Thermaltake Ceres 500 TG ARGB Mid Tower Case Review
An Air Cooler’s Wet Dream
Since the day I took on the honored mantle of Enclosure Review Analyst for PCPer.com I’ve had this love/hate relationship with Thermaltake. They’ve supplied me with some very beautiful (albeit often extremely large) cases to test, but sometimes elements of the design, or just quality control issues, left me with a sour feeling.
In earlier reviews I’ve mentioned that the first few PC’s I ever built were in Thermaltake enclosures, so they still have a special place in my heart, and I’m always hoping for a win. While I’ve reviewed some nice enclosures for them, there has always been something, some little thing that has kept me from awarding top honors.
Early this year at CES, Thermaltake announced the Ceres (pronounced “series”) 500 TG ARGB Mid Tower enclosure. The Ceres 500 is based on a totally new line and new design language for Thermaltake, this time with a focus on airflow. Let’s take a look and see how it measures up.
- P/N: CA-1X5-00M1WN-00
- DIMENSION (H X W X D): 525 x 245 x 507.7 mm (20.7 x 9.6 x 20 inch)
- NET WEIGHT: 10.5 kg / 23.15 lbs.
- SIDE PANEL: 3mm Tempered Glass x 1
- COLOR: Black
- MATERIAL: SPCC
- COOLING SYSTEM:
- Front(intake): 140 x 140 x 25 mm CT140 ARGB fan (1500rpm, 30.5 dBA) x 3
- Rear(exhaust): 140 x 140 x 25 mm CT140 ARGB fan (1500rpm, 30.5 dBA) x 1
- EXPANSION SLOTS: 7 (Rotatable Patented Design)
- MOTHERBOARDS: 6.7″ x 6.7″ (Mini ITX), 9.6″ x 9.6″ (Micro ATX), 12″ x 9.6″ (ATX), 12″ x 13″ (E-ATX)
- I/O PORT: USB 3.2 (Gen 2) Type-C x 1, USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1
- PSU: Standard PS2 PSU (optional)
- FAN SUPPORT:
- 3 x 120mm, 2 x 120mm, 1 x 120mm
- 3 x 140mm, 2 x 140mm, 1 x 140mm
- 3 x 120mm, 2 x 120mm, 1 x 120mm
- 3 x 140mm, 2 x 140mm, 1 x 140mmRear: 1 x 120mm, 1 x 140mm
- RADIATOR SUPPORT
- 1 x 360mm, 1 x 240mm, 1 x 120mm
- 1 x 420mm, 1 x 280mm, 1 x 140mm
- 1 x 360mm, 1 x 240mm, 1 x 120mm
- 1 x 280mm, 1 x 140mm
- Rear: 1 x 120mm
- CPU cooler max height: 185mm
- VGA max length:
- 395mm (with radiator)
- 425mm (without radiator)
- PSU max length: 220mm
$169.99 USD list
“Designed with excellent cooling performance, the Ceres 500 TG ARGB Mid Tower Chassis comes with four CT140 ARGB Sync PC Cooling Fans pre-installed, and more than 60% of its panels are perforated to guarantee maximum airflow. Moreover, it supports up to a 420mm radiator at the front, or dual 360mm radiators at the front and on the top.”
If you’ve grown accustomed to Thermaltake calling a tower “Mid” when it’s actually huge, then you will only be mildly surprised to hear that the Ceres 500 is only slightly larger than most traditional mid tower enclosures. Actually, were it not for the 245mm width, the Ceres 500 wouldn’t seem out of line with most Mid Tower enclosures.
Overall it’s very similar in size to competing enclosures from the likes of Phanteks, Corsair, and Fractal. In fact, when you look at the separate power supply basement, two 3.5 inch drive bays, and space for front and top fans; the Ceres 500 looks very familiar. What Thermaltake has done to separate this new enclosure from competitors is open up the airflow.
The front panel, top panel, bottom, and even the sides of the case covering the PSU have ventilation. All these extra openings are protected by some of the nicest dust filtration I’ve yet seen. Its fine enough for large particles, but still has good flow characteristics. With the four included 140mm ARGB fans (3 intake, 1 exhaust) performance should be quite good.
On top of that, in my opinion, the Ceres 500 is visually a homerun. I really like the styling on this enclosure. Just on my preliminary examination, the Ceres 500 passes the test so far.
Inflation has hit the PC component market pretty hard since the pandemic. At this point it has become very difficult to judge value based on notions that were conceived prior to 2020. Still, the $169.99 MSRP of the Ceres 500 makes me believe that it should both look and feel like a premium enclosure. Unfortunately, when you start digging into it, that isn’t quite the case.
The tempered glass side panel of the Ceres 500 is only 3mm thick, whereas many of the aforementioned competing manufacturers are using 5mm glass. Personally, I dislike the latching knob system that Thermaltake uses on many cases, the Ceres 500 included. This is just my personal preference though, and some may really like the convenience or appearance, so I’m not going to give it negative marks for that. I also found the sheet metal of the Ceres 500 to be thinner and more flexible than I would generally like to see on a chassis of this price.
In a previous Thermaltake enclosure review a few motherboard standoffs had been installed cross-threaded from the factory. In the Ceres 500 all three of the centermost standoff (middle top, middle row, and bottom row) had been over tightened, and stripped out the bottoming threads in the motherboard tray. When installing a motherboard, and attempting to secure the screw in any of these three standoffs, they would just spin.
I ended up having to make a temporary fix by applying some super glue to the standoff threads where they protrude through the backside of the motherboard tray. I am aware that this only functions as a temporary fix, and the use of a small nut to these threads would permanently solve the problem, but again this is a $170 case. An issue like this should not happen, and it seems to be a recurring issue from Thermaltake.
With all that said this was a very early sample of the Ceres 500 (I have had it in my possession for too long, and life has gotten in the way of completing the review until recently). Hopefully Thermaltake is working to solve this issue at the factory, but this was a retail sample, so I’m probably not the only one who received a case in this condition.
I do have one final, small, complaint before I get to the good (and there is a lot of good). In this age of monstrous GPUs, we’re starting to see enclosure manufacturers implementing various designs and styles of support brackets. Some are really well thought out and designed to not be in the way visually. The GPU support bracket included with the Ceres 500 seems to be almost an afterthought. When used, it is simply two pieces of stamped steel, placed front and center, to create a massive visual distraction from the rest of a system that someone probably put a lot of effort and money into making look nice. I know Thermaltake can do better.
Now we’ll get to the good. I was thrilled to see that the included fans not only have standard 4 pin PWM connectors and 3 Pin ARGB connectors, but all have pigtails so that can be linked together and will only take up one Fan header and one ARGB header on the motherboard. If other case manufacturers (and/or fan manufacturers) read this, Thermaltake got this right. Stop proprietary plugs and controllers and just make everything link up to standard connectors!!!
Aside from the previously mentioned issues with the motherboard standoffs, the Ceres 500 was great to build in. With the top, front, and side panels removed, the chassis becomes very open with plenty of room for installation. I really liked the cable management system Thermaltake incorporated on the rear of the motherboard tray. There was a very beefy bracket and large, strong hook and loop straps to hold the cables. In fact, the entire cable management design was as good as I’ve seen in any chassis I’ve reviewed.
Thermaltake has also incorporated plastic clips along the outer edge below the rear panel. These allow for excellent routing of fan/front I/O and the EPS power cables. There was also plenty of room in the basement to neatly tuck away excess cabling, and plenty of pass-throughs to route the cables where you want them to go.
While you might look at this case and think it is designed for watercooling, I would stop you there. Certainly there is enough room in this chassis to install a nice custom loop, or even just a large AIO, but I would argue that you would be missing the greatness of this case. For watercooling you would be limited to a 420mm radiator in front and a 360 on top, and in front you’d be limited to a 35mm thick radiator at best.
On top you could probably go as thick as 40-45mm if you’re creative, but where this case shines is if you’re air-cooling. You can easily get in the largest air coolers on the market today (CPU to side panel clearance is 190mm), and with the open flow characteristics of the chassis, it should perform extremely well in this situation, at least that was my feeling before testing.
Specification of Test System:
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800x @4.55 Ghz, all core, 1.275 volts (1.264 Vdroop under load), 110 watt package power
- ASRock X570M Pro4 Motherboard
- Be Quiet! Dark Rock TF2 CPU Cooler, Fans locked @ 1000 RPM
- 16 GB (2×8) G Skill Trident Z 3333 (@3600) DDR4 Memory
- EVGA RTX 3070 Ti FTW3, Fans locked at 1300 RPM
- WD Black Edition 500 GB NVMe SSD
All tests conducted at a controlled ambient temperature of 23.5° C. Case Fans Set to ???? RPM.
- CPU Temperature Testing: Cinebench R23
- GPU Temperature Testing: Unigine Heaven set to Ultra Detail, Extreme Tessellation, and 8x Anti Aliasing at 1080p for 30 minutes
- Gaming Test: Performed for 30 minutes using Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, 1920×1080, Ultra Settings with Ray Traced Lighting and Reflections on, DLSS set to Quality mode
The Ceres 500 is a monster for air cooling. First off I tested the system with the included fans at 100% (1550 rpm). The CPU temps were a staggering 3.6°C LOWER than on an open test bench under the same controlled room temperature. Those fans really perform well. The GPU did not fair quite as well, but was still very cool after a 30 minute stress in Unigine Heaven, maxing out at 50.1° C above ambient.
The drawback there is that those temps were achieved with a noise level of 51.6 dB. While the tone of the fans was not unpleasant with the peaks between 100 Hz and 200 Hz, it was just too loud to be considered usable in a desktop situation.
I lowered the fan speed until I hit a normalized measurement of 40 dB. This put the fan speed at just over 1000 rpm. Unfortunately I discovered that between roughly 1010 and 1090 rpm, these fans produce a slightly higher pitched resonance that isn’t very pleasant, despite the lower dB. This is shown in the chart where you can see the spike present at around 300 Hz. Instead of listening to that resonance, I lowered the fan speed to 990 rpm, the resonance went away, and I had a very pleasant 39 dB environment while running my tests again.
During the Cinebench and Heaven testing, neither the CPU nor GPU temperatures were altered much from the full speed test. Both were still completely acceptable and only slightly warmer than with the case fans at full speed. During the 30 minute gaming session the CPU temp did have a more substantial increase from max case fan speed to noise normalized, but there was only a 2.3° C difference in the GPU, and all the temps were still excellent despite the low noise level.
It is also important to remember that all these temperatures are achieved with both the CPU Cooler fans, and the GPU fans set to fixed, low dB levels. Much better performance could be achieved by simply utilizing stock fan curves on these and keeping the Ceres 500 fans at just below 1000 rpm.
In the words of David Coverdale; “Here I go again”. Thermaltake has once again given us a great performing enclosure. Once again they’ve also given us an enclosure with some quality issues that needed to be worked around. The Ceres 500 is slightly on the large side, but not overtly so as some of their cases have been lately. The Ceres 500 is a good looking case that supports any kind of hardware you might want to throw at it. On the other hand, I’m once again saying “this is a great case but….”.
The Ceres 500 has an MSRP of $170 US. For that price there are better built cases. However at the time of writing, I’ve seen it as low as $149.99. For $150 this enclosure presents a much more compelling value. I’d like to see an uptick in the quality control, and higher grade materials, but you can’t argue about the performance this case offers. Despite the issues I encountered, at $150 I feel like this case does present a decent value. Once you take the performance and lower price into account I feel pretty good about giving the Thermaltake Ceres 500 TG ARGB the PC Perspective Silver award.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product was provided by Thermaltake for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of Thermaltake but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Thermaltake had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation
Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Thermaltake for this review.
Thermaltake has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
If this article contains affiliate links to online retailers, PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.