As easy as 1-2-3. Kinda...
As we slowly wade our way through Thermaltake's Element alphabet, passing through G and T and S, we've finally found ourselves stopped outside the Element V. Perhaps not the most uniquely named case in the world; it's certainly the largest out of all the cases we've seen in this range, packing up to EATX motherboards within its black, hulking frame. Sticking well and truly with the black and red trend that has flowed from the first Element case, the entire case is anodised black steel externally, with red LED fans providing a nice contrast.
The I/O panel on the top of the case is the only part that has a solid red colour applied, framing the four USB ports, eSATA and mic/audio. There is a large power and reset button that have a firm action to them, though bumping them will be as easy as slight bump when groping for the large fan control dial (that can also control the LED lighting in the fans). Underneath these ports lie five 5.25in bays that lie behind a plastic/mesh fascia, with a filtration material applied to stop most of the dust entering the case. A 120mm fan intakes air at the front, and intake duties are aided by a large 230mm fan on the left-hand sidepanel. This fan is powered by molex, and uses Thermaltake's nifty wiring method that connects up the power when the sidepanel is attached, saving arm-batics when putting the system together.
Exhaust duties are handled by a 200mm fan on top of the case, and a 120mm rear fan. These aren't the best quality, but should remove a lot of the hot air from inside the case. The rear of the case isn't anodised, but like most of the case it is constructed from quite thick steel that gives it a definite feel of sturdiness. Weighing in at just over 14kg this isn't a lightweight case in any sense of the term, and even the sidepanels are heftier than a construction worker's beer belly.
Once inside the case we found ourselves pretty disappointed by what we saw, with bare steel showing a standard EATX/ATX mobo layout. There is a large cutout behind where the CPU socket will be for installing heatsinks, and some minimalist cutouts for cable routing, but there isn't enough room behind the motherboard tray to really do anything useful. At a stretch you'll be able to run an 8-pin cable, but the 24-pin ATX cable will never fit back there and instead will have to be strung across the mobo in a decidedly coarse fashion.
While the PSU mounts at the bottom of the case in the more popular method, it sits on hard metal rails above honeycombed venting that has no dust filter. There are tool-less plastic securing methods for keeping the harddrives in place, but these feel quite cheap, and aren't vibration dampened. Perhaps most irritating is the large steel bar that runs across the expanse of the mobo area, which detracts a lot from the relatively clean layout. All things considered it's a relatively functional internal layout, but it's not good for cabling.
The Element V may be the biggest case in the series, and while it's got great airflow and cooling potential it is let down by complete lack of vibration dampening, with a hefty measure of awkward cabling thrown in too.