Cooler Master MasterBox 520 & 520 Mesh Review

Conclusion & Video - Only one of these cases are worth buying

Cooler Master MasterBox 520 & 520 Mesh Review

Conclusion - Buy the Mesh Model

Let's face it, PC components are getting hotter and the case market needs to adapt to this. Nvidia's RTX 3090 Ti already can consume a whopping 450 watts of power, and high-end CPUs are also starting to get increasingly power hungry. PC cases need strong airflow to keep components cool and quiet under load, and this is why we believe that case manufacturers need to increase their focus on airflow and move away from design decisions that intentionally restrict airflow. That said, business is business and tempered glass sells.

Cooler Master's new MasterBox 520 chassis has two primary models, the standard MasterBox 520, which features a tempered glass front panel, and the MasterBox 520 Mesh, which features a Mesh front panel. Both models are available with Black and White colour options, and the Tempered Glass models both feature an additional 120mm non-RGB fan in the rear. All MasterBox 520 case models ship with three front mounted 120mm RGB fans. 

To start off with some positive points, the MasterBox 520 and its Mesh variant have a solid internal layout. The case supports large liquid cooling radiators, large graphics cards and motherboards that are up to EATX in size (though some restrictions apply). We also love how Cooler Master has made the top panel of the MasterBox 520 removable, as it makes building a PC within this enclosure an incredibly simple experience. This feature is great for motherboard installation, heatsink/liquid cooling installation, and fan installation. More cases should have this feature.

In the UK, Cooler Master has told us that the MasterBox 520 will cost £119.99, and the MasterBox 520 Mesh will cost £114.99. Honestly, we believe that that mesh models should include a 120mm fan in the rear like its non-mesh counterpart, though this shouldn't be a huge deal for a lot of people given how most season PC builders have a few spare fans lying around or know somebody that does. Even so, we wold have liked to have seen an additional fan here.

Cooler Master MasterBox 520 & 520 Mesh Review

Looking at our testing results, we can say that both of Cooler Master's 520 case models offer poor thermals, with the non-Mesh model being especially underwhelming. Simply put, this case's three 120mm front fans are starved of air because of the case's limited venting, giving the case poor airflow and poor thermal results. At 1,000 RPM fans, the non-mesh case failed our CPU thermal test. In our eyes the tempered glass version of this case is simply not good enough for high-end systems. 

Moving onto the MasterBox 520 Mesh, airflow is better but still below a level where we would consider it acceptable for hot components or a systems where you want to build things to be both cool and quiet. Even with its mesh panel airflow isn't great, making us suspect that Cooler Master's fans are not adequate, or that Cooler Master needs to invest in better mesh or a new front panel design. Yes, Mesh makes the 520 a better case, but it isn't impressing us.

After looking at both of these cases, our conclusion is simple. If you want to buy one of them, buy the mesh version. Even then, we feel that the Mesh model has room for improvement. There is also a lot of competition within the £100+ case market, giving buyers plenty of other options to choose from, many of which offer better airflow.

Cooler Master's MasterBox 520 series has not left us impressed. While both cases look great, neither perform well enough for us to wholeheartedly recommend them if you are planning to build a high-end gaming system. We feel that some kind of front panel redesign could transform the MasterBox 520 into something much greater.    

You can join the discussion on the Cooler Master MasterBox 520 and 520 Mesh on the OC3D Forums.

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