Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Case Review

[caption id="attachment_183351" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Overview[/caption] Like most case manufacturers, Cooler Master is constantly looking at the enthusiast's to see what the next big trend in computer cases will be.  Last year, Cooler Master came out with their MasterCase line, designed at making a modular case.  Purchase one model, and then purchase add-on parts to modify and customize the case.  With the success of that line, they are now expanding their maker series with the MasterBox, where "You Decide the Inside".   Where the MasterCase allowed for a high degree of customization both inside and out, the MasterBox looks to simplify the customization of the interior. [caption id="attachment_183784" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Interior with No PSU Cover[/caption] Cooler Master sent us their MasterBox 5, model MCX-B5S1-KKNN-01.  This particular model is solid black, but is also available in white both models can be found online for $69.99 with free shipping.  Internally, it room for up to ATX motherboards, 2x 3.5" hard drive trays that also support 2.5" SSD's, and another cage for 2x 2.5" SSD's.  Cooling options are up to 280mm radiator in the front, or 120mm in the rear exhuast.  The open design of the interior allows for you to decide how to place the components while leaving enough space for the largest CPU air coolers and GPU's. If these options, do not meet your initial needs, Cooler Master has other models of the MasterBox ready to go with other exterior features such as 120/140mm top exhaust, and 5.25" drive support.  I would expect that the other models will be available for a small premium over the model we have on the test bench. Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Features
CM MasterBox 5 Specifications
Part Number Black MCX-B5S1-KWNN-11
White MCX-B5S2-WWNN-01
Materials Steel body, Plastic mesh bezel
Dimensions (LxWxH) 500 x 220 x 475mm
Motherboard Support E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Expansion Slots 7
Drive Bays 5.25" Cages are sold separately
Combo 3.5" / 2.5" 2
SSD 1
I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2, Audio in / out
Pre-Installed Fans Front 120mm x 1
Rear 120mm x 1
Fan Support Front 120mm / 140mm x2 (optional bracket support up to 3 x 120mm)
Rear 120mm x 1
Liquid Cooling Support Front 240 mm / 280 / radiator, up to 50mm thickness without fan (optional bracket support up to 360mm)
Rear 120mm
Clearances CPU Cooler 167mm / 6.5"
PSU 180mm / 7.1"
GPU 410mm / 16.2" (w/o 3.5" HDD cage)
Cable Routing Behind Motherboard Tray 25mm - 35mm
Now that we know what Cooler Master tells us about the MasterBox 5, let's take a quick look at how they package it and what is included inside the box before taking a closer look at the case itself. [gallery ids="183350,183349"] Keeping with modern purchasing standards, Cooler Master packages the MasterBox 5 in a plain cardboard box that presents the user with the information necessary to know what is inside the box, and what the case is capable of.  This is pretty standard packaging since for the most part, users will be purchasing the MasterBox 5 online rather than a retail store.  Inside the box, Cooler Master packages the case in a plastic bag to help protect it from moisture, and nestles it between two large Styrofoam blocks for protection during shipping. [caption id="attachment_183725" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Accessories[/caption] Of course every case has to come with a selection of accessories to allow the installation of the various components.  Cooler Master has included a small pack of accessories that includes a number of cable ties, standoffs, screws, 4-pin Molex to fan, and four fan push pins.  Everything necessary to build a system within the MasterBox 5. Let's move on to taking a closer look at the exterior of the MasterBox 5.

MasterBox 5 Exterior Inspection

[caption id="attachment_183351" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Overview[/caption] The Cooler Master MasterBox 5 is offered in black only, while this keeps things simple, many people are looking for other options such as White.  Overall, the finish on the MasterBox 5 is exactly what you'd expect from Cooler Master.  The paint is flawless, and matches across the entire case. [caption id="attachment_183357" align="aligncenter" width="505"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Front Bezel[/caption] The MasterBox 5 has a wire mesh front panel, there are no openings for 5.25" devices, however this case is designed to be modified.  We know that by looking at the specs, it does support 5.25" with an optional drive cage.  We asked Cooler Master about alternate front panels, and while they have several versions they are looking at, as of this time, they do not have any officially scheduled for release.  So if you are wanting to use a 5.25" device, you might want to consider one of the other models of MasterBox 5 such as MCY-B5S1-KWYN-01 that includes the 5.25" cutout on the front bezel or the MCY-B5S1-KWYN-02 that also includes the 5.25" cage. [caption id="attachment_183358" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Top and Front I/O[/caption] The front I/O cluster is a little different than most, instead of being on a flat section, it is angled to make it a little easier for the user to see and use.  Included in the I/O cluster is a hard disk activity LED, two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, a large power button, headphone/microphone jacks and a reset button.  The top panel is solid, with no vents allowing you to install extra fans or liquid coolers at the top. [caption id="attachment_183359" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Side Window[/caption] Turning to the main side panel, we find a large window that allows you to see the majority of the interior.  It is held in place with two thumbscrews at the back of the case and slides towards the back before being removed.  Cooler Master protects the side window with a plastic film during shipping. [caption id="attachment_183363" align="aligncenter" width="490"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Rear Panel[/caption] The back panel has a few interesting features, but nothing that truly surprises us.  Starting at the top of the case is the standard motherboard I/O key hole, and the rear exhause 120mm fan (model DF1202512SELN; rated for 1200RPM @ 20dBA).  Below those are the standard seven expansion slot covers, with one of them looking a little different, this one is for a little added cable security for external components such as keyboards and mice.  Below the power supply slot is a little handle that sticks out of the bottom panel. [caption id="attachment_183362" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 PSU Filter[/caption] The little handle below the power supply slides out to reveal a simple filter.  This comes out very easily for cleaning and slides back into it's slot just as easy. [caption id="attachment_183478" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Bottom[/caption] Taking a look at the bottom of the MasterBox 5, we find two large feet on each end of the case, which make up for some of the aesthetics of the case.  The case feet also have large rubber strips on them to keep the case from sliding around.  In the front half of the bottom panel there are also some holes in the panel designed for the internal 3.5" drive cage to be moved around.  Otherwise, the only other thing to note on the bottom is that the bottom PSU filter covers all of the holes for the PSU intake. Let's get to taking this case apart so we can build a system inside of it.

MasterBox 5 Interior

[caption id="attachment_183726" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Interior Side[/caption] Cooler Master has continued the exterior black paint to the interior of the case.  For the motherboard tray, there is an oversize hole to allow for installing CPU coolers after installing the motherboard, the large size helps to ensure it'll accomodate nearly any motherboard.  For mounting the motherboard, Cooler Master has pre-installed two standoffs which have guides to help line up the motherboard.  The PSU cover is made of plastic, while it looks great, it is still a bit of a disappointment.  On the top of the power supply cover is a small cable management hole, it would be nice if the SSD cage could have been installed here.   To the right of the motherboard there are a large number of cable management holes available, which also perform double duty for installing 2.5" SSD trays; Cooler Master has provided one with the case.  In the lower right corner, is a simple 3.5" drive cage which uses trays for the drives. [caption id="attachment_183784" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Interior with No PSU Cover[/caption] The PSU cover is easily removed with one thumbscrew on the back of the case, then lifting out the cover.  Nothing difficult at all. [caption id="attachment_183727" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Back Interior[/caption] The interior of the back panel doesn't provide any further revelations.  The rear 120mm exhaust fan is a standard black case fan, while the expansion slot covers are held in place with screws (not thumbscrews).  Above the seven expansion slots is a single slot that you could probably use for a small add-in card, but to be honest there isn't any real good way to attach the card so I'm a little baffled what the real purpose of this slot is. [caption id="attachment_183765" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 SSD Tray Locations[/caption] In the upper right corner is a single 2.5" SSD tray, which can be moved to several different locations.  It can be installed on top of the 3.5" drive cage, behind the motherboard tray or it can be moved down from it's default position to to different locations. [caption id="attachment_183766" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 3.5 Cage[/caption] The 3.5" cage can also be moved slightly, not as drastic as options as the 2.5" SSD.  It can only be moved a few inches towards the back of the case, allowing for a radiator to be installed in the front panel.  The 3.5" drive cage uses standard trays to hold the 3.5" drives, but can also connect 2.5" drives with screws.  These trays snap into place by locking the tray door hinge behind a metal bar while the tray door snaps into place.  On the top of the 3.5" drive cage is a place to connect the SSD tray. [caption id="attachment_183764" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 PSU Area[/caption] With the cover removed, we don't find anything unusual about the PSU area.  There are two large supports with rubber on them to reduce vibration.  Cooler Master has also placed several tie down locations between the power supply and the 3.5" drive cages, and along the back edge.  This is a great place to do it to help keep those cables as tidy as possible.  Granted, using the power supply cover will hide them, but still a good idea to secure them. [caption id="attachment_183728" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Front Intake[/caption] The front bezel is fully removable, however there is no need to remove the entire bezel to install fans or 5.25" devices.  Without any additional brackets, you can install an addditional 120mm or 140mm fan in the front of the case, with an optional bracket, a third fan can be installed.  The front intake cover pulls off from the bottom of the case, and goes back in top first.  The front cover uses a honeycomb structure for strength, then a fine mesh to keep debris out of the case. [caption id="attachment_183730" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Back of MB Tray[/caption] On the back of the motherboard tray, there were a couple of surprises.  Right below the extra large CPU cooler cutout is another place to install the 2.5" tray.  Cooler Master wanted to make sure there was no excuse for a poor cable management solution, there are around 18 cable tie locations back here, not to mention the ones on the bottom panel.  Then when you go to route the motherboard power cable, there are two oversize holes at the top to route the motherboard AUX power cable through; which isn't necessarily new, what Cooler Master did was make it larger than usual and place a cutout at the top right case edge to make it easier to route the cable.

MasterBox 5 Build

[caption id="attachment_183841" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Standard Build[/caption] With everything installed, I have to admit that the openness of the interior made installing the components fast and easy.  There were no real surprises, all the cables routed through the various holes with ease, everything fit perfectly.  The two pre-installed guide stand-offs makes aligning the motherboard simple, and Cooler Master has nicely labeled all the other standoff locations for the various motherboard sizes.  Let's take a look at how things were installed. [caption id="attachment_183785" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 SSD Tray[/caption] Installing SSD's on the SSD tray requires using four screws.  Two SSD's can be installed on the tray, one uses the screw holes on the bottom, while the other uses the side screw holes.  This makes an extra step to change out the top SSD, but it's pretty easy.  The hardest part is connecting the cables to the connectors as they are pretty close together.  When I connected the SSD's, I put them both facing out, however the bottom drive could be switched around and the power/data connectors would be lined up.   [caption id="attachment_183786" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 2.5" and 3.5" Drive Cages Moved[/caption] The MasterBox's tagline is "You Decide the Inside", as we have mentioned, the 3.5" drive cage can be moved a little, this allows for a radiator to be placed at the front of the case.  In addition, the 2.5" SSD cage can also be placed in two other locations below the default position.  There is also a place to mount the SSD cage behind the motherboard tray, and on top of the 3.5" drive cage. [caption id="attachment_183789" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Front Radiator Push/Pull[/caption] While this isn't the final location I would install a single 120mm AIO liquid cooler, I wanted to show that with the 3.5" drive cage moved to it's furthest location, you can put a radiator with fans in a Push/Pull orientation with some limitations.  The cooler here is the DeepCool Captain 120, which is a 27mm radiator, and standard 25mm fan which shows that you have up to 52mm to install your radiator and fan (plus the fan on the outside of the fan cage). [caption id="attachment_183840" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Expansion Slot Openings[/caption] When installing the GPU, I went to remove the expansion brackets and then I found that Cooler Master removed the metal braces in the expansion slots.  This can leave some space between expansion cards, but also has allows for full access for the GPU bracket.  Whether this would have any effect on dust build-up or airflow remains to be seen. [caption id="attachment_183844" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cables Behind Motherboard[/caption] Without securing any cables, the cables actually fell into a good position.  Securing the cables is easy with the large number of tie-down locations.  The extra large CPU bracket cut-out makes it easy to install after market CPU coolers on pretty much any motherboard.  The 8-pin ATX Aux power cable is a little tighter than I would personally like, there isn't any way to move it out of the way.  However, it reaches the power connector on the motherboard and isn't really in the way.  Even with the main 24-pin power cable not being routed, the back panel slides on without any issues. [caption id="attachment_183843" align="aligncenter" width="597"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Space for Cable Behind Motherboard Tray[/caption] The back panel slides on without any issues due to the large amount of space between the side panel and the motherboard tray.  For the majority of the case, there is 25mm of space!  Which is the width of a standard case fan and a power cable.  In the lower portion of the case, the cable management space increases to 35mm!  The large amount of cable space, plus the multitude of tie-down locations, and cable management holes means there should be no reason to have messy cables. [caption id="attachment_183842" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Alternate Drive Location[/caption] Before we finish up, I wanted to move the 3.5" drive cage and install the 2.5" SSD cage on top of the 3.5" drive cage.  I actually like this location better for the 3.5" cage as it helps keep cables tucked away under the power supply shroud; of course they could always be tied down.  The 2.5" SSD cage installs without any issues, and connecting the cables is easy, routing them through the top of the power supply shroud.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

[caption id="attachment_183876" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Completed Build through Window[/caption] The build quality of the MasterBox 5 is exactly what you would expect from a top tier case manufacturer, flawless and engineered for years of use.  The cable management options and space alloted behind the motherboard tray (25mm - 35mm of space) means that there is no excuse to have messy cables.  While the model we reviewed comes with support for 2x 3.5" hard drives, and one 2x SSD cage, you can add additional space by purchasing drive cages from Cooler Master.  In addition, if the lack of a 5.25" device bay is an issue, there is a model of the MasterBox 5 that supports 5.25" devices.  Other customization options will be determined by Cooler Master; we just have to wait to and see what Cooler Master comes up with to truely make this a modular case. [caption id="attachment_183786" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 2.5" and 3.5" Drive Cages Moved[/caption] While the MasterCase system was designed to fully customize the exterior and the interior, the MasterBox focuses the customization on the interior.  For example, the ability to move the 3.5" drive cage over, allowing for up to a 280mm radiator with 52mm of space to be installed at the front panel.  While the 2.5" SSD cage can be mounted in three locations in front of the motherboard, on top of the 3.5" drive cage and behind the motherboard tray as well.  No matter where you mount the drive cages, cables are easily routed thanks to the large number of cable management holes provided.  One place it seems that was overlooked at a mounting location for the SSD cage would be on top of the removable power supply cover. [caption id="attachment_183726" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Interior Side[/caption] The MasterBox 5 that we reviewed, MCX-B5S1-KKNN-01, was the black version that is available for $69.99 with free shipping. Cooler Master also offers a Black & White version of the MasterBox 5 under part number MCX-B5S2-WWNN-01 that is also available for $69.99 shipped.  Alternatively, Cooler Master also offers both MasterBox 5 models with an additional 3.5" and 2.5" HDD & SSD kit for $79.99.  While the more advanced models that include 5.25" device support and top mounted exhaust will increase the price of the case; these have not been formally announced.   LR_Recommended Legit Bottom Line:  The Cooler Master MasterBox 5 has a sleek exterior, while the interior allows the user to customize the placement of the 3.5" drive cage and the 2.5" SSD cage.  If offers everything necessary in a modern modular enthusiast grade case with support for the largest CPU air cooler, up to 280mm radiators and the largest GPU.