Deepcool’s CL500 is a well-built mid-tower ATX case with a strong feature set for its price.
If you’re looking for a flashy PC case that catches the eye of everyone that walks into the room, Deepcool’s CL500 ($79.99) is not the chassis for you. Featuring a two-tone paint job and a complete lack of RGB LED bling, this mid-tower ATX chassis simply isn’t a flashy entry into the PC DIY stakes. It paints in a palette of grey, glass, and black. But that doesn’t mean that this case is plain to the point of invisibility. Quite the contrary—the CL500’s design comes off as both edgy and industrial. The case also has a quality feel that belies its low price. It looks—and builds—better in person.
A key goal for Deepcool in designing the CL500 was to create a case with excellent airflow, and this is something the case maker has clearly succeeded in doing. Running across the top and down the front of the case is a series of metal fins reminiscent of a large metal heatsink. Behind the fins is a layer of metal mesh that helps to keep out dust and makes the case look all the more like one big heatsink. The case may not actually function as a heatsink, but air will pass right through with ease.
The right panel is simple sheet metal without any holes for ventilation; the left panel also lacks ventilation cutouts but is made of tempered glass. The lack of ventilation from the side panels shouldn’t be a problem given the large vents on the top, rear, and front of the case. These should allow air to pass through in a straight line without being routed out the sides.
The front I/O panel on this case is located on the top panel and offers an audio jack, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port. Also up here are the power and reset buttons, and behind all of this is a third button that pops off the top of the case. This gives you easy access to a mounting bracket for fans and liquid-cooling radiators.
Before moving onto the building experience portion of this review, it’s worth mentioning that the CL500 comes with a built-in PWM fan controller capable of supporting up to four fans. It’s behind the right side panel, mounted near the case top. I didn’t use this controller, as the case comes with just a single 120mm fan installed; I opted to plug that solo fan directly into the motherboard instead. Liquid-cooling fans, likewise, may also use motherboard-based headers for direct access to the system and BIOS monitoring. But if you want to go all-in on air cooling and add aftermarket fans beyond what your motherboard headers can handle—or if you want to keep the wire routing neat—the controller is there if you need it.
Okay! Time to crack the case open and get to building a system inside it. But before I do, there’s one more thing I should mention about its design—the side panels are held on not by screws but by magnets. This highly useful feature means you can open up either side of the system just by giving one of the panels a tug.
The panels adhere to the case quite well, and from my experience, do not seem prone to falling off accidentally. They certainly stayed on just fine during the unboxing process. I also moved the case around, passing it from my dedicated system-building table to my photo area and back again, and the panels didn’t budge in transit.
The interior of the Deepcool CL500 is quite spacious. Side to side, it’s able to accommodate CPU coolers up to 165mm (6.5 inches) high, and graphics cards up to 330mm (13 inches) long. Fitting an ATX motherboard into place was easy and without any notable issues. As the case doesn’t have any fans preinstalled at the top, it was also exceedingly easy to reach the CPU fan header and CPU power connector at the top of the board to plug in those cables. Sometimes, getting your power supply cables to reach the top of the chassis and get to the CPU power port on the motherboard can be a cable-stretching ordeal. Not here.
Installing PCI Express add-on cards on this case is also straightforward. You need to remove a metal plate on the back of the case first; afterward, you simply unscrew one or more of the seven PCI Express slot backplane shields and pop in your video card or other add-in board. If you have an exceptionally long graphics card, a metal arm-style support near the front of the case is handy to use. (Not a CPU—it’s not that kind of ARM device.) The little metal arm indeed does a good job of supporting the weight of any graphics card long enough to reach it, which in turn reduces the stress on the PCI Express slot on your motherboard. If you’ve invested in one of Nvidia’s recent monsters like the GeForce RTX 3080, you’ll appreciate this detail.
For an ATX case, the Deepcool CL500 has relatively few storage bays. In total, the system officially has just four places to mount storage devices. Directly behind the motherboard tray are two mounting brackets for 2.5-inch drives, and at the very bottom are two removable trays for 3.5-inch drives. Technically, you could use a simple adapter to install two 2.5-inch drives in each 3.5-inch bay, if you really needed to. But as the CL500 comes out of the box, you can have only four drives in total properly mounted in this case.
This doesn’t strike me as being problematic for most shoppers, though. Most cases I see nowadays can house only one or two 3.5-inch drives, and while most cases can typically hold more than two 2.5-inch drives, few users will install more than a pair. This is especially true as M.2-based solid-state storage keeps penetrating the market. It may be just a few more years before we start to see 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives become niche items, with most PC builders installing just one or two, if any. So having fewer bays at this point isn’t likely to bother most builders.
Like many cases today, the CL500’s power supply (PSU) mounting area is at the bottom of the chassis. Your PSU needs to be inserted through the right side of the case, and the PSU’s body bulk is hidden fully from view when looking at the system through the glass side.
You can route your key system cables from the right side through to the motherboard at several locations around the motherboard tray. Most of these are just open holes, but the three that are set in the middle of the motherboard mounting tray have a rubber lining that buffers the sharp edges and helps to conceal cables on the right side of the case from view. Deepcool also mounts a trio of Velcro strips beside these holes to help keep cables neat and organized.
Overall, we couldn’t find much to complain about with Deepcool’s CL500—the case is affordable, it has solid build quality, and the design is free of major flaws. Having support for modern features such as USB-C on the front I/O panel is also a plus, and other features, such as the magnetic side panels, make performing regular maintenance quick and easy.
Unless you really care about maximizing RGB LED flair, this chassis will provide plenty of easy-build joy and give your desktop buildout a sleek, modern, and professional look.
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Deepcool, Computer case, ATX
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