CoolerMaster MasterCase 5 and Pro 5 Review
Published: 18th August 2015 | Source: CoolerMaster | Price: £89-£109 |
Strap yourself in, this is going to be a rough one! Ok, first the good stuff. The CoolerMaster MasterCase 5 and Pro 5 are both very well made cases, in fact, and we don't mean this in a bad way, they are much better built than a lot of stuff we've seen from CoolerMaster in the past. The shut lines alone are excellent with barely a hairs breadth between the roof and side panels. This is one well put together bit of kit. It also offers water cooling in the front and if you opt for the Pro 5, water-cooling in the roof. With 2 HDD bays there's decent storage on the base model, and even better storage on the Pro 5 with it offering a total of seven HDD bays split between 3 racks. Both cases have additional SSD options, both above the false floor covering the PSU area and behind the motherboard tray. The interior is reasonably spacious, with good sized and well placed grommeted management holes. It can take GPUs up to 412mm long and CPU coolers up to 190mm in height. Round the back there's a good 23mm of space to work with and although CoolerMaster do include additional Velcro style fixings and a slack handful of cable ties there's not actually that many cable tie points. Actually, when we say not that many, we mean None.
Soooo, that was the good bit. Now for the not so good bit. Basically, there are more than a few issues with these cases. The issues, and there are many of them, can be split into two basic camps, namely price and modular options, or more accurately lack of modular options. Let's talk about price first of all. Having reviewed more than a few cases in our time we get a feel for what something retails for. With this in mind we thought the base model would go for about £65 and the Pro 5 for £85-£90. We were then, more than a little shocked to discover that the basic case will be retailing for £89 and the Pro 5 for a staggering £109. In our minds at least they are more than a bit overpriced for what they are. Don't believe us? Go and have a look at what else that sort of money can buy you and you'll see what we mean. "Ahhh but", we hear you say, (or more probably we hear CoolerMaster say), "but the Master series offers Modularity" Ok, so in theory at least you can buy the base case and then upgrade it, but at present there's no actual way to buy the accessory pack or any items therein that are offered, so what you're left with is a case that at the time of launch offers an upgrade path to items that you can't actually buy. There is talk of being able to get a windowed side panel, but with the price looking to be in the region of £20-£25 that would take the cost of a base model, plus windowed side panel above the cost of the Pro 5. Do Coolermaster really think people are so dumb that they're not going to work out it's cheaper to just buy the Pro 5???. To us that's something of a red card and as such we find it impossible to recommend the base model in any way shape or form. That leaves us with the Pro 5 then, not a bad case in itself, if overpriced, but again, where's the modularity? CoolerMaster say that there are ideas in the pipeline, but appear unable at present to fully quantify exactly what these are. maybe they're hoping you the consumer will tell them, but to be honest we'd feel much better about things if, at the time of launch CoolerMaster had a modular accessories catalogue that offered not just the chance of a windowed side panel and a few extra drive caddies (that's not modular by the way, Corsair and others have been doing it for years), but the chance to swap out the front panel for a full length mesh one minus the ODD bays, maybe different colour mesh panels to match the theme of your build, a solid front panel with minimal ventilation combined with sound proofed side panels for a low noise build, a replacement roof panel with fittings for a 360 rad (yes there's room up there), a cover for the false floor rad hole, Heck, even different coloured cases and panels would be a great idea. But no, what you get is a massively overpriced base model that only a blind man would buy, and a top end model that again is overpriced, but is at least aesthetically pleasing to the point where if you really like the looks, and are willing to ignore the fact that the modular upgrades don't actually exist, is worth a punt.
Are CoolerMaster trying to pull the Wool? We don't think so. We just think that they've tried very hard, but have fallen short. If they'd spent a little more time getting it right before release and actually gone to market with all the additional options (whatever they may be) readily available to the consumer and brought the cases in at a more realistic price point, we'd be writing an entirely different conclusion. As it is though we really wanted to like these cases but just find it hard to recommend something that is not close enough to where it needs to be to warrant our adulation. All of which brings us to the awards. Sorry CoolerMaster but in all honesty we can't give these cases an award. We know you've tried, we can see that, we really can, but in our heart of hearts, and you guys know this too, these cases should have come to market at a lower price point and with a whole raft of customisable options ready and waiting for the consumer to snap up. Let's put it this way, When Tom and I had a chat we could see a whole load of ways in which this case could be made more modular by us, all of which involved a dremel. These are the sort of things that you should be offering to the consumer so that they don't need to use a dremel.