ProsPremium-quality materials inside and out; sleek styling; highly modular
ConsA bit expensive; cheap fans; USB Type-C port uses Gen 1 connector
So, while in previous case reviews we've told you what it's like to build inside a case the old-fashioned way, using words and photos, this time around we've compiled a complete build video, showing you everything you could possibly want to know about using the A500. In fact, this video is a full stand-alone review, so you may not need to read the rest of this article if you watch the whole thing!
Now, we'll highlight a couple of the issues mentioned in the video that we encountered with the A500 during our testing. First, the fans are of the "cheap" variety. As much as the case materials may be premium, the three 120mm fans included with the A500 are most definitely straight out of the parts bin. They use sleeve bearings, and while they'll certainly provide ample cooling, they won't be as quiet as the Thermaltake ARGB fans we switched them out for, which use hydraulic bearings (and of course offer sweet lighting effects too!). The other issue with the fans is that they are mounted too low in the front of the case, which is something that is true of most Thermaltake cases. We're not sure who decides on how to prep these cases for retail, but honestly, this is an error that doesn't need to be repeated anymore, Thermaltake!
The other issue is one that a lot of manufacturers are struggling with right now, and that is ever-changing USB standards. The USB consortium is making the transition to USB 3.0 and Type-C about as hard as possible, and unfortunately, Thermaltake seems to have gotten caught in the trap with the A500. In addition to two old-school USB 2.0 ports, it features two USB 3.0 Type-A ports up top, along with a USB Type-C port, which unfortunately uses a USB 3.0 internal connector. The issue here is that while this would have been OK in late-2017, when most high-end motherboards were transitioning to including dual USB 3.0 headers, it's not OK in 2019. With USB Type-C catching on, board manufacturers have switched again, with most high-end boards now including just one USB 3.0 header and one USB 3.1 Type-C header. That means that in order to use all the front ports on the A500, you're almost guaranteed to need an adapter. We used this USB 3.0 to 3.1 adapter, which is limited to 3.0 speed, but at least let us use our Type-C port! We think Thermaltake should seriously consider including an adapter going forward, as it's otherwise going to hear a lot of howling from disgruntled customers.
Because we used a brand-new platform for this test, we can't directly compare the thermal performance of the A500 to previous cases. The Core i9-9900K is a far hotter CPU than we've ever used before, and the RTX 2080 Ti video card has a far more power-hungry GPU than any previous card we've tested. With that said, we can say this: the A500 performed extremely well in our testing. While it obviously has an airflow-blocking solid front fascia, unlike many other cases that ascribe to this popular design aesthetic, the A500 actually overcomes the inherent thermal challenge by providing ample side vents that are not blocked by the intake fans themselves. Thermaltake also designed in totally functional top vents, which again are a step beyond the vents in many other cases we've tested. Too often, manufacturers install a solid panel up top and then punch a couple of vents here and there for exhaust, but this ends up being more for aesthetics than anything else. Thermaltake does it for real, not for show.
The end result was that our GeForce RTX 2080 Ti never topped 80 °C in our testing, which is quite impressive given its power consumption. Similarly, our Core i9-9900K, which was overclocked to 5GHz and cooled by the ample Thermaltake Water 3.0 360mm liquid cooler, typically sat around 60 °C during gaming and hit a maximum of 77 °C during a Cinebench test. This was all while the A500 kept noise at bay, making for a very fine balance of looks, thermals, and acoustics. You can find cases that will beat the A500 in one or perhaps two of these categories, but it's going to be hard to find a case that offers the dialed combination that the A500 provides.
There's just no other way to put this: the Thermaltake A500 is among the best high-end cases on the market. It uses ultra-premium materials, offers fantastic modularity, and just looks sweet. In order to hit the $250 pricepoint, Thermaltake did cut a few corners when it comes to fans and USB ports, but we're going to give them a pass on those issues. It's the big things that count, and Thermaltake got virtually everything else right with the A500. We love the aesthetics, from the sweet hinged glass doors that provide easy access and look good doing it, to the sand-blasted aluminum panels, which flow smoothly from the bottom of the feet all the way to the top rear edge of the chassis. We also love the performance: the A500 provides a great combination of low noise, ample airflow, and most importantly in our book, perfect compatibility with ultra-high-end liquid cooling solutions. That might seem like a given that Thermaltake is one of the biggest manufacturers of high-end cooling equipment, but you'd be surprised at how many of its main competitors in the case and cooling market get this wrong over and over again.
The Thermaltake A500 Aluminum ATX Case is available for $234.99 shipped free from Amazon as of our publication date, and it earns a recommendation in our $5,000 Ultra-Extreme Gaming/Productivity PC Buyer's Guide. To see all of our recommended cases, simply browse TBG's PC Buyer's Guides, which highlight our top 24 favorite cases on the market!