- Packaging and Specifications
- External Impressions
- Internal Impressions
- Aftermarket add-ons Overview
- Installation Impressions
- Online Purchase Links
- View All
Cooler Master comes with a new case series with a ‘Make it yours’ theme. What it means is that after purchasing its case, you can buy some add-ons for expansion according to your requirements or to get an aesthetic appeal. Cooler Master calls this as a ‘Free Form’ modular system.
Cooler Master MasterCase 5 is a base model and like all base models, it should be a good foundation for people to consider as a purchase decision. Only if a case is good enough to be shortlisted for a purchase, it will eventually at some point encourage people to buy after add-on. Cooler Master knows that and, as a result, the company has a good history of making some good cases out of which some of them turned out to be all time favourites.
But for the MasterCase concept to work, not only the case should be good as a case, but it should also be good enough for purchasing add-ons should the user require.
One of the noteworthy points is that Cooler Master is pretty good when it comes to packaging. This applies not just external, but for internal stuff which protects anything from damage. The front and the rear gives some idea of how the case looks like, with the rear showing a break-up of removable components within the case.
The right side of the packaging shows three of its case- MasterCase 5, MasterCase Pro 5 and the MasterCase Maker. Some of the differences can be seen towards the front and top panel area. There’s a good deal of information about the case- the specifications are mentioned on the left, and on the rear Cooler Master explains what do you can do this case.
The MasterCase 5 is protected by two foam blocks and a large plastic bag. Note that the instruction manual is taped on the foam block.
The following specification is not just for the MasterCase 5, but also for its pro variant.
|Product||MasterCase 5||MasterCase Pro 5|
|All||235x512x548 mm||235x512x548 mm|
|Body||235x460x460 mm||235x460x460 mm|
|Mother Board Support||ATX,m-ATX, m-ITX||ATX,m-ATX, m-ITX|
|I/O Port||U3 x2, Audio||U3 x2, Audio|
|Fan Speed Control||N/A||N/A|
|Front||140mm x1||140mm x1|
|Rear||140mm x1||140mm x1|
|Front||120/140mm x3||120/140mm x3|
|Top||120/140mm x2||120/140mm x2|
|Rear||120/140mm x1||120/140mm x1|
Water Cooling Support
|Front||240/280mm, up to 40mm for fan+ radiator||240/280mm, up to 40mm for fan+ rad|
|Top||N/A||240/280mm, up to 64mm for fan+ rad|
|Rear||120/140mm x1||120/140mm x1|
|CPU Air Cooling Support||190mm/7.5inches||190mm/7.5inches|
VGA Card Support
|w/ 3.5” HDD Cage||296mm/11.7inches||296mm/11.7inches|
|w/o 3.5” HDD Cage||412mm/16.2inches||412mm/16.2inches|
|No Top Cover
No Front Door
|W/ Top Cover
Top Water Bracket
By default, the main difference is that the MasterCase 5 does not have the option to mount a 240/280mm liquid cooling radiator on top, but it does allow you to mount 2x 120 or 140mm fans. The MasterCase pro 5 doesn’t have that option missing. But there are more differences such as 3.5” and 2.5” HDD mounts, windowed side panel and the top cover mount with radiator bracket attachment.
The case is made of steel with some plastic additions in some areas.
Another part that MasterCase 5 lets you do is customize, adjust or upgrade. Though to be fair, this isn’t the first case to provide aftermarket add-ons. Even older cases like even my Lian Li A70F came with a fair share of aftermarket accessories (for its time), front panel I/O, vented top panel and even option to install a wheel on the base. The best part is that they were made for aluminum cases. But Lian Li didn’t really promote that as much as Cooler Master is doing with MasterCase 5, so it should be safe to say that if the MasterCase series is available, so should the aftermarket upgrades.
Cooler Master MasterCase 5 is a mid-tower case primarily of steel construction. The first part you’ll notice are the top handles towards the front and the bottom. The case’s body measure 235mm width, 460mm height, and 460mm depth. It provides 7 PCIe slots, therefore, the support from mini ITX to ATX form factor motherboard. The actual body dimensions are 235mm in width, 512mm in height thanks to the feet and the handle and 548mm depth.
The front panel mesh is removable for easy cleaning and access. The lower mesh frame can be removed by reaching towards the base and pulling the frame outwards. The 5.25” mesh bezel can be removed effortlessly by detaching its clip from the inside. The front not only allows up to 3x 120/140mm fan but also the radiator of the same size up to 40mm thickness. But to do this, you’ll need to remove the 5.25” bay and relocate the 3.5” HDD bay.
The front panel I/O has LED indicators for Power and HDD activity, followed by 2x USB 3.0 ports with grey coded connector to go along with the colour concept of the case. Along with the audio jacks, there’s the power and the reset button. The I/O area is really large, so it would have been nice to see 2x USB 2.0 ports. A typical ATX motherboard have with 2-4 USB 2.0 headers, so it would have been nice if Cooler Master could have provided that.
This isn’t the first Cooler MasterCase prefitted with handles. CM Storm Trooper is the one with a very re-assuring handle. Though the MasterCase 5 doesn’t use that handle design, it does have two handles so that the user can properly carry the case evenly especially when a loaded system in a steel case. The default 2x 120/140mm fan mount from has an air filter that will be sandwiched between the fans and the plate once installed. A lot of people would prefer if the case came with an easier access to remove the filter for easy cleaning. On the bright side, unlike many cases with top panel mount, this one comes with a filter.
The top part of the handles are plastic, but these are just for external purposes as the inner part is steel that connects from one end to the other. The reason to provide a removable plastic covering on the handle for more comfortable grip (not as comfortable as the one on the CM Storm Trooper) it requires to be removed to slide in a top cover mesh that also includes a 240/280mm radiator mounting plate. Removing the plastic cover needs some work and care, but the instruction manual doesn’t give any instructions on how to remove them. However, this can be easily corrected by Cooler Master with the newer makes or just have an updated or more detail instruction manual available on the website. You’ll need to push plastic outward by holding towards the edge of the handle.
The first difference you’ll see is that Cooler Master got rid of the rubber grommets placed to route pipes from a DIY liquid cooling setup, a feature that’s not been used a lot. In its place, there’s a very long mesh frame for the rear panel outlet pre-mounted with a 140mm fan. What’s noteworthy is that the user can adjust the height of the rear fan. Just below that, you’ll find seven PCIe slots, with the one bracket having a hook design so that it can used as a lock for a cable, something LAN party users may need to secure a mouse or keyboard by securing on the case. There is a security lock attachment available along with all the required screws.
Next to the PCIe slots, there’s a long mesh area for passive ventilation.
The power supply has a removable frame for easy installation. Simply remove the frame, install it on the power supply, slide it in and secure the plate on the case. The thumbscrews stay on the frame itself. Unlike the top panel, the base has a removable frame, long enough for large power supplies with 140mm fans.
The base panels look pretty similar to the handles. The feet is glued on the panel, but this looks like it’s not a double sided adhesive based. It made an impression that it wouldn’t peel off if dragged on the floor when removing from under the desk. Once the air filter is removed, you’ll find a honeycomb type mesh for the power supply.
Side panels are just another plain steel exterior though it does use the same type of thumbscrew that the case’s PSU frame uses.
The case is divided into two section- the lower and the upper section. The lower section is where the power supply is placed with an optional 2-bay 3.5” HDD bay mounting plate and the upper is for the motherboard area. While the Cooler Master MasterCase 5 provides 2 mounts for 3.5” HDD bay, you can buy additional cage should you require. Cooler Master is providing two HDD cage variants- 2 HDD mount and 3 HDD mount.
The 5.25” optical bay and the 3.5” HDD bay are installed towards the top, but both can be removed as per users discretion should they require to do so. The optical drive bay has only 1 mounting option, but the 2-bay 3.5” HDD bay has a second optional mounting option besides the upper area by installing it on the lower section, towards the front.
The right side of the optical bay has a spring-loaded lever while the other side has clips to secure any drives in place.
Cooler Master pre-fitted the case with 140mm fan for the outlet and one more in the middle of the front panel area. Just above the motherboard tray area, there are two separate cut-outs to route the necessary cables such as 8-pin EPS ATX power connector and the top panel fan cables. There’s a large CPU area cut-out measuring. 8.5” x 5.5”. This is beneficial for those who wish to mount an aftermarket CPU cooler backplate with the motherboard mounted on the case as the large cut-out should provide enough space for any motherboard irrespective of the layout. Towards the right, you’ll find large cable management holes with rubber grommets for routing all sorts of cables. The grommets stay in its place during the installation process, so that’s good.
The best part is that once you’ve removed the cages, you’ll easily notice that there’s an open access area. This is good since the front panel fans will provide complete airflow through the radiator without any obstruction.
The horizontal tray has 2x 2.5” SSD brackets and dedicated cable routing holes. The bracket covers the entire SSD and has an opening on one end so that the SATA cables can be connected. There are corresponding cut-outs for those SSD brackets so that SATA cables can be passed through and be hidden at the same time.
There is also a cut-out towards the front so that the radiator can be passed through, followed by two larger grommets for passing any cables through. Towards the front section, there’s a 40mm thick opening so that the radiator and pre-installed fans can be put through.
Just below the front panel radiator cut-out, there’s the tray where you can install the 2x 3.5” HDD cage. Should you wish to install the radiator towards the front, you can place the HDD plate towards the power supply area. Additionally, should you choose to buy extra HDD bays, you can either mount them below the HDD tray towards the upper area or simply install it towards the lower section. Users should note that you can only install 2x 3.5” HDD bay on the base.
Speaking of HDD options:
It’s pre-included HDD tray provides enough mounting, but it also has holes to allow 2.5” SSD installation. The frame is flexible and the mounting pins have rubberized cap that’s secured through the holes on the frame. However, looking at the optional SSD mounting option this case provides, I feel its unlikely you’ll mount them over here.
Towards the right side panel section:
There’s a channel deep enough to route the cables through. To make it better, Cooler Master is using three velcro strips to keep the cables in place. This is very good and a very much needed implementation considering cable ties needs to be cut whenever you include or remove a cable. You’ll also notice cut-out on the front panel fan area’s side frame to route any fan cables through.
I wonder if anyone will make a flat USB 3.0 header cable in the cases, but that’s not an issue here.
On the channel, you’ll also find rubberized support for the HDD bracket. It’s noteworthy that installing HDDs is required only from the left side panel section by tightening the thumbscrews.The rubber grip simply clamps on the pre-drilled holes for the required support on the others
The space between the rear section of the motherboard tray to right side panel is a bit less than 1”, which also has two cable tie loops to keep 8 pin ATX power cable or any wires in its place. The space on the lower section (once the PSU is installed) is 1 1/2” and the space between the HDD cage installed on the top section is a bit less than 2”. The difference in clearance is appreciated depending on the thickness of the actual cables and the amount of wiring it requires.
There’s also two noticeable threaded mounts but no information is given about it, nor there’s any aftermarket add-on that sits on it. Cooler Master said that it’s for the fan controller, but it’s going to be there only for the MasterCase maker.
Cooler Master includes the required amount of screws, brass standoffs and cable tied. Along with the Molex to fan header adapter, you’ll also get a bracket which is required for installing the first fan on the top panel. This fits once you’ve removed the top section cages.
As of now, there are five aftermarket upgrades for the MasterCase 5, of which almost all of them are pre-included on the MasterCase Pro 5. You can purchase a windowed sidepanel, 2.5” SSD tray, HDD cage for 2x and 3x drives and the liquid cooler radiator frame and top panel mesh cover.
Starting with the first:
You can purchase a single SSD tray for US$4.99. A 2 drive HDD cage will cost you $12.99.
There is a three-bay variant which just costs US$14.99.
With a pre-installed 2-bay HDD cage, you can additionally install a three-bay HDD cage on the top section and another two bay for the lower area. With the 5.25” optical bay fitting, you can install up to 2x three-bay HDD mount and a single two-bay HDD mount on the lower area. Note that you can only fit a single two bay HDD cage on the lower section of the case.
You also get a Top Cover Kit costs $16.99 MSRP, which includes a bracket for 2x 120/140mm radiator for top mounted liquid cooling. Additionally, there’s a top mesh frame.
To install this:
You’ll need to remove the existing top panel mesh frame and the rear handle plastic. Once you do that, install the radiator frame from the outside and use the attached thumb screws. Slide the top cover frame and you’re done. Because of the opening on the front and rear, you can still use the metal handle to carry the case around.
My only complaint is the way the top panel is secured against the front handle. On my unit, it didn’t clamp on it. Had the top cover frame had the same clamps like how the plastic handle covering have, it would have been better.
The other after-market add-on is the transparent windowed side panel. The only difference is that the lower section as a black tinted glossy attachment which covers up the lower section of the case. For those who just want to show-off the upper section, they can keep the lower section cover as it is. For those who wish to remove it, just remove the screws from the inside which secure the glossy covering. It’s a neat addition, but I really wished Cooler Master provided this by default with the MasterCase 5.
This is the most expensive aftermarket add-on yet, costing US$24.99.
With the windowed side panel and the top cover attachment, you’re getting the looks to that of the MasterCase Pro 5.
What’s disappointing is that there’s no fan controller as an add-on. Would Cooler Master provide this separate add-on in the future, or will this be a feature only for the MasterCase maker? Only time will tell.
Starting with the power supply:
Once you remove the PSU frame from the case, attach it on the power supply with the included screws. Once you’re done, just slide it in and secure the thumbscrews. Very easy method, especially when you have a modular power supply. If you have a fully built rig with all cable management and even with custom sleeves, you can always disconnect the cables from the PSU and slide it out if you need to RMA the PSU for some reason.
Brass standoffs need to be installed by the user, and for a first-time installation, screwing in the stand-offs takes some effort unless you’re using the standoff nut to secure them properly against the motherboard tray. Not that it’s a big deal, but Cooler Master could have easily made an effort by simply pre-installing them.
The rest of the installation is very easy. I usually find it difficult when installing the 8 pin ATX connector and the top motherboard screws in typical ATX cases, but I can always remove the top panel to get more space that way. Grommets and cut-outs are well placed. It’s nice that Cooler Master provided longer-than-needed cable routing access for the SSD trays so that I can also route front panel audio cables or anything else.
Towards the right sidepanel section, excess cables can be hidden properly. For thicker cables, its best if its hidden inside the channel, like how I did for the front panel USB 3.0 header. The velcro strip stays in its places even with a fair share of cables around, so that’s not going to be a problem. What I would have liked to see is a hole between the channel and the horizontal plate so that the cables can go through. Do note that this will not create any problems when securing the right sidepanel.
For a mid-tower case, this has a good amount of space to work with. Without the 3.5” HDD bays, you get up to 16” space. If you plan on using graphic cards like Zotac GTX 980Ti Extreme AMP! Edition, this will provide a lot more space than you’ll need.
Cooler Master did it right by providing cable routing access where it’s really required, such as the cable routing channel, the HDD cage and the lower area. The grommets and cut-outs are large enough even if the case is populated with multiple HDD cage setup.
What would have been more appreciated is the longer fan cable. Just half an inch more would be really beneficial, but longer would be required if one is using an mATX motherboard.
Let’s look at the standalone case first. The case’s built quality is pretty good and having two handles makes it easy to move the case around. The removable top panel frame is good to easy maintenance and installation though I really wish Cooler Master didn’t sandwich the air filter between the fan and the frame. Grommets and cable management holes are placed in areas where it’s most beneficial, something that ATX motherboard users will like to see. The front panel radiator mount is pretty neat. Even if you plan to use a 240/280mm radiator mount, the pipe length should be long enough. Velcro strips is a step in the right direction since some case manufacturers have already went down that way. The adjustable rear fan placement is a good decision over having the rarely used grommets.
So it’s a very good case, and it’s at a price point where there are many good cases.
The case is expensive for an ATX layout. Intel X99 chipset users with multiple GPU setups would have liked to see 8th slot considering the 4th PCIe slot is usually just above the headers. The 8th slot placement not only will provide enough space between the card and the horizontal tray, but also not interfere with the 2x 2.5″ SSD trays, other connectors and even allow the user to use the last cable loop slot thingy.
The aftermarket upgrades are pretty less for now. But you’re getting almost all of them on the MasterCase Pro 5. This idea will work if Cooler Master has set of accessories that are not available with anyone of the standalone variants, and not having a fan controller is a letdown. Those threaded access on the back of the motherboard tray is practically trolling for not waiting for the MasterCase Maker. Having a wheel aftermarket add-on will be a pretty neat add-on for those who keep their cases under the table. I see a lot of setups with triple monitor/system setup.Dragging the case out with all the weight of the components is going to be a pain. Feet panels are removable, so maybe Cooler Master has something in the works- or plan to- or already working on it after pointing this out??? If you’re looking out for ideas Cooler Master- magnetic LED strips with flexible connector. Oh wait- Bitfenix already has one.
There’s also the part of the front panel I/O. Cooler Master could have gone with two more USB 3.0 ports with a 3.0 to 2.0 converter. The front panel area has SO MUCH space that you can do all that.
Another great concept is that if the honeycomb mesh next to the PCIe slots were removable, and if Cooler Master had an aftermarket add-on which has 2x PCIe slot and PCIe x16 riser cable. This way people can show-off the graphic card’s coolers through the windowed sidepanel- and that’s really going to be something people would like, especially single card users.
Some will prefer steel while some may prefer aluminum. Age old discussion. But for a steel case, its pretty light. There’s no significant flex on the panels despite having a large cut-out on the motherboard tray.
Of all things, I just feel that Cooler Master should have been a good pal and just provide that transparent sidepanel by default with the MasterCase 5. People are going to mount a lot of good hardware, its obvious most would like to show it off. They may end up consider other options over spending US$25 more for a windowed sidepanel or even the MasterCase Pro 5. The non-windowed sidepanel could have been given as an aftermarket add-on, with maybe a sound dampening material pre-installed on the inner section of the case. Be an expansion pack, not a DLC. I can go on and on, throwing many potential ideas. But I am not going to be the only one.
The wheel concept can be an idea that Cooler Master can implement if they haven’t. Having a fan controller as an option for separate is very much appreciated. I hope Cooler Master has more aftermarket upgrades in the future and available for a fair amount of time. Modular Case with some expansion options is good, but something that needs a base model that allows you to do all that and ability to make any future add-ons in the future to keep up with the times.
I would have liked to see 3x fans if not windowed sidepanel or a fan header hub/controller. But then again, one will have to remove the cage to install the fan on the top. Okay, but you can always mount them on the top panel?
MasterCase 5 is worth IN Rs 8,999/- street Price and IN Rs 11,999/- MSRP. In the United States, its lesser for US 109.99 which translates to IN Rs. 7,175/-. At the time of launch, CM 690 III Indian prices was reasonably close retail in the US. The MasterCase Pro 5 is worth Rs 11,850/- Street Price and Rs 13,999/- MSRP. In the United States, Amazon sells it for US$139.99 which is about IN Rs. 9,132/-. The difference in pricing is there and very much noticeable.
Cooler Master MasterCase 5:
Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5:
If you really need all those add-ons and you can afford it, you’ll go for the MasterCase Pro 5. You know it. I know it. Cooler Master knows. But then if there isn’t any optional add-ons that people will love to buy irrespective of which MasterCase they own, they would rather buy the one which has the most/all over the base model. Along with other add-ons, Cooler Master should have some add-ons that you’ll not get with either with any of the MasterCase variants. It’s only then those components will stay true to the word ‘upgrade’ or ‘expansion’.
- Case Handles
- Excellent built Quality
- Adjustable rear I/O fan area
- Excellent cable management features
- Good enough clearance for most users
- Replacing cable tie loops for velcro strips
- Multiple placement options for HDD cage
- Large and open front panel mesh for better front panel air intake
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- On the expensive side in India
- No pre-installed brass standoffs
- Concept needs special add-ons that are not available in other MasterCase variants
- Could have given a couple of more 140mm fans or windowed panel for the same pricing