Completed Build, Performance, RGB Lighting, and Conclusion
The finished system inside the CMT520 is clean with minimal effort, and while I would like to see rubber grommets the cable openings all but disappear when the black rear panel is installed. The mirror-like gloss of the removable floor panel adds to the finished appearance and reflects lighting for added effect, and overall I have no complaints about the finished build.
Behind the motherboard tray there is sufficient room for cable management, and I encountered zero clearance issues with any drives or connections. The rear panel slides on easily, completing one of the smoothest builds in recent memory.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7700K|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte GA-H270-Gaming 3|
|Memory||G.Skill Aegis 4 GB 2400 MHz DDR4|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon R9 290X (Reference)|
|Storage||Corsair FORCE LE 240 GB SATA 6.0 GB/s SSD|
|Power Supply||Seasonic S12II 620W|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U9S (PWM)|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
The CMT520 offers fair thermal performance, with the reduced front intake from the tempered glass panel affecting what would otherwise be high airflow from a trio of intake fans - though it must be mentioned that the GPU load temps were the lowest in recent memory. This could be an outlier, and the R9 290X I use is a reference blower-style cooler, but delta 44.5 C is impressive with this card.
There the CMT520 is towards the bottom the pack, though it is by no means a loud case during normal use. With thermals pushed, however, there was a noticable spike in fan noise and the famously noisy reference cooler on the R9 290X was as loud a result as I've seen in a while at 57.5 dBA under full load (again suggestive of an outlier, as the high noise corresponds with lower temps from this card, suggesting the fan was spinning faster than normal during these tests - driver/fan profile is suspected). Tempered glass presents a tradeoff for thermal performance, and in this case the fans at work create a little more noise than average.
The lighting effects with the CMT520 can be adjusted without any software using the front panel button, allowing the user to cycle through the various solid color options and patterns. The case is also compatible with the various motherboard manufacturer RGB standards, including ASUS Aura Sync, GIGABYTE RGB Fusion, and MSI Mystic Light Sync, with a header cable included.
Here the RGB fans are set to red to match the default motherboard LED color
The lighting certainly adds to the aesthetics of the case, and given the single-color nature of the fans is quite subtle compared to some RGB lighting on the market. The lights can also be turned off completely, if desired.
FSP's move into the enclosure space makes sense as they continue to expand their consumer product offering, and the overal build quality of the CMT520 is impressive for a company that is still pretty new on the scene. The frame is sturdy, the fit and finish is very good, and the build process is problem-free. This is not a perfect case, though my only real complaint is the lack of a front fan filter and the slightly impeded airflow from the solid front panel design. It sells for around $100, placing into the company of quite a few solid mid-towers, though the dual glass panels help justify the price.
This is not a high airflow case, though better temps could certainly be attained through liquid cooling vs. the air-cooled results presented here. Tempered glass cases with solid front panels are probably never going to win cooling contests over more open designs, but the glass look is popular and helps to show off your build (and RGB fans!). However it was the basic, unsung heros of a solid enclosure that earn this an award: quality construction, a roomy interior with above average space around the motherboard and excellent component clearance, and ample room for cable management behind the motherboard tray. Not everyone's needs will be met, and there are certainly cases with stronger thermal and noise performance, but the CMT520 is nonetheless a good option if you're looking for a tempered glass and RGB case.