The “mid” tower for those seeking compensation
I won’t lie. The review of the Thermaltake Tower 500 has been one of my more difficult articles to write. I don’t recall having struggled as much since final college essays. I just kept staring at a blank document while I struggled to figure out what I wanted to say about the Thermaltake Tower 500.
When I closed my eyes at night I would see the remnants of bright white rectangles. Robert Louis Stevenson couldn’t have written a more compelling tale of my two minds regarding this case. I love it. I hate it. I can’t just leave it at that, so let’s get into it.
- P/N: CA-1X1-00M6WN-00
- SERIES: The Tower
- CASE TYPE: Mid Tower
- COLOR: White
- MATERIAL: SPCC
- EXPANSION SLOTS: 9
- 6.7” x 6.7” (Mini ITX)
- 9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX)
- 12” x 9.6” (ATX)
- 12” x 12” (E-ATX)
- SIDE PANEL: 4mm Tempered Glass x 3
- I/O PORT:
- USB 3.2 (Gen 2) Type-C x 1
- USB 3.0 x 4
- HD Audio x 1
- DRIVE BAYS:
- 4 x 3.5”, 8 x 2.5”
- or 8 x 3.5”
- PSU: Standard PS2 PSU (optional)
- COOLING SYSTEM:
- Rear(exhaust): 120 x 120 x 25 mm Standard fan (1500rpm, 35.8 dBA) x 2
- FAN SUPPORT
- Top: 2 x 120mm, 1 x 120mm / 2 x 140mm, 1 x 140mm
- Right Side: 3 x 120mm, 2 x 120mm, 1 x 120mm
- Rear: 2 x 120mm, 1 x 120mm / 2 x 140mm, 1 x 140mm
- Power Cover: 2 x 120mm, 1 x 120mm / 2 x 140mm, 1 x 140mm
- Bottom(Vertical/Horizontal): 2 x 120mm, 1 x 120mm
- RADIATOR SUPPORT
- Top: 1 x 240mm, 1 x 120mm / 1 x 280mm, 1 x 140mm
- Right Side: 1 x 360mm or 1 x 360mm Custom LCS radiator (max length 399mm), 1 x 240mm, 1 x 120mm
- Bottom(Vertical/Horizontal): 1 x 240mm, 1 x 120mm
- CPU cooler height limitation: 275mm
- VGA length limitation: 325mm (with power cover) / 355mm (without power cover)
- PSU length limitation: 200mm
- DIMENSION (H X W X D): 608 x 388 x 398 mm (23.9 x 15.3 x 15.7 inches)
- NET WEIGHT: 14.8 kg / 32.6 lbs.
“The Tower 500 Snow is a vertically designed case with three 4mm tempered glass panels for panoramic viewing, along with two pre-installed 120mm standard fans. This chassis supports up to 12″ x 12″ E-ATX motherboards giving you comprehensive flexibility for enhanced expansion options. It can also be paired with a separately sold LCD panel kit with a 3.9″ LCD Display for maximizing the PC’s visual effects.”
The Tower 500 is BIG
I’ll start off with the most obvious thing about this case. There are not enough letters in gargantuan to adequately express the size…and this is the middle size of the three Thermaltake Tower series. I really don’t want to see the Tower 900, unless I decide to be buried in a glass coffin, because I’m guessing that I would fit inside it.
As soon as I saw the size of the Tower 500 box I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. To steal a line from one of the great philosophers of our time, “you just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.” Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but the Tower 500 (again the “Mid” tower model) is by far the largest enclosure I’ve ever built in.
My final point to give an idea of the size: there is clearance for a 275mm tall air cooler. I was unable to get a photo of the air cooler clearance measurement, which I usually include with my reviews, because my digital micrometer only reads up to 200mm. It doesn’t really matter though because the last I heard, Noctua wasn’t working on a new variant of their cooler which uses 200mm fans.
The design of the Thermaltake Tower series is unique. The Tower 500 has an almost square footprint (388mm x 398mm), with a rotated motherboard design and three almost perfectly clear and tint free, glass panels.
The largest of these faces the front (or is it the side?) to give an unobstructed display of the parts inside, and with the space in this case, one could really make some amazing custom builds to show off. The panels that aren’t glass are generally heavily vented and feature mesh dust filtration.
Fit and finish on the Tower 500 was as good as anything I’ve ever built in or reviewed, with my only complaint about the quality being that the massive squared top panel feels a bit cheap (at least in comparison to the quality of the rest of the case) and is slightly warped when it’s not in position.
When mounted in place the warping is not visible as the panel is held flat. The white paint on the sheet metal was practically perfect, though some of the plastic trim is ever so slightly mismatched, but this is such a small difference that it doesn’t show in photos, and you really have to look closely to see it. Again, aside from the top panel, this is an extremely well made enclosure.
The Build Process
When it comes to building in the Tower 500, I return to my struggle with the Hyde and Jeckyl sides of my mind. I’ll be honest, with the majority of enclosures that get sent to me, I don’t need to look at the owner’s manual. Anyone even considering the Tower 500 should download the manual and read it thoroughly.
To build in this case requires a mostly complete disassembly, and it isn’t easy to determine how some of the pieces come out without consulting the documentation. This is actually an effect of the quality of the build and design, because attachment points aren’t glaringly visible. It just takes a lot of time to get the enclosure disassembled and prepared for a new build.
Once that’s done, a builder is confronted with multiple choices in how they want to configure the system. Both the left and right side panels can be flipped so that the vented metal sections are toward the front, or the back. You can leave the PSU/Cable management/bottom intake area uncovered, or covered.
The bottom intake can face the front, or straight down, and either way supports two 120mm fans, or a 240mm radiator. The top exhaust can fit up to two 140mm fans or a 280mm radiator. The case includes two vertical brackets that can be positioned on either the left or right, and allow for three 120mm fans, or a 360mm radiator to be used.
Going through all the configuration options in the Tower 500 is time consuming, especially as a reviewer who is trying to imagine all the different ways someone might want to use this case. Even with all the available configurations, I feel like Thermaltake may have missed a few opportunities with the Tower 500.
Since it only includes one set of the radiator/fan brackets, you can only use one 360mm radiator (in addition to the 240 and 280 available at the top and bottom). I think more people who are looking to do a custom loop would prefer to have the extra brackets, and simply mount the two 360s (additionally, I think this configuration would look amazing in this case).
Another missed opportunity would have been to have some additional larger openings in the plates that separate the basement from the main compartment. If someone does want to mount a radiator at the bottom, the separation plates would need to be left out, as there are no passthroughs for tubing. Also with so much space in the bottom section, it could have also been utilized for pump mounting if passthroughs had been designed in.
With all that said, once you’ve actually got the enclosure opened up, and figured out what you want to do, the build process is excellent. The case is so large and so open that it’s more like building on a test bench than in an enclosure. I can’t recall the last time I had so little difficulty in plugging in the 8 pin CPU power.
Thermaltake did a lot of the little things right on the Tower 500, and it shows in the build process. I’d like to particularly point out the abundance of cable tie points on the chassis, as well as the fact that so many of them are + shaped. This made cable management a breeze. Once I had my builds planned out, it was a complete joy to build in the Tower 500.
Despite the ease of building in the case, and the overall quality, the size of the tower does present some issues when it comes to general use. Like most towers that position the motherboard I/O at the top, cable length on your accessories may be an issue.
The height of the Tower 500 only exacerbates this problem, plus the motherboard I/O is actually positioned in a deep inset. The I/O is so far inset that if you have a lot of cables, or if you just have some very short wireless dongles, it can be a challenge to install unless you have long, thin, and nimble fingers.
Specification of Test System:
- AMD Ryzen 7 3800x [@4.0 Ghz, all core, 1.138 volts (1.08 Vdroop under load) 90 watt package power]
- ASRock X570M Pro4 Motherboard
- Be Quiet! Dark Rock TF2 CPU Cooler with middle fan only fixed @ 1400 rpm
- 16 GB (2×8) G Skill Trident Z 3333 (@3600) Memory
- Zotac GTX 1080ti Amp Extreme fans speed fixed @ 1200 rpm
- WD Black Edition 500 GB NVMe SSD
- Standardized Airflow Test : 3 x Be Quiet Pure Wings 2 120mm Fans (2 intake, 1 exhaust at 1000 rpm)
- CPU Temperature Testing: OCCT set to Small FFT Extreme Steady for 30 minutes
- GPU Temperature Testing: Unigine Heaven set to Ultra Detail, Extreme Tesselation, and 8x Anti Aliasing at 1440p for 30 minutes.
- All tests conducted at a controlled ambient temperature of 23.5° C
- Sound Testing conducted with microphone placed 30 cm from system. Measured ambient noise floor is 28.5 db. All fans set to same speeds as with temperature testing
I wasn’t certain what to expect in my performance testing of the case. The Tower 500 only includes two fans, and these are positioned to pull heat from the rear of the motherboard, and cool any drives mounted in the rear of the chassis. Because of this, my test was conducted with three Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 fans (Two intake at the bottom, one exhaust at the top).
While there are a lot of vented panels on the enclosure, they didn’t seem to be well positioned for airflow, and the included mesh filters also looked to be very dense. Despite that, I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the numbers from testing.
The GPU temps were excellent, being second best of the enclosures I’ve tested this year. While the CPU temps were not as good, they still put the Tower 500 in the middle of the field, and did not cause any concern that the airflow design of the enclosure could be choking the graphics card.
As to noise levels, with the installed case fans at 1000 rpm (100%) I recorded 39.6 dBA with microphone placed 30 cm from the system.
At the end of all the builds, the testing, and the photography, I was still struggling with my conclusion on the Thermaltake Tower 500.
- The Tower 500 is a very well built enclosure
- It provides better than average performance
- It’s really big and its form factor doesn’t lend itself well to most desktop applications
- I still feel like, despite its versatility, Thermaltake could have made a few more small changes to really improve the chassis
- With the right build, it provides an almost unrivaled showcase for your system
I think that is where I have to leave it. There is a portion of the custom PC building community that will look at the Thermaltake Tower 500 and know that it’s exactly the enclosure to showcase their system and custom builds.
Then there are the people who want a good looking and good performing enclosure that fits on their desk and does its job. For the latter, the Tower 500 is not going to be for them.
But if you’re one of the former, and you want a big, unique enclosure to pack with lights, radiators, reservoirs and tubes, and make it a showcase of your skills then you might be the person Thermaltake had in mind when they released the Tower 500, and for those people I’ll recommend this case and give it the PC Perspective Silver award.
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How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Thermaltake for the purpose of this review.
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The product remains the property of Thermaltake but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
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