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Cooler Master MasterBox 5 EATX Mid-Tower Case Review

Test Results And Conclusion

With an extra-transparent window and a classic matte finish, the MasterBox 5 certainly looks better than its $70 price when loaded with relatively high-end components. Let’s see how it compares to a few other cases!

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the MasterBox 5 is both bigger (EATX) and smaller (standard mid-tower) than most of the cases with which it’s being compared. The second thing you’ll likely notice is that it’s half the price.

*Shared on 3.5" tray **w/o Center Cage ***By 5.25" Adapter Tray ^Slot 1-4

Most alarmingly, the Prism and Pandora ATX use materials and construction similar to those of the MasterBox 5, even while being twice as pricey, and one of the two comparison cases even has a cheap-looking cloudy window. Extra features have given these manufacturers a reason to charge more for similar metal, but twice as much?

Test System Components

Test System Configuration

Test Hardware Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-5930K (Haswell-E): 3.50 GHz, Six Cores O/C to 4.20 GHz (42x 100 MHz) at 1.20 V Core
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-U12S
MotherboardMSI X99S Gaming 7: LGA 2011, Intel X99, Firmware 17.8 (02/10/2015)
RAMCrucial Ballistix Sport BLS2K8G4D240FSA 16 GB (4x 4 GB) DDR4-2400 Benchmarked at XMP CAS 16 defaults (1.20V)
GraphicsGigabyte GV-N970G1 GAMING-4GD: GeForce GTX970 1178-1329 MHz GPU, GDDR5-7012, Maximum Fan for Thermal Tests
Hard DrivesCrucial MX200 CT500MX200SSD1 500GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Powerbe quiet! Dark Power PRO 10 BN603 850W ATX 12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.92, 80 PLUS Platinum
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 347.52
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.2.1019
Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v27.964-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
Real Temp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting

What’s missing from this review is a comparison to two older $70 models that might give the MasterBox 5 a fight in value. Those were tested over a two-hour warm-up period, which has since been extended to four hours after finding that some (fewer than half) cases require more than two hours to reach a stable thermal reading. We’ll still keep those in mind for the discussion at the end of the review.

Test Results

We continue to use our standardized case testing configuration from over a year ago to generate comparable performance data over the course of many reviews. Noise is measured .5m from the case's front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard -- used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers -- by subtracting six decibels.

You don’t see it in the charts, but the top of the MasterBox 5 got very warm during its thermal test. The rear fan still pulled air past the CPU fast enough to keep temperatures slightly below those of two competitors, however.

MasterBox 5 noise levels are par for the course when compared to similarly built cases, apart from the faster fan setting of Riotoro’s Prism CR1280.

Very slight improvements in cooling and noise combine in a comparison of cooling to noise, putting the MasterBox 5 ahead of the pack.

It’s not really fair to do a performance-per-dollar comparison between cases that have added features and those that don’t, since most features don’t affect performance. A better comparison would be Fractal Design’s Define S, which includes added features such as a sound damping mat and top-panel radiator mount but does not cost more. Using the older (more manufacturer-friendly) test data, it would have trailed the MasterBox 5 in both performance and value by only 6%.

And the other competitor we mentioned? Antec’s P70 was both hotter and noisier than any of the aforementioned cases, even while using the shorter test period, and has since been discontinued.

Conclusion

All of these tests and observations push us towards a single conclusion: Buyers who need no more features than what the MasterBox 5 includes can find excellent value in purchasing it. That $70 price is just too hard to pass up at its moderate quality and performance.

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Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • kamhagh
    Ouch, No top? No space for radiators :S
    Reply
  • Crashman
    18266913 said:
    Ouch, No top? No space for radiators :S
    You can always put a triple-fan radiator in front. And, it will perform better when placed there.
    Reply
  • mac_angel
    after my case literally catching on fire, and their customer service afterwards, I'll never buy another CoolerMaster product again.
    Reply
  • anbello262
    Well, Mac_Angel, that sounds like anninteresting story. Care to ellaborate?
    Reply
  • lhowe005
    This suffers the same problem as all the other cooler master cases.. the stupid mesh front panels that clog full of dust and look ugly. Fan filters should be behind the front fascia so you cant actually see the dust they collect when looking at the case. Cooler master cases will forever have white circles of dust in front of each fan unless you clean them religiously.
    Reply
  • mac_angel
    we can't reply or quote others on here any more?

    I'm a retired IT technician from IBM. Been building computers for years now. I got a CM HAF case, and an EVGA motherboard. I plugged in the front panel audio from the case into the board. They are all pretty standard and it's impossible to plug in something to the wrong part of the motherboard because of the pin layout. Ran fine for a couple of weeks, then watching TV, we smelled smoke. Opened up the case, and the wire for the front panel audio jack had melted and caught on fire. Not a seriously big fire, I just put it out with my hands. But, imagine if I wasn't home. I complained to CM, and they told me that I must have plugged it into the wrong port on the motherboard. Even if it was plugged into a wrong port (which is physically impossible without bending or cutting pins), the motherboard shouldn't be able to put out a current to melt wires on their own. I paid to ship the case and motherboard to CM, from Canada to California, just for them to say, "nope, not our problem".
    My saving grace was that EVGA has AMAZING customer service, and was right down the street from CoolerMaster. They picked up the case and motherboard. The agreed that there was no way it could have been the motherboard creating current from any port (btw, there were scorch marks on the audio jack, so it was plugged into the right one). They tested it, and the wire. They believed it was the case as well, but they replaced both for me, no charge.
    EVGA fan. CoolerMaster hater.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    18273618 said:
    we can't reply or quote others on here any more?
    Yes, we can, as this reply should prove. I recommend using the "Comment from the Forums" link as that gives some better control of your posts and formatting.

    Reply
  • anbello262
    I can't quote either, even though I'm writing from the forum. In on a mobile phone, but using the desktop version (or at least, the related setting).


    That's quite a story, luckily I have never had the need to deal with customer service, but I'll keep that in mind. I always heard EVGA had good.customer service, but it's nice to read a first hand experience.


    (Although, with cases I only like NZXT Phantom line, and now Noctis. Their design is incredibly attractive to my eyes. And since cases tend to last many years, I don't see a problem with paying a $50 premium for something I will still enjoy looking at in 3-5 years or more, instead of something I'll want to change in 2 years)
    Reply