposed. The chassis is also watercooling-friendly, with a pair of 120mm fan mounts embedded into the motherboard tray, which can also house a double 120mm-fan radiator. The area in front of these mounts is completely clear, so you could either use a third-party mount to secure a pump and reservoir combo unit to the radiator, or use the included mount, which secures these parts to the chassis in the same spot.
From there, watercooling your PC is simple and, as the case has an open design, it’s much easier than with your average mini-ITX case, too. Alternatively, you can use an all-in-one liquid cooler using the same fan mounts, and the Core P1 also offers plenty of roof space for air-cooling components, with a 170mm CPU cooler limit and essentially no limits on the graphics card length or slots, with five of the latter available.
If you do water-cool the Core P1, though, you’ll lose some of its storage potential. Two large plates sit in the fan mounts, which offer two 2.5in mounts as standard, but you need to remove these plates to fit fans or radiators in this location. The reservoir mount can also double as a place to stow a 2.5in SSD, but not at the same time as a reservoir.
Thankfully, the motherboard tray, which is the backbone of the case, has a hollow interior that offers a dedicated 2.5in mount, as well as one for either a 3.5in hard disk or 2.5in SSD. You won’t be adding numerous hard disks to RAID arrays, but there’s enough storage room for most people, especially as some of the latest mini-ITX motherboards also sport two M.2 SSD mounts.
Thanks to some extremely sturdy steel construction and a large tempered glass window, the Core P1 weighs in at a hefty 10kg, and you can add many more kilograms to this weight if you water-cool your PC. Despite this weight, though, the case still offers support for wall-mounting, with VESA-compatible screw threads, plus additional securing points should you wish to cut its desktop footprint to zero and replace that Bugatti Veyron print on your wall.
One of the most striking features of the Core P1 is its rotated graphics card mount. Your graphics card sits horizontally, with its cooler or waterblock facing you instead of the bottom of the case. A PCI-E riser cable is included to make this rotation possible, and there’s a large, five-slot rotated expansion slot mount, too. However, this mount, along with the fact that the PSU also sits flat, plus the use of large case support feet and a tempered glass panel, means the Core P1 is very wide. In fact, it’s wider than Corsair’s Crystal Series 460X – a medium-sized ATX case.
That’s a shame, as this extra depth means the case will look a little odd on a wall, and it will also take up a huge amount of desk space compared with other mini-ITX cases. There are plenty of ways Thermaltake could have avoided this situation, too. There’s no need for more than two or three expansion slots on a mini-ITX case, as you can only install one PCI-E device into the motherboard. Thermaltake also offers SFX PSUs now, and the company itself has already made SFX-only cases, such as the Core G3.
Finally, there’s a lot of wasted space in front of the fan mounts, as there’s plenty of room here for a half-height radiator, fans and a combined pump and reservoir. On the plus side, this space at least gives you room to use a thicker radiator.
There’s a degree of construction time required with the Core P1 as well – the case comes in near flat-packed form with the glass panel, supports, feet and external hardware mounts all needing to be installed by you. However, once it’s built, we have to admit it looks fantastic, giving you a unique-looking chassis.
It even includes a full front panel with USB 3 ports, audio jacks, and power and reset buttons. Of course, there’s another concern with an open-air chassis, which is dust. A filter is included for the fan mounts, but if you have the fans on the front of the radiator, this filter won’t be much use. As a result, you’ll need to schedule regular vacuum sessions, whether your PC is cooled with air or water.
Thermaltake Core P1 review: Performance
As this case is open to the air, cooling was always going to be a strong point, despite the lack of fans, and the Core P1 managed to top both our CPU and GPU Delta T graphs. However, the Fractal Design Core 500 was never more than a few degrees behind. The Core P1’s GPU Delta T of 39°C was especially low, with the blower fan on our graphics card loving the ample supply of cool air. Needless to say, while you’ll need to spend more time cleaning your PC, if you air-cool it, you can expect cool running temperatures.
Thermaltake Core P1 review: Verdict
The Core P1’s build quality, design and unique looks are fabulous, and if you have a small vacuum cleaner, it’s a great mini-ITX case for showing off your hardware. It’s watercooling-friendly, too. The downsides are the needlessly large size, lack of dust-proofing and high cost – it’s pricier than Phanteks’ Enthoo Evolv ITX Glass. But if you want an eye-catching, open-air mini-ITX case with the potential for wall-mounting and watercooling, you won’t be disappointed.
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