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Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L ATX Mini-Tower Review

Editor's Choice

Benchmark Results and Conclusion

We tested the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L with our Intel Core i9-7900X test platform. For comparison, we brought in the Riotoro Morpheus GPX-100, the NZXT H500i, and the Corsair Crystal Series 280X RGB to give you a solid idea of where this case stacks up against competitors with similar sizes and feature sets.

Coming in at 64 degrees Celsius over ambient temperature under load, the thermal performance of the Cooler Master MasterCase Q500L lagged behind all the other cases we used for comparison purposes. But again, all these competing systems cost much more, with only the H500i slipping just under the $100 mark.

GPU temperatures, without the benefit of an intake fan, fared much worse than processor temps. The lack of airflow in this chassis as shipped had an overall negative impact on its ability to remove the heat generated by our system components. The lackluster thermal performance of the MasterCase Q500L is a direct result of the lack of an intake fan. We validated these findings by relocating the exhaust fan in the rear of the chassis to the front panel under the PSU to see if it would have any impact on cooling performance. This resulted in a 5-percent drop in CPU temps and GPU temps 8 percent lower than stock configuration. The case's acoustic profile remained unchanged by fan placement.

When it comes to noise levels, we recorded sound level readings with two off-the-shelf dB meters from two different angles. The single 120mm exhaust fan was almost inaudible at idle. Under load, sound output increased to 30.8dBA. The acoustic performance of the MasterCase Q500L bested all the other cases we used for comparison purposes, aided in this case by its single installed fan.

Cooling efficiency and noise levels are both ways to measure performance. Determining acoustic efficiency, also referred to as cooling-to-noise ratio, is a matter of averaging all five of our tests to determine a base value. Obviously this value is affected when the end user adds one or more intake fans to the system build, adding to the overall cost of the case. But even though the added fan (or fans) will enhance cooling performance, that would introduce more system noise, negatively impacting its acoustic-efficiency rating.

Bottom Line

The Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L is significantly smaller than all the cases we tested against. Try as we might, we couldn't find a chassis of the same size without dipping into the mini-ITX category. So if desktop real estate is a deciding factor, the Q500L should be at the top of your short list. The same goes for price. At $60 (£46.46), this is the lowest-price chassis of the group by far, leaving room in your budget for an intake fan (or two). The ability to place the chassis in an upright or horizontal position and reconfigure the I/O panel to match adds to the overall versatility and value, making the Q500L easy to recommend for those who are short on space and budget.

Image Credits: Tom's Hardware

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