Note: This build is intended for a Thermaltake Level 10 Gaming Station case (VL30001N1Z) or the re-release of the case as the Thermaltake Level 10 Titanium Limited Edition (VL300A9N1N) and assumes that the case is already purchased or owned.
This build guide intends to help fill a gap in information regarding these beautiful cases, and also attempts to both accentuate the award winning case design and imitate the robustness of engineering, design, and materials used in its construction. As well as have a solid system capable of performing a variety of gaming tasks for several years. The build attempts to avoid a cheap component solutions, while at the same time attempting to being 'reasonable' in price, with an expectation of possible decrease in prices as the industry moves into 2016 and new offerings. And while not everyone will own a Level 10 Gaming Station, the components none the less make for a 'tough' system one can be proud of.
The build has an ASUS and Corsair based theme of durability and reliability for an all metal target case, using Intel's Skylake LGA 1151 Socket architecture under Intel's current offerings an i7-6700K was selected . The system is intended to be expandable to include and additional three (3) extra SSD Drives (for a total of 6) individually or in RAID 10, and an additional SLI video card setup. But with the ever further advance in storage technologies since this case was introduced 2009, the build design was quickly adjusted to accommodate native M.2 PCIe SSD support and the new NVMe standard, with a Samsung 950 Pro 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD to leverage 32 Gbps speeds for the Boot drive, and allowing the Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD's in the cases Drive Bays to exclusively hold games instead. Coupled with ASUS TUF based Sabertooth Z170 MARK 1 for stability and longevity with it's 5 year warranty. Further, the inclusion of multiple 6 Gbs SATA ports accommodates the target cases 6x Drive Bays, while allowing for the inclusion of an Optical Drive, for BluRay disc playback in a living room 'media center' capacity, and storage HDD.
The HDD chosen for the job, after feedback and additional research, is the Western Digital Black Series 2TB HDD for longevity and proven durability. And while there are other Data Center proven drives capable of performing the task, closer analysis, as well as entities advertising via Amazon and Newegg Marketplaces dubiously selling White Label Drives or Used HDD's as New, is worthy of a pause when considering what storage solution is best for this build. Newegg helped this builder resolve the issue with a nice review of the final choice for a "storage HDD". And while any modern reputable HDD manufacturer may have a storage solution you prefer, the 5 year limited-warranty and "StableTrac Technology" that comes with the 2TB model WD2003FZEX, is consistent with the philosophy and theme of this build; which is intended to be docked in one of the cases 5.25" bays purely for storage purposes.
CPU Cooling is handled by a Corsair H80i GT Cooling System suited for the target cases 120mm motherboard compartment exhaust fan for this build. And to provide further reliable, trouble free cooling for the LGA1151 processor. At this point a note of caution is warranted: The Mother Board 'compartment' on the target case only has a single 140mm Intake fan, and a single 120mm Exhaust fan, use of other Corsair Cooling System solutions will either require purchase of a H90 140mm version (which will blow hot air from the H90 radiator into the rest of the motherboard compartment); or extensive case modifications and drilling. As the case is extremely expensive, this type of modification to fit a larger or double radiator is not recommended and could potentially ruin your investment.
There was an attempt to strike a balance between value and performance with this build, while also accounting for upcoming technologies like the new Virtual Reality headsets from companies like Oculus ( min. system requirement of GTX 970 for NVIDIA based cards for the Oculus Rift ).
UPDATE: Thermaltake does not provide accurate measurements for the Motheboard compartment, the specified build card will not fit without case modifications. Builders should not exceed 130mm GPU height, and prefererably stick with reference card spec height when selecting a card. While ultimately I was able to get this card to fit, it is not recommended. (build components have been updated with a card that will not have clearance issues. ASUS MATRIX GTX 980 ti version graphics card was selected to both maintain the build theme, but also for the cards performance and durability with best in class core clocks, fully non-reference design, and massive 10mm heat pipe of ASUS's "DirectCU II". All the while avoiding being cavalier with build costs, but still allowing the user to play graphically intensive games like EVE Online, Elite Dangerous, and all the regular 'Triple A rated games' of preference, at maximum settings. The optional expand-ability to an SLI configuration remains intact, as prices for an SLI sister card decrease over time. And may be ideal in increasing the longevity of the Graphics Card solution for this build in the years to come.
Attempts were made to also balance Power Supply requirements, physical dimensions of the intended case, and system 'head room', while also considering efficiency at low load, by utilizing a Cosair AX860i Power Supply.
In closing, while not the least expensive build, it is a solid, reliable build that will take a licking and still accomplish all tasks and gaming demands asked of it, with reliability and durability, outstanding warranties on critical components, along with exceptional performance characteristics; while still allowing for the opportunity to Over Clock if so desired.
(Update 2) a NZXT UI01 Internal USB 2.0 Expansion port card was installed to ensure that front panel USB 2.0 case ports were functional. The Motherboard having only 2x USB 2.0 headers, prompted the search for a solution to power both the cooler pump for the Corsair H80i GT and Command Link monitoring dongle, as well as the 2x USB 2.0 case front ports. This solution was optimal, though other solutions exist. The adhesive Velcro base was attached just next to the motherboard and the upper cable port for mounting the port card. This addition is necessary to ensure that there are sufficient USB 2.0 headers for all connections on this system/case.
After carefully researching this build for own personal Level 10 Gaming Station, and so little information on the Level 10 Gaming Station cases in general, I hope that this build inspires, and challenges conventional wisdom in building a rugged and tough system, while also leveraging reliability, and performance. I'd love to know your thoughts of my first attempt at both a build and build guide in the comments below.
*(Note: A completed build for this system can be found here )