With some next-gen PC stuff coming out, now is probably a good time for PC builders to upgrade their systems in some capacity. Components like the CPU, GPU and memory are obvious, but other essentials such as coolers, power supply, and even a proper case are equally important and typically stay with your machine much longer.
Enter Cooler Master and their reputable suite of hardware like the CMP 520 ARGB, a PC mid-tower chassis that covers the necessary basics without being totally barebones. It’s an affordable choice for novices dipping their toes into the glories of PC building or regular users who want a straightforward gaming rig with just a bit of flair.
The CMP 520 measures in at a compact 439 x 204 x 463mm (or 17.28 x 8.03 x 18.22 inches LWH). The core body is a combination of steel and plastic, with a tempered glass side panel meant to showcase your installed internals and is removable for easy access. Probably the most notable feature is the asymmetrical front panel that houses three pre-installed CF120 ARGB fans, providing ample airflow and a bold propeller-like rainbow effect aesthetic when enabled – it’s eye-catching without being obscenely overbearing.
Other features and versatility include bottom PSU shroud, top panel support for additional fan and cooler installations (two 120mm or 140mm), and separate ARGB hub controller for independent and/or manual configuration of RGB lighting arrays not reliant on hardware specifications. Motherboard compatibility is decent for ATX size and most 350mm graphic cards in such a tight frame. One element that’s not so impressive for the CMP 520 is connectivity; you only get one USB 3.2 Type-A (Gen 3.2), one USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm jack so you’ll have to rely on your motherboard if you need modern interfaces.
But how does the CMP 520 fare when used in a custom build? It’s not bad if your needs aren’t extreme and you don’t plan on going overboard with any additional lighting or performance mods. The biggest issue with this chassis is space management, especially when opting for a regular ATX motherboard setup like I did (ASRock X670E Pro RS/AMD Ryzen 7700X/Cooler Master MA624 Stealth/Cooler Master XG850 Plus ARGB PSU/Samsung 890 PRO NVMe SSD/GIGABYTE RTX 3070 GAMING OC), there’s just enough room for everything to breathe reasonably before adding more cooling.
If it weren’t for those other three grille CF120 fans up front the CMP 520 would probably be an oven, with temperatures already sitting at a somewhat higher 69°C under load, and those CF120 fans clocking in at 58.6dB in stock form.
You can play games and even do some regular editing work without having to worry, but this chassis is going to feel quite warm against your hand and might double as a heater during winter without a properly sized CPU cooler installed. If that issue keeps you up at night, then you’ll want to scale your machine down to a Micro-ATX motherboard setup to save valuable real estate inside the CMP 520. You may also consider stepping up to MasterBox 520 case, which is a little bigger and more robust for space efficiency and custom cooling options. Ironically, the MasterBox 520 was supposed to be the chassis arranged for this review, but I received this model instead. I got what I got on this occasion and had to work with it.
Overall, the CMP 520 ARGB works as a PC case if mainstream gaming, HTPCs and non-intensive workloads are your main priorities. However, if you’re looking to house high-end components (think Ryzen 7900X/7950X, Core i7 12900K/13900K CPUs, GeForce RTX 3080Ti/4080/3090 GPUs, etc.) then the CMP 520 might not have the breathing room to keep everything comfortably ventilated. The frame is more suited towards users not planning to build a raw showcase machine, and builders should be aware of that going in. This enclosure isn’t bad, but it just won’t be able to take the heat extreme enthusiasts and modders can dish out.