Memory-module mogul Corsair has not produced a “true” high-end PC case ever since it dipped its toe in the market a dozen years ago with the Obsidian Series 800D. That drought ends with its decidedly high-end $399.99 iCUE 5000T RGB. But Corsair isn’t relying on tradition in the design of its new case: Instead of old-fashioned black anodized machined aluminum plate, fully controllable RGB lighting is the star, highlighting modern finishes on formed steel panels. Even the plastic top panel has a painted steel skin. If you're all about massive RGB effects paired with massive air or liquid cooling, "queue" on up.
The primary design features in this big, bold case include a drop-down front panel that covers three 120mm RGB-lit intake fans, as well as a similarly sized side-panel vent capable of holding a 360mm radiator. The front panel is alternately capable of holding a pair of 140mm fans, while the mount under the side panel isn’t. (More on that in a minute.)
The front-panel section boasts five USB 3 ports via two Gen 1 and one Gen 2 internal motherboard header connectors. The latter supports 10Gbps transfers to a single USB Type-C drive. Audio comes by way of a headphone/microphone combo jack, and the power LED shines through a translucent symbol on the power button.
Out back, we find an empty 120mm fan mount with screw slots that allow for height adjustment of any fan or small radiator you might install here. Also here: seven slots aligned to motherboard positions, and two vertical slots that allow customizers to mount their graphics card with the fans showing, in vertical orientation, by adding a PCI Express riser cable (not included).
Inside is enough space for a full-depth (13-inch) EATX motherboard, but only for those who are willing to forsake the factory-installed cable cover: Corsair only rates the iCUE 5000T RGB as being ATX-compatible, so the cable cover will have to be removed if you install a board that's bigger. Other points of interest include two 2.5-inch drive tray mounts (that, alas, have no dedicated trays), a covered hole for installing CPU-cooler back plates, and four mounting points on the bracket that covers this hole that could support a 2.5-inch drive if not for the fact that something else is already occupying that space.
Flipping the iCUE 5000T RGB to the opposite side reveals the component that blocks the fourth 2.5-inch drive mount, Corsair’s Commander Core XT RGB controller. Beneath it are three 2.5-inch drive trays and a drive cage with two 3.5-inch/2.5-inch trays, and forward of that a 3x120mm fan mount that hides behind the cable cover. Up to two of the three 2.5-inch trays can be relocated atop the power supply tunnel. Our first discovered deviation from Corsair’s published specs is that the fourth 2.5-inch drive mount can’t be used with the RGB controller in place, and is not documented thus in its manual.
A closer look shows that only three of the Commander Core XT ‘s six RGB/fan outputs are required for included components, that the controller uses SATA power, and that it includes a thermal probe (thermistor) for fan control. Also of note: The USB 2.0 internal data cable for the controller has a pass-through for a second USB device, such as our Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT CPU cooler. Meanwhile, a closer look at the side fan mounts reveals that the back side of the cable cover is angled to direct airflow over the motherboard’s surface.
Our second discovered deviation from Corsair’s specs is that while the manual states that the cable cover must be removed to install side fans, this task can be achieved by removing and reinstalling the fan bracket. The space between the fan brackets and cable cover is more than adequate to install 25mm-thick fans, and the cable cover is designed to act as a fan shroud. Rather than forgetting that its cable cover was designed as a fan shroud, it’s more likely that Corsair wants users to focus on the mount’s ability to hold a third large radiator. The added thickness of a radiator would necessitate abandoning the cable-concealing fan shroud, though.
Zooming in on the drive cage, we see that its thumb screws are the first thing a power supply will bump into. We found a paltry 175mm of clearance for the power supply’s casing in the as-delivered configuration, though there’s obviously more room above those screws for the power supply’s cables. The drive cage can be moved forward or removed entirely, as the side fan mount blocks drive-tray access if the cage is moved forward.
The drive cage’s two trays have screw holes for both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, plus pin mounts on the sides for 3.5-inch trays. Those extra screw holes might come in handy if you break the pins!
The drive cage’s first position forward gives the power supply another 20mm of space while impinging on the lowest fan mount of the side panel bracket. Getting to the third mounting position at the very front of the bottom panel requires removal of the lowest front-panel fan.
Builders who either don’t need to create more space for their power supply or don’t need the lower drive cage will find that the factory-installed power supply tunnel cover can be swapped for one that clears super-thick front-panel radiators, as shown in the below picture sequence.
The front-panel’s drop-down center section contains a screwed-in dust filter, which can probably be rinsed by those willing to take it apart (though compressed air is easier to use). The side panel includes a similar filter, but it’s attached via magnetic strips.
The slide-out power supply filter is even easier to clean, since it’s not attached to any exterior panels.
The top panel's center portion is covered with a perforated metal sheet, and beneath it is another perforated sheet, the former attached with fold tabs and the latter with magnetic strips. Also notice the screws atop each side-panel hinge, the removal of which allows the side panels to slide up and off the hinge pins.
Removing the second sheet reveals slots for adjustable mounting of three 120mm or two 140mm fans, on a structural panel that sits a full 85mm above the motherboard’s top edge. That’s nearly enough space for a sandwich of two 25mm fans with a 38mm radiator, and those who need the extra 3mm of vertical clearance will find that the slots are spaced 38mm horizontally from the motherboard standoffs.
Our third deviation from Corsair specs is that we measured the case at 540mm (not 530mm) from the center of the front panel to the outside of the back panel, with an additional 12mm of distance for the mounting bracket that sticks out the back of the +2 vertical card section.
With white-painted steel covering most of the iCUE 5000T RGB’s surfaces and all of its advanced features, the one letdown we experienced was that its right side panel on our review sample wasn’t entirely flat. This is entirely unexpected in a 32-pound empty case. When we pushed it out, it popped back. Given the size of this panel, we don’t perceive an easy fix for Corsair. It also won't be a big deal if that side of the case will be facing a wall or niche in your desk.
In addition to the mounted cable straps that hold factory-installed cables, the iCUE 5000T RGB includes six cable straps that can be optionally installed on the strap bracket that surrounds its RGB controller. The installation kit also includes a package of fan screws, #6-32 screws (for the motherboard and any 3.5-inch drives), M3 screws (for 2.5-inch drives), standoffs, washers, and ratcheting cable ties.
Front-panel cables include two USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 3.2 Gen 2, power/reset/LED, and HD Audio. This photo doesn’t show the two SATA power cables needed for the RGB lighting and controller, nor the USB cable that links the RGB controller hardware to the motherboard and thus its software.
We placed Corsair’s iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT 2x120mm closed-loop cooler as far back on the top panel as the chassis allowed, so that it would pull heat away from the motherboard’s CPU voltage regulator. As you can see, a straight-up ATX board looked pretty dwarfed in here by the size of the case...
FSP’s tiny Dagger Pro 850W SFX power supply is still useful in this large a case, thanks to its long leads and included PS/2 (full ATX) form factor adapter plate.
We’re not adding a deep-dive software review to today’s test, but a quick look at some of Corsair’s iCUE settings could help potential buyers. For example, after trying to reach max fan speed using a custom profile, we gave up and set it to fixed RPM.
Lighting modes for the fans (4-pin group) and light bars (3-pin group) are independent. Unlike software modes, “Hardware Lighting” patterns are stored on the controller’s internal ROM and continue to function even with the iCUE software disabled.
The finished build looks great; it could have looked better had this editor splashed out for extra-bright ambient lighting and a darker background, but even our test configuration looked pretty darn elaborate with the stock stuff Corsair provides. Here's how we outfitted it...
And so, onward to testing. With two mid-towers to compare (the Cooler Master HAF 500 and the SilverStone Seta Q1), the tiny Lian Li A4-H2O acts as an additional placeholder in today’s charts.
The iCUE 5000T RGB takes top honors in CPU temperature, edging out the well-ventilated HAF 500 and making the quiet-design Seta Q1 appear hot by comparison.
The iCUE 5000T RGB showed some surprisingly good voltage-regulator temperatures. We’d have expected less cooling since its top-panel radiator mount is so far away from the motherboard and its rear-panel fan mount is empty, but instead we see a reflection of the good temperatures previously provided in the Cooler Master HAF 500.
The first clear win for a competing case comes in GPU temperature, where more air is apparently moving across the GPU area of the HAF 500. Yet with temperatures this low for the best three cases, we doubt anyone would notice two or three degrees in actual use.
We test noise at a 45-degree angle from the front panel, and the iCUE 5000T RGB’s duct and side vent for a nearly straight line between our GPU and meter. Left-front measurements are a bit lower and are more greatly affected by the case’s front fans being set at full speed.
This is where we place the caveat that most users will have automatic fan control enabled, and thus won’t ever reach full fan speeds. On the other hand, it’s nice to know how much cooling each case can provide at the far limits.
The iCue 5000T RGB’s support for elaborate multi-radiator liquid cooling arrangements is sure to put it in the hands of many show-system builders, where its superb finish and optional white color will brighten any even hastily planned RGB color lighting scheme. The inclusion of five USB3 ports (even if only one is a Gen 2 Type-C) adds a measure of practicality to the panache and even gives us something to do with that second Gen 1 header found on so many higher-spec motherboards.
It's not without flaws: Like most large, flat-sheet-metal structures, its right side panel warps easily enough that it might frustrate fastidious builders. But for shoppers who are wedded to a big tower with massive potential for big radiators, RGB, and a mature solution for controlling and syncing it all, the iCUE 5000T RGB is a top pick.
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