Review Thermaltake A500 TG Case : Still Missing the Basics

We recently reviewed (and were not impressed by) Thermaltake Level 20 MT, but Thermaltake is nothing if it's unproductive, and there's always a new cage to try. The A500 TG was released back in October under the full name of "Mid-Tower Chassis Thermaltake A500 Aluminum Edition," and entered the laboratory today for full thermal, acoustic, and building quality reviews.

Case Thermaltake A500 mainly features aluminum, glass and trend-forward features without having to introduce new ideas. It's okay if the case to advance features rather than create it, but it really has to make progress at the price point of $ 250 from the A500.

Make a Note

The side panels are hinged and secured in front with magnets and a large rotating hook. The hooks can be very stiff and difficult to operate without a screwdriver, but they are also only really needed for transportation, because the magnet is strong enough to hold the door if it's not closed. They are also knurled so it is possible to release them by hand, unlike a similar hook made by Cooler Master. The door lifts its hinges and the hinges are uneven, very helpful to guide them back into place as we mentioned in the previous review. The hinges are thick and very attached to the glass panel, which is impressively parallel to the edge of the case. Because the panels are not screwed directly into the chassis, the panel must be completely aligned with the hinge placement, so that tolerance is very tight.

Review Thermaltake A500 TG Case : Still Missing the Basics

Thermaltake A500 Case Specs

Model A500 Aluminum TG

Case Type Mid Tower

Dimension (H x W x D) 560 x 236 x 510 mm / (22 x 9.3 x 20.1 inch)

Net Weight 14.82 kg / 32.67 lb

Side Panel 4mm Tempered Glass x 2 (Left & Right)

Color Exterior: Space Gray; Interior : Black

Material Aluminum & SPCC

Cooling System Front (intake) : 120 x 120 x 25 mm fan (1000rpm, 22dBA) x 2

Rear (exhaust) : 120 x 120 x 25 mm fan (1000rpm, 22dBA) x 1

Drive Bays 2.5” or 3.5” x 4 (HDD Cage) / 2.5” or 3.5” x 2 (HDD Cage); 2.5” x 1(HDD Bracket)

Expansion Slots 8 + 2

Motherboards 6.7” x 6.7” (Mini ITX), 9.6” x 9.6” (Micro ATX), 12” x 9.6” (ATX)

I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1, Type-C x 1

PSU Standard PS2 PSU (optional)

Clearance CPU cooler height limitation: 160mm

VGA length limitation: 295mm(with HDD rack)

420mm(without HDD rack)

※Suggested VGA thickness up to 40mm(2-slot reference card standard) with 7mm space for ventilation if extending for VGA card.

PSU length limitation: 220mm

Fan Support Front: 3 x 120mm , 3 x 140mm

Top: 3 x 120mm , 2 x 140mm

Rear: 1 x 120mm

Radiator Support

Front: 1 x 360mm , 1 x 420mm

Top: 1 x 360mm , 1 x 280mm

Rear: 1 x 120mm

MSRP $250

The A500 is a heavy case that feels sturdy. The top, front, and part of the bottom of the case are covered with 3mm thick aluminum plates, and the side with tempered glass is 4mm thick. Both the front and top panels are installed with plastic ball-and-glass fasteners, which is one of the wiser and easier-to-use designs we have seen, even though the pieces are interdependent: the side panel has to be opened more easily to remove the front panel and panel The front must be removed to descend from the top panel. Below the top panel there are several mounting points for fans, but there is no removable fan tray, which is a feature we want to see in a high-end case like this. The nature of the glued filter means that they cannot be removed without changing the case permanently, so that the typical top exhaust configuration will be slightly hampered by unnecessary barriers and dust buildup.

Mounting the top radiator is very easy: the mounting rail has a length of 360mm and 5cm above the top edge of the motherboard, so there must be plenty of room for normal AIO. The front seat is almost the same, but the radiator installed in the chassis must share space with the HDD cage, so placing the 360mm radiator on the front of the chassis removes all 3.5 "drive support.

Setting the fan stock, hard drive cage, and filter on the front of the case is not optimal. The least serious problem is the hard drive cage, which can be completely removed or repositioned along the rail on the front, similar to some Cooler Master cases. The stock configuration with two enclosures installed behind the fan intake is bad for thermal performance, but it makes more sense to send enclosures that are already installed rather than loose, and they are very easy to move so this does not count as a strike. This causes some additional testing in the thermal section when we try to find the optimal case configuration by removing the enclosure and sliding the fan around. Many of the cases we review do not support more than two 3.5 "drives, and have a few extra HDD enclosures more positive than negative.

Both stock intake fans are positioned as low as possible on the front of the case, so that both are more directed towards the PSU and GPU shroud than the CPU. This, especially if combined with the hard drive cage, makes it impossible that cold air will find its way to the top of the case. The three 120mm case fans all rotate at ~ 1000RPM max, which is not enough to effectively draw air through the mesh strip along both sides of the front panel, even though there are also unfiltered holes at the bottom. There is no removable filter in front of the fan. The only normal slide-out filter is the one at the bottom of the case, which is effective but glides back and forth freely without entering its place.

Both side panels are transparent, so cable management must be good, rightly so. There is a velcro strap mounted on a chassis in one line that can handle most of the power and cable I / O. There is 3cm of space between the glass side panel and the chassis throughout its width, so there is no need for special cable management channels. Compare this with the more typical 1.5cm gap at Level 20 MT and clearly how much space there is. It also makes sense to remove the HDD cage under the shroud for additional cable space, because there are four 3.5 "sleds that can be mounted on top of the shroud.

Yes there is a vertical GPU installation, and no, we don't test it. We do not recommend installing air-cooled cards against non-ventilated side panels, and we have proven that it is a bad idea several times. It must be good for liquid cooled cards, and Thermaltake has done a little more in its application than most by inserting a removable mounting plate for the PCIe riser cable.

Case Testing Methodology

GN Case Testing Bench (Sponsored by CableMod)

The video card is configured to run at 55% fan speed at all times.

Prior to load testing, we collect idle temperature results for ten minutes to determine the unloaded cooling performance of a case's fans and air channels. Thermal benchmarking is conducted for 1400 seconds (23 minutes), a period we've determined sufficient for achieving equilibrium. The over-time data is aggregated and will occasionally be compiled into charts, if interesting or relevant. The equilibrium performance is averaged to create the below charts.

Load testing is conducted using Prime95 LFFTs and Kombustor “FurMark” stress testing simultaneously. Testing is completely automated using in-house scripting, and executes with perfect accuracy on every run.

Thermals & Noise

Thermal testing for the A500 was exhaustive, including a total of 5 configurations just for the A500 alone. Our testing configurations focused first on the stock A500 enclosure, then aimed to improve performance to reach full potential by modifying the stock setup. Test variations offer a look at performance without any hard drive cages obstructing intake, a test with the front fans shifted up for more balanced airflow, a test with the fans moved up and the hard drive cages removed, and then a standardized test without the front panel.

Let’s get a CPU torture chart on the screen to look at thermal performance of the Thermaltake A500 case only against itself. We’ll add comparative data in the next chart.

CPU Torture

Review Thermaltake A500 TG Case : Still Missing the Basics

In stock, the case does not work properly: The temperature of around 68 degrees Celsisu exceeds the temperature for thermal CPU torture. We postulate that most of this poor performance must be blamed on the fan position, thus shifting the front fan up for balance. This brings the thermal down to 57.7 degrees Celsius above the ambient, with the idle temperature also dropping to 7 degrees from the impressive 9.5 high temperature above the ambient. Removing the hard drive cage but maintaining the fan stock configuration keeps us at 63 degrees more than ambient, allowing important performance improvements simply by removing the unused hard drive cage. We like that Thermaltake puts them in the case, so we will only note that you have to pull them out if they are not used immediately. Moving the fan up and removing the hard drive cage doesn't do much, because it also moves most of the air flow path above the cage - we end at 56 degrees above the ambient with this arrangement. Removing the front panel completely and leaving the fan configuration and moving the stock, we finally measured the CPU temperature around 55.6 degrees above ambient - almost the same as the previous measurement, and within the error limit.

Comparatively, only with the stock configuration and the best case on the chart, which places the A500 near Lancool One when in its stock configuration, both are in the margin of error with each other.

Review Thermaltake A500 TG Case : Still Missing the Basics

NZXT S340 Elite has a performance similar to the modified A500. Thermaltake's View 71 in stock configuration outperforms the roughly modified A500 around 1 degree Celsius, which is a big improvement over the performance of the A500 68 degree stock. The Dark Base Pro 900 is priced almost the same and ends near the A500, for comparison with price points. The Cooler Master H500M also deserves the spotlight and thermally breaks the A500 at the same cost. The A500 configuration in stock is between Enso and Walmart DTW, which has very poor performance. It talks about the limits of the fan position, the front panel, and the drive frame barrier. Fortunately, these two things are easily solved, as illustrated by the modifications. If you want to remove the drive cage and move the fan up, the A500 doesn't matter. It's not impressive, but it's okay - it's about average. No better, no worse. It's just that, don't store it in a complete stock configuration. If you add closed loops or open-loop coolers, this can obviously overcome many limitations - but that will mainly be done with violence.

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