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Cooler Master MasterBox 500 review

For around $100, the Cooler Master MasterBox 500 offers a lot of features for a basic PC case, though its styling is a bit old fashioned.

Cooler Master Masterbox 500 review

Our Verdict


Some great features and good cooling for the money, along with a smooth PC building experience, although it looks a bit bland.

If you’re in the market for a PC case that costs under $100, there are some excellent options available, whether you want RGB lighting, or handy building features such as removable top sections and tool-free side panels. Getting most of these features in one box at this price is a tall order, but the Cooler Master MasterBox 500 might just have pulled it off.

It will only leave you with enough change from $100 to buy a couple of chocolate bars, but we were impressed by how much this case provides, both externally and internally, for the price.

Let’s start with the RGB lighting, which stems from a digital RGB fan located in the base of the front section – the only area to have mesh. However, additional fan mounts do sit behind the (two thirds-height) removable front panel, which has RGB lighting channels embedded into it.

While the front panel conforms neither to the cleanly sealed nor fully meshed ethos, it strikes a good aesthetic balance between the two approaches to front panel design. There’s a vibrant retro feel to the lighting, which can be controlled using a button on top of the case, which cycles between modes and colors, or using a 3-pin RGB cable connected to your motherboard.

Cooler Master Masterbox 500 review

There’s also a SATA-powered fan and lighting hub, but it only offers a handful of channels, so you’ll need to use fan and RGB splitter cables to control any extensive cooling or lighting systems.

The front panel is sadly devoid of a USB Type-C port, however, and only has two USB 3 ports and a single 3.5mm audio jack that supports tri-pole connectors for headphones and microphones.

We don’t have too many other criticisms though. The tempered glass side panel is tool-free, albeit with optional thumbscrews being pre-applied out of the box to lock it in place, but otherwise pulling on a tab at the rear of the case hinges the panel open from the top.

Cooler Master Masterbox 500 review

Cooler Master has taken a leaf out of Fractal Design’s book too, by providing a removable top section. Remove a few screws and the entire top panel lifts out of the case, making it far easier to install your hardware, as well as making light work of adding a radiator or fans to the roof.

Both the roof and front fan mounts can handle some serious cooling hardware too. Despite the case only stretching to around 50cm in terms of depth and height, 360mm radiators can be installed in both locations, with space for 280mm radiators too.

A 120mm SickleFlow ARGB fan is pre-installed into the front of the case, with a non-LED 120mm fan also included in the rear. The latter can also slide up and down on rails, so you can align it with your CPU cooler in order to boost airflow.

Cable-routing options are decent too, with plenty of grommet-covered holes, although the situation is very basic behind the motherboard tray, with just a bunch of cable ties included, and an average amount of clearance between the motherboard tray and the side panel.

Thankfully, there’s a PSU cover underneath which you can stow cables, and there’s plenty of space here despite there also being a cage for two hard disks in this location. Each tray mount in this cage can handle a 2.5-inch SSD and 3.5-inch hard disk at the same time, and you get a further count of two dedicated 2.5-inch SSD mounts as well.

If you’re hoping to use an E-ATX motherboard then you’re also in luck, although the MasterBox 500 will only accommodate a PCB with a width of up to 272mm and hitting this limit will result in you slightly obscuring some of the cable-routing holes. There’s plenty of clearance for CPU cooler heatsinks and graphics cards as well, with 165mm of CPU cooler clearance and room for graphics cards measuring up to 410mm wide, so you’re highly unlikely to run into issues with squeezing large hardware into the case.

As you’d expect from a case at this price, there are dust filters too. The top features a large magnetic filter, while the front section relies on the area of mesh at the bottom of the panel to prevent dust ingress.
Thankfully, there are no open vents in the base of the panel that we’ve seen in other cases. Combine all of this with (an admittedly fiddly to remove) PSU dust filter, and the MasterBox 500 is well protected.

Build quality is decent too, thanks to the case’s mostly steel construction. Our only real complaint is that, aside from the removable roof section, the interior is a little bland and by the books, with no standout features.

Cooler Master Masterbox 500 review

Cooler Master MasterBox 500 cooling performance

The MasterBox 500’s fans aren’t particularly powerful, but this resulted in pleasantly low noise levels, with the sound from the case fans outgunned by the noise from our CPU cooler and graphics card. Thankfully, despite this, the case was still able to dish out some decent thermal performance.

Its CPU delta T of 47°C is a match for any other case we’ve tested recently, such as the Antec NX700, and it was a few degrees cooler than the Fractal Design Meshify 2 Compact. The GPU delta T of 42°C was certainly aided by the front fan pointing at our graphics card, and it matched the rest of the field, bettering the Antec NX700 by one degree, although the Fractal Design Meshify 2 Compact was slightly cooler.

Cooler Master MasterBox 500 pros and cons


  • Good CPU and GPU cooling
  • Unique RGB lighting
  • Removable roof section


  • Not many stand-out features
  • Fan hub doesn’t have many ports
  • Bland interior

Cooler Master MasterBox specs

The Cooler Master MasterBox 500 specs list is:

Dimensions (mm) 209 x 505 x 499 (W x D x H)
Material Steel, plastic, glass
CPU cooler clearance 165 mm
Max graphics card length 410 mm
Weight 7.7kg
Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, stereo/microphone jack, LED control
Drive bays 2 x 2.5-inch/3.5-inch, 2 x 2.5-inch
Form factors E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX
Available colors Black
Cooling 3 x 120 mm/2 x 140mm front fan mounts (1 x 120 mm fans included), 1 x 120 mm rear fan mount (120 mm fan included), 3 x 120/2 x 140 mm roof fan mounts (fans not included)

Cooler Master MasterBox 500 price

Price: Expect to pay $100 / £100.

Cooler Master MasterBox 500 review conclusion

If you just want a case that gives you loads of RGB lighting for the best price possible, then the Antec NX700 is a better option than the Cooler Master MasterBox 500, but if you want a smooth and enjoyable PC building experience, the ample cooling options and removable top section in the MasterBox 500 shouldn’t be overlooked.

It’s fun to work with this case, it stands out from the usual mesh and RGB-laden cases, and it can house a seriously powerful PC with more space for fans and radiators than the Antec case. Our main complaint is that it’s otherwise a slightly plain package, but it comes recommended whether you’re building a budget-focused rig or going all-out with custom liquid cooling.

The Cooler Master MasterBox 500 doesn’t find a place on our best PC case list but be sure to check that guide out for our other recommendations.