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Pros: Price, Very quiet operation, PSU cover, Windowed side panel
Cons: No top ventilation, Lacks additional features


Introduction and Unboxing

There are two types of computer builders: one who cares about performance above cost, and one who cares about cost above performance. Cooler Master's new MasterBox 5 is certainly aimed at that second category. It's a no-frills computer chassis meant to get the job done at a very affordable price point. The MasterBox line, launched as the little brother to the MasterCase line, is Cooler Master's step into the modular case market. Power supplies have become increasingly more modular over the past few years and I think this is a great trend for cases too. I have recently reviewed cases costing nearly 4 times as much as the MasterBox 5, so let's see what you really get for the price!


The shipping box did have a rather large hole in the top but the case was packed well so there was no damage. The accessories are pretty minimal; there's some documentation and a bag of parts. You get some single use zip ties, a Molex to fan adapter, standoffs (which were not pre-installed), and some case screws. It's just the bare minimum, but in the end it all works out.




Physical Tour

Here's the case itself. The back end is completely rectangular while the front narrows slightly inward. It's a relatively simple design and I like that. The left side is dominated by a clear plastic side panel. It's not tempered glass, but again that's not what I would expect at this price range. The rest of the case is standard matte black metal. The front panel is all smooth plastic which highlights the texture differences. The back panel is flat and has no bulge or fan mounts. For dimensions, the case measures 19.7" x 8.6" x 18.7" and weighs in at 16.3lbs.



The front features a full length dust filter which pops out easily to give you full access to the front of the case. There is space for up to two 140mm or three 120mm fans and two 5.25" drive bays at the top. If you want to use the 5.25" drive bays, you may have to purchase the cages separately and remove the dust filter. The top panel is interesting for its lack of any ventilation or fan mounts. Hot air naturally rises so this is the ideal place for fans blowing hot air out of your case, but all that air will have to go out the back. The front panel is pretty simple with a drive activity LED, two USB 3.0 inputs, an illuminated power button, headphone, microphone, and a reset switch.



With the front dust cover removed, we can see all the way through the case. The front fan mounts are adjustable and a standard 120mm fan is included. The back of the case also has another 120mm fan for exhausting air. They're nothing special in terms of performance. If you have high performance components that generate a lot of heat, I would highly recommend upgrading the fans to increase airflow inside the case. If you want to mount a triple radiator, you'll need an additional front bracket and you won't be able to use any of the 5.25" drive bays.




Opening up the case now we find a relatively simple all black interior. We'll start in the top left corner and move clockwise. First we see the CPU cutout behind the E-ATX compatible motherboard tray. It was plenty big enough for mounting coolers to the back without having to remove the motherboard. Next, behind the front panel, we have numerous SSD/accessory mounts. It's just a plate of metal with holes cut out for screws, but you can attach just about anything to it if you want. I think it may have been originally designed to also mount reservoirs or pumps, but I doubt anyone would seriously put a full custom loop in this case. The MasterBox 5 also comes with one pre-installed 2.5" drive mount. There are six large cutouts for cable management, but no rubber grommets to hide the cables themselves. I understand the three closest to the motherboard, but I don't get the other three. The front fans don't go there, the drive cages don't go there, so I'm unsure what they would be used for. If you are planning on liquid cooling, the only useful radiator mounting point is in the front (you can mount a single 120mm radiator at the back above the PCIe slots).



In order to accommodate a radiator in the front, the two included drive cages are movable. You can re-position them closer to the PSU in 3 steps. The SSD cage can be mounted behind the motherboard on the back panel, in the three vertical locations behind the front panel, or directly on top of the HDD cage. These features are part of the modular design of the MasterBox and MasterCase line. The MasterBox 5 is on the lower end so you can't do much in terms of customization, but it's definitely not as rigid as some traditional cases. In the bottom left corner we find the PSU cover which I'm really glad they included this as improves the look of the insides tremendously. It slides in and out and is secured with a thumbscrew from behind the case. It’s just a right angle piece of plastic so you can still see under it from the front, especially without the drive cages. Above that are 7 expansion slots. Most cases have 8 so a bottom graphics card likely won't be possible. The 7th slot has a mechanism to secure your peripherals at a LAN that Cooler Master is calling "StormGuard". It's a good idea but, anyone with a screwdriver who really wants your gear is still going to be able to take it.



Underneath the case there are two large feet with rubber padding on them. There is a dust filter at the back for the power supply, but unfortunately it is only removable from the rear.



With the drive cage removed, we can see the hard drive mounting system. There are two sliding trays included. Standard 3.5" HDDs can be installed easily without screws by snapping the four locking pins into the screw holes on the drive. Smaller 2.5" drives will require 4 standard screws. The drive trays slide into the cage and securely latch into place. Nothing fancy here, just a tried and tested design that works very well.



Moving around to the back of the case now, you'll find lots of openings and tie-down points. There's room for another SSD mount directly below the CPU cutout. The depth back here is pretty good and cable management shouldn't be a problem. I only wish they included rubber grommets of some sort instead of just big openings, but that probably wouldn't fit in the price point.




The Build

Now on to the full build. I was able to fit a 280mm radiator for the CPU and an additional 120mm radiator for the GPU all in this small case. The window looks great despite being plastic. It's tinted so things might get dark inside but some LED strips would look wonderful. Clearly visible from the front are the PSU cables however. Even though the cover hides them from the side, it's open towards the front so they are visible that way.



Checking out the back again you can see the cable management options. Everything fit well and I didn't have to do the dreaded "foot on the side panel" to close it. There is a nice trough at the bottom for routing and hiding the thick 24-pin cable as well as the front panel connectors.



I had a bit of trouble mounting that 120mm GPU radiator, but with some time and a bit of force everything fit well. I did my best to conceal the cables, but there's only so much you can do.




Conclusion

The MasterBox 5 from Cooler Master is a great little case. It's cheap and supports a wide array of components. It’s also pretty bare bones though, lacking many of the features of other cases. If you can do without the bells and whistles, this is a great entry level case. The clean aesthetic and large window make this case feel much more expensive then it is. Just a year or two ago a case with these features would have cost around $100. If you want more, you can check out the MasterCase line which is more modular and has some of those extra features. For under $70 at the time of publishing, it's hard to go wrong with this case though.