Cooler Master is a company that doesn't need much of an introduction and the name is literally a synonym to performance in the PC market. With a rich heritage of 20 years in the field and a product catalog that has been unparalleled time and again since the get go it has cemented a legacy in the field of Computers, loved by both enthusiasts and gamers alike. What all was left to conquer for them is the mystified and ever changing realm of the Case Modding Community!
The answer to which came in the form of their big release this year at Computex 2015, the Cooler Master MasterCase 5 which is based on their much talked about and much pushed ‘Make it yours’ theme. The highlight of this case has been the 'Free Form Modular System' which in short is its ability to transform itself as per the needs and requirements of the user with the help of accessories that you can add to it for accommodating new parts to your build or simply by ripping out the old ones when not required!
Today I have the honor of having one on my table for review and its one big sexy box from the outside! Before moving on further lets take a quick looks at the spec sheet of the MasterCase 5
The MasterCase 5 that I have with me is the base model which lacks the top radiator mount, transparent side panel and an extra drive cage along with a 140mm fan in the front that the MasterCasr 5 Pro comes pre-installed with. Though you can purchase all these 'accessories' separately and add them to the base model and convert it into the Pro version erasing the distinguishing line. Sadly I've not been provided with these accessories as of now but I'll still cover them in detail for you.
Packing and Contents
The Cooler Master MasterCase 5 comes in a huge cardboard box which is predominately colored in black and purple. It has the picture of the case along with details about the modular system are all listed in detail to tell the user what they are buying at the very beginning itself. My box came in a banged up condition with a fracture at the bottom and made me worried about the condition of the module inside.
On the sides you'll get the specifications and various details like the warranty offered & customer care contact details. This is a welcome move by the company since the packing is both appealing and informative at the same time. All in all it will please everyone who'll buy it right from the look of the box itself.
Inside you are greeted by the case resting inside a plastic bag secured between two thick layers of styrofoam which have done a great job in protecting my review unit and hence is a testimony to their immense shock value which will keep your case secure in every condition possible.
Included with the MasterCase 5 in a small plastic bag are a user manual and warranty card, which clearly explains Cooler Master’s two year warranty for the MasterCase 5.
The user manual is greatly informative and simple to understand via clear diagrams that guide you through standard installation procedures, including the PSU mount system that I'll cover later on in the review. Good job by Cooler Master to include this guide with the case as it shows their concern for a beginner aswell, not leaving him upon his hit and trail skills of installation!
A little black box is tucked nicely in one of the two 3.5" caddies provided along with the case. It contains all the things you'll need to install everything properly. All black screws, ample of zip ties, two molex to fan connector adapters along with a bracket that can be employed to install the third 120mm/140mm fan in the front if you are not using any 5.25" drive.
This is a nice little bundle, not too much not too less, though I'd appreciate the inclusion of a EPS 12V cable extension since the MasterCase 5 is not only tall but also two chambered which might render a few power supplies 8-pin cable short or useless. A general suggestion from my side to Cooler Master nothing much.
Closer Look at the MasterCase 5
The first thing you'll notice about the MasterCase 5 is its all black gun metal finish that covers it from every inch in a very elegant manner and makes the MasterCase 5 one of the smoothest cases out there with an unmatched finish. The side panel is opaque and a transparent one can be bought separately if required to get the feel of the Pro version. These are thick panel and not at all flimsy shouting out loud about the case's superior build quality. Sliding them and fitting them is not a problem and they can even hang on their hinges to avoid sudden falls once you unscrew them from the back via the thumb screws.
Even though the case measures at 235mm in width, 512mm in height and 548mm in depth giving it the looks of a full tower but infact the case has actual dimensions of 235mm x 460mm x 460mm with a volume of 0.0497 m3 (49.7 liters), making it a mid-tower case! Thanks to it 9.25" it is significantly wider than a normal ATX case which makes it a promising contender for bulky CPU air coolers.
The entire case is mainly made out of thick aluminum sheet giving it a weight of 10.4Kgs which is a bit much but thanks to the two handles on the top, yeyy! the old Storm Trooper look is back, its not an ordeal for you to move this case around but rather fun.
The front is made out of a fine black plastic mesh which acts as a dust filter for the intake fans in the front. It is in two distinct parts one at the bottom is a single unit housing your 120mm/140mm fans underneath -- while the upper two are 5.25' drive cover removable from the inside. The mesh is not flexible and will do the job just fine in stopping dust particles from reaching inside the case, though its not very fine so smaller spec of dust might pass through hence a cleaning will be required at regular intervals. This is easily possible since this mesh can come out by pulling it out from a cavity below.
The metal Cooler Master emblem sits nicely near the bottom and gives the MasterCase 5 a premium feel.
The I/O panel is made out of plastic & is quite broad providing very basic and limiting options. It has two USB 3.0 ports, audio jacks, LED illuminated power, reset switch and HDD activity light. I really felt that Cooler Master could've done a lot better over here since cases costing half of the MasterCase 5 offer more features on their I/O panel. There are only two USB 3.0 ports which should've been four or atleast followed by two USB 2.0 ports if not 3.0 since all motherboards have USB 2.0 ports on them. A fan controller would've been a welcome move considering the no of fans the master case can accommodate.
On top you can see there is a metal mesh that houses a removable dust filter underneath. This top mesh can be removed to take out the dust filter or even to aid you while screwing on the top radiator mount bracket which is available as an added accessory. By default the MasterCase 5 can accommodate two 120mm/140mm fans on top but no radiator due to limited motherboard-case top clearance. I really don't like the point of this since Cooler Master is charging you for something that other cases from Cooler Master themselves offer right out of the box.
The two handles are a very welcome move and make the MasterCase 5 a delight for pro gamers who like to carry their Multi-GPU gaming rig along with them to LAN parties. They are covered by plastic covers which are removable or up-gradable and hide metal handles underneath. You can swap thee plastic covers and pop the top radiator mesh on and stoll be able to use the handles.
The rear is relatively simple, well that what it looks like at first but its not! The common feature includes a Cooler Master 140mm exhaust fan that moves 55 CFM at 24 dBa, that you get right out of the box and it can even be swapped with a 120mm fan if required. The fan is slid-able upon its rails in a vertical fashion so as to attain optimal alignment in accordance to your internal components.
Expansion slots are seven in number and don't have a thin metal separation between each other which makes me wonder its positives since I can only think of it as an added failure point both in terms of dust deposition inside the case and decrease in support to bulky and beefy graphics cards.
The seventh odd looking slot at the bottom is what is known as the "Storm Guard" which intends to act as an anti-theft mechanism for your keyboard and mouse. You are supposed to loop your keyboard/mouse wire through the holes and teeth of this slot, pop it back into the case and tap your cables so that no one can simply run away with them, a handy feature for gaming cafe and LAN parties.
The PSU mount comes with captive screws that hold the retention cage tightly to the case which in turn houses the PSU. There is a removable dust filter for the PSU which is long and ensures clean air for even large PSUs that have 140mm fans. It can be removed even while the case is upright which I really liked.
By the external looks alone I can say that the Cooler Master MasterCase 5 is one of the best looking and well build cases til date. It has a time-less design that stays neutral and will accept any modding done to it easily be it by the user or by the company clearly supporting the "Make it Yours" moto
On opening the MasterCase 5 not only will you find it huge but also clean-classy! Its an all black two chambered containment with smooth paint finish. The drive cages are tool-less and match with the rest of the interiors and rubber grommets are of really good quality and gel well with rest of the unit.
Starting off with the front you'll find one drive cage pre-installed with the MasterCase 5. It can accommodate two 3.5'/2.5' drives via its tool less caddies. Its is a sturdy build and doesn't bend easily. You can slide this cage upon a punched rail by loosening the screws that hold it in place making room for radiators or graphic cards as per your need. You can install an extra drive cage aswell which Cooler Master sells separately to accommodate more drives.
Two 5.25' drive bays sit nicely on top and have a slide and lock mechanism for locking an oprical drive or adapter in place. By default they come open and feel solid. You can remove this cage entirely to fit in another 120mm/140mm fan in the front using the extra fan mount provided along with the case.
Coming over to the Motherboard mounting area you'll find a chart guiding you to which stand off points to use with respect to the size of your board to be mounted. Its a welcome move especially for beginners eliminating the hassle and anxiety completely. Also the black plate cut out is huge providing enough room for working and installing a new cooler on the processor even when the motherboard is intact.
The dividing plate between the upper and lower chamber of the case is non-removable which does provide the case high tensile strength and integrity but also takes away the flexibility to shift its height if one wishes to mount a radiator at the sides for a custom loop cooling setup. This also blows the "Modularity" out of water for this case!
On top you have two rubber grommets for easy cable routing along with two additional holes for connecting the SSDs that you'll mount on the two SSD mounts provided. These are simple to use and can be removed easily thanks to their tool less mechanism. Each mount can house two SSDs one on top and another at the bottom of the bracket making a total of four. The MasterCase 5 even has two more SSD mounts at the rear of the motherboard tray! But you can't use all of them at the same time.
The bottom chamber houses your Power Supply Unit which can be slid inside via the retention cage. The PSU area is clean and has rubber sliders to damp any noise or vibrations. In the front a drive cage mounting option is available so that you can mount the drive cage below and provide the entire front for a radiator or fans to optimize air flow.
At the rear of the motherboard tray you'll notice that you have ample of room for running your cables and holes to assist connections at the desired spot or component. Velcro is provided at three spots to hold the case wires in place and it looks really impressive and neat. One thing I noticed is that the hole for the 8-pin CPU connector is big and rightly placed minimizing any room for difficulty during installation even if you mount a top radiator with the top mesh accessory.
SSDs can be mounted right below the motherboard cut out. Just in case you don't want to use the front ones to provide room for other PCIe components.
In short the interiors of the Cooler Master MasterCase 5 are well thought of and well executed. Quality is maintained from the grass root level of rubber grommets to as high as drive mounts. The MasterCase is truly a future proof and modern case with room not only for big components but also for great mods.
InstallationIts crunch time people! Assembling the Cooler Master MasterCase 5 was an easy job since I've come to know all the ins and outs of this chassis quite thoroughly by now.
Thanks to my friends at Gigabyte who managed to drop in some really cool parts at my doorstep for this build. The build configuration is as follows:
CPU: Intel i7 6700K quad core 4Ghz LGA 1151
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170X Gaming G1
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaw 16GB (4x4) 3000Mhz DDR4
Graphics Card: Gigabyte R9 290X 4GB DDR5 Windforce 3xOC
Cooler: Corsair H110 280mm
Storage: Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB -- Intel 750 series 400GB NVMe
PSU: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum
Case: Cooler Master MasterCase 5
Its a beefy configuration and is more than what a medium to high end user will use. Everything fitted in the case perfectly and there was no issue at all during the installation of anything. I moved the front 140mm Cooler Master fan on top as an intake since the dust filter on top will ensure clean air inside which has an RPM of 1500.
The PSU can be seen mounted perfectly and the rubber rails inside provide the perfect cushioning needed. Cable management was a breeze courtesy to the numerous cut outs and grommets. Even though most of the cables with the AX860i are not flat navigating them inside the case was not a problem at all.
The expansion slots as mentioned don't have metal separations amongst themselves and leaves empty open spaces which can fasten dust build up inside the case.
As I don't have a 5.25' drive with me I opted to install the USB Type C and USB 3.1 Adapter of the Gigabyte Z170X Gaming G1 in the front which fits in perfectly and leaves no gaps nor does it look odd since the entire front fascia of the MasterCase 5 is neutral! Also the slide and lock mechanism of the 5.25' drive bay worked flawlessly.
The MasterCase 5 didn't fall shy in accommodating the Corsair H110 280mm Liquid Cooler in the front once I removed the 3.5' drive cage and moved it to the bottom and provides ample ventilation for the fans to suck in air from the outside. I'd preferred a top mount by default though.
This is one of the easiest installations I've done so far and I have no complains from the MasterCase 5 whatsoever. Plenty of possibilities to mount your storage drives with respect to various configurations along with a decent capacity to contain graphics cards of 11.6' and 16.2' without the front 3.5' HDD cage is a worthy feature since you can use even the heaviest and longest cards in dual/tri configurations. You have bout 2cm clearance at the rear of the motherboard tray and the panel which is more than enough for good cable management and with 190mm of jaw dropping CPU cooler clearance the MasterCase 5 is a case to look out for.
When I got the MasterCase 5 from Cooler Master I was a bit skeptical about its appearance & functionality but to be true its a case worth exploring for knowing. With some drawbacks like the inability to accommodate a radiator on top without the accessory and limited I/O panel options with just two USB 3.0 ports and no fan controller etc the case offers some really cool and distinct features such as its multiple storage drive mount bays and front radiator mounting of upto 420mm makes it a versatile case taking a step further in 'making it yours'. Though I'd expect more accessories to roll out soon and support the case since Cooler Master has taken a step never heard of before, they are providing people with a base frame and leaving it to the customer's will to customize it according to his/her taste, which is mostly the other way around in case of other companies.
Priced at $109 or Rs 11,999 its a stealthy looking cabinet with a timeless design to ensure it suits and goes well with any accessory that Cooler Master will release in future according to the demand of the time. Clean and neat cuts provide an excellent canvas for custom paint jobs for modders or simply making it look like an elegant piece of hardware that anyone would keep on his desk. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for what will follow next...are you?
I give it a 9.5/10
- Timeless design makes it look elegant.
- Build quality is exceptional.
- Handles on top make it easy to carry around.
- Multiple mounting locations for storage drives.
- Separate PSU chamber keeps the heat isolate.
- 140mm fans can be mounted on every location increasing air flow manifold.
- Wire Management is easy with ample of clearance for hardware.
- No top radiator mount without added accessory.
- I/O panel has just two USB 3.0 ports and no USB 2.0 ports
- Only two 3.5' drive bays in the base model
- EATX motherboards will not be supported.