When I first saw pictures of the MasterCase 5, I had very mixed feelings about it. I liked that Cooler Master went with a more muted design, but I felt like maybe they went too far, as nothing about it really stood out to me. Seeing it in person, I certainly feel they are going in the right direction, and there is clearly influence by their competition in the market. But, overall, it still was a great case to work inside.
Sadly, I’m not sure who will be buying a MasterCase 5. With the base model case starting at over $100 retail, it’s may be priced outside of a lot of builder’s budgets. Plus, there is some very good competition from Phanteks and NZXT cases, priced below $100 with very similar features. If the goal of the MasterCase and the FreeForm Modular System is to allow for a lot of customization, and sales of accessories for that customization. Then why not sell the case at a more entry level price, to encourage higher rates of adoption? Then they can sell more accessories to those buyers! The more people who own the case, the more people who could potentially buy a variety of the accessories. They would certainly make up their profit there, and then some.
Another competitor for the MasterCase 5, is their own MasterCase Pro 5. The only benefit that I can see of starting with the MasterCase 5 and buying some accessories as add-ons (instead of just buying the Pro 5), would be some flexibility. You could grow into the accessories, or just have them to change up the look of your build every now and then. But, I have to wonder if you wanted the window and/or top cover kit, why not just buy the Pro 5 from the start? It’s certainly the better bang for the buck, and you get all the rest of the accessories. This may be another reason why Cooler Master should have considered putting the MasterCase 5 under $100 and the Pro as the just above $100 option.
What I liked:
- Very solid construction, plus excellent fit and finish.
- Case has extremely sturdy steel carry handles and case feet.
- The power supply area is separated into the “Basement”.
- Modular hard drive cages can be relocated, or removed.
- SSD sleds can be in front of the board or mounted behind.
What I didn’t like:
- The MasterCase 5 base model case is over $100 (Retail MSRP)
- Lack of cable tie downs, relying heavily on the cable trough.
- Top mounting radiator requires the Top Cover kit ($16.99 +shipping).
- Lack of the modular drive cages on base model (includes 2 drive bay).
Because Cooler Master is marketing the case as the Modder friendly case, you shouldn’t have problems finding templates, and third party accessories and replacement parts for it. As of right now, the only first party accessories you can buy are ones you can get on the MasterCase Pro 5. I would love to see things like different Front control panels (maybe one with a fan or LED controller, or more USB ports, USB Type C… etc). You certainly can strip the case down to the basic frame (though the box frame is still pop riveted) for painting or altering those individual parts yourself.
Cooler Master, is asking you to buy this case on the promise of things to come down the road. But, you can certainly influence that, by commenting on their forums, or even mocking up designs and sending them in. They certainly want ideas from the modders. We’ve heard that Cooler Master is planning on accessories like additional fan brackets, reservoir mounts, and GPU supports (for those long and heavy cards that sag). And I for one, look forward to seeing them. But, I wish they were out now. Then I’d have a little more faith in their commitment to this case.
There is a lot of modularity that other case manufacturers have done in the past, that didn’t make into this case. Like power supply placement (top or bottom, front or rear) or even motherboard orientation. It is certainly possible Cooler Master is saving those features for a full tower version of the case (MasterCase 7?). So, like so many things about this product line, only time will tell.
This case is solid, and has some great features: lots of space for drives, long video cards. Plus, Cooler Master is probably the only case builders out there, who know how to put solid handles on a case. But, some of it’s features have to be unlocked with accessories; like top mounting for radiators or additional drive storage. Of course, these “add-ons” add to the cost of the case already priced over $100 for the base level configuration. This is going to be prohibitive to some, and it will be tough to stand out with stiff competition that share a lot of the same features. Cooler Master is also relying heavily on the community to do their work for them, to get more accessory options out there. So, ultimately, I am giving the Cooler Master MasterCase 5, 4 out of 5 Nanners. So for now, I can’t give a higher score, but if Cooler Master can over come those objections, then this case can easily keep the 5 in it’s name.