Introduction

Cooler Master is a very familiar brand name amongst enthusiasts. The company started off as a manufacturer of PC cooling solutions and quickly diversified towards cases and power supply units, to which they owe much of their current reputation. Today, the company enjoys global recognition and produces dozens of products, but they never cease to update and upgrade their catalogues either. In recent shows they had discussed that in previous years their vision was perhaps a little unfocused, and at the time they were taking in comments from users and media as well as determining their overall direction, platform and portfolio in the second half of the decade. Today we are having a look at their latest creation, the MasterCase 5 - part of their refocus towards a more 'make-your-own' product philosophy, which also formed part of their Computex demonstration platform around the slogan 'Make It Yours.

Although the MasterCase 5 externally looks like just a tower case, Cooler Master is actually taking a huge bet with this product. This is their first case featuring the "FreeForm Modular System". Much like its name suggests, the company's aspiration is to make this the first truly modular case ever. Some extra parts and accessories were released alongside with the case but Cooler Master claims that many more are going to follow. We are having a thorough look at this new, unique design and some of its available extra accessories in this review.

CoolerMaster MasterCase 5
Motherboard Size ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External 2 × 5.25"
Internal 2 × 3.5" (internal drive cages)
2 × 2.5" (System Area) or
2 × 2.5" (Rear of motherboard tray)
Cooling Front 3 × 140 mm or 3 × 120 mm (1 × 140 mm included)
Rear 1 × 120 mm or 140 mm (140 mm included)
Top 2 × 120 mm or 140 mm (none included)
HDD -
Bottom -
Radiator Support Front 240/280 mm radiator, up to 40mm thickness without fan
Rear Up to 140 mm
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
I/O Port 2× USB 3.0, 0× USB 2.0, 1× Headphone, 1× Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 190 mm
PSU -
GPU 410 mm (<295 mm if a HDD cage is installed)
Dimensions 512 mm × 235 mm × 548 mm
20.16 in × 9.25 in × 21.57 in
Prominent Features · Dual Chamber Design
· Slip-and-clip SSD pockets
· Free Form Modular System for unparalleled flexibility
Price $110 + Shipping (no accessories)

 

Packaging & Bundle

We received the MasterCase 5 in a large, sturdy cardboard box. The artwork is simple, based on a dark theme and focused on pictures of the case itself. Inside the box, the case is well secured between thick Styrofoam slabs and wrapped in a soft nylon bag. The packaging ought to offer more than sufficient protection during shipping.

The bundle of the MasterCase 5 is very simple and straightforward. Still, it comes well presented in a compartmentalized small cardboard box. The bundle consists of a basic manual, an extra mounting bracket for a fan, several simple black cable ties, two black Molex to 3-pin fan adapters and the necessary mounting screws and hardware. With the exception of the motherboard's standoffs, all of the screws are black.

Accessories

The modular nature of the MasterCase 5 is supposed to allow upgrades and changes. Some of them are offered in the form of aftermarket accessories that can be purchased separately when needed. There are only a few accessories available right now but, we are told, more will become available in the future as the "modular case" trend picks up. Cooler Master supplied us with all of the accessories currently available for the MasterCase 5 and we are having a quick look through them.

The most basic accessory is that of an extra 2.5" drive bracket. Two come with the case, but the MasterCase 5 actually has four 2.5" bracket slots (two in the system area, two at the rear of the motherboard tray). Cooler Master offers extra brackets for those that want to populate more than two of these slots.

Perhaps the most obvious accessory for such a case would be the extra HDD/SSD drive cages. Cooler Master offers them in two variants, one for two drives and one for three drives. They come complete with their drive trays and extra mounting screws. The trays can hold either 3.5" or 2.5" devices.

 

Two accessories are available only for the MasterCase 5, as they are standard with the MasterCase Pro 5. These are the top mesh cover and the windowed side panel.

The windowed side panel is just what its name suggests - a windowed right side panel for those that would like to display their system. The black stripe that covers the PSU compartment area can be removed if desired.

The top mesh cover replaces the straight metallic cover of the MasterCase 5. It is more than just an aesthetic upgrade, as it comes alongside a deep bracket/mount that allows for the installation of a liquid cooling radiator at the top of the case. 

 

The Exterior of the Cooler Master MasterCase 5
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  • winterlord - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    how much does it weigh? Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    From the second page of the review - "It also tipped our scale at 10.4 kg, making it a fairly heavy case for the size." Reply
  • nmm - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    From where I'm sitting their "modular" approach looks a bit like they're just selling you a case that doesn't come with all the parts. I'm pretty sure my Fall Sky Lake build is still going into a Fractal Design Define R5 (or perhaps a Define Mini if they ever get around to updating it... and if anyone ever releases a micro ATX board that isn't riddled with useless SATA Express ports). Reply
  • freeskier93 - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    I'm sure the designers/engineers know very well what countersinking is, so well they also know countersinking into such thin sheet metal is not a good method. Even at a large 130* countersink there would be very little surface contact between the sheet and fastener. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    The openings are made for screws with countersunk heads and the thin sheet metal, even with fans attached, has no weight that would cause problems with such screws, even if the contact surface is small.

    Besides, the thin sheet sits on the metallic frame and gravity does not go up.
    Reply
  • freeskier93 - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    Taking a closer look at the pictures it looks they are dimpled, which would be the better method, so it is odd they used a big cheese head screw. Reply
  • 'nar - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    I have to agree with the reviewer, and here are some reasons why. You can expand a case in any direction with optional components, except the rear panel with the motherboard connections. The top can not only have a radiator, but also padded external drive bays, Flash drive USB ports, additional buttons, fans controls, lighting controls, and such. The front can have a metal frame that screws to the existing frame to extend the case with new drive bays, radiator options, a closing door, thicker sound insulation and filtration. The bottom could have an additional power supply for high-power rigs and more drive bays. And the side panels could come with different window shapes and embedded lighting options, sleeves for the motherboard manual, hangars for headphones, or art-deco. This would all be designed to bolt onto a standard core frame size, so your core can be swapped for different configurations as well.

    Sounds good, but I have not made any CAD drawings to check any sizes or clearances to see if any of this would actually fit together in any aesthetically pleasing way. But I do desire a case with good sound absorption and air-filtration, water cooling, and hot-swap hard drive bays.
    Reply
  • Taurus229 - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - link

    If I were to spend $110.00 on a case I would want it to have what I feel is important to me, and not have to consider buying accessories to upgrade. Either it has it or it doesn't. It's that simple. Reply
  • sonny73n - Friday, August 28, 2015 - link

    All PC cases lack of something very important to me - dust filter. I'm talking about real air filter, the one you have in your car, not some foam. Foam air filters can't block fine dust which in about a year will build up a nasty layer of dust on everything, especially on the fans and CPU heatsink. I had to modify my Antec case with 3 fans sucking air in from the front, behind a modified washable car air filter, and 3 blowing air out on top, side and back. It's been almost 2 years and no dust. No more worries of system overheats and annual cleanup caused by dust buildup on my OCed system. Yay ;-) Reply
  • marvdmartian - Friday, August 28, 2015 - link

    Not sure....what exactly is the reason for handles on top of a case this size? Is it just for the coolness design factor? Haven't seen a LAN party in years, but I doubt people are lugging around cases like this much, any more.

    While it might have some nice features, for me, at least, the price point is too high, for what it's offering.
    Reply

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